The south-western United States, a lone jeep drives along the road, desert all around them. The two occupants of the jeep have traveled together through the dry silence of the vast desert for hours. That silence is about to be broken - as a storm looms on the horizon…and they both know what it fortells. The aged man is a great shaman, a mystic teacher of the Cheyenne people. She is the daughter of Merlin, and the greatest living sorceress of this dimension. Naze. Roma. They have come together to protect this world from the greatest enemy it has ever faced.
Naze tells Roma that he can feel the Adversary’s dark thoughts, searching for them. ‘Can you keep them from us?’ he asks. The goddess replies that she is trying, but that the Adversary’s power is greater than ever before. Suddenly, black clouds fill the sky, lightning crackles and rain begins to pour down. The jeep skids, while Naze exclaims that all they have to do is stay out of the Adversary’s way, and get to Forge before he does. Lightning strikes the wheel of the car and they ski again, ‘It’s too late! He rode the storm straight in…the Adversary has found us!’ Naze gasps, looking out the window he sees his powerful foe staring back at him.
Roma sees Naze open his door, and asks him what he is doing. ‘You can’t go out there!’ she exclaims. But Naze replies that he has no choice, that the Adversary will not let them leave without a fight. ‘I will give him the battle he wants!’ the aged man exclaims, telling Roma that she must continue to shield Forge’s location from the Adversary. ‘Roma, you may be the only one left to find my former student, Forge’ Naze exclaims as he leaves the jeep for the rain, and the Adversary stands before him, ‘So shaman…we meet again. It is a good time to destroy you…then Forge…and then…this universe!’ the Adversary shrieks.
Meanwhile, at the Falls Edge coal processing plant in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, Alex “Havok” Summers of the government sponsored mutant team, X-Factor, is currently involved of a battle of his own. He has the mutant power to absorb ambient cosmic energy into his body and release it as concentrated waves of plasma. Under normal circumstances, the young mutant would use his power to strike out against a super powered aggressor. But the man he faces is not a normal aggressor. He is the former mutant bounty hunter called Random, who has an automatic power to counteract any mutant energy thrown at him. Havok chooses to act a bit more conventionally - by slamming Random across the area with the full force of his awesome power.
Havok follows the trail where Random has landed and calls out to X-Factor’s sort-of ally, telling him not to do this, and explaining that he doesn’t have total control over his powers. ‘That punch…I’ve never been able to hit like that before. Cosmic energy is being channelled through my fist!’ Alex thinks to himself, before asking Random why he lured him here with a note pretending to be from Scarlet. ‘I don’t know anything about a note, Summers!’ Random replies as he picks himself up from the barrels where he landed. Random explains that he is the muscle of this operation, and that how Havok got here is none of his concern.
‘I’m just here to take you down. You can’t win. And if it’s not me that takes you out it’ll be someone that wants to hurt you!’ Random shouts as he unleashes energy from his arms which he transformed into weapons. ‘I’m really sorry, but I’ve got to do this!’ he shouts. Random’s blast goes wide on purpose, striking a nearby compressor with explosive results, his intent it to knock Alex unconscious, but, he is unprepared for the full results of his strategy. Havok lands against a large truck, winded by the force of Random’s blast, the loss of even a moments conscious effort sends Havok’s powers raging totally out of control. The truck explodes, and Random exclaims ‘Oh, man…it wasn’t supposed to happen this way’ before calling out into his communicator ‘Beast? Did you see that? I think I killed Havok! Are you getting this?’ he asks.
Watching the goings-ons via camera feeds into monitors at a secret lab is indeed a “Beast”, but not of this Earth, his name is McCoy, appropriately called the Dark Beast. ‘Yes, Random’ McCoy replies, assuring him that the audio / visual link is fine and that there is no need to bellow. ‘And certainly no cause for hysteria!’ he remarks, pointing out that no one of the Summers genetic stock will succumb to death’s icy grip that quickly.
‘That’s easy for you to say!’ Random replies as he moves away from the smoke caused by the fire as he mumbles ‘Setting up in New York…hiding out in your little underground lair like some -’ the Dark Beast interrupts, ‘Random! I believe you forget to whom you are speaking. I hold the future in the palm of m-’ McCoy begins to reply, until he is interrupted by Random, who snaps ‘I’m forgetting nothing!’. Random assures McCoy that he will find Havok - or what is left of him - and deliver him to McCoy. ‘But I ain’t giving you a show!’ Random declares as he turns the communicator off.
