The Juggernaut walks through the woods near Salem Center, not bothering about the many bushes or trees in his way. He gloats about his easy victory against the X-Men and wonders whether he should have destroyed them once and for all while he had the chance. However, he reminds himself that he didn’t have the time, as he has a plane to catch, so that he can reach the mysterious group called Factor Three.
The unstoppable foe is spotted by a pair of national guardsman, just one of many two-man teams patrolling the woods in order to halt the Juggernaut. They fire a bazooka at him, pretty sure that it should do the trick; but even though he is fully hit by the weapon, the Juggernaut doesn’t flinch. More annoyed than anything else, the Juggernaut threatens the two guardsmen, who have already turned to run. They are rather lucky, for when the Juggernaut smashes the ground with his fists, sending shockwaves through the entire valley, the two men barely manage to avoid being hit by a crumbling cliff. Thus effectively cut off from further following him, the guardsmen hope that the army will deal with the Juggernaut, who proceeds on towards the Metro Aircraft plant.
Back at Xavier’s mansion, the X-Men tend to their unconscious mentor. Scott tells the others that he managed to reach the governor on the phone to call in the National Guard, though the mutants know that they can only delay the Juggernaut at best. Meanwhile, Jean prepares to use the mental-wave amplifier on the Professor to probe his subconscious, in order to learn what put him into his coma and how they could possibly defeat the Juggernaut. As she puts the device’s headpiece on, she receives a faint, distant signal, so she turns up the volume. The other X-Men enquire what she hears, though Cyclops orders them to be silent, as Jean needs to concentrate on her task. As the signals come in stronger, Jean reasons that it must mean Xavier will fully recover, though she marvels at the story the psychic impulses are telling her. She’s witnessing events that occurred hundreds of years ago. Jean tells the others what she sees.
(flashback, hundreds of years ago)
A young mystic journeys through the land called Choson – which today is Korea – and finally finds a temple carved into the very hillside. He knows that it must be the foreboding shrine of the evil demon, Cyttorak, and enters it, only to find the Ruby of the Crimson Bands lying on an altar in the temple’s center, right underneath a huge statue of the demon. The young mystic knows that he who touches the gem stone becomes a living Juggernaut, but he has come only to observe and learn, and not to touch.
Suddenly, though, he finds himself encased by a spell of encirclement, cast by an inhuman, green-skinned monster, who calls himself Xorak. He explains that when Cyttorak was banished from Earth, he created him to be a guardian for his temple. The young mystic understands now why no man has ever dared the curse of the Juggernaut, and why so many people who journeyed to this place never came back – they all have been destroyed by Xorak. Still, the young mystic is a formidable magician himself and easily breaks out of his prison. He then matches Xorak’s magic bolts one by one, until he outsmarts him with a Crimson Bands spell that pull Xorak into the timeless cosmos inside the scared ruby. As the creature is drawn inside, the young mystic shouts that he may dwell there as an eternal outcast and, should he ever return - even centuries hence - he will defeat him anew.
Marvel Girl having finished her tale, Cyclops reasons that the Professor must have learned all this while probing the Juggernaut’s mind, but he wonders who the young mystic was who claimed to live for centuries ahead. Jean answers that she can only sense the enigmatic name “The Ancient One” and that she doesn’t want to continue probing Xavier, for in his current condition it might do him further harm. Cyclops takes charge and decides that, before they can pursue the Juggernaut or think about locating the Ancient One, they have to set up some protective device for their mentor. Working together as one, the five teenagers quickly hook up the Professor to the Mentallo-shield, the device Xavier used to keep Cain Marko alive while he was trying to cure him of the ruby’s curse. Jean, meanwhile, uses her wrist-watch to check Xavier’s pulse, and finds it to be close enough to normal that they can leave him alone.
