(Flashback, years ago / Inside Xavier‘s mind)
‘When I was young, normal people feared me, distrusted me. I realized the human race is not yet ready to accept those with extra powers’ Professor Charles Xavier tells his students, the X-Men. ‘So I decided to build a haven. A school for X-Men. Here we stay, unsuspected by normal humans, as we learn to use our powers for the benefit of mankind. To help those who would destroy us if they knew of our existence’ he tells his young charges. ‘We understand, Professor. We won’t let you down!’ exclaims Cyclops. Xavier continues, remarking that there are many mutants walking the Earth, and more are born each…each…’
‘When I was young, normal people feared me, distrusted me. I realized the human race is not yet ready to accept those with extra powers…’ Professor X begins again.
(Present / Reality)
‘Professor, you’ve got to fight back. You’ve been - brainwashed in some way!’ exclaims Remy “Gambit” LeBeau, formerly of the X-Men as he watches his former mentor, seemingly taken over by the diabolical Mr. Sinister. Standing nearby in the laboratory of Dr. Amanda Mueller is Sebastian Shaw, who explains that Xavier hasn’t been brainwashed. ‘Of course he hasn’t!’ Xavier replies, his eyes glowing red, a sinister red diamond on his forehead, as indeed Mr. Sinister is in possession of Xavier’s body, and he exclaims that Xavier is occupied elsewhere. ‘I’m disappointed, Gambit. I thought you would have known me at once!’ Sinister tells his former associate. ‘We used to be so close. Like - father and son!’ Sinister tells the shocked Gambit.
From her seat, the deranged ancient mutant Dr. Mueller screams at her assassins, ‘Kill him! No one else must be the vessel! No one but me!’ Sinister smirks and looks at Mueller ‘These? Kill me?’ he asks as he uses Xavier’s telepathy to shut down the assassin’s minds with ease. ‘Amanda, please, ignore the evidence of your eyes - and remember who you’re really dealing with!’ Sinister tells his former associate, before Shaw punches him in the face with his superior strength, while telling Gambit to destroy the Cronus device.
Shaw clutches his head when Sinister begins to attack his mind, ‘Come, now. That’s a little like locking the stable door when the horse is already trampling you, Sebastian!’ Sinister exclaims, before picking Shaw up and telling him that his father would not have been proud, and tossing him at Gambit, he adds ‘And neither am I!’ before Shaw smacks into Gambit, and both men fall to the floor.
‘You think you’ve out-maneuvered me, Nathaniel. But I’ve spent decades just sitting here, preparing for this day!’ Mueller bellows as she presses a button on her control panel which suddenly drops clear cylinders onto Gambit, Shaw and Sinister, trapping them. ‘The stone that was rejected will become the cornerstone!’ Mueller exclaims, grinning wickedly. ‘I will take your power. Your vigor. Your irreducible essence - whether you like it or not!’ she tells Sinister, while Gambit and Shaw find themselves lowered beneath the floor.
‘I disagree, Amanda. I believe you’re going to open this cage’ Sinister replies, pressing his hand against the clear cage. A wide-eyed Mueller begins to move one of her hands towards the control panel, but tries to use her other hand to prevent herself from hitting the switch, but it’s too late. ’No - you can’t!’ she gasps as she presses a button, causing the cage to release Sinister. ’You wanted to be my vessel? You’re not up to the job!’ Sinister tells Mueller, boasting that even the smallest portion of his immensity would craze and fracture her. ’Here - let me show you!’ he exclaims as he brings a hand to a frightened Mueller’s face, ’No! Nathaniel, please -’ the old woman begins, while, inside his mind, Xavier calls out to Sinister: ’You won’t harm her. You’ll harm nobody else. Ever!’ he orders.
