Nowhere. Now, in the sideline reality belonging to the villainous Emplate. A lighthouse floats on a piece of rock, while a dragon rests on another chunk of rock, and transparent squid-like beings float through the strangely colored sky. ‘Don’t be afraid, my dear. There’s nothing here that need frighten you. Except for agony, enslavement and eventual death’ Emplate tells the X-student known as Bling after she landed on his dinning table. With his lackey, DOA at his side, Emplate tells Bling that since she will ensure these things in the service of his survival and comfort they are all most necessary, right and fitting.
‘You touch me, face-ache, and you’re gonna lose some limbs and organs you might be needing later!’ the ever-aggressive Bling snaps back. Emplate tells her to show some respect, and orders DOA to subdue and prepare her. ‘Pleasure’ DOA replies, to which Bling declares that she warned them, and releases diamond hard shards from her form, which burst towards Emplate and DOA like daggers. DOA is struck by several of them, and declares ’Subduing detail reporting unfit for duty, boss!’, while Emplate phases so the shards pass through, and he tells Bling that she has a fascinating mutant power, the ability to produce diamond shards from her own bone marrow.
Bling begins to run from her tormentor, who follows her like a spectre. ‘You remind me of someone I used to be very close to. My dear Penance. How empty this house has seemed since she left’ Emplate remarks as Bling runs up some rickety old stairs - only for Emplate to materialize at the top of the stairs, telling the surprised Bling that he has hopes for her, and reaches out to her with his leech-like hands, telling her that she will fill the void very nicely.
Meanwhile, on Utopia, the island home of the Uncanny X-Men and their myriad associates. Several of whom, including Cyclops, Danger, Angel, Madison Jeffries, Doctor Nemesis and the Stepford Cuckoos have gathered in the amphitheatre, where Cyclops declares that he is not interested in panic or speculation, and asks Hellion and Onyxx to tell him what they saw. With Rockslide standing behind them, the young mutants begin to explain: ’It was - there was this house!’ Hellion exclaims. ’Yeah. Like a really old house’ Onyxx adds, while Hellion explains that it came out of nowhere, moving really fast. Onyxx declares that it chased Bling across those rocks. ’It swallowed her!’ Hellion exclaims. ’Yeah. Like that’ Onyxx adds. ’Emplate again?’ Cyclops wonders, to which Danger tells him that it seems likely, and that the dimensional valences are full of residual turbulence. ‘Something did come through here’ she tells him.
Cyclops turns to Doctor Nemesis and Madison Jeffries, and asks them how the firewall is coming along. Jeffries replies that they are working on it, but they are not yet there. ‘Is there any way we can follow her?’ Cyclops asks. Doctor Nemesis reveals that eventually they can jam a crowbar into the dimensional breach and pry it open again. Doctor Nemesis explains that they would be building the crowbar from scratch and they would need to pinpoint exactly where the breach occurred. Suddenly, Trance points upwards and exclaims ‘It’s right over there, Dr Nemesis. Look!’
Cyclops walks over to Trance and asks her if she can see something. ‘You mean you can’t? There’s a hole in the air!’ Trance reveals. ‘Show me’ Cyclops tells her, as the young mutant releases her “trance” form, and announces that it can go right through the hole. Doctor Nemesis announces that he is seeing a pattern here, and reminds Trance how she fell through Ariel’s teleport gate in San Francisco. ‘Your body is developing a new repertoire of reactions to spatial warps and energy fields’ he explains. ‘And that’s a good thing, right?’ Trance asks. ‘Possibly. These new abilities might not be stable or lasting’ Doctor Nemesis tells her, to which Trance exclaims that she has them now and can go through the hole and find Bling.
Cyclops apologizes to Trance and tells her that is not an option. Trance assures him she would be careful and points out that nothing would be able to touch her. ‘Point stands. You’re neither trained nor equipped for what you might have to deal with’ Cyclops tells her, when suddenly, Rogue appears. ‘Sounds like solid sense to me. So suppose Ah go instead!’ she declares. Cyclops asks Rogue to explain, to which Rogue explains she will borrow Trance’s powers and go through the gate to find Bling, if she can. She points out that if she can’t find Bling, when the powers fade she will probably just snap back to wherever her body is. Cyclops turns to Doctor Nemesis and Jeffries and asks them how long it is before they can get him that crowbar.
The former Alphan replies that they don’t have the equipment, or the math. ‘We’d be inventing an entirely new branch of physics!’ he adds, to which Doctor Nemesis remarks ‘So probably at least an hour and a half’. Cyclops turns back to Rogue and tells her to do it, but that she must stay linked to him via the Cuckoos the whole time she is there. ‘If we have to go in after you, I want to know what we’re walking into’ he remarks. Rogue approaches Trance and asks her if she is okay with her using her powers for a little while. ‘I’d rather go myself’ Trance replies, pointing out that Bling is her friend. Rogue replies that she knows, but this is just the best out of a whole mess of bad options. ‘Then - yeah. Okay;’ Trance tells her, before Rogue takes her hand and begins to absorb her powers.