Next, the X-Men rush into Xavier’s office to get the Cerebro unit working again. They hope to use it to locate the Ancient One; that is if he is still alive after that long time. The machine was toppled during the Juggernaut’s escape, but they lift it back up and the Beast connects it with a multi-frequency booster. He explains to the others that this device can greatly increase Cerebro’s range for a limited time period. Once he is done, Cyclops feeds all the data they have on the Ancient One into the computer system and it starts scanning the entire globe. Anxious moments later, the machine responds, though in a rather strange way. The readings show that Cerebro both has and has not located the Ancient One. While the X-Men still try to figure out the meaning of this, a ghostly figure enters the through one of the walls.
It’s the astral image of Dr. Strange and he demands to know why he has been summoned. Jean is somewhat surprised, as he doesn’t resemble the man she saw in the Professor’s thoughts. Dr. Strange replies that who calls the Ancient One calls him, for the Ancient One is no more, but his essence was passed on to his mystic disciple - himself. The Angel wonders whether he is speaking the truth, somewhat annoying the magician, for he sent his astral form all the way from Stonehenge, at great risk. He prepares to leave, but Cyclops urges him to wait, as they need to talk about Cyttorak. Hearing this name, Dr. Strange stays and listens to the X-Men, telling him what happened to their mentor and the Juggernaut’s origin.
Dr. Strange says that he knows of a way to help the X-Men, though it’s a very dangerous journey he proposes and only two may undertake it. As leader, Cyclops announces that it is his responsibility to go and wonders who he should pick to accompany him. All of the other four volunteer and would like to aid, but Scott eventually chooses Marvel Girl. No sooner has he said her name, than he already begins to wonder why he picked her – because of her telekinetic powers, or selfishly because of his love for her. Reminding himself of the problem at hand, he tells the other three X-Men, Angel, Beast and Iceman, that theirs is an equally important task though; they have to delay the Juggernaut as soon as possible.
The astral image of Dr. Strange interrupts that he has to leave again. Before his departure, though, he gives Cyclops and Marvel Girl a few instructions – he will cast a spell to send the two of them to Cyttorak’s temple, where they will have to a repeat a certain incantation he places in their brains. From then on, they are on their own. Dr. Strange concludes with a warning: if they don’t complete their mission within the span of one hour, they will remain trapped in the Crimson Cosmos forever. The astral image leaves the same way he arrived and, before the eyes of their astonished teammates, Jean and Scott fade away as well.
Seconds later, the couple rematerialize in Korea, on a hill opposing the mountainside with the temple inside. As the area is inside the communist zone set by the truce, the two X-Men fear that the ground may be mined, so Jean levitates the two of the over to the temple. Probing into the mountain, she senses a huge man-made object inside, apparently the Cyttorak statue. Scott immediately starts blasting a way through the debris for them, thinking that, whatever his reasons were for picking Jean, she was the right choice, as no other X-Man could have done a better job there. Suddenly, they hear voices approaching – a group of Korean soldiers. Some of the men fear venturing deeper in the area, well aware of the Cyttorak legend, but their commander orders the troop to march on. Knowing that it’s only a matter of time before they are spotted, Jean removes a strategically placed keystone and creates a landslide to cut the soldiers off. They run in panic, believing to have aroused Cyttorak’s wrath.
In the meantime, Scott has cleared the temple entrance and they can enter the building. Jean voices concern, as they have already spent several minutes of their one-hour limit, but Scott encourages her that they’ll make it. They find the inside of the temple bathed in shimmering scarlet light and Jean feels as if someone is calling out to her. Moments later, they reach the Cyttorak statue and the giant ruby before it. It’s so beautiful that Jean reaches out to touch it, but Scott pulls her hand back in time, reminding her that the gem would turn her into a Juggernaut as well.
Shocked back to her senses, Jean clasps hands with Scott and they repeat the incantation Dr. Strange revealed to them. “By dread Dormammu’s deadly twin – By Hoggoth’s hoary strands – Let these two now descend within – the Ruby of the Crimson Bands!” Immediately, the two mutants feel somewhat dizzy, as the spell starts affecting them, and all of a sudden they begin to shrink, as they are drawn into the Crimson Cosmos within the Ruby. While Cyclops admires the sights around them, crazy objects and landscapes, colored in different shades of red, Jean remembers the task at hand – they have to locate the spirit form of the sacred ruby. She looks around, but sees something else instead – Xorak. The demon however corrects Jean on that; while Xorak was the name he answered to on Earth, here in the world of timeless silence, he is the Outcast.
