Marauders (1st series) #13

Issue Date: 
December 2020
Story Title: 
X of Sword – part 05

Vita Ayala (writer), Matteo Lolli (artist), Edgar Delgado (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Tom Muller (Design), Russell Dautermann & Matthew Wilson (cover artists), Nick Russell (production), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Chris Robinson (assistant editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

To join the contest of champions for the fate of Krakoa, Storm needs the sword Skybreaker, the most important Wakandan sacred relic. She travels to Wakanda but her lover and ex-husband the Black Panther is currently busy, so she tries to deal with the Queen Mother Ramonda and Princess Shuri. Both are horrified at her demands and at the potential consequences for Wakanda and ask her to wait until the Panther returns from his mission. Sensing something amiss, Shuri especially tries to make Storm see her side. At night, Storm breaks into heavily fortified temple, where the sword is kept and which T’challa showed her on their wedding day. She does a good job getting the sword until she has to confront Shuri, who expected this. The two fight and Storm beats her. Storm makes her way outside to finally face the returned Black Panther and his troops. He is hurt at her betrayal and impatient but finally lets her go with the sword, though it is unclear both what this means for the future of their relationship and Krakoa’s relationship with Wakanda.

Full Summary: 

Storm, dressed in a white version of her standard uniform, stands lost in thought. She knows what she must do. But for the first time in a long time, her purpose and her heart war with each other.

She recalls Polaris’ prophetic words:
Once goddess, once queen
one sword with which to split the sky in twain.
Vibranium inlaid
A tempest contained.
The wrath of heavens comes wielding a legacy.

Kate Pryde gets her out of her reverie. She observes that Storm surrounds herself with green whenever she has something weighing on her mind. Ororo retorts what makes her think she has anything other on her mind but purpose. Kate scoffs they’ve known each other too long for her not to notice the crease between Ororo’s perfect eyebrows when she is troubled. Ororo knows what the rhyme refers to, doesn’t she? Storm admits she does, but she doesn’t know if she is ready for what taking it will mean. And what is that? Kate asks. An end, she thinks. Heartache and strife at the least. Kate offers her help. Ororo thanks her with a smile, but she must do this alone. Kate is not surprised.

Ororo thinks of the story she was told:
They say it began with a flash of light. With the sky splitting open and striking a sacred mountain. Inside, they would find a gift from the heavens. A metal so pure that to touch it in its raw form was to know the truth of the universe. The ancestors of those who would become Wakandan forged a weapon from it used by the first Wakandan protector and king - Skybreaker. It was passed from king to king. Its edge is sharper than any other blade’s and never grows dull.

Wakanda, the throne room:
With the Black Panther away, his sister Shuri and the queen mother Ramonda are taking care of affairs of state. Ororo appears as a petitioner. The two happily welcome their former sister and daughter-in-law. Ramonda explains that T’Challa’s duties took him form Wakanda, though he is due to return any day now. Shuri asks if she is here as a sister or as diplomat for Krakoa.

Krakoa is in danger and she comes here to plead for Wakanda’s aid, but not just for the mutants’ sake. If Krakoa falls, then the world falls. Ramonda asks her to speak more clearly.

Ororo quickly summarizes what happened: An army led by the original Horsemen of the Apocalypse has breached Otherworld and threatens their reality. The army of Arakko covets what they have and will destroy anything not twisted and cruel like them. Otherworld’s ruler stopped them, but has made a game of the conflict. The terms are a contest of champions. She has been chosen and she is in need of her sword. Wakanda has a vital role in this.

Ramonda and Shuri offer an army and weapons. Storm thanks them but stresses only the champions may enter Otherworld and only with their specified weapons.

Shuri offers to make her a sword and Ramnoda offers the historic swords of Wakanda: the Nation Maker, the Panther’s Claw and the King’s Mercy. However, they are not the one that Storm needs - Skybreaker. Shocked, they reply that is not possible. Shuri remarks the people would riot. Ramonda adds only the king may lay hand on Skybreaker. And he is not here. Ororo stresses it is about the fate of the world! And if she doesn’t appear with the weapon at the meeting place soon, Krakoa will have lost.

Ramonda would grant it if it were up to here. Ororo can wait a few days until her son comes and then she can ask him. Ororo begins to protest, then gets down on her knees and humbly thanks her. Shuri gives hers the side-eye.

A little later, the Wakandans have given Ororo a guest suite. Shuri surprises her with dinner. She reminds Ororo of their bond and asks what is on her mind. She serves both of them food and states she understands Ororo’s frustration about having to wait, but surely she understands the position she put the Queen Mother in. Storm assures her she doesn’t want to make anyone’s life more difficult but, if T’challa doesn’t return soon, the consequences will be… regrettable.

Shuri points out the consequences if they lend her the sword. It could lead to unrest among the people, even death! Ororo assures her that, if it were up to her, she would not put Wakanda into this position, but what waits in Otherworld doesn’t care about politics or good intentions. The enemy will overwhelm and consume everything. At best, they and everyone they love will be at their mercy… at worst they will be annihilated.

Shuri points out that some would say the same of Krakoa: taking what they want, wresting control of economic markets, flooding the world with their cure-all flowers… And now she asks for something that could destabilize Wakanda. This contest of champions comes at a very interesting time…

Ororo retorts that the shared cures with humanity that save thousands of lives. They shared them, asking only to be accepted as a people in return. Does Shuri really believe this is a ploy by Krakoa to hurt Wakanda? Does she think so little of mutants… of her?

