Aboard the great flagship of the royal fleet of Atlantis…
Magneto spots the Invisible Woman approaching in her air ship, and declares it a stroke of luck. He has found himself the perfect hostage! He plans on bringing Sue toward him with a sudden magnetic attack and, after that, even the Fantastic Four will be compelled to do his bidding!
Xavier, standing behind the villain in his astral form, tells Magneto that he can’t hope to win. Magneto, smiling sarcastically, mocks that he already won! It is merely a matter of time before he claims his victory. Xavier disagrees. Though Magneto has tricked both the Fantastic Four and Namor into fighting each other, he believes it’s only a matter of time before everyone realizes the treachery. Magneto laughs at that remark, explaining that, though Namor and the FF feign a troubled friendship, he believes the long-standing animosity between them both is well known. Each side is prepared to think the worst of another, which is why his scheme has been so easy to set in motion.
Magneto fires his attack on Sue’s ship, and it immediately begins to feel the consequences. Sue panics when she sees all the metal parts of her ship falling apart, flying around in the cockpit! She loses control over the ship, which starts to crash into the sea! Sue decides to use her invisible forcefield in the hopes it protects her from the crash, but suddenly, the ship begins to slow down?! It seems to be floating, as if the ship has a will of its own.
This is Magneto’s doing, who used his powers to bring the ship down safely. Now, he uses hand gestures to bring the ship closer to him. Xavier tries to explain to Magneto that he sows the seed of his own undoing. He believes that, though Sue is often in the shadow of her male partners, it is within her potential to become the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four! Magneto refuses to let Xavier talk to him about “potential”, because his plan worked: the wife of Mr. Fantastic is now his captive.
Xavier calls Magneto a fool, stating that Magneto threatens the one person whose endangerment will make both Reed and Namor redouble their efforts against him. Magneto is well aware of both Richards’ and Namor’s affection toward Sue, but admits that his plan is not yet done unfolding. There is another part, which will make the Sub-Mariner unable to defy him.
Manhattan, the headquarters of the Promise…
Angel stands in front of the hibernation cylinders of Havok and Lorna, and tells Lucy there must be something she can do to get them out. He remembers that Lucy was able to get him out of his cyclinder her boss stuck him into before the year limit was up, and now she’s got to do the same thing to his teammates. Lucy reminds Warren that she already explained to him she could only free him because she rigged his pod. But if she opens any of these pods now, the occupants will die.
Warren refuses to accept that. There must be something they can do. Suddenly, Xavier’s astral form appears in front of Warren! Warren is ever glad to “see” the Professor, admitting they’ve got a situation on their hands. Xavier already knows that, explaining to Warren that Magneto has tricked the Sub-Mariner into launching an all-out war against the surface world. He has been trying without success to contact both Warren and the other X-Men, but since he now finally managed to reach Warren, he tells him that his and the other X-Men’s help is needed in this battle.
Angel mentions that he doesn’t know where the rest of the team is, but explains to Xavier that the nutcase Tobias Messenger has got Lorna and Havok corked in hibernation tubes, set not to wake them up in ten years! Xavier remembers the name “Messenger.” He reveals that, in the years before he formed the X-Men, he heard it more than once as he traveled the world in search of mutants like Warren. Warren interrupts that Messenger has his own little club of mutants now, and that they call themselves the Promise, a group Lucy is part of.
Lucy Robinson introduces herself to Xavier, adding that Messenger recruited her thirty years ago. Angel mentions that Lucy has become a wee bit disenchanted with Messenger and his plans, so she helped him escape. Xavier can see in both Lucy and Warren’s minds that Lucy is unable to do the same for Lorna and Havok. However, Xavier also reads that Lucy is mistaken! There is a way to free Lorna and Alex, but they’ll have to listen carefully about what to do.
Beast fears that, with summoning his creatures, the Mole Man has the X-Men outnumbered. Cyclops, firing his eyebeams against the monsters, fears that Hank may be right about that. Mole Man seems to have an inexhaustible supply of these underground monsters. Jean, lifting herself telekinetically up into the air, explains that her powers are no use against these creatures, and that their minds are just too alien for her telepathy to work on. Iceman, gliding on his iceslide, adds that these little yellow followers of the Mole Man don’t seem to be the least bothered by his ice powers.
Mole Man reveals that’s only natural, because his subterraneans are bred to withstand all extremes of temperature. He’s confident that the X-Men won’t defeat him this time. With that earlier battle mentioned, Beast is interested in finding out how the Mole Man remembers their earlier battle, because he thought they left Mole Man and Tyrannus in a somewhat befuddled state. Mole Man angrily shouts that the X-Men stripped him of his memory using the same underground mists he had used on them. But what none of them knew or guessed was that the effect would be but temporarily. Within a few days shreds of memory began to return to him, leaving him all the more hungry for vengeance!
Cyclops notices Mole Man running up some stairs, inching to reach an instrument panel. Without knowing what it does, Scott doesn’t want to risk blowing it up. Iceman thinks he can take a less destructive approach. As Mole Man places his hand on the panel, Bobby freezes the villain’s hand! But, Mole Man declares, Iceman’s actions came a moment too late, as his fingertips were already in contact with the button he was reaching for!