Back in Emplate’s sideline reality, Bling wakes to find herself in a dank dungeon. Holding herself, she realizes that there are no wounds, and wonders why then she feels like she has been put though a blender. ‘What did he do to me?’ she asks, before noticing markings on a wall - scratches as if someone had been keeping track do the time they were kept in the prison - ‘Oh. Not good’ Bling remarks when she sees just how many markings there are.
Elsewhere in the lighthouse, Emplate announces ‘It’s done. For now’ as he enters a room full of cages, where DOA is playing with a rat. ‘Good to hear, boss! And the kid panned out okay?’ DOA asks. ‘She survived, if that’s what you mean. If she can regenerate, as Penance did, she’ll last me a long time’ Emplate replies. Emplate announces that he can feel his tormentors hovering and declares that he will have to feed again if he is to survive their touch.
DOA asks Emplate if he is good for now, and remarks that this would be a perfect time for him to take that leave he has got coming. ‘Leave? You worthless piece of -’ Emplate begins as he picks DOA up by his neck. ‘Joke, boss! Just a joke!’ DOA assures Emplate, who reminds him that he is the only servant he has left, from the hordes who used to wait upon his every whim. ‘It’s been so long - I can barely remember how the others tasted’ Emplate declares as he drops DOA to the ground and walks away.
Back on Utopia, Rogue announces that she has taken as much power from Trance as she can. ‘Ah don’t want to hurt her too much’ Rogue remarks, before Trance passes out. Rogue places Trance on the ground, while someone declares ‘Uh…I thought you could control your power now’. Rogue replies that she can control how much she takes and when she takes it, but it doesn’t mean it is a pleasant experience for the one she is taking it from. Rogue herself kneels on the ground as she announces she is going to try for a separation. ‘Wish me luck!’ she exclaims, before her own trance form emerges from her body, just like Trance’s power. Smiling, Rogue’s trance form exclaims that she was about to say “strike one”, but she supposes it worked.
Cyclops asks her if she sees Emplate’s door, to which Rogue replies that she sees a whole lot of things: patterns of energy in the air, in the ground, heart signatures and emotional auras. ‘In some ways, Trance sees the world more vividly than Logan does’ Rogue announces. ‘The door, Rogue. We don’t know how long we’ve got!’ Cyclops reminds her. Gazing upwards, Rogue announces that she sees it, right in front of her. Cyclops tells Rogue not to take any chances and to retreat at the first sign of trouble. He also tells her to give him a running commentary on everything she sees. ‘You got it, Scott. Ah’ll be in touch!’ Rogue exclaims as he trance form enters the sideline reality. ‘Assuming our bush phone works where Ah’m going’ she adds.
Moments later, Rogue gazes around the strange new surroundings and through telepathic connection, Cyclops asks her to tell him what she sees. As one of the transparent squid-like creatures wraps its tentacles around a large dragon, Rogue exclaims that she would be happy to, if she had any idea, and suggests the Cuckoos patch Cyclops in so he can look through her eyes. ‘This place is way off the map!’ Rogue declares. Floating through the realm, Rogue announces that she can navigate here, but that there is no sign of Bling, or anyone else either.
Soon, she comes across a large grey sphere overhead. ‘Are you seeing this?’ Rogue asks Cyclops, who replies that it looks like a planet or a moon. ‘Copy that. So maybe this is where the locals hang out’ Rogue suggests, before flying into it. ‘Maybe not’ she announces, adding that it is smaller and closer than it looked, and that space is all twisted. Suddenly serpent-like demons appear, and Rogue screams. ‘Talk to me, Rogue. Tell me what happened!’ Cyclops tells her, and as she leaps out of their way, Rogue replies nothing happened and that she just got a shock, before announcing that she has just sighted the enemy, as the lighthouse is floating nearby. Cyclops tells Rogue to watch her back. ‘If you can see them, they can see you too’ he warns her. But Rogue points out that they cannot touch her, and that she has Trance’s sting. ‘Which means I can touch them - real hard’.
Inside the lighthouse, the door to Bling’s cell opens with a creak. Blink looks up from where she is huddled against the stone wall: ‘You got the wrong floor, man. Plastic surgery is up on the mezzanine’ she tells Emplate, who reminds Bling that she should show more respect. ‘Since your survival is nobody’s gift but mine’. ‘My survival? Where have you been living? When the X-Men get here, they’re gonna redecorate you and your stupid house!’ Bling boasts, to which Emplate tells her that the X-Men don’t have his address. ‘No?’ Bling asks. ‘No’ Emplate tells her. ‘Abandon hope, all you who yada yada?’ she mocks. ‘Exactly’ Emplate declares. Bling smirks as she tells Emplate that he is right where he belongs then.
