Part 10 – The N’Garai Connection
After Belasco’s departure from Limbo, Illyana Rasputin, who came to be known by the nom de guerre of Magik, became its master. Eventually, however, Magik came to believe that the price of maintaining that status quo was darkening her soul, so she relinquished her throne. The mantle of mastery of the realm fell to the next most powerful entity in Limbo, Belasco’s old servant, S’ym. Wasting little time, S’ym, along with his own servant, N’astirh, proceeded with a plan that nearly opened a permanent portal between Earth and Limbo. This event was called Inferno. Although he had been thwarted, S’ym still plotted to try again.
When S’ym next set in motion a second attempt to create a worldwide Inferno, it was Belasco who rose to thwart him. It seemed that Belasco had no interest in S’ym succeeding where he, his master, had failed. While he had not participated in the Inferno, Belasco had evidently followed the events closely, as he knew the only way to stop his former servant lay in the first demonic invasion. In the middle of the Florida Everglades, Belasco encountered and recruited the time-traveling mutant called Cable and his romantic interest, Lee Forrester. Teleporting them deeper into the swamp, the demonic sorcerer showed them a threat to their reality, which threatened him, in turn. [Cable (2nd series) #14-15]
Belasco explained to Cable that this was the Nexus of All Realities, a natural phenomenon which inexplicably existed in the middle of the Everglades. He also told of S’ym’s rise to power in Limbo and how he was planning to use this expanding tear in reality to link Limbo and Earth once more. Taking this in, Cable asked why Belasco claimed that only he could stop it. He was given a shock: it had been because Cable’s mother and her death. Prior to the original Inferno, Cable’s mother, Madelyne Pryor-Summers, had been corrupted by S’ym and transformed into the Goblin Queen. As the Goblin Queen, Madelyne had attempted to sacrifice the infant Cable in order to permanently link the two dimensions. Madelyne had failed and the infant Cable had survived. Now, thanks to that history, along with his symbolic link between magic and science (a trait he shared with the Nexus itself), Cable was uniquely qualified to end the coming invasion.
Cable remained distrustful of Belasco and his motives but decided that he had little choice. Shortly thereafter, just as Belasco had predicted, the current master of Limbo arrived, S’ym himself. Acting quickly, Belasco attempted to deal with his former servant himself, but found himself no match for the much stronger former servant. Cable, however, was unimpressed by S’ym’s might and easily trounced the demon. After being laid low, S’ym disappeared into smoke, apparently at the command of the smiling Belasco, who congratulated Cable for serving his purpose. When the cyborg commanded that Belasco keep his end of the bargain and close the portal, the dark sorcerer acted most strangely; he complied. With the task completed and their business concluded, Belasco inexplicably teleported away, leaving the pair alone in the swamp.
Despite his temporary foray into altruism, world domination was still of great interest to Belasco. To this end, Belasco turned his attention back to the island that still floated in the Bermuda Triangle, which once was called home by Magneto and, later, the X-Men. It was also where Belasco had first encountered the band of mutants. Investigating through the ancient ruins, Belasco came across a green crystal of great mystical power. He discovered that, by focusing his power through a small shard of the crystal, he would have access to great power. In further investigation of the island, Belasco discovered an ancient cairn, one of many that acted as a dimensional gateway, which led to the demon N’Garai.
After recruiting the undead pirate called Bloodscream, Belasco concocted a daring plan. He enlisted his newest partner to gather wrecks of the area and man them to sailors from passing ships by way of his undead touch. Once they had enough ships, all fully manned, the pair would travel into the realm of the N’Garai. While Bloodscream, who longed to return to his pre-cursed human form, believed that their ultimate goal was to prevent the N’Garai from ever conquering Earth, Belasco intended something different. He intended to enslave the N’Garai and return with an army of demon warriors who would help him conquer the Earth for him. The subjugation of the N’Garai would be easy, he believed, as the crystal’s mystic might would be magnified a thousand-fold in their realm. Over a period of month, Bloodscream complied as instructed, amassing a small armada. All seemed to be proceeding as Belasco planned.
Unfortunately for Belasco, the disappearance of so many ships had not gone unnoticed by the captain of the Arcadia, Lee Forrester, who called in her friends, the X-Men, to help. Jumping at the chance to help on old friend, Beast, Psylocke and Wolverine made their way Lee’s ship on the Gulf coast of Florida. After a short time at sea and an encounter with Bloodscream, the team came across the island, which seemed to float in a mystical bubble in the middle of the ocean. Immediately, Wolverine recognized the island and immediately recalled Belasco’s connection to it.
Despite this warning, the group was easily captured by the new might of the dark sorcerer. With his hated foes helpless, Belasco could not help but boast of his plan and showed them the cairn he had found on the island. With all pieces now in place, Belasco began to weave the mystic spell. So powerful were the magical forces at play that the island itself began to fall apart under their feet. Still, the spell continued, opening the doorway to the N’Garai dimension. Though the three X-Men managed to free themselves, nothing seemed to be able to stop Belasco from his latest plan.
At the cusp of success, victory was snatched from Belasco’s grasp once again by the sharp shooting of Lee Forester. With the island destroyed, Lee Forrester, on the deck of the floating Arcadia, fired her rifle at Belasco’s prism-gem, shattering it. With his link to the larger crystal destroyed, Belasco lost access to those arcane energies, his ability to conquer the N’Garai shattered along with it. Nearby, Bloodscream grew enraged by Belasco’s betrayal. During the weaving of the spell, Belasco’s boasts had alerted Bloodscream to the sorcerer’s intentions of returning to conquer Earth. Deciding that an end to Belasco was necessary, even if it meant his own destruction, Bloodscream wrestled with the sorcerer, dragging his former partner into the cairn and the N’Garai dimension. The portal closed behind the two, apparently ending the threat of Belasco forever.