Nate Grey accepted an offer by Havok’s Brotherhood to help him regain his lost telekinesis. In exchange, Nate volunteered to help them rescue Aurora Beaubier from the clutches of Department H. However, what the Brotherhood really wanted was a toxic gas called CS-9, or Coldsnap, that was being transported along with Aurora. Nate feels used, and he isn’t too happy about it.
He sits with his head down among a swirl of green gas. All around him there are the dead and the dying. The Brotherhood looks on from a raised area. Nate raises his head and turns to them. “Never again!” he growls through gritted teeth. He doesn’t want to see a weapon like that used against humanity ever again. The dead and the dying fade away. They were simply psi-illusions created by Nate.
He tells Dark Beast that he won’t allow another Earth to be poisoned by him and his unholy alliances. Dark Beast replies that he’s right about that. The CS-9 is nothing more than a catalytic pathogen engineered to accelerate the growth of existing micro-organisms such as bacteria and molds. It does so far more rapidly than a host’s immune system can keep up. It kills on contact. Once activated by exposure to oxygen, though, the gas itself has an extremely limited survival window making it eminently controllable, and equally untraceable. Dark Beast describes the CS-9 as the perfect little soldier.
Nate reminds him that human beings aren’t just another source of genetic fodder for his twisted science trips. This Earth is a whole new world. They’ve been given a second chance; one he feels Dark Beast doesn’t deserve. Why should he waste it on trusting him? Sensing Nate’s increasing anger, Fatale readies herself to step in on Dark Beast’s behalf, but Havok asks her to hold off. He asks Nate if he would rather trust someone like Department H to keep the CS-9. They were prepared to use it, whilst they have no intention of doing so, not if they don’t have to. They can create a balance of power in other ways instead through people like themselves, like Nate and like Aurora, who have good reason to fear the worst of all worlds.
Nate asks where Aurora is, adding that Dark Beast, or ‘The Butcher Beast’ as he calls him, vivisected countless mutants on their homeworld. He wonders what he’s doing to Aurora. Fatale replies that she’s right where Nate left her and getting better by the minute. She’s getting the therapy she needs instead of the one-way ticket back to Department H. Alex adds that she’s very, very ill, and the Dark Beast is the one who’s helping her… like he’s helping him.
From what Alex has heard, he thinks the Dark Beast is the only one on this world who has helped him. Moira MacTaggert and the X-Men have been found lacking, where Dark Beast has succeeded. Nate, who has by now levitated himself, is still furious and he blows a hole in the wall with his gauntlet. Nate asks him not to run off, but Nate has to see Aurora for himself. He makes his way to where she is resting and tells her that they’re hitting the road, now! She sits up, revealing a little more than Nate was expecting. “I’m all yours, hero,” she yawns. Nate is speechless and he tosses her some clothes, asking her to get dressed.
Aurora stands and asks what the hurry is. Doesn’t he see anything he likes? Nate repeats his order. He informs her that the electro-stat gauntlet he stole from her escorts yesterday is running dry. He wants to leave before the Brotherhood finds out what they’re doing. As he touches her, she drops to her knees and begins to shake. She pleads with him to get away from her and scrambles to her bed where she repeats her brother’s name.
Nate realizes that this is the real Jeanne-Marie Beaubier - scared and terrified of life. But, the flip side of her personality, Aurora, is in her head as well, with a passion for the life Jeanne-Marie is afraid of. He knows that she is mentally unstable, and he’s done more than enough damage already. If the Brotherhood’s actually doing something for her; anything at all, then this might just be the best place for her after all.
He leaves her alone and heads through the tunnels along a railway track. He figures that he must find her brother, and hopes he’s a better man than the Northstar he crossed paths with on his homeworld. He recalls their meeting.
(flashback to the Age of Apocalypse)
Nate had just escaped from the pens with a little help. He made his way along a railway track to the light. He’ll never forget that moment. Sunlight was glinting off rusting metals and broken glass, sparking rainbows of color in every direction. This was his first chance for freedom. He hadn’t even begun to take in the sounds and smells before Northstar and Aurora were upon him.
They were Sinister’s elite. Northstar delivered a punch to the side of his head, but Nate recovered and blasted them with a telekinetic bolt. However, Prelate Havok was also on hand, and he floored Nate with a plasma blast. Without knowing exactly why, Nate’s mind cast an image of himself for Havok to see. It portrayed him lying at the side of the road. Alex drove on by believing Nate was dead. Nate was just beginning to understand what his mind was capable of when he was desperate enough.
