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Steve Orlando (writer), Eleonora Carlini (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg & Matt Milla (colorists), Virtual Calligraphy's Ariana Maher (letterer & production), Tom Muller (designer), Kael Ngu (cover artist), NotEase; Todd Nauck & Rachelle Rosenberg (variant cover artists), Lauren Amaro (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)
Kate Prdye checks on how Cerebra is adjusting to this new reality, spending her time plating Krakoan gateways. Kwannon, Fang, Aurora and Somnus are at the town of Captain America which is under attack by the mutant called Horsepower. The fascists known as the Watchdogs attempt to take Horsepower down, before Horsepower is defeated by Fang. Bishop meets with Christian Frost who is tending to Smerdyakov, while Bishop collects some boost fruits. Bishop later meets with Cerebra, who is examining the capsule containing the DNA of the last remaining ancestors of mutantkind, recently rescued by the Marauders. Shortly, the Marauders gather at the Hatchery, where three ancient mutants, Thresholders, are reborn – Amass, Crave and Theia. The Thresholders adjust to their new reality and the fact that their home and time is no more. The Marauders do their best to bond with the Thresholders and make them feel comfortable, while the Thresholders reveal information about their society, including how new Thresholders were born from the birthing sea, and about how those with powers were called Enriched, and those without called Enshrined – essentially mutants and humans. They talk about the Unbreathing, deadly rivals who attempted to expand their anaerobic society, and the wars that followed. They mention Grove, an elder of the Thresholders who close Amass, Crave and Theia to go into the unknown, which is how they ended up here. Tempo and Theia seem to have an instant attraction to each other, and Theia asks if Krakoa will help the Thresholders. The Marauders agree, although Cassandra Nova thinks that Kate Pryde is throwing her team to the wolves, that it is a mission they will never return from – and reveals that she knows about Threshold's past and future – and that Arkea and Sublime are waiting for them. Meanwhile, Lockheed keeps watch over the Theater of Pain where Scratch and Stringfellow are at odds – although Lockheed himself isn't aware he is being watched by Dirtnap.
Waterbury, Connecticut, where Brimstone Love's Theater of Pain is operating out of an old church. 'Scratch! Where the hell is Love?' the mutant called Stringfellow shouts, waving his arms about in a panic. Scratch explains that the Theater of Love is rebuilding, and that Brimstone Love will appear when he sees fit. 'I offered him my future! If he can't show up for that, then you can pay his bill -' Stringfellow begins, before appearing confused as he tries to use his power to turn Scratch's body elastic. 'Your bones should be jelly right now!' Stringfellow calls out. 'You should be an omelet!' Scratch responds by grabbing Stringfellow by his head, tears begin to stream down Stringfellow's face as Scratch declares 'I am only what I am. A man of constant rage. A mutant immune to mutant gifts', before adding that Stringfellow is the broken egg between them. Stringfellow then screams, while up above in the church rafters, the purple dragon Lockheed observes what transpires below, while the mutant rat called Dirtnap scurries along a nearby rafter.
Meanwhile, at Hellfire Bay, Krakoa, Kate Pryde finds the young mutant called Cerebra and asks her if she is adjusting well, noting that not every Krakoan stray lands on the eve of judgment. Cerebra appears to be planting some seeds in a container, and tells Kate that the Progenitor was one thing, but that this is all so analog. 'My Cyclops could've just changed the floor to pooting soil' she boasts, referring to the reality where she is from. 'But standing here with you, Captain Pryde, planting a Gate Flower... 2099 had instatexts about this time. I'd read of the X-Men taking in future refugees. Never thought I'd be one. It's surreal, but I'm thankful for every minute' she assures Kate. 'Cable said you'd need me. Can't imagine it was for gardening' Cerebra remarks.
As the Krakoan Gate begins to grow, Kate tells Cerebra that the flower is for Bishop, as the New Marauder was still missing a gate, and now the Captain Commander can almost be in two places at once. 'I've got other uses for you' Kate assures Cerebra.
