(New York City)
On a stormy evening in New York City, a small cloaked man is stopped by Magneto, who calls him a cripple. The man asks him to repeat that, but Magneto asks him to calm himself. He’s is a cripple, too, now. He lost what made him superior. The man recognizes him as Magneto. He saw him once when he was a Morlock. Magneto thought as much. He can spot ex-mutants by sight now. Isn’t that sad, he thinks. It’s like a whole generation walking around with its heart ripped out. The man replies that he gets by. Magneto, walking away, turns and says the Morlocks were always happy to settle for table scraps. The man asks Magneto why he’s looking for an ex-Morlock. He tells the man he wants him to pass on a message.
Storm awakens. The last thing she recalls is a crushing darkness, but now there is a little room around her and some air. She runs her fingers along the wall and yells. Masque and his followers have Ororo confined inside a wooden coffin. Warpath, Caliban, Skids and Hepzibah are shackled nearby. Masque is pleased that she has woken up and wants to see her scared little face. Bliss slides open a hatch in the coffin, but tells Masque that he shouldn’t be doing this. Storm isn’t a bad person. Upon seeing the light, Ororo scream for Masque to set her free. He tells her it’s been a long time since he followed her orders. If he knew then what he knows now, he wouldn’t have followed them then.
Skids calls Masque crazy and asks what he’s doing. He holds up the book and says that he’s bringing a new world into being; living out the prophecy. Warpath asks if there’s a section in the book where he strangles him. He sees that in his future. Masque grins. “Actually… no…it don’t.”
Nightcrawler teleports Charles Xavier to the spot where Ororo and Delphi’s followers were buried. The ruins leave Charles speechless. Kurt says that they might not be dead - not all of them. Charles agrees, but he needs to get help. He wants to use his telepathy to call for assistance, but Kurt reckons someone above ground must have heard the explosion that caused this devastation. He begins moving rocks, and a body is soon found. The person is alive and nearly conscious. Charles touches their forehead and receives a mental image of Storm being dragged away by Litterbug. She’s alive. Kurt asks if he can find Ororo’s mind again. Could they track her that way? Charles replies that if she’s awake he can connect with her. It also depends if she knows where she is. Kurt has faith in Charles’ abilities.
Meanwhile, Masque reckons that Delphi didn’t have enough faith. The prophet wrote a lot of crazy stuff, and a lot of ways things could go. There is a reason for that. They have a choice. Storm, still inside the coffin, tells him that she read the book and it was a book of peace. “Ya see what ya wanna see,” he replies. To get to the peace you have to have the war first, he adds. Hepzibah pulls at her shackles and growls. “Then let us have it!” Masque tells her she should have been one of them.
Skids asks what his plan is. What part of the prophet’s word is this? Masque replies that it’s the turning point. They’ll make the subway attacks look like nothing. Afterwards, the normals will hate them like never before. They’ve been hating their own heroes for a while. They’ll hate them instead. Skids asks how that leads to a brighter future. How does that get him Magneto? Masque’s response is vague, but it involves something about what the book says. He thinks that Magneto will get the book and sees that his old way was the right way. Ororo asks where they are right now. He opens his arms wide and tells her that they’re about an hour away from their funerals. It’s okay, though. They’ll be praying up there by then, anyway.
Ororo realizes that it’s nearly morning. “Sunday morning,” adds Masque. The tunnels above them are right below the old cathedral. It is loaded with explosives, ready to blow on his say-so. When the cops find their x-corpses at the site of the bomb, there’s gonna be no turning back. Caliban doesn’t believe this. He doesn’t believe that Masque is evil. Masque replies that maybe evil’s just a point of view. Storm’s eyes begin to glow. “No... it isn’t,” she sighs. “Killing innocents is evil, no matter where you look at it from.”
A lightning strike explodes above the church and lighting crashes in through the cathedral’s windows. The electricity rushes through the church and into the pipes that lead below ground. Instantly, the whole place begins to crumble around them, and both Warpath and Hepzibah receive an electric blast which hurts them, but not too much. James is quickly free, and he is soon joined by Storm, whose coffin explodes around her. She steps out, and warns Masque that all he’s done is to make her mad. Masque cowers in a corner, afraid of Storm whose anger is fearsome. “Damn you! This ain’t how it happens,” he cries. Ororo makes telepathic contact with Charles Xavier, who asks if she’s all right. Ororo tells him she’s fine, but he should make sure no one gets to church this morning. They can handle it down there.
Masque tells someone to get her as Warpath punches Bliss. He then punches Litterbug, who releases Leech from his grasp. Skids is also free, and she slides at great speed around Erg, who unleashes a blast from his eye. It misses and hits Litterbug instead. Masque takes Leech’s leash and orders Erg to take Storm down. “I think not,” says Ororo, as the rocks above Erg crumble around him. He is squashed under a small avalanche.
Ororo approaches Masque but he warns her to keep away or he’ll mess her up. Warpath hurls a dagger towards him. Masque avoids the dagger, but it collides instead with its intended target - Leech’s power-dampening collar. It shatters and the dagger punctures the wall behind him. Leech smiles. “Oh… oh… Cool.” With Masque’s power now gone, Caliban decides to handle this himself. He smashes Masque in the face hard, and a second strike draws blood. A third causes Masque to drop the book, and a fourth isn’t allowed to hit home as Ororo tempers Caliban’s assault.
