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Steve Orlando (writer), Eleonora Carlini (artist), Matt Milla (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Travis Lanham (letterer & production), Tom Muller (designer), Kim Jacinto (cover artist), Stephen Sergovia & David Curiel (variant cover artists), Lauren Amaro (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)
Stryfe is revealed to be Commander Nightfount, and boasts at how he will destroy Threshold and change the course of history. But before he can harm Amass, Captain Pryde appears, having been hidden inside Amass. She attacks Stryfe and frees Amass, who is able to keep Stryfe at bay and enable Captain Pryde to escape. She steals one of Stryfe's ships and plans to find her teammates. In the capital of Threshold, the Marauders and several Thresholders are doing what they can to keep Sublime and Arkea at bay. Bishop, Aurora, Somnus and Cassandra Nova find their way to the Thresholders' birthing sea, where Arkea launches another assault on them, but Bishop is prepared and attempts to execute his plan – but doesn't count on Sublime arriving and adding to his problems. Cassandra Nova steps up though and both Arkea and Sublime send all of their possessed vessels after her, both viruses fight over her – until Cassandra uses her power to touch all of them – and destroys them in spectacular display. Cassandra emerges from the aftermath of the battle looking very pleased with herself. Afterwards, the Marauders and Thresholders take some time to rest. Tempo and Theia have acted on their attraction to each other, while Captain Pryde laments the fact that she cannot save all of Threshold – so she takes her frustrations out on Cassandra Nova, attacking her in Somnus' dreamscape for the fact that Cassandra killed her father when she launched the Sentinel attack on Genosha. Grove has changed their name to Okkara and and Tempo and Theia say their goodbyes to each other before the Marauders are sent back to the present day. After returning to their true time, Tempo laments the loss of Theia and spends time drinking at the Green Lagoon, while Captain Pryde plans to resurrect Theia, Amass and Crave based on the DNA that they now have of them – and it works.
(Two billion years ago)
Unbreathing Territory, where the traitor Commander Nightfount has been unmasked as the diabolical time-travelling mutant called Stryfe. 'You think I don't know everything that's coming?' Stryfe shouts as he confronts the Thresholder called Amss, who is currently his prisoner. Stryfe explains that he regrew himself here, crawled from the Thresholders' birthing sea to reign. 'I inspired the Unbreathing's final weapon. Once complete, the Oxygen Ignitor will ablaze the sky!' Stryfe shouts, revealing that everything that breathes will die – everything but him, and he alone will shape the history to come! Stryfe asks Amass if he has anything to say to his future king, to which Amass smirks and replies 'Yeah, Stryfe. I've heard enough!' and with that, Captain Kate Pryde suddenly appears, phasing out from inside Amass where she has been hiding, and shoves a phased fist through Stryfe's head.
'Surprise – tell your amoebas to stand down. Otherwise, I go solid and take a core sample of your brain' Kate warns Stryfe, her hand still phased through Stryfe's head. 'Kitty Pryde...what's a girl like you doing in a time like that?' Stryfe smirks. 'Turning a kidnapping intro recon' Kate responds, wishing Stryfe luck with finishing that Oxygen Ignitor – when suddenly, Stryfe defends himself against Kate, who is shunted backwards, as Stryfe reminds her that intangibility doesn't mean much to a telekinetic. 'Nice of you to phase though, it's a good head start...on ripping you apart, atom by atom!' Stryfe grins wickedly. 'You won't get the chance, traitor!' Amass cries out as he latches onto Stryfe, trapping the madman inside of him. 'No, Amass! We can both -' Kate begins to call out, but as several of the Unbreathing close in around Kate, Amass shouts 'I said go!'
Kate runs and tries to project her thoughts to her teammates in the Marauders: 'Anyone alive out there?' she asks, informing her crew that she and Amass were caught by the Unbreathing 'We merged, he hid me until the time was right. It was half a plan' Kate utters, taking one of the Unbreathing's ships, Kate pilots the vessel and reports that she has seen the Unbreathing's operation, and that their advisor, going by Nightfount, is actually Stryfe, a clone from their future, grown to adulthood here, and now pushing extinction so he can rewrite history from scratch. As Kate pilots her way through the water, she adds that Stryfe isn't there yet, and that his weapon is not finished. 'The Unbreathing are gunning for us all' Kate declares, and as the ship crashes, she phases her way through the explosion, adding that she doesn't care who is listening in: 'If we don't win this war against Arkea and Sublime...it'll get eaten by an even bigger one'.
