In orbit around Earth - the mutant known only as Gazer floats around in his space suit. He thinks that this is better than sitting around in the satellite waiting for radiation sickness to kill him. ‘Yes. I’m ready to meet my maker. And when I do, I’ll say, “Hi, I’m Gazer”!’ Suddenly, there is a blinding light that comes straight up from Earth - and engulfs Gazer.
Meanwhile, in a sprawling Egyptian Sphinx oddly located in Costa Rica. ‘I’ve got an even better idea, Lord Apocalypse. Why don’t we kill them all?’ asks Ozymandias as he floats beside the ancient mutant En Saba Nur - Apocalypse! ‘Every single duplicitous, wicked, mutant-hating human on the planet!’ Apocalypse doesn’t answer, just keeps walking towards his destination. Ozymandias exclaims that he knows he is nothing but a grain of desert stuck between the toes of Apocalypse’s greatness, before pointing out that he has served him all these millennia. ‘The long years while you slept, have I not -’
‘Did you say something, scribe?’ Apocalypse asks, turning to Ozymandias. Ozymandias begins to reply, but Apocalypse interrupts again, ordering his servant to prepare the prisoners, as it is time, before telling Ozymandias that, in the name of Set, he must do something about his personal hygiene. ‘Just because we’re ancient, doesn’t mean we have to smell it’. ‘Yes, Master…’
In another part of the enormous Sphinx, Apocalypse stands before Gazer, telling him to stop blubbering, as he should be grateful. Apocalypse points out that if it wasn’t for him, Gazer would be an unconsecrated corpse floating in the freezing emptiness of space. Gazer mutters that her saw a bright light, and then “wham” it was incredible. ‘How…how did you do that?’ he asks. Arms folded across his chest, Apocalypse declares that it is unimportant now that he is here, with a chance to make something of himself.
Gazer grabs Apocalypse by the feet, exclaiming that he was prepared to die, that he had prepared himself spiritually to meet his maker. Apocalypse tells Gazer that it is not his maker that he is destined to meet, but Dr. Foster, and Egyptologist who is brought into the chamber by Ozymandias. Apocalypse announces that one of them will have the honor of being transformed into his Horseman, War. He explains to them that they will fight for this honor - to the death. Ozymandias holds up the weapons they will use, and Dr. Foster looks mortified. Apocalypse leaves the chamber. ‘Splendid. Inform me when there is a victor, Ozymandias. I have other matters to attend to’.
Meanwhile, at the World Health Organization laboratory in Washington D.C. ‘SARS…Cholera…World War One influenza…anthrax…bubonic plague,’ a frightening armored person exclaims to themselves as they make their way through the laboratory, test tubes broken and empty lying all over the floor - alongside the scientists. From a chamber in his Sphinx, Apocalypse communicates with the horror, addressing them as Pestilence, he asks if they have ingested all of the diseases.
Pestilence replies that they have, and even smallpox, for even though it is old fashioned, it has a real sense of theater. ‘You’re bringing me back to base now, master?’ Apocalypse replies not yet, for when they unleash Pestilence on the world, he needs to be absolutely sure that nothing will stop them. ‘Nothing made by man, at least’. Apocalypse orders Pestilence to go to Africa, for it is fertile ground for their requirements. And with that, Pestilence is teleported away.
Back in the Sphinx, ‘Ow! That hurt!’ Gazer exclaims as Dr. Foster slices his upper right arm. ‘Sorry’ Foster replies. Watching from the sides, Ozymandias calls the men “kittens” and tells them to hurry up, as the mighty Apocalypse will be ten thousand years old by the time they are finished. Gazer turns to him and asks if they are such kittens, then why did Apocalypse choose them. ‘He works in mysterious ways,’ Ozymandias replies. ‘And what do you mean by Horsemen? I hate horses!’ Gazer exclaims.
Suddenly, Dr. Foster smashes Gazer across the head with his weapon. Foster puts his foot on Gazer’s chest to keep him down, and holds his weapon to Gazer’s throat. Gazer is surprised, but Foster tells him he is amazingly sorry, but he doesn’t seem to have much choice. Foster tells Gazer it would be easier for them both if he shut his eyes, but Gazer tells him ‘No…if you wanna do this…stare into my eyes…’ ‘Very well,’ replies Foster as he is about to strike, when suddenly, something strikes him from behind - Ozymandias - who shoves a weapon through Foster’s chest.
