Happily, Kurt Wagner aka Nightcrawer leaps across the roofs of New York City, shouting exuberantly: Guten Morgen, New York, I love you!
He somersaults from a high roof to a lower one. As he pauses, he notes that nearby a construction worker on a scaffolding, who cries in alarm as he a sees a rope snap, dumping cinder blocks to the street below. Worse, two young girls stand on the ground.
Instantly, Kurt teleports down to the girls, grabs them and pulls them aside, moments before the bricks hit the pavement. Nightcrawler’s the name, saving beautiful damsels is the game, he announces, trying to introduce himself.
The reaction is not quite what he envisioned. The girls’ mother calls Julie and Charlotte to her. Panicked, the girls run away from Kurt. He tries to assure their mother that they are perfectly safe but, before he can finish his sentence, she hits him with her purse, calls him a freak and orders him to get his hands off her children.
A hostile crowd has gathered, blaming Kurt of attacking those girls. Ignoring his assurances that he was helping, they become violent. He only has one option and teleports away to a nearby alleyway.
He can still hear the mob discussing him, calling him a monster and demon. Dejected, he turns on his image inducer to give him the appearance of the Errol Flynn lookalike he favors.
Meanwhile at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, his fellow X-Men are going through a training session in the Danger Room. They’re fighting a huge robot. Cyclops tells his team they know this level. Are they gonna let “G.I. Joebot” kick their mutated behinds again?
His “behind” is staying untouched today, Colossus vows seriously while Wolverine remarks this sucker is going down.
Storm attacks with lightning bolts. The robot is shielded against that, Cyclops tells her. Find another way! She follows up with a miniature blizzard to make the metal more brittle. Cyclops praises her and tells Banshee he is up next. He uses his sonic scream. However, the robot pushes Storm into Banshee. Stay awake up there! Cyclops shouts, causing Wolverine to snarls they are doing fine. He and Colossus deliver the coup de grace.
Not bad, Cyclops admits grudgingly, thirty-two seconds, but… Lemme guess, Wolverine moans, The old X-Men used to do it in four! Try three, comes the reply. Oh, and when they see Nightcrawler, tell him Danger Room sessions aren’t an optional extra around here. He’d better have a great reason for ducking it out.
Colossus finds Nightcrawler in the garden, sitting atop a tree and musing. What is he doing up there? Piotr asks. Thinking, comes the reply. Piotr asks what has happened. It was just like Winzeldorf when the professor found him, Kurt explains. They were a group of ordinary people going about their day and then they saw him and became a mob. In the circus, he hid inside a costume and a fanciful name. He let the crowd believe he was an acrobat in a mask.
He switches on his image inducer. It gives him a human face but it’s just another lie, a trick of the light. Shake his hand and you’ll still feel three fingers… He is so sick of hiding! He turns it off again.
Peter ventures that the word isn’t ready for them yet. They must be patient. He has been patient all his life, Kurt replies. What he saw today, what he felt, makes him wonder if there is any point to this place. They wanted him dead! What hope is there for him when the mere sight of his face causes such hatred? What hope is there for any of them?
Inside the building, Cyclops is phoning his girlfriend Jean Grey aka Phoenix, who is currently sharing a Greenwich Village apartment with PI Misty Knight and trying to make it outside the X-Men.
Scott reminds her that as Phoenix her powers are dialed up to eleven and she needs to learn how to control them. Impatiently, Jean tells him she has got a life in New York now. She never planned to orbit Planet Xavier forever. She quit the X-Men, he didn’t. She’s not sweet little “Marvel Girl” anymore. She’s Phoenix and she’s handling her powers perfectly.
She grabs a portfolio. She tells Scott she has to run. She has a job interview. They’ll talk later. She loves him.
That moment, Xavier telepathically calls the team to the main dining room.
The team enters. Wolverine asks what’s with the telepathic dinner gong. They don’t usually get together for lunch. This is a special occasion, Xavier informs them. A rare opportunity for a cultural exchange. They are about to met some very important visitors…
And that moment, the Royal Family of the Inhumans (Black Bolt, Medusa, Karnak, Gorgon and Triton) are teleported in by the loyal dog, Lockjaw.
