Namor’s not-so-secret cave
Not knowing what to do, the Exiles stand and stare at the Black Panther, with her claws poised at Sue Storm’s throat. Namor grimaces and fills his new allies in on her origins, that she killed her cousin T’Challa and took the throne of Wakanda not long after the meteor strike.
Black Panther hears this and says her cousin was a fool, for he was determined to help the rest of the world, even the White people who tried exploiting them over and over through the centuries. In a moment of reflection she adds how Namor and her cousin were very much alike. She then says he can watch as his wife dies and promises he and the kids will be next.
Then another Sue Storm comes out of nowhere, and decks Black Panther, telling the woman to keep her claws to herself. Black Panther is rocked back, but not before she slashes open the throat of the first Sue Storm.
The Wakandan queen regains her composure, lifting her hand to her mouth. She tells Sue it was a good hit, but isn’t very surprised by the body double as she thought Sue was caught too easily. Sue looks down at her doppelganger in horror noting the amount of blood pouring from her neck. Her face contorts in misery as she listens to “other Sue” coughing, gagging on the blood.
Meanwhile, the fight recommences. It’s Sabretooth versus Rough Justice and RJ pours on everything he’s got, calling Sabretooth a “little man.” That was a very bad mistake insulting Creed like that. Sabretooth advances swiftly and clocks him.
Nearby, Namor lifts a huge boulder over his head and throws it at the Black Panther, calling her honor into question. The Panther tells him rules are for losers and winning is all that matters. She deftly avoids the large rock and leaps to the top of a tall pillar. She laughs at his offensive techniques and then uses some acrobatic grace to topple the large structure over. Namor tries to avoid getting nailed, but doesn’t quite make it, the pillar smashing into pieces as it nails him in the back.
Psylocke watches all this and tries to help, but is hunted down by Iron Maiden. The newest addition to Bloodforce fires a bunch of repulsor rays her way, but misses. Psylocke decides it’s time to quit fooling around and takes to the air, surprising the neophyte baddie.
Betsy materializes her psychic katana. Iron Maiden scoffs at the purple weapon. Psylocke tells her it’s not the sword, but how she uses it. And with that she strikes a devastating blow that knocks Iron Maiden earthward. As she slams into the ground Psylocke hopes it hurts.
Sandstorm moves onto Psylocke while she’s distracted and blasts her with a powerful gale wind of sand. He threatens to repay her a thousand fold for any harm she’s done Iron Maiden. Sabretooth, on the ground, goes hand to hand against Iron Maiden, clawing away at her mask and gouging out some of the metal. He tells the girl he thinks Sandstorm’s sweet on her and suggests she quit Bloodforce and make the guy happy.
Enter Bloodwitch, intent on getting revenge. She leaps toward Sabretooth with an enraged look on her face. She tells him there’ll be no escaping her this time. Sabretooth doesn’t seem worried, but it doesn’t matter as Shadowclaw intercedes, delivering a powerful kick to Bloodwitch’s stomach.
Nearby, the attack on Psylocke is stopped. Sandstorm finds himself inside a bubble once more. He smiles, though, confident Sue’s concentration will slip, and he promises when it does he’ll flay every scrap of flesh from her bones and turn the bones themselves into powder.
Psylocke emerges from the dust cloud, none the worse for the wear, mocking Sandstorm’s typical “bad guy threat.” She says she’s not impressed, though realizes he’s probably strong enough to grind down a mountain. However, she changes her attention toward an enemy she can actually attack, Black Panther. She nails her in the head with a telekinetic blast.
Namor compliments Psylocke on the attack and rushes over to help Shadowclaw with Bloodwitch. He grabs the vampire by the waist and hoists her into the air, slamming her back into the ground.
Psylocke continues her attack on the Black Panther, this time manifesting her psychic knife. However, when she goes to strike the knife hits nothing but air. Black Panther teleports away, along with the rest of her crew, to the mouth of the cave. She tells Namor her goal was never to trade punches with them, but to win. She teleports Bloodforce away and in their stead ‘ports in a huge mechanical device.
Sue tells Psylocke to join her TK power with her force field quickly to try and build an impenetrable wall. Rogue starts to ask if there’s anything she can do, but is cut off by a enormous explosion followed by a bright, white light.
Outside, Panther’s Bloodforce escapes via hovercraft. They watch from the inner bay as the cave collapses on their enemies. Rough Justice thinks they got them, what with them dropping a tactical nuke on them and blowing it up without warning. Black Panther is a little more pessimistic, telling her faithful soldier that where Namor is concerned it’s no sure thing. She then places the order to return to Wakanda so they can set in motion the next part of their plan.
