It is a crisp autumn day at the Treehouse, home of the super heroes known as the X-Men. Most of them are currently on a mission at the Vault, which Everett Thomas a.k.a. Synch opted out of, as he had given enough of his time to that place. Sitting at a monitor station within the Treehouse, when Jean Grey's astral projection appears before Synch, he knows something must be very wrong. 'We need you at the Vault!' Jean exclaims. Synch looks concerned, then projects his thoughts to Jean, assuring her that he will be there in a moment, as he races through a Krakoan gateway.
A short time ago, within the temporarily accelerated confines of the Vault, Forge closes a capsule where he found a version of Laura Kinney a.k.a. Wolverine and tells Caliban, whose skin he wears on part of his costume, that Wolverine is not the mission. 'So we're just leaving her here?' Caliban asks. Forge pauses, and replies 'For now' as he turns and runs out of the laboratory. Forge tells Caliban that he was assured Wolverine was killed in action so that Synch could escape with the scouting of this place, but that it is all screwed up. He adds that he thought the Five only accidentally resurrected one mutant not two – and Darwin is the mission. 'Forge, you told me that you got my permission to use my powers and mind like this because you needed me to help people' Caliban remarks, before shouting 'I WANT YOU TO HELP HER!' Annoyed, Forge tells Caliban that he doesn't really exist, not really, and that he can't tell him what to do. 'I bundled your mind and your DNA and I wove them into this suit. You're a tool – and I am the craftsman!' Forge boasts, before pressing a button on his armor and switching Caliban into sleep mode.
Forge comes to a stop. 'Dammit' he mutters, before pressing the button once more, turning Caliban back on. He apologizes to Caliban, who declares 'Everyone that has ever come to me has always misused my curse. Including you'. But Forge tells Caliban not to say that, and tells him that his power is a gift. 'No. No, it's not when it's misused' Caliban replies. Forge asks Caliban if he senses Darwin at all – because it could mean the survival of their species. Before Caliban can answer, a voice calls out 'I marvel at your hubris, mutant!' Forge turns, shocked as he sees Serafina, one of the Children of the Vault approaching him – and slams her fist into his armor, shattering his face mask. Forge falls to the ground, while Serafina tells him that he thought he could just walk into the Vault without anyone noticing. 'But I see all!' she boasts.
Caiban's face and skin is stretched out to resemble an X on Forge's armor, and Caliban looks up at Serafina, calling her by name. Serafina is confused at this, and asks Caliban how he knows her name. Caliban reveals that he has access to all after-action reports that are deemed critical to the success of this mission. 'And what is that mission?' Serafina asks, holding a sharp dagger one inch from Caliban's skin. Caliban informs Serafina that it is a rescue, and then announces that Forge is waking up. Indeed, Forge wakes, and warns Serafina to stay back, as he suddenly pops several energy claws from his knuckles and lunges up at Serafina, who flips backwards. 'I like the mutant you wove into your suit more than I like you' Serafina remarks, before hurling a blade towards Forge, grinning as she exclaims 'Catch!' But it's too late, as the blade strikes Forge – and Caliban – in the chest.
Forge tries to make a getaway, and lumbers into another room within the Vault, while instructing his suit to increase power to life support. He sits down beside a pod, and prepares to release a mission failure beacon ping, which he wants to repeat until acknowledgment is received. Caliban suggests to Forge that he does the talking, to which Forge replies 'Sure. I have some bleeding to do anyway'. Serafina finds Forge, and sits on a nearby pod, where she announces that she remembers being captured by humans – humans from Orchis – and that before she could escape, she was rescued by mutants. 'Why?' she asks. Caliban smiles as he tells Serafina 'That's what the X-Men do. They do what is right. Leaving you a prisoner of Orchis would have been wrong'.
Serafina leans down into Forge and holds a blade at his neck as she informs him that she is going to ask him questions, and that if he tells the truth, he will live, if he lies, he will die. 'Did you construct the trap outside the entrance to the Vault?' she asks. Forge pauses, before narrowing his eyes and confirming that he did. 'Very good' Serafina grins, before asking him why. 'The alternative was...war' Forge explains. Serafina tells him that is correct, before asking Forge what his ulterior motive was. 'Because I wanted to see what would happen' Forge explains. Serafina stands up and tells Forge that she believes him – which is the same reason she is allowing him to take his mutant and go. 'My scales are balanced. I too want to see how this will end' Serafina smirks as she walks down a corridor. Forge pulls the blade from his chest and cries out in pain. 'Damn. I didn't get her number' he jokes, when suddenly, several cables from the pod behind him connect with his body. 'What the hell?' Forge calls out, as his eyes roll back in his head, and Caliban asks him what is happening, but he gets no response.
(in Forge's mind)
'What the hell? Suit? Increase life support. Unless I'm dead?' Forge calls out as he wakes to find himself in a large bed, sun beaming through an open window. 'Caliban? Hello?' Forge remarks as he sits up in bed, but gets no response. He looks at his arm and wonders if that was just a dream, and whether he is dead. 'No, not at all, Maker' a voice calls out. 'Who's there?' Forge asks as he leaps out of bed and goes over to the balcony, where he utters' My god...' as he looks out and sees a sprawling utopia. Banshee, Rogue and Sunfire fly nearby, as Forge exclaims 'It's real. This is exactly how Krakoa looks in my imagination'.
