Earth 998, six months ago:
Both Nates attack an unfazed Mr. Scratch, who is just mildly curious about the fact that there are two of them. The Queen didn’t drag him to this earth to play with his weakling counterpart, he informs Nate. He exists to serve the empire.
Nate marvels at Scratch still standing. That blast would have split a mountain! Nate-998 advises him to stay calm. Not very likely, as Nate sees Maddie’s knights slaughtering everyone in the village. Nate-998 advises him to think things through before he acts. A waste of time, Nate decides, as he telekinetically blasts the knights, which allows Scratch to hit him from behind. Clinically, he informs Nate that he has just shattered his spine. Nate is curled on the ground and Scratch remarks that he cannot think of anything but his pain now, can he?
They don’t need his body. They don’t need Nate intact or sane, or even conscious. Thy only need the power hidden in his mind. He turns to the other Nate. He was their Nate, wasn’t he? Scratch is surprised he’s still alive. He recalls how this Nate, who now feebly tries to attack him telekinetically, helped a Canadian assassin attack the Queen…
Scratch grabs Nate-998 by the throat, asking if he never wondered how he saw through the psychic cloak Nate had wrapped the assassin in. He crushes Nate’s windpipe as he reveals that his power is that no mutant powers affect him. He tosses the boy away like garbage. Nate-998 telekinetically opens a fault line beneath Scratch, which swallows him. He still requires solid ground to stand on, Nate-998 mutters as he walks to the other Nate, who is still on the ground in agony.
Nate-998 weakly informs him they only have a moment, as he is suffocating. He needs Nate’s help. He doesn’t have the power to save Nate by himself. He begs Nate to listen as they both begin to glow.
Scratch, freeing himself from the hole, remarks that he can’t use the other Nate’s power. He hasn’t got the skill. Scratch and the surviving knights close in on the two Nates, as Scratch continues that the genetic brand the Queen marked Nate-998 with is all that keeps his body from destroying itself. His tribe is dead. He is alone. He can’t stop Scratch. He is nothing. He knows, Nate-998 replies.
The glow intensifies, as Nate-998 touches the X-shaped brand on his chest. A gift, he says to the other Nate. It’s all up to him now. Too late, shouts Scratch, as he hits the burning young man. He has lost.
A little later there is only Nate left, Nate-998 apparently incinerated by forces beyond his control. Scratch decides that they have what they came for. He tosses Nate to the soldiers, telling them they may show him any agony short of death. They carry him to their flying machine and return to the palace.
They return the mumbling and seemingly delirious Nate to the Queen. Madelyne muses that she should have done that herself. But she liked him. For this moment, she walked across worlds. For this, she sought a working Nate Grey, and wove her strings into his mind. She grabs Nate by the hair and orders him to make Asia die.
Saigon, Tokyo, Calcutta, Beijing… in all of Asia a huge globe of energy akin to a second sun appears. The people fear the worst, but find that the light is actually pleasant. It is little more than fireworks.
And Queen Madelyne realizes she has had been had. This is the wrong Nate Grey. Enraged, Madelyne kills two nearby knights with her powers and demands to know where the real one is. As she has Nate-998 in a telekinetic death grip, he informs her that the other Nate is healed and gone. They merged their powers and rebuilt each other. They traded physical traits. No illusion would have deceived Scratch. Then Nate-998 sent the other Nate on his way. She’ll never find him.
Madelyne announces that she can read minds too, then kills him. She coldly orders Scratch to prepare the Engines of God. She must bring Nate Grey back. Then, he may execute himself. He failed her.
Earth 616, New York:
A middle-aged woman walks out her apartment building to bring down the garbage. On the street, she sees several youngsters robbing an unconscious man. Angrily, she chases them away. She takes a look at the unconscious Nate Grey and feel pity.
A little later, Nate is in her bathroom, after having assured her that he doesn’t want the police or an ambulance or even a pair of shoes. Carefully, he studies his new look in the mirror. Shorter hair, the genetic X-brand that defuses the genetic flaws, which would kill him otherwise.
He recalls Nate-998 telling him this is what a shaman does. He recalls a grinning Madelyne announcing he is her weapon now. And finally he remembers dead Forge revealing that she is really Jean Grey. A creature of violence and unquenchable desire, Nate says out loud. His eye begins to glow.
His friendly samaritan hears something and opens the door to the bathroom. Nate is gone.
Back on Earth 998, Scratch has led Queen Madelyne to the Engines of the Gods. Maddie orders him to take his life now. He thinks not, Scratch retorts. May he call her Jean? he asks with an ironic flourish. How does he know? she wonders and instinctively attacks him psychically, to no avail. Irrelevant, he remarks. Of greater concern is the rebellion news of an impostor on the throne would surely generate. It’s time she had a husband, and the Empire a King. And she needn’t think to have him killed as she had him kill Mr. Forge…
Suddenly, the Engine of the Gods behind them begins to be torn apart, courtesy of the returned Nate Grey hovering above it. Scratch is buried in the rubble. Jean levitates herself to Nate’s level, asking if the show was for her benefit. Nate explains that, with the engines destroyed, she is restricted to this world. She never truly understood what a Nate Grey is. And does he know what a Jean Grey is? she asks with s a smile as she comes closer.
Nate retorts that a Jean Grey gone bad is an omnivore. Was that why her power was broken and she was ejected from her homeworld? Did they think they’d killed her, unaware they’d unleashed her to prey on all reality? With a snarl he announces that he knows what she is.
He romanticizes these things, Jean retorts as she concentrates. A Jean Grey is power without limit. Hunger without limit. All life is her fuel. Those who give themselves to her do so totally. She draws life energy from her subjects to boost her power. Nate shouts out in horror. That’s what loyal subjects are for, Jean announces as she fires an energy blast at him. Give me your power, she demands, but her tricks don’t work.
Nate explains that the other Nate ripped her hooks from his mind. She wanted his power to rekindle her own true power. As soon as he was loyal. Had she’d have devoured the universe. Every universe. He gestures and above them a huge sphere of energy appears.
He tells her not to be afraid. She wanted a working Nate Grey; here he is. She wanted his power. Take it. Jean draws back in fear. It’s too much. She begs him to stop. But the sphere extends, destroying her and her creations. The universe is better off without her, Nate announces as he flies off. Power should be used for better things.
Earth 616, several months later:
A lizard like humanoid female being, clearly wounded, stands before the corpse of another odd creature. Nate appears, announcing that the woman is wounded and offers to help. The woman exclaims whether he is an angel or God. His ways aren’t mysterious enough, Nate quips. He can heal her, but her friend is dead.
He supports the woman who explains that he isn’t her friend. She killed him. Nate reveals that he knows and understands why. After he heals her, he asks her not to kill any more mutants. He’s here to help them all. They are all his tribe. What does he mean? the woman exclaims. Who is he?
He’s a shaman.