Inside the aforementioned cave, the dust settles and the smoke clears. Everyone, so far, appears unharmed. “Fake Sue” tells the kids to stay close. Johnny says they don’t have to listen since she’s not really their mother. Sabretooth tells him to do as he’s told and then looks around, amazed, never believing he’d ever see something like that… and live to tell the tale.
Gambit says the air is hot, but breathable. Namor adds the radiation is minimal thanks to his mother’s force field. Thoughts of his mother makes Gambit fear the worst, but Namor points out the field is still intact so his mother must still be alive. They spread out to look for her. Gambit makes the discovery.
Both Sue and Psylocke are found lying in a deep depression, Psylocke unconscious and Sue barely holding on. Namor rushes to her side and cradles her into his arms. Gambit checks on Psylocke and lets everyone know she’s still alive.
Now with a break in the action Erin looks up at “fake Sue” and says there’s something about her that reminds her of Blackdog. Johnny also asks what happened to her throat as they all saw the Panther woman slice it open. Mystiq takes his true form and explains they were all the same person, that he was Blackdog for a time. He also adds that he’s very hard to kill and then introduces himself.
Ari tells the kids to get back, that he’s a shapestealer. Namor corrects her, pointing out Mystiq saved their mother and that he’s their friend. Sue weakly tells her husband that if he has any miracles left now’s the time. Sabretooth agrees, not believing Sue has a lot left in her to maintain the field. He hopes Namor has a plan. Namor tells him he always does and to be patient.
Later, however, everyone is still stuck inside Sue’s bubble. Psylocke’s regained consciousness, but can’t focus her TK to help Sue with the field. Gambit worries his mom won’t be able to keep it up much longer and Sabretooth comments on the air quality getting worse. Rogue asks if they could transport everyone to the Crystal Palace. Sabretooth says he already tried, but the nuke’s “hot zone” is scrambling the Tallus’ link.
Just then, nearby, the ground collapses in upon itself. The foundation gives way and water comes crashing up through followed by a submarine. Namor tells Susan to expand her force field to cover the ship. Sabretooth asks if this was part of his plan, but Namor says that’s not one of his craft.
Sabretooth asks whose it is, but receives his answer when the top hatch opens and Attuma emerges. He introduces himself and says he’s there to rescue them. Another figure steps out from the hatch, Valeria Fen, second born of Namor and Sue. She says she talked Attuma into the rescue and they’re late because they ran into an ambush. She says Attuma saved their hides.
Valeria leaps down from the ship and bows, paying respects to her father, Lord of the Seven Seas. Gambit jokes his sister knows how to make an entrance. She punches Gambit in the arm and says it looks like his day’s been a match for hers. This leads to an introduction of the Exiles and what they do. Namor finally tells them to quit yapping so they can get going before their mother passes out from exhaustion.
A bit later, Gambit and Valeria sit down for a chat midst their voyage through the sea. Valeria tells her brother things are getting worse and a civil war is brewing. Gambit can’t believe dad trusted her with his secrets. Valeria points out he’s the one always going out on adventures while she’s been more dependable.
Sensing a need to change subject, Valeria asks to know more about the Exiles. Gambit’s face lights up at the thought of what they do and the world’s they’ve seen. Valeria doesn’t seem impressed, citing the trouble she has with just this world.
Gambit wonders why they came to their reality. Valeria asks if it’s a matter of them now knowing or not saying. Gambit thinks they don’t know, but wants to help them with whatever it is. Val tells him to be careful what he wishes for.
Turning the tables, Gambit asks what the deal is with her and Attuma. Her expression turns awkward and she admits that sometimes the deep takes you where you never thought you’d go. Gambit can’t believe it. Attuma and their father were enemies before they were born. Valeria starts to cry. She worries if things don’t change between those two she might have to make a choice that will break her heart.
While in the medic bay Mystiq gives a good prognosis to Sue telling her she’ll be back on her feet in no time. Sue is amazed at the jack of all trades that is Mystiq.
Still elsewhere in the ship, Namor, Attuma and Sabretooth hold a meeting on what’s been happening lately. Namor informs them the Atlantean High Command is remaining neutral on the latest happenings. Attuma mocks them calling them cowards. Namor says Kang wants to back a winner.
Attuma adds that part of the problem with the Atlanteans is that many resent him because of the resources he’s made available to the surface people. There are numerous citizens who feel his half-surface heritage and his surface wife have led to this alliance with the surface dwellers. Attuma suggests this be the reason that he joins the forces that are deployed above and leave the fight below to him and Fen.
