In the secret high-tech catacombs of a Nebraska orphanage. The scantily-clad Madelyne Pryor-Summers, now going by the alias “Goblyn Queen”, stands with the demonically transformed John and Elaine Grey at her feet, and the demon N’astirh behind her, as she confronts a certain man that has arrived. ‘You have a name, chum?’ Madelyne demands. ‘Most refer to me as…Mister Sinister. But you, Madelyne Pryor – my pride, my first and foremost joy – you may call me…FATHER!’ the deadly villain announces. ‘What do you mean by that, you devil?’ Madelyne asks, annoyed. ‘The devil perhaps I am – although your companion certainly better looks the part’ Sinister replies, before telling Madelyne that the irrefutable fact remains, he is the one who brought her into being.
‘LIAR!’ Madelyne shouts, remarking that Sinister is the mastermind behind the Marauders – the man who sent them to murder her, and she casts a bolt of energy at Sinister, knocking him backwards. N’astirh watches and thinks to himself ‘The more the Goblyn Queen uses her new-born power…the greater it grows! Ohh, N’astirh, in crafting your catspaw…you’ve evidently grabbed a tigress by the tail!’ Madelyne tells her “pets” that she wants Sinister’s heart, and they can have the rest of him. Jean Grey’s transformed parents lunge towards Sinister, who easily swats them away, boasting that, regrettably, he has no heart, and neither is he about to be bested in his own sanctum sanctorum.
‘I’ve taken your measure, child…and found you wanting!’ Sinister exclaims as he casts energy at Madelyne, which results in her being bound by chains around her legs, arms, waist and neck, and engulfed by flames. Sinister tells her that struggle is useless, explaining that his defensive systems simply turn Madelyne’s own energy back on her, using them to bind her all the more tightly. ‘N’astirh! Demon, why won’t you answer? HELP ME!’ Madelyne screams. Sinister tells Madelyne that her erstwhile ally has yielded to the “better” part of valor and teleported himself to safety, leaving her quite abandoned and alone. ‘And altogether at my mercy’ Sinister declares as he grabs Madelyne by her face.
Meanwhile, half a continent towards a dawn which may never come (though no one knows that yet…), in New York City, the Uncanny X-Men continue their helter-skelter battle with Sinister’s shock troops, their arch-foes, the Marauders…admits the concrete canyons of a Manhattan that is ever more rapidly transforming into a city out of nightmare! Only six marauders remain – Lorna “Polaris” Dane, possessed by the evil Malice, Vertigo, Scalphunter, Riptide, Harpoon and Prism, while the X-Men consists of Wolverine a.k.a. Logan, Ororo “Storm” Munroe, Alex “Havok” Summers, Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock, Alison “Dazzler” Blaire, Longshot, Rogue and Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin, who has been knocked to the ground.
‘Havok – watch out for Harpoon’ Betsy calls out. ‘No prob, Psylocke’ Alex replies as he unleashes a burst of energy on the Marauder, melting Harpoon’s spear before he throws it. Nearby, a civilian puts a letter into a mailbox – which suddenly comes to life, grabbing his arm. ‘Hey? What’s this?’ the civilian exclaims, while the possessed mailbox exclaims ‘Insufficient postage!’ Storm approaches Vertigo and Scalphunter, the deadly mercenary tells Vertigo to hold on tight, as the X-Men’s wind-witch is whipping up a hurricane. ‘They’re not fooling this time, Scalphunter! They’re really out for blood!’ Vertigo exclaims as wind whirls across the two Marauders. On the pavement nearby, a fire hydrant has come to life, and hits a dog on the head: ‘Don’t ever do that again!’ the hydrant exclaims – presumably the dog was urinating on it. At the same time, Vertigo loses her grip and is blown away by Storm’s wind.
Colossus has risen, and attacks one of the Marauders, not knowing who it is. ‘Please – allow Colossus to get in your way!’ Piotr exclaims, smashing the Marauder across the ground, before he gasps. ‘You! Boszhe moi – Riptide! But - when last we met – I killed you!’ Riptide grins and replies that the Marauders are full of surprises. ‘How about we find out if you’re as resilient when I return the compliment?’ Riptide suggests, when suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘All right, that’s enough. Nobody movie – this is the police! You’re all under arrest. If you know what’s good for you – you’ll come quietly!’ Several police officers transformed into demons and armed with weapons arrive on scene – being carried by even larger demons with massive teeth.