Later, Cerebra reports that she has examined the timedrive, and tells Kate that it won't be easy, but that with her gifts restored, she should be able to scan its inhabitants for the Five. 'But I sense you're still a “no” on the Marauders' Kate asks. 'More like... not yet' Cerebra responds as they walk away from the New Marauder, docked in Hellfire Bay.
Elsewhere: 'A town called “Captain America”?' Carl Valentino a.k.a. Somnus asks as he stands before a billboard in Nebraska, welcoming people to the town. His Marauders teammates Jeanne-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora, Kwannon a.k.a. Psylocke and Akihiro a.k.a. Fang stand nearby. 'American subtelty, Somnus. You'll catch up' Aurora remarks. 'Subtle, right. Like the power militia about to be gutted on Main Street' Fang suggests. Kwannon reminds him that the Watchdogs occupied this town in the name of the “real” Captain America. 'A mutant engaged them. But his...enthusiasm threatens the people as much as the -' Kwannon begins, before one of the Watchdogs rides towards the Marauders on a motorcycle. 'This's Watchdog's land! Go home, muties!' the terrorist calls out. 'Dog' Somnus remarks as he steps in front of the motorcycle, then leaps up at the Watchdog, punching them in the face. 'Nice job!' Fang calls out. Somnus reminds him that he taught it to him in the sixties. 'That was a hell of a day' Somnus adds. Suddenly, there is a loud booming noise, and Aurora wonders if they are too late.
Nearby, on Main Street: 'This meatcastle's one of us?' one of the Marauders asks as they see a large gray-skinned mutant tearing up mainstreet, tossing Watchdogs about with ease, while civilians run in fear. 'COME AT ME, FASCISTS!' Horsepower roars. Kwannon prepares a psychic arrow as she tells her teammates that Horsepower was born Tulkas, and that he is an adrenokinetic, and a drifter. His body burns superadrenaline in many ways – youth, regeneration, strength, but he still gets it the traditional way, through thrills – and he won't stop. Aurora reports that Horsepower is a star on social media – he hunts down terror cells, he needs the rush – but he is trying to help. 'Trying' Kwannon mutters, worried that Horsepower will level the town. She suggests that the Watchdogs are easy enough, and fires her psychic arrows at the Watchdogs, rendering them unconscious, but she knows Tulkas would burn through them instantly.
When the Watchdogs fall, Horsepower turns: 'Krakoans!' he shouts. 'I wasn't finished!' Fang leaps towards Horsepower: 'Management says otherwise, big man' Fang calls out, claws at the ready, while Kwannon telepathically instructs Aurora to begin clean-up and check for medical emergencies. 'In a blink' Aurora responds. 'You talk cute, man bun! Hit cuter!' Horsepower yells at Fang, who breaks one of his claws against Horsepower's hulking body. 'Just let me know when you're ready to fight, kid' Horsepower adds. Kwannon turns to Somnus, who stands over the Watchdogs, and suggests a nightmare to hold this trash until the national guard arrives. 'On it. But shouldn't we be helping Aki?' Somnus responds. Kwannon tells him that the Watchdogs are neutralized and the town is secure, while Fang can handle Tulkas until he burns out, and they can both sleep it off back on Krakoa. 'How about I nail that mouth shut permanently, jackass?' Fang growls as he shoves his broken claw through Horsepower's mouth. But Horsepower pulls the blade out and tells Fang to quit with the foreplay.
Back on Krakoa, at the Red Keep in Hellfire Bay, where Lucas Bishop is placing some supplies into a bag, and a scantily-clad Christian Frost waters the strange mutant tree, Gregor Smerdyakov. Bishop notes that Smerdyakov seems happy – or at least as happy as a mutant tree could be. 'Yes, well, I'm not much of a gardener...but there's vodka in this hose' Christian comments. 'Hellfire Trading's been good to the Red Monach. Nice fit, by the way' Bishop responds. Christian tells Bishop that when it comes to exposing oneself, a Frost has to keep up. 'Born for the work, Christian... and thanks for the restock'
Later, Bishop is with Cerebra, who remarks 'Look at us. Castoffs from two different futures rescuing escapees from the past'. Bishop tells Cerebra to join his drinkup with Cable and Rachel, as they bet on when apples will go extinct. 'What's an apple?' Cerebra asks, before she tells Bishop that she has a bet, and that Psylocke says there is one mutant in the timedrive. 'I bet three. The genetic data here is beyond old. And degraded. But I do feel them inside. Faint. Fractured. Your boost fruit's helping' Cerebra remarks as she holds the timedrive in her hands and looks at it closely. Suddenly: 'There. Genetic and psychometric scan complete' Cerebra announces, asking Bishop to summon the Five, as resurrection calls.