Medusa, who as usual speaks for her husband, the king, thanks them for the invitation. How was the United Nations meeting? Xavier asks her. Taxing, she admits smiling. She’d sooner face Doctor Doom than another gaggle of diplomats. But they are slowly achieving official status for their people.
Xavier introduces their house guests. Dr. Moira MacTaggert and Princess Lilandra. After lunch, the teams talk. Xavier agrees with Medusa and Black Bolt that it’s an evolutionary imperative to fear the unfamiliar.
Gorgon tries his charm on Storm, admitting she is beautiful for a Non-Inhuman, while Wolverine informs Karnak that not only did he also tangle with the Hulk, but that he let him live.
Nightcrawler and Colossus talk with Triton. Nightcrawler is astonished to learn that there is a full city of Inhumans. Home to many thousands of his kind, Triton informs Kurt. They are an infinitely diverse people. No two are alike and all are treated equally. Its name is Attilan. But it’s also known as the Great Refuge… Kurt listens attentively.
After lunch, Banshee takes Gorgon and Karnak for a tour and shows them the Danger Room where Wolverine is already waiting. Gorgon doesn’t seem impressed by the room and Wolverine calls him on it. Care to give it a try? he suggests. With pleasure, Gorgon shoots back, while Banshee tries to mediate this isn’t a good idea. Wolverine tells him to can it. Let’s see what Billy Goat Gruff can do.
A door opens to let combat droids enter. Gorgon smashes them apart with his feet or by creating shockwaves. Is this their idea of danger? he mocks. He’s had rougher times paying Xenoball with his nieces. Is Karnak going to let him hog all the fun? he asks his cousin who proceeds to use his martial arts and ability to see any flaw to take apart another robot. He refers to this as a little light exercise.
The exercise over, Gorgon laughs dismissively. Their weapons belong into an Attilan nursery, he announces. Worked up a little sweat there? Wolverine asks and presses a button. Let’s wash it all off! A stream of water hits Gorgon in the face. Furious, he announces that was a mistake.
Banshee steps between him and Wolverine, asking them to remember they are all friends here. Wolverine unsheathes his claws and grins. If Gorgonzola gets his kick playing with toys, he’s got some shiny ones right here he might like… Little man, Gorgon replies, let him show him how he gets his “kicks”…
Moments later, a powerful blow sends Wolverine literally straight through the roof. Seeing him fly by, Medusa apologizes to Cyclops for Gorgon’s temper. Nonplussed, Cyclops assures her it’s okay. Wolverine probably started it. He survived being punched into orbit once. He’ll be fine. Wow, look at that… still going…
Soon, Medusa reads Gorgon the riot act while Triton apologizes to the Professor on Black Bolt’s behalf and announces Lockjaw will now teleport them home.
Nightcrawler interferes. If the Inhumans permitted it, he would very much like to see their city. May he accompany them for a visit?
Colossus feels uncomfortable with this and quickly announces he too would like to see Attilan. Triton smiles and invites them.
Soon they are teleported into the middle of the city, an elevated platform surrounded by fantastic buildings. Flying Inhumans see them and happily announce the return of the Royal Family. Unglaublich! Kurt exclaims. He has never seen such a beautiful sight. Triton agrees that Attilan is priceless jewel. He explains that they are sheltered within the Himalayas far removed from the human race. Their climate is preserved by technology, their safety by vigilance.
They walk inside over a dais. Triton claims that the Inhumans have dwelled within Attilan’s walls for millennia. Their ancestors were once part of the greater world but they were drives into seclusion by the fury of a jealous humanity.
The king and queen are greeted by enthusiastic subjects and wave back. Nightcrawler notes they are well-loved. The people know that they would lay down their lives for their well-being.
A servants presents Medusa’s sister and her husband, Crystalia Amaquelin, better known as Crystal, and the mutant Pietro Frank aka Quicksilver. Smiling, Crystal too welcomes the mutants to Attilan.
