“What a waste,” Selene says as she surveys the desolate landscape of the island formerly known as Genosha. Her disciples have no grasp of the power contained in a human soul. To consume it is to have an experience unlike any other; it is pure ecstasy. The soul of mutant, however, is even better. It’s different; it’s somewhere between human and god. According to Selene, a mutant soul holds a thousand times more power than that of an ordinary mortal.
As Eli Bard’s Techno-Organic Virus network proliferates throughout Genosha and reactivates its dead, Selene licks her lips in anticipation. Sixteen million mutants died on this island, she says. She felt it happen. Human-made machines ripped through the island, destroying all these souls—and all this power. Selene will not abide such waste.
One of the resurrected mutants crawls out of the ground and faces Selene. A black headband ties back her dark hair, which bears the same hue as her clothes. Selene asks the girl her name. “What difference does it make?” Ellie Phimister, aka Negasonic Teenage Warhead, responds. “I’ll be dead again soon.”
Taking account of her newly resurrected flock, Selene senses something wrong. They have no powers, she observes. She can feel them like memories, but their mutant gifts are gone. What happened? An undead mutant before her bows his head and asks what’s happening to him. Why is he alive? He remembers dying.
Wither, answering Selene’s question, replies that M-Day happened. Mortis agrees; while no one knows why, most of mutantkind lost their powers on that day. This doesn’t make sense, though; these people died before M-Day. Regardless, Selene states she can still sense the power of mutants on the island. After she asks her undead servant Caliban to relay what he knows, he reports the presence of a million active mutants—more than enough energy for Selene to rebuild her empire. She orders Caliban to find her an architect; her slaves have a city to build.
The X-Men do their best to remain amongst the living. In Utopia’s brig, Danger and her prisoner Sebastian Shaw neutralize the threat posed by Harry Leland and Sebastian’s son Shinobi. As he ruptures Shinobi’s head with a blow of kinetic energy, Sebastian tells his son he was always a disappointment. On the surface, Colossus, Sunspot and Cannonball cut through Stonewall and Super Sabre in an attempt to reach Cyclops. Inside the facility, Husk, with the aid of Rockslide and Trance, staves off the undead specters of her old friends from Generation X, Skin and Synch. Elsewhere, Blindfold stays out of Tower’s way, Namor tries to make ground against Sienna Blaze and Magneto makes quick work out of the undead hordes of Warpath’s resurrected Apache tribe.
Warpath, meanwhile, climbs back ashore Utopia after being thrown into the water. He vows to cut their freaking heads off and then set them on fire. If that doesn’t work, he has another backup plan. Before he can state what that is, however, an explosion inside the island facilities diverts his attention. In that moment of negligence, he is ambushed by Mellencamp and Risque.
The reanimated mutants strike him down. As Warpath looks up, he urges Risque not to do this. “I told you James, please,” Gloria says, wielding a deadly gravity disc, “…I can’t stop. I can’t stop. You have to run.” Mellencamp tells her to shut up; once the Apache is dead, he’ll gut her too.
Suddenly, Archangel swoops in, grabs Warpath’s arm and flies him to safety—dismembering Mellencamp with one of his metal wings in the process. As Archangel carries James, the Apache fills him in on what he’s learned. Eli Bard and Selene are responsible for this. They dug up Caliban, his tribe and his brother, and he can’t help them. Archangel adds that he cannot kill them, either—and believe him, he’s tried.
In the med lab, meanwhile, Wolfsbane howls in agony. While Hrimhari holds her down on the operating table, Dr. Nemesis whips up a little sedative cocktail to put her at ease—for a week or two. After he injects it into her neck, the unconscious Rahne instantly reverts to her human form while X-23, Nemesis, Vanisher and Hrimhari watch. The Vanisher suggests to Nemesis that he work on his sedative, although Nemesis insists this is not his doing.
Something seems amiss with Rahne. Although she lies unconscious, her arms cradle her heavily bruised abdominal area. Furious, Hrimhari asks Nemesis what he just did. “Calm down, Lassie,” Dr. Nemesis says. He pulls out a CT scanner and surveys Rahne’s body. What he finds gives him pause. When Hrimhari asks what is wrong, Nemesis reveals Rahne is pregnant—and whatever is inside her is neither human nor mutant. Worse, it’s killing her.
