She is driven by a force she does not even begin to understand – the sure and certain knowledge that her world famous cousin, Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, is in deadly danger.
She is Namorita, herself a princess of fabled Atlantis. Not the least of which being the tiny, mutant wings which sprout from her trim ankles and grants her the ability to slip the bonds of gravity as easily as another woman might slip off a pair of shoes. The exact means by which these tiny winglets achieve this enviable feat has defied analysis by the best minds alive today. For our purposes, it is enough to know that the wings do work and work well enough to carry Namorita’s little form high over the rolling hills of northeastern New Jersey, following a phantom guide, a subtle and elusive sensation as frustrating as it is frightening.
She cannot fix properly upon the source of her discomfiture. She cannot separate it from the other thoughts and feelings which daily fill her mind. There is nothing more than the subtlest pressure against her mind as if a spectral hand were reaching through the osseous wall of her skull to nudge her thoughts in the direction of her famous cousin, and to fill those thoughts with fear for his safety. Below her now the landscape of New Jersey undergoes a subtle change. Spring has not yet brought its gentle breezes to this part of the world.
Even though the impervious skin that is the mark of her Atlantean heritage, Namorita feels the chill of winter still in the air. Yet, below her the countryside is suddenly a verdant tapestry, a green and growing canvas spreading out as far as her high vantage can oversee. The apparent reason for the inconsistency is not long in revealing itself. Just then, Namorita sees a house covered with growth; as if something inside was stimulating the plant life.
With a low pass over the enshrouded estate, Namorita has all the confirmation she needs – two members of the H’ylthri race. She remarks that she’s never seen one in the flesh but from the description she got from Misty Knight, those things can’t be anything else. So Namor’s worst fears are true. The plant people of K’Un-Lun have mounted an all-out invasion of Earth. At that moment, vines extend into the sky and engulf Namorita before she has a chance to react, pulling her down to the ground.
Not far away, as Namorita summons the full might of her Atlantean strength to battle her inhuman attackers, her imperial cousin continues his own struggle against the unearthly menace of the H’ylthri of K’Un-Lun. As he does so, Sssesthugar tells Namor to relent. His strength of will is great indeed. But against their power, there is no human mind which has a hope of prevailing. Struggling, Namor tells him so he says but he has already seen his words to be a hollow sham. The man called Iron Fist resisted his power for many months, even to the point of escaping his snare long after another would have died. Would he know say a Prince of Atlantis has any less resolve?
Sssesthugar answers he would not. He then asks Namor if he has forgotten the warrior he battled less than an hour ago. The mutant known as Wolverine was not without his own strengths. Still, they broke his spirit, and they will break his. Namor replies that he would be less certain of himself, were he him. It is true he has bound the X-Man’s body to his will but Namor’s pride is not so great that he believes he could have defeated Wolverine if he was any more than his puppet. He’ll wager his indomitable will remains unbroken, and for so long as it does, he remains a time bomb, ticking off the moments until his ultimate undoing.
Elsewhere, at the Manhattan offices of Nightwing Restorations, a subtle sobriquet designed to incorporate the names of its two owners – Colleen Wing and Misty Knight. They are two women who are about to receive an unexpected visitor. Just then, Misty notices that Captain Rafael Scarfe has stumbled into their office. Rushing over towards him, she asks him what happened to him, he looks like death. Scarfe tells her not to talk, just listen. He doesn’t know how much time he has to get this out. Hurts even to think about it. Tyrone King came to his office this morning, but he’s not really what he seems. He’s...
When he grabs hold of his head and screams in pain, Colleen tells him to take it easy and not to push it. Scarfe tells her no. Don’t try to stop him. He’s got to get this out. While he still has any of it left in his head. It’s all so crazy. Not sure he even believes half of it himself. He then tells Misty that Tyrone King is really Master Kahn. Surprised, Misty says that’s not possible. Colleen remarks that it is. It even makes sense, in its own crazy way. She then asks Scarfe to tell them everything he knows. Scarfe tells them that most of it they know.
Kahn wanted to destroy Iron Fist. He’d tried before and failed so he cooked up scheme so complex. And he started with the Super Skrull. Somehow, Kahn learned of Super Skrull’s battle with the Canadian super-hero, Sasquatch. He learned that the Skrull was trapped in the radiation belts around Earth, dying of some kind of super leukemia. He managed to pull the Skrull down from orbit, make him a proposition. Kahn would cure the Skrull with his magic if the Skrull would help him destroy Iron Fist. Of course, Skrull agreed. Kahn used his mystic powers to transform him into a child.
