Limbo: Magik slices her Soulsword through the N’Garai demon who was about to attack her and her friend, Kitty Pryde. Kitty could not be more confused, for the young woman who stands before her appears to be her dearest friend, former New Mutant Illyana Rasputin, but Illyana has been long dead. Kitty asks Magik how it is possible for her to be here, but Magik replies they will worry about that later, as she is more concerned about her, and asks Kitty how she is feeling. The mutant sometimes called Shadowcat tells Magik that despite having her soul literally torn from her body, she has felt worse.
Magik tells Kitty that she had hoped to get to her before Belasco had, and asks her to forgive her. Kitty asks Magik if she is kidding, and tells her that all she is concerned about is why Belasco did this to her, and why her called her his "Catspaw." Her face hidden behind the hood of her cloak, to conceal her true self, Magik tells Kitty that she fears it goes back to the X-Men’s first encounter with Belasco, when the X-Men came to Limbo in search of six-year-old Illyana, and instead fell victim to Belasco’s arcane powers. After encasing Kitty in an eldritch crystal, he magically removed her skeleton. This required the alternate elderly Storm who loved in Limbo to use her own magical skills to reintegrate Kitty’s skin and bone. What Belasco did not reveal was that the crystal was etched with a Spell of Dominion, which bonded with Kitty’s skeletal frame upon her restoration, and it was that spell which Belasco used to bring her to Limbo.
Shadowcat looks shocked at what Magik just revealed to her an asks her if what she is saying is that all Belasco had to do was snap his fingers and she would be back in Limbo? Kitty is upset and asks what that monster has done to her.
Magik tries to comfort Kitty by telling her that it is not only she, as they both are servants of forces far beyond their control. Magik tells Kitty that while the N’Garai seek to conquer Earth, Belasco’s ultimate goal is to seize Limbo, the portal to all creation, and use the realm as his base from which to dominate the entire Omniverse.
Magik says that Belasco has to be stopped, and Kitty agrees. She asks when they start, but Magik tells her that it is not as simple as that, and reminds Kitty that Belasco has her soul, so she can no longer exist on Earth. Magik explains that the longer Kitty stays in Limbo, the more she will fall under Belasco’s sway. Kitty asks Magik if what she is telling her is that she is "in deep" basically. Magik tells her that there is one chance, but with it comes a risk. Kitty listens to the sorceress as she tells her that her corporeal form can be absorbed into the Soulsword, until her soul can be returned to her. Kitty asks what the downside is, and Magik tells her that she could remain trapped in the sword for all eternity.
Magik holds onto Kitty Pryde as she asks if it will hurt. Magik tells her she has suffered enough, and as Kitty fades from sight, Magik tells her to sleep well, and swears by her own soul that she will not fail her. Magik turns suddenly as Belasco makes his presence known and mocks how melodramatic she is. He tells her that she cannot have learned that while his apprentice, as he would have taught her better. Before he can continue, Magik slices him with the Soulsword. He screams and she tells him to ‘stop talking and die already.’
Belasco tells her she struck well, and had it been his true form rather than a projection, she might have done some damage. Magik goads ‘Ever the coward, eh, Belasco?’ and he tells her he is being prudent, as his new allies possess power beyond comprehension, and that once the five bloodstones have been forged from the souls of the X-Men, no power in existence can prevent the N’Garai from sweeping through Limbo and onto Earth. Belasco’s image begins to fade away and tells Magik to behold the shape of the world to come, and that she should try to resist, as the fiercer the fight, the sweeter the triumph!
Magik stands on top of the mountain of skulls in front of the mansion as the universe shimmers then recreates itself, it takes on the visage of a nightmare, a world awash with carnage, a monument to madness. It seems like eternity that the powerful sorceress known as Magik stands on the mountain of skulls, surveying the unholy devastation around her. With a howl like the protest of a planet, the young woman raises her enchanted weapon, and strikes back in humanity’s name. A blinding light of mystic luminescence, the world is swept clean again, but the blood chilling memory remains. Magik cries out to Belasco that if he wants a real fight, he has got one – and it is a mistake he will not live to regret.
Hong Kong, while much has changed since the Chinese Repatriation, some things, like the squalor, the misery and crime, never change. A detective complains about another non-working elevator, and Colonel Wei tells him the exercise is good. He asks a police officer where the crime scene is, to which the officer shows him the room. Upon entering, the detective sees all the blood splattered around the room, and shocked, asks what sort of monster is loose in the city, and tells the Colonel that with the bodies in this room, the total dead now sits and one hundred and sixty-nine.
