New York City, mid-summer. ‘Rama rama rama rama’ utters a woman as she runs her slender hand across a man’s bare chest, down towards his chiseled stomach. She holds a crystal by a string as candles light up the darkened room. ‘Enough of this arelady. Rise and shine time, kiddies - wakey, wakey - it’s almost dark!’ another woman in the room declares, while Nate Grey a.k.a. X-Man starts to stir on the couch as the women stand over him. Nate - also known as X-Man - knows he is from an alternate Earth, apparently long long now, at least, he is pretty sure. He wonders who the girls are - a redhead, a blonde and a woman with dark hair. They all wear shades over their eyes and have exposed midriffs. The redheaded woman kneels at Nate’s side, he has no clue who they are, as the last thing he recalls is passing out in Washington Square Park, after somehow surviving the Brotherhood’s chemical weapon stash - but barely, and then some vague image of these three coming out of the dark, almost like a dream.
The woman with dark hair moves in front of her redheaded companion and calls her Bux, telling her that she has done wonders for the kid’s aching soul, but that a bod like this, in this shape, rates some hands-on attention already. She presses her hands against his shoulder, and cracks some bones back into place, causing Nate to scream. ‘Bad dream. Bad, bad, bad dream’ Nate thinks to himself. But it is slowly getting better. The blonde sits at his side now and runs her hand across his forehead. Nate supposes that his shoulder must have dislocated when his telekinesis crashed again, dropping him to the pavement hard. His arm is throbbing worse than ever now, but he is out of the clutches of the cold-hands-with-no-bedside-manner, at least.
Nate fells as though he has been sleeping in and out of consciousness. He hopes that he can just wake up this time, before slipping back, when suddenly, he hears a psychic plea for help in his mind: ‘You have to help them’ the commanding voice declares. ‘Operation Zero Tolerance is rolling, coming down hard on mutants and mutant-related targets worldwide’. The voice announces that he psi-warned John and Elaine Grey, insisted the get the kids out of the house upstate before Bastion could strike - but now he has them all on the run now. ‘Cable? Get out of my head, old man… hurts too much already…and the X-Men are your problem, not mine -’ X-Man begins to reply, before Cable tells him that this is not about the X-Men.
Cable shows X-Man a psychic projection of John Grey and his grandchildren, twins Joey and Gailyn, the nephew and niece of Jean Grey, and tells X-Man that someone has to protect the children, which is why he sent the Greys to Nate’s place. Nate sees Joey holding a teddy bear, and decides that it is one, almost like one, he recognized from so long ago, from some lost memory of his own childhood - but tells himself that it is impossible. ‘All right, Cable. For Jean’ Nate replies, before warning Cable not to try this ever again. Cable reports that the X-Men are on the move, as fast and as far away from all their innocent families as possible.
Nate remembers now - he remembers it all. Nate has been on this couch almost a week now, trying to pull his mind and body back together. Cable’s “call” came a couple of days ago, maybe more, but Nate has been so feverish that he lost consciousness after Cable ended the telepathic call, giving the Greys more than enough time to reach Soho.
At that moment, at Nate’s loft in Soho, two Prime Sentinels have invaded, and confront Roust, who has made his way here. ‘Ulp’ Roust utters as one of the Prime Sentinels demands ‘Where are the pre-potentials, child? Where are Joseph and Gailyn Bailey?’ Another of the Prime Sentinels adds that the Grey children are mutant pre-potentials with epsilon-beta class, and are of blood-clan of X-Men designate Marvel Girl / Phoenix, whose location is unknown. ‘Seek and capture protocols in operation’ the first Prime Sentinel declares, as Roust begins to run, ‘Don’t know what youse two attitudes-in-a-can are babbling about!’ he exclaims, adding that he doesn’t want to know. Roust explains that he only came knocking to warn the geek that lives here about a mutual problem that they have, some serious danger that is coming his way soon. ’But I’m betting he’s not gonna be much help to anyone by the time yer finished with him!’ Roust exclaims, telling the Prime Sentinels that he will catch them later, as he continues to run, fear in his eyes. ‘Okay?’ Roust tells the Prime Sentinels.
