(St. Raymond’s Cemetery, the Bronx)
Madelyne Pryor introduces herself to Threnody, but Threnody doesn’t wish to hang around and make nice. She knows Nate Grey won’t wait at the loft forever, and she doesn’t want to blow her last chance to patch things up between them. As she walks away, Madelyne senses that Nate Grey was there, stating so, causing Threnody to pause.
Threnody realizes that she’s the Madelyne that Nate always talks about, and tells her so. Madelyne, almost in desperation, asks Threnody to take her to him. She needs him. “Don’t we all, sister,” replies Threnody. “Take a number.” Madelyne says that she doesn’t understand. She helped Nate when he needed her. Now she needs Nate.
Threnody isn’t interested and, when Madelyne places her hand on her shoulder, she grabs her wrist and informs her that she knows all about her so-called life. She knows that she is a carbon copy of some X-witch. She was bred to breed and nothing more. She also knows that Madelyne suffered delusions of grandeur somewhere along the way and became some kind of goblin queen. She paid for that with her life.
She tells Madelyne that she got to know all this when she became a watchdog on this world for Mister Sinister himself; her creator. Madelyne scowls at her and replies that, if Threnody thought to scare her by mentioning his name, she thought wrong. She’s a new woman now, with her eye on a whole new prize.
(Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Westchester)
Jean Grey is awakened from her slumber as she senses something or someone in the corner of the room. The figure isn’t in the shadows as much as she’s a part of them. She finally sees Sanctity, a woman she knows from the recent past. Sanctity is the future matriarch of a clan of female freedom fighters called the Clan Askani. She mysteriously whispers, “He has done this, always remember that… the most profane act of all, in your image.” Jean asks her to save her Askani rhetoric. She’s going straight to the source this time.
She tries to read Sanctity’s mind but, as soon as she enters, Sanctity fades away as suddenly as she appeared. Jean managed to get only a glimmer from her mind, but it is enough to make her want to follow up on the information. If there’s any possibility that she has returned from the dead, she’s her responsibility. There’s no point waking up Scott. He’s put that demon to rest and has the weight of the professor’s problems to cope with. She gets out of bed and gets into her costume.
Nate Grey is sitting on the edge of the roof above the large clock that forms one wall of his appropriated apartment. He takes a look at Manhattan, and still can’t get over how intact and wonderful it looks. Unfortunately, he has no one around to share the experience with. He telekinetically plays with the snow falling past him. He wonders how he could just leave Threnody hanging about at the cemetery like that, with what sounded like an ultimatum ringing in her ears - just when he’s finally starting to understand how much he cares for her. He thinks about heading out to look for her, but he realizes that he’s created the face of Madelyne Pryor with the snowflakes. He wonders why he would trace Madelyne’s face in the snow when he was thinking about Threnody. Why now, after so long apart? Unless… she’s here somewhere. He can feel it now. She’s coming back to him.
(St. Raymond’s Cemetery, the Bronx)
The two women separate, and Threnody informs Madelyne that she positively reeks of death, standing out even in a graveyard. “You’re still dead!” Madelyne tries to deny it to herself. She can still breathe, she can think. She has power, and she most certainly lives. She holds Threnody in a telekinetic lock, and tells her that she’s the freak here. She grabs one of the psi-baffler in her fingers, and despite Threnody’s protestations, removes it. A huge explosion rocks the graveyard.
Threnody is seemingly knocked unconscious. Madelyne holds the baffler in her hand; the sum of all the power that Threnody was so afraid of. She drops Threnody to the ground and decides to leave. The rumble across the psionic plane that comes with Madelyne’s confidence in her own self is noticed by people such as Cable, and even Havok senses something is not right with the world.
Two minutes later, Nate Grey arrives at the cemetery, but fails to notice Threnody lying on the ground behind a rock. A telepathic scan shows no sign of Threnody, and as she never came back to the loft, he surmises that she has decided not to be with him any more. He wonders if he’ll ever see her again. He then picks something else up; something he’s never telepathically sensed before. It’s a psychic echo that he’s been seeking for almost as long as he can remember. One he’ll follow to the very ends of the Earth this time, if necessary. He flies off, leaving Threnody’s body smoldering.
