A high-tech complex. A teleportation portal opens and in on a surfboard flies a blond man, behind him and holding on to him, one of the fat, blue-skinned, other-dimensional slavers. Taking in the sight before him, the blond man, Slipstream, asks with an amused half-smile whether they’ve come at a bad time.
Hamming it up, Mr Sinister replies Good gracious, no! with a broad smile. Slipstream is always welcome. He is just having a chat with a client. He points towards another slaver, shackled to a table with some fluid being injected into him. Sinister cheerfully explains to the new arrivals that his victim is satisfying a pet curiosity of his, about whether non-terrestrials are susceptible to the venom of some of the native fauna. In this case, Sinister continues to the consternation of the newly arrived slaver, the “stinger” jellyfish from the Coral Sea. He’s actually impressed. For most humans, that dose would be fatal.
The new slaver protests. All traces of cheerfulness wiped aside, Sinister reminds him that they had a deal. Yet the slavers brokered Jean Grey to someone else. A most regrettable error in judgment, the slaver ventures. Does he think so? Sinister asks, as a moment later one of his servants shackles the creature. He has heard that it was him, Master Ghibl, who persuaded his fellow masters to ship her to the Kree and then alert the Shi’ar she was coming so that they could rescue her. Because he isn’t a slaver at all. Indeed, the slaver returns to her true form – that of Cerise, member of the Imperial Guard and former member of Excalibur.
Using her solid light constructs, Cerise frees herself and lunges at Sinister. However, she finds that Sinister’s allies, such as Omega Red and the Counter Earth sorceress, Shakti, defend the scientist and won’t allow her a chance of escape. Cerise shakes off Omega Red but finds herself startled when someone looking like Storm grabs her. Holding her by the throat, the Storm-lookalike announces that he is Shaitan. Sinister adds that by trying to save her friend, Cerise thought she was serving her empress. As her reward, she’s just been betrayed. Ceries calls him a liar. She reports to Lilandra herself. Precisely, Sinister agrees, as Shaitan snaps her neck. Turning to his allies, Sinister announces that events have been set in motion. If they are to harvest their gene-stock, they must move fast.
The Starjammer, Shi’ar space. Nightcrawler suddenly shouts out Cerise, wondering a moment later what prompted him to do so or even think of her. He hopes she’s okay. He turns to Nocturne, who is sleeping more easily. But what, when she wakes up, he wonders. Can she recover from her life as slaver hound? He holds out a snapshot of his wife, Kymri, and their son – both of them blue and yellow-eyed like Kurt and Nocturne – to the sleeping woman. He explains that he saved Kymri from the slavers. That’s why they took Nocturne as revenge. The boy is his son, T.J. Stroking Nocturne’s head, he continues that they don’t just share the same initials. In many ways they are much alike. God willing, she’ll get to be his big sister. God willing and more luck than the X-Men usually are allowed he adds, tired. This is why he gave up the life of an X-Man for that of an actor, he confides. The bad guys shoot blanks. And there’s almost always a happy ending.
Hollywood, the building’s façade shows a huge poster of Nightcrawler’s newest movie, “Dying is forever,” with Kurt apparently being a James Bond character. The film is produced by nobody else but Jubilee. Inside the studio, Jubilee plays with her powers, while talking to Cyclops on the phone, demanding she be kept in the loop. Kurt’s worried wife, Kymri, addresses her, asking if they know anything, and Jubilee replies Scott figures it’s something to do with the re-manifestation of the Phoenix. She hugs the worried woman and asks how T.J. is. He doesn’t know yet, the woman admits and confides that she needs security. Suppose somebody makes a play for him? Jubilee calms her that it’s already taken care of. She’s made some calls. He will be fine and so will Kurt. And if she’s wrong? Kymri wonders. Then she guarantees whoever’s responsible the Phoenix will be the least of their problems, Jubilee announces with a grim smile.
Aliyah has grown up on the huge ship of unknown origin. She’s never been afraid there. At least not of the ship. As she slumbers, an oozing blackness begins to manifest inside her room. Still asleep, Aliyah shouts at it to go away and glowing images of her parents appear above her head. With another shout of go away, she awakes and the blackness disappears, as do her parents’ images. She slumps down exhausted before getting up, dressing in her jogging togs and starting to run.
On the bridge, Carol and an astral form of Jean, dressed in a modernized Phoenix outfit with bare midriff, have watched the scene. Carol reveals that Aliyah has had these episodes for as long as she can remember. She feels threatened by something unknown that she fears has the keys to her very soul. What about the source? Jean asks. Carol admits that she can only find out that Aliyah has an episode via the bio-sensors but nothing more. She’s no telepath. Did Jean sense anything? A malevolence, the telepath admits. A sentience as murderous as it is primal.
