The Palace of Slumber, Tabula Rasa, Montana:
The X-Men and the Savage look at the palace, at what seems to be a volcanic eruption of blue energy. See that light and smoke? the Savage asks them. That’s bad. There’s no need to patronize them, Cyclops remarks. If it takes no more than a few hours to learn their language, how was he to know that they’d grasp the enormity of the peril? he asks while Danger transmits her readings to the X-Lab.
Cyclops asks Storm to brief him on what happened to the other two teams while he was away. Magik was taken by local predators and Colossus is pursuing them into the underworld, Ororo explains. Namor says he and Hope have “a situation” underwater.
The Savage suggests that is for the best. They are powerhouses. That is a great repository of energy. It sounds like a recipe for unfortuitous explosions. What should they call him? Ororo asks the Savage. They’d need a choir of their voices to say it even in its casual variant, he replies and suggests they keep it simple. He’ll be “Good Apex” and his old friend will be “bad Apex.” Can they handle that? It may be beyond their tiny mutant brains, she replies wryly.
He’s sure they will be fine, he encourages her and suggests they go inside the mountain and see what his old friend (“Bad Apex”) has done in his terrible grief.
They enter the Palace. What is that thing? Cyclops asks, looking at a crystal column. The Savage explains that the Apex gathered all the residues of the Celestial energies Tabula Rasa was created with and stored them here. And now it appears to be… he is unsure, wondering what his old friend has done. It won’t be a mere bomb. He could create nuclear weaponry from fruit preserves. Tricky to tell from here.
Cyclops suggests they get closer. Are they immune to cosmic rays? the Savage asks. No, they are not. Then they can’t, is the reply. He decides they need to speak to his old friend. He cannot risk meddling without knowing what he is doing. Cyclops orders Danger topside to get scans and find the Immortal Man. The Savage points out he knows where he will be.
The Museum of Ideal Perfections:
What does he mean? Scott asks. Has he a lab or --? The Savage chuckles. Many argued his friend was the Apex’s greatest genius. His mind wouldn’t be confined to what they call science. Art, literature, poetry, forms of expression for which they have no parallel. He mastered them all. So is he the Savage’s better? Magneto asks. He said arguably, the Savage stresses. There’s some who’d argue anything!
His people, when building their palace of slumber, brought their greatest works here to rest alongside them. Where will they find him? With his masterpiece!
They enter another chamber to find the Immortal Man. The Savage speaks to him in a melodic language. The Immortal Man replies in English, thanking him for taking time to explain. He was always quicker to collaborate, he adds, calling the Savage “unwife.”
Unwife? Scott asks. It’s complicated, the Savage replies. “Bad Apex” sidestepped anthropological issues; he wasn’t sure they were sophisticated enough to grasp.
The Immortal Man addresses the X-Men: they come here with his unwife to stop him. If they knew the Apex, they wouldn’t. He shows them a butterfly-like device. Each of their wings was crafted to express a single idea. The garden was filled with a crafted swarm, a matrix of meaning, assembling and reassembling. This was a symphonic garden. His art, gone! His people, gone! They are left with the ghosts of wonders. He crumbles the device. They walk on dead poetry. The Apex were poetry. The maggots of the wild turned their sleeping bodies into carrion. It is not right! he seethes. It will not stand!
It is hard, the Savage agrees, also calling the other “unwife,” but time will heal. The Immortal Man was trapped between seconds. For him, it has been hours since the Apex lived. The Savage has had years to grieve. And he cannot punish ignorant and unknowing creatures.
Whatever he’s doing here is going to kill them all, isn’t it? Storm remarks. What their people have done here is beautiful. She cannot believe such a people would want a slaughter in their name.
No need to speculate. When he’s brought them back, he’ll ask them and, if it’s a crime, he’ll accept whatever punishment they wish! the Immortal Man replies. When this palace was founded, the Celestial energies grew new life. And when he uses all that they stored he can restore the Apex from their killers’ corpses!
This is sadness to see him fallen so far, the Savage announces. But now he understands and knows how to stop him. He runs away. The Immortal Man fires a missile at him. Magneto tries to stop it again but this time it blows up in his face as the Immortal Man adapted his weaponry.
As he steps outside the room, Psylocke ambushes him with her sword. Electrical energy takes her out.
Cyclops attacks next. The Immortal Man deflects the optic blast, calling them a s foolish as his unwife. They fight against civilization in favor of mud!
As the Savage tries to enter the Celestial energies, Danger wants him back and holds him back physically. He explains he is sacrificing himself. He knows they have the world “heroism” - is it pejorative in their society? Danger points out that pointless sacrifice is stupidity. He has a protection suit available. Use it! He is confused until Danger turns into said protection suit and envelopes the Savage, who admit he’s impressed.
The Immortal Man comes flying through the roof, calling him a traitor. But the Savage acts, venting all the Celestial energies which dissipate in the land, making it impossible for the Immortal Man to collect them. He asks him to stop.
He has betrayed the Apex! the Immortal Man shouts. He can do nothing constructive? Then destruction will do! he vows. He doesn’t need cosmic energies to sear this place! The suit’s is enough! Everything in this valley shall be as dead as their people! He begins by destroying the palace.
Storm shouts this was his people’s home. This is all that remains of them. He would destroy even that? If he does this, nothing will remain of his people! Look at what he’s already done!
The Immortal Man begins to emit musical sounds in his language, then teleports out. The Savage sinks down and Danger reforms. Storm asks if he is hurt. What she said to his unwife cut him to the core, he replies. He is so sad, so, so sad. And he always had a way with words. His unwife will have retreated somewhere to consider his next move. He’s a genius. It may take years, but he’ll find one. They have time, which is exactly what they need.
So… they’ve won? Cyclops asks. It depends on how his culture defines “won,” the Apex replies. If “won” means “defeated the antagonist that immediately opposes us,” then they have definitely won. But if it means “protected those they wished to protect,” then they haven’t. What does he mean? Scott asks. Unless they do something swiftly, every living thing in Tabula Rasa will be dead, the Savage announces darkly…