‘Suppose I’m not in the mood?’ Malice asks as she flies nearby. ‘Then you die!’ one of the demons exclaims. Alex sees this, and calls out to her: ‘Polaris – don’t!’ while thinking to himself that no matter how much Malice has corrupted Lorna, he still cares for her. Alex realizes that he also cares as much – maybe more – for Madelyne. ‘I can’t let her be hurt!’ Colossus sees the demons and wonders if he has gone mad. ‘How can this be Manhattan?’ he asks himself, before Riptide begins throwing his super-velocity stars at Colossus. Luckily for Piotr they simply bounce off his armored skin. But the cops aren’t so easy, as some of the stars strike the demons, knocking the cops off them. ‘How conveniently considerate of the city…to send metal critters up against...the Mistress of Magnetism!’ Malice exclaims as she uses her magnetic power to destroy the large demons – most likely cars transformed.
Malice decides that the left over bits and pieces will make delightful shrapnel to hurl at the X-Men – and she does so, causing the X-Men to do what they can to defend themselves from the deadly shards of metal. Vertigo has gathered herself after being blown away, and announces that while the heroes are distracted, she can use her power to turn their world upside down, make them so sick and dizzy that they will be glad to have the Marauders finish them off. The X-Men fall, but as Longshot succumbs, his eldritch luck turns a blind, random throw of a knife into precisely the right move, as the knife pierces the chains holding up a sign over Vertigo’s head. ‘Nyah nyah! Ya missed me!’ Vertigo exclaims – before the sign falls down and hits her on the head.
Scalphunter remarks that the X-Men are taking the Marauders down hard and fast, and admits that he did not think they had it in them. ‘Time to even the odds with some rapid-volley automatic fire!’ he declares as he begins firing his machine gun at the X-Men, although Rogue pushes a nearby car up, and uses it as a shield. ‘You had the drop on me in San Fran, Scalphunter, remember? Pretty near nailed me, too. Now, Sugar, it’s my turn!’ she exclaims as she then slams the car down on Scalphunter.
Storm approaches Betsy and tells her that they cannot wage a pitched battle in the streets of midtown Manhattan, mad though it may seem, as bystanders are sure to be caught in the crossfire. Ororo asks her teammate to lock onto the Marauders’ minds, and finish them, if she can, with a single telepathic blow. Betsy replies that it is worthy the try, but as Betsy activates her formidable psychic abilities, she keels over in agony. ‘Cries. Children. Help us. Save us!’ she exclaims. At that moment, several other civilians have gathered to try and free the man trapped by the mailbox. ‘Give us a hand, somebody!’ ‘Pull harder!’ they shout, while the postbox still exclaims ‘Insufficient postage!’
Malice sees Betsy: ‘Poor dear! Looks like somebody slapped you down…hard as can be!’ she smiles, before declaring ‘Far be it from us…to let such a golden opportunity pass by’, and she orders the remaining Marauders to maul Psylopcke. ‘Not hardly, bimbo – while we got any say in the matter!’ Rogue exclaims as she flies towards Malice and attempts to punch her, although Malice throws up a magnetic force field around herself. The other X-Men take on Harpoon, Prism and Riptide, while several demons sit nearby and watch the battle, placing bets on Rogue and Malice. ‘A soul on the skunk-hair!’ one of them exclaims, thinking Malice will be the winner. ‘Sucker-bet, seen her fight’ another replies, while the third suggests that when they are done, they feast on whoever is left. The battle continues: ‘Havok – careful!’ Dazzler exclaims as Alex unleashes a powerful blast of energy, knocking Harpoon over. ‘Show-off’ Alison thinks to herself, while telling Alex that his plasma beam is so powerful that it can’t do anything but kill. ‘That’s the idea’ Alex replies, while Wolverine uses his claws on Prism, and Rogue continues to battle Polaris.
Back in Nebraska, Sinister remarks that Madelyne was always a rebel, never believing what she was told, determined to learn everything for herself – regardless of the cost. Sinister approaches a “throne” and takes a seat, asking Madelyne if it was worth the pain and the grief. ‘I’ve nothing to do with you, monster. I’m a normal person – with normal parents and a normal past!’ Madelyne replies, to which Sinister asks Madelyne to tell him of her past, the smallest little thing, a single memory. ‘Surely that’s no problem’ he challenges her, before telling her that she cannot, because they do not exist. Still in chains, Madelyne exclaims ‘That’s not true! They do – and I can – I…’ her voice trails off.
‘I’m waiting!’ Sinister mocks, when suddenly, Madelyne announces that she was ten, and it was summer, she was playing in the front yard with her best friend, Annie Richardson. Madelyne recalls that her mom told them to be careful because they lived on a blind curve – except when the wind caught the Frisbee they were playing with, Annie didn’t think, she just ran right after it. Sinister looks pensive and exclaims ‘She never saw the car…not its driver, her…’ but Madelyne interrupts him, asking him how he knows that. Sinister continues, ‘You cradled your dying friend in your arms…and suddenly, snap – found yourself actually inside her mind, sharing her thoughts…as they went out…one by one’.
