Stop! the Crimson Crusader and Imp aka Rory and Pandora Destine, youngest members of their odd family shout, as around them their older siblings and the members of the X-Men are embroiled in a bloody battle. However, it’s is no good. None of the others seem to be able to hear them above the din. Rory decides they need a big enough noise.
He directs a focused anti-gravity field at the feet of their guardian, the Hulk-like Walter. Walter floats and then falls down with a big thud. Rory flies up and asks for a time-out, a truce. What the devil is he doing? an ill-tempered Walter asks. Rory explains that their foes aren’t enemies. They are the X-Men. OK, so he knows them, Cyclops remarks. Who are they?
Rory introduces them as the Clan Destine. Good guys like the X-Men . This is one of those clichéd mistaken identity hero vs. hero mix-ups. They teleported here to rescue their father and sister, who were kidnapped a few hours ago. As were two of their number, Cyclops replies. They look towards the still open portal, into which a few hours ago Colossus and Profess Xavier were drawn.
Hex aka Dom slowly gets up, feeling disoriented and trying to refocus his vision while Cyclops suggests they all work together. While Cyclops makes suppositions about their opponents, a still groggy Dom becomes interested in a snarly Wolverine. It’s only light but it can talk, he marvels as he touches Wolverine’s face. The other man becomes irritated and Dom starts to laugh. Rainbows with attitude. He begins to poke around Wolverine’s face. The mutant goes ballistic and guts Dom, shouting he is trying to take over his mind.
His temper is matched by Walter’s, who grows to immense height and strength as he pounds Wolverine into the floor, shouting that Dom couldn’t hurt him, he was delirious.
Rory reminds Newton in his Iron Man suit that only a pointed nerve jab can stop Walter now. Newton disagrees. His hide is too thick. They need something as accurate but with much more punch. He fires a rocket-like syringe at Walter and within moments Walt falls down.
While Argent takes care of Dom Newton turns to the X-Men, explaining they don’t want a fight. This was a mistake or more manipulation by their enemy. Cyclops agrees and suggests they stay cool. First priority is getting the injured to the infirmary and to take Walter to the containment facility in case he is about to run amok again. He then orders Shadowcat and Cannonball to take Rory and Pandora somewhere safer and the younger X-Men promise they will give the youngest Destines the VIP tour. Now the rest of them can go back to the business of analysing the portal, so they can rescue their friends and family from wherever they are.
Elsewhere, Kay awakes in Adam’s arms in a bone yard. Adam observes that they appear to be very far from Earth and totally alone. Not quite, comes another voice as they are joined by Colossus, who is carrying Professor Xavier.
Making introductions, Xavier asks if they have any idea why they have been brought there. Adam introduces them as well, but Kay interrupts that there is no need for introductions. Charles and she are old friends. Xavier doesn’t recall. That’s because the packaging is a little different, Kay remarks and mentally reaches for him. Xavier telepathically fends her off and snarls that her clumsy telepathic violation is immoral and offensive and betrays the true nature of her fractured psyche. But yes, he recognizes Cuckoo. He neither likes nor trusts her. He warns her that he is not the novice she manipulated so many years ago. Another voice chimes in that, actually, that was her doing.
Gracie comes stumbling down from another hill of bones. She informs them that Synraith suckered her into assisting with this little reunion. This is the cosmic demon’s homeworld. What a hole! Wiping off her behind, she mutters that she doesn’t know what she sat in back there, but it really stinks.
She continues that Synraith marked the three of them during their last encounter, so he could reach them without a dimensional interface. Xavier asks if she believed the psychic block she placed on him would protect him from Synraith. Ain’t that the most ridiculous thing y’ever heard! Gracie quotes before apologizing. Why has Synraith brought them here? Charles asks. Because the three of them foiled its last attempt to reach Earth. By bringing them here, it ensures that its next transition will be unimpeded.
But if the demon is still there, they can stop it, Adam points out. They barely defeated it last time when it was in a weakened state between dimensions, Gracie replies. What chance would they have here on its homeground? No matter how slim a chance they must try, Xavier decides, and Colossus agrees. Cuckoo points out an energy flare some distance away and suggests they hurry up. Synraith is preparing to leave.