Stunned, Hrimhari runs away. When Nemesis asks where he’s going, the Vanisher says that, honestly, he would’ve done the same thing.
Selene orders Senyaka to take the builders with him. She wants her city raised by the next sunrise. When Wither asks if that is even possible, Selene reminds him Caliban found her builders; if their power isn’t enough, she has sixteen million slaves waiting to serve her. Of course, they will be rewarded, she says; they will have the honor of sacrificing their newfound lives in order to transform Selene into a goddess.
As Selene walks away with the rest of her Inner Circle, she reminds Eliphas that he will prepare the blood ritual, as he did in Rome. Together they will cull the souls, she says, and she will transcend this mortal form. Eliphas grins and narrows his eyes. This is all he ever wanted, he says: to make his queen happy. He is truly grateful. A devilish grin spreads across Selene’s face. She orders Eliphas to bring her blade to her so that she can prepare the spell. Eli’s eyes widen. “The blade…” he says. Suspicious, Wither looks to him and asks if that is going to be a problem. “No,” Eliphas replies. “All will be ready for you my queen.” As he says this, his eyes drift toward another member of Selene’s Inner Circle—the teleporter Blink.
The anguished Hrimhari howls at the night sky. When he runs out of breath, he takes a break and howls again. This ritual continues until a figure appears out of the darkness and approaches him. “Wolf Prince,” she says, “…your cry was heard. But you made a grave mistake in calling me here.” Hrimhari turns and faces the one he summoned—Hela, the Asgardian goddess of death.
While the slaves toil building Selene’s citadel, Eli Bard seeks out Blink in private—although he doesn’t get too far from Wither’s prying eyes. Bard tells Blink he must speak with her; it’s about their queen. When Blink grants him permission to speak, Eliphas relays his story. He was the first one chosen to help Selene fulfill her destiny, but their plans were discovered and Selene’s ascension delayed. Because of this, he was cast out and cut off from her. He spent centuries trying to find a way to help their queen finish her journey. He finally found a way in the Techno-Organic Virus. Blink states she is familiar with it. Continuing, Eliphas states what he made possible on Genosha was accomplished because of the mutant Caliban, whom he discovered among a tribe of dead Apache. When he pulled them from the ground, however, something happened. He was attacked—not by the dead, but by spirits. These spirits guarded the Apache, and even with all his power, Bard could not hurt them. He was armed with a weapon that could, though: Selene’s blade. Eliphas plunged it deep into the neck of one of the animals, halting the attack. Before he could remove the blade, however, the creature escaped.
Glaring at Bard, Blink asks if she heard him correctly; he lost the blade? Eliphas insists that isn’t so. He went back for the blade later, but discovered someone else had reached the burial site before him: the X-Man Warpath. He stole the blade, but with Blink’s help, Eliphas could recover it. However, they must act quickly—and discretely.
Blink narrows her eyes. After a moment, she consents, reaches out and touches Bard’s shoulder. They vanish in a BLINK!
Instantaneously, they reappear in another location—but not where Bard expected. To his horror, he finds himself in Selene’s throne room on Necrosha. “My queen!” Blink yells. “Bard doesn’t have the blade. The X-Men do. He asked me to deceive you. He asked me to help him retrieve the blade before you discovered his deceit.”
Selene keeps her calm, but glares at Eliphas with a truly chilling look. Slowly, she sits up from her throne and descends the dais, walking toward her duplicitous apostle. After all these centuries, not a thing has changed, she says to Bard. She asks how this is possible. Bard remains silent. Selene then calls out for Wither and, when he arrives, asks him to take Eliphas and the rest of her Coven to the X-Men. She commands them to find the blade and kill all who stand in her way. If the X-Men don’t have the blade, they are to leave Eliphas among the dead. Wither grins at these orders. “As you wish,” he says.
An explosion propels three X-Men through the air, but Cyclops orders them to keep firing. His own optic blast does no good against the undead Darkstar, however, as she easily diverts it sideways with a wave of her hand. Dazzler and Domino provide cover for him while he checks with the rest of his X-Men. Domino tells him he has five minutes.
Madison Jeffries reports to Cyclops that his machines detect at least 30 of these undead mutants in the island-wide attack. Cyclops asks if he can interface with them; they’re Techno-Organic. He’s already tried, but it’s too alien, Madison says.