Misty asks what and asks if he means that Bobby Wright was really the Super Skrull. But that can’t be. Iron Fist did a mind meld with the kid. He would’ve been able to tell. Scarfe replies sure, if the Skrull knew it himself. But that was all part of Kahn’s plan. See, Kahn created a whole identity for the Skrull. One the Skrull believed himself, one that would push all of Iron Fist’s buttons. He wanted Iron Fist to connect with the kid, to take on almost a fatherly role. That way Iron Fist would be off his guard and the whole bit with “Bobby” becoming “Captain Hero,” well that was just one more layer Kahn concocted to keep Iron Fist from seeing the real truth. Then, just so he could keep an eye on things, Kahn created a couple of identities for himself. One as “Bobby’s” so-called guardian and one, as a twelve year N.Y.P.D. veteran by the name of Tyrone King.
Turning away, Misty says that’s the hardest part to swallow. She was involved with Tyrone King, after Iron Fist and her split up. Putting his hand on her shoulder, Scarfe tells her sure, and “King” engineered all that. Colleen adds that she can believe that easily enough. She knows the kind of mind games Kahn likes to play. Remember what he did to her. When they first went up against Kahn when he kidnapped her, held her captive for months while Angar the Screamer used his mind-bending powers to turn her head inside out, to turn her against Iron Fist. She’s never completely recovered from that ordeal or from the mind meld the Iron Fist felt compelled to use to snap her out of Kahn’s control. Yeah, everything Rafe’s said so far fits right in with what they know of the way Kahn works.
Misty says there must be more though. Scarfe replies there is. Kahn thought he had all the angles covered, but there was one important detail he knew nothing about then. And that was that the Iron Fist who came back to Earth after his last visit to K’Un-Lun was actually a duplicate, grown by the H’ylthri plant people. You see, the H’ylthri created a duplicate that actually believed itself to be Iron Fist just as the Super Skrull actually believed himself to be “Bobby Wright.” So, Iron Fist acted pretty much the way Master Kahn expected him to act. Right up to the moment Bobby, in his “Captain Hero” mode, murdered him.
Misty says that explains the H’ylthri remains they found inside the coffin. Scarfe tells her she’s got it. They’ve all been walking through a scenario Master Kahn created. He even double-crossed the Super Skrull, so that the moment he accomplished his mission and killed Iron Fist he was zapped backed into the Van Allen belts. To anyone who saw it happen, it looked like “Bobby” had been finally consumed by his runaway power.
Colleen asks Scarfe how he knows all this. Scarfe tells her that Kahn told him. He wanted to brag and boast. He wanted someone to know about his clever little plan, even though it failed. He planned to erase his memory, anyway. But somehow that didn’t take. Misty explains that he’s overreached himself just like before. Kahn doesn’t know or doesn’t believe his own limitations. He needed Angar to mess up Colleen’s head. But he tried to mess up his, Scarfe’s, on his own.
When Colleen asks her what her point is, Misty tells her that Kahn’s goofed up again. He’s tried more than once to kill Iron Fist, and each time he’s failed. But he must be planning to try again. They’ve got to get back to Doctor Strange. They’ve got to warn him Kahn may try to strike at Iron Fist. Colleen asks there’s not much of a chance of that, is there. Kahn may be a pretty hot sorcerer but he’s nowhere near Strange’s class. No, she’d be willing to bet, if he’s going to try anything now, his target will be somewhere else.
Continuing to struggle defiantly against the vines that are keeping her captive, Namorita determines that it’s no use. For every one of the tentacles she rips away, six more spring up to take their...
Just then, Namorita is shot free by a nearby man. When Namorita asks him who he is, the man introduces himself as Smithers, Sam Smithers. He’s called Plant Man. Namorita says Plant Man? Sure, Namor told him all about him. She then asks him if he’s all mixed up in this. Smithers says he was and begins coughing. After Namorita asks if he’s hurt, Smithers tells her double-crossed. Sssesthugar helped him establish his beachhead on Earth then he turned on him, tried to kill him. Namorita says that it doesn’t sound to her like he deserved a whole lot better. Not if he helped these aliens invade Earth, seems like his loyalties are pretty mixed up. Smithers answers maybe. He always put his faith in the plant world, better than humans. They never lied to him, never tried to cheat him until now. Handing Namorita his weapon he tells her to take his plant control device. Before he collapses to the ground, he tells her to rescue the Sub-Mariner and kill the H’ylthri.
