Colossus races through a crowd of Inhumans, shouting the name of his friend: Kurt!!!
Nightcrawler lies unconscious on a dais at the temple of Randac. Colossus reaches him. What have they done to him? he shouts. The priest Oboroth replies that he struck him down. He desecrated their most sacred ritual. The time of Terrigenesis.
A mob eggs him on to finish the defiler. Standing protectively over Kurt, Colossus threatens, if the priest has killed him… Oboroth remarks that the endo-staff merely phases through a body, disrupting the biofunctions. He lives. He will awaken in pain. But he deserves far worse. The alien will face judgment, but it is only formality. There is but one penalty for his crime… death.
No! Peter shouts. If he must fight every Inhuman in this city, then he shall! They will not harm him!
Triton tries to calm him. More violence will not save his friend. He thought Kurt was Triton’s friend also, Colossus shoots back. Was he wrong. They will find a way to help him, Triton replies.
No! his cousin Gorgon shouts and stamps his hoof. With his own eyes he saw the mutant defile the Terrigenesis. How many times has Attilan been attacked by Outworlders?! Enough of this madness! He must pay!
Triton chides his cousin that his rage has ever been his downfall. He orders him to control it. Do not test him, Gorgon threatens.
Silence! comes another voice. On a hover platform are Black Bolt and his queen, Medusa. Will they now see members of the Royal House brawling in public? she chides her cousins. This temple is the house of Randac, the greatest mind in Inhuman history. They will not abuse his legacy!
The priest Oboroth demands the alien be punished. It is sacred law. Coolly, Medusa orders him to hold his tongue. He forgets to whom he is speaking. Black Bolt is king and his word is law.
Black Bolt raises his hand. He declares there will be a trial, Medusa interprets. The still unconscious Nightcrawler is dragged away. Peter wants to join him but Triton holds him back, telling him the trial will commence at dawn and they must prepare.
Kurt needs his friends at his side, Peter explains, all of them. Help him contact the X-Men! Bring more outworlders to Attilan? Triton asks. That would only aggravate the situation. They must try to placate the population.
Has he ever been trapped in a world of strangers… cut off from his loved ones? Peter asks him. Yes, Triton replies slowly. Then he understands what Kurt is feeling, Peter insists. Let the people who know him best speak on his behalf. It is his right… Triton is silent, then agrees. His idea is to get the X-Men via Lockjaw, the teleporting dog.
But the dog is slumbering happily (under a picture of his mistress Crystal). Triton explains that Lockjaw sometimes rests for several days after a series of teleportation journeys. Colossus wants to wake him. Triton informs him that would not be wise. Disturbing Lockjaw can have serious consequences. He once fouled Gorgon’s bedchamber and left him stranded in Antarctica. They will have to contact the X-Men by more conventional means…
And so they use a commlink to call Xavier (flanked by Cyclops and Storm) in Westchester. Triton explains what Nightcrawler did.
Nightcrawler witnessed the ritual of Terrigenesis when Inhuman children are transformed by the Terrigen mists and gain new abilities. For some reason that angered him. He invaded the ritual and caused the destruction of the mist chamber. This tradition lies at the heart of Inhuman culture. To see it destroyed by an alien has enraged all of Attilan…
What he‘d give for a dull moment or two, Scott Summers sighs, then asks Storm to find Banshee while he warms up the Blackbird. Looks like they are heading for the Himalayas….
Xavier announces he will be accompanying them. Black Bolt and he are colleagues. He will listen to him… And if he doesn’t? Scott shoots back. They’ll be in a city filled with thousands of superhumans. Xavier can’t be risked in that environment.
He is the leader of the X-Men, Xavier reminds him sharply. Undeterred, Scott stands up to him, informing Xavier that he is head of the school. Out in the field, Cyclops is the leader. He decides who goes into combat situations and that’s final. Sir.
With a smile, Xavier observes he really isn’t that skinny teenager anymore, is he? No, Scott smiles back, thanks to him.
And so soon, the three X-Men are en route to Attilan.
So, Banshee summarizes, somewhat doubtful, the plan is to puff up their chests, stick out their chins and stare down the whole Inhuman nation… all three of them. Cyclops admits he’s not too crazy about the odds himself. Ororo muses that Kurt acted with the best of intentions. Surely the Inhumans can be made to see that.
Cyclops suddenly announces the radar is noting something heading their way fast. There is a thrumping nose and the plane shakes somewhat. The mystery is solved a moment later when a telepathic voice asks if they have space for one more.
It’s Phoenix, flying outside and telekinetically holding back the plane. Jean apologizes for the bump. So how about it, can she come in? She adds that Professor Xavier gave her a telepathic heads up on the situation and asked her to tag along and provide some back up.
Sean is relieved and tells her she is a welcome sight. Storm agrees. How about him? Jean asks as she sits down next to Scott. Happy to see her?
