On the road to San Francisco, Cyclops, Avalanche and Pixie wait for the Juggernaut. This is plan 4.
Avalanche protests that he put on the monkey suit, but he isn’t an X-Man. He didn’t sign up for hero duty. Does he like running a bar in San Francisco? Scott Summers asks. If they don’t stop the Juggernaut, there’s no San Francisco and no bar. Avalanche needn’t fight him. Just create a chasm.
Avalanche uses his earth-moving power to create a chasm between them and the approaching Juggernaut. The Juggernaut walks on, his steps creating a magical bridge for him. Unstoppable his followers chant.
Outside the mayor’s office, the crowd of anti-mutant protesters has grown, causing Cyclops to remind Mayor Sadie Sinclair that she said earlier only a hand full of crazies hate them. She didn’t say she was talking about Giant-Man’s hands. Sadie points out people are scared. It’s not the X-Men they hate. They just hate being afraid. The Juggernaut’s offer has brought all that to the surface. She knows it’s hard but he can’t take it personally.
He’s used to it, he replies and summarizes the threat as a whole seems to be of Asgardian origin. He’s already sent an agent to explore the contacts they have in that world. It’s a long shot but… Fire enough long shots, one may hit the target, Sadie finishes. He agrees that’s their other approach. They’ve enough power sets to try experimental combinations. But… he’s just seen the Juggernaut walk on air. This comes down to magic and it is not exactly what they do. He’s consulting with their best expert on creating a non-mutant response.
They step out of the office where Cyclops’ teleporter, Pixie, is waiting. Scott states that mutant holdings have been attacked across the city. What’s the official stance on the offer? “Destroy Utopia and they live. Abandon SF and the mutants live?” Please, Sadie snorts, they are in this together.
A man draws a gun on Scott, who quickly takes him out without even using his powers. Is he…? Sadie asks. He shrugs. As he said, he’s used to it.
In the infirmary on Utopia, Emma Frost is still in the grip of the fear. She has nightmares of the Phoenix, who taunts her about Jean Grey. Jean left Emma in a coma on a whim and destroys Emma’s mind whenever she touches her. Emma crouches. Scott loved her in a way he will never love Emma, the Phoenix continues, and she always comes back. In fact, she is back, isn’t she? Emma knows that. And in her little black heart she knows what to do with the little redhead… Emma starts awake and looks at the unconscious occupant of the other bed, Hope Summers…
The X-brig, Illyana Rasputin’s cell. While Danger stands guard, Cyclops asks Magik if she can translate the runes. She thinks so. If she understands correctly, it’s a mantra: “Kuurth, breaker of stone, hails the Serpent” repeated. She smirks. That is interesting. She may have a solution, she announces. But she needs freedom to work a little magic. She needs to be out of this cell.
Elsewhere, Plan 7 is under way. Project Purgatory survivor Face, under guidance by Karma, deploys a unique energy annihilation beam at the Juggernaut. Result: ineffective.
Plan10: Pixie attempts to teleport Juggernaut to alternate location (e.g. bottom of the sea). Result: ineffective. Juggernaut returns before a step is taken. Pixie redeploys to her previous position as Cyclops’ personal transport.
Plan 12: Rogue attempts to absorb target’s power, memories etc. Result: ineffective. Immediate withdrawal as initial contact causes instant physiological distress.
Plan 13: Watched by Cyclops, Colossus and Kitty, Magik draws a circle in the sand. Cyclops informs her that her harness has been recalibrated to let her magic take her to any cleared destination. Go anywhere else and the explosive fail-safe will activate. Kitty and Peter can activate disciplinary or fatal charges. As if he would ever do such a thing, Peter announces. They could at least pretend to be hard cases, Kitty sighs.
Cyclops continues that, unless her keepers override it, if signals are cut, she has thirty seconds to get back here or they will fire. If she tries and removes the harness… Illyana interrupts. She understands. He is being eminently sensible. She gestures at Kitty and Peter to step inside the circle. As they teleport away, she warns them not to step out if they value their immortal souls…
A moment later, they are in the Crimson Cosmos, dwarfed by its ruler, Cyttorak. Her family never takes them anywhere like this, Kitty mutters. Cyttorak addresses them. They come in their weak flesh to a dimension where annihilation is prayer. If they are pilgrims, then destruction will be their offering. If they are heretics, it will be their penance!