Inside Xavier’s mind, Sinister and Xavier confront each other, ’Xavier! You broke out of the psi-loop. Amazing. Your psyche is supposed to lie down and die at this point’ Sinister remarks. ’I’m happy to disappoint you’ Xavier retorts, adding ’All this effort. All these lives squandered and ruined, just to ensure your own immortality. Well it won’t happen so long as the smallest fragment of my mind survives’. Sinister replies that he knows, and declares that it saddens him, in a way. ’I knew you’d become something extraordinary’ he adds, returning to his true appearance, and grasping Charles in a large psychic hand.
‘I was your true father, Charles. Not pliable Brian Xavier or school bully Kurt Marko!’ Sinister exclaims, adding that he doesn’t mean in a biological sense, but in terms of Xavier’s vision. ‘Your audacity. The spark that burns so brightly within you. You get these things from me!’ Sinister grins as Xavier begins to sink from view, and Sinister declares ‘I’m written on your DNA, Charles. That must be demoralizing, surely. Conductive to despair. Why carry on a fight you can’t hope to win?’ he asks. ‘Remember your defeats, Charles. Your disasters. Your deaths! They were all just walk-throughs and rehearsals for this day’ Sinister exclaims as he walks away, as the last of Xavier’s fingers sink from view.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the complex, ‘Gambit! Wake up!’ Shaw calls out to Gambit, their cages next to each other, just two of dozens, some filled with the remains of other beings. ‘Where are we?’ Gambit asks he comes to. Shaw, who keeps pounding at the clear cage replies that they are in some kind of holding facility. ‘I think it was built to handle a much larger amount of traffic!’ he remarks, as Gambit looks at the rows and rows of empty cages.
Gambit exclaims that Sinister is alive, ‘What does it take? What does it take to stop him?’ he exclaims. Continuing to punch the cage, Shaw replies ‘He has history with you, yes?’ and suggests that Gambit put Sinister out of his mind, and concentrate on this fight if he wants to survive. ‘We have to get out!’ Gambit exclaims, ‘Allow me’ Shaw replies as his muscular body continues to smash the cage, and he explains that every impact makes him a little stronger, so, sooner or later, he will reach a power level beyond this structure’s tolerance. ‘And then - there will be - a reckoning!’ Shaw shouts as, finally, he bursts through the cage.
Meanwhile, Xavier tells himself to pull out of this, that he must take control of his body and mind again, when, suddenly, he has a vision of the past:
(Flashback to the “X-Cutioner’s Song” / Illusion)
At Lila Cheney’s goodwill concert, Xavier is suddenly shot - by someone resembling Cable! ‘He’s hit! The Professor’s been hit!’ Archangel exclaims as he rushes over to Xavier. ‘It was someone in the crowd!’ Lila exclaims, stopping the concert as she drops down beside Xavier. ‘Lila, get Hank!’ We need Hank!’ Archangel exclaims as a pool of blood begins to form on Xavier‘s chest.
(Present / Reality)
Xavier thinks to himself that this is not real, as he survived Stryfe’s bullet, when, suddenly, looking at his hands, his body (not the one Sinister is wearing) begins to transform….
Back in Muller’s lab proper, Sinister, still in Xavier’s body, exclaims ‘Now. Where were we?’. ‘You were about to die, Nathaniel!’ Mueller screams, telling him that, like Xavier, he ought to be used to that by now. Sinister’s eyes flash as he reminds Mueller that every defense system in this complex knows him, and that even in this borrowed flesh, they will not harm him. Suddenly though, some laser beams rain down on Sinister, and one of them strikes him. ‘I did some redecorating. I hope you don’t mind!’ Mueller snarls.
Lying on the ground, Sinister exclaims ‘Emergency protocol E for Essex!’, and instantly, thick metal cords wrap themselves around a horrified Mueller, encasing her. ‘Redecorating? You should have stripped the processor core and rebuilt from the ground up! That might have worked!’ Sinister tells his opponent as he gets to his feet.