Of course not, Shuri assures her. They may not have a treaty with Krakoa but mutants are welcome here, and they have never discriminated against them. She and her mother both believe in Ororo but she has to see this from their perspective. There are some who would see this is an act of war by Krakoa, even if her mother assured them it was not. They would use this as an excuse to create dissent among the people. Wakandan blood would run in the streets.

Storm points out that the other side is also of concern to her. She has been tasked with fighting for, possibly dying for Earth, on which both Krakoa and Wakanda sit.

Shuri again suggests to wait for T’Challa. He would want to help any way he can. He and Ororo are finally back to a place of mutual respect and affection. Don’t let impatience damage all the work she has put into repairing their relationship!

Storm coolly retorts that her brother has ignored Ororo’s calls for help, because they are not convenient for him to answer right now. But Krakoa goes to war for Wakanda as much as for itself. Before she was the X-Man Storm, she was protector of the plains. They called her goddess. She knows sacrifice and she knows suffering. She knows the weight of people’s need and their dependence on her and her powers. She knows who she is and what she must do.

Shuri tries to amend, but Storm politely compliments her out, claiming she needs her rest. She asks Shuri to save her a place nest to her for breakfast. Before Shuri leaves, she reminds her that, when she was married to T’Challa, they were as sisters. She asks her out of that sisterly love to remember she has a duty to her people that supersedes all others. So does she, is Ororo’s
parting shot. Ororo takes her black uniform out of her bag.

She recalls how, back when they were newly married, T’Challa had shown her the Temple of the Heart of Wakanda, where the sword rests. It is the spirit of Wakanda, never to be taken from its soil.

Now, nighttime:
The temple:
Storm overloads the facility’s security system with lightning, causing it to shut down to prevent permanent damage. The cameras and most tech-based security is down. She has less than half an hour, before it comes back online.

On their wedding day, T’Challa toured the facility with her and explained that it is under 24-hour surveillance by the priests. The drones patrol the exterior and feed their intel to the priests, who in turn report daily to an offsite facility. There are priests at every intersection of corridors.

Storm decides she will have to go through the priests. In the dark, she attacks a guarding priest when the system is down, leaving her 22 minutes until system reboots.

The sword itself is surrounded by lasers, but they are not built to withstand the deadly cold she generates. Storm wonders if T’Challa knew she might have to infiltrate this place someday. She takes up the sword, but it is shot out of her hand by Shuri, who had hoped she would not find Ororo here. Ororo orders her aside. Shuri warns her that this might lead to civil war, all because she could not wait. Storm retorts that they could hide the fact she took it. There is no hiding what she has done, Shuri replies.

Storm apologizes but is not willing to stand down. She attacks, even as Shuri suggests they could still pardon her. Storm replies what happens here is not at Shuri’s whim. Storm is trying to save them and Shuri is worried about saving face! Shuri spits back she cares about saving her people from the damage Ororo will cause.

Shuri fires her guns at her. Storm freezes them. Undeterred, Shuri brings out a sword. Storm counters her blows. Shuri disarms her and has the upper hand for a moment. But Storm electrocutes her via her blade and apologizes.

Storm then replaces the sword with a fake to keep the alarms from going off. The system reboot is finished. The alert goes off. Before she is shut in, Storm tries to enter the royal command codes, but they are denied. She tried to do this without causing any damage but sees it is not possible. She cuts loose with her powers, which alerts several panther robots, much to Storm’s surprise. This T’Challa had not informed her about. She uses lightning to take them down, but it takes a lot out of her.

Outside the temple, the Black Panther and his guards wait for her. He states his mother told him she claimed she came in need of aid, and here she is stealing from those who welcomed her. Ororo snaps at him there is no time for bureaucracy. Not with what is at stake! The Panther tells his agitated soldiers to stand own. He takes off his mask. She knows he would do anything for her, even this. Why betray him like this? Looking down she tells him this has nothing to do with them. She is doing this so she can save her people.

He remembers a time when Wakandans were her people. They could be again. If she would just wait and listen. She takes up the sword. Her life does not revolve around his whims, even if her heart aches with missing him. He will step aside because he knows that anything else would be the end of them all.

Again, he forcefully orders his troops to stand down. If it is as she says, he cannot in good conscience stand against her. He reminds her that they could have done this together. She retorts that this is bigger than them and she could not wait around until he decided that he had the time.

He tells his troops to let her go. After she steps though the Krakoan gate, he orders them to destroy it. If the emissary of Krakoa wishes to return, it will not be as a thief in the night but with the permissions and grace of Wakanda. If they so choose.

Kate asks her if it went as she thought. Worse, Storm sighs. They have not lost allies but a lot of work will have to be done to rebuild trust. Kate reminds her that she did what had to be done. Ororo states she has been a protector longer than a wife. She knows the sacrifices that must be made. She knows who she is. Never doubted her for a second, Wolverine agrees and Magik welcomes her to the party.

Characters Involved: 

Kate Pryde, Magik, Wolverine

Black Panther
Ramonda, Shuri

In flashback to Black Panther #30:
Black Panther

Story Notes: 

Text pages:

Introduction of the Otherworld province Sevalith ruled by Countex Oblivia and Countex Obscura, home of a type of vampire.Province Mercator: While no ruler is mentioned, Saturnye in X-of Swords Stasis refers to a Mr. Mercator.Skybreaker is a conduit that can turn small amounts of energy into larger ones; it is an object of purest Vibranium

Further notes:

The story is continued from X-Force (4th series) #13.

The next part is Hellions #5.

Polaris spoke her prophecy in X-Factor (4th series) #5.

The rules of Mercator may very well be Absolon Mercator (aka Mr. M), who was introduced in the series District X and mentioned as one of the few existing omega mutants in House of X / Powers of X.

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