The gleeful couple Thing and Ms. Marvel returns to the Four Freedoms Plaza, delighted to finally be home. Their teammates, Crystal and Human Torch, show no such excitement. It's been a tough trip, Johnny Storm says. Fortunately, the presence of the Fantastic Four's mailman Willie Lumpkin brings a smile to everyone's face. Having not seen the Thing in a while, Willie is astounded by his most recent transformation. Newspaper photos don't do his new, spikier form any justice. Why, Willie still remembers when Ben looked more like his companion, Ms. Marvel, only not as curvy. Before he leaves, Willie reminds Ben Grimm he is always available to join the Fantastic Four, should they need another member. He can wiggle his ears like the best of them! Sorry, Thing says, but they're trying to keep the number of members at four. Keep in touch, he adds! With all the mail the team has been receiving lately, keeping in touch should not be a problem, Willie says as he waves goodbye.
Robbie, the team's robot secretary, interrupts. In addition to the deluge of mail, they've also been getting flooded with phone calls. She presents Ben Grimm with a lengthy list of messages, noting how popular the team has become ever since he revamped it. Thing tells her to handle the calls herself; the team has to clean themselves up from their space travel and depart for the Negative Zone immediately. Good heavens, Robbie says! Last she heard, they were heading to the Mole Man's tunnels, not the furthest reaches of outer space!
"Well, we did," Thing explains, "an' then we found some teleportation warps between Moley's realm 'n some other places - a city run by a wizard named Belasco 'n a city run by kitties 'n a city on another planet! Well, I'll spare ya the details, but it all led ta a buncha mysterious aliens named the Beyonders who live in the Neg Zone! We just left a space guy whose race of Fortisquians wuz created by the Beyonders. He teleported us back ta the South Pole the same way he teleported us away... heck, it's complicated, but that's 'cause it's so big time - as big as anything the F.F.'s ever faced!" If that's the case, Robbie asks, why don't they call in Mister Fantastic? Thing tells her that won't be necessary.
Thing dismisses everyone to clean up. He and She-Thing part ways affectionately. Johnny notices this, mainly because contrasts with how he and Crystal have been acting toward one another.
Thing, climbing into the bathtub, considers just how lucky he is to have someone like Sharon Ventura. He knows how she feels, looking like she does; after all, he's felt the same way about himself for quite some time. However, now that both of them have grown accustomed to it, he can see the intrinsic beauty of her new form. For the first time in ages, he can think about a woman as a man would, and not as a freak, something he could never accomplish while dating Alicia Masters. He's almost thankful she married Johnny instead of him.
Sharon, the She-Thing, feels much the same way. She knows Ben loves her for who she is, because he loved her both in her beautiful, blonde bombshell form, and in her current, rocky form. They can both finally be themselves. In fact, now that Ben has her to love, Sharon thinks the problems created by Johnny and Alicia's marriage may finally be over.
Little does she know, Johnny plans on quitting the Fantastic Four once the team completes its mission in the Negative Zone. He cannot continue serving on a team with the beautiful Crystal while simultaneously struggling to hold his marriage together. He suspects the formerly jealous Ben knows this, even believing it to be the reason he put them on the same team. It has to end, Johnny thinks while taking a shower. He loves his wife. He needs to spend more time with her. Why can't it just be over with Crystal, he asks.
Why can't it be over with Johnny, Crystal asks. As she gets into the shower, she wonders if the only thing keeping them apart is her Inhuman family's strict adherence to the sanctity of marriage and consequent forbiddance of her divorcing her estranged husband, Quicksilver. Crystal certainly does not want to hurt Johnny's wife, Alicia, but her feelings for Johnny are hard to ignore.
While Crystal brushes her hair, her nanny brings in Luna, her daughter. The child is elated to see her mother. Maya, the nanny, suggests Crystal has been away too long, to which Crystal replies that her duty as royalty often requires her to attend to matters outside of her family life. However, this doesn't mean she loves Luna any less, and hopes Maya would remind the impressionable child of that fact as often as possible. Maya nods in approval; she meant nothing of it, and values the child's welfare above all. Crystal excuses herself to get dressed, and takes Luna with her.