The floor begins to turn upside down, and the X-Men fall down. A deafening noise is heard, causing pain to Scott, Jean, Hank and Bobby’s ears. They all then fall down into a pit, revealed by the collapsing floor, and are once again unconscious. Mole Man laughs, saying that the X-Men have apparently not realized all the hidden wonders of the underground that are his to command. The pit they fell into is a natural echo chamber, which can amplify the slightest sound, until it becomes as devastating as a physical blow.
Mole Man orders his subteranneans to move into utter silence into the pit and bring the X-Men in another chamber. And there, this foolish game will be brought to its final, inevitable conclusion!
Ashley tries to find her mom, wanting to know why she didn’t wake her up. She finds her mom in Xavier’s room, who stares quietly in front of him. Ashley asks what’s going on. Teri lies that Xavier is just meditating, and that it’s just a… zen experience. Teri tells Ashley that she’ll have to drive her to school now, because she missed the bus thanks to her. Teri guesses it’s okay to leave Charles like this.
Once outside, Ashley wants to know if her mom’s certain she can’t tell anyone about the Professor staying at their home. She means, it’s kind of cool to have a famous man around, even if she can’t remember why. Teri remembers that Charles put some kind of mental block in Ashley’s mind. It prevents her from using her mutant power and that it’s blanked out her memory of the last couple of days. Ashley has no recollection of the Sentinel attacking her. In the car, Ashley asked her mom if she heard what she said. Teri apologizes for being distracted. Ashley wants to know when Xavier will be leaving. Teri starts the car and drives away, hoping that Charles won’t leave anytime soon.
The Professor, in his astral form, asks Angel and Lucy if they are ready. Angel believes so. Lucy can’t help but to repeat her caution, as she doesn’t feel comfortable with this plan. Xavier believes that, if the workings of these pods he reads in Mrs. Robinson are correct, the procedure should be more or less uneventful. The acceleration of the internal chronometer will merely cause the pod containing Havok to register the passing of ten years in as many minutes. Lucy supposes that should work.
Warren notices the plan seems to work indeed, as the readouts on the computers nearby him show Havok’s pod thinking more than six months have passed already, but his bio-states are able… Warren suddenly stops talking. Xavier wants to know what’s wrong. Alex’ pods suddenly starts to glow, and Warren explains something happened they didn’t figure in. Messenger removed Havok’s uniform to put him into a hibernation suit instead and, without the circuitry in that uniform controlling the flow of energy through Alex’ body, the illusion of accelerated time is causing that energy to build to critical levels! Xavier warns both Angel and Lucy to seek cover, while he shall attempt to use his telepathy to calm Alex’ unconscious mind before something bad happens.
But, Xavier’s plan comes too late, as Havok’s power causes the entire building to explode!
Luckily, Warren and Lucy survived the blast. Crawling out of the rubble, Warren remarks that Havok’s power is just the same as Cyclops’, only unfocused. One sometimes forget how destructive Alex’ power can be. Lucy notices something moving over to them. It’s Alex! Alex, with his hibernation suit shredded, asks what just happened. The last thing he remembers is that they were fighting some monsters. Angel explains to Warren that was just some kind of illusion, and that they were tricked into fighting each other. And Alex was fighting his brother, Scott.
Alex panics a bit, and wants to know if Scott is safe. Xavier admits that they don’t know the current location of the other X-Men. And, Warren adds, finding out both those bits of information should be number one on their to-do list! Alex asks about Lorna. Lucy finds Lorna in her pod, but it looks like her pod was damaged by the blast. She reads on a handout that Lorna’s bio-stat readings are dropping… and fast!
Havok rushes over to his girlfriend, fearing that she’s dying. He shouts that she has to be taken out of that pod. Warren holds Alex back, warning him to stay cool, reminding him that they don’t want another explosion. Xavier asks Lucy if, since she was able to return Angel’s uniform to him, she can retrieve Havok’s uniform as well. Lucy opens a locker and takes Alex suit out of it. She suggests that if the suit really helps Alex to control his powers, he better wears it. Xavier can only agree with that, and asks what can be done to help Lorna.
Lucy checks some of the computers, noticing that everything has been messed up by the explosion. All the pods are in states of extreme flux. She thinks she can stabilize them, but that could take several hours. Xavier believes they don’t have that much time, and reminds Angel and Havok that they’ve got to travel to New York and deal with Magneto. When Havok refuses to go anywhere without Lorna, Angel tries to talk some sense into him, but Xavier interrupts. Xavier claims that there is no room for debate here. Hesitant, Angel interrupts that maybe there is time as the Fantastic Four are already standing up against Magneto. He would rather find the rest of the X-Men before he goes charging off to New York.
