A younger Charles Xavier enters the entrance of a cave, his sleep cut short by a telepathic scream. In front of him is a tunnel of impenetrable darkness, from which the scream emanates still. It calls him like a siren song of raw psychic power, indecipherable. Anonymous, alien. Curiosity is fired, caution ignored, as he presses onwards, even when recently sundered rock opens onto a deeper gloom.
There, he finds hieroglyphs etched in ancient darkness, recording an ancient history or, more terrifying still, a prophecy: the murals show humans in defensive or terrified positions, attacked by a shapeless tentacled horror… And yet Xavier walks on.
At the tunnel’s end, undulating shadow dissolves in an unnatural luminescence and a putrid stench gust, hot like the breath of the charnel house, yet sharp as the coldest arctic blast. And in the chamber beyond – madness! The entity depicted on the murals is now writhing in a tear in the very fabric of reality between here and beyond. It defies human logic but its nature is clear. It radiates evil. Cosmically ancient evil.
Primal fear flares up. The instinct to run is almost unbearable. But all that stands between the demon and the horror it would unleash upon mankind are two unique women, one of them looking like a tall native American beauty, whereas the other is elderly, small and rather plain. Both wield formidable psychic powers, but the fight has lasted for almost a day without respite. They grow weak while the demonic entity’s power increases as it gains terrestrial cohesion. If it isn’t stopped there and now it never will be.
The elderly woman telepathically addresses Xavier by his name, introducing herself as Gracie Gamble (which, Xavier realizes, is an alias) and as Cuckoo. Gracie orders him to focus his mindblast as she directs. With that, the deadlock is broken and the demon falls back into its own realm as the dimensional tears collapses.
Is it over? Xavier inquires. Yes, until the next dimensional alignment, Cuckoo explains Xavier wants to know more about the creature. Cuckoo calls it Synraith and is about to give a more detailed explanation but Gracie asks her not to. Their friend already knows more than any mortal man should. He will never be able to feel safe again. It would be better if he could just forget… forget.
Xavier wakens from his trance-like state, roused by the voice of a worried Jean Grey, kneeling beside him. Xavier recalls where he is and his sad state of being paralysed. He apologizes to Jean and explains he was distracted by a flash of memory. The sensation was so intense it made him forget the present. Yet, until this moment, he had no knowledge of the event he recalled. Jean doesn’t understand. Nor does he, Xavier admits and decides to explore the matter in silent meditation.
Now she was telling him that she and Scott are about to leave for the city with Hank, Warren and Bobby. Jean offers to stay, even as the other original X-Men join them. Xavier declines her offer. Too often they reel from one crisis to another. It’s important to relax when they can.
Scott agrees, when suddenly they are joined by an enthusiastic Sam Guthrie. He hears they were heading for the Village for a one-night comeback of Bernard the Poet. Do they mind if he tags along? Beast slyly suggests that, as an X-Man, Sam might need practice. Sam doesn’t get the hint until Archangel drags him up in the air, while informing Hank that this is A101. A101? Sam repeats dumbly, as Warren flies them out of the building and higher and higher. Aerodynamics 101, he explains, better known as “pass the pupil.” With that, he tosses Sam at Beast, who is jumping up high, and informs Sam of a lesson in centrifugal force.
Standing on his hand, Hank whirls Sam around with his feet to prevent him from using his blasting power. Then, he passes him towards Iceman. Using an iceslide, he makes Sam fly up again. Sam falls with Cyclops’s optic blast slowing his descent.
Hank helpfully points out that the optic blast could cut him in two, so Sam should appreciate the control Scott learned in long hours of training. Sam falls to finally be caught by a telekinetic cushion. Would he like to go round again, Hank inquires and Sam admits that he has gotten the message. He is off to the Danger Room….