After bathing, the team reconvenes in the hallway for a meeting. Right before they travel into Reed's locked laboratory once more, and right before Johnny can announce his retirement from the team, a flash of light penetrates the corridor, heralding the presence of Crystal's sister and brother-in-law, the Inhumans Medusa and Black Bolt. Johnny quickly identifies them as mere images. Medusa, speaking for Black Bolt as usual, informs Crystal her presence is required on the moon at once. Crystal, flabbergasted, tells her sister she cannot return; the team is about to embark on a mission. "It doesn't matter, little sister," Medusa says, "because your husband has returned to Attilan - ready to take you back!" She explains that Pietro Magnus, the superhero Quicksilver, has finally seen the error of his ways and wants another chance with Crystal.
Quicksilver, Medusa explains, temporarily lost his powers during a battle with the West Coast Avengers. Forced to take time off, he has had plenty of time to think, and has decided to forgive Crystal for her affair with the human, Norman Webster. Additionally, he has decided to abide by the rules and conventions of the Inhumans, the most important of which, according to Medusa, is their belief in the sanctity of family.
The enraged Crystal objects. She reminds her sister of Pietro's transgressions, most notable his abandonment of Crystal and Luna, and his murder attempts on both the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. It's not entirely Quicksilver's fault, Medusa says. She explains that Black Bolt's brother Maximus the Mad has been controlling Quicksilver for quite some time. Crystal doesn't believe it. She knows her husband, and knows he will say anything to save his own hide. She will never return to him. As far as Crystal sees it, their marriage is over.
Medusa reminds her sister the decision is not hers to make. Crystal might be a princess, but Black Bolt is king. If Crystal persists in her defiance, then Medusa tells her they will merely return in their physical forms and take her by force. Crystal shouts as the images of her relatives disappear. She knows they travel by teleportation, meaning they could arrive at any moment. She gives her daughter over to her nanny, Maya, and orders her to keep her safe. Turning to her teammates, she tells them to get ready; the Inhumans should arrive at any moment.
In another flash of light, Black Bolt and Medusa appear, now accompanied by Gorgon, Karnak, and Lockjaw, the teleporting Inhuman dog. Crystal is most surprised to see Lockjaw, her former pet, turning against her. Lockjaw knows the social order as well as any Inhuman, Medusa responds. She orders Crystal to come with them immediately, but the ever-obstinate Crystal lashes out with a fiery blast from her hand. The battle, as indicated by a silent gesture from Black Bolt, has begun.
Coincidentally, at that very moment in the Blue Area of the Moon, another battle begins as the High Evolutionary and his Purifiers arrive to claim the Terrigen Mists. The High Evolutionary wants the Mist for its mutagenic properties, and he intends to have it, even if the Inhumans stand in his way. He orders his Eliminators and Gatherers to storm Attilan while he watches from a distance. His solitude is interrupted, however, by an unexpected guest: Uatu the Watcher.
Uatu introduces himself. The High Evolutionary, however, already knows who he is, even mentioning he expected his eventual arrival. Uatu tells the High Evolutionary he has observed him for some time, but saw no reason to make his presence known. That changed once the High Evolutionary entered the Blue Area of the Moon, which used to be home only to Uatu before the Inhumans arrived. The High Evolutionary asks Uatu what he thinks of his recent machinations on Earth. The Watcher briefly recounts the activities he has observed: his attempted sterilization of the Subterraneans, his war against gene-altering drugs, his attempt to map the Silver Surfer's DNA, his efforts to depower dangerous mutants, and his attempt at eliminating New York City's criminal element. The High Evolutionary asks Uatu if he objects to his plans. "It is not for me to object or approve," Uatu says. "I just watch!" Good, the High Evolutionary says; he would hate to have to face Uatu in a fight, but he would if he had to. "I just watch!" Uatu says once more.
Unbeknownst to both beings, a third party observes their conversation from behind a nearby crag.
Not far off, the Purifiers penetrate the city of Attilan, cutting a violent swath to the Terrigen Mist. Despite the various powers possessed by the Inhumans, the Purifiers manage to overcome the city's inhabitants with their advanced machinery. The tide of battle fluctuates for some time, until the arrival of a new factor that turns it in favor of the Inhumans: Quicksilver. Even without his superhuman speed, he leads the charge against the Purifiers in the name of protecting the Mists. While his squad confronts the Purifiers head-on, another brigade moves around to attack from the back, flanking them.
Back on Earth, meanwhile, the Fantastic Four and the royal Inhumans begin to fight. She-Thing takes a swing at the nimble Karnak, who flips over her head, leaving her unprotected against a swift kick from Gorgon's hooves. She falls to the ground. Thing wants to help her, but cannot escape the grip of Lockjaw, who can't be made to let go. This will soon change, Thing says, now that his girlfriend is in jeopardy. Johnny vows to protect She-Thing just in case. He lassos Gorgon by the feet with a ring of fire.