'It should be. We're in your mind, and what a mind it is' A winged Darwin smiles as he flies up in front of Forge, greeting him and pointing out that it has been a long time. 'Darwin? How is this possible? Are we still in the Vault?' Forge asks as he looks up at Darwin. Darwin begins to fly upwards and tells Forge to come with him. Forge explains that he was injured, and asks if this is a hallucination brought on by blood loss, before the Captain Krakoa costume materializes on Forge and he is able to fly through the air, following Darwin, who calls back 'No', and explains that as they speak, Forge's exploration suit is containing the physical damage to his frame. 'I wanted to chat in private, so I established a secure connection to your mind' Darwin explains. Forge flies after Darwin as they pass a river of lava, and Forge tells Darwin that he was his mission, that he is here to rescue him. 'Where is your body?' Forge asks.
'Well, that's a story' Darwin frowns, glancing backwards at Forge, he then remarks that he won't lie, and reveals that the first few centuries in the Vault were a nightmare, that it was even more difficult after he was captured – and he doesn't care for remembering those days. Darwin reminds Forge that his gift is to survive anything – and tells him that was put to the test by the Children of the Vault, whose experiments were essentially living autopsies. 'They were prepared...but so was I'. Forge looks solemn as he asks Darwin how he survived. Darwin smiles as he replies 'I said to myself “I don't know how I'm going to get out of this one.” And in the next instant, I had the answer'. Forge suddenly realizes that Darwin is code. Remembering his body, his brain, linked to dozens of cables and wires, Darwin reveals that when the Children of the Vault came for him, they scanned his memories, so he gave them currated versions of his life and snuck his conscious mind into their architecture. 'Ideas are very hard to kill'.
'Goddess' Forge utters, before telling Darwin that he has done enough for his people and that they need to get him home and upload him into a new body. Darwin's body begins to fade away, as he tells Forge that his good work is already done. 'Perhaps my shell was holding me back? Now...I can be in many places at once' Darwin replies, adding that he is still learning about the Vault, and that he is not quite ready to leave yet. Forge and Darwin shake hands as Darwin explains that the temporal flux of the Vault was a curse when he had a shell, but that now he is free, the time he has here is a blessing. Darwin informs Forge that there are millions of people here, and that he has learned so much by watching them, and now he wants to continue to learn. 'I also wish to see what happens' he adds. Forge tells Darwin that he is a brave mutant, and that he hopes they meet again. 'I'm sure of it' Darwin replies, before bidding Forge goodbye, and then vanishing completely. Forge them screams as he begins to freefall out of the sky.
'AH!' Forge calls out as he wakes, the cables connecting to him pulling backwards, while Caliban asks him what happened, and points out that he was unconscious for several minutes. 'I... never mind. Long story. I'll tell you on the way' Forge replies, before instructing his suit to transform into a medevac frame. Caliban asks Forge if he is doing the right thing, and as Forge opens the pod where Laura Kinney is in stasis, he tells Caliban trhat he is. 'I think I heard somewhere along the way...that is what the X-Men do' he remarks.
Shortly, outside the Vault, in real-time, Synch arrives through a Krakoan gateway. 'I'm here! What is it? What's wrong?' he calls out as he finds Jean Grey, Cyclops, Iceman, Magik, Firestar and Forge waiting for him. 'Why are you all looking at me like that?' Synch asks as he notices his teammates smiling. 'Man, you're a bundle of nerves' Iceman remarks, before asking if something has to be wrong all the time. 'Today is a good day. And it's not even over' Firestar adds. Synch notices Havok is missing, and asks Cyclops where he is, but Cyclops tells him not to worry and that Havok is fine. 'So why am I... here?' Synch asks, when suddenly 'Hi' Laura Kinney utters as she appears behind Cyclops and Jean Grey. Synch goes wide-eyed at seeing “his” Laura whom he spent centuries with inside the Vault. Cyclops quietly suggests to Synch that Laura might need some time, but Laura rushes forward and leaps into Synch's arms, and they kiss. 'Or not' Cyclops smiles.
Jean suggests that it is time to go home, while Forge reports that the Vault pacification systems are fully operational and tells the others that as long as Krakoa is functioning, the Vault is on ice. He then materializes a flame-thrower which he uses to destroy the Captain Krakoa suit – and Caliban. Jean asks Forge if he is okay, and tells him that he looks like he saw a ghost. 'Two, if you can believe it' Forge replies. Iceman and Firestar step through the Krakoan gateway, followed by Magik, then Synch and Laura. Cyclops turns and extends his hand to Jean, who walks beside Forge. 'I'll tell you about it, but first...I have to meet a friend' Forge remarks.
Later, at the Green Lagoon, on Krakoa, where the Blob and Forearm are busy tending bar. The X-Force team are scattered about drinking – Black Tom Cassidy is at the bar, while wolverine stands nearby. Domino and Sage can be seen talking, while Deadpool and Colossus are there, too. Tempo is sitting at the bar, and next to her is Caliban, who turns as Forge arrives, thanking Caliban for meeting him. 'Of course. You said there is trouble' Caliban replies. 'Yes, there is. Was' Forge replies as he sits next to Caliban, and asks him 'Hypothetically, if I asked you to trust me and to trust me with everything that you are – your powers and your mind – would you do that? If I could help mutants in trouble?' Forge asks. 'Yes' Caliban smiles without hesitation. Forge sighs. 'Okay. I have quite a tale to tell and an even bigger apology to make to you' Forge announces, before asuring Caliban that the story has a happy ending – several, in fact. 'First, you've heard the one about Synch, Wolverine and Darwin heading into the Vault, right...?'