‘He shut down the link!’ McCoy gasps, admitting that he never anticipated that Random would discover such boldness. ‘Eventually I’ll have to attend to this act of sedition’ he remarks, while his associate, Fatale, offers to go after Random, but McCoy tells her to let Random have his moment. ‘In the end he will serve my needs. He has no choice!’ the Dark Beast exclaims, before reminding Fatale that her is a much more devious course of action. ‘For once again, the immortal bard’s words will be proven true…the pen is truly mightier than the sword!’ McCoy exclaims as he holds up an envelope with a letter inside it.
Back at the coal factory, ‘RANDOM!’ Havok shouts as he bursts up through a pile of debris. ‘It’s payback time!’ Alex snarls.
Ten miles away, at Falls Edge, the high-tech home and headquarters of the government’s very own mutant team, X-Factor. If this was the Xavier Institute, this place, full of life threatening tests of mutant powers and combat skills would be called The Danger Room. But the X-Men hang their hats a few hundred miles North of here, in Westchester County. And Forge, whose mutant power alone allows him to whip up techno-wonders in his sleep, like the missiles he and his teammate Lorna “Polaris” Dane are fighting now, simply calls this facility the Game Room.
Here he tests his latest inventions, such as the energy gauntlets he is wearing. The challenge level changes every day, depending on Forge’s desires, and the damage done to it the previous day. And with Lorna using her mutant powers to control magnetic forces, to vent some obvious frustrations, tomorrow the room will be completely redesigned. ‘Computer, end program!’ Forge exclaims, which causes the room to return to its default form of rather plain, but obviously filled with technological wonders. ‘Very nice’ Forge compliments Lorna, telling her that it is good to see her cut loose for a change.
Lorna replies that she really needed this workout, and remarks that sometimes she feels like she is holding back too much. ‘That’s what this room is set up for’ Forge replies, before telling Lorna that he thought Alex was going to work out with them this morning, but that he hasn’t seen Alex since his and Val’s surprise attack on the rest of the team last night. Suddenly, Forge’s body moves as if he has been kicked in the stomach, then punched backwards. ‘What’s the matter!?’ Lorna calls out, to which Forge responds that he doesn’t know as something - or someone - tosses him against a wall.
Polaris rushes over to her teammate and asks him what that was all about. ‘It looked like you were fighting some invisible enemy!’ she exclaims, to which Forge replies that is what it felt like, and remarks that although he doesn’t know what it was, he cannot help but feel that it had something to do with Naze.
At that moment, back in the desert, the Adversary pours his power onto Naze, ‘Yield, shaman! You cannot triumph over me this time!’ the Adversary shrieks, boasting that, since they last battled, he has grown stronger as Forge has weakened. ‘Perhaps your words are true, trickster - but there is someone who can defeat you…when the time is right!’ Naze shouts back through the wind and the rain, while he blocks his foe’s power. The Adversary practically smiles as he exclaims ‘Ah…Yes! Your student Forge…’.
The Adversary asks Forge if he is trying to use his pathetic magicks in an attempt to delay the inevitable. ‘I will find him…and I will crush him even as I crush you!’ the Adversary boasts. ‘That future has not been written yet!’ Naze retorts, to which the Adversary, now fully formed into a human guise wearing Native American clothing, exclaims that it will be, ‘And it will be written in your blood…and that of Merlin’s spawn, Roma!’ he exclaims as he spies Roma, still in the jeep. The Adversary calls out to Roma, asking her if she dare to side with Naze, and announces that he knows it is she who shields Forge from him.
The Adversary shrieks that he will break Roma and find Forge, while Naze calls out to Roma, urging her to wake up and protect herself. Roma’s eyes suddenly flash open, and the Adversary is staring back at her, eyes glowing yellow, an evil grin across his face, as he snarls ‘Yes, Roma, do try to protect yourself. It makes the game all the more amusing!’
Back at the Falls Edge coal factory, the battle between Havok and Random continues to rage on. ‘You can’t possible win!’ Random calls out to Havok, reminding him that his mutant powers have no effect on him at this close range. ‘Just stay down will ya!?’. Havok lunges at Random, and asks ‘Why? So after I’m out of the picture you can go after Polaris?’. ‘You don’t know me at all, do you?’ Random replies as he punches Alex in the face, shouting that he would never hurt Polaris. ‘You only tried to kill her, or have you forgotten that little indiscretion?’ Alex asks as he lunges at Random again, but Random manages to throw him off, asking him why he is doing this. ‘Why did you have to go and make me mad when I said I didn’t want to hurt you?’ he asks.