With She-Thing pacified, Karnak leaps over to Crystal, who is busy encasing her sister Medusa in a block of ice. If anyone can find Crystalï¿½s weak point, it's Karnak. Crystal turns around and tells her cousin to leave her alone. She begins roasting his body, and he stops mid-motion as sweat drips off his face. Fortunately for him, Medusa, taking advantage of her sister's distraction, ensnares Crystal with her tentacle-like hair. Crystal loses her hold on Karnak. With a swift chop to the weak spot on her right shoulder, Karnak renders her unconscious.
This turn of events upsets Lockjaw. Despite coming to Earth to forcibly retrieve Crystal, he still loves her more than anything, and refuses to see her hurt. He teleports directly in front of Karnak, who carries the limp Inhuman princess in his arms, and snarls menacingly. She's only unconscious, Karnak shouts! However, he refuses to mess with the oversized dog. He sets Crystal down on the ground and backs away non-threateningly. Thing approaches and warns Lockjaw not to teleport away with Crystal. Medusa, however, tells the Fantastic Four leader he has no leverage with which to argue; his team has already lost. Human Torch, still fighting for Crystal's freedom, sees it differently. The battle isnï¿½t over until the Fantastic Four are all out cold, Johnny says! "And I never get cold," he adds, unless Black Bolt drains his energy with his antenna, which he happens to be doing at that very moment. Johnny's flames disappear, and he falls out of the air and into Black Bolt's arms.
Even with Johnny and Crystal down, the teams are still even, Thing says while binding Karnak with his powerful stone hands. The martial artist may use leverage to his considerable advantage, but with his movement completely restricted, he is powerless. Gorgon grows annoyed at the stalemate and begins smashing the floor with his hooves. If the Inhumans cannot win in a fair fight, he says, he will change that by smashing the entire building to rubble! She-Thing stops him with an uppercut before he can cause too much damage. Besides, Reed Richards built extra shock absorbers into the building after the last time Gorgon tried to crumble it to bits. Thing cheers her on as she prepares to pummel him senseless..
Suddenly, Black Bolt throws up his hands, seemingly indicating surrender. "About time!" Thing says to the Inhuman king. "Lissen, BB, nobody wants ta meddle in yer family affairs, but in the FF, people get ta make free choices, an' Crys's made hers ... an' that's gotta be the end of it!"
As usual, Medusa speaks for her husband. "Black Bolt says she may be a part of the Fantastic Four at this time, but she always was and will be an Inhuman!" She adds Black Bolt is not giving up; he has something else in mind.
Before she can say what, exactly, they are interrupted by the image of Fantomask, another Inhuman. She hates to interrupt their family dispute, but she must tell them of the invasion back home. Despite the heroic actions of Quicksilver, the rest of the Inhumans cannot seem to prevail in battle without the help of Medusa, Black Bolt, and company.
Ms. Marvel finds the phrase "heroic action of Quicksilver" to be quite shocking, but no one else seems to flinch. Wasting no time, the Inhumans decide to return to Attilan immediately, even if it means setting aside the conflict with Crystal temporarily.
Crystal, however, refuses to let them go alone. While she cannot agree with Black Bolt about her marital affairs, she refuses to sit idly by while invaders ravage her home. Johnny objects to her leaving, especially if it puts her in contact with Pietro again, but Ms. Marvel tells him to shut up. Crystal can do what she wants to do; isn't that what they've been fighting for? Despite their past differences, the Fantastic Four agree to help the Inhumans out, and after everyone grabs a hold of Lockjaw, the entire lot of them teleport to the Blue Area of the Moon.
The battle for Attilan is expectedly savage. While Uatu watches from afar, the Purifiers slaughter any Inhuman who gets in their way. The Fantastic Four each find something different about the scene surprising. Sharon is surprised to see Quicksilver fighting on the side of the Inhumans. Ben is surprised to see Uatu the Watcher in observance. Johnny is surprised to find the area of the moon has air, meaning he can actually use his Human Torch abilities. He is also surprised to find himself fighting alongside his nemesis, Quicksilver. "Of course, I can pretend each of these bozos is Quicksilver while I trash 'em," he says as he scorches one of the Purifiers.