Hank and Warren use their image inducers to appear normal, while Bobby worries that they might have been a bit hard on Sam. Cyclops informs him sternly that Sam must learn that being an X-Man isn’t a game, it’s a way of life. Bobby agrees, but remembers too well when he was the youngest and the butt of everyone’s jokes. He can sympathize with Sam; he will never be able to feel safe again.
Xavier watches the car leaving. Bobby’s words have him recall the same words spoken years ago by one of the mysterious two women.
Venezuela, an archeological dig in the remote Guyana highlands:
Two younger members of the expedition excitedly return to the camp in search of Professor Gracie Gamble, informing her that they’ve found something amazing in the forest.
Gracie is an eccentric appearance, Hollywood glasses, Hawaii shirt, a pearl necklace and a cigar. She is also the smaller of the women Xavier remembers. What were the two of them doing in the forest? she jokes, before asking them to not tell her. She has a weak heart. She follows the pair who tell her it is only half a mile. Half a mile in this terrain could kill someone in her frail condition, Gracie protests. Nick remarks he thinks she is amazing for her age. What does he mean her age? asks Gracie. She’s only 30. She’s had a hard life.
They arrive at the ruins of a temple uncovered by the recent rainstorms. Even with heavy equipment, it’s going to take years to excavate, fears Nick. She can’t wait for that, Gracie decides. She gestures and the temple is laid free. She has superpowers? a shocked Lisa asks. Gracie manipulates their minds to forget the display of power. A moment later, a smiling Nick remarks there must have been another landslide. What a piece of luck, Gracie remarks wryly and turns to the hieroglyphs. What do they say, Nick asks “Kney phey Pau” answers Gracie. “The end of the world is nigh.”
Ravenscroft, a very ordinary, English village with a few extraordinary inhabitants. Two of them are teenage twins Rory and Pandora Destine just on their way back home from school. Rory pouts that they are superheroes and as such shouldn’t have to go to school and pretend to be normal kids. It could be worse, his sister Pandora says as she tries to play the peacemaker as usual. Rory interrupts her, recalling a weird dream about their family. They were all acting out of character. William came back from Australia and told them their eldest sister, Kay, wasn’t actually their sister, and then their brother Vincent came back to life.
Pandora tells him that’s stupid. Their lives are already complicated enough. They’ve just discovered that all their relatives are really their brothers and sisters, all with superpowers. Kay even has a new body. Their dad is an eight hundred year old immortal and their mother is a genie.
Their home comes into sight and Rory addresses their current problem: namely their elder siblings and father deciding whether or not Rory and Pandora are allowed to fight crime. They see the others having a discussion in the winter garden. Rory wants to find out what they are saying and uses his gravity powers to fly them both closer, over Pandora’s protest. He apologizes but reminds her that they have to be in close proximity to each other for their powers to work.
Inside the winter garden, Walter, the twins’ guardian, addresses their father, Adam. He reminds Adam that over the centuries he witnessed the futility of their family’s attempt to aid humankind. Adam agrees, but also adds that each of his children must follow their own conscience. Samantha, the second youngest, agrees with Adam and points out that, in a few years, the twins will be old enough to do as they please anyway. But until then, their inexperience represents a threat to their family, insists Walter. Running around in silly costumes is bound to draw attention to their existence.
The sensitive Dominic, with a grin, informs the eccentric telepath Kay aka Cuckoo that, thanks to his super-senses, he can hear Pandora and Rory spying on them. Kay scares the kids off with her astral form. The kids fly away, much to Dominic’s amusement.
Walter again is angry, fearing someone might see them fly. Dominic suggests the kids be allowed to use their powers in controlled circumstances. They manifested their powers before adulthood – unlike the rest of the family – because they are twins. Their abilities stimulate each other when in close proximity. So their choice is simple: Split them up… or allow them occasional crime patrols with one of the others chaperoning.
