High above most of the buildings by which he passes, the amazing Spider-Man swings from skyscraper to skyscraper. As he releases one web-line before spinning another, Spider-Man muses to himself that you can’t say “I love New York.” Tourists can love New York. Himself? Who grew up there? Who’s lived his whole life, who’s crawled over every stone and swung off every cornice? He is New York.
It’s in him, in his blood, he thinks. Like a disease… you know. Like a blood disease but a good one. Like a happy… cancer… So clearly he was not bitten by a radioactive poet, he then muses, but one would get what he’s saying. When you’re part of a greater whole… when you’re… enmeshed… you know when something’s coming.
Suddenly, much to Spider-Man’s surprise, comes Nightcrawler, who appears in a cloud of brimstone right before his path. Caught off guard, Spider-Man begins to fall. However, before he can devise his own method of saving himself, he impacts on an iceslide, generated by the passing Iceman, and slides downward. Then, still not having recovered his senses, Spider-Man slides off of the ice structure, and back toward the city below. However, his fall is not far, as a hand reaches out to his, clasping it and stopping his descent. Looking up to the source of his assistance, who asks him to forgive them, Spider-Man gazes upon the airborne Storm.
Immediately, Spider-Man “wows” and then quips that he, all of a sudden, forgives them. As she leads him to a nearby rooftop, Storm explains that it is coming soon, and then didn’t wish him to be startled. To this, Spider-man defends that if they didn’t want to startle a guy, they shouldn’t teleport in his face a hundred feet above the city. They could text. Having arrived on the roof via another cloud of brimstone, Nightcrawler offers an “Entschuldigen Sie, bitte.” However, to this Spider-Man rejoins that he’s only forgiving Storm.
Arriving to the same roof, Iceman explains that Storm didn’t mean startled by them, “Web-Butt.” Sarcastically replying that Iceman is funny – but not “hah-ha” funny, Spider-Man begins to press for what Iceman means. However, his question is rendered moot after something immense high above cast a shadow which covers the entire roof of the building, and more. Adding that now he gets it, Spider-Man quietly muses that he’s not sure he wants it… Neither are they, Storm replies, gazing upon the airborne Mega-Sentinel which hovers above them. But it will take them where they have to go.
A short while later, the foursome have been taken to the orbital SWORD space station, called “the Peak.” Taking in the total assembled group of heroes, Spider-Man remarks that this is never good. You get this many big guns in one room not civilly warring, it’s either the end of the world, or… he doesn’t have an “or,” he suddenly realizes. In the chamber below them are the Fantastic Four, Iron Man and his Avengers, the X-Men and their students and Doctor Strange.
Flying up to the balcony on which they are standing, Angel greets Ororo. When she asks if the Professor is there, Angel replies that he’s not invited. No one will say why. Also joining their group, Thunderbird adds that the mutants are kept in the dark, as always. It’s their people out there… “Out where?” Spider-Man asks. Ignoring the question, Thunderbird remarks that they still tell them nothing. They will tell her, Storm replies with determination. Calling out to the group, Storm gathers their attention. She remarks that they are all assembled. If they are to act, they must act in concert. What has happened?
Sprawled on a seemless metal floor, Kitty slowly regains consciousness. Struggling to speak, she asks for help. Unfortunately, none are present within the chamber of the Breakworld bullet, which races through the void of space toward its target: Earth.
Within the energy sphere on the Breakworld, the armored Colossus dourly regards Aghanne, who stands before him in an environmental suit. Grimacing with determination, he tells her he will kill them all. His metal is unique, he explains. Only he can touch the core… and he will rip it free and doom her world. The augurs predicted it, because she told them to. Because they were always hers. Grimacing back, Aghanne replies that Dafi talks too much. No, Colossus rejoins. She does.
Continuing, Colossus explains that he has heard the speeches of men who sought to save the world. Twenty million of his countrymen are buried beneath those speeches. When she replies that she is not a dictator, Colossus counters that madness is not restricted to the powerful. Is it madness to want to bring peace to their suffering people? Death is not peace, Colossus replies. He knows this.
