An armored vehicle moves through the rugged but beautiful Canadian wilderness. Inside is a young woman, who has been manipulated for far too long now; another political prisoner, lost between the cracks. Well aware of the increasing heat on mutants worldwide, especially from Operation: Zero Tolerance in the United States, Canada’s Department H saw this as the last opportunity to slip her out of their psychiatric hospital and back into the shadows, minus the usual media circus.
Department H has been covertly acquiring (kidnapping) all their ex-assets for months now, while the Canadian parliament turns a blind eye to their rogue defense agency’s operations… again. It was known by the Brotherhood that they would be using their own guards, called Silencers, to guard the vehicle. They sport electro-stat armor, stolen straight from Mac Hudson’s Guardian suit designs.
Inside, Aurora sits on a comfortable chair with her legs up against her chest. She is struggling to speak as the doctor informs her that she gives him no choice. As long as she refuses to swallow the pills as prescribed, he is forced to administer her medication via s syringe. She says her brother’s name, barely able to get the words out. The doctor adds that, in her condition, especially considering her particular history with Department H and her conscious command of the blistering mutant power at her fingertips, someone could get seriously dead. The new Department H is her last chance.
Monitoring the situation from outside, Nate Grey asks Havok just how he knows all about this classified security transfer. He replies that they have someone on the inside looking out for them. As the doctor prepares to give Aurora the jab, he hears a low rumbling sound, just before the vehicle’s brakes lock on hard. He is sent flying, just as the Silencer standing nearby shape-shifts into the form of Fatale. She asks Aurora to hang on. The ride’s gonna get a lot rougher.
In front of the transport, an avalanche of rocks blocks the entrance to a tunnel. The Silencers go into action. Numbers’ two and four are directed to close the skies and protect the payload. Number’s one and three try and minimize the impact by blasting some of the rocks ahead of them. The vehicle stops just short of the blocked tunnel entrance but, as soon as they are stationery, Havok blasts the Silencers from behind. Havok is no longer with X-Factor or the X-Men. He now belongs to the Brotherhood, forever. Nate Grey has no such ties.
Alex asks Nate if he’s in or not. Nate wishes to see for himself what’s going on inside the transport car. He uses his telepathy to reach inside Aurora’s mind. He finds her younger than he thought, terrified, confused and somewhat familiar. He also determines that she isn’t alone in her head. Alex asks him what’s going on. Nate replies that the doc’s down, fighting off a dose off his own medicine he thinks. He then informs Alex that the Silencer inside has transformed into Fatale. “Your man on the inside’s a metamorph!?” Alex replies that she’s a mutant. She’s Brotherhood.
Outside the vehicle, the Silencers retaliate. Nate cannot fight as his telekinesis has gone, so he projects an image of himself to keep them occupied whilst Havok deals with them. Alex again asks if he’s in, but Nate is still not sure he wishes to waste his gift, and run the risk of speeding up his final burnout in the name of this so-called Brotherhood. But, the girl inside the train was so much like Threnody…
Havok lives up to his name, taking down Silencers with his plasma blasts. One last defender remains, and he warns Havok to point his gauntlet at himself. He holds a canister of lethal gas over the roof hatch, threatening to kill those inside. “Lethal gas?” asks Nate, telepathically. “That is truly sick!” He appears beside the Silencer and grabs his hand. He can’t believe he would kill everyone just to keep one scared mutant from getting away. He uses his other hand to deliver a solid backhand to the Silencer’s face, hurting it in the process. The Silencer goes down and Nate picks up his left gauntlet. He figures that it might be finally time to start looking at some of the alternatives staring him in the face.
He decides to give Havok a hand, literally, by destroying the link between the engine and transport cars and the storage cars using the gauntlet. He then psi-jacks the operating crew, causing them to jump ship, and then slips inside the driver’s seat. Havok then uses his power to clear the debris in order to get the vehicle away from there. Nate taps a few buttons on the control panel, having learned how to drive it, and use the gauntlet from the sleeping Silencer’s head. Next stop…
(New York City)
In the SoHo area, Nate’s loft-apartment remains empty. Threnody never returned but something is there, waiting.
In a section of tunnels and tracks far below the streets of Manhattan, Fatale is in conversation with Dark Beast. She informs him that the operation worked like a charm and Nate Grey doesn’t suspect anything. He never will as long as McCoy stays behind the two-way glass. She and Havok never gave him a real reason to read their minds. McCoy comments that Nate now has a moral reluctance to use his powers. He didn’t learn that back home.
They look below to where Nate and Alex are breaking into the transport’s storage hold. The door is ripped off and a bright light emanates from within. Aurora walks gingerly through the opening. She is weak. “Don’t… don’t hurt me anymore…” she whispers as she collapses into Nate’s arms. He asks Alex who she is. Fatale informs him that her name is Aurora. Now that he looks again, Nate recognizes her from his own reality. Fatale explains that her name is Jeanne-Marie Beaubier. She’s sick, real sick, and still coming down from the drugs Department H pumped into her.