Clearly uncomfortable, Walter refuses to chaperone them. With a smirk Kay calls him “Wally” and tells him to lighten up. It will be fun. Walter reminds Kay that this may be easy for her as her powers are psychic. Same goes for Sam whose organic metal projections don’t affect her appearance. You couldn’t change Adam’s appearance and Dom – he looks at his green-skinned brother – well, Dom has his own problems. But Walter has to change shape to gain his strength and it takes a long time for him to revert back. Last time his ears stayed pointed for days. This time it’s his feet (which at the moment are disproportionately large and bluish).
Adam decides then they shall cover Walter’s obligations. Dom and Sam agree. They don’t mind. But she minds, their eldest sister interjects. Pouring herself another glass of champagne, Kay continues that Walter is always reminding everyone that he is the twin’s primary guardian. He had to be, Walter snarls. Adam was in outer space and the rest of the family pursued their own interests around the world. The only time they saw Kay was when her hedonistic lifestyle allowed.
Angrily, Kay warns him not to push her. Or what? She’ll leave? In response, Kay telekinetically activates Walter’s metamorphosis. As Walter begins to change into his hulkish form, Adam angrily chides Kay. Emotionally unstable, as Walter usually is during his transformation, he threatens to kill his sister and tries to attack her.
Sam shoves Cuckoo out of the way and uses her power to create a metal shield. Undeterred by the fact that he is also endangering Sam, Walter begins pounding the shield. Adam tries to get him to calm down, asking him to cease this senseless violence. He never gets to finish his sentence, as Walter tosses his invulnerable father out of the winter garden.
That’s no way to treat their father, Kay chides as she attacks him telepathically. Sam reminds her that Walter can’t help it. The surge of power from the metamorphosis can make Walter go crazy and she’s beginning to doubt Kay’s sanity too, so she’d better try to keep them apart. She drags Kay outside. Walter gets ready to toss a large piece of the floor after them.
Dominic moans that this is Bangkok all over again. He uses a nerve jab on Walt, causing him to fall down unconscious. As the other gather an angry Rory and Pandora join them. You hypocrites, Rory announces self-righteously. Telling them they can’t use their powers and then go and have a training session without them!
At the Xavier Institute, co-leader Storm has volunteered to help Cannonball with his training. As they enter the Danger Room, an almost feral Wolverine jumps at them. Storm demands to know what he is playing at. Wolverine apologizes and admits they caught him by surprise. Storm didn’t believe that was possible. Wolverine is still clearly bothered by something and asks if he can hang around while the others do their training session. Cannonball is unhappy about an audience but begins manoeuvring thought the aerial maze while Storm coaches him, advising him to limit the force of his blast.
Suddenly, there is a flash of lightning before Sam. He protests; Storm promised no tricks. Storm retorts this is none of her doing. A hole in the air has appeared and it is slowly sucking Sam in despite his blasting at full power. Suddenly, the hole is gone and Sam almost collides with Storm.
Sam stops blasting to be caught by Wolverine. Logan realizes that Sam stopped blasting and risked a fall rather than risk ricocheting into Storm again and hurting her. Lucky Wolverine was there, Sam adds sheepishly. Was it luck? asks Storm. Why was Logan there? Did he know something would happen? Logan admits that he had a real bad feeling and, whatever the cause, it is still there.
Ravenscroft, a short distance from the Destine cottage, stand the overgrown ruins of a once proud manor house. Samantha and Cuckoo walk through the ruins. Kay tells her younger sister that knowing family history is one thing, but having lived though it as she has is another. She met Adam’s parents, her grandparents here in 1209 when this was a Saxon village. The land had been in their family ever since, but when their rogue brother Vincent destroyed the mansion and the family scattered around the globe Walter stayed to raise the twins, Sam continues. What does she know? Kay retorts Sam was still a youngster then, whereas Kay was in her forty-third host body.