Foster falls to the ground on top of Gazer, who asks Ozymandias ‘Why?’ Ozymandias motions to Foster and tells Gazer that one more second and this idiot would have run him through. He reveals that he has seen many murdered and it is very unpleasant - it shakes one’s belief in the beneficence of the Gods. Gazer begins to thank Ozymandias, but he exclaims ‘No! No “thanks you’s”’ and tells him to remembers that he owes his life to him. ‘You are in my debt, Gazer’. Wiping his knife, Ozymandias tells Gazer that soon he will ask him to settle his account. ‘You shall come to my assistance. And then, the lowly scribe…will be master!’
With several robotic horses to his left, Apocalypse sits on his throne, thinking that his next Horseman may be more difficult, but that he is confident in his powers of persuasion. Ozymandias enters Apocalypse’s chamber and asks him if he considered his suggestion - to let Pestilence ride over all humanity…without mercy. Apocalypse replies that he does not know mercy, and that if he chooses to kill, it is for a purpose. Apocalypse tells Ozymandias that he is a loyal servant and that he knows he shares his goals. ‘Otherwise, I would punish you for you impudence,’ Apocalypse then teleports away, and Ozymandias just mutters ‘Of course, Master’.
Meanwhile, in Aspen. ‘You would have done better to let me die,’ exclaims the one time X-Man Shiro “Sunfire” Yoshida. A ninja standing beside his bed informs Sunfire that he was in a coma for some time, and points out that it is only natural for him to be upset. ‘Do you remember what happened?’ ‘I remember enough, who are you?’ Sunfire remarks. One of the ninjas replies that they are friends who arrived before Lady Deathstrike could come back for him.
One of the ninjas introduces a man wearing a suit as Masanori Kuzuya, the world’s leading specialist in prosthetic limbs. Sunfire faces away from them in his bed, ‘Do you think I want to hobble about on plastic legs?’ he mutters, before telling them to hand him a sword and he will put an end to it. Masanori smiles and informs Sunfire that his new limbs will not be plastic, but soft durable silicone, controlled by a microchip. ‘You may even be able to tap dance - if, that is, you were able to tap dance before’.
Suddenly, ‘The man has lost his legs...now leave him with some dignity!’ exclaims Apocalypse as he teleports into the room. The ninjas grab their swords and stand in shock, ‘Who are you?’ ‘How did you get in here?’ Apocalypse replies that he has come to offer Sunfire a way out of his nightmare, and tosses the ninjas out the window. Apocalypse stands over Sunfire, announcing that he is the Messiah that mutant kind has been waiting for. ‘I want you to help me save our kind, Sunfire’. ‘Help you? Look at me, I can’t help myself!’ Shiro exclaims.
Apocalypse kneels beside the bed so he is face to face with Shiro and informs him that he can make him powerful again, that he can give him tools to wreak the vengeance on the ones who left him like this. ‘I can make you whole, Sunfire’. Nervously, Sunfire asks Apocalypse what it is he wants in return. Apocalypse just smiles wickedly.
Meanwhile, at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning in Westchester, New York - home of the Uncanny X-Men and the 198. Sitting in a tree, the long serving X-Man known as Rogue tells Augustus that she doesn’t know what he wants - or what her crazy mother told him, but she and Gambit are happy. ‘Glad to hear it, Rogue,’ Augustus a.k.a. Pulse replies. Rogue exclaims that she and Gambit have their problems, ‘Who doesn’t?’ she asks. ‘Me, actually. I don’t have problems,’ Augustus replies.
Rogue exclaims that she doesn’t know what these “special attributes” are that Mystique said he had - Augustus interrupts, exclaiming that it was embarrassing, and for all her modern ways, Mystique is pretty antiquated, for she still thinks marriages should be arranged. Pulse explains to Rogue that he simply told Mystique that he would meet her, that he owes her. Augustus claims that he doesn’t really expect anything to happen so they should try and be friends at least, for there is enough war and strife in this world without the two of them fighting.
‘Mister, I wouldn’t put your hand there,’ Rogue exclaims as Augustus puts his hand on Rogue’s arm. ‘You going to slap a suit on me for sexual harassment?’ Augustus asks. Rogue replies that she isn’t, but that she might just suck out his life force till he is nothing but an empty husk. Pulse tells her not to worry about that, when Rogue asks him what is up with his eyes. ‘Don’t worry about that, either’ Pulse replies. Rogue then asks how long his hand has been there with nothing happening….
Inside the Institute, Raven Darkholme a.k.a. Mystique and Remy “Gambit” LeBeau are having a boxing match. Raven explains that it is something to do with his eyes, when they spin - or “pulse” - he creates a field that disables a mutant’s power. Raven adds that Augustus’ powers also work on burglar alarms, which has led him into bad ways. ‘Tell it to someone who cares, Mystique,’ Gambit exclaims. Raven smacks Remy in the shoulder, telling him that Augustus can touch Rogue - hold her, kiss her, anything, for he stops her power.