Nate emerges from the tunnel to find Havok waiting for him. He knew Nate would consider leaving, and he intends to try and stop him. He thinks he knows Nate well and just wants him to listen. He explains that Xavier’s toy soldiers are all about policing mutants and protecting humanity from the worst homo superior has to offer. His question to Nate is, what’s wrong with mutants fighting for mutants, defending them from the worst of humanity? Nate replies that these are just words. He says he should try the truth, and calls him Uncle Alex.
Alex is surprised that Nate knows, and figures he must have read his mind hours ago. Why hasn’t he said anything until now? Nate tells him that family hasn’t exactly worked for him, in any form. Alex thinks this is something else they have in common. He repeats his request for him to join the Brotherhood, but Nate still reckons he’s lying; to him, to the others, and even to himself. He tells Alex that he may have started out doing this for all the right reasons, but he’s losing it day by day. He can’t tell if Alex is doing this because of his history and because of what has happened to him over the years - being manipulated and mind controlled so often, or just the company he keeps. But, he adds, he’s driven by something very different now, and he has witnessed his darker side. He’s seen it in action, so Alex should be able to imagine why he’s not too keen on leaving him with the soulless beast and a vault full of Coldsnap. His question to Alex is, what’s the difference between his Brotherhood and everyday down-in-the-gutter terrorism? “You Nate,” replies Alex, “You could be.”
Alex returns to the hideaway, leaving Nate to ponder why this is happening again. A group of mutants, almost the same mutants that gathered together in his world, with no respect for life and no compunctions about death, stockpiling weapons for a war to end all wars? He can’t just stand by and let it happen again. Fatale appears behind him and grabs him around the shoulders, asking if he’s lonely. Nate turns and Fatale tells him he felt it. He still feels it. They kiss tenderly, whilst half a world away, Sebastian Shaw and Madelyne Pryor are doing likewise.
The Hellfire Club is toasting Madelyne’s inclusion into the Inner Circle. Tessa is drinking champagne but isn’t joining in with the frivolity. Neither is Trevor Fitzroy, something Sebastian puts down to him entertaining ideas about Madelyne himself. Madelyne is more concerned with Selene. She brought her into the fold to help her secure her own position as Black Queen. Sebastian Shaw isn’t interested in party politics this evening. The rest of Hong Kong society cannot fail to recognize Madelyne as his consort from this day forward.
Selene makes telepathic contact with both Tessa and Fitzroy, away from Madelyne’s prying mind. She wants them to do everything they can to separate Shaw and Pryor, or their newfound union will jeopardize all they are trying to accomplish, forever.
Dark Beast is at the computer controls in his lab. Nate enters the lab and asks if he can really help. McCoy asks if he’s made the decision to stay. Did Fatale’s charms win him over? Nate asks again, and McCoy asks if he’s frustrated. Does his pesky little psi-proof lab keep him from tearing the answer out of his skull himself? McCoy doesn’t find this a problem. He has visual aids. He brings up a recording of Nate in the chamber receiving his treatment.
McCoy explains that there’s a very thin line between telekinesis and telepathy; only artificially defined distinctions which quite possibly were created by Nate himself in his case. His ability to fly again is empirical proof of that, even if his sensors registered no significant change in his telemorphic fields. Maybe, he continues, his self-levitation is an illusion powerful enough to deceive everyone including himself. If so, then what’s the difference between his thoughts and their reality?
Nate thinks back to Madelyne and how he unknowingly recreated her. He asks McCoy if he can really help Aurora. He insists that he can. Multiple personality disorders are eminently treatable. Nate smashes him in the face with his gauntlet and warns him that he’d better, or he’ll be back. Once he’s departed, Nate walks to the storage room where the CS-9 is being kept. Havok and Fatale pursue him as the alarms sound, but he locks himself inside the room, narrowly avoiding Fatale’s daggers as he does so.
Nate looks at the boxes of gas stacked high all around him. Outside, Fatale calls for him to give it up. He’s trapped with no food or air. He’s going nowhere. Nate realizes there’s no way to escape with the canisters and his gauntlet’s nearly dead. There’s just enough power for one last surge. A powerful blast knocks the room’s door off its hinges. Havok and Fatale discover Nate inside surrounded by escaping gas, recumbent and seemingly unconscious or dead!