As they make their way through the ruins Sam asks so what? Okay, Kay is eight hundred years old. How does that excuse her treatment of Walter? It doesn’t, Kay admits. That’s why they are going to see Dominic. They come to a round more modern structure hidden within the ruins, the anechoic chamber their genius brother Newton built to insulate Dominic from sensory overload. It’s the only place he can get any peace, Sam reminds her older sister. She knows that, retorts Kay. Then why are they disturbing him? comes an annoyed voice from inside the chamber. Dom asks them to go away. Kay tells him she is desperate and pleads for help. The door opens. Two minutes, Dom announces, but only because he has never heard Kay admits to needing anyone before.
What is he looking for, asks Dom, as he walks around her. Some sort of organic imbalance, explains Kay. To justify her behaviour towards Walter? Dom ventures. Kay admits to having lost a degree of control since transferring to this host body. She can’t expect to feel herself in another’s body, Dom lectures her, before adding that she looks healthy on every visual wavelength he can scan.
Suddenly, the twins burst in, demanding to know what’s going on. They saw Sam and Kay coming down there. They thought Dominic was having a nap. He hoped to, replies Dom with a smile. His nerve ends are raw.
In struts, a still-altered Walter demands to know why Pandora and Rory came there. They know the building is off limits. He is accompanied by Adam, who tells him to calm own.
The next moment, Kay is in Walter’s face, shouting at him not to take things out on the kids. After all, he is angry with her. Angry doesn’t cover it begins Walter and gets ready to attack Kay again, over the protests of the twins, and Sam and Adam trying to hold the two of them back.
Dom gives up. He shouts at them to kill each other. He is going somewhere more peaceful, like a railway terminus at rush hour!
Venezuela, the recently unearthed ruins. Gracie Gamble walks down there alone singing: whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect and whistle a happy tune… well, she would if she still had her own teeth. This is crazy, she admits, but it’s not like she has any choice. The hieroglyphs say that alignment with Synraith’s dimension is imminent.
She steps on the bones of the human sacrifices the ancient priests prepared the way with. The air itself is stained with sacrificial blood. This is an evil place. She shines her flashlight into the dark, already seeing the portal forming. Gracie wishes she could whistle.
Getting to work, she draws a pentacle, adds some mystical crystals and decides to pull the spell through, stepping into the centre of the pentacle. She was there in the beginning after all. She concentrates to channel the forces and begins: In the name of the one whose name must never be spoken seal this rift. Deny entry to the evil that is Synraith.
Something goes wrong with her spell and Gracie realizes she’s been tricked. Her spell is feeding the portal, not closing it.
In the Danger Room’s observation booth sit Storm and Xavier, watching the proceeding below them. They borrowed Forge and Colossus from X-Factor and Excalibur respectively. Forge is examining the Danger Room’s core terminal, while Colossus is helping carry the core with the hydraulics off. Wolverine also crouches in the Danger Room, apparently sill sensing something. So far, the record analysis shows nothing. A complete whiteout. Forge adds that, if it weren’t for a discrepancy between the control booth chronometer and this unit, he’d suspect a redundant program had been activated by a power surge.
It wasn’t any hologram, Logan insists. Forge asks how he can be so sure, considering how sophisticated and lifelike the virtual reality scenarios are. At times, even his acute senses can’t separate illusion from reality. Logan agrees but insists this was something else. Not a scent, more a sense of something at the fringe of his perceptions. Something evil? asks Xavier. Yeah, Logan agrees. Inhuman evil… cold and ancient, Charles muses, cosmically ancient. That’s it exactly, Logan shouts. Was Xavier reading his mind? No, Xavier moans, reaching for his head with a contorted face. It’s in his memory, like icy tendrils piercing his brain. It’s inside his head, he shouts in pain.
Energy engulfs both him and Storm. The men below notice something is wrong. Suddenly, a dimensional rift appears before them, stinking of evil, as Wolverine puts it. Tendrils come from it, reaching for the unconscious Xavier in the control booth. Storm tries to defend him by firing lightning. But her powers frizzle out.
