On Hala, the Inhumans learn of Lilandra’s death. Black Bolt doesn’t react when Karnak and Gorgon inform him, leaving Gorgon to wonder. After all, the strategy championed by Havok and his Starjammers has failed wretchedly. The king heard him, Medusa interprets. He is mute, not deaf. The Neramani woman’s death is a pity. A period of state mourning will be observed.
Respectful observance aside, Karnak points out, Lilandra’s murder presents a turning point in the war with the Shi’ar. She was an instrument they were using to bring a premature finish to this conflict. She might have ended this without further loss of blood. This means they will either have to see this war out to its exhaustive conclusion or switch to the counter plan. What counter plan? Gorgon wonders.
Medusa hesitantly addresses Black Bolt. This is the route they did not want to walk, not yet. This could be an act the galaxy may never forgive them for… Black Bolt looks up, his decision made. Medusa announces that they must finish this war with the Shi’ar as quickly and finally as possible. They will go with the counter plan and hope that posterity will absolve them. Karnak agrees while Gorgon still wonders what this is about. They give orders to launch Attilan.
On the imperial Shi’ar flagship Hammer II, Vulcan laughs in triumph upon learning about Lilandra’s death. He notes Admiral Ka’ardum doesn’t share his joy. The admiral explains that, while Lilandra’a death consolidates Vulcan’s position, he still wishes he had remembered his counsel, namely that her death will trigger a civil war in the Imperium. According to the intelfeed the Aerie is already ablaze. They cannot survive a war on two fronts. Not when one of their foes is themselves.
What does he suggest? Vulcan asks. Kneeling respectfully, Ka’ardum asks Vulcan to sue for peace with the Inhumans and Kree immediately. Then secure the core strength against the Neramani dissidents. Vulcan suggests he stay on his knees. He’ll be executing him there shortly.
He turns to his new mysterious ally Talon. His Fraternity of Raptors promised him a great deal. Which they provided, Talon reminds him. The Neramani female is slain. His throne is imperilled as a direct consequence, Vulcan shoots back. He’s ruining Vulcan’s empire! It’s not his empire, Talon replies and explains the datasong empowers his Fraternity with the ability to divine future outcomes to psychohistorically predict and influence the pattern of events across millennia. It’s how they advance the Great Purpose. It is how they shape and strengthen the Shi’ar Empire. It is not Vulcan’s empire. He is merely the current custodian.
He is Emperor Vulcan! Vulcan shouts. He is, Talon replies… for now. He will go directly to Chandilar and defuse the civil unrest. If Vulcan wants the continued backing of the Fraternity, he will stay here and prepare to disengage his forces. Hello? Vulcan calls in disbelief. There’s a war going on! It must end, Talon replies, and he must prove to them that he is a Majestor worth supporting. If they deem him unviable, they will invest their effort in an alternative candidate. He raises his wing to fend off Vulcan’s energy blast. Swearing, Vulcan shouts he has killed men for saying less. That could well explain the trouble he is in, is Talon’s parting shot as he flies off.
While Vulcan fumes, a Captain admits to the admiral he has never heard anyone speaking to Vulcan this way. Intelfeed has brought new info Ka’ardum shows to Vulcan, namely that Attilan has launched from Hala and is in transit toward Shi’ar space. They may draw from this that the Inhumans mean to strike directly at them. An Ehs’tyl assault to end the war just as the Shi’ar begun it. Ehs’tyl, Vulcan snorts. What use is a decapitation strike if it doesn’t take off the head? The Imperial Guard botched the raid and this drawn out bloodshed has been the consequence. They should have killed Black Bolt then and there!
Ka’ardum asks if they are going to hold station as the Raptor advised. Vulcan replies that if you want something done you have to do it yourself. He’ll show them Ehs’tyl! He’ll show them a headshot! Bring the fleet around! Engage the drives and follow him. Ka’ardum shouts after him, reminding him of Talon’s order… What about the Raptor? He can burn in hell! Vulcan replies as he takes off into space.
On Attilan, which is approaching the Shi’ar frontier, Ronan followed by Crystal swats aside Gorgon and his guards which are to keep them out of the Inner Hall. He demands t speak Black Bolt. He demands to know why they were to be kept out and why Attilan has launched. Crystal asks what’s going on, Maximus told her Lilandra is dead!
Medusa replies that as a result they have switched to their contingency plan. Which is? Oh, that would be the one he built for the king, Maximus replies with a grin. What did he build? Crystal demands. He calls it the Utterance of Destiny, he continues but they named it the T-bomb. Basically it’s weaponized Terrigen.
Angrily, Crystal reminds her family that Terrigen is a sacred mutagen that transforms them and makes them what they are, not a weapon! The war must end, her older sister replies. They cannot begin to craft their future until the Shi’ar menace is removed.
Karnak explains that it was always the King’s intention to abolish the fundamental cause of conflict in the cosmos. Difference. Genetic difference, species difference. The systematic Uplift of all species through the Terrigen process will result in universal peace.