Masque lies bleeding on the floor. He can’t believe it. The prophet said it was today that the new conflict begins. Ororo replies that it’s strange, but she read the same section. She’s certain it only said that the conflict would be decided. She supposes the prophet’s implications are all in the eye of the beholder. Skids collects the book and they decide to find a way out of there.
Charles has dealt with the authorities, but had to mentally nudge a few. He mentions that the fact that they saved hundreds of innocent lives helped their cause, as did Masque volunteering to fix the faces of those poor people from the subway. “Oh did he?” remarks Storm, incredulously. Charles admits that took a little more nudging. He asks where the book of prophecy is. Ororo says that the last she saw, Skids had it. It’s probably in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hands now. He’ll have to ask Tony Stark if he can borrow it. Charles imagines that Tony will want to talk to him about the past few days anyway. Ororo says that they saved lives. That wasn’t their fault. None of them can control fate, after all…
(later that day)
At sunset, Hepzibah speaks with Cyclops about the loss to them both of their beloved Corsair. They hug one another, before Hepzibah joins James. He asks if they were finally talking about it. She says that they were, but Scott is still raw and angry. However, they talked mostly about James. “Really?” he replies. Hepzibah says that she wants Scott to know that it’s not disrespecting his father. “What’s not?” asks James. She smiles and replies, “My mating with you.” She asks him not to pretend. They both have special senses. He can never lie to her. They embrace tenderly.
Elsewhere, Charles informs Kurt that he finally managed to calm down Valerie Cooper, but he doesn’t know how much longer their relationship with the O*N*E is going to last. Kurt asks if she mentioned their trip, or Magneto. Charles says no, but she does know that he’s the one they are after. But, after this Morlock debacle, her people are in crisis mode. They’ve abandoned their own search for Erik. Kurt asks if they should keep looking for him. Charles replies that he’ll keep Cerebra tuned to his pattern, but Erik has always known how to avoid detection when he didn’t want to be found.
(a cemetery, later)
Skids meets with Magneto in the moonlit cemetery. Some Morlocks had informed her that this is where she might find him. When he asks why she has come, Sally removes the book from her bag and says she has to give him it. Magneto asks what he’s supposed to do with it. Sally doesn’t know. She could lose her whole life if anyone knew she was there. But, she continues, there are things in the book that he needs to know. It talks about him, and about the new hope to come soon. She doesn’t understand it but, yesterday, for a minute, she did. She wanted to bring it to him. Magneto takes the book from her and says that’s interesting. She adds that there’s something else, too. It said he is still a mutant. “Did it now?” he replies.
(the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning)
Beast is sat at his computer late into the night. He believes he has failed. Every avenue he has gone down has come to a dead end. Homo superior is rushing to extinction and there is nothing he can do to stop it. ‘I have failed,’ he types across the screen. His frustrated silence is broken by a voice from behind. Hank turns with a start as Spiral tells him that she has enjoyed his dance. She leaps on him and grabs him around the neck, but his agility is enough to be able to throw her over his shoulder. He hasn’t the time for this.
She lands with graceful ease and informs him that his failure has displeased Mojo. He isn’t entertained. The imminent extinction of his species is of great concern, and while Hank asked for her help, he demanded it. Hank asks if Mojoworld has any answers. Spiral says that science blinds him. She can feel it. An energy dances its way through everything, keeping her out. It’s beyond anything the Body Shoppe can simply fix. The death of Homo superior was not caused by science and it will not be saved by science. She teleports away with the parting words, “Put aside what you know, for where science ends… magic begins.”
Later, in the pouring rain, Hank makes his way to Greenwich Village and comes to halt outside a derelict-looking building with a banner across the front, claiming hat another Starbucks is on its way. Hank has always believed in the purity of science, and feels it can explain everything, despite what he’s seen. However, when he steps inside the building, these explanations fall apart.
Hank enters and calls out for Dr. Strange or his assistant, Wong. In a flash the derelict room changes beyond recognition and Dr. Strange appears with his trusted assistant. He has been expecting Hank, and Wong offers him some tea. Strange asks him to forgive the illusion. Things have been complicated of late. Perhaps he should have consulted with him before joining the Avengers.
Hank finds it difficult to ask what he must of him, but Strange assures him that he doesn’t have to ask. He was there when it happened. They have been on a similar journey. Instead of telling all about it, he decides to show him.
Strange transports him to a place where reality exists as pure magic. It’s reality as he sees it - the world as seen through magic’s eyes. Weird, colorful shapes and interconnected objects surround them as they appear to float in the never-ending vastness. Strange explains that he is looking at pure magic. There, they can see magical forces and spells as physical objects. Hank asks him if he can see what the Scarlet Witch did. Is her ‘spell’ somewhere in this dimension? Is it something he can reverse? Strange tells him he misunderstands. Wanda’s spell isn’t in this landscape… it is the landscape. What Wanda did she did so completely that it’s nearly impossible to see where reality ends and her alteration of it begins. She cast her spell over billions of souls, over worlds and dimensions.
Hank doesn’t think it seems possible for one person to have such power. However, Stephen didn’t answer his question. Can it be reversed with magic? Strange replies that, with enough preparation and the right assistance, it could be possible to break her spell and put things right. However, reality has been consumed by her spell and the magic is woven through everything; welded to all there is. He apologizes, but informs Hank that were he to even try, all of reality could implode as a result.