To this, Aghanne replies that he cannot imagine living in a world where murder is honor. Where children nurse on the blood of the weak. She thought they could change at first. She did. But… the universe wants them gone. Still grimacing, Colossus tells Aghanne that he is sorry for her pain, however the reply to his expression of compassion is a blow which sends him reeling. “Then end it!” Aghanne yells.
Outside the sphere, Cyclops and Emma attempt to old off the invading forces of the Breakworld. As she trades blows with Ord, Emma telepathically contacts Colossus within the sphere. She informs him that the missile’s been fired! They have to stop it! Go. She will finish there. Unaware that Colossus is struggling with Aghanne within the sphere, Emma continues with Ord until she has knocked him off of the walkway. Viewing his former ambassador clutched to the walkway by his fingertips, Powerlord Kruun remarks he’s as useless as ever.
Now turning his attention to Cyclops, Kruun compliments that he has fought bravely. If he calls out his Colossus, they can reach and understanding. To this, Cyclops suggests that, if he hasn’t reached it by now… he’s not sure he can help. With this, Cyclops releases the full scarlet fury of his optic blasts.
Elsewhere, two soldiers of the Breakworld have cornered the now unarmed Special Agent Brand. Pressing her against the wall, one soldier recognizes her, telling her that the Powerlord will reward them well for bringing her in. But, he continues, she’ll reward them first.
Reaching out her left hand to his face, Brand tells the soldier than there’re two things he should know about her… She never gets gang-raped on a first date… and “Brand”… is not her given name. In demonstration, Brand’s hand begins to glow fiery blue, causing the soldier’s face to erupt likewise. As he releases her and flees in agony, Brand punches to the chest of the other soldiers, her fist easily sinking into his chest.
Looking down from above, the Beast quips to Brand that, for this, he wasted concern for her…
A short while later, as the Beast helps Brand into their craft, Wolverine announces to the team that they should be going after Kitty. However, at the helm of the craft, Danger replies that they cannot catch up in their vessel. Adding to this, the Beast notes that Scott and Emma are en route, in Kruun’s fastest ship. They need to back up Peter. To this, Wolverine grimaces that Pete should do the job and get out. Eying Wolverine from his periphery, Hank asks Wolverine to tell him he didn’t just hear him suggest genocide. Quipping back, Wolverine asks Hank what does he thinks they’re trying to do to them?
As she is being helped into a chair, Brand changes the subject. If Summers gets close enough, he can bounce a message to the Peak, get some of Earth’s mightiest working this from the other end. They need to take one last shot at Kruun. “He can kill him, right?” Wolverine sarcastically quips, his arms folded defensively across his chest. Rather than agreeing, however, Brand remarks that he’s got something more diplomatic in mind.
Sitting a short distance away, Hisako voices a stray thought which comes to her mind. “Peter doesn’t know, does he?” she asks. “He doesn’t know about Kitty.”
Still on the metal floor of bullet nose chamber, Kitty haltingly asks if anybody is there.
An untold distance away, Doctor Strange – the center of attention among the heroes assembled in the Peak – tells the others that he has found it. Close? Iron Man asks. He’s not on a spatial plane, Strange replies. And he’s not at his peak. He’d appreciate…
Suddenly, Doctor Strange is enclosed in a vortex of magical energy, which fires beams of green light at and through those around him. After a moment, the energy seems to subside and Strange collapses into unconsciousness. Regarding the inanimate mage, Iron Man guesses that the “magical protection” of which they heard was just protection against magic. This avenue closed, he suggests they do this old school.
To this, the Thing asks them to tell him he gets to hit a rocket. But the Pryde girl, the Invisible Woman notes. If she can phase out at just the right moment, Reed replies, they can pick her up. But the Earth is their first priority. He’s got a prototype for a dimensional disruptor in the craft. If they get the timing right, he can open a rift and send that bullet right into the negative zone. Chiming in, the Torch asks what happens if he gets the timing wrong. Speaking bluntly, Reed replies that Ben gets to hit a rocket.