At that moment, in the Arbor Magna, a naked male emerges from one of the resurrection eggs. '...it worked!' Fang exclaims. 'How could Cerebra miss this? She should be celebrated' someone asks. 'Told me she didn't need a reminder of popping out of an egg so soon' Aurora remarks. 'Or perhaps to admit I was right. For all her bespoke gifts with the mutant genome...she was wrong. The timedrive held one Thresholder, not three' Psylocke smiles, to which Aurora tells her teammate not to gloat, as she is in danger of beginning to sound like her brother, Northstar. Somnus, Fang, Kate Pryde, Bishop and Heather Tucker a.k.a. Tempo stand nearby. Suddenly, there is another cracking noise, and Psylocke realizes that she might be wrong, as the show isn't over yet, and two more mutants emerge from other eggs.
There is a crackle of energy, and the Thresholders appear clothed, in exotic costumes, while Psylocke look on, shocked that she was wrong about the number of mutants within the timedrive. 'Don't worry, I won't tell Cerebra' Fang grins. 'No point lying to a telepath... I definitely will!' Aurora jokes. Cassandra Nova suddenly appears alongside the other Marauders and exclaims 'How wonderful! Three time-lost urchins in one!' 'Three time-lost people you won't touch. Captain's perogative, Cassandra!' Kate Pryde snaps. Kate then approaches the Thresholders and introduces herself and the Marauders, before informing the Thresholders that this is Krakoa, their home and somewhere all mutants are safe.
'These sounds. They're horrible...' gasps the muscular male. The regal woman of the group turns to the slender male and calls him Amass and points out that it appears those standing before them lack viral translators. 'I believe this is their language' she adds, before wondering if this is the past or the future. 'Have we made it?' she asks. Kate tells the Thresholders that they did make it, but that they died in transit, so they have been resurrected. 'Death doesn't stop us anymore. It's been a long time since Threshold...but you're safe and you're among your kind...' Kate adds, suggesting that the Thresholders take it slow. 'What's a mutant? Hell, Amass... what's a Katherine?' the muscular male asks. Amass calls the other one Crave and tells him that a Katherine is in charge. 'As for mutants, they're compatible. I feel it. They're enriched, like us' he explains. The woman closes her eyes and utters 'Everything... it's all different. The base technology. The culture. It's been rebuilt. Or evolved again. That's how long we've been gone'.
'Tell me, Katherine... how well can you imagine the unknown?' the woman asks. She states that for all their power, Threshold was terminally ill, and that escape was their only hope – not where, but when, and as their world burned, they gathered the final three. 'Me. Theia. Whose mastery of local gravity could pierce time' the woman utters, introducing herself. She remarks that Crave is a hedonist who can consume anything to survive, and explains that Amass is a provocateur who is able to combine them into a unified being, and together, they were a living time capsule. She reveals that they launched knowing they would only be received when and if a future society became advanced enough to catch them. 'And now, across time inconceivable... Krakoa has. We thank you' Theia adds, before asking 'But after so long, how do you know of Threshold at all?' Bishop glances at Cassandra and instructs her to send the Thresholders the report, front of mind – nothing else.
And shortly, the Thresholders look on in shock: 'The “Shi'ar”? So the void birds finally built their empire?' Crave asks, before Amass queries how long they were kept in stasis for. Tempo crouches next to the Thresholders as she informs them they have been gone for two billion years – enough time for humans to evolve. She introduces herself and explains that she has lost time herself. 'And I'm so sorry' she utters.