‘No. It is not okay’ one of the Prime Sentinels replies as both of them fire energies towards Roust, destroying the floor, and knocking him backwards - but before he falls through the floor, ‘Hold on son - hold on - I’ve got you!’ a voice calls out as a hand reaches out and grabs Roust. ‘But -’ Roust calls out, as John Grey pulls him to safety, while his grandchildren, Gailyn and Joey watch from the doorway. ‘Gran’pa… look!’ Gailyn calls out, as the Prime Sentinels turn their attention on the children. ‘Priority targets registered: Bailey, Joseph and Gailyn’ one of the Prime Sentinels declares. John tells the children to get out of here, to run, like their lives depend on it. He slams the door to the loft behind himself, but the Primne Sentinels blast it open.
John is knocked over in the explosion, ‘Sweet Lord above… they shredded the door like tissue!’ he tells himself. ‘Whatever they are - I can’t stop them’ he realizes as the two Prime Sentinels stand over him. ‘Grey, John, secondary quarry… contained’ one of the Prime Sentinels announces, picking John up. ‘How?’ John utters, to which one of the Prime Sentinels replies ‘Considering the obvious extent of the Zero Tolerance surveillance surrounding Cable at the time - and the psi-sensitive resources exclusive to project-leader Bastion, it was unwise of your mutant grand-spawn to attempt a private communication, telepathically or otherwise’. The Prime Sentinel informs John Grey that mutants, and their breeders, if necessary, will be expunged. ‘We will have the pre-potentials and the other - the unknown active also contacted by Cable - the one who dwells here - with your help...or over your dead body -’ the Prime Sentinel warns John, before it suddenly collapses, dropping John to the floor.
John clutches his throat, ‘Option three. “None of the above”!’ a voice calls out - it’s X-Man. He has found some clothes and as energy swirls around his hand, declares that there is always an option three. ‘You. You’re the protection that Nathan promised…’ John declares as Nate helps him up. ‘We’ll see about that. But my best shop ain’t what it used to be, Mister Grey -’ Nate begins, as he and John exit the loft, while the Prime Sentinel completes a self-diagnostic and starts initiating its repair-matrix. ‘- So let’s hustle it already’ Nate declares as he helps John down a flight of stairs. John tells Nate that he appreciates the last minute rescue, before Nate interrupts, asking where the rest of the family is. John explains that his wife is still waiting at the hotel, like he told her too, just to be safe, but that the youngsters took off with another child, a boy whom he has never seen before, who was about to be murdered by those walking tanks.
‘Sentinels. Prime Sentinels, from what I understand from Cable’ Nate explains, while John adds that the kids couldn’t have gotten far before that second robot went after them. ‘Got ‘em!’ Nate announces as he uses his psychic powers to track the kids, deciding that they are smart, all three of them, who are hiding in a storage room somewhere. Nate tells John that the kids are hiding in the once place that might generate enough interference to block out electrical scanning, for a short while, but not for long. ‘I’m, going after them’ he reports as he and John enter an alleyway. ‘You’re selling it, all right, but I’m not buying. Lousy shape you’re in. I’m not about to leave my grandkids to…I don’t even know your name, son’ John points out. ‘Nate. Nate Grey’ the young hero reveals. ‘Grey?’ John utters, quietly. ‘See to their grandmother, John. Please’ Nate replies, before taking flight, announcing that he will bring Joey and Gailyn back to him. ‘I swear!’ he calls back.