Wolverine cuts through the tentacles holding her and Xavier. Colossus takes his mentor’s form, trying to get him away, while Wolverine keeps the tentacles busy, but more and more are coming from the rift. The tentacles grab them all and even Logan finds he can’t free himself with his arms pinned. The tentacles focus on the professor still held by Colossus and draws them to the portal.
Forge shouts that Colossus’s armoured form is anathema to mystical entities and urges him to pull free. Colossus tries but they won’t let go of the professor. If he uses his full strength, Xavier may be torn apart. While he cannot pull Xavier free, he refuses to let got of him and both men are drawn in the rift.
Back at the Destines’ cottage, Kay screams out and then seems to be in a trance as she only repeats the words kneo phey pau. Sam and Walter are the only witnesses. While Sam worries, Walter suggests Kay is putting some curse on some poor soul. Or there could really be a problem with her new body, Dom admits, appearing costumed up.
What’s with the costume? Walter asks and Dom reminds him that it is his turn to take the twins on crime patrol. As if on cue, the costumed Crimson Crusader and Imp fly in. Adam joins them. He recalls seeing Kay like this once before. 1526 in Peru. The phrase she recites is in a Mayan dialect. Taking Kay’s face in his hands he adds that it refers to a demonic Armageddon. What dark deeds has she involved herself in this time? he demands.
It has Gracie, Kay replies and now it reaches out to her! An energy rifts appears there as well, felling all the family members save for Adam who reminds standing. While Walter is checking on the kids and Dom on the unconscious Kay again tentacles emerge from the rift.
Unmoved, Adam remarks they seem to be ectoplasmic and Dom realizes they are after Kay. Sam manifests some weapons, remarking they will see how they fare against her metallic ectoplasm, the razor-sharp kind. As she attacks, Adam marvels at how ferocious she has become in the time he was away. Not really she corrects him, as she keeps on slicing. She simply discovered that she hates squirmy slimy things.
Seeing more tentacles emerging Rory gets into hero pose, announcing that this is a job for…
The grown-ups! Walter finishes his sentence, as he grabs the kids and sets them down in the hallway.
In the meantime, the tentacles have grabbed Kay and Dom can’t pull her free. Some superhero he is, Walter scoffs, adding he is just a liability in a crisis. With that, he grabs Kay with one arm and tosses Dom out in the hallway to the twins with the other. But yet more tentacles appear.
Adam tells Walter to protect Kay. The tentacles are only interested in her while they are content with immobilizing Sam and him. Sam warns Walter that the floorboards are splintering and he is slipping. Walter is aware of that but he can’t pry the tentacles off without hurting Kay and his fingers are too big to get under the tentacles.
Rory decides to help. Using his gravity power, he begins to disintegrate the tentacles’ molecular cohesion. However, the tentacles are retaliating and are now focussing on him. Faced with that choice, Walter lets go of Kay to save Rory. As Kay is pulled in, Adam grabs her ankle and doesn’t let go. Both of them are dragged into the rift. With a noise and a flash the rift closes.
A little later Dominic gets a grip. His hypersenses were momentarily overloaded. Cradling Rory, Walter – who has grown to monstrous height (with equally monstrous features) – orders him to stop whining. You’d think he was the only Destine whose power was a curse. Dom notices Walter’s height, and Walter admits it didn’t achieve anything. Rory is okay but he couldn’t help Kay and Adam. He didn’t want to let go of Kay, but he had to choose. Dom tells him it’s no time for recriminations. Kay and Adam need them, so they need a teleporter and a lot of brainpower. Sounds like a job for Newton. Dom uses his signal watch to call their genius brother, warning the others to cover their eyes. He likes to make a dramatic entrance.
Back at the X-Men’s Danger Room, Wolverine, Storm and Forge get their bearings. With the portal still open, Wolverine intends to step through. Storm tries to hold him back, remarking how foolish this is. Logan snarls at her, almost about to attack. He apologizes but, when she grabbed him, it felt wrong. He didn’t know it was her. This thing is messing with his senses. It’s hiding something. Only one way to find out.