Pietro strictly looks at Nightcrawler. So, they are part of Xavier’s latest brood then? He’d heard he’s been recruiting again. He expects Xavier told them of him? Ah, no, Herr Frank, Nightcrawler replies. He does not recall the Professor mentioning him. Indulgently Crystal suggests they need to find him a press agent. Coolly, Pietro informs the X-Men that in his youth he served Magneto. He’s sure they’ve heard of him. He clashed with their teammates many times as Quicksilver. And, while he no longer has reason to make any X-Man fear his name, he would suggest they do not give him one. With that sour statement, he makes his exit.
Crystal apologizes for her husband. She’s afraid Pietro’s mutant power is superspeed, not supercharm. Addressing her as “Lady Crystalia,” Peter assures her there is no need to apologize. She asks them to call her Crystal. Triton takes the two X-Men away for the Grand tour of Attilan.
And as promised, Attilan is an inspiring metropolis of shining towers and natural wonder. It is a carnival of unique, exotic beings, each more amazing than the last. For the first time in his life, Kurt Wagner walks freely. His appearance attracts no hate, no revulsion, no horror. He loves it. And, always, Peter Rasputin watches his friend.
Later, he joins him on a balcony. Kurt states that Triton has gone to fetch them some transport. He says the helix pools in the north sector are a breathtaking sight… Peter interrupts him. Strictly, he announces that Kurt cannot stay here. Excuse me? Nightcrawler replies. Peter continues that he knows Kurt. The thing that happened to him has hurt him deeply. And on the same day, he is shown all this. He must see it as a sign. But he thinks it is a test. Kurt would be surrendering. If he remained in Attilan, he would be agreeing with the X-Men’s enemies, the ones who say that mutants have no place in society.
He got a taste of society today, Kurt reminds him. He was lucky to escape with his life. He is not an Inhuman, Peter insists. Neither is Quicksilver, Kurt retorts, and they have welcomed him. Peter can shed his metal skin without a single though. He can join any crowd and not be noticed. All the X-Men enjoy this freedom! He is the only one who was marked from birth to be different! The demon! The freak! The monster!
Peter reminds him hat Kurt told him he was tired of hiding. Will he live on a mountain for the rest of his life? He could be accepted in Attilan, Kurt insist! Only by denying his world… Shut up! Kurt tells him and turns away. Stupid Russian farm boy. What does he know of the world?
He steps outside to hear a bell. The crowd is happily following it. Triton enters, announcing the Helix pools will have to wait. Where is Peter? he asks. He’ll join them later, Kurt claims. Why all this excitement? The bell of terrigenesis has been sounded, comes the reply. It is their most sacred ritual. Come, the temple of Randac awaits!
Soon the two of them are in the crowd around a round dais on which stand several normal-looking children, a priest and a chamber. The priest begins: all their love to them, children of Attilan, for they are their spirit and promise. The fruit of Randac’s labor are passed to them. All that they were will be washed away. All that they will become shall be decided. Come forward and be forever new!
One girl introduces herself as Seyrenn, gene-caste of Morrith. She is asked to step into the chamber, where the Mists of Terrigen will embrace her, purify her and make her perfect.
They witness the girl turning into a huge black shape. The audience cheers. Only Kurt Wagner is horrified. The girl was mutated. What is this madness? he exclaims.
Triton exclaims it is an ancient rite of passage. They unlock the genetic potential of their young. But he thought they were born this way, Kurt stammers. They experiment on their children!This is obscene!
He jumps onto the dais and orders them to stop. How dare he defile this sacred place? the priest shouts. Kurt tries to drag away the other kids. What about their rights? he shouts. The priest orders the guards to get that lunatic off the dais. Kurt attacks the guard, claiming he is the only sane man here. They are so blinded by tradition, they can’t see the crime they are committing!
His kick makes the guard’s weapon misfire and hit the chamber. The crowd’s mood turns ugly, they demand Kurt be destroyed. Furious, the priest takes an energy lance and strikes Kurt in the back with it.