Nearby, former Alpha Flight member Diamond Lil tends to Iceman, whose duel with Darkstar took too much out of him. “The blonde did a number on him, eh?” Diamond Lil says. Meanwhile, Dust and Mercury comfort Emma Frost, who remains shaken after her encounter with her former students, the Hellions. Although she claims nothing at all is wrong with her, she cannot stand.
“We’re losing this,” Domino says to Cyclops. He agrees. Regardless, he orders Dazzler to take Emma to and Iceman to safety, along with the kids. He and Domino will buy them some time. They move on three. Crouching behind their cover object, Cyke and Domino begin their countdown while their reanimated allies Bolt, Firefist and Darkstar, smiling deviously, draw nearer.
They don’t finish their countdown; instead, Wolverine, Archangel and Warpath arrive and start slicing the T/O zombies into pieces. Wolverine impales Rusty Collins through the chest with his claws, Archangel severs Darkstar’s torso from her legs and Warpath decapitates Bolt. Springing into action, Cyclops fires a steady optic blast at Darkstar’s upper half to prevent her from reforming. Dazzler provides some cover fire; however, she cannot help but notice the change in Warren’s appearance and wings. Now is not the time to explain, he tells her. Warpath, meanwhile, continues hacking away at Firefist and Bolt. The undead mutants apologize for what they have done. Warpath accepts their apologies; it’s not their fault, he says.
Cyclops, Domino and Wolverine regroup. “It’s Selene. Selene and Bard,” Logan reports. Cyke knows. His people are going to fall back to the Atlantean column, where they can form a plan. “Unless your plan is a %@$# nuclear bomb, good luck. ‘Cuz nothing we’ve got is doing jack,” Logan says.
Suddenly, a bright pink light appears in the corridor, temporarily blinding the X-Men. BLINK! Cyclops and X-Force turn toward the source and see standing before them Mortis, Senyaka, Eli Bard, Blink and Wither—the five members of Selene’s Inner Circle. Although most of them hesitate to speak, Domino says the words on everyone’s mind. “…oh, @#$%.”
Cable sleeps on the cold concrete floor. Suddenly, his eyes snap open and he looks around in alarm. He can’t believe he fell asleep! As he sits up, he peers across the meager campfire at his charge, Hope. Is everything okay?
Hope, who is obviously tired, tells him everything is fine. He can relax; it’s all under control. She advises him to go back to sleep, as he has had a rough couple of days. He deserves the rest, she says as she wipes some blood off her hunting knife.
Refusing to rest, Cable says he should have let Hope know he was feeling drowsy. They could have traded off night watch. Hope, narrowing her eyes, asks if he thinks she doesn’t know that by now, after all these years. Assuming he’s hungry, Hope picks up a disgusting rat-thing she found earlier and prepares to cook it for him over the fire. Cable looks at her with trepidation at first, but then smiles; now that she puts it that way, fried rat sounds great.
Hope skewers the freshly killed rat with a sharp campfire stick. She vows to deliver a similar fate to anyone who dare come near them. Cable, dropping his smile, doubts she would get very far with that stick against Bishop. Don’t forget that, he advises her. Until they see a body, they have to assume Bishop is still out there somewhere.
Hope, however, wishes the jerk would attack them again. Don’t get cocky, Cable says. He reminds her that killing a rat and killing a human are two different things. Bishop came close to punching his ticket many times. “If Bishop ever hurt you, I’d find him. And hurt him worse,” Hope says. As she speaks, the reflection of the campfire in her eyes takes the unmistakable shape of a fiery bird. “I’d come back from the dead to hurt him.”
Soothing his tone a bit, Cable asks Hope to listen. She urges him not to worry; she knows right from wrong. She’d only kill if it were absolutely necessary. “And I’d only kill for you, Nathan,” she adds with a smile on her face.
She should get some sleep, Cable suggests. They have a lot to do tomorrow. Hope rests her eyelids and clears a spot for herself on the concrete floor beside the fire in their bombed-out shelter. When he tells her to sleep well, Hope says she will—but asks him to wake her up if anything good happens. “I will,” Cable says.
Just outside their camping spot, three mutated wolves lie dead and bloodied on the ground, victims of Hope’s protective instincts.