He turns to the portal, to be stopped by an optic blast. The original five enter. Cyclops tells him to cool it. Wolverine knows the procedure during a security breach. Wolverine points out there is no time with Peter and Xavier in danger. Jean explains that they know, which is why they came back She sensed the professor’s psychic distress, and he wouldn’t want them to follow without taking every precaution.
Logan protests. He ain’t gonna wait. He must! Cyclops retorts. They don’t know how stable the portal is or where it leads. Going through now could endanger the professor and Colossus. They must analyse it and call for more assistance. Logan grudgingly agrees, but he warns Cyclops that, if anything goes wrong, it’ll be the last mistake he ever makes.
Back at Ravenscroft, Walter is reading Rory the riot act for his irresponsible behaviour. Pandora defends her twin. If Walter hadn’t grown, he’d never have broken free and disappeared as well. Rory saved Walter’s life. Samantha backs her up. Before the argument continues, there’s a flash and noise. Newton has arrived.
Dom greets the Woody Allan lookalike in armour, who asks who has been kidnapped by the bad guys this time. Kay and Adam, Dom replies. Really? Newton exclaims He was joking. They all lead such exciting lives for folks who claim to avoid conflict.
Newton builds together his machinery. Impatiently, Walter asks whether it was Lenz or the Omegans who attacked them. Neither, Newton replies. It was something mystical. There’s residual eldritch force. Newton manages to use the portal’s unique signature to trace its point of origin.
Rory exults that they’ll have them rescued in no time. He catches Walter’s glare and ventures that the kids won’t be allowed to go. Walter admits that he’d prefer Rory and Pandora to stay behind, but he doesn’t trust them to stay out of trouble… and there is always the chance their foe might attack again, so he guesses they’ll have to come along. And if things go badly, he may need them to save this life again. It’d be their pleasure, the kids enthuse and Walter warns them not to push their luck.
Elsewhere, Xavier awakes, Colossus at his side, in a bone yard as far as the eye stretches. Looking up at the sky, Xavier judges by the constellations that they are far beyond any galaxy he has ever visited. He tries to telepathically scan the area. At first, he senses nothing, then suddenly he screams in pain. Colossus asks what happened. Groggy, Xavier explains that he barely managed to pull himself back from the brink of a void of infinite nothingness. Cold dead emptiness… but it was alive! It was a consciousness he touched. Something vast and evil. They must get away from here.
Wondering where they can go, Peter lifts him up. Some distance away, they see another portal flaring up and two people tumbling down from it. The decides to go look them.
Outside Ravenscroft, Newton has finally gotten a fix on the others’ location. Some sort of dimensional intersection is distorting the probe. So they’ll be teleporting blind again, Sam remarks. Last time, they were nearly killed because of their softly softly approach. This time, they should be prepared, ready for a fight. She uses her power to create a suit of armour for herself, with very long knife-style claws.
In the X-Men’s Danger Room, others like Bishop and Cannonball have come to set up the equipment. Storm admonishes Wolverine to say calm. They will soon know what they are up against. Soon may be too late, he predicts. They are being played for fools. He asks her to think about it. Why is the portal still open if they can’t go through? Unless maybe something is coming from the other side to here.
Forge announces to the Beast that he’s registering a teleportation exit prove. Beast replies that he must be mistaken. His instrumentation doesn’t detect any dimensional flux. Forge insists that the teleport signal is locked and building to functional coalescence. Wolverine unsheathes his claws. He knew it. Another sneak attack. But this time they ain’t takin’ any prisoners. An’ neither is he…
The X-Men get ready for battle, as Forge announces that the materialization will occur two meters ahead of their position while on the other side of the world the equally battle-ready Clan Destine are getting ready to teleport into the unknown.