On the world of his birth, the man at his side was more than just a friend. The genetic potential of Scott Summers and a woman named Jean Grey had been brought together by a mad genius, intent on breeding an unstoppable weapon - and Nate Grey was born. A time bomb of power, literally, surging with more psionic energies than his own body can stand. ‘Hard left ahead, Scott!’ Nate Grey a.k.a. X-Man calls out to Scott “Cyclops” Summers, who is piloting some sort of hover-sled. ‘But I thought you wanted to follow the main water pipe all the way down to -’ Scott begins, but Nate explains that warning symbols back there were all about the radiation-heavy corridor to the right. ‘So hang a left, Scott - now - we’ll switch to one of the secondary back-flows form here. Trust me on this, okay…’ Nate remarks, adding that his “man” Forge helped develop the system schematics for these Atlantic Seawalls.
‘Then how, Nate? How could this happen… how could a piece of another reality… another Earth… end up merged into an isolated Alaskan mountain peak?’ Scott asks, referring to their current location as he swerves the hover-sled down another tunnel. ‘A piece of my Earth, you mean’ Nate replies, adding that it is an Earth where mutants like them enslaved the rest of humanity, all but exterminated them, continent by continent - where humans without powers of their own were forced to build battle-fortresses like this one in self defense. ‘An Earth that’s better of dead’ Nate declares, admitting to Scott that he doesn’t care how it happened - he just wants to make sure it ends, right here and now, before his old world crashes any farther into his new one, and before a legion of Apocalypse’s Infinite solders are born to this still-pure paradise!
An explosion rages behind Nate and Cyclops, who points out that the seawall was under siege at the time, that much they do know for sure. He adds that according to the single human survivor they found, the enemy has long since taken the usual steps to insure their own survival. ‘Cloning. A thirty-six hour process, soup to nuts’ Nate declares, adding that means they have to reach the water-table level, the only feasible location for a full replicating pool, before dawn. A shadowy figure does not get the attention of the mutant heroes, as up ahead, several laser beams are released to form a grid. ‘What the -?’ Cyclops exclaims as he tries to slow the speed of the hover-sled down. ‘Staticite-zone!’ Nate exclaims, as the hover-sled swerves upwards, ‘Duck!’ Nate shouts as they fly into another tunnel.
Nate explains to Cyclops that technology is an extremely rare and precious commodity in the so-called Age of Apocalypse, especially for straight humans, so the stat-zones are in place to disable mechanisms around water, protecting electronics from unnecessary risk. ‘That one was obviously messed up, though, same as everything around here. Could killed us both - under the circumstances and all, y’know - but I was expecting a stat-z as we got closer to the water-table to I was prepared’ Nate explains to Scott, before taking control of the hover-sled which he calls a skimmer, adding that he is the one that found it anyway. ‘Fine by me, Nate’ Scott replies, admitting that he is more than a little distracted, worrying about Jean out there alone and in an unpredictable place like this. He adds that he knows he did the right thing, team-wise, as Jean is as capable as any X-Man, no doubt about that - and unless and until Jean finds mutant-nullification generators that Nate described, and disables the actualized null-grid’ they are all powerless in this place.
As the platform behind her breaks, Jean Grey-Summers rushes forward, ‘Bizarre’ she thinks to herself. ‘Still trying to reach one of the outlying corners of the hull - where Nate figures the N-generators are positioned for maximum field-range - and this is getting freakier by the foot!’ Jean looks around at the bizarre constructions around her, when suddenly, hears a loud clanging noise. ‘That one I didn’t imagine’ she realizes, glancing behind herself, the powerful mutant codenamed Phoenix decides that something is back there, behind her. ‘And I’m not used to being in the dark like this… totally mind-blind. No telepathy or telekinesis at all’. Jean carries on, moving forward. On this world, she and Scott are very different people. They are X-Men, born and bred to it sometimes it seems. Champions of all humanity, protectors of all who need protecting… defenders against man and mutant both. Heroes to some, a deadly, dangerous threat to others. Mutants, yes - but all too human, still.