Madelyne looks horrified as Sinister continues: ‘you remained en rapport with her – sharing that most intimate of bonds – until, at last, she died. ‘How do you know?!’ Madelyne screams. Sinister tells Madelyne that the memory is not hers. ‘Annie Richardson was Jean Grey’s friend…and that, the incident which catalyzed her telepathic power into being’ he remarks. ‘No!’ Madelyne utters, still trapped. Sinister tells himself that it is fascinating how the replicant manages to garner memory flashes from the template, as though some events are so primal, they are somehow encoded on the genetic matrix itself.
N’astirh watches from the shadows, ‘Poor creature. So pridefully powerful…yet now brought as low as can be. Ripe at last for my picking…with the introduction of one, final element!’ the demon tells himself.
Back in Manhattan, demons fly across the transformed city, while Wolverine rushes towards the mailbox, ‘Cut him loose, bub!’ Logan exclaims. With the civilian’s legs sticking out of the mailbox’s “mouth”. ‘Not a chance! Post office don’t like it when you try to stiff us on postage!’ the mailbox replies, warning Wolverine that there is nothing he can do about it either, ‘I’m government property!’ he exclaims. ‘Wanna bet?’ Logan smirks, releases his adamantium claws. Suddenly, ‘Are you nuts? What are you doing?’ the mailbox asks, before screaming as Wolverine slices it open. Envelopes pour out of the mailbox, while Wolverine exclaims ‘You got that guy. I want him back’. ‘Hah! Shows what you know – you’re too late!’ the mailbox replies. ‘Where is he?’ Wolverine asks. ‘Right where he deserves!’ the mailbox replies, while Logan picks up an envelope, with the man appearing on it as a postage stamp. ‘Ain’t he nice and patriotic…the way that deadbeat decided to serve his country! Maybe next time, it’ll be your turn!’ the letter box exclaims, while the man trapped as a postage stamp can be seen uttering ‘Help me!’
‘Blast you – that’s a human being, not a thing!’ Alex shouts as he unleashes a plasma blast, tearing the mailbox apart. ‘That’s one postbox who won’t eat any more of its customers!’ Alex exclaims as he dusts off his hands. ‘Way to go, fella!’ one civilian nearby exclaims. ‘Wish I could do that’ another remarks. ‘Fry ‘em all!’ another suggests. ‘My hero!’ a woman shouts, while the envelopes all begin to scatter, ‘Post office…ITR…rage…hate...’ they utter. Colossus looks up at Storm: ‘I do not understand. Mail boxes attacking people – police demons – Marauders we have slain…risen from the dead – this is madness!’ he shouts. ‘Of course, “little brother” – how else would you describe New York City?’ Storm replies.
At that moment, in Nebraska, Sinister continues to inform Madelyne of the secrets of her past, announcing that Jean never told her parents she could read minds, instead, unable to shut out the growing cacophony of thoughts assaulting her, she withdrew into herself, cutting herself off as much as possible from all human contact. Sinister reveals that as soon as he learned of Jean Grey, he planned to eliminate her parents and have Jean raised here at the orphanage where he kept the others, only fate sent the Greys to Charles Xavier, then a budding authority on mutant genetics, and unknown to the Greys, Xavier was a mutant and telepath himself. Sinister informs Madelyne that Xavier’s pioneering work with Jean was instrumental in leading him to form the X-Men, only while Xavier treated Jean, Sinister was busy using a blood and tissue sample of the girl that he had procured to create a “Jean Grey” of his own.
Madelyne begins to cry, while Sinister tells her that she should feel proud. ‘She was his premier success, you were mine’. Sinister continues, explaining to Madelyne that some mutant abilities manifest themselves at birth, but most a puberty. ‘Yours, inexplicably, did neither’. Sinister admits that he was disappointed, bitterly, all that time, and effort wasted, until one night, when Madleyne woke in a burst of fiery flames, screaming ‘SCOTT’, she uttered ‘Fire…life incarnate…now…forever...Phoenix’, before collapsing in Sinister’s arms.