(the Swiss Alps)
Madelyne Pryor crashes into the snow that covers the mountains. She has been thinking about how she got there, and the choices she made along the way. She now remembers that she did die, above the streets of New York, who knows how long ago. It was at the hands of her ‘friends,’ the X-Men, in the arms of that witch. Even if she truly never lived at all, she surely died. She sits up, tears streaming from her eyes. “How?” she asks. “How can this be happening… again? Is this my destiny… my eternal damnation?”
Madelyne falls asleep and dreams about being birthed by Mister Sinister, cloned from Jean Grey’s precious D.N.A - the eternal phoenix itself baptizing her, promising soul. She remembers when Scott Summers gave her heart when he married her. Their baby, innocent little Nathan Christopher completed the circle so perfectly, it hurt. It hurt so much more when Jean Grey came back from the dead, and tried to take it all away for herself. With her husband and son both gone, she was almost glad when her life ended… almost. Suddenly, from being dead she found herself in Switzerland in a mountain cabin, staring right into Nate Grey’s eyes; the light at the end of the tunnel.
Inside the very same cabin, Nate Grey finds her dreaming about the past. He asks her not to get up until he determines the extent of her injuries. He brought her to the cabin. He asks where she’s been, and why she ran from him all those months ago. She responds by kissing him, and he finds that the questions he needs the answers to can wait.
Outside the window, the X-plane appears and Jean Grey telepathically asks Nate to stop. He pulls back, recognizing the voice from somewhere. He remembers that it’s one of them - one of the oh-so-high-and-mighty X-Men. “It can’t be...!” screams Madelyne, “Not her.” She flies out the window at full speed, her fist clenched. She tears right through the blackbird, which begins to fall to Earth. Nate asks what she’s done, before flying out after her and using his telekinesis to steady its descent. He struggles with it, but manages to land it safely, just clear of the cabin.
Madelyne immediately thinks that Nate’s taking the side of the X-Men, but he assures her that he was simply trying to save a life, and prevent her from doing something she might regret. Jean takes advantage of the minor quibble to leave the blackbird and get behind Madelyne, psi-screening herself from their senses. She tries to lash out at Madelyne for attacking the craft blindly, but Nate intercepts her assault and redirects it back to her. He warns her to leave him and his friends alone and to stay out of their lives. He doesn’t know how to make it any clearer. Jean is sent sprawling to the ground, and as she recovers, she is reminded of Sanctity’s words: ‘Cable could not do it. But you will have to. You will have to kill him.’
Jean picks herself up, thinking there has to be another way. Madelyne walks over to her and offers a penny for her thoughts. Jean is surprised that it really is Madelyne Pryor, in the flesh. She asks Jean if she is confused, and if he is having sudden doubts about what this means for her and Scotty’s cozy marriage, in the wake of her wake. She summons energy into her fist, adding that she doesn’t have to worry about that. She’s been there and done that – and his little brother too. Before she can strike, Nate grabs her wrist and asks her to talk to him. He asks what the problem is between them, anyway. As he speaks, he notices the striking resemblance between the two.
Madelyne asks if he would betray her now, but Nate replies that she’s gotta be kidding him. She ups and abandons him in the middle of Europe and he spends weeks searching for her, before she pops out of nowhere again, flying and wielding psionics from her hands... and she’s trying to kill one of the X-Men… who just happens to be the spitting image of her. Madelyne calls for him to stop and, as Nate tries to continue, she creates miniature volcanoes all around them. Nate informs Jean that he can contain Madelyne and stop her from hurting herself, as well as shielding them from the fallout. Jean looks at him, and asks him to look at what his power does to him. His nose is bleeding and he’s growing weaker, just as she’s growing stronger. Jean suddenly twigs what is going on and orders Nate to release his TK hold on her. He does, and the volcanoes cease.
Madelyne takes to the air, and wants to try and speak with him, but Jean contacts Nate telepathically and informs him that there’s much more going on than any of them understands. She says that Madelyne was his equal telekinetically, and she suspects she will be his equal telepathically, too. However, she is a clone of her, and she doesn’t think that Madelyne will be able to close her mind to the two of them together.