Crystal, pummeling one of the Eliminators with a barrage of rocks, reminds Johnny to capture at least one of their foes alive. Quicksilver and Triton are suddenly hit by a blast from above. Medusa brings down the offending Purifier with her hair. Gorgon, meanwhile, kicks at the air so hard, he creates a shockwave with incapacitates another flying Purifier. He falls toward She-Thing, who waits in anticipation. "Hey Ben," she says as she prepares to throw her punch, "when we get done with this, and the Negative Zone, want to take in a Mets game?" She swings at the man, propelling him in Thing's direction. He hits him again, this time sending him flying directly into the trajectory of another Purifier.
The Purifier strike force finally recognizes the superior power of their opponents. They flee Attilan, and return to their master, the High Evolutionary, to report their failure. Disappointed, he locks eyes one last time with Uatu, then teleports his men back to Earth.
The Fantastic Four and the Inhumans arrive at the foot of Uatu's tower, just as the High Evolutionary and his men vanish. "Yo, Watcher! Where'd everybody go?" Thing asks the taciturn observer. He can't say; he only watches. Thing gets angry. He knows Uatu has the power to intervene and chastises him for doing nothing.
His rant is interrupted by another Watcher, one who claims to have the answers Ben seeks. The new Watcher, whom the Fantastic Four has never before seen, opens his mouth as if to speak, but Uatu, instantaneously appearing on the ground, holds up his hand in a gesture of silence. The new Watcher stares at him angrily for a moment. Uatu returns the glare. Finally, he turns back to the Fantastic Four, and speaks. "We just watch!" he says.
This angers Ben. "Don't be like that, Baldie!" he says. "Who's yer pal, an' what's he got ta say?" Uatu reiterates that he and his companion only watch, and since they face such unruly questioning, they will now watch from even farther a distance! The two Watchers vanish.
The Inhumans rejoice in their victory. Crystal immediately speaks up and tells everyone they may feel happy now, but with Quicksilver around, they will be sorry later! She knows him well enough to know he is up to something. She declares she will return to Earth with the Fantastic Four. Thing defends her decision. If the Inhumans think otherwise, the Fantastic Four will gladly fight them again, he says.
Black Bolt, gesturing with his index finger, asks Crystal to come closer. She does. He abruptly grabs her in his arms and carries her far up into the sky. Johnny shouts, but She-Thing assures him Black Bolt will do no harm to her.
She-Thing is right. Black Bolt merely carries his sister-in-law away to a section of the Blue Area of the Moon with little air, although Crystal doesn't initially understand why. Although she shouts at the top of her lungs, without sufficient air to transmit her sound waves, her voice barely reaches Black Bolt. Since he cannot speak at all, why did he bring her here, she asks? Black Bolt stares at her stoically for a moment. He then utters one word: "Stay." The resultant shockwave is devastating. It hits Crystal with the force of a small explosion, kicking up the rocky surface of the moon in the process. As she lands on her butt, she notes that utterance of Black Bolt's would have leveled a skyscraper back on Earth. No wonder he brought her here, she realizes; the drought of air made the effect as minimal as possible. Still, she had no idea he wanted her to stay so badly.
She stands up and dusts herself off. Through a series of simple gestures, Black Bolt indicates that he, and Crystal, and everyone on the moon, are family. He even writes the word "family" on the dusty surface of the moon. The heart-warming gestures only enrage Crystal, however. It doesn't matter if they're a family, she shouts! The Fantastic Four is also a family! She stops abruptly before she can finish that latter thought. Johnny Storm was about to leave the Fantastic Four because of her, she realizes. On Earth, she has considered only herself. In fact, she has only considered her own well-being in both her homes. As Crystal finally understands the selfishness of her behavior, she drops her shoulders. Her voice, however, remains firm. "All right!" she says. "I'll try to do what you want!"Black Bolt smiles in response.
He carries Crystal back to her teammates so she can deliver her news. She announces to Ben, Sharon, and Johnny that she intends to stay on the moon and repair the fractures in her family unit. Johnny objects at first, but after Crystal consoles him and urges him to stay on his team, he relents. However, he cannot believe he lost Crystal to Quicksilver yet again.
Ben, meanwhile, doesn't understand it. "Wimmin! Who can figger 'em?" he says, shaking his head. She-Thing slugs him in the shoulder. He asks what she did that for, but she turns away, and sheds a tear in private. She understands why Crystal made that particular decision, but she has never seen a woman do something so brave ... or sad ... in her entire life.
Quicksilver, Crystal, and the Inhumans watch as the remaining members of the Fantastic Four teleport back to Earth, courtesy of Lockjaw. "There goes the Fantastic Three, my darling -back to Earth!" Quicksilver says. With them gone, he turns to Crystal and grins. "Now you're all mine again!"