As the demonic presence over Manhattan continues to grow, and the X-Men’s problems increase with the arrival of a small squadron of Right soldiers. ‘Tally-ho, troopers! Orders are, strafe anything that wears a costume!’ one of them announces, while firing at Prism, who seems to shatter. Havok unleashes a plasma beam, which tears through one of the Right operatives, while Storm takes down another with a lightning bolt. Ororo calls out to Colossus, asking him to take the third. Piotr tells Dazzler that they should keep him alive for questioning. ‘No prob, big guy! Eat your heart out, Havok! Any boob can incinerate a target. But using my photon force beam takes real skill!’ Alison exclaims as she traps the third Right operative, and sends him over to Colossus, who slams the Right soldier up against a wall.
Colossus reminds Dazzler that they are well aware of her abilities and tells her that there is no need to boast, before informing the Right operative that he has seen his kind before, in Limbo. ‘Great memory – looking pretty righteous, pal – being dead suits you!’ the Right operative exclaims, before telling him ‘No hard feelings’ and explaining that he is just a trooper, and following S’ym’s lead, as S’ym is the big kahuna. ‘What are you doing here, demon? And what is this talk of S’ym? My sister, Illyana, rules Limbo’ Colossus exclaims. ‘Not any more’ the soldier replies, before telling Colossus not to get hyper, as it was not his idea. ‘It’s just, you know, way of the world – S’ym got lucky, blondie got careless, new order takes over – today Limbo, tomorrow the world’ the soldier exclaims.
‘Magik has been overthrown?’ Colossus asks. ‘By S’ym and his buddy, N’astirh – though between you and me, those two are pals like Ollie North and the Ayatollah – they’re whipping up some mondo bofo spell – gonna make Earth just like Limbo!’ the soldier announces. ‘Where will they do this?’ Colossus asks ‘They’re tourists, where else – the Empire State Building!’ the Right operative exclaims – before revealing his true demon form. Colossus turns and looks at the Empire State Building in its demonic form, and exclaims ‘If they have harmed Illyana, demon…no power in creation will save them!’ The demon tells Colossus that perhaps he should worry about himself, ‘Why?’ Colossus asks as he smashes the demon to a pulp.
‘Splendid, Colossus. That is the way to deal with such arrogant toads’ Storm exclaims. Colossus is confused though, as the pieces of the demon burn, he has slain it, and now Storm cheers him on to more. Storm and Wolverine’s appearances have begun to change, demonic almost, while Wolverine exclaims that so long as a Marauder is left, there are more heads to bust. Colossus looks away from his friends. ‘In my heart and soul…I burn’ he tells himself. ‘I want to join the others…let myself be consumed…by this magickal unnatural Inferno. But I resist’ Colossus supposes that his armored body protects him from the sorcery as it did from S’ym’s spells when they fought in Limbo. Piotr does not wish to abandon his comrades, but knows he can only save them by saving Illyana. ‘Enchanted as they are, I dare not count on them to help me…and so I must go alone. And pray I am not already too late’. Colossus then walks away from the battle on his own.
In Nebraska, Sinister now stands in front of Madelyne. ‘Curiouser, I thought, and curiouser – especially once I learned that manifestation occurred at precisely the moment Phoenix sacrificed herself on the moon, to save the universe from the dark side of her nature’ Sinister remarks. He tells Madelyne to think 0- the instant of the Phoenix’s death, was Madleyne’s birth. ‘I wondered then if clone and original were bound psychically, in much the same manner as identical twins?’ Sinister remarks, adding that Madelyne possessed all Jean’s genetic potential, if not her powers, and perhaps, her resonance with the “Phoenix Force”.
Sinister remarks that, if combined with Scott Summers, the product of such a union should prove quite exceptional, so he provided Madelyne with an appropriate “cover” memory – plus a character sure to attract Scott, and placed her with his grandparents’ airline in Alaska. ‘I knew, once you met – and, if necessary, I was prepared to ensure you would – nature would take its inevitable course. Which it did’ Sinister exclaims. ‘You USED me!’ Madelyne exclaims, to which Sinister tells her that is why she was made, before pointing out that with Ms Grey’s “resurrection” came a problem – as Jean is a telepath, and more importantly, Madelyne’s template, she would sense the truth the moment the two of them met. Sinister explains that to protect his organization, Madelyne had to be eliminated, and by that stroke, he would gain her baby for himself, while covering his tracks so thoroughly that Scott Summers would never find him. Madelyne grins, and tells Sinister that his Marauders botched the job.
In Manhattan, Longshot swings up on too the ledge of a building, thinking to himself that everybody hurts, that everything he touches is screaming inside him – Alison most of all. ‘Havok said I did a wrong thing, seeing her and Rogue. But can’t there be room in my hearts for more than a single person?’ Longshot wonders, before suddenly, N’astirh grabs him. ‘What have we here? Never have I espied a soul so noble, so pure…so totally, irrevocably torn!’ the demon exclaims. ‘Dear boy, let me put you out of your misery’ N’astirh offers, as his horse-like mouth clamps down on Longshot’s arm. ‘No!’ the hero exclaims.