The Marauders are linked telepathically, and Aurora projects here thoughts, stating that she knows what the Chronicle said, but that she thinks this is unbelievable, and suggests that they could be Kin Crimson agents. She proposes that Cassandra Nova could have set this up, and that a chronokinetic could have faked Pryde's puzzle box. Fang wonders how there could be no evidence that Threshold existed – and how there could be mutants before humans ever existed. 'That's it's own question' Bishop comments, adding that everything turns to sand in time. 'Figure this...the Oxygenation Catastrophe, a deadly extinction event so deep in Earth's past we can hardly comprehend it. Different land. Different air. Shorter day. Basically, a different planet'. Bishop suggests that time on that scale could've easily erased Threshold's remains, while Kwannon reports that the Thresholders show no signs of deception – visual, psychic or otherwise. 'And if they do? We kill them and reassess' Fang exclaims – but Bishop states that when he came here, the X-Men welcomed him – and these three deserve no different.
'You have a warm face, Tempo. Expressions are a clear language. On Threshold...a viral linguistic medium ensures all are understood' Theia tells Tempo. 'You turned a virus into a universal translator? Amazing' Tempo utters. 'Not so wondrous as your resurrection. We could never solve for death' Theia replies. 'Maybe not. But we're here! We didn't beat death. We cheated it!' Amass smiles. 'So... you eat things?' Somnus asks, smiling at Crave. 'Whatever pleases me. As often as possible' Crave responds, while Daken frowns. 'Forgive my friends. They were chosen for their skill, not maturity' Theia remarks, before deciding that a trust offering is needed, and asks if she can share more of their loss. 'Through our pain, perhaps... our world could become more real'.
(Flashback images, narrated in the present)
Theia tells her companions that Threshold was a nation of mutants, as they call them, or “Enriched” as they were known to the Thresholders. Prone to wonder, slow to anger and quick to defend, such as when they repelled the first invasion from the void, the avian barbarians known as the Shi'ar. That victory sparked Threshold's climb towards its peak, and advancement came in increasing waves, born of that double helix that once adorned their heroes, the same miracle that brought Thresholders their gifts. The next of them to crawl from the birthing sea were celebrants and builders, each generation a family, spawned every twenty years and raised by all. The Thresholders were comfortable in their strength, they battled internal threats – hardship with biomachines and disease with smart medicines. Discord with viral communication – and with it came reform
Their governance was reborn as two houses – one called equally from each generation of Enriched – mutants. The other house was drawn from the Enshrined – humans. The Enshrined were a vast minority, cherished for their perspective, born with no gifts, their wisdom checked Threshold's ever growing power. And as such, every generation spawned entered a better world than what was – and this was Threshold's Age of Light. Until, from the darkness, the Unbreathing struck. Rivals of the Thresholders, an industrial anaerobic society desperate for expansion. This race was devastated by the first oxygen war, and so they lay dormant for ages, before resurfacing with even deadlier tactics. They attacked with choke staffs, night weapons and skyblazers. Theirs was a guerrilla turf war against any who breathed air. They had no choice, oxygen poisoned them – life for Threshold meant death for the Unbreathing.
But it took only a taste of war to turn the Thresholders' pride into poison, and fear of the unbreathing drove them to cruel places. Hybrid bacteria to infiltrate the Unbreathing's cities beneath the waves. Unfortunately, the strains were too smart and became self-aware. Out of hate, the Thresholders had created monsters and paid the price. The bacteria turned on them – and then on each other, fighting their own way with their own infected bodies. The few who could hold off infection were led by Grove. But seeing no cure on the horizon, they turned to escape. Grove chose Theia, Amass and Crave to strike out into the unknown for help – and if no help could be found, to preserve their history. And so, as their Age of Light drowned in blood, as friend ate friend and lover slaughtered lover, they fled.