Meanwhile, one of Sssesthugar’s followers tells him that they are ready to commence the next phase. The leading edge of their forestation has reached the shore. They can now proceed across the human’s bridges to the major infestation point. Namor states by which he means New York City. He will find his invasion plan ends rather abruptly there. When the Avengers...
Sssesthugar responds that the Avengers will do nothing. Before they begin their advance into the city, they will release a vast cloud of reproductive pollen. Those grains, so small as to be invisible to human eyes, will infiltrate every nook and cranny. No living thing will be able to avoid inhaling the microscopic dust. Once inside the warm, moist channels of a human body, the pollen will trigger bio-chemical changes. Within thirty minutes all the humans will be dead. Within a matter of days the rest of their mammal breed will follow.
Flying in, Namorita states that’s a good plan. Too bad for him, he’ll never get to see it implemented. Just then, she fires her weapon at Sssesthugar. When she sees that it has no effect, Sssesthugar tells her of course it didn’t. It was the H’ylthri who gave the power to control plant life to Samuel Smithers. Do they really believe they would give him a weapon he might someday use on them? As the H’ylthri overlord seizes the Atlantean princess, a single stray blast from the Plant Man’s weapon scores a line of death across the tentacles that bind Wolverine. Once it does, he is free.
Popping his claws, Wolverine savagely attacks the H’ylthri. Faster than human eyes can follow, the gleaming adamantium claws slash through the vegetable fibers of Sssesthugar’s massive form. Other H’ylthri who race to their ruler’s aid meet a similar fate as Wolverine unleashes the fury and frustration of his long days of captivity. But his moment of vengeance is to be short-lived when Master Kahn arrives and orders Wolverine to stop. Ceasing his attack, Wolverine asks who? Kahn tells him who he is is of no consequence as he is of no consequence to him. When Namorita exclaims that Wolverine’s vanishing, Kahn says yes, teleported back whence he came.
Freeing himself from the vines, Namor tells the stranger that his sudden arrival is poorly timed, if it was his intent to ally himself with the H’ylthri invaders. Kahn tells him no Prince Namor. The H’ylthri creatures are as much his enemies as they are his. Behold, as he demonstrates the truth of his words. It takes less than a minute, but it is a minute that will dwell in the memories of Namor and Namorita for the rest of their lives. The arcane power of the mysterious stranger tears through the H’ylthri horde and the air grows thick with the death screams of the plant people. In the stillness that follows, the surviving Atlanteans struggle to contain the waves of nausea which threaten to overwhelm them.
Namor proceeds to ask Kahn if that was necessary. If he possesses the power to transport Wolverine back to wherever he came from, could he not have sent the H’ylthri back to K’Un-Lun? Kahn asks, “to face a similar fate?” Did he not learn in his visit to that alien world that the human population has so poisoned the planet it can no longer support the H’ylthri? That was the very reason for their invasion of Earth.
Namorita asks Kahn who he is. Why has he suddenly appeared to help them? Kahn informs her that he is not there to help. He does not wish to live in a world ruled by the H’ylthri, but that does not make them allies. In fact, Prince Namor, his alliance with Iron Fist has made him his enemy. With that, Kahn jams his fingers into Namor’s head and binds Namorita with the crimson bands of Cytorrak.
Unable to free herself, Namorita asks Kahn what he is doing to Namor. Kahn tells her that he is punishing him, punishing him for his crime of interference. He had not succeeded in killing the son of K’Un-Lun, as was his fondest wish. But in the hands of the H’ylthri he would have suffered a slow and terrible fate in many ways worse than death. He, Namor, saved him from that and for that crime, he sets upon him a penalty he knows to hold a special terror for him. Stripped of his memory, his very identity, he sends him far, far away from this place; to wander without hope of rescue for the rest of his long and miserable life.
Sending Namorita away, Kahn tells her that he has no quarrel with her. He deems it sufficient punishment for her part in this, that she shall know her noble cousin is lost to her until the very end of time.