Nate tells himself that John is Jean’s father, and Jean’s clone was Cable’s mother. ‘I’m not Cable. Not much, anyway. It’s just about the children. Someone has to protect the children’ he decides, as he lands near the storage room. The kids all scream, but he opens the door, and Roust looks up at him. ‘YOU?!’ Roust shouts. Nate tells the children that they will have to save the introductions for later, as he has to get them to safety - but just then, ‘Too late, mutant!’ the second Prime Sentinel declares as it bursts into the room. The Prime Sentinel states that even the electrical cross-currents of this maintenance shaft could not long conceal the pre-potentials from its sensors. ‘All abor, boys and girls! Nate Grey express, pulling out to - to where?’ Nate wonders as he picks up his “cousins” and Roust climbs onto his back, as he takes flight.
Nate tells himself that John was right - he is still running on empty, way below empty, even. He flies across the darkened city, lights of buildings shinning while the moon glows over them. ‘Second t’ the right…and straight on till morning!’ Gailyn sings, smiling. Nate decides that what he has is going to have to be enough - for someone has to protect the children. The Prime Sentinel gathers itself down below, scans the spectrums - visual, sub-visual, thermal, sonic, sub-sonic and bio-kinetic, but the echo feedback it receives is negative.
Meantime, in Hong Kong, the sun shines down as a redheaded woman stands on a balcony. Blood drops from her nose onto her hand. She knows Nate is in trouble - she can feel it in the “blood” that runs through her veins. She reminds herself that Nate is a genetic duplicate of Cable, a younger version of the exact some man from a divergent reality. ‘And Cable is my son. My son. Nathan Christopher. I am not just Jean Grey’s clone. I’m Madelyne Pryor, the one and only. Not so much resurrected from the dead… as reborn. By mistake’ she tells herself while looking at the blood on her hand. ‘Nate’s mistake… but that’s all in the past’. She realizes that now, with Zero Tolerance breathing down everyone’s necks, her last hope for survival turns out to be none other than Sebastian Shaw and the newly forming Inner Circle of his Hellfire Club. Solemnly, Madelyne decides that here, in Hong Kong, the current capital of change, she can finally look to tomorrow, and forget about Nate Grey - for now.
Back in New York, Nate and the kids take rest under a pier. Nate tells himself that there is nowhere to go from here. He knows he could take the kids to those girls who found him, the down-towners who took him in, but he doesn’t really know anything about them. He doesn’t want to involve more innocent humans, anyway. He knows that Xavier’s mansion was under siege, last he saw, and he is suddenly sorry to say he never paid much attention to where the Professor keeps his other little dollhouses. He wonders if his best bet is to smuggle them all across to Muir Island, across the Atlantic - but the one problem is, he is about to throw up, then pass out, and thro up again. Suddenly, his thoughts are interrupted by Roust, who introduces himself. Roust supposes that Nate doesn’t remember, but they ran into each other a few months back, down in the last lair of the Abomination’s place in the tunnels.
Joey and Gailyn snuggle up to Nate, with Joey uttering ‘Mamamamamama’. Roust continues, adding that there is this other member of the Forgotten, a wacko named Jack with a wicked taste for blood and a serious mad on. Telepathically, X-Man tells Roust to be quiet, pointing out that the other two are scared enough already. Nate realizes that the kids are verging on hysteria, feeding on each other’s fears, calling for their dead mother. He can sonically shield them from the Sentinels’ tracking sensors, easy, but he has no idea how to quiet Joey and Gailyn without messing with their minds - and decides that is way too risky at their age and in their state. Roust tells Nate that he is out of here. ‘Just don’t say I didn’t try to warn you-’ he begins to say, before looking up outside the pier they are under, ‘Uh-oh’ he utters. ‘They’re coming’ Nate declares telepathically. Gailyn asks where her grandma and grandpa are, to which Nate assures her that it is okay, and explains that he is distant family. Nate tells Joey that he has to be brave for his sister, and for his grandma and grandpa - and his aunt Jean. ‘And your bear Nate remarks, handing Gailyn the stuffed toy.