‘Why? Because I needed you to put some distance between us. Say about ten feet?’ Alex remarks as he unleashes a huge amount of energy, ‘To give me the chance to do this!’ he shouts as his power smacks into Random, knocking Random off a ledge. Alex approaches the spot where Random should have landed, exclaiming ‘You have no idea how long I’ve been wanting to let loose on you!’ and revealing that he never trusted Random from the beginning. ‘I should have gone with my gut instinct. Lorna kept telling me that there was something more to you…something you hid from the rest of us!’ Alex exclaims as he searches for Random.
‘Guess you and I know what that was!’ Alex exclaims, when suddenly Random, rounding a corner behind Alex, tells him that he is wrong, ‘What I’ve been hiding is something more than you can possibly imagine!’ he exclaims, before revealing that he is being forced to betray his friends, and he grabs a pillar and pushes it over, where it topples towards Alex, who prevents the rubble from falling on him by blasting it with his energy while shouting ‘Get off it! The only friends you have are the ones who sign your pay checks!’.
Random lunges at Alex and shoves him over, smacking him in the stomach as he shouts ‘Who are you to judge what I am…or what I do…when you don’t even know why? You think I like acting this way? Looking like this? Well I don’t!’ Random shouts, smacking Havok in the face as he adds ‘This isn’t who I am!’. Alex crouches on the ground as Random looms over him, exclaiming that all anyone sees is the tough-talking, muscle-bound bounty hunter, because that is what he wanted, that’s what he needed. ‘But you guys in X-Factor are the closest thing to a family I’ve ever had!’ he admits.
Random grabs Alex, wrapping an arm around his neck, ‘You complain about being in your brother’s shadow - but at least you have a brother! I’ve got no one!’ Random exclaims, to which Havok replies ‘Random, I…don’t…CARE!’ and unleashes a massive amount of energy, causing Random to release him, while unsettling the foundations around them. Alex exclaims ‘Maybe you do have it hard…and maybe whoever is pulling your strings has made your life miserable, but I’m still now going to roll over for you!’. Havok adds that he may not be able to use his powers directly against Random, but knows there are other ways to drop him.
Indeed, for much for his adult life, Alex has tried to maintain control over his powers. This is not one of those times however, as due to the force of his power, steel and concrete rain down around both he and Random, they plummet several feet down, and as the steel beams land on them both, Havok wonders if this last move was the wisest.
Back in the desert, the Adversary, now transformed into a monstrous red being, calls out to Roma, exclaiming that it has been so long since they have last faced one another and remarks that he was never satisfied with the conclusion to their last meeting. ‘I had a sense that you were holding back!’ he exclaims as he moves ever closer to the jeep. The Adversary remarks that he does recall detecting a tinge of fear in Roma’s soul back then - just like now! The Adversary points out that back then he was magnanimous, and allowed Roma to live as his hostage in her own Starlight Citadel. ‘Now you will find that I cannot afford to be as benevolent to those who stand against me!’
‘So die, Merlin-child!’ the Adversary shouts as he fires a blast of energy at Roma, still inside the jeep. ‘NO!’ screams Naze, lunging between the jeep and the Adversary, and therefore taking the full brunt of the Adversary’s blast. ‘Naze!’ Roma gasps as she stares out the jeep window, through the rain. Naze exclaims that it will take much more of the Adversary’s dark energies than that to kill him, and tells Roma to go and find Forge, to protect him, counsel him and prepare him for the battle ahead. ‘I will hold the enemy at bay!’ Naze assures Roma.
‘So now you seek to trick the trickster, heh, Naze?’ the Adversary smirks as Naze throws some magic at him, and surrounding the two of them in a ring of fire. ‘Hiding your powers until the unveiling suits your purpose’ the Adversary remarks, muttering ‘When will I learn to stop underestimating you?’, to which Naze retorts ‘On the day I spit on the ashes of your body, trickster!’ and tosses more magic at the Adversary, who replies ‘Still you dream of my demise? How many deaths must you suffer before you realize that I cannot be destroyed? I am not of this world…not of this flesh!’ The Adversary’s form shifts further, his large mouth with jagged teeth opens wide as he snaps ‘But you, Naze…it is time to sing your death song! For today, old man, you die!’
Naze is forced to step back slightly, he knows that the Adversary’s power is strong and it pushes him back further, towards a ledge. The Adversary looms towards Naze, who calls out to Roma once more, telling her to find Forge now before it is too late. ‘You must warn him!’ Naze pleads, before he falls from the ledge in a burst of flame. The Adversary turns to the horror-stricken Roma, remarking that Naze was a worthy antagonist. ‘He fought many great battles, but now the old man is gone…and with him, all hope of victory!’