Gambit asks Raven if he thinks her daughter is that shallow, if that is all it will take to get her away from him - is a man she can hold without killing? Mystique declares that she thinks Rogue is a good person who would sacrifice her own needs and desires so as not to hurt Gambit, before asking Gambit if he loves Rogue enough to let her have a chance of real happiness.
Back in Apocalypse’s Sphinx, Gazer is suspended from some device. Apocalypse explains to him that his skeleton has been stretched, so they must now shape it, then strengthen it. Apocalypse remarks that he could have saved himself some of this trouble and chosen someone stronger to be his Horseman, but that would have been so easy. However, to take a dying weakling like Gazer and reincarnate him into the very embodiment of bloody conflict…’Now that takes daring, brilliance, and I admit it…a little arrogance’
Apocalypse tells Gazer that arrogance has its uses, for only the arrogant would declares themselves a Messiah - and only the arrogant would be prepared to fight the X-Men!
Back at the Xavier Institute, a taxi has just dropped off Alex Summers a.k.a. the handsome Havok. Alex’s brother, Scott a.k.a. Cyclops asks him why he didn’t call and say he was coming back. Alex replies that he didn’t know he was coming back, and reveals that the closer he got the less he felt like coming back. Rogue asks Alex if he is okay, to which Alex replies that he is about as far from okay as you can get. Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman approaches Alex and asks him where Lorna is.
Alex just walks past, ignoring his rival’s question, which angers Bobby. ‘Where is she, man? Are you hiding her? You lose her or something?’ ‘Yes… I think I’ve lost her,’ Alex replies solemnly. Alex remarks that he shouldn’t have let her get anywhere near that green monster. ‘Just tell me where she is!’ Bobby declares, while Scott asks ‘What green monster?’ Alex announces that he thinks Polaris is dead. Cyclops asks Havok how he can be certain that he thinks Lorna is dead.
‘You were supposed to look after her!’ snaps Iceman. Alex puts a hand up to his face as he informs everyone that everything went wrong - the thing she saw in space landed and Lorna could understand it - or so she thought - then the masked woman arrived - the Leper Queen…’What happened, Summers?’ shouts Bobby, grabbing Alex by the collar.
Suddenly, Scott tells everyone to hold up, as he and Colossus stare up above the mansion. ‘I think we’ve got more immediate trouble’ he announces, for looming over the mansion is a mighty Sphinx!
Costa Rica - inside Apocalypse’s Sphinx temple. Shiro “Sunfire” Yoshida, one time X-Man, former ally of Alpha Flight and member of Japan’s only super hero team, Big Hero 6, is chained to a wall by his neck, He hears the screaming again - but this time it is different - it is no longer human. The pitiful cry of an animal caught in a snare trying to tear its own leg off. Pulling at the chain that binds him to the wall, Shiro thinks that he was such a fool to trade his freedom for this. The screaming gets louder and he wonders how it can possibly get any louder - ‘What are they doing to him?’
The origin of the screams comes from another chamber, where the mutant Gazer is being transformed into the Horseman known as War. He screams, and Apocalypse the Messiah, the Savior of Mutant kind remarks that he knows this part hurts, and that he has stopped the pain-killers, explaining that the pain is a necessary part of the process, for the pain is the fire in which his new warlike soul is forged. ‘Perhaps it is easier to withstand now that you know why it must hurt?’ Tears stream from Gazer’s eyes, and Apocalypse just exclaims ‘Excellent, I knew you’d understand’, before telling Ozymandias to prepare the next Horseman.
Back in his cell, Sunfire realizes that now that it has gone silent, he doesn’t find it comforting. But it is not long before there is a new and more harrowing sound - sobbing. A grown man, a human being, broken to pieces. Battered into a weeping baby. Ozymandias enters the cell and tells Sunfire to come along. Pulling at Shiro’s chain so he can unlock him. Shiro declares that he will not let it happen to him - that he will fight, tear at every sinew until it kills him.
‘No. What you’ll do is scream, then you’ll cry - just like all the rest of them’ As he is dragged along the ground, unable to walk since his legs below the knees were cut off, Sunfire then punches Ozymandias, first in the stomach, then the head, and the old man falls to the ground.
Sunfire pulls himself along the ground, he thinks he knows where the exit is because he remembers arriving this way, not to mention he can tell the air is fresher down this way. From the other direction comes a foul blast of sweat, noxious fumes and blood. ‘This is my chance for freedom’.
Then Shiro remembers the screaming, the broken-down sobbing. He has lost his legs - but does that make him any less of a man? How much will he be if he leaves that poor soul to his fate? The screaming has started again….