Bling wearily gets to her feet as Emplate tells her that she speaks of things she cannot possibly understand. ‘Hey, “things I don’t understand” are my best subject. Try me!’ Bling replies, to which Emplate reveals that he was exiled here by those who should have loved him best. ‘Those I trusted, insofar as I trusted anyone’. Bling replies that this doesn’t explain why he is still here. ‘Or did you just fall in love with the place?’ she asks him. ‘My freedom of movement is limited’ Emplate explains. ‘Poor sweet baby’ Bling mocks, before asking ‘Limited how, exactly?’
Emplate lunges at Bling and shoves her against the wall as he grabs her throat, ‘You’re hoping to learn something that you can use against me. Do you think I’m a fool?’ he declares. ‘No. I think you don’t care what I find out, because - I’m just a kid - and you’re a twisted genius!’. Emplate releases his grasp and declares that Bling is right. ‘It matters not one iota what you know. ‘Exactly’ Bling tells him as she rubs her throat, before asking him what the deal is. ‘The deal is eternal torment’ Emplate tells her. ‘Wow. That must really suck’ Bling exclaims. ‘And that’s why I need you’ Emplate replies, before placing a hand over her mouth, leeching her energies. ‘To give me the strength to bear what must be borne’ Emplate declares as he drops Bling to the floor and leaves the dungeon.
Emplate makes his way down a decaying corridor, and enters a room, where he stands on a strange platform. ‘Come, then. Come on’ he declares, before throwing his hands upwards: ‘Feast - and be damned!’ he exclaims, before a strange light is seen - and someone screams.
Meanwhile, Rogue’s trance form enters the lighthouse, and gazes around, telling Cyclops that the place looks real quiet. Cyclops asks something, but Rogue cannot hear him properly, and tells him that there is some kind of interference. Hoping he still might be able to hear her, Rogue tells Cyclops that the place looks like Victor Frankenstein did the interior design. A bathtub filled with some sort of plasma and tubes coming out of is just one of the strange objects in the room, Rogue announces that she thinks it might be Emplate’s bedroom. Rogue sees a photo frame on the wall, containing a photo of the St Croix family. ‘Picture of himself as a kid. Either Marius St Croix has got himself a sentimental side - or else a grudge that’s still eating away at him after all this time’ Rogue remarks.
She sees a peepshow machine in the room, and remarks that she knows she should probably just walk away at this point. ‘But Ah never was any good at that part’ she admits as she approaches the peepshow and places her eyes up to the viewer:
Your enemies plot your downfall! is the introduction, before Rogue sees a scene playing out, in black and white, between Cyclops, Jeffries and Doctor Nemesis: ‘So, this is it? You’ve isolated the dimensional signature?’ Cyclops asks. ‘We can talk to you, stripling, or we can work. The choice is yours’ Doctor Nemesis remarks, to which Cyclops declares that he needs to know what he can expect from him. ‘Unfailing industry and a cheerful, almost child-like disposition. Yes, we’ve got a match to Emplate’s dimension’. Madison adds that they are only guessing as to how his powers work, and if they are wrong, the device will be worse than useless. Cyclops exclaims that they need a plan B, as he puts a hand on the device. ‘Define your terms. Or else remove your hands’ Doctor Nemesis tells him. ‘I want to be able to break through and get Rogue and Bling back. And failing that, I want -’.
‘Looking for something, missy?’ DOA asks as he enters the room. ‘How about that now. The ghost of Rogue. Crazy thing. I didn’t even know you were sick!’ DOA declares to which Rogue exclaims ‘Ah’ll show you sick, you sleazy little glove puppet!’, and proceeds to blast him with Trance’s sting - only it fizzles out before hitting him. ‘Wow! I’m impressed. You stole yourself another mutant power. And it must be all of 25 or 30 watts!’ DOA jokes, before supposing that he cannot touch Rogue either. ‘So we got an impasse here, unless - now what was it the boss said? Oh yeah. I remember. In case of ghosts - break glass!’ With that, DOA reaches into his pocket and pulls three egg-like objects - before dropping them on the ground. The objects shatter, and three demons with large pincers emerge.
DOA explains that they discovered them in the Vespertine Miasma. ‘They got themselves a whole bloody ecosystem down there!’ he remarks, before telling Rogue that these creatures are what you’d call the top carnivores. One of them lashes out at Rogue with its pincers - ‘Oh no!’ Rogue gasps, as the attack appears to have injured her arm. Rogue begins to run from the creatures, while DOA claps his hands and smiles: ‘Man, if only Gen-X were here! This would be just like old times!’