The Prime Sentinel stands on the edge of the pier. Nate cringes and thinks to himself that it worked - he didn’t give the kids the bear, he simply created an illusion of the toy that Joey dropped back on the roof. At least it has calmed them both - just in the nick of time. A small trick, but all he has left. Nate starts to burn up, even worse than ever, his head is pounding, and they are trapped with water behind them - and that thing up there in front of them. The Prime Sentinel lands on the pier, and blasts a hole in it. ‘Joseph and Gailyn Bailey. Stand down and surrender’ the Prime Sentinel orders. ‘Mutant X bio-signature locked and loaded. Proceeding encounter logged, operating parameters reformatted. Keyed to supra-psionic field defenses… stand down and surrender’ the Prime Sentinel instructs. Nate realizes that contact with his powers back at the loft makes this Prime Sentinel immune to them now.
Any other time, he would make his foe prove that point, but under the circumstances, in his condition, pinned with the kids between the two Prime Sentinels, he decides to go for the easy mark. ‘Surrender’ the second Prime Sentinel calls out as it arrives. ‘Lethal acquisition mode: sanctioned…’ the first Prime Sentinel states, while Nate recalls that the second Prime Sentinel was never exposed to his powers directly, so it is still defenseless against them. He decides that it is easy enough to dip into this robot’s head and take psionic control and use it - but Nate quickly discovers that the Prime Sentinel is human. Reworked and rewired somehow, but he is a human being under all that hardware. ‘There’s a man in there - a blameless man, for all I know’ Nate decides, while realizing that the children are still in danger - so it is no contest.
Nate’s powers flare, but both Prime Sentinels launch an attack on the area where he, and the three children are standing. There is an explosion, and everyone falls into the water. ‘Priority pre-potentials Joseph and Gailyn Bailey, human renegade, Roust, Mutant X…exterminated!’ one of the Prime Sentinels announces. The other Prime Sentinel states that their mission is executed, and they need to return to base-command for immediate systems debriefing. The other reports that retrieval teams are in transit. Nate gets out of the water and looks up at the Sentinels, before falling back into the water.
Meantime, at base-command in New Mexico, Bastion takes off his cybernetic helmet linking him to the Prime Sentinels and decides that it is unfortunate - the loss of human life, especially, but that the children had to be dealt with, one way or another. He boasts that he will see the potential threat of the Grey bloodline eradicated once and for all, no threat to the future of mankind proper any longer, even if history itself may never know his name, or the sacrifices he makes in theirs. ‘But this Mutant X was another matter entirely’ he decides, referring to Nate. Bastion knows that his ambient energies alone were threatening to overload the Zero-Tolerance mainframes, long distance, no less. ‘Could it be, could it possibly be…could he have been the Otherseed?’ Bastion wonders.
Shortly, Nate and the Bailey children meet up with John and Elaine Grey in an alleyway. ‘Children should be relatively safe, least as long as those sons o-’ he begins, before Elaine cuts him off. ‘As long as Zero Tolerance thinks they’re dead, I was saying’ John remarks, before announcing that they will be staying on the move, just in case, until they “hear” from Jean. John offers Nate to come with them. ‘What I saw today, son, I half-suspect we have more in common than…’ he starts to say, before Nate announces that he cannot. He explains that he may have been able to muster up his telekinetic shields again when he needed them, to save the kids, but that the rest was still an illusion. Nate assures the Greys that he is on the road to recovery, but that he is still not there yet.
‘And now that Zero Tolerance knows of my existence…’ his voice trails off, before Elaine embraces him and thanks him. ‘I was just wishing I could’ve thanked that other young boy as well. The one who skedaddled after he helped Joey pull Nate here out of the water while Gailyn was calling us’ Elaine remarks. ‘Elaine…’ John calls out. The Greys and the their grandchildren get into a car, and drive off, while Nate watches them go. He wonders about the Roust kid - he does remember roust from the tunnels, watching from the shadows when he fought the Abomination. Nate wonders what Roust was trying to say about some other danger, some other trouble he was here to warn him about….?