First Story :
This is a reprint of X-Men (1st series) #125.
Isolating himself from the myriad beings that inhabit Throneworld, Charles Xavier is locked into a game of 3-D chess, by himself. He is thinking over twenty moves ahead and concentrates hard to master the rules and skills involved. A large, pink being appears with his son and asks Charles if he can play a game with his boy. Charles coldly replies that he thinks not; he plays alone. The father ushers away his son, Skemp, saying that it’s getting a little chilly. How rude, he tells his son. Charles is just a human, and a consort at that.
Charles can’t tolerate much more of this. Throneworld has representatives from all the most advanced races, all of superior intelligence. To them, humans are placed at the low end of the intelligence scale. He swipes the chess pieces from the board in frustration. They don’t even give us a chance, he thinks. He uses his hoverchair to maneuver his way around and he heads off to find Lilandra. He feels that, on Earth, he is one of the most brilliant men on the planet. There, he is isolated by that brilliance. On Throneworld, he finds himself considered the village idiot and he is alone there too. If that weren’t enough, he is seen as nothing more than a mere plaything to the Empress. He is humiliated.
Lilandra is holding court in the strategy room. Around the table sit members of her council, beings of all shapes and sizes. They are discussing whether to impose economic sanctions on Remy-World, to try and deter violence that has erupted there. The council is split. Charles interrupts Lilandra as she speaks and says hello to the members. He suggests that the race in question be left alone to sort out their own fate. The members look at him in stony silence.
Lilandra asks them to excuse her for a moment and she leads Charles away from the table. She suggests that she leaves the governing matters to her. Charles sternly mentions that everyone treats him like an idiot; even her. Lilandra replies that maybe it’s because he’s beginning to act like one. She tries to comfort him by adding that the races here are amongst the most enlightened in the universe; much more advanced than humans. As a representative of the human race, shouldn’t he be trying to show them what is special and wonderful about humans? She says he should try at least. After all, intelligence comes in strange forms.
As they talk, a tall green woman named Chakra walks past, twirling a spanner in her hand. Lilandra ask her where she’s off to and Chakra replies that she’s off to fix the spigot at the end of the desert. It’s leaking again. She’ll either fix it or rassle it to death. Lilandra introduces her to Charles. She tells him that Chakra is Throneworld’s plumber. She fixes things.
Chakra says howdy and asks Charles if he fancies coming along. It’s nice out there in the desert. Lilandra suggests he take Chakra up on her offer. It will do him good. “Trust me.”
Later, out in the desert, Chakra sprints across the rocky ground, her tool belt swinging around her waist. Charles follows in his hover chair, still not looking like he’s enjoying himself. Chakra tries to break the ice by asking Charles if he wants to hear a dirty joke. It’s really dirty and he’ll love it. Charles replies by asking if she finds it humiliating to be the plumber among such advanced races. Chakra thinks that’s a hoot. If she didn’t fix their plumbing, the eggheads would be helpless. She laughs as she revels in the outdoor environment.
She begins to run out of air and uses an oxygen cylinder to replenish her lungs. Charles does likewise, as Chakra informs him that you need a little extra out in the desert or your lungs collapse. As he breathes in, she says, “Oops, you know, I forgot to fill the tanks!” Charles replies that they’ll have to turn back, but Chakra suddenly points out a meteor shower. They make her faint. She runs towards the shower and Charles calls her back, asking her not to be so foolish. Chakra responds by telling him that, if she passes out, he should slap her. She wants to be right under the shower.
Charles tells her they’ll die, but Chakra ignores him. She says that the showers are amazing. They make her tingle, and rush, and shudder all over. Charles insists they turn back, but Chakra spots her spigot in the distance. They reach it and Charles huffs and puffs, afraid of passing out himself. Chakra leans on the spigot and asks him to shush and save his air. “Relax! Why don’t you just… look up.” Charles doesn’t want to look up but, as his protestations emerge from his mouth, he raises his eyes skywards and is lost for words. It’s the most beautiful thing he’s seen for a long time.
Chakra bends down and Charles looks at her. He still can’t form a sentence and Chakra says it was indescribable. She tells Charles that she’d forgotten that the spigot had an oxygen hose. She hooks him up and his lungs feel the rush of fresh oxygen. Chakra sits, and Charles asks just who she is. She’s not just a plumber. “Who are you?” she retorts, “You’re not just the Empress’s consort.”
Charles asks why she pretends to be stupid; acting like a common plumber when, actually, she is very wise. Chakra replies that she is a plumber, and very proud of the fact. She’s essential. She fixes the planet’s inner workings. She fixes the guts of all things and makes it flow. Why is that so stupid? she asks. What is stupidity? Is stupidity wanting to see a star shower? Is intelligence knowing when you’re running out of air? She smiles, before sprinting off back towards civilization. She adds that, maybe, intelligence is accepting what you are, wherever and whoever you are, with as much grace and bounce as possible. She laughs as she skips over the ground.
Soon, Charles comes across Skemp again and asks, “How about that game of chess. Do you want to play?” Skemp sure does and, as they head for a table, his father thinks that perhaps there’s more to the human race than they thought. As Charles and Skemp play, Lilandra interrupts them for a kiss. Charles strokes her face and asks just who was that girl? “Why she’s the plumber,” Lilandra replies, “she fixes things.”