Cassidy Keep, Ireland:
The X-Men are caught in a fight with Juggernaut. The villain mocks them: they call themselves the X-Men, do they now? “Well, among the lot of you, who will stop the Juggernaut?” he roars. “Who indeed?” Banshee muses in despair. Juggernaut and Black Tom are taking them like they are rank amateurs – and maybe they are. The X-Men came to Sean’s ancestral castle to enjoy a well-earned vacation. They let their guard down – and now they’re paying the price.
Banshee turns his attention to his cousin, Black Tom. Black Tom scoffs: the X-Men don’t have a chance. The Juggernaut’s stronger than the lot of them combined. As for Black Tom, well, isn’t it a pity that he’s immune to Banshee’s vaunted sonic scream? Sean admits to himself that Black Tom is right on both counts. Every other time Juggernaut fought the X-Men, it was Jean Grey and Professor X’s mental powers that beat him in the end. But Jean’s in the hospital, and the Professor’s with her in New York, which means they’ll just have to make do on their own. Banshee lunges at Black Tom: maybe the villain is immune to Sean’s power, but will he fare against a good old-fashioned punch to the jaw?
Juggernaut tries to pummel Nightcrawler, but Kurt manages to dodge his blows, thanks to his acrobatic skills. “Missed, Juggernaut!” he taunts him. He’ll have to do better than that if he wishes to “tag” him! Colossus turns to Storm: what’s wrong with her? She screamed a moment ago as if she was in real pain. Huddled in a corner, Storm, her eyes closed, is visibly suffering: Mother… help me… I’m so scared.
Wolverine reprimands Colossus: what the hell does he think he’s doing? Piotr explains he wishes to help Storm. Wolverine calls him a ‘tin dummy’ and insists he forgets about her. They are the ones who are getting stomped! Colossus cautions him not to use that tone of voice with him. Wolverine replies that’s fine by him: he’s got no more time for words anymore! Without warning Colossus, he grabs him and hurls him against Juggernaut: “Way to go, Russkie!”
Back on his feet, Piotr demands that Wolverine does not him call that again. Wolverine should not come between Piotr and his friends again, or by all he holds dear, he will… Wolverine cuts him off: “Well, I’ll be! Peter Pureheart finally gets a mad on.” Wolverine unsheathes his claws and provocatively suggests he picks a time and place.
“Here fools… and now!” Juggernaut answers Wolverine’s question. Wolverine warns Colossus to look out, but it’s too late: Juggernaut fiercely punches Colossus and sends him flying against the rocky wall. Juggernaut scoffs that Colossus’ friends already learned the hard way that nobody turns their back on Juggernaut! No matter how hard they hit him or how hard the try, Juggernaut can never be stopped. “That’s what you say, bub, but let’s see how that armor o’ yours stands up to the mutant with the adamantium claws!” Wolverine rejoins and begins to cut and slice away at him.
Nightcrawler watches them: a nice try by Wolverine, but he doesn’t even slow Juggernaut down. Of the five of them, only Storm would ever have a chance – but all she does is huddle in a corner and cry. Kurt grabs her and demands she snap out of it. They’re being murdered; why won’t she help?! Calling him a ‘goblin,’ Juggernaut advises Kurt not to worry about the woman. Nightcrawler narrowly avoids Juggernaut’s attack: “Close, juggy! But no cigar! And the name’s Nightcrawler, verstehen?” Juggernaut rejoins his name is going to be “dead” when he’s finished with him. Kurt dismisses this as ‘big talk’: Juggernaut has to catch him first. Leaping around, Kurt realizes he can’t escape out of the villain’s reach forever. And from all he’s read, there’s no way they can out-fight Juggernaut. Their only hope is to out-think him. If only that were easy…
Since Nightcrawler has escaped him for the moment, Juggernaut decides to take the girl’s life instead. He grabs Ororo by the hair; she screams in pain. Nightcrawler teleports by her side and demands he let her go lest he discovers how much of a demon Kurt truly is! “My pleasure, Spock-ears, the girl isn’t worth the effort anyway,” Juggernaut concurs and tosses her aside.
Teary-eyed, Storm reprimands herself: these are her friends being killed, her friends who cry out to her for aid. And what is her reply? She’s sorry… so sorry… She tries to convince herself to help them. God forgive her, she can’t. A twisting in her mind, as Storm’s scream tears open long-sealed doors, unlocking memories of an alien time and place.