She knows he is, Scott replies smiling. He just wishes it was on a more permanent basis. Okay, let’s not start that again, she warns him. Looking around, she notices Wolverine isn’t there. Scott informs her he started a fight with Gorgon and got kicked over the horizon. But they are on a diplomatic mission, so he kind of doubts Wolverine would have been an asset anyway. He’s sure he’ll turn up eventually.
Kicked over the horizon? Jean repeats. Uh-huh. He’s smiling, she tells her boyfriend indulgently. He’s not, he replies, grinning broadly.
Starcore One floats high above the world. It is a United Nations research station built for one purpose: to study the activity of the sun. It is the brainchild of Dr. Peter Corbeau, a brilliant and today very worried man.
One of his scientists, a Russian named Nadia, informs him that they are heading into a new solar storm cycle, even stronger than the one a few weeks ago. The flares are all in the one hundred million degrees Kelvin range. Looks like old Sol is getting restless again, an Indian scientist named Hadeep jokes. Corbeau chides him this is not a joke. The radiation fields will endanger all spaceflights and could devastate communications networks on Earth. But with the new sensors they can at least get a good look at the storm this time.
They try to scan closer and the next moment all three scientists gape open-mouthed, for on the surface of the sun, at the epicenter of the latest flare there seem to be human shapes…
Dawn in Attilan. Nightcrawler stands handcuffed in a forum. On a dais in a semicircle before him sit the members of the Royal Family (Quicksilver standing next to Crystal). The population of Attilan are in the seat surrounding the center.
An Inhuman reads that Nightcrawler is charged with the willful desecration of Terrigenesis and cultural assault on the Inhuman people. How does he plead?
He pleads… Kurt hesitates. He pleads for a chance to speak freely. He has known hatred in his life. He understands what it is like to be singled out for being different. He can see why they would wish to live here, far away from humanity… When he came to their city, it seemed to be his dearest dream made real. A place where he could be accepted for who he truly is. It felt like a world where appearance meant nothing. But then he saw their ritual and he knew that he was wrong. He is appalled at the belief that their children require improving. They are perfect from birth. How can they force them into a chamber, manipulate their genes, transform their bodies? How can they make such a decision for them at such an early age? What gives them the right to take that choice away from them?
Clearly moved, Medusa looks at her husband Black Bolt who seems to be lost in thought.
Kurt continues that to see people as genetically inferior goes against everything he believes in. There was another society that held the same view. The plunged the world into the darkest war in history.
Gorgon has had enough. Infuriated, he jumps up and shouts enough! Nightcrawler is the one on trial here. The Inhumans are an ancient and proud race. And he knows nothing of their ways. His species had split the atom when Nightcrawler’s was still crawling in the mud! Who is he to judge them?!
He knows their traditions span centuries, Kurt replies, but a healthy society should always have the capacity for change. He finds it tragic that in a culture where no two beings are alike they should demand such conformity.
So, Karnak asks, he offers no regret for his actions? None, Kurt replies. What he does regret… is rejecting the words of a good friend – a man far wiser than he. He looks at Colossus who sits in the audience. He cared enough to make him face a truth. That he belongs in the world, even if it never welcomes him. But he refused to listen to him. He insulted him. Kurt apologizes to Peter. Whatever happens, he’s glad he had this chance to tell him… Kurt breaks off, hearing the sound of the landing Blackbird.
Impossible! Karnak shouts. Their sentries would have alerted them long before the strangers reached the city walls! Yeah, they would, Phoenix agrees, as the X-Men exit the craft, unless, of course, a top-rank telepath managed to tweak their perceptions a little.
Cyclops asks Black Bolt to hear him out. The X-Men are not here to fight the Inhumans. Amen to that, Banshee mutters, as he looks at the crowd of Inhumans.
All the members of the Royal Family jump up save for Black Bolt who remains calm. This is his doing! Gorgon accuses his cousin Triton who stays calm as he asks Black Bolt to listen to the X-Men.
Cyclops offers to talk. He doubts the Inhumans want this situation any more than the X-Men do. Nightcrawler’s one of them. They’ll follow Black Bolt’s lead as long as it insures Kurt’s safety…
The audience protests: The defiler must face justice! No more outwolders! Phoenix’ psi-defenses crumble under the onslaught of rage and hatred. She shouts at the crowd to shut up. Everywhere they go, it’s the same. Stupid, ugly mobs! Ororo nervously addresses her best friend but Jean has had enough. She telekinetically lifts Nightcrawler away, intending for all of them to just leave.
That moment, the Inhuman crowd attacks. Among them is Gorgon, furious at the disrespect the X-Men are showing their culture. He stamps his hoof and a faultline appears beneath the X-Men, causing Jean to lose concentration.
The crowd attacks and Phoenix keeps them off – barely – with a telekinetic wall around the court. That doesn’t account for potential dangers inside the court though as Quicksilver quickly beats down Nightcrawler, Storm and Banshee, remarking that the new X-Men are even more self-righteous than the old ones. They are going to regret invading his home.
Cyclops fires at the running Quicksilver and of course misses. He curses himself for not training the X-Men against superspeed attacks, but he never expected to face Quicksilver again. The team’s getting hammered because of his mistake.
