The Machine that is Earth narrates that this story will concern three groups. The first is the Eternals, its protectors, which keep up the Status Quo. They curtail the Deviants and follow unbending principles, among them: Prevent Excess Deviation.
The second group is the Avengers. To the Eternals, this is a catch-all phrase for the mightiest heroes who are not them. They are those with sufficient power to be worth Eternal consideration.
The third group are the mutants. There, things are complicated. They have been for a long time.
Flashback to a million years ago:
Odin stares at a small, monkey-like creature that seems to be in deep concentration. It is a monkey, he tells his two companions unimpressed. Said companions are two Eternals, the patriarch Uranos and his grandson Druig. Uranos orders Druig to explain to Odin what he is seeing.
Druig explains that this species has gained some rudimentary psychic abilities. A smattering of telepathy and telekinesis. Nothing to worry about individually. However, due to their species’ communality, they have accessed something a little more potent. They’ve formed a primal hive mind.
Odin interrupts that Druig promised him drink to get him here. And, unless these monkeys are psychically brewing something potent, he is not sure why this is relevant.
Urnaos replies that Druig was lying. It is what he does. He needed Odin here. He wanted his Avengers to know. They are going to annihilate this species. Odin protests at this overly harsh decision. A little thinky monkey is nothing to worry about. It’s not a Deviant. It’s just a mutant!
Uranos retorts that an infinitely expandable hive mind is a genetic technology that cannot be put into the hand of lesser beings. The longer it goes, the more it will grow in power and the more dangerous it will be. This “thinky monkey” left unchecked could destroy the world. Mutation can be mutation… but it can also be deviancy. Some children should be smothered in the crib.
Odin is doubtful. Uranos warns him not to mistake the Eternals’ politeness with them asking permission. This is one of their principles and not something they can compromise on. Would the Avengers war with the Eternals for the monkeys’ fate?
Odin tells him to make his lackey get him a drink and Uranos can go ahead. He is right. A thinky monkey is not worth a war.
The two patriarchs watch as the forest burns. Odin is sipping mead woven from molecules in a Celestial hive. It tastes bitter. For Uranos, this was excess deviation handled. Not for the first time and not for the last…
A kaiju is attacking Manhattan. The Avengers wonder what the creature is, even as they attack. Suddenly, they are joined by the Eternals Ikaris and Sersi both chanting “excess deviation” as they attack the creature with empty eyes. They detonate the kaiju’s head.
Afterwards, Ikaris tells the Avengers there’s a knack to fighting Deviants. They’ve been doing it for a long time.
Getting rid of the slime, a disgusted Sersi announces she needs a drink and a shower and then perhaps another drink. Iron Man asks if she is okay. She seemed a little… off. She thanks him for his concern and explains it was a Deviant suffering an out-of-control mutation. And… Eternals really don ‘t like out-of-control mutations. Whatever the motivation, they were glad for the help, Captain America thanks her. Sersi admits it wasn’t a choice. When something deviates too much, they have to step in. Choice is for mortals. Eternals have duty coded into their every molecule.
What is deviation? What is mutation? the Machine wonders. When is a thinky monkey just a thinky monkey and when is it a ticking atom bomb?
Overseen by Emma Frost and Wolverine, the Five resurrect Cyclops from the dead. This is the mutants’ greatest secret. That they have conquered death. They are unaware that the stealthy Eternal Jack of Knives is among them, learning the secret and soon brings the intel back to Druig, current Prime Eternal. His source didn’t lie. The mutants and death aren’t a thing anymore. They are eternal.
Druig tells him not to be ridiculous. They are immortal. At best. Druig considers what to do. It depends on whether this very striking mutation is deviation. And if it is? Jack asks. Let’s be honest, Druig replies. Nothing they haven’t done before.
In a news studio, Mary Jane Watson and her aunt Anna are welcomed as brand ambassadors for Krakoa’s miracle medicines. They both narrate about living through Anna’s beginning dementia and how those drugs miraculously cured her. MJ adds that everyone pays the same price, regardless of insurance status. Every evening, Anna takes a single pill that extends the duration and quality of her life. She takes every day she can get, Anna adds. She wants to see how Succession ends!
They are being watched by someone who seethes that, while mutants have made humans’ worst years somewhat less traumatic, mutants themselves will never feel that pain. Mutantdom has a secret. They have solved death. Mutants are heroes. They are evolutionary deviants who stole fire from the gods. But mutant supremacy is not assured. Fear can be stoked in the hearts of man and difference can be exploited.
She imagines a battle to the death between mutants and Avengers with no on left standing, but that will only happen if she plays her cards right.
Mary Jane accompanies her aunt home. The two joke and, as Anna goes to bed, MJ tells her she will travel next week. Anna jokingly protests she doesn’t remember that. The drugs don’t work! She remembers MJ is attending the Hellfire gala and asks her to tell Tony Stark hi.
MJ walks downstairs. A voice addresses her, she saw her on TV. Who’s there? there MJ demands and shouts at her to get out of the house. A metallic hand grabs her and warns, if she wakes her aunt, it will be her life. She needs Mary Jane’s invitation to the Hellfire Gala. Ask her who she will be wearing, she orders, as she takes MJ into a headlock. Who will she be wearing? MJ stammers.
She’ll be wearing her! Moira MacTaggert’s cybernetic form announces.