Crystal, however, doesn't understand why he would even want her back. Didn't he claim to despise her? Quicksilver reminds her that the villain Maximus the Mad had a mental hold on him and made him do and say all sorts of nasty things. Nothing he's done since subjecting Luna to the Terrigen Mists has truly been his fault, Quicksilver says. Crystal asks why she should believe that. If she wants to verify its veracity, she could ask Maximus the Mad, Quicksilver says. Of course, he is mad, though.
Nevertheless, Pietro tells his wife she does not need to believe his words. She can instead judge him by his actions. How did he get free of Maximus the Mad's control, Crystal asks? Quicksilver explains how a few days earlier, a woman claiming to be Dr. Henry Pym's former wife, Maria Trovaya Pym, invaded his mind and created a mental barrier that prevented him from accessing his super-powers. The mental block, while certainly annoying, did free him from the control of Maximus. Additionally, because Quicksilver was in Hungary, a country unfriendly to the Avengers, they had no authority to arrest him and had to set him free. He took advantage of this good fortune and returned to Attilan immediately, where he threw himself at the mercy of his surrogate family, the Inhumans. Black Bolt forgave him; all is now well.
This has got to be a nightmare, Crystal thinks to herself. However, she acknowledges that Pietro is her husband; maybe she will give the marriage another try.
Suddenly, Lockjaw returns to the moon with both Crystal's daughter Luna and her nanny, Maya. Luna, excited to see her father, runs toward him, but Crystal shouts for her to keep away. Quicksilver scoops his daughter up into his arms. "Luna love da-da," the girl says. Quicksilver returns the sentiment. Crystal just scowls.
After Maya remarks how great it is for Luna to finally have both her parents again, Black Bolt, sensing Crystal's resentment, makes a gesture to his wife. Medusa understands. She goes over to Crystal and explains that because she is a part of the royal family, she must set the best example possible. She agreed to reunite with her husband; can she please act as if she enjoys it? Medusa then pulls her sister aside and adds that if she continues acting miserable, people might suspect she is having another affair with a married man! Oh, please, Crystal snaps.
Quicksilver, meanwhile, begins feeling as if his superpowers might be returning. The joyous reunion might be the cause, as might the purified air and dampened gravity of the moon. He doesn't wonder for too long, and instead sets Luna down and takes off running. Initially, he feels stiff, but quickly readjusts to his heightened reflexes and begins running at his peak, superhuman speed. After making a quick lap around the city, he returns to his family, smiling uncontrollably.
Crystal does her best to ignore his self-satisfaction. She informs him of the Fantastic Four's impending mission into the Negative Zone. "Why don't we celebrate your recovery by helping them finish what they and I began?" she asks. Quicksilver asks why they should do such a thing, when it would delay their time alone together. Spoken like a true Inhuman, Medusa says in approval.
Later, Crystal, Pietro and Luna return to their quarters. Quicksilver seems delighted by all the superficialities of their reunion, but Crystal reminds him they still have many unresolved issues to discuss, the main one being that she still distrusts him. She also reminds him that if he had been to one who had an extramarital affair, the Inhumans would have banned him from their society forever. He asks her not to linger in the past, and instead, look forward to their future. "The future - yes. One I hope will be happy and fruitful for us both ... together," Crystal says. She pauses for a moment. "Pietro ... do you... do you still love me? Are those deep feelings still there?"
Of course, he tells her. Outside control could never diminish his love for her. Now that they are together again, nothing else matters. Although Crystal ostensibly believes him, she asks to have some time to herself. She quietly walks out of the room.
As soon as she leaves, Quicksilver darts over to the Telaser, the Inhuman equivalent of a computer, and opens a transmission to someone on Earth. After introducing himself to the mysterious caller, he explains that he bears a grudge against the pretender sitting on the Latverian throne, Kristoff, and has some information that could help unseat him. He explains to the listener that the Fantastic Four are soon leaving for the Negative Zone to find the Beyonders. The listener immediately understands what this entails. Should this information prove beneficial, Quicksilver says, perhaps they can conduct more business in the future. Before he signs off, he tells the listener that although he abhors working with a monster like him, he hates Kristoff too much to do nothing.
The call ends. Pietro rises from his seat, unaware of the horrible forces he has just put in motion for something as silly as revenge. For the person on the other end of the call was none other than Doctor Doom, and he deals with no matter lightly.