She offers Nate her hand, but Madelyne says, “Don’t bet your life on it sow!” She resigns herself to Nate taking Jean’s side in this argument, and blasts him, sending him sprawling to the ground. She then turns on Jean, complaining that all men seem to be her little playthings. She warns her not to deny it, either. She’s the dark side of Jean, and she’s a side of her that Jean won’t even consider indulging. “You want to know what I’m all about ‘sister?’ Come in and see for yourself!”
Jean does exactly that. She violates Madelyne’s mind, causing her to reel from the invasion. However, Jean finds herself trapped within a psychic ablaze, and Madelyne warns her that she won’t be leaving. Once and finally, she’ll be the only one of them there will ever be. Nate sees what is going on and holds his hand out for Jean to hold. As he does, he slowly realizes the shattering truth about Madelyne’s secret genesis. Madelyne sees that he has uncovered the truth, and a huge psi-backlash knocks her unconscious.
The psi-flash has burnt her out, but Nate knows that it won’t last. Madelyne has so much anger, power and pain. He tells Jean that she was originally a tool of Sinister’s. She is another one who has suffered for his sins, until she died and finally found some measure of peace. Then, he brought her back when he first crashed down on this Earth many months ago. He was exhausted and still in shock. Struggling to find the right words, he explains that he just reached out for comfort, and subconsciously reached out to her; or at least the memory of Jean Grey from his homeworld. Madelyne was the result. He sheds a tear as he adds that he unknowingly brought her back to life - psionically recreating her. That’s all she is; just a psionic shell of a person.
He takes a step back and raises Madelyne’s body telekinetically. He takes them both away from the ground, and informs Jean that he can uncreate her; release her from this hell he has made for her. He can take it all back again. Jean calls for him to stop. It doesn’t have to be this way. Just because he’s scared of her and unsure how to deal with her, doesn’t mean he has the right to strip her life away again. “I have the responsibility!” he replies, as energy crackles all around him. He’s created a living, breathing person with needs that he can’t meet. He ploughs on regardless, but when he tries to take Madelyne apart, he realizes that something’s wrong. Something’s happening.
Nate’s nose begins to bleed from the exertion, as he realizes that Madelyne is resisting him; struggling to retain the life-forces. She wants to live. “I do live,” replies Madelyne. “Thanks for caring, Nate.” She manipulates the energy that he first created her with and returns it to him in the form of an assault. She tells him she won’t be needing his power any more. She’s a free agent, now totally independent of him. As she turns to leave, Jean calls for her to wait, sending out a telekinetic blast of her own. This is deflected with ease by a force-field that Madelyne creates. She asks Nate what she is that she can do this. What is she that he could do this? With that as her parting shot, she vanishes in a swirl of green mist.
Nate and Jean are left pondering just how powerful she really is, and what her next move might be. Jean likens it to the Professor’s unconscious shaping of Onslaught which took on a life of its own. Whether his creation was born out of frustration, and his out of desperation… the questions still remains. “What are any of us telepaths, that we could do such a thing?”
Nate kneels, fingering the soil where Madelyne vanished. He thought the Askani-cult mad, their zealous fears for the future, fanatical, but this… this is exactly what they were afraid of. His own whims and desires, given life without intent. Does he worry now when he falls asleep that any dream or nightmare could come alive in his name?
Jean assures him that he made the right decision back there, only for the wrong reasons. She understands what the Jean Grey on his world meant to him, and why he tried to recapture the feelings when he created Madelyne. “Nobody can live life alone,” he replies. Jean asks him to return to the mansion with her, but Nate says he can’t. The X-Men are like a dream to him; a dream that never lives up to the reality for him. But, he adds, he does wish she was his mother. He turns and heads to the cabin, leaving Jean to wish that she could have been.
(The Hellfire Club, Hong Kong, later)
Sebastian Shaw is asleep in a huge bed, alone. The door opens and in walks Madelyne Pryor. As she strips her clothes, she tells him to ask no questions, and not to talk… until morning.
Nate sits by himself in front of a roaring fire. Threnody is gone. Madelyne is gone. What he found in Jean Grey, ever so briefly, has gone too. He mind-spoke with Jean before she left so he knows his telepathy is still intact. However, his telekinetics and active psionics are now gone. For the first time in his young life, he is truly helpless. He wonders if this is as a result of fighting Madelyne, or a prelude to something far worse. Are his powers beginning to consume him, body and soul? Will this be the last day of his life?