Magneto hovers up alongside Fortress X. ‘The day ends with a display of fireworks. Bright. Fierce. Incongruously beautiful. “Incongruously” because each of these lights…is a dead man’ Magneto thinks to himself as he observes the goings-on below. Magneto tells himself that their human enemies are afraid they might scavenge their discarded tech, so every suit of armor contains a diagnostic monitor and a suicide chip. If the wearer’s life signs are compromised, the chip activates. An ampoule of the explosion ph-boar breaks open and is exposed to the oxygenated air. And the rest, is pyrotechnics.
Down below on the battle field, that is happening right now, as Avalanche and Nightmare engage several soldiers in battle. One of them falls over, and a light signals on his wrist. ‘Aw, no! I’m good! I can still -!’ he exclaims, before the suicide chip is activated and he explodes. Magneto drops down to where Colossus, Scalphunter, Husk and Gentle have placed the injured Toad and Surge onto boards. He tells himself that even in war time - especially in war time - the goal must be to keep some small portion of your own humanity untouched and inviolate. Magneto tells Colossus and the others to take the wounded to the healers, and they watch him as he departs. ‘There must be a shrine in some remote corner of your being. A place of sanctity. Even if the rest of your soul is a butcher’s shop’ Magneto tells himself.
Nightmare, Domino and Dazzler join Scalphunter, and discuss current events: ‘Reaper and Gambit? No! That’s - that’s not -’ Nightmare begins, but Scalphunter tells her that he knows what he saw. ‘The General dumped a hundred tons of rubble on their heads. And then he made a speech of the damn grave!’ Scalphunter declares. Dazzler suggests that they may as well drop the force walls and lie down in front of the tanks. ‘If we’re killing our own, now, what’s left to defend?’ she asks.
Nearby, the Force Warriors - Psylocke, Hellion, Carmella Unuscione, Legion and Revenant are working their magic, rebuilding the force walls. Psylocke remarks that she never knew morale to be this low, and Carmella declares that it is bad, and tells her comrades she thinks Magneto committed a grave error of judgment. ‘Really?, Unuscione? Looked to me like he committed murder’ Psylocke replies. Hellion turns to Revenant and asks her how she feels about this. ‘Lost’ Revenant replies, glowing with energy. Hellion is confused and asks her what she means. ‘I was on my way home, but I got lost. Is this home? It doesn’t look like home. It doesn’t even look like me’ Revenant replies, cryptically.
Soon, Legion returns to Fortress X, where some strange looking mutants have gathered. They call out to him, and one of them exclaims ‘God bless you, son! God bless all the Force Warriors!’ Legion thanks them, before entering the quarters he shares with Moira MacTaggert. ‘What’s the matter?’ Legion asks when he sees Moira huddling on a chair, crying. Moira tells David that it is all falling apart. ‘We - we’ve worked so hard, and fought for so long and it’s all going to be destroyed!’ Moira cries. ‘We’ll lose everything! Even each other!’ she adds. Legion kneels beside her and calling her “Mother,” he tells her that they wont, that will not happen. ‘I’m not going to let it happen’ he frowns.
Magneto flies down amongst some rubble, and X calls out to him, asking him where he is, as his signal is faint. Magneto replies that he is below the fortress, checking the tunnels for mines and time-delay munitions. ‘The price of freedom is uncurable paranoia’ Magneto points out. X informs Magneto that many are questioning what he did to Legacy and Gambit. ‘Are they, now? And are you among them?’ Magneto replies. ‘By no means. This is not a time to weaken’ X replies, adding that ‘In fact, I recommended that Pryde be executed, too. She is a focus for dissent and insurrection’ X suggests.
Magneto points out that Pryde is in prison and in restraint harness which prevents her from phasing. ‘She escaped once before. The risk of -’ X begins, before starting to break up, losing communication with Magneto. ‘The mental in the walls here degrades comms signals’ Magneto remarks, adding that as do massive fluctuating magnetic fields. ‘Unfortunate, but necessary. We want no onlookers for this’ Magneto declares as he enters another tunnel. ‘Do we, Legacy?’ Magneto asks as he approaches Legacy and Gambit. Legacy asks Magneto what he wants with them. ‘Did you bring us down here to interrogate us? Torture us?’ she asks.