Meanwhile, the Juggernaut has finally reached his destination. He smashes the electrified fence around the aircraft plant with ease and is determined to get a plane to fly him towards Europe and Factor Three. Up above, a helicopter carrying Beast, Iceman and Archangel closes in. They wonder how to stop the Juggernaut, or what the villain would be looking for in a place like that the first place. Spotting the villain below, they know that the time for making plans has passed, now they have to act. The Juggernaut sees the helicopter land nearby and his bad temper gets the better of him. He declares that, if the X-Men are eager for yet another round, he’ll give it to them, and this time, he won’t spare their lives.
Nearby, Angel, Iceman and the Beast have stepped out of the helicopter. Iceman wonders how Cyclops and Marvel Girl are faring, and Angel answers that they have no way of knowing until their hour is up. The Beast alerts the two of Juggernaut having spotted them and approaching. Although unsure whether they truly have a chance against him, the three X-Men are willing to try and pay him back for what he did to the Professor. The Angel grabs the helicopter by the heck, Beast at the wheels and Iceman helps with a giant ice-fork to topple it over towards the Juggernaut. Although the villain still possesses Xavier’s mental powers, they hope that the whirring blades of the helicopter will stop him. However, they are only a momentary distraction for the villain, who just laughs at the X-Men’s effort before smashing the blades with a single blow. Next, he rips the entire helicopter apart and hurls the pieces at the three X-Men, who dodge the debris and decide for a strategic retreat.
Back in the Crimson Cosmos, Cyclops and Marvel Girl try to reason with the Outcast. They tell him that they come in peace and that they only need the prototype of the ruby of Cyttorak to defeat one who attacks Earth, but the Outcast has only little love for the planet from which he was exiled. All he cares is that the two mutants are trespassers in his realm, and as such they need to be destroyed. He then casts a spell to release the Scarlet Circles of Doom at them and, as soon as they hit Scott or Jean, the disks uncoil and wrap themselves around their bodies. Cyclops orders Marvel Girl to use her telekinesis and, though it strains her, she manages to stop the remaining Circles in mid-air. Guided by Scott, she then hurls the disks back at Outcast, wondering what happens when they touch him. The Outcast is very eager to answer her curious question and tells the redhead to watch and learn. As soon as the Circles hit him, they explode. The smoke obscures the Outcast and, suddenly, he has vanished.
Jean and Scott find themselves alone on a bridge-like road in a spiralling tunnel. In the distance, the see a red glow and head towards it, hoping it to be the emanations of the prototype ruby that are searching for. Scott can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong though, and, indeed after a few meters, crimson tentacles emerge from the tunnels walls and engulf them. Struggle as they might, the pair of mutants don’t get free, but find themselves pulled towards the Outcast’s face, now much bigger than before and filling the whole tunnel. Before they are being eaten alive, Scott blasts at the tentacles holding Jean and severs them. Then, before freeing himself, he fires an optic beam at the giant green face, only to receive an angry reply from the Outcast that they are fools and have yet to suspect the true nature of the Crimson Cosmos. Suddenly, the giant face and the tentacles appear in a blinding light, and Scott and Jean find themselves hurled back to the tunnel entrance.
Jean gets worried; the hour limit is nearly up and they haven’t made any progress. The next instant, the Outcast appears before them, telling them that they are trespassers who need to be destroyed. Both of them have the sensation of having heard these words before, or as the French would call it, a deja vu. Jean remembers the Ancient One having called this realm a world of timeless silence and she begins to understand for the Outcast it is indeed without time. However, she also knows that, for her and Scott, time kept moving, and pulls back her glove to check her wrist watch – their hour will be up in only one minute.
