(Lake Baikhal region of Siberia)
In Uncle Vlad’s shack, Mister Sinister has revealed his true identity, causing Piotr Rasputin to transform into his armored steel form. He expects Sinister to casually slaughter innocent helpless human beings, but of Sinister’s companion, he expected more.
From the shadows emerges Piotr’s older brother, Mikhail. Piotr asks how he could do this to his own family. Mikhail replies coldly that slaughtering innocents is his speciality; hasn’t Piotr learned that by now? Piotr doesn’t respond, but Larisa gasps at seeing her cousin act so callously. Sinister says that he believes the hard-bitten journalist is shocked. “Shameful isn’t it,” he adds, as Vladimir takes out a knife, “These days you can’t trust anyone…”
With that, Vladimir grabs Larissa, twisting her arm behind her back and holding the knife to her throat. She cries for Piotr’s help, but he cannot react in case Vlad does the unspeakable. Sinister warns Vlad that, if he kills her, Colossus will go into a rage and start hitting people. He wishes to stop this nonsense and have a civilized chat first. Piotr asks him to say what he has to say. P>
Sinister tells him that there isn’t any need for hostility. The four of them want the same thing. Piotr doubts that. Vladimir says he should listen to the voice in his head; he does. He then informs Larisa that she isn’t Larisa, and he isn’t her
Uncle Vlad. Sinister wishes to enlighten them, and to explain the full portent of what they are doing there.
The story begins in England in the year 1859. He was a respected scientist known as Nathaniel Essex. The great minds of the age, such as Charles Darwin, were set alight by the possibilities science presented. Darwin was distrustful of Essex and told him as much. He feared Essex’s intellectual curiosity was leading him to moral destruction. Essex replied that this is the reason why Darwin would never achieve true greatness. He would always be constrained by the shackles of tradition and the curse of Christian morality.
Essex continued to carry out his own experiments, attempting, through careful breeding, to induce huge leaps in evolutionary development. He told the mutated forms in his cages that some day their offspring would rule the world. However, his experiments cost him dearly, and he was shunned by the scientific community. Essex wished to prove Darwin wrong. Evolution didn’t have to take place in small amounts over thousands of years. A flask he held contained the secrets of hereditary mutation; The Essex Factor!
After the death of his young son and the rejection that followed from his wife, he met Apocalypse; a being that would take away the last vestiges of his humanity. He recognized in Essex a kindred spirit, and using ancient wisdom and long-forgotten technologies, he tore apart Essex’s genetic structure and remade him, cell by cell. By the time he was finished, Essex was dead and Sinister was born.
Apocalypse wished for the planet to become their laboratory upon which they would conduct the ultimate experiment. From the ashes of war would spring a new race, unfettered by the frailties of human love, compassion and tolerance - the race of Homo superior!
Over time, Sinister realized that Apocalypse’s methods were crude, barbaric and unscientific. They would have resulted in a mongrel race, and not the pure bloodline he dreamt of creating. Sinister turned against his creator and continued his experiments right across the globe, all the while searching for those with the Essex Factor. All he found were congenital idiots and cripples.
He heard rumors of a mystic named Grigory Rasputin and headed towards Czarist Russia, where he was directed to the Restaurant Yar. Sinister arrived and found the bearded Rasputin holding court. He showed a young woman a knife wound that had almost healed. “God healed me,” he told her. “He preserves me for greater things, my dear.”
During the long hours of drunken revelry, Sinister observed two young gypsies that were called upon by Rasputin to entertain the Yar’s customers. The young blond man, Ivan, appeared to be able to lift objects, including his own sister Elena, using unknown powers. Sinister knew that this was a manifestation of what he called the Essex Factor. Rasputin, meanwhile, decided to take in both Elena and Ivan to lodge with him.
Upon leaving the restaurant, Sinister confronted Rasputin and asked him to prove himself to him. Rasputin wasn’t impressed and he asked Sinister who sent him. Ilioror maybe, or Khostov, his paymaster? Sensing trouble, Elena told Rasputin that she and her brother would defend him, but Rasputin felt he didn’t need the help of children. He lunged at Sinister, forcing him backwards to the ground. They landed in the settling snow, and Sinister appeared surprised that Rasputin attacked him without weapons. “Did you think you could kill me with your bare hands?” he exclaimed.