New York, Harlem, in the summer of 1951. Ororo remembers it all, though she was only six months old. Ororo’s parents, David and N'Daré Munroe leave their home, N'Daré holding baby Ororo in her arms. David is happy to leave the 112th behind. He hopes they never see it again. He asks his wife is she’s happy. “And why not?” she replies. They’re going home, though Cairo is two thousand miles north of Kenya. David jokingly wonders where he – an aspiring photojournalist – got the nerve to ask an African princess to marry him. N'Daré suggests it was, perhaps, from love. That’s where she got the courage to say yes. David calls her attention to Ororo; only a baby and she looks like she understands every word they’re saying. N'Daré agrees she does because she’s a very special child. She knew that from the instant of her conception.
Time-cut: Five years up the line, to Cairo in that fateful year of 1956, the year of the Suez War. Nassar had nationalized the canal and the British and the French governments – in concert with the Israelis – had responded by invading Egypt. In a matter of days, the three-pronged attack had Egypt on the ropes and “allied” aircraft roamed the Suez skies at will.
Inside the Munroe household, David sees the French bombing the main highway. Their house is too close to their target for comfort. They’ve got to get out of here… fast. They’ll head into the city. David will leave N'Daré and Ororo at the American embassy. He tells his wife not to worry. Everything’s going to work out just fine.
However, as David hustles his family away from the window, a French Vautour firebomber catches a flak burst as it swings into its strafing run. The pilot is ejected; he will later be taken prisoner and repatriated after the war. The plane goes down, with a full load of bombs and fuel. “Oh my God,” David gasps upon seeing the plane coming up against them. He screams to his wife and daughter to get down; he vows to keep them safe! A few seconds later, the plane crashes into the house. Caught in the debris, the five-year-old Ororo regains consciousness. Her pain cannot be ignored; it forces her awake. And then, she spots her mother’s lifeless hand, trapped among the ruins. “MOTHER!” she howls.
Darkness again. Ororo faints but, when she awakens, her mother’s body is gone. She’s alone, with rock and rubble jammed in close around her, sealing her in. Somehow though, she manages to pull herself free. She haunts the gutters and back alleys for a time, until some of Achmed El Gibár’s urchins find her. The old man takes her and teacher her how to survive. Within a year, she is the finest beggar/sneak-thief in all Cairo.
But then, in her twelfth year, something, some inner need, begins to pull her south, away from Egypt and the Sahara. She walks for a year, two thousand miles from Cairo to the Serengeti Plain. Though she’s never seen the veldt before, she knows she has come home. There she remains, the girl growing into a woman, all memories of her past life fading with the passage of the years, content in her solitude, until Charles Xavier comes to lead the goddess from her nest…
In the hospital in New York, Xavier thinks he heard someone call his name, but so faint… far away… He suddenly realizes it’s Storm. Images flood his senses through the telepathic rapport he shares with his students. He can feel her pain and fear – and dominating her every thought is the face of… Cain Marko! He rushes into Jean’s room and tells Scott it’s imperative they speak outside, in the corridor. Cyclops complies.
Jean intervenes: this is a perfect opportunity to introduce Xavier to her New York roommate, Misty Knight. “My pleasure,” a grim Charles tells Misty. He rushes Scott again: every second is vital. Jean is put-off by Xavier’s behavior: “Well, I’ll be…” She apologizes to Misty. She’s never seen the Professor this brusque and… rude before. Misty tells her it’s okay. It’s Jean she’s worried about. Something has been eating her up inside since that space flight. What is it? She’d like to help her. Jean replies she knows that. Overflowing with energy, Phoenix wonders how would Misty feel if Jean told her she died and then brought herself back to life?
In a nearby ante-room, Professor X informs Cyclops that the X-Men have been ambushed by Juggernaut. Scott must leave for Ireland immediately and give them any assistance he can. Scott refuses: not this time. He’s staying here at the hospital until Jean is out of danger. Xavier angrily snaps: he is what? He’s putting the life of one woman ahead of his fellow X-Men?! Cyclops insists he is: that woman is the most important thing in his life. Besides, there’s nothing he can do to help the X-Men. No way he can get to them in time to make any difference. Xavier himself has said that, sooner or later, the new team is going to have to learn to fight on its own. Callous as it sounds, it looks like that time is now.
“How… dare… you?!” Xavier exclaims in indignation. He reminds Cyclops – this ungrateful, unspeakable cur – that he took him in! He gave him… gave him… Seeing Xavier stop in mid-sentence, Scott asks him what happened. “No! Not my mind! Not again!” Professor X screams. Images, sensations, and emotions run riot in Xavier’s mind. In the mirror, Xavier sees a strange woman in place of his reflection: the face in the mirror is the face he keeps seeing in his dream.