Elsewhere, Phlorenza, the Capital of Threshold, under attack from the infected Thresholders. 'Form up, Psylocke! Everyone! Grove is wounded!' Theia, one of the Thresholders, calls out as she hovers above the Thresholders' leader, Grove, and another Thresholder, one without powers, Zved, raises a weapon which he blasts at the enemy. Psylocke a.k.a. Kwannon uses her psychic abilities against the infected enemy. The virus Arkea speaks to Theia through one of the infected, boasting that soon Grove will be dead. 'Your gravity can't save you, Theia! I'll break every mutant I have against your wall until the right gifts get me through – then ride all of your mule bodies to victory against my lackluster sibling!' Arkea boasts as the infected slam against Theia's gravity field. Theia tells Grove that Arkea is right – she can't hold Arkea back forever. 'We need only last until the Marauders do their work. Arkea is well distracted' Grove points out, before asking where Sublime is.
At that moment, in the Birthing Sea, below Phlorenza, the rest of the Marauders – Lucas Bishop, Jeanne-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora, Heather Tucker a.k.a. Tempo, Carl Valentino a.k.a. Somnus and Cassandra Nova – are inspecting their strange new surroundings. Bishop remarks that the place is pretty much deserted, like Grove hoped. 'But only pretty much' he adds, when suddenly, several strange figures rise from the Birthing Sea, infected by Arkea, one of them warns Bishop that there is plenty of Arka here, splattered all over the walls, cultured into this amniotic sea. 'To hell with my other. I hold Threshold's future host -' the creature begins, before Bishop grabs it: 'you really don't, kid. Not with your cells dead of charge' as he absorbs the energy from the creature. Then, suddenly, there is a strong rumbling, and Bishop is knocked backwards, as Sublime appears, in one of the mutated creatures. Sublime declares that Arkea has spread herself too thin. 'Now I take the seal! Now...Sublime takes what's his!' the virus booms. 'Not if I take you first. Come on!' Bishop shouts as he fights back.
Back above ground, 'Wall's down! I couldn't hold the gravity...' Theia calls out as the infected close in on her, Grove, Zved and Kwannon, who tells Theia to hold on, and that she can block her fatigue, today, but that it will be twice as bad tomorrow. 'DO IT!' Theia shouts, as Kwannon plunges her psi-blade into Theia, while someone calls out' Get the shield back up! Get it -' a Thresholder calls out before one of the infected slices their throat. 'Humans. Worthless even as mules' Sublime utters as he attacks Grove. Suddenly, 'Look alive, fellow mutants?' a voice can be heard, and Kwannon realizes it's Captain Pryde, and warns her that telepathy is not secure.
'Good. I'm looking to advertise!' Pryde responds as she uses one of the Unbreathing's weapons to fire in front of her, while asking 'Where's the rest of my crew -' when suddenly, there is an explosion behind her.
Back in the birthing sea, energy rages around Bishop, bodies of the infected and the Unbreathing lay scattered about, while Bishop announces that his livery's nuked – and that so are a lot of Sublime and Arkea. He adds that he got what he could, but that even he can't hold in that much cellular charge. 'Sublime wasn't supposed to be here! It was too much!' Bishop cries out. Tempo grabs him and tells him that he did good, and that they will figure it out. 'I'll age Arkea and Sublime until they're ash! I'll -' Tempo begins, but Sublime warns her that there will be no time. 'This isn't exactly the victory I dreamed of!' Somnus exclaims, before a wall nearby collapses inwards into the birthing sea, and dozens of infected Thresholders fall towards the Marauders. 'Your Bishop spend himself against one infected mule with a multiplaction gift! Just one – now face the rest of me!' Sublimb calls out as the Marauders fall into the birthing sea.
Through one of the Unbreathing, Sublime supposes that he should thank the Marauders for loosening Arkea's grip on the waters, adding that he would wager they would prefer some air. 'Got enough to take plenty more of you with me!' Bishop boasts. 'You don't win this world on a pile of our bodies – not while I'm here!' Aurora calls out as one of the Sublime-possessed Unbreathing swims towards her. 'You'd deny me my nature? Extinction is my purpose. Same as my other!' Another being possessed by Sublime exclaims 'We are siblings born only to destroy, but that soon he will be an only child. 'Is that hope I hear, Sublime? You think me weak? Think me vulnerable? This is where I infect you, fool! This is where I eat you alive!' one of the beings possessed by Arkea snarls. 'Put well, young tyrant. And well argued' Cassandra Nova smirks as several Unbreathing swim around her, as she then touches her badge, and her mask opens. 'Cassandra? She's opening her livery! She's -' Somnus calls out, shocked, while Arkea asks 'You'd offer yourself to me? Freely?'