Meanwhile, Wolverine and Dominic have been brought to the infirmary where Moira MacTaggert is treating them. Storm assures Newton that there is no better equipped infirmary on Earth and no more skilled physician than Moira. Newton replies that he is familiar with Moira’s published work. He is a physician then? Moira asks. Getting out of his suit, he replies chemist, doctor and surgeon among many other pursuits. He likes to think his intellect compensates for his lack of physical statures. And his battle suit? Ororo asks. He got the idea from an old comic books, he admits.
Storm explains about the Shi’ar technology used to treat the patients by speeding up their natural healing and Newton quickly grasps matters. He checks Dominic’s condition and finds it stable. He is redundant here. He decides to return to the Danger Room and help with the portal analysis. Suddenly, there is an alert and Moira announces that Logan’s life signs are dropping rapidly. Newton announces that the Shi’ar healer can’t cope. Wolverine requires immediate surgical intervention. Moira shouts that his mutant haling factor is failing… he’s flatlining!
Meanwhile in the Danger Room, Forge and some of the others are working on checking the portal. Gambit asks Argent if this waiting doesn’t bother her. Not at all, she replies. Gambit remarks that he noted her costume has changed since before. Samantha explains that the metallic ectoplasm reacts to her thoughts. She isn’t into observation much, he observes. He thinks she’s a loner. Not looking at him, Sam explains that her powers made her grow away from ordinary people. Does she prefer metal to flesh? he asks. It has a pure strength and beauty that can make flesh seem repulsive, Sam muses. Sure, some folks are ugly, but only reason his armour’s so beautiful is because it’s wrapped around her. He strokes her arm. It’s cold and hard, he presses. It stops her feeling. Maybe she doesn’t hate flesh. Maybe she just needs the right touch. Argent suggests they take a walk together. His pleasure, he grins.
Meanwhile, Kitty and Sam are giving Rory and Pandora tour of the sprawling underground complex. Pandora is enthusiastic, Rory less so. He admits this is a dream come true, but every time there is some action, they get sent somewhere safe while the grown-ups have all the fun. Cannonball points out that he is the newest X-Man so he can remember how frustrating that is. But it’s only because his folks worry about them.
Rory boasts that he can look after himself. He controls gravity. He lifts himself up and Sam as well. Rory continues that he can fly, lift large weights and generates forecfields. Okay, okay, Sam laughs. He’s impressed.
Rory suggests they go back. The others might need them. Kitty retorts that they’d call them. And Rory doesn’t want to disobey Cyclops if he hopes to join the X-Men. He? An X-Man? Rory s awestruck. Yeehaa! he shouts and does a victory dance while thinking about his new codename and costume. Pandora carefully reminds him that Walter might have to say a word or two about that… When he hears that he’ll blow his top.
The shackled Walter is in fact very close to doing just that. He demands to know where the twins are. The X-Men try to calm him down. Instead, he grows again, overloading the restraints and finally tearing them out.
Back on Synraith’s world, Gracie admits that she is to blame for all this. Cuckoo has helped her bear the burden of her folly, but she alone is responsible.
It began more than four hundred years ago. 1519 to be precise. The newly discovered land now known as Mexico was being explored by Cortez’s conquistadors. Cuckoo, then inhabiting the body of a Spanish nobleman, was eager to join the adventure. She smuggled Gracie along as his valet. Barely sixteen and plain, Gracie easily passed for a boy.
However, while they both longed to study the alien wonders of the Aztec culture, their leader Cortez craved only their gold. The Aztec army consisted of foot soldiers armed with wooden swords, shields and spears. They were no match for Spaniard steel, cavalry and muskets. Thousands were massacred.
Gracie became separated from Cuckoo, so she led with the Aztecs they had befriended. At that time, her newly emerging psychic gifts were too immature to be effective weapons, but she’d seen Cuckoo channel eldritch forces to enhance her prowess. So, in the ruins of an ancient temple, Gracie sought out a nexus of cosmic power. An old priest warned of demons and evil prophecies, she ignored him. She knew Cortez’s insatiable greed would result in the extinction of the Aztec culture, so she felt justified in using any means to stop him. What a naïve fool she was! She believed she had tapped into a latent energy field, until it reached out for her. It was Synraith. She had bonded herself to a demon!