Down below, the transformed X-Men standing over the unmoving Marauders. ‘Is that the last?’ Psylocke asks. ‘All save Polaris’ Storm replies. Wolverine remarks that Storm sounds disappointed. ‘Over too quick, Wolvie’ Rogue declares, while Psylocke adds that the Marauders did not suffer nearly enough. Storm points out that it does not matter as there will be other foes and better battles. Rogue exclaims that she can’t wait. ‘Anybody crosses the X-Men, they get their ticket punched – permanently!’ she declares as she and Storm clap hands together. Nearby, Longshot is thrown to the ground, landing in front of Psylocke and Havok. ‘So proud a boast, mortals!’ N’astirh calls down. Dazzler is bust looking at her reflection in a piece of broken glass. ‘Hair…make-up…blush…lipstick…Longshot? A wrinkle!’ she exclaims, while N’astirh remarks that words are easily spoken.
‘Who the devil…’ Betsy begins. ‘…is that?’ Alex concludes, while Rogue checks Longshot and announces that there is not a mark on him. ‘What’s next, grey hairs?’ Dazzler mutters, before N’astirh looms over the X-Men, suggesting that the challenge is to back their words up with deeds. ‘Try this on for size, buster!’ Havok exclaims as he unleashes a blast of plasma at N’astirh, who vanishes as he replies ‘A display, boy, as impressive…as it is futile!’ and he boasts that as he has feasted on Longshot’s soul, so shall he have Havok’s as well, and that the tastiest of all shall be that of Madelyne Pryor’s. This concerns Havok, who tells Wolverine that they have to go after the demon, find his trail and save Madelyne. ‘Ain’t that simple, Havok. We got company, X-Men. We got trouble!’ Wolverine announces as he stares at the new arrivals….
The demonic John and Elaine Grey lurk in the shadows, watching Sinister as he stands before Madelyne, telling her that she is correct, that the Marauders should not have failed, as they were certain they had not, however they did. Sinister reminds Madelyne that she then died, along with the X-Men – in full view of the entire world, only to reappear here, alive, apparently invisible to his sensors, able to bypass his defences and enter his sanctum with impunity. ‘Perhaps…when I died, I made a deal with the Devil…to come collect you down to join him!’ Madelyne exclaims. ‘We shall see’ Sinister replies, informing Madelyne that he looks forward to taking her apart, and discovering how she has changed. ‘That’s right, I forgot. The Brood mare’s fulfilled her purpose. You have your prize, my baby. You don’t need me any more’ Madelyne exclaims.
‘Only assets have values –’ Sinister begins, before John and Elaine Grey in their demon state lunge at him, knocking him backwards. ‘I don’t belong to you, Sinister!’ Madelyne exclaims, as energy surges around her. ‘I won’t be ruled by you!’ Madelyne shouts, as energy begins to pour from her body. ‘I won’t be CONDEMNED by you!’ she screams as everything goes white. An instant later, ‘Surprise. It appears your devices have limits. And I do not’ Madelyne boasts as she stands over Sinister, her “pets” at her feet. ‘Impossible!’ Sinister gasps. ‘If you say so’ Madelyne mutters, before asking ‘What price, glory now, Sinister?’ as she surrounds him in energy. ‘I’ve been challenged before!’ Sinister exclaims.
‘That’s an X-Men line. Trust me, you’re not in their league!’ Madelyne declares. ‘If you think you’ve truly tested my resources…’ Sinister begins, to which Madelyne replies ‘No more, I’m willing to bet, than you have’, and informs Sinister that prelims are over, that it is time for the main event. Suddenly, a demon appears at Madelyne’s side. ‘Milady! The demon exclaims. ‘Forgive your servant’s interruption…but I felt you should see proof…of how N’astirh keeps his word’ the demon declares as it holds to Madelyne her infant son, Nathan Christopher Summers. ‘NO!’ Sinister shouts. Madelyne tells Sinister that she will not be condemned, that instead, she condemns. Madelyne announces that here is the culmination of all Sinister’s machinations, all Scott Summers’ hopes and dreams, and all that represents Madelyne’s humanity. ‘In one stroke, I make it dust!’ she exclaims.
Madelyne grins wickedly, and strokes her baby’s face, ‘Your ambition is a world to rule’ she reminds Sinister, boasting that in one stroke, she will make it ashes. ‘I abjure life, Father” – and give myself over whole and unreservedly to the fire’ Madelyne announces. ‘An Inferno…that will consume you all!’