(Flashback to the “X-Cutioner’s Song” / Illusion)
‘Isn’t there - anything we can do?’ Jean Grey asks as she, Cyclops, Archangel, Iceman, Colossus, Psylocke, Rogue, Gambit and Bishop gather around the Beast who has been working on Xavier. The Beast replies that he is afraid not, as the Techno-Organic Virus has reached the Professor’s brain. ‘All we can do now - is remember him…’ the Beast exclaims as he brings a sheet up over Xavier’s unmoving body.
(Present / Reality)
Surrounded by darkness, Xavier watches these events play out before his eyes, ‘This is insane - being made to relive these random events while Sinister usurps my mind and body!’ Xavier shouts, knowing that this is a matter or will, pure and simple. ‘A trial of strength…my mind against his!’ Xavier clenches his fists and shakes, boasting that his mind will be the one that prevails!’ he exclaims.
(Flashback to Uncanny X-Men #167 / Illusion)
‘Done it! Xavier exclaims, but looking around himself, he realizes that this is another illusion, and suddenly, falls out of the wheelchair that he is sitting in falls over, he screams, wondering what stage of his life this illusion relates to, ‘When did this happen to me?’ he asks, before realizing that his body is transforming yet again, ‘No! God, no!’ he gasps as he gives birth to the Brood Queen.
(Present / Reality)
Shaw and Gambit have found their way back to the main chamber, ‘Sinister! Face me, you coward!’ Shaw demands. ‘Face you, Mister Shaw? I believe I already did - and you were only saved by Amanda’s intervention!’ Sinister replies, with his hands around the incapacitated Mueller’s throat. ‘She’s in no position to intervene now!’ Sinister points out, and pushes Shaw over as Sebastian approaches him. ‘You have my undivided attention!’ Sinister adds, until Gambit kicks him over, calling out to the Professor, telling him that if he is still in there to keep fighting, as it is not over. ‘Gambit - I suggest you forget how to breathe!’ Sinister tells his former ally, adding ‘And, as an agreeable side effect - how to talk!’. Gambit drops to his knees.
The Brood Queen wrenches herself from Xavier’s broken form, but, at the same time, they are one being. Xavier’s mind and body dissolved in the Brood Queen’s like salt and water - no longer a presence, only a flavor. Xavier realizes that Sinister is doing this, reminding him of the times when his will was suppressed and overridden. ‘Telling me to fail. Surrender. Die’. His body distorting again, Xavier shouts: ‘I…I…I…I…refuse…refuse…refuse…REFUSE!’, until he finds himself transformed into Onslaught! ‘Hah!’ Xavier laughs, suggesting that Sinister should have started with Onslaught, as now it is too obvious. ‘And the child you terrorized as finally stepped out of your shadow!’ Xavier exclaims, remembering himself as a child.
(Present / Reality)
Sinister moans, and energy flows around him, while Shaw tells Gambit that they have a window. ‘Use it!’ he exclaims, but Gambit replies that he isn’t going to kill the Professor, to which Shaw retorts ‘Now him, you inbred fool. The machine!’. Shaw points out that even if Xavier defeats Sinister, it will not matter so long as the Cronus device exists, for Sinister will just find a different host. ‘Built to last!’ Gambit replies moments later after unleashing a barrage of kinetically-charged playing cards at the Cronus device, though it doesn’t blow up. ‘Everything’s got a breaking point!’ Shaw replies as he continues to punch it hard. ‘I know that! I just hope the Professor dint reach his yet!’ Remy adds.
Inside Xavier’s mind, a furious Sinister tells Xavier that he draws out his suffering to no purpose. ‘You think so?’ Xavier replies. ‘I know it for a fact. I told you. I’m written on your DNA. I am what you are fated to become!’ A brilliant display of colors and energies fills Xavier’s mind, as the founding father of the X-Men floats above Sinister, exclaiming ‘As Nietzsche said, Sinister, “Fate is the word cowards use…to describe the things they’re too weak to change”!’
