In this reality where Charles Xavier had never formed the X-Men, brothers Scott and Alex Summers were taken under the wing of Mr Sinister. They have trained and risen to the rank of prelates in the Ascension troops, but now, Scott has begun to tire serving Apocalypse’s cause.
Scott: (Thoughts.) I look into my brother’s eyes and all I see is hatred and resentment. And when I stare into the faces of the prisoners, I see only fear. Why am I surprised? I’m the monster to them -- The embodiment of their pain and misery. I was proud to be a soldier of the Ascension -- I believed in the superiority of homo sapiens superior -- But now I see no strength in this institutionalised cruelty -- No virtue in the oppression of the weak and infirm. I’ve risked freeing the few prisoners who might make it north -- But there are so many.
Meanwhile, the “mutant rebel” Jean Grey has returned to Sinister’s lair in New York. The Human High Council was prepared to “nuke New York to take out Apocalypse”, but she wanted to try to convince Sinister “to help [them] stop Apocalypse before it was too late for everyone”. She had left her lover, Wolverine, to try to free the slaves from the pens.
She takes out the guard and uses her telekinesis to “animate his body so that [she]’ll appear to be his prisoner”. Inside, she resists the telepathic assault of the Black Tower’s disembodied telepaths. Leaving the guard behind, Jean searches deeper, and is attacked by a wolf with a “decidedly human” psyche. She is then ambushed by Alex and captured. Alex has plans to reveal his brother, Scott, is a traitor, and assume Scott’s position as ranking prelate. Alex had always been jealous of Scott’s preferential treatment given by Sinister.
Alex calls Scott to McCoy’s lab to show Scott the captive Jean Grey. Three years ago, Scott first encountered Jean while battling Magneto’s X-Men. He had her captured. Sinister found great potential in her genetic material, and offered Jean “Alpha Elite” status, to which she resisted. Scott fell in love with Jean, and was planning to help her escape when Wolverine came to free her. The fight cost Scott an eye.
While Alex exposes Scott for the traitor that he is, Jean tries to play along to help cover up for Scott of her own accord. But when Alex orders Jean’s execution, Scott is opposed to his brother's decision, revealing himself to be a traitor. Scott is swiftly taken out by Samuel and Elisabeth Guthrie and placed in the pens with Jean at McCoy’s disposal to create new mutant hybrids.
Jean uses her telekinesis to remove Scott’s visor so he can blast McCoy and free themselves.
Jean: “I know that you once tried to help me, but have you really been helping other prisoners escape this pit?”
Jean: “In my heart, somehow I knew you would.”
Scott: “Your willingness to stand up to Apocalypse made me wonder why I followed him blindly. This place began to make less and less sense, after that.”
Jean: “Funny. I can’t deep read people, but when I first saw you -- I felt something...different about you...I came here looking for help, and I think I’ve found it.”
Scott: “You’re asking me to openly rebel against Apocalypse? I made that choice the moment I met you.”
Jean urges Scott to help her “liberate the pens” before the Human High Council destroys New York city.
Next: Factor X #4