The sentient but primitive beings that have evolved in Tabula Rasa believe this to be a time of testing. The golden egg sprints (referring to the sun) above them. The Immortal Man left the skies. The gods who came in his place are false gods, sent to tempt them and they painted effigies (referring to Archangel and Fantomex). Those other new gods (referring to the X-Men) are false, too. It was all a test they failed. For now, the Immortal Man has returned.
Magneto and Psylocke get ready, in case the being in the space suit should attack.
And whatever sins made the Immortal Man leave, have only been darkened by their idolatry. One native being crouches, hoping the Immortal Man will forgive them. Instead, he kills him with an energy blast, then flies upwards.
Crouching next to the corpse, Psylocke realizes the Immortal Man doesn’t care about the X-Men. Magneto agrees, though his feelings towards the natives are more pronounced.
The Immortal Man kills more. It’s as if Iron Man had a grudge against cavemen. He wonders what they did. Betsy tells him to stop being so cynical and rip that suit open. Magneto replies it’s as if he’s not quite… there. A dimensional twist of some kind – fascinating! It doesn’t extend to his projectiles though. Magneto fends them off to let them explode in the air.
Psylocke calls Storm via commlink to inform her that the local equivalent of Dr. Doom has turned up. They request assistance. Storm passes the message on to the other teams, however Colossus is busy with monsters kidnapping his sister and Hope and Namor are dealing with underwater creatures.
Danger announces she adjusts her priorities, breaking off her high-altitude scan for Summers’ life signs. Storm flies toward Psylocke, explaining he fell down some kind of trap. At least she hopes so.
Meanwhile, within the trap, Cyclops, along with a few other men, are tied up. A strange humanoid being walks about, ignoring Cyclops’ threats. Another prisoner tells him to give it up, their captor doesn’t respond to anything. He just does that creepy noise. Can’t Cyclops use his powers? Scott explains he can’t reach his visor and their captor bound his fingers, so he can’t activate it with his palm button. Their captor has no idea how lucky he is. The captor gurgles.
Cyclops asks how everyone is. Any casualties or injuries? He is told he captured them and fed them, but the savage only gets angry when they shut up. A… Savage? the being suddenly asks. The men are taken aback. No get suggestive action? he asks. “Savage not want you shut up. Want to listen words. I am starting to… underspeak? Understand?” He understands? Scott asks. No all yet. Is understanding good. Better. Not hard speak. Now, Savage quick-learner. Let them more talk. He grabs a knife.
Magneto tries to still fend off the missiles. He assumes Betsy cannot simply turn their foe’s mind off. His thoughts are too ghostly, she replies, and pretty damn alien. Poetic as well, in an angry kind of way.
As she dodges a blast, Magneto remarks he can deflect his projectiles but he fears eventually he’s going to get lucky, and with no metal deposits around, he fears the master of magnetism may be out of options. There is nothing he can do? Betsy asks. He jests. Magneto manipulates his helmet into small shards and fires them at the Immortal Man. He could have dragged a satellite from space, a Buick from across state or even those blades of hers. But this was quickest.
The Immortal Man flies towards them. Magneto is focused on him. Their foe teleports behind him. Betsy shouts a warning and pushes Magneto out of harm’s way. Then she asks Danger when they can expect back-up. Shortly, is the curt reply, trajectory processing.
How shortly? Betsy screams as the Immortal Man flies towards them for another attack. “Right now!” is the reply, as Danger flies downwards, shoving him to the ground. Patience is a virtue, humans! she lectures. The Immortal Man fires at her while emitting music-like sounds. Enough! Storm shouts as a lightning storm hits him. The Immortal Man goes to the ground.
Storm asks all teams to report. Colossus explains that they thought some crystals were flowers. They were actually a lure. Some animals have taken Magik. They’ve tranquilized her and dragged her into the cave system. Does he need help? Storm asks. He “Juggernauts up.” Nyet, he replies as he enters the cave.
Namor explains they defeated the foe but the problem remains. It will be solved. They’ll provide updates as the situation demands. What’s the problem? Hope asks him. Asses kicked, go home. They will not be the last, he explains. Those beings believe they are under attack. They have lived in these water for all time. It’s all they’ve known; they’ve evolved in this river. But for them it wasn’t a river. It was a lake. The water didn’t flow as time stood still. Their homes aren’t built to withstand a current. They think they are being attacked. The water is either being pushed from upstream or pulled from downstream. They will lash out again and again… and now they presume he and Hope are amongst their enemies.
He really isn’t just a pretty face, Hope admits impressed. Her incredulity shows her inexperience, he announces. To be king of Atlantis takes more than perfect aesthetics. They have to make them understand they are friends. Do his aquatic powers include being able to speak tapeworm? Hope asks as they near the building. No, he replies, but there are universal tongues in which Namor is fully fluent…
Elsewhere, Storm decides they must discern the purpose of their foe and find Cyclops. Before she can give orders, the Savage shows up with Cyclops, stating he has all the answers. He apologizes for the delay. He broke Cyclops’ fartalk device.
Storm marvels that he apparently learned English in hours. It is a simple, relatively linear language, the Savage remarks. How long does it normally take to learn? No more than a week or so, surely? A little longer, Psylocke hints. How charming, he replies politely.
Cyclops quickly explains that he kidnapped everybody. He cut their bonds, but they remain in his home. He thinks it’s safer there. The Savage apologizes and raises hands to display he means no harm and is unarmed. He had to study them, he was not sure they were sentient. Frankly, he is still not convinced. They take more than a week to learn this language. That does not strike him as particularly sentient. But he would not… He stops, noting they have contractions. Interesting. He wouldn’t hurt them. Given a choice, he wouldn’t hurt anyone. It’s all life and precious.
His old friend always felt differently, he muses as he looks at the crater, and he fears the lessons of the last 65 million years will have only hardened that. Scott asks for an explanation.
The Savage’s tale:
His people called themselves the Apex. They were the highest species inside this little time-capsized land. His friend and he were the finest minds. They knew the long night was coming – and with it an energy crisis. For 65 million years, there would be no input of energy from outside the system. The slow light of the sun would be no more. Their own… Celestial engines would be insufficient to keep them in the manner the Apex were accustomed to.
His friend favored escape, claiming his science could push through the boundary into the world outside. The Savage argued they should enter stasis, using the residual power to maintain them until the dawn. He was rejected for un-Apexian defeatist behavior. He left and prepared his own stasis coffin, out in the secluded wilderness.
His friend was humored, though they though him insane. He made his attempt but his temporal manipulations faltered. He was caught in the boundary between worlds. He was viewed as a constellation by the primitive people.
The Savage emerged from his own chamber at dawn, some hundred years ago, to find the Apex in desperation had turned to his technology. They had made a place of slumber. Sadly, unlike his own, their pyramid was extremely obvious. There was no power in that valley except for the palace itself. The flora fed from the Celestial energies. And the fauna fed on the Apex…
When the time boundary collapsed, his old friend was freed. He imagines he discovered the place of slumber to find that time had passed… and he was too late. Tabula Rasa fed on the Apex across the long night. They are the reason there is life here at all. Life, but not the Apex. The two of them are the last.
What will he do? Cyclops asks. The Savage replies curtly. They do not know his old friend. His initial anger spent, he will return to his people’s empty stronghold. Right now, he will be planning a way to restore their people. Knowing him, it will work perfectly. Not known, are the side effects. Whatever they are… such as a nuclear explosion…