Standing before the Cronus device, Gambit asks Shaw if he is a gambling man. ‘What do you mean?’ Shaw asks, to which Remy reminds him that, when they met, Shaw told him that his charged cards would power him up. Gambit explains that he can put that charge into anything and anyone, but the question is, will Shaw’s body be able to convert it and use it. ‘Do it!’ Shaw replies. ‘Everything?’ Gambit asks. ‘Everything. Kill or cure!’ Shaw declares. ‘You’re a brave man’ Remy tells the former Black King as he places his hands to his chest. ‘I’m an egotist’ Shaw corrects Gambit. ‘I’d prefer to die as myself rather than live as someone else’ he explains, before Remy begins pouring power into Shaw.
Soon, Shaw thanks Gambit, and remarks that, however this goes, it ought to be interesting. Shaw then smacks the Cronus device with ease, toppling it.
‘You hear that, Sinister?’ Xavier asks inside his mind. ‘NO!’ a wide-eyed, frightened Sinister screams. ‘That was the sound of your exit strategy breaking into a million pieces!’ Xavier exclaims, swatting Sinister away with a burst of mind-power, Xavier remarks to him ‘That must be demoralizing, surely. Conductive to despair’. A horrified Sinister tries to merge into Xavier, but Xavier furiously shouts ‘This is my body. My mind. GET OUT!’.
Moments later, Xavier gets to his feet. ‘Professor?’ Gambit asks. ‘I’m well, Gambit. I’m fine, thank you. I just need a moment to collect my thoughts’ Xavier replies, back to normal. Motioning to the console where Dr. Mueller was residing, Shaw points out that it would appear she took the opportunity to leave while they were otherwise engaged. ‘I think if neither of you gentlemen objects, I’ll do the same’ Shaw remarks. Xavier bids Shaw farewell, and tells him that his assistance was appreciated. ‘Please. I was on Sinister’s list myself. Altruism has never been one of my vices. And I’m too told to take up new hobbies’ Shaw retorts as he takes his leave.
Xavier shakes Gambit’s hand and thanks him for everything. ‘I’m aware of how hard this must have been for you’ Xavier tells him. ‘How many old ghosts you must have faced’ he adds. ‘A few, that’s true!’ Remy replies as they begin to walk out of the lab together, as Gambit remarks that he feels better knowing that he saw Sinister die. ‘Maybe I’ll be able to believe it now’ he remarks, before asking Xavier if he wants to find a bar and talk about old times. Xavier thanks Gambit, and explains that he cannot stay. ‘I need to speak with Scott Summers…and it won’t wait!’ Xavier declares.
Two days later, Sebastian Shaw, now in one of his expensive suits, sits in a restaurant, looking at The Globe newspaper, with the headline “Meltdown at Alamogordo: Unexplained explosion demolishes disused reactor”. Shaw tells a woman with long black hair sitting opposite him that there is, of course, a funny side to this whole affair. ‘Is there?’ the woman asks. ‘Oh yes, you don’t see it?’ Shaw replies, remarking that Essex set this little scheme in motion in the nineteen-forties while he was still learning his craft.
‘All those baroque contrivances - the machine, the trigger pulse, the manipulation of other people’s genes - they all become irrelevant when he perfected human cloning’ Sebastian explains. The woman, who has rather white skin, puts down her cup of tea and replies that she thought the point was that Sinister wanted to save his memories and personality, not just his DNA. ‘Did I get that wrong?’ she asks. ‘No, you’re right’ Shaw replies as he gets to his feet and calls out to a waiter, asking for the check.
Shaw tells his companion that she must admit, she represents a much more elegant and economical way of cheating the grave. ‘If I’m what you say I am’ the woman replies. ‘Well you must have known already that you were…different’ Shaw replies, before telling the woman that she will be his new Black Queen, answerable to him alone. ‘No’ the woman replies. ‘No?’ Shaw asks, surprised. ‘No. Not the Black Queen. Sometimes it’s cool to just go ahead and state the obvious’ she points out, sitting in thigh-high black leather boots, long elegant gloves, and a barely-there mini-dress, with a sinister red diamond on her forehead, she suggests ‘How about…Miss Sinister?’.