Back at the Falls Edge coal processing plant, Random stirs from under the rubble, ‘Havok?’ he asks, his body looking slightly more human than before. ‘Oh, man…why’d you have to go and do this?’ Random mutters as he pushes himself free from the rubble, remarking that he exhausted his ammo while fighting Havok, and adding that he was having enough trouble trying to stay in one piece when the building came down. ‘I can feel the control over my molecular cohesion slipping away!’ Random exclaims, so he reduces his mass, at least for now, so he can hold himself together.
‘Alex? You still alive?’ Random asks as he approaches Havok, who is rubbing his head, half under the rubble still. ‘They’ll come for you…you won’t get away with this!’ Havok exclaims, wearily. ‘I already have!’ Random replies as he punches Havok in the face. Havok slumps over, unconscious, so Random contacts the Dark Beast, announcing that it is done and that Fatale can teleport in whenever she wants. ‘I’m sorry Alex…’ Random whispers, just as Fatale appears instantly, telling Random that the repentant boy scout routine doesn’t suit him. ‘Though you do look the part right about now’ she points out.
Fatale practically grins as she tells Random that he knows this was the reason McCoy set him up in X-Factor in the first place, ‘So get over it!’ she tells Random, before telling him to look on the bright side - he has now scored big-time points with their hairy boss. ‘But I’m warning you - stay away from Mandrake…he’s mine!’ Fatale exclaims as she places a teleport-device on Havok. ‘What about X-Factor? They’re going to come after him’ Random points out, adding ‘Especially Polaris. She won’t give up until she finds him’. As Fatale and Havok begin to fade away thanks to the teleportation, Fatale tells Random not to worry about Polaris, as she has taken care of her, and will not suspect a thing. ‘See you around, kid…good work. You should be proud of yourself’ Fatale exclaims. ‘Yeah…real proud’ Random mutters sarcastically as he slumps down onto some rubble.
Meanwhile, at Falls Edge, Polaris is relaxing on a sofa, while Forge stares out the large windows into the open space surrounding their compound. Lorna suggests to Forge that they go and find Naze themselves, to which Forge replies ‘No. Naze is dead’, and declares that there has to be some other logical explanation for what happened to him. Suddenly, a dazzling display of supernatural energies fills the room as the fabric of space and time is cast aside, and, from within, Forge hears a disquietingly familiar voice cry out to him: ‘Forge…help me…please…I don’t have the strength to cross through and hold back the enemy at the same time…please, Forge!’ the voice calls out.
Shocked, Forge reaches out through the portal, ‘Roma? Is that you?’ he calls back. ‘Yes…help me cross through to you…I can’t hold him back much longer!’ Roma pleads. Forge still reaches out, but tells Roma that he cannot see her as the light is blinding. Lorna sees something though, and tells Forge that Roma is reaching out to him. ‘Got her!’ Forge exclaims he grabs Roma’s hand, and tells her to hold on as he pulls her through. ‘STAND BACK!’ Roma warns Forge and Polaris, exclaiming that she must close the portal before he - it’s too late, she is interrupted by the Adversary’s whose monstrous form latches onto Roma’s leg, ‘No, Roma there is no escaping me this time!’ the Adversary bellows.
‘You have served your purpose! You have led me to Naze’s whelp. Now it’s time to end this charade!’ the Adversary exclaims, but Roma screams ‘NO!’, nearly sapped of all strength, and barely teetering on the edge of consciousness, Roma knows that she cannot allow herself to black out until she is sure that the enemy has been kept from an engagement with the unprepared Forge.
Summoning forth the last reserves of her mystical energies, Roma wills everything into closing the portal - and even as she succeeds, and the veil of space-time snaps shut once more, she hears the Adversary’s mocking words: ‘Thank you, Roma. You have shown me the way to Forge…it will not be long now, shaman, not long at all!’. Then, darkness closes over Roma’s mind. ‘Forge?’ Lorna asks as they gather around the silent Roma. Forge tends to Roman and asks Lorna to see if Alex has come back yet, as he will need him and the others here.
Lorna enters her and Alex’s quarters and calls out to Havok, asking him if he is back yet, as Forge needs him right away. Lorna suddenly spies a flower and an letter on a table. ‘Alex?’ Lorna calls out as she takes the letter and begins to read it:
You mean more to me than anyone or anything. Which makes what I have to tell you all the more difficult.
I need some time alone. It has nothing to do with you or X-Factor…this is all about me.
I’m sorry if it seems selfish, but I need time apart to work everything out.
If you love me, you won’t try to find me.
I will be back…and know that I will always love you…
Lorna begins to cry, and dropping the letter to the table, she strides from her quarters.