'To you?' Sublime asks. 'She offers herself to me!' Numerous possessed Unbreathing latch onto Cassandra, as Arkea asks 'Can't you feel it? This mule is a survivor – she submits, rather than be conquered!' Bishop urgently tells everyone to get on Nova, as the bacteria twins cannot be allowed to have power like Cassandra's. 'You hear them, woman? They'd kill you rather than give you up' Sublime remarks. 'Once I've claimed this withered mule, I'll split you all cell by cell -' Arkea boasts, while the Marauders, still floundering in the birthing sea as all of the Sublime-possessed Unbreathing begin to swim towards those possessed by Arkea. 'If either of them get Cassandra's body...it'll be an all-new kind of extinction!' Aurora calls out.
Back above, Theia, Grove and Kwannon look on as the Arkea-possessed Thresholders turn and run. Theia wonders if Arkea still controls the mutants, and whether they've lost. 'Did Bishop fail?' she asks.
The Arkea-possessed and Sublime-possessed are linked together, connected to Cassandra Nova, as Sublime warns Arkea that he will rip Nova to shreds before he lets her have her. 'Go ahead! All I need is her brain!' Arkea responds.
Kwannon grabs Grove and tells them to stay still, noting they have taken heavy wounds, while Kate Pryde suddenly notices Grove holding something and asks 'Wait – is that my puzzle box? Someone want to explain?'
'Did you truly think that was all of me, Sublime?' Arkea asks as dozens of possessed Thresholders splash down into the birthing sea.
'My wounds are not as grave as you think...' Grove utters wearily, while Kwannon detects a psychic pulse, like foreshocks before an earthquake. 'Cassandra's happy' Kwannon exclaims.
Indeed, Cassandra smirks as she telepathically remarks 'Children, children...don't you see? I've simplified your feud. Instead of fighting over the world, you're all right here. Fighting over me. Connected to me' Cassandra uttes, when suddenly, she unleashes a fury of energy, connected to the Sublime and Arkea possessed Thresholders and Unbreathing, who are seemingly “fried” by the energy surge, which extends out from the birthing sea, upwards and all around this ancient world, taking out everyone possessed by the two deadly bacteria.
'Psylocke – what just happened?' Kate Pryde asks. 'billions of them, Pryde. More. Arkea and Sublime both. In a single moment...Cassandra touched them all' Kwannon utters.
The Marauders emerge from the birthing sea, '...Hell of a thing...' Bishop remarks, while Somnus asks if Cassandra juste killed everyone. 'Wouldn't be the first time' Aurora utters, when suddenly, there is a telepathic call for help, and Thresholders begin rising up from the depths of the birthing sea. 'Make help...no have much...your words...but help...' one of them cries. Aurora helps the flailing Thresholder, and her thoughts tell him to to hear the idea, not the word. 'It seems your bodies are your own again' she adds, while Bishop demands Nova to report in. A grinning Cassandra rises from the ocean and asks if it isn't obvious – those spiteful youths were hungry for her gifts. 'Sadly, it seems direct contact with my mind crisped the lot of them like matchheads' Cassandra explains, assuring Bishop that it was only a few trillion lobotomies, before asking Bishop if he would rather the blood was on his hands.
Later, Tempo wakes up next to Theia, who tells her that it is morning, and that she overslept. 'It takes precise gravity work to quarantine you without your livery' Theia explains. 'But such a chore, getting me out of my clothes. But, no, you're right' Tempo responds as they kiss. Tempo knows that she can't just stay in bed when her crew has somewhere to be. 'Even going with the flow of time, I'll be lucky to get us all back' she adds, before Theia tells her that if they could steal longer, she has no doubt Tempo would know how. Theia adds that Amass must be freed from the Unbreathing, and their Oxygen Weapon must be destroyed, whilr Crave must be mourned. Theia adds that the Marauders' suits are damaged, but they cann't stay, otherwise Fang's death loses meaning – and their Captain, who came to rescue the Thresholders, must face a cruel fact.
At that moment, '...Ican't do it. Every way you look at it...I can't save them all' Kate Pryde remarks as she looks at the puzzle box. 'And in truth, should you, Captain Pryde?' Grove asks as they appear with Theia, Tempo, Bishop, Kwannon, Aurora, Somnus and Cassandra Nova. Kate turns and sees that Grove looks different – now in a woody, spiked form. 'Grove? That's a new look' Captain Pryde remarks, to which Grove explains that it is their own gift, to heal as vegetative growth – changed, but alive. 'For how long?' Kate asks, noting that the Unbreathing are still out there, and that extinction is still coming. 'This is no rescue'. Somnus looks up at Grove and tells Kate that he thinks they are saying that this doesn't need to be a rescue, as Threshold is their past. 'I can't say how often I've wished I could change my own. But I can only move on' Somnus adds. Grove looks at Captain Pryde and tells her that her oneiromancer is wise, that she should heed him. 'You've given us the aid we need' Grove assures Kate, who looks over at Somnus.
