Cyclops stands before the New Mutants, Frenzy and several of the X-Men students and informs them that the point of these briefings is to keep everyone up to speed on any threat figures that the X-Men have faced before. He adds that if they reappear, the X-Men will not get a warning. ‘We won’t get time to Google them’ he adds, declaring that everybody needs to know what they are capable of and how to handle them. ‘So today, Sugar Man’ Scott announces as am image of the alternate-world refugee appears on a monitor. ‘mutant, geneticist, biologist. An émigré to this world from the Apocalypse timeline’ Scott explains. Scott adds that the Sugar Man is amoral and vindictive and that he perfected the mutant bonding process for Genosha.
Scott continues, informing the younger mutants and Frenzy that the Sugar Man is exceptionally dangerous, with razor-sharp teeth and claws, a prehensile tongue charged with bio energy, and can also control his body mass. ‘No pun intended, but he is also one of the most capable hand-to-hand combatants we know about’ Scott adds Danielle Moonstar raises her hand, ‘Yes, Dani?’ Scott asks. ‘Him? Really?’ Dani asks, vaguely curious.
But that was three weeks ago. Right now, Danielle “Mirage” Moonstar has the chance to find out in person just how dangerous the Sugar Man really is, as she attacks him in the abandoned HAMMER facility. The multi-limbed Sugar-Man grabs her, and forces the leader of the New Mutants to the ground. ‘Oh, you’re a little minx!’ the hideous creature declares, while asking Mirage why she came here sticking her nose in where it is not wanted. Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta runs alongside the Sugar Man, while Amara “Magma” Aquilla flies nearby, suggesting that someone should back Dani up as she is going at Sugar Man solo. ‘What did he call these freaks? Mutates?’ Sunspot asks as he punches one of the Sugar Man’s “New Mutates”. ‘We’re not freaks! We’re better than you! Better by design!’ one of them shouts back.
Warlock blocks the energy beam fired by one of the mutates, before Doug “Cypher” Ramsey points upwards and shouts ‘Dear God, I was right! Look! It’s Nate Grey! It’s X-Man!’ and hooked up to various tubes and wires, strapped to a large contraption, X-Man pleads for help. ‘Subdue them!’ Mirage orders her team, who continue to battle the Sugar Man’s mutates. ‘Subdue this!’ Sugar Man exclaims as he extends his tongue, which smacks Danielle in the face. But the athletic Moonstar spins around and kicks the Sugar Man in the head.
At that moment, Cypher and Warlock race towards the machine which X-Man is strapped to. ‘Nathan? Nate? We’re X-Men from Utopia. We’re here to rescue you!’ Doug calls out. ‘X-Men…’ Nate whispers, while Warlock exclaims ‘Do not struggle, new-friend’. Examining the machine, Doug asks what it is they have strapped X-Man into. Warlock points out that the mechanism is neural bonded, and detaching equals extreme risk. Nate Grey wants to tell his apparent rescuers that this is called the Omega Machine and that Norman Osborn fused him to it. He wants to tell them, but his mouth cannot manage the words. Nate Grey has been wired into this machine for months - he is mutant fuel to keep it stoked. It channels his mutant powers to warp reality and open doors to other places - it hurts so much. X-Man was Osborn’s plaything before the fall of HAMMER. So was Sugar Man. When the walls came down, Sugar Man escaped from his cell and found the Omega Machine in the rubble. He found Nate Grey, and Nate became the Sugar Man’s plaything instead.
‘What are you doing with Nathan Grey?’ Mirage calls out as she flips backwards over the Sugar Man, who replies ‘Whatever I want to. He’s my ticket home!’ ‘Home?’ Dani asks, before telling the Sugar Man that he is not going anywhere. ‘Amara, behind you!’ Bobby calls out to Magma as one of the mutates sneaks up on her. ‘LOOK OUT!’ Sunspot shouts as he rushes over and kicks the mutate over. ‘I saw him’ Amara tells Sunspot, pointing out that Mirage is the one who needs help. As the Sugar Man grabs hold of Mirage, Bobby tells Amara that he cannot take a shot, as he will hit Dani. ‘Dammit!’ Magma exclaims as one of the mutates fires a blast which strikes Sunspot. ‘DON’T FORCE US TO HURT YOU!’ Magma shrieks as she unleashes a massive burst of flame, which cuts the ground between her and the mutates.
‘Do not make us hurt you. For the love of God’ Amara warns the young mutates. Sunspot tells them to do themselves a favor and listen to her. At that moment, Moonstar attempts to skewer the Sugar Man in the face with two arrows. ‘Dammit!’ the Sugar Man mutters, before knocking Dani back with the flick of his tongue. Moonstar darts around him and then shoves an arrow into his nose. The Sugar Man lashes out at her and draws blood across Dani’s face. But Danielle is relentless and continues to fight the Sugar Man. She kicks him in the head. ‘Holy crap!’ one of the mutates exclaims. ‘Madre de dios…’ Bobby gasps. Moonstar reaches for another arrow, but the Sugar Man knocks her backwards. Blood trickles from both hero and villain. ‘Okay. You’re pretty good’ Moonstar tells her opponent.