Gorgon praises Pietro. Colossus angrily intervenes, reminding Gorgon what he told him would happen if he threatened his friend, and Colossus always keeps his promises. He hits Gorgon hard.
Karnak intends to help Gorgon over his brother Triton’s protest. Nightcrawler kicks Karnak in the face.
Cyclops in the meantime helps up the groggy Storm, telling her she is their best chance of taking out Quicksilver who is about to attack again. He could never dodge Iceman, Scott explains. Ororo understands and hurls Quicksilver into a blizzard.
A moment later, the wind turns against the X-Men as Quicksilver’s wife Crystal, controller of the elements, has entered the fray. As a friend of hers used to say: It’s clobberin’ time!
Karnak kicks Nightcrawler in the face, telling him that he fights well, but Karnak was trained from infancy in the martial arts by the priests of the weeping tower. He may be a superior fighter, Kurt admits, but did his priests teach him how to teleport? He teleports behind Karnak and hits him from behind.
Karnak strikes, a blow which Kurt dodges. They did not, Karnak continues calmly. He has no enhanced power, only skill. He was never subjected to the Terrigen Mists, but he is still an Inhuman and considered in no way “genetically inferior.” Could it be that Nightcrawler has judged his people too quick?
Triton asks Black Bolt to stop this battle, but the King merely watches and the conflict continues as weatherwitch fights elemental. Considering that Ororo is still aching from Quicksilver’s blow, she is weakening, but Banshee takes out Crystal with a quick sonic blast. The next moment, red hair clamps over his mouth. Medusa had no desire to enter the fight, until Banshee attacked her sister. She slams him to the ground.
Cyclops zaps her in the back, realizing this is insane. Why did Jean have to set them off like that?
Gorgon gets more and more enraged as he hits Colossus. He knows his kind well! Colossus tells him. He sees forgiveness as weakness and mistakes vengeance for justice. He may feel strong but he will always fall in the end! Never! Gorgon shouts and stamps the ground without any caution. He generates a seismic force far greater than any he has ever before created. The shockwave cuts like a scythe through the bedrock. It topples towers, spreading past Attilan’s boundaries. Until it reaches the mountain range towering over the city.
What has he done?! Medusa exclaims horrified. The mountain that shelters the Inhumans’ home shudders, splits and shatters. An avalanche begins, boulders black the sky, raining down with terrifying finality, held only back by Phoenix’ telekinetic shield.
Okay, just so they are clear on this, she’s holding a billion tons of rock back and she can feel very ounce. She can’t do this for long… ideas please…
Cyclops orders her to turn her shield into a funnel. They’ll use it to channel the only power capable of destroying the avalanche, Black Bolt’s voice. The Inhuman monarch nods. A primal force stirs within his body. He raises his head high… and speaks.
Black Bolt has been silent since infancy. Now the X-Men learn why. The awesome power contained within his voice is put through the funnel, atomizing everything in its path. A mountain vanishes. The Himalayas tremble. And the danger is over.
Medusa cheers. Phoenix is almost wiped out and Banshee mumbles that his lungs are feeling a bit teeny now.
Black Bolt gestures and Medusa translates that he is giving the sign of truce. The battle is over. Kurt Wagner is free to depart.
What of the law? Gorgon protests. Angrily, Medusa shouts that the law was written for Inhumans, not outworlders. The X-Man acted in ignorance and will be shown mercy. And she would suggest he shut his gaping mouth. His stupidity today nearly brought Attilan’s doom! Gorgon is properly cowed.
While Kurt shakes Triton’s hand Cyclops thanks Black Bolt. They’ve all had a taste of the nightmare that comes when they stop listening to one another. Their people have so much in common, they should never forget that.
Later aboard the Blackbird, Jean announces that she’s ready for a long soak and a king-size tub of Chunky Money tonight. Care to join her? she asks Cyclops. He isn’t in the mood, comes the reply. What the heck was going on in her head? The fight was entirely down to her. If she hadn’t exploded like some lunatic… Hey! she shouts. She saved the day, remember? Attilan would be a parking lot without her!
It wouldn’t have been threatened in the first place if she had just listened to him, Scott retorts. She had no right to break ranks like that. He didn’t feel their hatred, Jean insists. She could see what they wanted to do to the X-Men. He isn’t a telepath! He doesn’t understand! He doesn’t understand her anymore, he retorts. Maybe he never did, she replies coldly.
In the back of the plane, the mood is more relaxed as the rest o the X-Men are just happy to have Nightcrawler back. If a man’s fortune is measured in friendship, he announces, then he is the wealthiest mutant alive. He thanks them all, especially Peter. By the way, where is Wolverine?
A barn. Suddenly, there is a loud noise as something crashes inside it. The farmer runs inside to find the aching Wolverine. Hey, farmer Joe, he demands, where is he? In Georgia, the man stutters. He’s kiddin’, Wolverine exclaims. That big ape kicked him clean across five states? No, the farmer continues, he doesn’t understand. He’s in the other Georgia, the one next to Russia!