Cuckoo, alerted to Gracie’s location by the mystical activity, arrived in time to seal the rift before it coalesced. But Gracie had shown the demon how to get to Earth and she knew it would return. So she’s spent her life since trying to find some way to stop it.
Time for one last chance, Gracie, Cuckoo remarks. She sees Synraith up in the glare ahead. Then it can see them, Colossus adds horrified. They couldn’t hope to surprise it, Xavier surmises, It brought them here, after all. But why so close, Gracie wonders. To increase their torment, Cuckoo supposes. If they see Synraith win, they’ll live out their final days in this graveyard, knowing that the demon will wreak hell on Earth.
Back on Earth, Walter, looking more like a fiery demon than anything else, attacks Bishop, Beast and Sunspot, running into them and bowling them over. They can’t stop him, he boasts. They fear violence too much to be truly violent. He smashes Nightcrawler into the ground and tears off Angel’s wings as he shouts that pure aggression is devoid of conscience or remorse. It is brutal, cruel and exhilarating. He screams in triumph over his fallen foes, Guess he owes him for disrupting the power to his restraints, comes a new voice. Walter warns him to leave or die. A sign for the Juggernaut to attack.
Back at the medlab, Moira agrees that Logan’s lifesigns are stable and strong. He’s going to pull through thanks to the most amazing surgical skill she’s ever witnessed, she praises Newton. He’s had centuries to hone his technique, he replies modestly. Logan is safe, Dom is improving. They don’t need him here. He plans to return to the Danger Room to help with the dimensional interface analysis.
Storm quickly grabs his arm, reminding him of how much he worked during surgery. He must be tired. They have a lounge on the next level. Accompanying him there, she asks how he managed the operation so quickly. All part of his enhanced intellect, Newton replies. Clear, quick thinking equals precision without hesitation. Not as obviously exciting as height and pumped up muscles but it has its compensations. Why does he ridicule himself? Ororo asks. He admits that she’s so tall and he feels a little intimidated. Physical appearance is unimportant, she assures him. Spirit is all. His is bright and beautiful and quite irresistible. She kisses him passionately.
Elsewhere, Rory is modelling a classic New Mutants uniform and looks forward to being part of the X-Men. He asks Pandora why she doesn’t try on her uniform. She always wanted to get rid of the Peg Bundy hair and silly pink costume Cuckoo made. She does, but she doesn’t feel his is right. Maybe she’d prefer a different style, Shadowcat offers and shows her a modern X-Men uniform and the Generation X style.
It’s not about the costumes, Imp explains. Everyone thinks she wants the same as Rory because they are twins, but she only agreed to fight crime because their powers only work when they are together. And she doesn’t think it’s right to be doing this while their family is in danger. Rory apologizes, Kitty interrupts, telling Imp than men can be really insensitive. What say they leave the guys here and go have a little girl talk?
In Synraith’s dimension, the stranded heroes watch how Synraith, who ignores them, has almost finished passing the gate to Earth. It will be leaving soon, Gracie fears. Xavier asks how they can stop it. By anchoring the demon to this place, Gracie place as she lights up another cigar, until the dimensional convergence passes. Won’t it simply kill them, Xavier wonders. Under normal circumstances, yes. Gracie explains that, ironically, they are protected by Synraith’s desire to reach Earth. The demon’s power, stolen lifeforce, must be channelled in harmony with the cosmic balance. Which is why it requires a dimensional alignment to open a portal and any release of raw lifeforce will instantly destabilize it.
So it can’t kill them, Xavier understands. Not unless they succeed in holding it here, Gracie agrees. In which case they are guaranteed a slow painful death, Cuckoo adds unnecessarily. Gracie asks Charles to ignore Cuckoo’s juvenile quips. She is best qualified to direct their combined attack. “An amoral fractured psyche” has its uses, eh Chuck, Cuckoo goads. Only in empathizing with a demon, he retorts weakly. Quite witty… for a bald guy, Cuckoo snaps back. They synchronize their mind and Cuckoo channels the energy at the demon.