The colonel tells the detective that the number is the same as thirteen times thirteen, the number of a Grand Coven, used only for the most powerful of arcane rites, or in this case the most foul. The detective tells the colonel that he doesn’t understand, and standing next to a cairn in the middle of the room, the colonel tells him that he did only what he had to do – to open the way for his brothers. The shadow of Colonel Wei begins to change, and the detective cries in horror. Transforming, the creature tells the detective he is not colonel Wei, but merely a Pilgrimm. The detective turns around and sees the demon before it tells him that he and the others outside will carry this secret to their graves….
Back in Limbo, Magik levitates in the center of a pentegram of fire, and thinks that while it took all of her arcane energies, she has learned what Belasco’s possessed catspaws are after – five members of the original X-Men! The N’Garai within Colossus and Nightcrawler pursue Phoenix and Beast, who are in Rome, the possessed Storm tracks Archangel who is somewhere over the Berkshires, and in Genosha, the possessed Banshee and Sunfire seek Polaris and Iceman.
Magik thinks that only two of the „New X-Men" are not involved the long-dead original Thunderbird, and Wolverine, whom Belasco is not mad enough to try and mess with. Magik digresses that she may not be able to save all the X-Men, if any, but what matters most is stopping the N’Garai, and for that she knows who she needs…
In the sky, over the Berkshires in Connecticut, Archangel, one of the original X-Men,
soars the sky in search of his quarry…the couple in the Ferrari Daytona speeding on the road below. The driver is Neal Sharra, a.k.a. the new Thunderbird, and also the newest member of the X-Men, in the passenger seat of the car is the British mutant, Betsy Braddock, sometimes known as Psylocke.
The car speeds past Radiance Luminology, and while the signpost stands clear on the road, the building itself is hidden, well away from the casual observer – which is probably quite fortunate considering the sinister secret it hides.
Inside Radiance Luminology, two security personnel are monitoring view screens. One of them complains about wasting their time doing it, especially since the creature they are monitoring has not moved since it was brought in by Black Ops.
This is very true, but the interdimensional creature known as the Ru’tai has had no reason to move – until now, when an N’Garai cairn simply comes into existence, and at once the Ru’tai abruptly goes wild. It hisses at the camera before slashing it to bits. It says that it no longer has to sit and endure such indignity as the moment has come to strike back.
One of the security personal shouts to others that they have a "code red" and they are going into maximum lockdown.
Without hesitation, the Ru’tai hurls itself onto the cairn, impaling itself, and unleashing the chaos.
A blinding green light spreads throughout the compound, blinding the guards. When they enter the Ru’tai’s cell, they do not see it, but are puzzled by the person who is in the cell. He has the form of Colonel Wei, but when asked who he is and how he got in, he only tells them he is called Pilgrimmm, which is the last thing they will learn, as despite unleashing gunfire upon him, Pilgrimm manages to wipe all the guards out.
Now several miles away from where carnage has just taken place, Betsy and Neal are lost in the thrill of the ride, when suddenly, Neal spots danger, and reacting without thinking he cuts the wheel hard, as Archangel swoops down onto them. Warren calls out to him that he made a nice move, but that he is still way out of his league.
Thunderbird jumps out of the car, and tells Warren that he doesn’t know what he did to offend him, but that there is no way he is letting him touch him before he finds out, and unleashes a plasma shield, which Warren hits hard as he tries to fly down to Neal. Warren tells him that his shield is ‘cute’ and that he is a quick learner.
Betsy enters the fray now, and asking Warren what is wrong with him tells him to stop what he is doing, and Betsy hits him with a psi-blast. Warren loses control of his flight, and as he falls to the ground, Thunderbird jumps in and grabs him, telling Betsy he has got him. Psylocke asks Neal if she asked for his help and runs over to where the two men have engaged in a fist fight. She asks them to "Stuff a sock in it" and warns them about making her come over there.
Thunderbird tells her he did not start it, but will be glad to finish it. Warren flies out of the gully and up to the same level as Betsy, telling Neal that it is not about him, but between he and Betsy. Betsy asks Warren what he is talking about, and he starts to get mad. He tells her he thought they had something special, but as soon as he turns his back, he tells her that she is off hitting every hot spot in town with the newbie.