To your arms, it sees. Where Tempo caught us' Theia concludes her take. 'I did? I mean, I did. I mean, we all did our part' Tempo stammers, blushing as she looks at Theia, while Kate frowns. 'You certainly have. Without your gifts, we'd still be lost...neither then or now' Theia remarks, while Tempo continues to smile. 'We finally reach the future and already Theia's stealing my girl!' Amass exclaims. 'That's a woman, Amass. And trust me, you never had a chance' Aurora smiles. 'You might have been lost to the Shi'ar, Theia. But not to Krakoa' Kate remarks. Crave helps Theia stand up and suggests that it does seem their faith in the future was well placed. 'But for us, moments ago... our home was burning. This isn't easy, even if it's what we wanted' he points out. 'Not easy. And more so not over...we came for aid. Will Krakoa answer?' Theia asks. 'We'll help. No question' Kate Pryde responds quickly.
The Marauders are still linked telepathically, and Bishop asks 'Saving them's one thing, Cap. But a whole society?' He points out that Threshold's history, and asks what saving it will do to what is to come. 'Time travel details. That's what I've got for you. We'll figure it out. We always do' Kate replies. 'Telepathic gossip, Captain! Show some respect!' Cassandra Nova exclaims. 'If no one else will tell these lost children the truth, then I'll - ' Cassandra begins, but Kate spins around and snaos: 'Not now, Nova. Not today!'
Kate then turns to Theia, Crave and Amass and tells them that they can't imagine what they have lost, but that Krakoa doesn't accept no-win scenarios, and doesn't turn it back on its family. 'The Marauders will do everything we can for Threshold -' Kate starts to say, before Cassandra interrupts her, asking 'And just how much could we do as corpses, Sprite?' addressing Kate by one of her old codenames. 'She's throwing us to the wolves!' Cassandra declares, asking if she is the only one who sees it. Bishop grabs Nova and tells her to step back. 'The whole crew was thinking it, Mister Bishop. I view personal boundaries as a dare. I see it again falls to me to say what won't be said and save us all from our wise captain!' Cassandra utters. 'I'll phase your heart out, I swear!' Kate snaps at Cassandra. 'I believe Charles left it in our mother' Cassandra jokes as Kate's hand phases through her chest.
'Now, where was I?' Cassandra asks, as she turns to the Threshold Three, and tells them that all that talk of wet death – words couldn't suffice, and she needed to steal a look. 'A smoked-meat homunculus like you has no place mocking our pain!' Amass exclaims, pointing a finger at the old woman. 'Pipe down, sticky child. Crew before country, after all' Cassandra tells him, remarking that Sprite is about to volunteer her crew for demise. 'She – she is?' Somnus asks, wide-eyed, while the others look on, concerned. Cassandra reveals that she has witnessed Threshold's bacterial weapons, and as such feels she is compelled to speak out against their low-density leader. 'Naivete is Sprite's true super-power. Following her, we brave eight... would face monsters that once conquered the globe. Or will.'
Cassandra declares that in their future – her past – she knows them all too well. 'Sibling bacteria...Arkea and Sublime!' she grins wickedly.
Aurora, Bishop, Fang VI, Kwannon, Cassandra Nova, Kate Pryde, Somnus, Tempo (all Marauders)
Amass, Crave, Theia (all Thresholders)
(in illustrative flashbacks)
Amass, Crave, Grove, Theia (all Thresholders)
(in illustrative image)
Stringfellow was a member of the original X-Corporation, serving as Sunspot's bodyguard in the Los Angeles branch. He has previously only appeared in X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #35.
Cerebra from the (other) 2099 reality arrived in the present day in Marauders vol 2 #5.
The town of Captain America, Nebraska, was previously known as Burlington, and changed its name in Captain America (1st series) #695.
The Watchdogs are an extreme right-wing terrorist organization, who most notably murdered John Walker's parents when his identity as the new Captain America was exposed in Captain America (1st series) #345. They have most recently appeared in Captain America (9th series) #27-30.
Somnus and Daken's eventful day together was chronicled in Marvel Voices Pride (1st series) #1.
First appearance of Horsepower.
This issue includes a transcript of a private discussion between Kate Pryde and Doctor Nemesis in which they discuss Cerebra. The transcript notes that Forget-Me-Not attended as stenographer.
Gregor Smerdyakov is Russian mutant who evolved into a tree-like form in District X #12. He has previously appeared in District X #1, 8, 12 and Mutopia X #1, 5.
The origin of the Thresholders was chronicled in Marauders (2nd series) #4.