Nate says that Fatale was in the transport with Aurora when they ambushed it. How did she get back here, unless… Alex interjects and informs Nate that they all have their roles to play. He explains that this is what the Brotherhood is all about. Fatale just teleported ahead of them to prep the treatments, and start working up the rehab program for Jeanne-Marie.
“O-kay,” replies Nate, and asks why Fatale didn’t bring Aurora with her then? Why didn’t she just do that in the first place, if she was all they were after? Alex replies that they all have their limits. Jeanne-Marie is in good hands now. They have people, like he mentioned, such as doctors and professionals who can help her, and him. Everyone needs a little help from their friends. Considering that these same resources are responsible for providing Nate with his own private meditation chamber, what more could he really ask for?
Nate enters his chamber and places a helmet on his head. The helmet is linked by an array of cables and wires. He starts to relax. Moira MacTaggert is supposed to be the world’s leading expert on mutant bio-physics, and she’s convinced that Nate is stifling his own powers. However, she didn’t offer any solution so the Brotherhood stepped in with a suggestion. The thrumming, throbbing alpha-sonics, keyed to his unique signature, begin to work their magic, digging their way through his thoughts and riding the rhythmic pulse of strobing lights, diving deeper through his fear; his fear of life… He focuses his mind and slowly but surely he begins to levitate from his chair.
(six hours later, two door down)
Aurora is recovering in bed from her ordeal at the hands of Department H. Fatale is sitting on her bed, offering her the hard sell. She offers to contact her brother, Northstar, if she likes. Aurora doesn’t want that just yet. Nate knocks and enters. Fatale isn’t happy that he is there, what with Aurora’s relative state of undress. Aurora is happy to see him, saying she owes him according to Fatale. Nate replies that he wishes he could take the credit, but it was the pure Brotherhood all the way. She remembers Nate catching her when she passed out. Fatale says that’s what they do: work together, mutant with mutant.
Nate agrees, and tells her that the group seems a little more proactive than the usual crop he keeps bumping to, such as Xavier’s endless circle of clowns and all. Fatale grabs him and ushers him out of the room, telling him it looks like he’s seen enough. He should give the girl some space right now and some time to think. There are decisions to be made.
Nate goes for a wander through the labyrinth of tunnels. He’s made a decision of his own. Back on his own world he ran with a troupe of freedom-fighters for almost a year, and an underground lifestyle comes easily to him. Maybe it’s his resistance to the X-Men and their ilk, he presumes. Their code of honor and soft-touch approach is at odds with what he has seen, living through the worst of possibilities.
He then comes across a secret vault, guarded by a heavy-duty door. He figures that he’s wandered pretty far off-track and reckons the others don’t even know about this place. He doesn’t like to rely on a stolen soldier’s glove to bypass something like the door code he’s presented with. He hopes the Brotherhood can lead him to access his telekinetics fully again. He tampers with the access screen and the door slides open. Inside, stacked high all around the room, are boxes of CS-9.
Nate quickly heads back to Havok and Fatale. He accuses her of teleporting the storage-car back there instead of the girl - its entire cargo of toxic gas Alex asks him to hang on. First, he asks, who wants to know? Friend or foe? Brotherhood, or just another rebel without a cause? Nate says that Fatale’s power should have been used to recover the primary objective, and that Alex should know that. It was, replies Alex, but such a window of opportunity for a clean CS-9 extraction had to be their first priority. The reasons would be more obvious if Nate understood more about it. They’d have found other ways of reaching Jeanne-Marie, if necessary.
Nate is annoyed that Alex never told him. Alex replies that he was never asked. He says Nate knew all about the deadly gas before they’d finished, and just decided not to dwell on the dirty little details, like who was going to do what with the mess he tried to leave behind. In his opinion, not everyone wants all the truth, all the time. As he turns to leave, Nate places his hand on Alex’s shoulder and tells him that he does. He demands it.
He faces Alex and connects their minds together. He isn’t pussy-footing about, and tells him that his mind has been ravaged in its time, and repeatedly stretched to breaking point. But, he determines that Alex truly believes in everything he stands for now. There’s no brainwashing or demonic possession, nothing. Aside from some well-placed psi-screens, apparently buried deep, Xavier’s signature from the feel of ‘em, he can see that Alex is hiding something else. Some other involvement in the Brotherhood?
He reckons it won’t take a second to punch through, but Alex asks him not to bother. He’s got nothing to hide anymore. The walls are finally down so he can step right in and see for himself. Nate’s eyes widen as he sees something he never thought he’d see again. “It c-can’t be…” he exclaims. Alex asks him to meet the true secret of his success – his sudden ability to access his telekinesis. Nate points behind Alex and says he’s right behind him - the black beast of his Earth, death doctor of the Apocalypse! Dark Beast grins and welcomes Nate to his world.