We open with the Master Mold slamming down into the Bering Strait from the orbiting observatory where it had been defeated. It sinks like a stone… where it will surely just harmlessly remain, right? From here, we shift scenes over to the X-Factor Complex in Manhattan, where some of the younger folk (and Beast) have themselves a game of… I dunno, dodge ball? There’s a ball involved, but that’s really all we know. Anyhoo, Cyclops is preparing to head out to try and reconcile with his estranged wife, Maddie Pryor… and says his goodbyes.
We follow Scott as he enters a cab, intending to swing by the hospital to check in on Warren’s recovery after their Mutant Massacre run-in with the Marauders. During the ride, he thinks a lot about everything that’s happened of late… re: Maddie and Jean. This is a man who is familiar with the sensation of regret.
As luck would have it, Jean happens to peek out the window just in time to see Scott’s cab pulling away. She uses her TK to halt the rig, and heads into the parking lot to have a chat. She gives Scott a hug and kiss… and says she’s only here to say goodbye.
Once Scott’s on his way, Warren is visited by Cameron Hodge who reveals that Worthington Industries is being sued due to Angel not being completely forthcoming with his finances, re: his X-Factor holdings. Hodge pretty much tells him that he’s on his own here…
We return to Scott after he arrives back at his and Maddie’s place. He’s surprised to see that the house is up for sale. Scott can’t blame her for moving on with her life, but stews about how often he’s left alone all the same. He then worries about what baby Nathan will think about him as he gets older. Oh buddy, you just wait…
Scott tries to get inside his own home, only to find out that Maddie changed the locks. Lucky for him, he has something of a “master key” in the form of his optic blast. He proceeds to shoot the lock to gain access. In so doing, however… PINGS the Master Mold, stirring it back to sentience! And, we’re looking at this book today simply because of this single panel. Master Mold awakens… and makes the first-ever reference to the fabled Twelve! Ya see, old Double-M is here to stop them from… well, doing whatever it was they were supposed to do!
Inside the house, Scott finds diddly and squat. The whole joint is empty. He decides to head over to the “Anchorage Hilton”, which looks like it shares a building with Larry and Balki’s apartment. Hank calls him to check in, while the kiddos are still roughhousing. They destroy some furniture, which gives us the opportunity to chat up another obscure mutant… the young fella known as Ape! Ape has a close pal who shows up for a bit, but this other one’s got a pretty problematic name.
Back to the Master Mold — who has just risen from the, assumedly, cold waters of the Bering Strait. It takes chunks of material from an oil rig, and proceeds to rebuild itself. Oh, and apparently, this mechanical bugger is mentally “Steven Lang” now.
Later, we rejoin Scott as he checks in with the Real Estate Agent about his house being on the market. The associate he chats with claims to have spoken to a “man named Summers” on August 5th… which, just so happens to be the same day Scott left to join X-Factor. Our man gets a bit lippy, and so, the young lady sets off the silent alarm to have him dragged away.
Back to Master Mold… where the big bot tries out its hand blasters. Looks like they’re working just fine!
Next, Scott heads over to North Star Airlines, hoping to check in with his grandparents. Welp, they sold out… someone came in and made ’em an offuh dey couldn’t refuse… on August 5th! Whatta coinkidink! Oh, and what’s more… the new owner fired everybody else as well! Scott, once again gets (awkwardly) uppity (I mean, really dude – a cross-face chicken-wing)… and gets tossed.
After a stop at the bar, Scott gets an idea — he’ll head to the Anchorage Hospital where his son was born and try to dig up the records. After breaking in and scouring the files, however, he’s still got bupkis. Worth noting, he had to use his optic blast to break into the filing cabinet… which, once again, pinged the Master Mold. Ya see, Scott — is one of The Twelve!
Next stop for Scott is the public library, where he checks out the ol’ microfiche doohickey looking for records of Maddie’s crash back on September 1st of whatever year that was. If you recall, everybody in that crash perished… except Maddie, who walked away without a scratch. He once again… finds nothing. It’s as though she never existed in the first place!
Flippin’ through the fiche, Scott happens across the news item for another crash on the same day… one in Jamaica Bay. One that resulted in an apparent death of one redhead. Scott digs into the retcon a bit more, and deduces that – hey, if the Phoenix Force could’ve tricked everyone into thinking it was really Jean – could it also have manifested Madeline Pryor into the world? Scott freaks out at the notion, and rushes back to the house.
There, he’s met by… Maddie and Nate! But, he knows better. He calls them fake, and blasts away at them. Maddie, smiling, doesn’t deny anything – but mentions how convenient it must be for Scott for her to enter his life upon Jean’s “death” – and for she and baby Nathan to vanish into thin air upon her return.
She then shape-shifts from Madeline… to the Phoenix… to Jean… to Dark Phoenix, all the while taunting Scott with her fakeness. Scott blasts her again, this time taking out a radiator in the corner of the room. This is a radiator that Nathan would always lose his rattle behind, and – check it out, his rattle is right there! Maddie and Nate do exist.
We wrap up with a pair of epilogues. First, a body of a redhead is found, facedown in the drink. The police officers wonder if this might be the same woman that weirdo with the shiny red specs was asking about.
The second, is the Master Mold… getting ever closer to his target. Mister One-Twelfth himself: Cyclops!