Xavier admits that Angel may be right about that. He orders Lucy that she will instruct Angel on how he may begin searching for his teammates. But Xavier must insist that Havok accompanies him to New York, as one man might make a crucial difference in this battle. Alex still refuses to go without Lorna. Lucy tells Havok that the Professor is right, as there’s nothing he can do here. He is needed in New York. Havok realizes that now, and apologizes to the Professor for his outburst, guessing he wasn’t thinking. He suggests that they start going.
Angel believes that Lucy used her mutant powers on Alex, and… changed his mind. Lucy reminds Warren that she knows she can’t do that. She just made a… suggestion. Now, she wants to show Warren how he can start looking for the X-Men. Lucy also admits that she needs to do some things alone there.
A few moments later…
Warren flies down into some incredible deep tunnels. He wonders how a system so huge could have been build without anyone on the surface knowing about it. He thinks that if the other X-Men are down there, it could take him weeks to pick up their trail, if he ever does that at all! He suddenly notices gray dust appearing, and wonders where it comes from. As the dust moves closer to Warren, he turns into stone!
Pixie apologizes for doing this to Angel, promising that her pixie dust won’t have a permanent effect on him. But, Ikaris adds, they can’t afford to have Warren poke around down here. He uses his powers to lift Warren up, claiming that human beings are not ready to learn of the threats that lurk beneath their feet just yet. Pixie recalls that the Deviants abandoned these particular tunnels a long time ago, at least that’s what she can figure out from all the indications. She also believes that’s how Mole Man was able to make such free use of them.
The two fly deeper into the tunnels, with Ikaris continuously using his powers to let the transformed Angel follow him. He also agrees with what Pixie says. He believes that Mole Man has indeed made extensive use of Deviant technology for years. He used one of the Deviants transport systems to move the other X-Men miles from where he found them. Pixie believes that Angel would have never found his teammates without their help. But, she admits to Ikaris, she is worried about these X-Men, and the others like them.
Ikaris asks Pixie if she’s talking about mutants. He admits that mutants do seem to be appearing in greater proliferation of late. Pixie states that so many changes in short spaces of time are taking place lately. She thinks that those are some of the signs, and wonders if Ikaris is thinking what she’s thinking, that this might be linked somehow to the coming of the Fourth Host. Not even Ikaris can say something about that. But he believes they might be well advised to keep an eye on the mutants. He flies away, and leaves Angel behind on a rock hill. Pixie looks at him one last time and follows Ikaris.
Xavier reminds Havok to be careful. He thinks that although the Sub-Mariner has yet to launch open hostilities against any but the Fantastic Four, his forces have occupied large areas of Manhattan now. Hiding in an alley and looking at the Atlantean troops, Alex states that New Yorkers don’t take kindly to invaders, and that they are likely to strike out at anything that doesn’t look human to them, including a mutant like himself.
The Professor believes that they were fortunate to be able to land the strato-ship in Central Park without detection. But he informs Havok that he must make his way further South, and that they will rendezvous at Battery Park. Alex doesn’t understand what the Professor means by that but, before he can ask anything more, the Professor’s astral form vanishes! Havok doesn’t think he’s ever going to get used to that, not even if he’ll be an X-Man for a hundred years.
He thinks it’s now time to earn his salt for the week. It’s a good three miles all the way down to the South of Manhattan, and every inch of the way is going to be crawling with ticked off New Yorkers. Alex walks down the street, but quickly has to hide in another alley, as he spots Atlantean soldiers nearby. Havok tries to figure out what to do, and chooses to attack the soldiers. He fires his powers at them, and declares that nobody invades the Big Apple when he’s got something to say about it!
With all the soldiers down already, Havok thinks that maybe they aren’t so tough as they feared. An angry mob of humans see Alex, and notice that he’s a mutant. They believe that the radio reports were right and that the mutants are in league with the Sub-Mariner. Havok tries to explain that he’s part of the X-Men and only trying to help but the crowd recalls that the X-Men are wanted by the government, and start hitting him all at once! Beaten to his knees by the assault, Havok loses his concentration, causing his powers to lose control. Beginning to glow brightly, he tries to warn the people about it, but they are too far gone to stop.
Suddenly, Alex involuntarily releases a burst of power on the mob, knocking them back and unconscious! Havok gets up, calling the crowd idiots as he tried to warn them; as he didn’t want to hurt any of them. Unfortunately, more people show up and see the aftermath of the accident. They immediately believe that Havok is one of the bad guys and start to chase them. Alex realizes that the people probably won’t listen to him any more than the last crowd did. He thinks that his only hope is to get away from them, and runs away, hoping to find Professor X soon, hoping that he’s doing better than he is.
Xavier’s astral form sees Magneto sitting in his throne at the park, holding Sue and Lady Dorma captive in life-size cylinders. It’s worse that Xavier feared. Magneto is in discussion with Namor, demanding to know where the Fantastic Four are and to do him homage. Namor doesn’t care about the FF. Time is running short and so is his patience, and demands that those cylinders are opened at once.
Magneto declares that there’s plenty of time for that later. First, Reed Richards must be taught his terrible folly, and orders the Atlantean troops to head toward the Baxter Building. If the Fantastic Four resist, they must be destroyed!