Light years away, Ord reaches up and clasps the handrail of the walkway. Using this as leverage, he pulls himself up onto the walkway, to a sight which astonishes him: a cadre of SWORD agents, all with their weapons trained on Powerlord Kruun, who lies helplessly on a pile of rubble. Through gritted teeth he promises “No.”
Within the nearby sphere, Colossus also bares gritted teeth, mostly at the pain of Aghanne’s boot being pressed against his neck. Following this, Aghanne falls and impacts her elbow into his abdomen. For seventeen years she did nothing by kill, she explains. No strength, no righteous rage, can match her. As she then twists his arm behind his back, Aghanne tells Colossus that he will pull the core from its mooring and drop it in the reactor. Or she will use his arms herself.
Elsewhere, within the moving bullet, Kitty continues her attempt to rise to her feet. Almost cursing herself, she remarks that she can’t be that weak.
Attending to Brand’s injury, from where she was shot earlier, the Beast informs her that they’ve lost contact with the Peak. They’re suddenly getting static. Suddenly noting her injuries, or lack thereof, he notes that she’s barely singed. To this, Brand sarcastically apologizes that she didn’t die taking the hit for him. She’s keeping something from him, he replies. His friends – his world at stake, and she’s still hiding something. When she replies that it’s not relevant, he counters that he’ll decide that. It’s personal, she then states. Leaning forward, McCoy then menacingly tells her that there he is, in her personal space – so she should go ahead and open up.
Doing so, but in a different manner than expected, she informs the Beast that she’s so hot for him right now, she could frikkin’ pass out. Taking a moment to consider this, McCoy finally backs off and is at a loss to respond, giving Brand the opportunity to rise and walk to the door for their section. “Told you it was personal,” she reminds him.
Within the sphere, Aghanne stands behind Colossus, pushing him toward the metallic core of the sphere, stretching out his arms against his will. Telling him to stop resisting, she tells him he’ll only prolong it. He won’t even have to die! He can be worlds away before the end! And he will be a hero. Pushing backward with his legs, Colossus grits to Aghanne that she has no conception… The Breakworld needs to end. Aghanne replies.
Only he, Colossus replies. His metal is unique in all the universe. To survive this place. To set off the reaction. She would not have plotted these long years were it not, Aghanne replies. Can he not see? It truly is his fate. Not his fate, Colossus counters, closing his eyes. His metal. With this, Colossus begins to transform from organic metal, back to flesh and blood. As his flesh begins to burn from the environment of the sphere, Aghanne looks on in horror. However, her horror at this is quickly replaced by something else.
Grabbing Aghanne’s helmet from behind, a flaming Ord crushes it, exposing her flesh to the fiery environment. As her skin begins to burn, just as that of Ord’s, Aghanne screams, both in agony pain, as well as defeat.
From outside, one SWORD soldier asks another, a non-human, if he thought he saw something entering. When the non-human agent replies just for a moment, the first emphatically asks if he was armored up.
Inside the sphere, Aghanne, whose suit is disintegrating around her, claws at the burning flesh of Ord. Calling him a useless dupe, she tells him that she loves her people. She will save her people from the life he inflicts. “No,” Colossus replies, reaching around from behind and grabbing the front of her suit. “You will not.” With this, he rips the suit from her body, exposing her skin which explodes into agonizing flame. Grabbing her, he then tosses her outside of the sphere and to the chasm below.
Watching the flaming remains exit the sphere, the human SWORD soldier asks his partner if that was who he saw. Incredulous at identifying a flaming corpse, the other asks his commander if he is kidding.
Within the sphere, little remains of Ord, whose skin has all but burned off. On the verge of expiration, he cannot speak. Trying to reach him nonetheless, Colossus tells his former enemy that he has done it. Can he hear him? He has saved the world. Colossus makes every attempt to cradle Ord, however the man simply crumbles within the X-Man’s fingers, quickly reduced to dust.
Far, far away, Reed Richards regards a holographic schematic of the path of the bullet and declares that this is going to be hard. The precision of the launch is impressive, he remarks. The object actually gained speed from the gravitational slingshot around Desuris-Beta.
