First story :
Over the Atlantic Ocean Nate Grey is tracking the Sugarman, whom he believes to be responsible for a recent “reality ripple” over New York. As he sees another ripple, he actually enters it and finds himself back in the “Age of Apocalypse” reality. He recognizes the genetic processing plants before him, but before he can act, the ripple ends and things are back to normal. Nate however, can pinpoint the origin of the source of the ripple effect and moves in that direction at full speed.
His destination turns out to be Genosha and the mastermind behind those ripples is indeed Nate’s fellow AoA survivor, the Sugarman, who is responsible for the mutant slavery in Genosha for the past twenty years – ever since he entered this reality. The Sugarman created a “fargate”, but he needs energy to spark it and not even the life-energy of his mutate slaves, whom he kills, is enough. Sugarman’s goal is to return to the AoA at an earlier point in time, get his hands on Apocalypse’s “plague of penitence” and the antidote and use this plague to rule this world. The problem : He hasn’t been able to empower the fargate for more than brief moments – hence the “ripples”. But he already has a solution.
Armed guards enter the lab, asking him to evacuate as an unidentified force is nearing Genosha. At that moment the “force” - Nate - enters the lab. Nate easily defends himself against the guards and telekinetically frees the surviving mutates from their shackles. As he is forced to use his powers because of the attacking magistrates, the Sugarman presses a button and Nate’s immense energy powers up the gate, which Sugarman quickly jumps into. Nate is horrified and jumps in after him, ending up in the ocean.
Nate is close to drowning as some force pulls him up in the air – up above the Niagara Falls. Nate is being held suspended in the air – held by Magneto, who addresses him by his name.
Unsure, Nate briefly shuts off Magneto’s energy, leading to a painful feedback for him. Magneto blusters, but is interrupted by an amused voice from a hooded man – a man who reveals himself as Forge. Nate is overjoyed and hugs his old mentor, whom he believed dead, but then he realizes that Forge still has two healthy eyes instead of a bionic replacement and understands that he has entered the AoA timeline at an earlier point. Nate wants to tell Forge of all the horrors that await them. Forge interrupts him – he knows all that – Nate already told him the last time.
Meanwhile, in a facility above the Niagara falls, Sugarman, who has been here for several weeks, is experimenting with his strain of the plague on some poor victims, mainly one Calvin Rankin, who dies horribly as a result. Despite having all the test results he needs, he intends to do the same to his next prisoner – Jason Wyngarde.
In the meantime Forge and Nate huddle around a campfire while Magneto is already asleep. Apparently a future Nate had already visited Forge previously in the AoA and told him, what would happen on this adventure. As Nate presses him for more information, Forge remains tight-lipped. Their discussion turns to Magneto, whom Nate distrusts. He’s aware that Magneto is a hero here, but on the other Earth he is a hated terrorist. Was he always just the lesser of two evils, Nate wonders, alluding to the Onslaught disaster that cost the other Earth its heroes, thanks to Magnus and Xavier. Forge disagrees. Future-Nate told him that the other world never became the horror that is the AoA only thanks to Xavier. Nate asks, whether future-Nate also said how this raid was going to end. Forge doesn’t answer, but says, they’ll move at dawn, as their inside man will expect them then.
By now Sugarman has prepped Jason. The sensor probe boring into Jason’s speech-centers renders him incapable of speech. One of Sugarman’s aides, however is acting furtively.
Nate psi-scans the area, confirming that he is indeed in the AoA. He wonders, which world is really his home and what he is looking for. If he’s stuck in the AoA, he’d lose Threnody and Madelyne, but would at least have his friends back and be able to find Theresa somewhere. Besides this is only the dawning of the AoA, he might still be able to prevent some of the horrors to come.
Sugarman enjoys Jason’s obvious suffering as his body breaks down. The aide, wondering how he could have missed the point when Sugarman infected Jason, attacks Sugarman and reveals himself as the X-Man Morph. He then realizes, the whole scene was just a ruse by Jason, who tried to get the aide/Morph to help him – Sugarman wasn’t yet able to infect him. Morph frees Jason, but they find themselves surrounded by armed guards.
Luckily the cavalry arrives at that moment in the form of Nate, Magneto and Forge in an armed techno-chair. Morph called them in with his emergency signal, before he blew his cover. Morph hands Jason a gun, which he gleefully uses against the guards. Forge in the meantime notices that Sugarman is getting away and he is not running towards the exit. He orders Magneto to take out the mainframes and powercables and asks Nate to clear a path to Sugarman. As the two of them communicate via telepathy, Forge worries, that Nate might get an inkling of what he is planning to do. Sugarman shoots at Forge injuring his eye. As Forge unleashes an electric blast against him, he worries, that they won’t be able to alter time and that Sugarman will win, no matter what. Forge orders Nate to psilink him with Sugarman and realizes his plan. Sugarman intends to release a deadlier waterborne strain of the penitence virus to determine its efficiency, before taking it with him to the other reality. He orders Nate up and tells him the virus is in the Falls already mixed into the water. Magneto angrily shouts that Nate cannot do this alone. He can’t help him Forge replies and there’s something else he has to do. Nate struggles, then telepathically focuses on the individual microbes of the virus and then telekinetically culls them, and contains them. The strain starts showing as he starts to bleed out of his nose and ears.
