The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix #2: Unnatural Selection

In the sewers, Scott is being attacked by the “freaks” who dwell there, thinking he is one of the Marauders. Scott resists using his powers but only once to demonstrate the “fire in his eyes”, scaring the crowd away and at the same time getting a picture of the place he is in. He reaches out to Jean telepathically, but he is too weak for Jean to maintain their psychic connection.

Jean senses Scott is in some sort of trouble and leaves the church to go in search for him. In the streets, she encounters Sanctity, the “last of the Askani Sisterhood burdened with guarding the timeline”. In a few time-frozen minutes, Sanctity explains that Jean and Scott have forty-eight hours to find Nathaniel Essex and stop the rise of Apocalypse. Otherwise, by the time she is born into the world, the world would have been ruled by Apocalypse for at least a century.

Back in the Milbury House, Rebecca pleads with her husband to give up the madness that is his work for the sake of her and their unborn child. His experiments on their own late son was “evil, wicked and insane”.

Rebecca: “At first your work was for the benefit of mankind. Now mankind and even your own family is there for the benefit of your work! No amount of genius gives you the right to play God!”

Rebecca leaves the room when Nathaniel hesitates to give her his word. En Sabah Nur watches quietly, then approaches Nathaniel and convinces him to show him his work. Nathaniel’s conscience prods him to go after Rebecca, but there is “something in this stranger’s eyes. An intensity...A power. Hidden knowledge”. Nathaniel tells Nur of his theory of mutation, unaware that Nur is the first born mutant. Nur wishes to seize control of this age of ‘pre-mutants’, so he will be in turn able to control the first and subsequent waves of mutants.

In the highest point of Westminster Abbey, Jean reaches out to Scott with her telepathy, relaying Sanctity's words and instructions to him. Scott tells Jean to carry on with following Sanctity's lead, while he intends to investigate the sewers further, with a suspicion "it wasn't a complete fluke that [he] ended up in this hole".

Jean makes her way to the Milbury House. Walking through the cemetery, she encounters Rebecca laying the body of her dead son, Adam, rightfully to rest in his coffin. Jean inquires of Nathaniel Essex as he holds the answers to “a matter of vital importance” that she has been sent for. Rebecca advises Jean against her intentions but Jean explains she needs to know why she has been sent to this time. Jean finds the dumb boy Daniel, and through his mind, she finds out that Nathaniel Essex has gone to the Hellfire Club.

Meanwhile, Scott tries to rally the “freaks”, seeking their help and offering them freedom from their hold in return. A few Marauders come by to investigate the commotion. Scott gets shot in the arm with a lead bullet. Through their rapport, Jean feels his pain. Scott reassures her he can handle the situation. Jean tells him she’s got a lead that Nathaniel Essex is at the Hellfire Club. Seeing Scott handicapped and outnumbered, the “freaks” strike back at the Marauders, leaving the latter fleeing for their lives. A fallen Oscar Stamp is left behind. Scott demands Oscar to take him to the Hellfire Club.

At the Hellfire Club, Nathaniel Essex and Nur are dismissed as mad men. Enraged, Nur transforms into Apocalypse right before their very eyes, proving that Nathaniel Essex’s theory is indeed certifiable. Apocalypse threatens to kill the arrogant, complacent and bullying gentlemen of the Hellfire Club unless they serve him.

At a nearby embankment, the lovers are reunited. But they are soon interrupted by men fleeing from the house beyond. Oscar alerts the couple about the demonic foreigner. They make the connection that he is Apocalypse, and his accomplice, Nathaniel Essex, must be (or will become) Sinister. Scott wonders if they were sent here to prevent Apocalypse from becoming Sinister.

Suddenly, Scott and Jean are attacked by Marauders, enhanced by Apocalypse. A shocked Nathaniel Essex witnesses the revelation that Scott and Jean are mutants, who shouldn’t “be born for another century or so”.

Scott directs his attack at Apocalypse, but is taken down quickly. Jean comes to his aid, but is knocked unconscious and left to drown in the river by a Marauder. Instead of killing Scott, Apocalypse tempts Nathaniel Essex to take Scott as a “living specimen that [he] can dissect”, on the condition that he pledges his loyalty to Apocalypse. Apocalypse disappears, giving Nathaniel till sunset to make his choice. Nathaniel contemplates the idea of longevity to pursue his work to the limit, when he hears Jean’s cries from the river. He rescues her promptly.

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