Jean’s astral body disappears and Carol joins the “real” Jean, who is taking a luxurious bath. Carol demands to know why Jean didn’t try to stop it and Jean replies that Aliyah took care of it herself. She doesn’t have the right to place Aliyah in jeopardy, Carol protests. Deathbird did that by giving birth to her, Jean retorts. Does Carol think she’d allow her to come any harm, she asks as she takes a dive. Following her under water, Carol snaps that Jean’s been wrong before. Aliyah is a good kid and she doesn’t want her to pay for their mistakes. Jean ominously answer it’s too late for that, as she telekinetically dries off the water, revealing strange wing-like tattoos on her back. Getting dressed in her terry-robe, she tells Carol she missed that feeling. Carol, on the other hand, wishes she could forget.
Africa, a complex belonging to ‘Mutantes sans Frontieres’. A flight vessel lands and out comes Dr. Cecilia Reyes with a critical mutant patient. She shouts out that his power has gone completely unstable and her force field can’t hold him much longer. She and the patient are already expected by her husband Hank McCoy and several other doctors, human and mutant both. While the others take the glowing patient into the lifecell, Hank observes that things sounded pretty rough over the radio. She almost lost him, an exhausted Cecilia explains. He won’t get rid of her that easily, she announces, as she kisses him. As they walk inside, she muses that manifesting their powers was already hard. She never dreamed they’d have to deal with mutants suddenly and violently losing them.
Inside a big chamber are long rows with lifecells, all filled with mutant patients. More and more every day, Hank states. If things continue that way, soon there won’t be a mutant problem, because mutants will be extinct.
Every society has their bogeyman, whether it be a person or a place. For mutants, it was a place called Neverland. Nobody was sure it really existed, but every so often a mutant would simply disappear.
In the Neverland containment center, two guards are suddenly roused by an alarm. They are joined by the director, a stern-looking woman, who demands en explanation. The alarm comes from Danielle Moonstar’s cell. While she appears to be asleep, her vital spikes are intense. One of the men wonders why she’s chose to put up a fight now. She’s been here for years.
The answer is that Moonstar is a warrior born and has never given up. Danielle finds herself standing in front of a school building. A young, redheaded teacher is leading a group of students inside. Via the psi-link she once shared with her, Dani calls out to Rahne Sinclair, begging her to hear her this time. Dani? Rahne suddenly asks. Is that you?
That moment Dani’s cell is gassed and contact breaks off. The director gives orders to have Moonstar’s meds increased to prevent something like that from happening again.
X.S.E. member X-23 aka Laurie makes her way through a crowded Hong Kong street. She tells her teammate, Monet, via radio that there are too many people for her to isolate the target’s scent. Monet coolly points out that Wolverine - even Sabretooth – could tag her. Laurie snaps back why Monet hasn’t tried to tag her psyche then. She bets Xavier could do it. She’d lose, Monet informs her haughtily. The target was taught by Xavier himself. Laurie muses that she’s been eluding them for years. How is it they suddenly get a solid line on her. Is Sage slipping or is this a set-up?
Even as she wonders, Sage suddenly comes at her from behind, having hidden behind several colorful lampions. She rakes X-23 across the back with her knife, observing that the “little clone” is a credit to her progenitor. With a snarl Laurie unsheathes two of her claws and lunges at Sage, who evades her, adding that she still has a long way to go before she is in Wolverine’s league. With X-23 momentarily stuck in the wall Sage takes out the Malice choker, apologizing in advance, but, she states, this is for a worthy cause. She slips the choker onto Laurie and X-23 screams. Monet radios all units notifying them of an, ambush as she flies to Laurie’s help.
Sage had been the X-Men’s mentat, their living computer. The X-Men always joked that she didn’t know everything, but give her time. To Sage, however, that wasn’t a joke and tripped up too often by incomplete data she suggested the solution of data-mining – imprinting the knowledge of - every person on the planet. When her colleagues rejected the proposal she went rogue and started the process regardless.
Sage pulls the Malice choker off the dazed X-23 and starts running. A wave of ice follow her and suddenly freezes her. Was this a plan or wasn’t it? Iceman boasts. Monet replies sarcastically and, as Laurie comes to, they wonder what the point of the choker was. Monet wonders why this whole encounter seemed to be planned around X-23. What made her so special? She continues that the choker normally allows Malice to take control of her target. But like Wolverine Laurie is too stubborn, allowing Sage time to remove it. What was she after?
The Hindu Kush. Cable and his companion, Irene, wait at a train station. Irene exclaims how bored she is and Cable warns her that it will take another fifty hours until they reach New York. Why isn’t there ever a teleporter when you need one, Irene complains. Would she settle for the next best thing, Cable asks as his eye flares. Someone call for a ride? a suddenly appearing hologram of Domino asks. X-Factor aims to please. As Irene wags her tongue at Domino’s back, the other woman ironically tells her it’s great to see her, too.
Irene suddenly points at Domino’s plane and utters a warning cry. Cable tells Domino to begin evasive maneuvers. A missile is directed at the plane. A moment later, the plane explodes.