A mechanical being moves swiftly through the strange surroundings, and another loud clanging noise can be heard. Jean goes wide-eyed, ‘Uh-oh’ she gasps. Then, at the end of the platform Jean stands on, she sees the massive mutant-nullification generator, just like Nate pictured it. The spherical contraption has many cables and wires attached to it, and some energy flares are emitted. Jean thinks that apart from those cracks and sparks, it looks surprisingly untouched by the forced merger of realities, making it the most likely cause of the whole mess in the first place, as far as Jean is concerned. She remembers that Nate said the defense system is still experimental. ‘And highly volatile, obviously’ she adds, as she dodges a flare of energy that is thrown from the generator. ‘Worst yet, if possible… I think the bad news just started’ Jean thinks to herself.
Back in the water-level: ‘God, no - just the stink alone -’ Nate utters wide-eyed, as he and Scott stand on the land just by the water, which pours from a large tube above. ‘You were right, Nate’ Scott remarks. ‘We followed ‘em straight upstream to their spawning ground, like you called it’ Scott adds, as they see the bodies of the Infinites floating in the water. Nate tells Scott that he never really imagined, hundreds, maybe more, maybe thousands of shadows of the living, breathing Apocalypse - right before his eyes, already poisoning another clean, crisp atmosphere they would never even bother to breathe. Scott and Nate examine one of the Infinites, and Nate points out that some of them are farther along than others, depending on which were the first to begin, as this one has nearly completed gestation. Pulling the Infinite out of the water, Nate estimates that it had less than an hour to go. ‘But that won’t be near enough time to destroy every one of these -’ Nate begins, before Scott shouts ‘WAIT!’
Scott declares that it is Jean, that she is in trouble. ‘What are you talking about?’ Nate asks, wide-eyed. ‘How could you possibly know -’ he begins to enquire, as Scott tells him that he heard her, inside. ‘she and I are connected, remember, with or without telepathy? Trust me on this, okay…Jean needs us now!’ Scott exclaims as he rushes onto the skimmer. Concerned, Nate tells Scott that he wants to go, but he can’t leave these soulless soldiers of Apocalypse behind to be unleashed on this world. ‘I can’t’ he declares, while pointing out that Jean wouldn’t want him to. ‘She’s as good as it gets, we both know that…’ Nate’s voice trails off. ‘No argument there, Nate’ Scott replies, adding that he agrees something has to be done about this nightmare. ‘But… even we can’t handle something this big alone, without our powers - and you know that’ Scott points out, suggesting that is exactly why they have to help Jean destroy the mutant nullification generator. ‘Now, pal…before it’s too late!’ Nate doesn’t move, uncertain of his response.
‘Yup. Things are definitely worse’ Jean thinks to herself as she rungs along the platform, as razor-sharp discs are thrown towards her, and start to pierce the platform she runs along. ‘Far enough, mutant!’ a cold voice calls out. The mechanical being following Jean comes into view, firing more razor-sharp discs towards Jean, he declares that this site has been claimed in the name of the Dark Lord, Apocalypse, by Hatchet-9, sole surviving officer of assault-regiment Delta. Hatchet-9 boasts that he has been following Jean for hours now. He calls her “highborn” and that he will cull more of their current situation from her and her fellow gene-traitors before final execution. ‘I promise you that - but sabotage cannot be permitted’ he declares. Jean reaches the end of the platform and finds that it is blocked. ‘Nowhere left to go now, in any direction’ she realizes. ‘Nowhere but down…’ Jean thinks to herself as she leaps off the platform.