In the pilot’s seat of the space craft, Ben asks Reed if he’s saying his Neg-Zone lasso ain’t gonna work. It can, Reed defends, if he can push the ship harder than he ever has. HE can hold her, Ben replies, but the fusion pumps’ll burn if he doesn’t lay off. To this, Johnny replies that he can control that. Don’t fry the wiring, “matchhead,” Ben rejoins.
Still examining the display, Reed tells Sue that she’s going to have to place the gate with force field – they can’t get within a mile of the object or its radiant velocity waves will flatten them. When she tells him just to give the word, Reed replies that it’s eight minutes out. They only get one shot.
From within a bay of the craft, three red-lensed pods, connected by a silvery cable, extend along a longer, telescoping cable, all protected by an invisible forcefield. Slowly, the cables attached to the lenses begin to expand, creating and expanding an area within its “loop.” Slowly the area within loop begins to shimmer with blue energy until becoming a cascading aperture of light – in truth a portal to the Negative Zone. Racing at ballistic speed, the bullet approaches the loop of the device and enters one side and disappearing within the portal.
Smiling at their success, Ben remarks that that’s another X-mess cleaned up by the Fantastic Four. They still have to save Kitty Pryde, Sue reminds him. Using one of their old time-condensers, Reed replies, they’ll be able to get to her seconds after she entered the Negative Zone. “Blah-de-science-blah,” the Torch voices. They saved the world, he reminds Reed. Take a moment to enjoy it!
Indeed, Reed Richards smiles, though not from success. Staring forward with a grin coming not from accomplishment nor revelry, his is one purveyed by a lack of internal thought. Having held the grin for a long time, saliva begins to accumulate and escape the open mouth and drools down his chin. Reed, however, is not alone in his dumbfounded state. All of the rest of the assembled heroes are experiencing the same phenomenon.
Some distance away, though closing the gap rapidly, the speeding bullet continues on its course. With a flash of light, it is suddenly joined by a small craft, which exits hyperspace. Piloting the vessel, Cyclops reiterates their situation to Emma. They throw everything at it, it wouldn’t alter course. Hell, they ram the thing they’d just be a bug on a windshield. Unless she’s got a notion, he tells Emma, it’s up to the others.
Not receiving a response, Cyclops calls back to Emma, who has her eyes closed and head lowered. Though seemingly so, Emma is not inactive, as she has telepathically made contact with Kitty, who still struggles with her strength aboard the bullet. She tells the startled Kitty that it’s all right. That help is on the way.
In other realities which exist only in their minds, the Sentry uses his prodigious strength to alter the course of the bullet with but a single blow. For Iron Man, the speed of the bullet itself is reduced by the repulsor blasts from his boots. Unlike the others, the terrestrial-bound Spider-Man had to resort to using his webs, each affixed to nearby buildings to catch the bullet before it impacted upon the street below. Leaping up and down on the corner of a rooftop, Spider-Man celebrates his victory… until the logic of the situation suddenly hits him.
Back in the real world, Emma telepathically asks Kitty what she means “she can’t.” Sweating profusely, Kitty replies silently that she’s been trying, but this metal… it’s been affecting her since she first found Pete. And now… she barely made it in there. She won’t make it out. Beginning to pace within the cabin of the spacecraft, Emma tells Kitty that this is a very bad time to play the weak Kitten. She’s going to phase out and they’ll fly right through her. It’s not a request. When Kitty begins to reply that she doesn’t feel weak, but sick, Emma counters that’s too bloody bad. Not pain, Kitty explains. Just like it got in her. Like she’s meshed to this metal. It wants her there. She thinks she’s in the cage she freed Peter from. Her demeanor turning to somber, Emma asks Kitty if she knows any hope they have of stopping this thing… She knows, Kitty replies. She knows.
Back on Earth, Spider-Man lays a left-hook across the chin of Storm. Rage boiling over her self, her eyes turning white with her powers, she begins to retaliate, until Spider-Man apologizes profusely. When she then begins to ask if he has any idea what she just did, Spider-Man tells her. Saved the world, right? She stopped a ten-mile meteor with a great big breeze. Is he close? When she begins to agree, he points to the rest of the assembled heroes, each in Storm’s former vegetative state. “So did they,” he tells her.