‘Having gone to so much trouble to hide you with that metallic debris? No’ Magneto assures her. Magneto tells Gambit that the glow of his bio-kinetic energy betrays him. ‘Killing you at this stage would feel like a terrible waste of effort. Suppose - for once - we ask questions first, and shoot later’ Magneto suggests. ‘Questions about what, Magnus? Ah don’t see what it is you’re trying to do here’ Legacy replies. Magneto informs Legacy that he is rebelling - against his own rule. ‘The irony of the situation does not escape me’ Magnus remarks, adding that he is trying to understand a paradox.
Magneto reminds Legacy and Gambit that there are heroes in the outside world - heroes greater than they - who once acted for the Human Coalition, and then came to oppose it. He states that whatever side they stand on should be assured of victory, therefore, their current stalemate makes no sense. ‘You think war has to make sense?’ Gambit asks. ‘Perhaps not’ Magneto replies, remarking that he thinks that persisting with the same failed tactics for three years is idiotic. ‘Are all our enemies idiots, then? And if they are, how have they brought us so close to defeat?’ Magneto remarks.
Gambit suggests that maybe they made some mistakes of their own, but either way, there is no point kicking against it. The world’s the way it is, non?’ Gambit asks. But Legacy points out that when Katherine Pryde went through the force walls, she said the world wasn’t even there. ‘We’re all that lefts’ Legacy remarks. ‘You spoke to her? What else did she say?’ Magnus asks Legacy. Legacy tells Magnus that was all Pryde had time to say, before revealing that she met another prisoner, Charles Xavier, touched his mind and absorbed his thoughts. ‘He remembers…things that never happened’ Legacy announces.
‘What things?’ Magneto asks. Legacy explains that Xavier remembers mutant heroes, working out in the open - a school where mutants were taught to use their powers. ‘And you…as an enemy of that place. Then it’s friend, and protector’. Legacy continues, explaining that there was a decimation that was nothing like their own - brought down on them by a witch, followed by a war, fought over a child - or maybe two wars. Legacy adds that Xavier was afraid for his son - that was right at the surface of his mind.
Magneto announces that he believes they have been lied to - and built their lives, their very selves, around the lie, as a pearl accretes around a piece of grit. He reveals that is why he sent Pryde on her mission in the first place. ‘Now it seems there may be answers closer to hand’ he adds. Gambit asks him what he means, to which Magneto holds out some blueprints of Fortress X, explaining that he took them from Madison Jeffries. ‘I built this place myself, with my own will and power of my mind. And yet there is a room here - at the very heart of this citadel - that I have no memory of. A room which serves no function I can fathom’ Magneto remarks, pointing to the room on the blueprints.
Magneto turns to Gambit, and remarks that he was once good at breaking and entering. ‘Not good. The best’ Gambit replies. Magnus asks Gambit if he is prepared to put those skills at his disposal, to find this room and see what is in there. Legacy announces that she will go, and will go alone if she has to. But Gambit tells her that he is not going to let her do that. He assures the General that he is in, before asking him ‘What will you be doing while we’re risking our necks for you?’ Magneto hands Gambit the blueprints before taking flight, remarking that if this Xavier has knowledge that could help them, he must speak with him. ‘And I have a responsibility to Ms Pryde, whose life may now be in danger’. ‘So?’ Gambit asks. ‘So, at the very least…I’ll be drawing some fire’ Magneto declares as he leaves them.