At Xavier’s, Gambit has led Argent to a dark corner. Still flirting, he remarks that he knew she was no icemaiden. He sees fire in her eyes. And he thinks maybe it burns a little brighter when she looks at him. Oh please, she replies disgusted and smashes him against the wall. His phoney Cajun charm is making her sick, Sam exclaims. Now, unless he wants an impromptu facelift, she threatens with newly-created claws, he’d better tell her what’s going on. His mistake was in thinking her armour stops her feeling. It’s like a second skin and when he touched it she felt the resonance of metal alloy, not flesh. He isn’t human. Course not, he grins. He’s a mutant. She calls him a liar. Dom sensed something was wrong too. That’s why Wolverine attacked Dom to silence him.
Should have figured a girl like her couldn’t be charmed, comes a new voice from the shadows. It’s Wolverine, now in his tan and brown uniform. She thought he was in the infirmary, Sam inquires. He unsheathes his claws. He got better…
Walter receives another blow by the Juggernaut, who asks him how it feels to be on the receiving end. It merely inflames his desire to rend him asunder, comes the reply and a blow from Walter. He sure talks nice for an ape with a serious overbite. He prefers to let his fists do the talking. Juggernaut hits him again, spectacularly. Fine with Walter, who slugs right back.
Elsewhere, Storm and Newton are kissing passionately. Having heard the battle noise, Newton asks Ororo if she heard that. Heard what? she asks. Well, unless it’s the pounding of his giddy heart, it sounds like a fight nearby, he explains. Ororo replies that if there were a crisis they would be alerted. Not that he’s complaining, Newton ventures, he means she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, let alone, well… But isn’t her attitude a little … irresponsible?
Practically wrapped around him, Ororo retorts that she is being practical. This complex has an efficient intercom. But can this be right? he wonders. Could their foe be manipulating their emotions? Or, she challenges is his super-intellect so prone to over-analyzing that he cannot live for the moment? He doesn’t think so, but he is confused and finally agrees to go somewhere more comfortable.
Rory and Pandora also worry about the noise. Cannonball and Kitty, about to split the twins up, assure them that there is no fight, the noises are coming from the automatic hydraulic systems, nothing to worry about. Kitty adds that Cyclops says an X-Man always obey orders. Then she doesn’t want to be an X-Man, Pandora shouts and runs toward her brother. Rory does the same. Rory points out that Imp is right, plus if they split up they lose their powers. That’d be exactly what their enemy would want. Cannonball’s face turns nasty as he mockingly calls Rory a smart kid. But he needn’t worry. They’ll be joining their family real soon…
And still Juggernaut and Walter are exchanging blows. Argent too heard the sounds of a fight. She demands Wolverine tell her what’s going on or she’s going to skewer that phoney gigolo (referring to Gambit). Wolverine challenges her to go ahead. Au revoir, m’chere, Gambit states mockingly and dissolves. She knew it, Sam exclaims. This is an illusion. When Gambit failed to charm her, Wolverine was sent to frighten her.
She creates claws from her armour. He ain’t there to frighten her, he smirks. It’s almost time for her to die and her ectoplasmic armor and blades aren’t going to save her. His adamantium claws easily cut through her ectoplasmic ones.
On Synraith’s world, Adam and Colossus, who cannot help in the psychic battle, also hear strange noises growing louder. They seem to be originating from the air behind them, Adam points out, yet there is nothing there. Some peculiarity of this world’s atmosphere perhaps, Colossus ventures. He apologizes to Adam, but he does not have his clinical detachment. The professor and Adam’s daughters are locked in battle to save Earth and they stand idly by. He can bear it no longer. Their lives are already lost. But if he is to die, he will die fighting.
He runs towards Synraith and begins to pummel the demon with his fists. Synraith lets loose an energy discharge against him. Colossus is thrown back still alive but melted. He achieved nothing, Piotr moans. Adam tells him he is wrong. He inflicted a wound on the demon. And, though he lacks Colossus massive strength, Adam possesses absolute invulnerability or at least it has proved so far. If he could reach the demon’s head and strike some weak spot, he might continue what Colossus began. Colossus points out he could get him there with a fastball special. Despite the agony, Piotr throws Adam at the demon’s head and prays Adam is as indestructible as he believes.