Though surrounded by the X-Men and agents of SWORD, Powerlord Kruun’s attention is focused upon the armored Colossus, who tells the dictator that there is a way to stop the missile. When Kruun begins to explain that it is no mere missile, Colossus replies that his friends have told him. Everything. Agent Brand says that a Powerlord can never retreat. Can never create a contingency for an attack. But there is a weakness in the design. Some small glitch, and he will know of it. He will tell them what the weakness is. Not out of anything as distasteful as compassion. He will tell him, Colossus continues, taking Kruun’s left hand in his own, because he knows that even if his world is ended, he will not destroy his. With this, Wolverine slices and severs the left arm of Kruun, which Colossus hold. As Kruun reels in agony, Colossus explains what he will do instead of destroying the Breakworld. “I will rule it.”
Clutching the stump that was once his shoulder, Kruun begins to proclaim that his people would never… but Colossus interrupts. His people fear him as they never will him, he tells Kruun. And according to Agent Brand, he holds the symbol of his servitude in his hand. His time is done.
Squatting next to the bended Kruun, Agent Brand explains that, if they lose the Earth, they’re gonna need a place to crash. Forver. He’s not Powerlord anymore, she tells Kruun. He not longer bears the burden of his secrets. So unless he wants his world overrun by a host of very unhappy superpeople, he should use his new freedom. “What is the weakness?” Colossus reiterates.
Still en route to Earth alongside the bullet, Cyclops contacts Storm via a vid-com. When he asks if she can’t wake anyone, Storm explains that the most powerful seem to be the most powerfully hit. Spider-Man is still trying to rouse Dr. Strange. (At least, she thinks that’s why he’s hitting him, she mutters.) Exasperated, Cyclops informs Storm that they’re getting very close. They’ve been told that a direct head-to-head hit by something big might buckle the bullet, or at least divert it. It’s got to be dead one, he then adds. And it’s gotta be soon.
Hovering a short distance from the Peak space station, the Mega-Sentinel has been monitoring the transmission between Cyclops and Storm. Understanding the meaning of Cyclops’ words, it suddenly takes flight, leaving orbit. Within, small constructs hover between Storm and Spider-Man, speaking for the Mega-Sentinel. Through them, the Mega-Sentinel explains that it is responsible for the deaths of millions. It has since been give life, and an understanding of what its life means. It hopes that it’s helpful.
Still struggling and unable to rise to her feet, Kitty telepathically asks Emma that it can’t be much longer, right? In reply, Emma says that they’re trying to put something in between her and the Earth. They don’t know if it’ll work, but either way… she should feel like phasing out of there. Say, oh, about now? Sounds great, Kitty replies with a slight smile. Sounds really great.
Changing subjects, Emma tells Kitty that she can put her somewhere else. She can make her less afraid. Nah, nah, Kitty replies. She’s gonna see this through. Peter should know… Well, he should already know, so don’t worry about it. “This was never meant to…” Emma trails. “Not to you.” Yeah, she was supposed to take her out as she recalls, Kitty finishes, referring to Emma. Asked if she’s disappointed “Ms. Frost,” Emma instead tells “Ms. Pryde” that she’s “astonished.”
At the head of the craft, Cyclops watches with unlensed eyes as the Mega-Sentinel appears from out of the inky void and on a collision course with the bullet. The impact is as violent as it is sudden. A cloud of luminous debris signals the end of the Mega-Sentinel, whose final action was in vain. Undeterred in any capacity, the bullet continues along its path, toward a small, blue marble an impossible yet closing distance away.
Within the nose of the bullet, Kitty struggles, calling out to God.
On Earth, Spider-Man continues to try to bring Doctor Strange back to his senses. To anyone who will listen, unfortunately only to the returning X-Men via remote video, he pleads with someone to do some magic.
At ballistic speed, the bullet enters the Earth’s atmosphere, the point of impending impact being a coastal city.
Within the bullet, Kitty asks to be given strength.