Right then, Scott sees that the ticking of her exposed watch is having an effect of the Outcast – he’s shrieking in fear. Shivering, he demands for the two mutants to fling the “accursed thing” away, and the ticking gets louder each second. Jean offers to throw the watch away if he hands over the prototype ruby, but, as the Outcast is unwilling to do so, she telekinetically places the watch on the Outcast’s head. He begs for mercy and now promises to release the ruby if she removes it, though jean finds that she is unable to – it’s as if the watch has grown a life of its own. Before the two X-Men’s eyes, the Outcast’s rapidly ages and eventually crumbles to dust. With only seconds left of their one-hour-limit, Scott grabs Jean by the hand and they rush over to the ruby prototype. Right as he touches it, their time is up and they are transported to the bedside of Charles Xavier.
Seeing that his condition is unchanged, Cyclops and Marvel Girl hurry to join their teammates. Learning the location of the battle from the radio news, they quickly board a jet and head for the Metro Aircraft plant. Even though they don’t know the capabilities of the prototype ruby, Scott is convinced that it will help them in their battle against the Juggernaut. Little do they know that, below, even while they speak, two figures have broken into the mansion and made it to the unconscious Xavier. The intruders call the X-Men fools for leaving him unguarded; he – the only mutant who could possibly thwart the plans of Factor Three.
At the Metro Aircraft plant, the other three X-Men are still busy fighting the Juggernaut. Right now, they are luring him to follow them, as they hope as long he keeps fighting them he won’t purloine the airplane he desires. The three enter a door labelled “Wind Tunnel” and, by the time the Juggernaut steps the chamber as well, they have already reached the control panel. The X-Men switch on the device and, for a moment, it seems like the tables have been turned. The Juggernaut has problems to keep standing, so great is the pull on him. Then, however, he finds that he doesn’t have to resist the giant fan and lets himself be pulled along – towards the trio of X-Men.
First, the unstoppable villain is pulled into the fan, but it breaks without harming him. Then, as the wind machine no longer works, he turns towards the X-Men, who whisper with each other about what strategy to try next. As he slowly gets up, the Juggernaut tells them there’s no need to whisper - after all he can read their thoughts. Still, as the Beast points out, by leaping at the Juggernaut’s back, reading minds is no good when one’s reflexes aren’t up to par. Next, the Angel rams a pole at the back of the Juggernaut’s helmet and, as he tumbles, Iceman encases him in a block of ice. Despite the good effort, it’s no use, as with one flinch of his muscles the Juggernaut breaks out of his prison, and gets ready to tackle the three X-Men. And with him standing in between them and the room’s only exit, it looks like their fate is doomed.
Suddenly, the Juggernaut is bathed in red rays, emanating from the prototype gem that the newly arrived Cyclops holds up high in the air. The Juggernaut feels the rays drawing from his strength and wonders how that can be, for the ruby was what originally gave him his powers. Not knowing that this isn’t the earthly ruby, but it’s unearthly prototype, he lunges forward and wrests the gem from the young X-Man’s hand. In the instant that he touches the ruby, the strange light only gets more intense and surrounds the Juggernaut in cascading waves. Afraid of what is happening, the Juggernaut tries to let go of the ruby, but he can’t. Cyclops compares it to a man receiving an electrical shock who can’t let go of the wires that are jolting him.
The X-Men helplessly watch, as the light gets more intense, only to erupt in a blinding flash - and then the Juggernaut is gone, apparently transported into the Crimson Cosmos. Jean thinks that he will rule there in place of the Outcast. The other three X-Men have no idea what Scott and Jean are talking about, and they don’t care that much – all that matters is that the battle is won and they can return to the Professor.
During the flight back, the X-Men are proud that they have prevented Factor Three from gaining an almost indestructible ally and they already wonder how to tell Xavier of his stepbrother’s fate when he recover. However, by the time they get back, they find that this is the least of their problems – the Professor is gone, his bed empty. They know that this can only mean one thing: Professor Xavier has been kidnapped by Factor Three, the entire conflict with the Juggernaut was only a ruse to keep them distracted.