Meanwhile, in the Western Barracks, Moonstar and her Cadre are getting hanged. ‘Nobody left standing by then except me and Megs’ Dust remarks. ‘Nightmare? You had a drinking contest with Nightmare? Dis and Hades!’ Magma exclaims. X’s voice sounds over the communicator, telling Moonstar that she seems preoccupied. Moonstar hesitates, before assuring X that she is fine. ‘Maybe a little freaked out about what happened today, but I’ll roll with it’ Danielle replies. X points out that a soldier must obey orders. ‘Sure’ Moonstar replies. X tells Moonstar that she is the best of soldiers, but that if the orders given to her were compromised - ‘What are you talking about?’ Moonstar asks, interrupting X.
X states that there is a plot to bring down this fortress, and reminds Danielle that she was mobilized to arrest one of its ringleaders. ‘Legacy. Let’s use names’ Moonstar replies. X informs Moonstar that Legacy herself was acting under orders, to undermine their security and set them against each other. Moonstar frowns, and replies ‘If you say so. But who told her to do those things?’ X replies that it will be impossible to ask her now that she is dead. ‘Suspicion, therefore…falls on the man who killed her’ X states.
Magneto approaches the brig and thinks to himself that there is a quiet way to do this, a way that depends on subtlety and clever indirection. ‘At another time, and another place…that way would be my way’ Magneto tells himself as he easily rips the brig doors apart. As he makes his way through the brig, several Danger drones approach him, ordering him to stand down. ‘Your presence here is unauthorized and will result in -’ Danger begins, before Magneto easily knocks the drones over.
‘Wondered…when you’d shop up. Is this…my debriefing?’ Katherine Pryde asks as Magneto enters her cell, and swiftly removes the cables and shackles trapping her. ‘No, child. This is your rescue. But please, try to keep up. There’s a great deal still to do’ Magneto announces, destroying several cameras. ‘We’re making a hell of a lot of noise, General’ Katherine remarks as she follows Magneto, who tells her that is intentional. ‘Let all heads turn out way, and see what we see’ he remarks, before they enter another cell. ‘Katherine Pryde…meet Charles Xavier!’ Magneto announces as they approach Xavier.
Down in another tunnel, Gambit and Legacy approach a shaft that is not blocked. ‘That’s our way in’ Gambit remarks. Legacy tells him that there has to be an easier way than this. Gambit tells her that there are ten or twenty easier ways, but they all take us past junctions with cameras. ‘This way we got a little privacy’ he points out. ‘No cameras here?’ Rogue asks. ‘None. We’re off the grid’ Gambit tells her. ‘And nobody else around’ Legacy adds. ‘So we’re safe to -’ Gambit begins, but Legacy interrupts, kissing Gambit on the lips. ‘That was for luck’ she tells him. ‘It worked. I feel luckier already’ Gambit replies. ‘Also for the climb’ Legacy adds, telling Gambit as they climb up the shaft that she is as big a thief as he is, in her own way.
In the brig, Magneto levitates the machinery that Xavier is hooked up to, and tells Pryde that automated dosage systems to keep him in a dreamless sleep, while baffles and filters ensure complete sensory deprivation. ‘Someone is very much afraid of this man’ Magneto declares. Katherine tells Magneto that Xavier looks kind of familiar, somehow, but she cannot remember where she has seen him. ‘Maybe it was back when I was a kid, or something’ she suggests. Xavier suddenly rises - ‘Should - shouldn’t have -’ he utters. Magneto goes over and helps him, telling him there will be time for that later, so no need to strain himself. ‘No! No time! Listen…Magneto! Please!’ Xavier exclaims.
He continues, ‘She was…waiting. When I went inside. Attacked from behind and it all - she took it all. Turned it…inside out. I couldn’t stop her. I couldn’t stop her!’ Xavier declares. Charles looks up at Katherine and calling her “Kitty” he exclaims ‘She caught you, too. What was the radius?’ ‘Kitty?’ Katherine asks. Xavier declares that they have to find her and make her give it back, before - but Xavier passes out. ‘Great. Well, you did warn him’ Katherine remarks, before telling the General that someone is going to come and find out why all the alarms are screaming. ‘Yes, Pryde. You’re right. We’re -’ Magneto remarks as he helps Xavier down onto the bed. ‘Too late’ Katherine exclaims. ‘So it appears’ Magneto agrees as Moonstar and her Cadre surround them. ‘Perennial question. How fast can you run with a sick man in your arms?’ Moonstar asks, aiming her bow at Magneto. ‘And an arrow through your hear?’ Moonstar concludes.