Magik respectfully addresses him as “great Cyttorak” and begs forgiveness. They would never have come but they carry dire news. His avatar has betrayed him.
Back on Utopia:
In the infirmary, Emma Frost gets up, grabs a pillow and walks towards the unconscious Hope…
Plan 16: Mercury attempts to incapacitate Juggernaut by filling his lungs. Result: ineffective. Aborted when Mercury realizes she is being dissolved by Juggernaut’s internal fauna, antibodies etc.
Plan 19: Psionic attacks by involving mind contact have proved ineffective. Deploy non-mind contact with psionic powers by Psylocke. Result: ineffective.
Plan 4: Haemopyrokinetic Adam X deployed to attempt to incapacitate Juggernaut by igniting his blood. Result: Blood ignition a success, but worse than ineffective. For fifteen minutes, the unstoppable Juggernaut is rendered an unstoppable Juggernaut that ignites everything it touches.
In the Crimson Cosmos, Cyttorak observes Juggernaut through a scrying glass. They are mistaken, he announces. Marko finally acts as he would have always wished. He is a hymn to destruction to Cyttorak’s glory.
Destruction yes, but not his glory, Illyana corrects him. He serves another god, carrying his power as well as Cyttorak’s. She points to the runes left in the Juggernaut’s footsteps. Is that his scripture?
Red energy flares around them. Kitty gets the feeling they shouldn’t be here. Then why did she insist on coming? Peter asks, only watching Illyana. Because they shouldn’t be here, Kitty stresses.
He is apostate! Cyttorak announces. He will be his avatar no longer! Kitty congratulates lllyana and suggests they get out. Undeterred, Illyana continues that Cyttorak will need another avatar. One to show the heretic where true power lies. Realizing what she intends, Peter shouts “no!” Cyttorak agrees. He manifests his gem, telling Illyana to touch it and become forevermore a human Juggernaut. She steps forward.
That was not the plan, Peter protests. It was, she corrects him. She told Scott Peter would never understand. He isn’t like her, he is kind. Her soul was soot-black for so long. She is not unfamiliar with damnation. This way is best.
Back on Earth:
Plan 33: Banshee is transported in by Pixie from X-Factor’s New York office. Her sound energy synergizes with Dazzler’s sound-to-light power to generate extreme intensity laser. Result: Ineffective.
Plan 37: Explosive stone entity Rockslide’s potential energy is unlocked by Gambit, to create a living bomb. Result: X-lab rates detonation as one of the largest mutant-generated force blasts recorded. Still ineffective.
Cecilia Reyes is nearly exhausted in her effort to protect civilians with her force shield. This leads to a break in X-Men activities for her to recover.
Plan 42: Magneto transports a decommissioned US navy vessel from San Diego used as a projectile / obstacle. Result: Ineffective.
In her office Sadie Sinclair tells the general to say what he means. He explains the X-Men are primarily deployed elsewhere. The Atlanteans are engaged on another front. With the forces they have available and the help of surprise, they could bring Utopia crashing down.
Sadie buries her face in her hands. He continues that she’s had a good relationship with the mutants. They’ve been good for the city. She doesn’t want to consider this. But it’s their responsibility to at least be ready to take the option if it comes to it. Better they have the gun loaded and don’t shoot it than the alternative. Sadie agrees it’s an option. Load the gun and keep it firmly in their holster. But let’s try everything else first. What else has he got?
They are unaware of a bug in the office…
And so, soon, Danger informs Cyclops of the meeting and that the military is preparing a strike against Utopia. He gives orders to withdraw combatants from the front lines. No one engages the Juggernaut until further notice. Redeploy the majority of their forces to protect Utopia. He’s going to go and talk with him about his offer.
In the Crimson Cosmos, Colossus holds Magik back. She’s suffered enough. He steps outside the circle. What’s he… Kitty begins to ask. He’s saving people, he replies as he walks to the gem. That’s what they do. If they can’t save people, what’s the point?
Kitty tries to follow him. Illyana magically holds her back. If she leaves the circle, she damns herself! Kitty protests they have to stop him. Illyana thinks not. She thinks he’s unstoppable. She thinks Kitty is too late.
Peter touches the gem. Not like this! Kitty shouts. “Peter Rasputin, I love you, you idiot! Don’t destroy the man I love!”
Crimson light engulfs Colossus and the Juggernaut helmet forms around his head. “Oh Katya. My Katya. Too late,” he replies, glowing with crimson energy…