‘NOOO!’ Hatchet-9 shouts. While Jean doesn’t plummet to her doom, but grabs onto one of the platform sides. She takes hold of a live cable, and recalls that Nate called these things Mecha-Mutates, normal humans who traded limbs and more for the power and privilege of serving Apocalypse himself. Jean realizes that Hatchet here got seriously mangled by the reality-fusion, the way it looks to her, and all that exposed cyber-ware makes him an easy mark. ’For a good old-fashioned short-circuiting!’ She reaches up and pushes the live cable into Hatchet. Smoke billows from the creature, who then looms over Jean, still clanging to the platform. ‘Or not’ Jean thinks to herself. ‘Oh yeah, Red…I’m really going to enjoy this -’ Hatchet-9 begins as he reaches down to grab Jean, before Cyclops arrives on the skimmer, which he leaps from as it crashes into Hatchet-9.
There is an explosion, while Scott helps Jean up. ‘Let’s move it before -’ he begins, before Jean screams ‘Look out!’ as Hatchet-9 appears behind them, despite the explosion. ‘Under control, Jean’ Scott replies, while the damaged Hatchet-9 tries to say “exterminate”, as Scott reveals that he did not come alone - and, at that instant, Nate drops down onto Hatchet-9. Jean and Scott are now trapped between some sort of pillar that has fallen onto the platform, while Nate is trapped between Hatchet-9 and the generator. ‘Not for long’ Scott points out, as Nate takes control of Hatchet-9’s hand, and uses the weapon attached to it, cutting the floor right out from under them, Nate and Hatchet suddenly plummet to the unknown below.
Thankfully, Nate is able to grab onto the edge of the platform, while Hatchet doesn’t quite fall to the unknown, as he becomes magnetically anchored to the dangling piece of platform, meaning Nate is a sitting duck. ‘Extermin-’ Hatchet begins, while Jean and Scott stand on the edge of the platform that still remains. ‘Nothing we can do about it from here, Jean! But the kid’s fast on his feet, I swear…I’m betting he can take care of himself’ Scott assures Jean, as Nate starts to scramble up the platform, while Hatchet fires some razor-blades at him. Scott and Jean start to climb over the debris blocking their escape on the platform, as Scott tells her that they have to hurry, before Hatchet remembers who actually hurt him, as they are too vulnerable out here. ‘Exterminate!’ Hatchet-9 snarls. ‘Looks like you could, too, rusty’ Nate calls out. ‘Or you could try coming after the infamous gene-farm saboteur himself, instead - the thorn in Apocalypse’s side who brought down most of Dark Kentucky!’ Nate suggests.
Hatch-9 starts to chase Nate, and declares that he is the most wanted fugitive in all the land. ‘I will be rewarded beyond my wildest dreams for delivery of your head’ Hatchet-9 announces, firing some razor blades towards Nate, who then leaps off the end of the broken platform, ‘Can’t have that now, can we?’ he replies. ‘Not when we can use a heavy-metalhead like you, instead…to do our job for us!’ Nate points out as the razor blades then strike the smoking, sparking generator - and the impact is exactly what Nate had hoped for - as the nullifier-generator is instantly destroyed, and the mutant null-field is gone, enabling Nate to use his restored telekinesis to fly before he slams into the ground below. The ensuing chain reaction is completely unexpected - as the implosion effect is apparently unstoppable, and all that was born of the Age of Apocalypse is slowly, surely, drawn back there to die.
Hatchet-9 is sucked towards the portal, along with all the machinery and equipment around him. Nate Grey starts to fall towards the portal, too. He fights the flow, of course, with all the telekinetic force that is rightfully his to command. Wielding his optic power once again, Cyclops fires the beams of energy from his eyes to destroy the debris that is hurled towards him, while Jean telekinetically anchors them and Nate to this plane - until all three are able to escape the vortex together. They rush down a corridor, as Jean tells the men that that the vortex is spreading exponentially, ‘We’ve got to get clear before the whole seawall - caves in…’ Jean’s voice trails off as the trio round a corner, only to find an army of Infinites waiting for them. ‘Not just yet, Jean. Afraid Scotty and I left some unfinished business behind’ Nate points out. ‘Your business is mine, guys -’ Jean replies, as she and Nate unleash their telekinetic fury against the Infinites, while Cyclops fires a powerful optic blast into the mix.