'Shown us there's a future worth fighting for. Now let us fight for it' Grove adds. Captain Pryde smiles, and tells Grove that if that is what they want, then she will listen and take the win. She frowns as Cassandra remarks that a luster has come over her thoughts, as when she visited her the first time – an emotion key. 'You think I can't feel your mind unlocking?' Cassandra asks, before lunging towards Captain Pryde and tells her that she sees what's there – a stupid little diamond box. 'This was your best plan? You and that gilded mare? Let's see what sad stratagem you so wished to hide from me' Cassandra declares, clenching her fists. Suddenly, a blast of energy strikes Cassandra from behind, and the old woman falls forward as Somnus holds an energy weapon and stands over her: 'It's called a decoy, Nova. We played you. Me and the Captain' Somnus reveals, adding that he has always controlled access to to his head, and he buried the plan deep. 'You only ever got in as far as I allowed' Somnus snaps as he presses down on Cassandra's neck.
Somnus tells Cassandra that the chokestick won't kill her, but that she will wish it did. 'Good work, Sprite...proud of you, it seems the first blood spilled between us...is yours' Cassandra utters as Pryde holds her down, and declares 'Two things, Cassie – Emma says hello. And we did need you for a while. But what can I say? You killed my father. And there are some things you just shouldn't be allowed to get away with!'
'Wait – that feeling, like wind in your heads. It's rushing back. A shared dream, locked in Pryde's mind – where a plan was born' Kwannon calls out. Grove states that they agreed to this, to the Krakoans' departure, to holding Nova here in Threshold's zero cells, but their pact lay hidden until it could safely be returned to their memories. Energy begins to envelop the Marauders, and Theia turns to Tempo, telling her that she is sorry, but Threshold is her home, and she must see out its path and protect it. 'If my new memory serves...we have already said our goodbyes' Theia adds. 'Sure...but there's always time for one more' Tempo replies as she leans in towards Theia. 'Okay, people. Buckle up. I'll see you in two billion years' Kate calls out as the Marauders vanish. 'Morning at last. The Birthing Sea is free. The seed is secure – our children with it' Grove states. 'And yet Tempo is lost, Grove...I mourn, even if a heart is a small price for a future' Theia utters. 'Not Grove, my friend. Not anymore. With new growth comes a new name...call me Okkara'.
The Green Lagoon, Krakoa, where Anole is behind the bar making another cocktail. Tempo sits at the bar, drink in hand as Kate walks over to her and tells her that she looks exhausted. 'I mean, it's easier going downriver in time – but it's not easy, Pryde' Tempo replies. 'And that's not what I meant' Kate remarks. Heather turns to her and asks 'It was a few days, right? A glorified long weekend. But she...she had it. The drive. The confidence. Normally, I'm pumping the brakes when I meet someone. But Theia, that's the thing...something about her, something about her gifts, I don't know' Heather remarks, before slumping her head into a hand rested on the bar. 'Gravity affects time. When she was really close, life really did just seem to stop. It was just us'. Heather adds that she never met anyone like that, and that she isn't a kid, she knows it was a fling – a prehistoric weekend fling.
Heather continues, telling Kate that she isn't in love, but that she can't help thinking that she could have been – if they just had more time. 'What if you did?' Kate smiles. She reports that here and now there is nothing left of Threshold, nothing but three backups anda little DNA. 'We couldn't save them all. But what if...we could save just enough to remember?' Kate asks. 'Enough to celebrate what was and to be part of what will be. Against history, against the rules and against the odds. If you ask me...that would be one hell of a rescue'.
And, elsewhere on Krakoa, Theia, Amass and Crave have been reborn!
Aurora, Bishop, Fang VI, Kwannon, Cassandra Nova, Kate Pryde, Somnus, Tempo (all Marauders)
Amass, Crave, Grove/Okkara, Theia, Zved (all Thresholders)
This issue includes a text-only security translation of the Darkbuilders a.k.a. the Unbreathing.
Amass was captured by the Unbreathing last issue. Kate seemingly disappeared during the battle last issue, and it is revealed this issue that she had phased herself into Amass before he was captured.
Kate Pryde's father, Carmen Pryde, died during Cassandra Nova's Sentinel attack on Genosha where he was residing.
This issue includes a letter from Kate to her father.