Adam strikes Synraith as hard as he can. He flies through the demon, through the portal. The sight he beholds makes him believe he is dreaming. First, he sees Dominic lying in the med-unit, then Walter battling Juggernaut, next Newton in an embarrassing position, then Pandora and Rory being threatened by Cannonball and Shadowcat, then Argent fighting Wolverine, finally he lands hard.
Wolverine shouts at the other X-Men to get ready. Something’s coming though the dimensional interface. They’re under attack! Wolverine immediately jumps at the enemy, but manages to hold his claws back as he recognizes the newcomer. Adam is equally surprised. He thought Logan was dead. Chen Yu’s bomb devastated the entire mountain fortress. Yeah, that was a close one, Wolverine reminisces. What’s Adam doing here?
Good question, Cyclops interjects sharply. Forge warned them to prepare for an attack almost an hour ago. Nothing materialized. Now, when someone finally does appear, it’s an old friend of Wolverine’s whom none of them know. It can’t be a coincidence. It’s not, Adam agrees. They all face the same foe. Synraith.
They only have Adam’s word for that. Cyclops insists. Good enough for him, Wolverine shoots back. Cyclops reminds him that his instincts haven’t been reliable since the portal appeared. Why? Logan shouts back. Because he wants to take the fight to the enemy instead of overanalyzing? He said something was messing with his senses, Scott reminds him.
Adam interrupts. This is not time for bickering. All mankind is in imminent danger. He must return to Synraith’s world. Cyclops fires an optic blast at him. He can’t allow that!
Is he crazy? Wolverine protests and shoves Cyclops away. Adam states that he is unharmed. Wolverine retorts that he knows Adam is indestructible but Cyclops didn’t. That blast would have vaporized an ordinary man. Then he must be in the thrall of Synraith, Adam suggests, only to be frozen from head to foot by Iceman.
Cannonball shouts that Adam is trying to run them against each other. Storm shouts at Iceman to let Adam speak. Beast steps in her way, telling Ororo not to be deceived. Adam’s an agent of Synraith. How can he be so sure? Forge asks. Only Ororo, he and Logan were in the Danger Room when the thing attacked. Then all three of them could be under the demon’s influence, Cyclops concludes. He’s right, Wolverine admits. Something is making him crazy. Him! He guts Cyclops.
As Storm screams, Logan tells her not to worry. He ain’t mad. That’s what they wanted them to think. He believed it too. Until Cyclops started actin’ crazy and when Forge recalled only the three of them being in the Danger Room when it started he knew.
Cyclops falls and as he falls changes into a generic Danger Room dummy. The demon Synraith has infiltrated the Danger Rooms system and programmed training drones to stop them going through the portal. The other drones in X-Men shape surround them quietly, menacingly.
And Wolverine’s friend, Adam, knows what’s on the portal’s other side? Storm inquires. Fer sure, comes the reply. Then he shall be free, she announces, and she, Forge and Wolverine begin to fight the drones. Wolverine shouts at Storm not to be subtle. Just blast Adam free. Storm complies. Adam manages a “thank you” before shouting a warning at her as a Sabretooth drone attacks her. Wolverine is on him quick as lightning.
They realize Synraith cannot risk killing anyone. “Rogue” attacks Wolverine, announcing not yet, but soon. Until then, there are some old friends to keep them all entertained. More drones in the shapes of all X-Men and X-Men foes imaginable come at them. Adam shouts that they haven’t got he time. They must get through the portal. Not while Synraith controls the virtual reality systems, Storm shouts back. They might leap through an illusory portal into a holographic scenario. Nothing is certain in the Danger Room. Forge corrects her. One thing is certain - the floor. Some of the circuitry beneath could be disrupted by a heavily focused lightning bolt. Storm complies.
Elsewhere. Cuckoo, Gracie and Xavier are still battling Synraith, but Cuckoo notices something feels wrong. Synraith is holding back. Because it’s frightened of killing them, Gracie suggests. So why hasn’t it disabled them, Cuckoo retorts. It blasted Adam through the portal after Adam hurt it and it melted Colossus. Gracie begins to understand. This is all too neat. Synraith suckered her into casting a spell, used it to bring them here… knowing they’d try to foil its plan. Why would the demon want them to pull it back to its own dead world? Because they’re not on Synraith’s world, Xavier realizes as Storm’s bolt strikes and the illusion begins to fade. They’re in the Danger Room. They’ve been pulling the demon towards Earth!