Betsy raises her voice to match his, and tells her boyfriend that she does not appreciate the adolescent jealousy, and that she thought she would have at least earned his trust by now, but before she can continue, Thunderbird makes his way up the ridge, and starts to interrupt. Betsy and Warren both turn to him and tell him to shut up. Neal turns away and tells the squabbling lovers he thought they might be interested to know he heard some gunshots – suddenly, a bright light marks the appearance of Magik, who entering Earth through one of the Stepping Disks which she controls, tells everyone to take cover before it is too late.
Which it is, as a possessed Storm arrives on the scene. Crying ‘it is found, it is ours!’ the N’Garai has full access to all of the X-Men’s leader’s powers and even under the best of circumstances she is an opponent to be wary of – but these are not the best of circumstances. The N’Garai strikes the ground with lightening, separating Warren and Betsy from each other.
Thunderbird asks her if she has gone mad, but he does not know she is possessed. Not answering, as her actions speak louder than words, and sends another bolt of lightening to the ground. Thunderbird is sent careening into Magik, while Betsy is knocked completely out of the game. Archangel managed to avoid the assault though, but only for a moment, as she sends forth a windstorm, which Warren knows he cannot resist, so he thinks he should let it work for him, and it carries him further into the forest.
It is an old forest, with lots of heavy growth, meaning plenty of coverage, Warren thinks that the foliage is too dense for Storm to get a decent shot at him, but she makes for an easy target herself.
On the ground and slightly dazed from Storm’s assault, Magik regrets that she was too late again, and tells herself she has to learn to control the Stepping Disks better. A few meters away from Magik, Thunderbird is also on the ground, and tells the hooded blonde girl that he doesn’t know what she did to Storm, but knows it is her fault. Neal tells Magik that he is giving her three seconds to return Storm to normal before he takes her apart. Magik starts to ask him what he is talking about, and suddenly cries ‘Fool! Did you truly think you could catch me unaware?’
Magik starts to ready a magickal assault, but Thunderbird dives into her and grabbing her at the waist, Neal tells Magik he will catch her anyway she can. He pins her to the ground and tells her to change Storm back to normal. Magik tells Thunderbird he is an idiot, and that she wasn’t aiming at him. He asks whom, but as a hand knocks him of the sorceress and into a tree, he gets his answer. Magik tells him it was the monster behind him. That „monster" tells Magik she is wrong, for he is not a monster, but Pilgrimmm. It moves closer to Magik and Neal and Neal tells it that it can call itself what it wants, but that it is not taking them down without a fight.
Pilgrimm leaps over Magik and Thunderbird, telling him he misunderstands, that it will not fight them, telling them it has not interest in them. Neal is surprised that it jumped over them and ignored them. Magik realizes that one of the others must be a target, and opening a Stepping Disc, she grabs Thunderbird by the arm and pulls him through, praying that she is not too late this time.
Meanwhile, the possessed Storm flies over the forest, still searching for Archangel, she calls to him telling him that he cannot evade „us" forever. Startled by a movement, Storm sends a lightening bolt crashing to the ground, but seeing it is just a deer only aggravates her more, and she says ‘Fah! Merely some mindless beast’. She calls to Archangel, telling him to reveal himself, to accept his fate and be done with it.
Higher up in the sky, Warren stays behind the possessed Storm, out of her sight. While he doesn’t know what is wrong with Ororo, he thinks she moves as if her body and powers were all new to her, and decides it means one of two things – she is an impostor, or possessed. Storm cries out to Archangel telling him that while he may think himself well hidden, the winds will prove otherwise, and as the N’Garai within Storm uses her control over the elements to part the trees, it becomes instantly shocked and somewhat afraid at who the trees reveal – A Ru’tai! Seemingly stuck in the air, unable to move, "Storm" lets the demon come for her…
Archangel dives in between the two, knocking the Ru’tai back, fearing that if the body does really belong to Storm, then it cannot be harmed. The demon lands hard on the ground below. Suddenly, the N’Garai inhabiting Storm’s body uses her powers to make Warren fall to the ground also, telling him that even he cannot remain aloft without sufficient lift. As Archangel’s wings beat against nothing he plummets to the ground, and lands, lying deadly still.
"Storm" leaves the air and heads for the ground, as she tells Warren that he was worthy prey, Storm’s face disappears, revealing that of the N’Garai in her. The demon walks over to the still Archangel and tells him it is the N’Garai who will triumph, and it is sent flying back by a quick whip from one of Warren’s wings, challenging the demon, he tells it that whoever it is it is not Storm, as she would never have fallen for that old „playing possum" gag.