‘…kill me…’ X-Man utters. ‘Warlock! Stop! You’re killing him!’ Doug calls out as he sees Warlock tugging at some of the wires. But X-Man explains that he is asking them to kill him, as he cannot bear this anymore. Cypher tells Nate to listen carefully as he assures him that they will uncouple him from this machine alive, and extract him from this location. ‘This will all be over soon’ Doug adds. ‘No…he won’t let us go’ X-Man replies, looking down at the Sugar Man. Everything has been about Sugar Man finding a way out - a way back to the iteration of reality where Apocalypse rules. The villain has forced Nate to open door after door, searching for a way. The Sugar Man has manufactured mutates out of the poor and vulnerable, and sent them out like guinea pigs to scout each new world he finds. He is so desperate he has tried everything. ‘So what happens if you give him what he wants?’ X-Man wonders.
Mirage leaps onto the platform where the portal is opened, and the Sugar Man follows her on to it. ‘What happens if you put all your strength and willpower into that? Is that how you get him to leave you alone?’ Nate wonders, as he suddenly glows with energy. ‘What’s he doing?’ Doug calls out as he and Warlock step back from X-Man. ‘Danger, new-friend! Neurodes are burning out!’ Warlock exclaims. The portal spins, and the Sugar Man turns to it, knocking Moonstar aside as he does. ‘I know that light! That air!’ the Sugar Man booms as he walks towards the portal, grinning wickedly. ‘I told you, you’re not going anywhere!’ Danielle calls out as she runs after the villain.
‘Gnaah!’ the Sugar Man calls out as he and Danielle fall through the portal, and land on a rooftop in the horrid reality. ‘Yes! Yes! This is the place! This is it!’ the Sugar Man exclaims excitedly. Mirage looks around, before the Sugar Man knocks her aside, ‘Just let me be! This is what I wanted! Just this! Go back to your own miserable world! Leave me the hell alone!’ he shouts. ‘Is that too much to ask?’ the Sugar Man demands as he extends his tongue. ‘After all you’ve done? YES!’ Mirage shouts as she grabs the Sugar Man’s tongue and shoves and arrowhead through it his tongue. ‘BOBBY!’ Mirage shouts out through the portal. ‘Do it!’ she calls out.
Sunspot appears at the portal, and releases a blast of energy, knocking the Sugar Man over. Mirage then pulls the Sugar Man back through the portal - by his tongue. ‘Get Commander Rogers’ Dani orders her team. ‘What are -’ Cypher begins. ‘Now, Doug!’ Moonstar orders.
Shortly, Commander Steve Rogers and Victoria Hand stand on the platform next to the portal, while SHIELD officers have rounded up the mutates and the Sugar Man, containing him with a device that prevents him from opening his mouth. Steve Rogers looks at the portal and asks ‘This was here all along? All of it?’ Mirage explains that it was concealed by an illusion, as the machine generated its own disguise field. ‘It was real’ Victoria declares. ‘It was reality warped’ Moonstar replies. Commander Rogers informs Moonstar that he will take Sugar Man into custody, to which Moonstar warns him to be careful, as he is very dangerous, before informing Steve that Utopia will provide a full and annotated case file of species crimes that he may want to consider in relation to the Sugar Man’s activities.
Motioning to the mutates, Moonstar tells Commander Rogers that they will need care and treatment, too, adding that their upgrades must be removed as soon as possible. Victoria looks at the Omega Machine and remarks that what concerns her is the one who was doing all this reality warping. ‘We’ll definitely be taking him into custody for -’ she begins, but Moonstar interrupts her: ‘No. He’s coming with us’ she declares. ‘And my Dad’s bigger than your dad. Blah. A reality warping mutant is a matter of international security. I have my orders’ Victoria replies. ‘And I have mine’ Mirage announces, before informing Commander Rogers that Nate Grey is a member of the Summers family. Commander Rogers looks pensive, before informing Victoria that she can consider her orders revised. ‘A reality-warping mutant -’ Victoria exclaims, but Steve interrupts - ‘Is X-Men business’ he announces.
Looking down at Nate, who is being lifted on a stretcher by some SHIELD personnel, Mirage thanks Commander Rogers and adds that he is also no longer a threat, as it looks like his power has gone, burned out. Commander Rogers asks Moonstar to tell Scott that his thoughts are with this “relative” of his, and that he hopes he recovers quickly. ‘His health. He means his health’ Victoria points out. As Moonstar strides away from them, Steve calls out to her ‘Good job, by the way’.
Later, on Utopia, Cyclops and Moonstar observe X-Man who is lying in a med-lab bed, while Doctor Nemesis stands over him. ‘He’s a mess. Osborn’s machine friend him’ Mirage explains, adding that there was acute nerve damage, meaning his powers are chopped back to residual telekinesis. ‘He’ll learn to accept this change’ Cyclops replies. ‘It’s not easy’ Mirage replies. ‘You did it’ Scott points out. ‘Well, I’m very special’ Mirage tells him. Scott smiles, and as he enters the room where X-Man is, he calls back to Dani ‘Mutatis Mutandis, managing change is our speciality. Thank you, Dani. I’ll take it from here’.
Scott stands at Nate’s bed and remarks ‘Nate…uh…hi. Listen…I know we’ve never been close, but I…I just want you to know that you have a place with us, here’. ‘Your metaphorical family of X?’ Nate replies. ‘No, just whatever we are’ Scot tells him. Cyclops admits that he knows things have not been very smooth between them, and tells Nate that he cannot close the book on family. ‘It’s a conversation that never ends. There will always been unfinished business between us’ Scott adds, before assuring him that this is his home whenever he needs it to be, starting now. ‘Home’ Nate utters as he looks up at Cyclops. Mirage watches them through the window, and Nate muses ‘You know, I understand people will try almost anything to get there!’