Namor shakes Attuma’s hand and tells him to keep his daughter and the oceans safe. Attuma gives him his word on both counts. Attuma, Valeria and their crew disembark on another submarine as the Exiles and Namor and his family watch from one of the ship’s glass viewports.
Namor’s submarine heads toward the surface. As it breaks through the water rockets ignite and the submarine lifts into the air. Moments later warnings come flashing all across the board. Sue gets readings of high-intensity energy pulses coming from Wakanda, something shooting into the atmosphere.
They look outside and see some kind of energy barrier forming in the sky. Namor hopes they can go horizontal and outrun it. Sue says she’s also getting reports of other trigger points around the globe. She says they’re going to be trapped if they don’t get out of there soon.
Namor pushes the engines to maximum thrust, apologizing to his children for any pain they may be experiencing as a result. Sue doesn’t think they’re going to make it, the wave of energy is moving too fast. She grabs Namor’s hand and he asks what she’s doing. Sue says she’s using her forcefield to help them withstand the g-forces.
Rogue wants to know if anyone has any bright ideas. Sabretooth asks Psylocke if there’s anything she can do, maybe shield the ship with her TK. Psylocke says there’s only one way to find out. She concentrates, using the sum totality of her powers. The ship makes it, bursting free into space. Sabretooth congratulates Psylocke, but his compliment falls on deaf ears as she passes out from the strain. Mystiq asks Creed to help get her down to the infirmary.
The ship continues toward its destination, the terraformed Moon. A holographic display of Ultron appears next to Namor welcoming him to Luna-Prime. Namor asks if they’ve received his updates. Ultron tells him the President is waiting to discuss them in detail.
They arrive on Luna-Prime and enter the White House. They’re greeted by Nicholas Fury and Amara Aquilla, also the president. Namor looks to a display of the Earth and points out how the Panther has essentially closed off the entire planet. President Aquilla asks Dr. Stark, appearing through a holo-conference, if he has any thoughts on the situation. Stark admits he can’t even figure out how she did it in the first place and says they need more information. Grumpy Sabretooth says it looks like he doesn’t know much.
Sue asks President Aquilla about the status of her daughter and their people. Namor seconds her thoughts saying they can’t abandon the people on Earth. Dr. Stark butts in and says there’s nothing they can do at the moment. President Aquilla restates the need to find out what technology the Panther’s using, how she acquired it and what else she has planned.
Mystiq folds his arms and tells Rogue he thinks they’re witnessing the start of an inter-planetary war. Rogue appears indifferent saying it isn’t their world and isn’t their fight. Mystiq is taken aback; reminding her they’re heroes and asking how she expects to refuse to help these people.
Nearby, Psylocke is amazed, staring at the other habitable planets in their solar system: Venus, Mars and instead of an asteroid belt, the planet Hera, though they haven’t started terraforming it yet. Sabretooth interrupts her history lesson to tell her they have a major problem. He finally has contact with the Palace, but nobody’s answering.
Sabretooth walks over to the President and informs her of their problem, telling her have to go back. President Aquilla says she understands and wishes they could do something to help. Out of nowhere Gambit asks his parents for permission to join the Exiles… if they’ll take him. His parents agree, though they will miss him dearly.
Rogue asks Sabretooth if he agrees to this. Creed says he’s following his instinct, the same as when he allowed her to join. Rogue doesn’t like him and doesn’t trust him. Creed doesn’t care if she doesn’t like him, but says he needs to earn his trust, same as Rogue. In fact, he adds, the way things are they need him. And just like that they all teleport away.
The gang arrives in the Crystal Palace and gives Gambit a quick welcome. Gambit takes in his surroundings, eyes wide, mouth agape. Sabretooth tells Mystiq and Rogue to give the new guy a tour while he and Psylocke search for their missing teammates.
Later, Sabretooth checks on Psylocke while she tries working out the computer system. He asks if she’s found anything yet. Psylocke admits there’s a lot of stuff she doesn’t understand. She knows their missing friends are not in the Palace. Psylocke figures the best she can do is initiate a search.
Something comes across the screen that causes Psylocke to grab Creed’s attention. He asks if she’s found their teammates. No, she says, it’s something completely different. According to the computer their last mission was to recruit the final member of their team.
Psylocke is a bit spooked that the computer system knows more about their business than they do. Sabretooth says that’s all well and good, but it’s no help finding their other teammates. And on that note, and an emphatic “What the devil?!” from Psylocke, she has an answer for that too and it looks like they’re in trouble.