Suddenly, the Ru’tai gets up and runs over to Archangel, telling him that it is a N’Garai wearing his friends body, and tells Warren that very soon the N’Garai will be nothing. Using Storm’s power to create lightening bolts, the N’Garai fires one at the Ru’tai, and reminds the Ru’tai that the N’Garai once enslaved its race, and next time they will destroy it. „Storm" summons forth a monsoon rain and the Ru’tai becomes unable to fight back as the ground turns to muck, it cannot maintain its footing. The N’Garai tells the other demon that it will deal with him shortly, as first "they" will finish what they started with Archangel, but when the N’Garai turn to Warren, he is no longer there.
Seeing that he is not in the sky, the N’Garai wonders where its "prey" has gone too, when it sees something move in the underbrush it is startled, but cannot get a fix on what it is, it thinks that it is Archangel, and tells him to show himself. Warren emerges from the underbrush, and says to "Storm" ‘Since you ask so sweetly’, before knocking the demon into the mud it created from the monsoon.
The Ru’tai gets up and the N’Garai asks it if it thinks it can take advantage of her momentary weakness. The Ru’tai tells the N’Garai that that is unnecessary against the likes of it, before Warren flies low by them and knocks them both over, telling them he is sick of listening to them, and that they should both lay down and stay down.
The evil N’Garai says that ‘between the Ru’tai and the prey this takes too long, time there was an end to it’, and drawing on the weather manipulating powers of the body it inhabits, the demon spreads the monsoon rains to cover the entire area, before abruptly dropping the temperature to sub-zero levels, creating a veritable ice storm. In an instant, frost encrusts the surrounding area making the foliage gleam like diamonds, and the entire crest of the ridge is flash-frozen, as are the N’Garai’s opponents.
Archangel’s wings are encased in a sheet of ice, and he falls to the earth again, once more lying stunned and unmoving. This time, the smirking N’Garai does not think the X-Man is lying. Warren looks up from his „prison" and tells the N’Garai that while he doesn’t know what it wants with him, he won’t go down easy. The N’Garai holds up the unconscious body of Psylocke and tells Warren that he will, or Betsy will suffer in his place. Warren calls to Betsy, but she does not answer.
The N’Garai tells Warren to surrender, but before it can continue it is struck from behind, and thrown back by the Ru’tai, who tells the N’Garai to be thankful he does not have any more time to waste, or it would put a permanent end to him. Still unable to move, Warren tells the Ru’tai he should probably be thankful for the help. The Ru’tai, calling Warren "Meat" tells him it is inappropriate, as he offers him the same trade the N’Garai did – the life of Psylocke’s for his own, the demons large mouth hovers above Betsy’s neck, and the demon tells Warren to choose, and at the same moment the demon is struck down by a plasma blast from Thunderbird, telling the demon he chooses ‘none of the above’.
Free from his ice prison, Warren flies Betsy out of harms way, congratulating Thunderbird, and telling him to take the Ru’tai out. As the Ru’tai smacks Warren and Betsy out of the air, it tells them all that they have no idea what they are up against, and he has no time left to teach them, that the battle appears lost. As the demon teleports out, it tells everyone that he only needs to win one of the remaining battles to win the war.
Thunderbird seems shocked at the disappearance of the Ru’tai, but Magik warns him that they still have to deal with "Storm" – but they soon see that they are too late, as the N’Garai kneels over Warren’s broken body, and chanting a spell, a purple glow surrounds them both, and by summoning the power of the Corrupt One, the soul of Archangel is gone. The N’Garai is pleased with itself as it teleports out, claiming the first of the five Bloodstones for the N’Garai. While its image is still visible, Magik leaps to it, but is too late, for once the N’Garai says ‘…with us goes all hope for your pitiful world’ all that remains is the echo of its cruel laugh.
Magik digresses that she failed again, while Thunderbird tends to Warren. He tells Magik that Warren is hardly breathing, and that resurrection is out of his league. He asks Magik if there is anything she can do for him. She tells him that there is only one chance, and that it is extremely dangerous, but given the circumstances, she tells Thunderbird there is not other choice. Magik holds her Soulsword over Warren, and as she softly whispers incantations that were old when the world was young, the glow around them grows stronger, so bright that Thunderbird can barely witness it, and must look away.
When the light fades, Thunderbird looks confused and asks Magik what she did with Archangel. Magik replies that she only did what was necessary of her, and tells Thunderbird that before it is all ended, she is likely to have to do much worse!