And they intend to accomplish this with a bomb, Crystal points out the absurdity of the idea. Originally, the king intended to affect this destiny, systematically… over generations, Karnak explains. But now the Shi’ar force them to take more drastic action. To, in one strike, end this war and all others.
Maximus happily adds that the T-bomb is powered by Black Bolt’s voice. On detonation, it will set up a shockwave that will transmit the Uplift effect to all. Not all, Ronan butts in. The Kree are not compatible with the Inhumans’ evolutionary process. They will uplift the entire cosmos and leave the Kree behind! They will be the new underclass. The universe’s Alpha Primitives!
Medusa promises that the Kree question will be resolved eventually. Their immediate concern is… Crystal grabs her arm. Their immediate concern is simple! Do they even have the right to contemplate this? It goes against everything they believe in! Medusa pushes her away with her hair. It is Inhuman, she states. Crystal suggests she should look the word up. Since when did they dare to decide the fate of all things? When did they begin to presume so much? She kneels before Black Bolt and begs him to reconsider this course of action. The so called Guardians of the Galaxy showed her the potential consequences of this war. They showed her space itself in collapse. That awful risk aside, the Inhumans do not have the right to do this! She implores him… do not take them down this path!
Ronan stands beside her, echoing his wife’s request. He will not see the Kree cast down and forgotten. Black Bolt swore to protect them. Crystal shoots him a grateful smile. Furthermore, peace is a complex, fragile thing, he adds. It cannot be manufactured in a single strike. Pama knows he has tried that often enough.
While Black Bolt turns aside, Medusa tells them she thinks they are both being painfully naive. This is the real world. But the king will consider their request. Crystal starts again but Medusa cuts her off. She speaks for Black Bolt.
On Chandilar, the Shi’ar throne world, civil war has broken out. The old city burns, the Aerie shudders. The Shi’ar turn upon themselves in fear and indignation and fury. Some fight for Vulcan, others for Lilandra’s ghost, others stand for both and neither. Among the fighters are the Starjammers and an infuriated Gladiator raging because Lilandra is gone and hope has gone with her.
He turns his anger upon the old and secret order that has pulled the Imperium’s strings for so long. He turns against the Household of the Araki Sequence, one of the oldest and noblest of the genetic lines. He turns against Chancellor Araki. In his corrupt way, he is more evil than the mindless hooligan Vulcan. His Death Commandoes murdered Lilandra.
A panicked Araki orders the Death Commando Black Cloak to protect him. He needn’t be told twice. Black Cloak has been waiting for this. Gladiator doesn’t care; he just lives for his rage. However, he underestimated Black Cloak whose blade cuts him badly The villain gloats that Kallark should die today. It would be too cruel for him to live without her.
His head explodes a moment later. He was the one, Rachel Grey states crying, who murdered her family. Not him, Gladiator corrects her. He was merely following orders. It was Araki who pulled the trigger. He lunges toward Araki and kills him.
Sitting next to the corpse, Rachel wonders why she doesn’t feel any better now. Holding her, Korvus replies that’s because today’s the worst day they’ve ever known.
Havok and Polaris are trying to hold back the mad crowd. They have to do something before Chandilar disintegrates and takes the Imperium with it! Lorna exclaims. Havok replies that only one person could possibly stop this now. There’s only one person who can bring the Shi’ar back from the brink. The emperor, Lorna realizes. Exactly and, unfortunately, his name is Vulcan and he is insane. They embrace. Then this is the way the world ends. In rage and blood and fire.
Attilan, in the meantime, has crossed the frontier into Shi’ar space. The Royal Family is still waiting. How much longer before Black Bolt gives them his decision? Crystal asks. He thinks he’s giving it now, Maximus smirks, Black Bolt has made up his mind, Medusa announces. The delivery systems have engaged and the T-bomb has launched!
Crystal shouts out in despair while Medusa orders her to spare her her outrage. Black Bolt is leading them into a future of peace and equality. He surely is, Maximus agrees pensively. Sort of a shame he won’t be there to see it though. What does he mean? Medusa asks agitated. Well, because of the bomb, obviously, he explains. What does he mean? she shouts, slamming him into the wall,. Maximus explains that the T-bomb is powered by Black Bolt’s voice. He’s got to be there. He’s going to sacrifice himself.
That’s preposterous! Medusa shouts. No, Karnak admits, it was the plan all along. Black Bolt was fully prepared if it came to it. This is his gift to them, Maximus adds cheerfully.
In despair, Medusa uses the communication system. She pleads with him, asking why he didn’t tell her the price. She can’t lose him again. She lost him to the Skrulls. She was made to share a bed with that facsimile. Don’t dare leave her again!
Sadly, Black Bolt looks at a picture of a smiling Medusa and their son, Ahura. Say something! Medusa begs as Crystal holds her. Black Bolt sits down. Technology surrounds him. Echo tech receptors in place, the computer announces. Reception field engage. Good bye, Black Bolt whispers and the word is echoed as the device’s power levels rise.
Suddenly, though, something breaks through all the defenses. More like someone: Vulcan burning with rage and energy. You! he addresses Black Bolt. Let’s go!