Jean tells the men that there is an awful lot of loose ends here - more and more by the minute. Nate suggests they can use that against them. ‘All moving in precise unison - like a well-oiled machine…a perfect team’ Scott remarks, as Nate explains that the Infinites share a virtual neural-network, or some such garbage, which works real well for their joint efforts. The optic blasts and telekinetic fury continues to keep the Infinites at bay, as Nate adds that the neural-network allows for little or no independent action outside of the group initiative. ‘In other words, Nate - if we read the responses of any one Infinite…’ Jean begins. ‘And interpret them correctly in the context of their larger dynamic…’ Scott adds. ‘We can figure out their entire strategy - and head ‘em all off at the pass!’
By this time, explosions start to ripple through the entire seawall, and Jean and Nate telekinetically escape through an opening, with Jean lifting Scott alongside herself. ‘Last stand, team!’ Cyclops shouts as he fires another optic blast at the Infinites, who start to emerge from the opening in the sea wall. ‘Just hold them here at the threshold of the gull, where they’re bottle-necking…turn their number into a disadvantage’ Cyclops explains. ‘Right!’ Nate agrees. The Infinites begin to surround the heroes, who start to play the Infinites against themselves, dodging their weapons fire, which subsequently strikes other Infinites. ‘Cover each other’ Scott calls out, while Jean tells Nate to stay with them, to not get too far ahead. She and Nate hover in their air, using their telekinetic powers against the Infinites, as Jean adds ‘But don’t hold back either! We’ve got to keep all the Infinites inside the seawall until -’ Jean starts to say, ‘- their past finally catches up to them’ Scott concludes.
Scott looks over and sees more explosions, ‘Now, team! Everybody pull back now - and hang on tight!’ Scott shouts as the vortex expands to suck back the seawall inside it - and the Infinites soon follow. ‘The ride’s not over yet!’ Scott tells the others. ‘But it’s gone - all gone - every trace of my ugly little world; Nate declares, while Jean pints out that there is a gaping hole in the cliff-face where the seawall used to be. ‘And nature abhors a vacuum!’ Scott declares as he fires an optic blast up at the collapsing mountainside. ‘The entire mountain’s coming down, people! Scott can only buy us a couple seconds at most…’ Jean declares, as she and Nate combine their telekinetic to form a powerful bubble around the trio. ‘you and I can do this, Nate… together’ Jean tells him, before the mountain collapses on top of them.
Nate opens his eyes, ‘Where…?’ he utters, slumped against a wall. He is then plunged into darkness, he is not packing enough energy to light up like he just did. ‘But this place looked like - feels like - the cave from my nightmares, from my birth-world…’ his thoughts trail off, as a torch suddenly lights the cave, ‘Up and at ‘em, boy!’ a voice calls out. ‘You’ve spent enough time in the dark, hiding from the world around you…time you can ill afford to waste’. Nate is shocked to see Forge and Sonique ‘Is is true - is it even possible - am I really home?’ he asks. ‘Yes. Now and forever ,my son - you’re finally home’ Forge tells him.
But,: ‘Up and at ‘em, Nate!’ Cyclops calls out, ‘Scott…?’ And Jean…?’ Nate utters, looking up at his surroundings - the snow covered mountainside. ‘Everyone’s fine here, friend. Thanks to you and Jean both’ Scott tells Nate. Nate gets to his feet and looks out over the ridge, as Scott ells him that they still have a long way to go to the bottom. ‘But it should prove a lot easier - together’ Scott tells Nate, who does not respond. ‘The ride’s not over yet…!’ Jean tells Nate, but Nate just looks out at the snow-covered landscape ahead.