Back at Cassidy Keep, things are going from bad to worse. Juggernaut has still not been able to hit Nightcrawler: “Stand still, you impish jackrabbit!” “Not on your life, Juggy… or mine, for that matter!” Kurt replies and leaps up on the ceiling. He thinks with Storm they might have had a chance, but her traumatic claustrophobia has her paralyzed with terror. It’s no good; nothing’s working. The harder they hit Juggernaut, the less he seems to feel it. From above, he watches as Wolverine keeps attacking Juggernaut. Wolverine proclaims he’s not gonna quit until he’s dead. “Wolverine, no!” Kurt exclaims. Juggernaut assures Wolverine this can be arranged and hit him hard. Nightcrawler screams Wolverine’s name and jumps on Juggernaut, who holds the senseless Wolverine in his arms. Kurt realizes that, in another moment, Juggernaut will deliver the killing blow, so he’s got to make sure that moment never happens.
Kurt grabs a brazier and smacks Juggernaut across the face. Juggernaut screams with pain: “Curse you, goblin, you’ve… hurt me!” Black Tom Cassidy notices that Kurt has indeed done that; it’ll be his pleasure to see that Nightcrawler pays for it a thousandfold. Aiming at Nightcrawler, he releases his heat concussive blasts through his stick and zaps the German mutant. Banshee may be immune to Black Tom’s power as Black Tom is to his, but Nightcrawler is not. Kurt falls hard and does not move again. The battle moves on without him. Just then, a few strange-looking, humanoid creatures – the leprechauns of Cassidy Keep – approach the unconscious Nightcrawler. One of them whispers to his colleagues to be quick about it; they’ve not time to spare. “Saints preserve us all!” Amazed, the leprechaun notices that part of Nightcrawler is invisible. He suggests they get him out of here. They drag him away. No one notices.
Meanwhile, Black Tom kicks Banshee in contempt. He is ashamed of his cousin. Where is the Banshee of old, the Interpol agent who sent Black Tom to prison for life? Sean wonders what he’s talking about. Black Tom remarks that Banshee asked him no questions; not even the obvious ones. Such as who freed Black Tom and Juggernaut from prison? Who gave them the money and knowledge to take this castle and then turn it into a deathtrap? “Why, ye dirty…” Banshee begins to say, but Black Tom cuts him off: In short, who paid the two villains to kill the X-Men? Such a pity Banshee will die without ever knowing – and then he begins to batter Banshee hard with his stick. He admits that the X-Men’s unexpected arrival forced the villains to move somewhat ahead of schedule, but the end result’s the same, their vengeance made all that sweeter by the fact that they’re making a tidy profit at the same time. True enough, Juggernaut agrees, but his vengeance won’t be completed until his hated stepbrother, Charles Xavier, lies dead at his feet.
Colossus proclaims that will never be! “What..?” Juggernaut exclaims, startled, before Colossus pummels him: to get Professor Xavier, Juggernaut must first defeat Colossus… and he will not beaten! Seeing Juggernaut go down, Piotr angrily tells him to get up and promises to knock him down again. In response, Juggernaut pounds on the floor, sending Colossus flying. Colossus has still not gotten the message, has he now? “I – am – a – Juggernaut!” Even if they flatten him a hundred times, he’ll face them the hundred and first as strong and fresh as ever! Colossus defiantly asserts that words will not defeat him. His acrobatic skills may not be of Olympic caliber, but it is more than sufficient to hurl the villain back into the wall.
This proves to be a bad move on Colossus’ part. The wall’s been hit before and it’s getting very tired. Storm watches as the wall collapses on the two combatants. Ororo tries to warn him, but it’s too late. Juggernaut breaks free, carrying the unconscious Colossus. Juggernaut admits that Colossus has guts; he’ll give him that. But only one thing matters when one fights the Juggernaut and that’s power. In despair, Storm realizes she failed Peter; she failed all the X-Men. Finally snapping out her trance, Storm stands up against Juggernaut. He speaks of power. “Behold, as Storm teaches you the meaning of the word!” She unleashes her lightning bolts at him. “I’m waitin’, lady,” Juggernaut scoffs. But if that’s her best shot, he’d better make this short and sweet. Storm realizes he’s hurling her force bolt back at her; she’s too weak to resist. She screams and then drops unconscious.
Inspecting the fallen X-Men, Juggernaut announces they’re beaten. The only one left who matters is Xavier. And he knows how to get to him. Xavier’s got a constant telepathic rapport with his students. If they’re hurt, he feels it. Hurt bad enough, and Xavier will walk into their deathtrap as meek and defenseless as a lamb to the slaughter!