In the meantime Magneto, following Forge’s instructions, adds the components of the techno-chair to Sugarman’s fargate. He’s not happy, however. While he doesn’t know as much as Forge or Nate about the situation, he doesn’t want to send Nate back. With his power they could win the war against Apocalypse. Forge replies that this isn’t right, as their world is only a shadow of that other world.
Nate enters, the trapped virus in tow. Magneto encases the tk forcefield holding the virus in metal and takes the load of Nate. Forge asks him to take the whole mess to a cold enough height, where the virus will die. Which leaves Forge to his machinations, Magneto concludes and glares at him, before leaving. As far as he’s concerned Forge has just condemned the world. Forge sadly realizes that this will be the final wedge between them. Only if he goes back, Nate replies. Which he must, Forge urges. Nate disagrees. He feels he can save this world, if he stays. If Forge doesn’t care about this world, why did he even bother sending Magneto to destroy the virus ? Because Magneto would have tried to stop him, Forge replies. He believes that the other world is the true reality, that deserves protecting. There’s hope over there. That place is the AoA saved, Forge explains while dragging the unconscious Sugarman to the gate. The remnants of M’Kraan energy in him unlock the door, but Nate still has to charge it. Nate is stubborn. He wants to stay with Forge.
And he won’t have leave, the returning Magneto replies and kills Forge. Furiously, predictably, Nate disintegrates Magneto, thus charging the fargate – he realizes that this scene was only an illusion by Mastermind, Magneto wasn’t there and Forge – still alive and well – urges him, that if he needs him, he’ll find him on the other side. He’ll find all his friends there, changed perhaps, but for the better. This little failsafe was actually planned by the future Nate, who knew that his past self would not want to leave. Almost dragged through the gate, Nate begs Forge to come with him. But who would be there for the younger Nate later in the AoA, Forge replies.
Back in New York City on the rooftops, Nate is still reeling from the experience. The city is starting to become his home, Nate realizes as he subconsciously chose it for his point of re-entry. Sugarman, he assumes, is back hiding in Genosha, and the real Forge has to be somewhere, too, and Nate vows to find him one day.
Second story :
On the yacht of Sebastian Shaw, his chief aide, the telepath Tessa is disturbed by the recent arrival of Selene, who has suggested to restart the Hellfire club’s Inner Circle. Even more bothersome is Selene’s companion, the mysterious Madelyne Pryor, whom Selene picked up in Paris. After a cursory mind-probe Tessa is sure that there is more to Madelyne than meets the eye. Sure, that Madelyne is asleep, Tessa silently enters both her cabin and her mind.
Tessa finds Maddie’s psi-scape peaceful at first. Surrounded by clouds, those suddenly give way to, shadow versions of the X-Men (Havok, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm and Wolverine) who shout that she shouldn’t have come here. Tessa tells them to stay back, they aren’t real. Everything’s real, they answer and combine into one distorted figure, before exploding. With the X–Men gone, Tessa figures, she’s reached a deeper level of Madelyne’s subconscious. There, surrounded by warm colors, she sees a newborn, that is picked up by Maddie. Mother and child are blissfully happy together, until Jean Grey and Cyclops show up, demanding that Madelyne let go of their son. Jean telekinetically takes the baby over Maddie’s protests and the three disappear. Tessa tries to console the crying Maddie, telling her, they’ll find her child. But Maddie lashes out at Tessa now focussing all her rage on her.
Both of them are back in reality with Madelyne awake and out for blood. How dare Tessa invade her mind, she demands and threatens dire consequences. Suddenly Madelyne displays telekinetic powers, mentally throwing objects at Tessa. Tessa switches the battle field to the astral plane believing she can win as she has seen Madelyne’s weaknesses, but Maddie proves to be a powerful telepath and holds herself.
Meanwhile at Xavier’s Jean Grey is roused from her sleep by the fight. She feels a disturbance on the psionic plane, but cannot pinpoint it.
Madelyne is winning as she has better resources than Tessa and subdues her, mocking her as a weakling. Back in reality, Maddie decides to kill Tessa for that violation. She intends to suffocate her telekinetically, but eventually decides against it, as even a seemingly natural death would rouse Shaw’s suspicion. Maddie erases Tessa’s memory of that night and leaves her asleep on the deck.
Alone, she muses that this event has its good sides. She finally has her repressed powers and memories back. She knows, what the X-Men and especially Mr. Sinister did to her, and they will all pay.