The illusion is fading and they now see the truth… Synraith wedged in the spatial rift. Xavier suggests they push it back before it pulls free. Gracie disagrees. It would survive to return in the future. They can end it here. The demon was too eager to reach Earth and gambled on them to assist it through a small and unstable portal. It didn’t wait for a major dimensional alignment. Cuckoo adds that if they can hold Synraith in the rift, once the rift collapses the demon will be destroyed. Xavier tells them not to celebrate prematurely. Synraith knows what they plan to do. It won’t be pretending to resist them this time.
Titanic psychic forced boil in a frenzied equilibrium. Their fury escalates with desperate haste. The combatants know their fate and the fate of all humanity may not be decided by combat but by time. Time and the blind intercession of cosmic order that causes the dimensional rift to suddenly shrink and implode. And Synraith with it.
For an instant, there is nothingness. It is as if reality blinks to wipe away the jumbled blur of cosmic chaos and electronic illusion so that the truth is revealed. All of them are in different sections of the Danger Room.
Colossus happily realizes he’s normal again. The pain is gone. How could illusory injuries have felt so real? Synraith must have reinforced the projected hologram with psychic paralysis.
Not far away Pandora gets a giggle as they find that Rory’s X-Man uniform was a hologram as well. Now he is merely dressed in his underpants. Adam introduces Pandora and Rory to Logan s his youngest children while Rory begs for someone to shoot him.
Samantha is shocked to find Newton in a compromising position with what used to be the hologram of Storm.
Dominic awakes with a cry that they are not real. It’s a trap! Has he missed something? Oh no, he recalls he was stabbed. He gingerly touches where his injury should be. Newton quickly explains that it was all an illusion and starts a longer explanation. Before Dom could refocus his broad-band vision… after Walter fell on him… He saw through the holographic construction and, in layman’s terms, he was intoxicated by the photo-elastic polarization of sculpted light… Dom groans and buries his head in his hands. He has a headache. Not getting the hint, Newton continues that this is no doubt due to the synaptic fugue that maintained his coma. Dom falls back.
Samantha goes to check on Walter. Is he all right? Actually, Walter while still in his monstrous form is smaller and looks very relaxed. He’s shrunk, Sam realizes. But how? Usually it takes days… weeks. He’s always feared his power and tried to deny it, Walter speculates. In doing so he let it bottle up and… well this fight drained the accumulation and he feels as if something nasty has been purged from his psyche. Bully for him, Kay states coolly. Walter apologizes that he felt terrible, letting her go. He had to make a choice between her and Rory. No need to explain, Wally, comes the retort. She’ll do the same for him sometimes, she adds with an unpleasant smirk.
Draped in his Crimson Crusader cape, Rory tells Forge who is examining some of the Danger Room drones that he felt like he was wearing a real costume. Solid light holograms have tactile integrity and texture, Forge explains. The drones supply physical effects. From mutant power to voice, scent… and a sophisticated database duplicates characteristic behaviour. Having caught the last part, Newton asks whether that includes emotional response. Under normal operational parameters, yes, comes the reply. Newton ogles Storm with a thoughtful look.
Somewhere aside, Gracie sits next to the Professor. She doesn’t know how to thank him, she admits. It isn’t necessary, he replies. This is what he does. But what about her? After almost five hundred years, her quest is at an end. What will she do now? Lighting a cigar, Gracie muses she’ll either do something fulfilling like psychoanalysis or stand-up comedy. In the background, Newton approaches Storm with a suggestion. Moments later, there is the sound of a slap and Newton walks away dejected. Gracie continues that she could combine the two. She’d have all the patients she’d ever need in her own family and their sessions are guaranteed to supply some great material for her act.
Some time later, it’s time for goodbyes. Rory and Pandora have been decked out with all the X-Men memorabilia they could get. Will they see them again? Logan asks as he shakes Adam’s hand. His family and he are no longer a part of the world Logan inhabits, Adam muses. They linger like a shadowy relic of a forgotten era. It may be that they had their time. Newton phases them out in a flash of light. The X-Men leave the Danger Room. Only Logan looks back with a thoughtful look: He hopes Adam’s wrong.