Elsewhere, Gambit pushes a vent open. ‘What do you see?’ Legacy asks. Gambit replies that it is a big room, with lots of machinery, some kind of lab or workshop, perhaps. Legacy asks if there are any security systems. ‘Once. Not anymore’ Gambit replies, before suggesting they take it careful, just in case. ‘Okay?’ Gambit asks as he helps Legacy down out of the vent. Legacy replies that it doesn’t look like anyone had been here in a while. ‘Well, except for him’ Legacy declares, motioning to a man dressed in white, Doctor Nemesis, who appears in some sort of static phase. ‘Still life with mad scientist. That’s unusual’ Gambit remarks, before asking Rogue if she thinks he is alive.
Rogue replies that she could take his pulse, but somehow doesn’t think that would settle the argument. Gambit motions to some scans on a monitor and tells Legacy that the scientist was examining someone, as the scans are brain scans. He finds it strange that there is still power to this room, which is odd if it has been abandoned all this time. ‘Not as strange as this’ Legacy remarks as she finds something. ‘What is it?’ Gambit asks. It is a small box and Legacy points out that ti is right in the center of the room, and the room is right in the center of Fortress X. ‘So, Ah’d say, if we want to find any answers around this place…it’s worth taking a look inside’ Legacy exclaims as she opens the box.
Back in the brig, Magneto tells Moonstar that there is no need for them to fight. ‘You think not? But that’s what we do, General. That’s what we’re all about’ Moonstar replies. Magnus invites Moonstar to consider the emptiness and futility of this struggle. ‘The wasteland that our lives have become’ he declares. Eclipse tells Magneto that their lives are exactly what they are fighting for. ‘Did you forget that?’ he asks. ‘We didn’t choose this battle’ Magma points out. ‘Exactly! We live under siege, here!’ Eclipse exclaims. ‘And what if it were possible to lift that siege, Mr Da Costa? To live in a wider scope than four square miles of rubble? Would that be worth the risk of trusting me?’ Magnus asks.
In the lab, the box drops from Legacy’s hand - slowing falling to the ground.
In answer to Magneto’s question, Moonstar tells him that given he murders the mutants who question his agenda, she would say no. ‘I’ve murdered no one’ Magneto replies. ‘Do you think we’re fools, General?’ Moonstar asks, reminding him that he sent them to bring the Reaper down, that was their duty, and they obeyed that order. ‘But what was Gambit’s crime? That his first impulse was to help her? That he dared to stand against you, even for a second?’ Moonstar asks. Magneto tells her that Legacy and Gambit are both alive, and that he is not their enemy, nor the enemy of this fortress. ‘But such an enemy exists, right here, in our midst’ he declares. Moonstar lowers her bow and arrow. ‘They’re alive? And we’re supposed to take your word for that?’ she asks. Magneto replies ‘No’ and holds up Charles Xavier, telling her to listen to what this man has to say, and then he will bring her to Legacy and Gambit.
Back in the lab, the box continues to fall, before hitting the ground, and opening. A blue light can be seen within it.
Suddenly, Magneto is knocked against the wall, and Xavier falls to the ground, as the cell is ripped open by the Force Warriors. ‘Better stay where you are unless you’ve got a serious death wish!’ Hellion calls out. Psylocke announces that Magneto is relieved of his command, and that Fortress X is mow under the jurisdiction of the Force Warriors.
In the lab, ‘Legacy, what’s wrong? What’s in there?’ Gambit asks as he goes and helps Legacy off the floor. Everything, Remy. Oh, God. Ah understand why there’s nothing outside the force walls…someone stole the universe…and hid it right here!’ Legacy exclaims, as indeed, the universe appears to be swirling inside the box.