Rasputin wanted to see if he had any blood under his corpse skin. Sinister replied that the Essex Factor was strong in him, but he was no match for someone as powerful as he. Sinister blasted Rasputin with a charge of energy, which tossed Rasputin across the street. Ivan rushed towards Sinister but received the same treatment. Rasputin gasped, “W-what are you?” Sinister grinned and asked him to go upstairs where they could talk about the future.
Continuing his explanation to Colossus and Larisa, Sinister then told them how they talked through the night, of the Essex Factor, and how they could create a race of superhumans. Sinister told Rasputin that, from his loins, a great bloodline would flow. Rasputin appeared pleased with this development; thinking this was the greater calling he sensed within himself. “I will make Mother Russia into a new Eden, and men will walk as giants again…” He held Elena’s face in his hands. “… as angels!”
Sinister informed him that he would have to take as many partners as he could, and only to choose the healthiest of women. Ideally, his partners would also carry the Essex Factor, but women like Elena were rare indeed. Rasputin promised he would care for Elena above all others, but this remark seemed to concern the taciturn Ivan.
Rasputin proceeded to impregnate his ‘celestial brides’ one by one, but it was in Sinister’s laboratory that the new race would truly be conceived. He laid Rasputin on a bed and began to take blood samples from him. Using the knowledge he had gleaned from Apocalypse, he worked day and night to distil the nuclein from the blood of Rasputin, and also from Ivan and Elena. He then transfused this artificially boosted Essex Factor into his unborn children whilst still in the womb. From these base materials, he told Rasputin, he would create something far more precious than gold.
Of course, there were some failures, and several babies didn’t make it much past their birth. One day, Elena approached Rasputin and informed him that she was carrying his child. Rasputin smiled, and told her that of all the women he knew, she was the only one that truly set his heart on fire. “I would die for you,” replied Elena. Rasputin asked Ivan if he would do the same, but Ivan replied simply that he would die for his sister. Rasputin touched his shoulder, and told him that soon he would be the uncle of his child, and that made them as close as brothers.
Ivan accused Elena of being a whore, and tried to get through to her how Rasputin and Sinister poisoned everything they touched. He wished to take her to Siberia, where she could raise her child away from all this madness. Elena asked him not to make her choose. Sinister overheard the entire conversation from behind a curtain.
While he waited for the pregnant women to near their due date, unknown to Sinister, Rasputin and Elena, Ivan was meeting with Rasputin’s enemies. He told them that Rasputin was privy to the secrets of the royal family, and was revealing everything to German agents. He told them he had seen this with his own eyes. A plan was hatched to get rid of Rasputin.
On the 16th December 1916, Ivan persuaded Rasputin to go secretly to the palace of Prince Felix Yusapov. Rasputin arrogantly believed that the prince’s wife, Irina, was willing to become one of his celestial brides. Ivan let him run with that thought as he watched Rasputin drink poisoned wine. When the cyanide had no effect, he left the room to meet with his co-conspirators, Prince Felix Yusapov, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich and Vladimir Purishkevich. The prince handed him a pistol, and Ivan returned to the room where he shot Rasputin in the face, point blank. The others then entered and began battering Rasputin with clubs and fists.
Rasputin would not die, and so he was dragged outside where he was shot again and again. After they finally thought he was finished, they tied him up in a sack and dropped him through a hole in the ice into the Malay Nevka River. The assassins then dispersed, and no one was present when, thirty minutes later, Rasputin emerged from the water. Despite his resurrection, Rasputin was weak, and he barely made it back to Sinister’s abode. Opening the door, he asked Sinister to summon his brides.
What happened next was beyond Sinister’s mortal comprehension. There was more of the mystic than of science in the ritual that took place. The celestial brides gathered around a table where the dying Rasputin lay. They motioned their hands towards him as he asked them not to weep for him. His body would die but he would live on through them. He asked if they could feel it; feel his spirit passing into them? They would preserve the sacred bloodline, and when the world was ready for him, Rasputin would return. Sinister watched the light fade from his eyes as Elena wept upon his passing.
Mister Sinister finishes his explanation, only for Vladimir to suddenly begin acting even more strangely than usual. He dances around, singing, “I will return… I will return,” as Sinister looks at him with concern. Vlad then picks up a gasoline canister and begins pouring it over himself. Piotr’s eyes widen as he sees his uncle cover himself with the flammable liquid. Larisa’s eyes widen too, “Vladimir! No!”
Vlad takes a cigarette lighter and flicks it open. “I am he, as you are he, as you are me… and we are all… together.” His body is engulfed in bright orange flames as he continues to dance around, cackling manically.