Less than a moment later, the bullet impacts the city. However, rather than a violent confrontation, the bullet instead passes through the city, phased into immaterialness. As Kitty sweats profusely, her eyes rolling back in her head, the X-Men, Spider-Man and the whole world watch in a state of disbelief. Shortly thereafter, the bullet emerges on the other side of the planet, rising up through the atmosphere and back into space.
Questioning Scott, who sits behind the headmaster’s desk and is flanked by Emma, Piotr asks if he means she’ll never come back. What they tell him, Scott replies – Strange, Richards, all the “top men” – they figure she’s bonded with the bullet. That size, it’s the only way she could’ve… and even if she could break the connection, the bullet might be in the middle of a planet, or it’ll hit one, sooner or later, before or after she could phase out… assuming she’s even strictly alive. Every moment they talk, Piotr points out, she’s further away. Surely Doctor Strange or Richards can… They’ve tried, Scott interrupts. Which is not to say they won’t keep trying, but…
As Scott and Piotr’s conversation continues, Emma no longer listens. Instead, she turns away as if to gaze out the window. Rather than doing so, Emma lowers her head into her hand, hiding the tears which stream down her cheeks.
“Shouldn’ta been her,” Logan remarks, finishing yet another beer. Looking down at her teacher, who is sitting on the floor and leaning against the wall, Hisako asks if she can help. Sarcastically, Logan asks back if she’s a beer. All their crap, he continues through his drunken stupor, how’d it fall on her shoulders? Her and Pete, they… they were like… two…
Logan’s words trail as a psionically armored fist makes a sucker right-cross against his chin. Apologizing, Armor tells Logan that he was about to become poetic, and she thought they’ both prefer he didn’t. When Logan begins to protest, Armor cuts him off. He wants to grieve, she points out. She needs to train. Unsheathing his claws, Wolverine reminds Armor that he can piece that armor of hers. Producing psionically-generated claws of her own from her gauntlet, Armor grins back that he can try.
Elsewhere on the grounds, the Beast tells Agent Brand that he guesses he will start… He’s fairly certain he hates her. Well, that’s kind of the point, she replies. She needs someone to hate her. Professionally, she’s good at… well, she’s uniquely qualified for... her job. But she made some crap calls this time around. And they both lost men they shouldn’t have. He’s smarter than any dozen guys and he’ll question her every waking gesture. On the job, there’s nothing she could use more.
“And off the job?” he asks. Pretty much wants to break him like a pony, she replies. It’s a win-win. He’s a blue-furry monster, he reminds her. So was her father, he counters. She’s got green hair, which she did not dye. She speaks offworld languages the human tongue cannot form. She’s got hot, glowy hands, and she runs the most important security organization in their system without benefit of social skills of any kind. “I’m an alien, genius,” she summarizes. “On my father’s side.”
This is a hard time for him, Brand tells McCoy. So, she’s not gonna push. But… the safety of the entire plane probably rests on him and his decision and he and she are compatible in way she doesn’t have words for. So… she’s not gonna push.
Gazing out of the window of the headmaster’s office, still via his naked eyes, Scott calls out to Emma, telling her it’s time. Reaching into a drawer and taking out something, she views his glowing red eyes and tells him that she’s amazed he held it as long as he did. Clarity, he explains. It was a beautiful gift, but it’ll go, and he doesn’t want to wait for that. As she sits before him, Scott tells Emma that her eyes are red. “Look who’s talking,” she retorts. Telling her he loves her, Scott accepts the containment visor of Cyclops, which Emma places tenderly on his face. She tells him she loves him too. They kiss.
Elsewhere in the school, life continues. Wolverine and Armor spar in the Danger Room, adamantium claws against psionic armor. In a laboratory, the Beast addresses a class of students. Outside on the grounds, very much alone, is Piotr Rasputin, who watches the sunset.
Everything is so fragile, he remembers Kitty’s words.. There’s so much conflict, so much pain… You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize this is it: the dust of your life going on. If happy comes along, that weird, unbearable delight that’s actual happy… I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get. Cause it’s here, and then… gone.
Out in the void of space, a silvery, smooth bullet continues on, unimpeded into the depths of the unknown.