The Skrull homeworld dies tonight. History, as it has already been written, records that these are the final hours of the shape-shifting alien Skrulls. This day, years ago, would be their last. Something has changed, however…
On this orbiting war-moon, known simply as Infiltration Command, dozens of Skrull warriors are watching a group of subversives on their monitors. The Skrull General is dumbfounded as he finds out that the subversives are, in fact, human mutants. He is even more astounded by the fact that some of them match system-profiles of the so-called X-Men, terrestrial outlaws and terrorists from what little they’ve been able to glean of their underground activities from Earth broadcasts.
One of his inferiors informs him that eight subversives have been confirmed here on the lunar training grounds: two in the stage-earth city, six in the Shi’ar sim-city… However, another Skrull points them at the real danger, just outside their base. The X-Men are not the problem now; their early warning was true… all too true.
They all helplessly watch as their armada is being destroyed by Galactus’ herald, Nova… and then Galactus himself approaches their world, terrifying and majestic on his flying vehicle. Terrified, the Skrulls start screaming that Galactus has found their world: the planet-eater is here! The Skrull General disagrees, though: he believes it’s a trick! Mutant deception! “Initiate stratagem zeta-nine quickly and eradicate the rest of the X-Men!” he bluntly orders them.
In another part of the moon, Storm, Colossus, Professor X and Nightcrawler are fighting scores of Skrull warriors, all of them impersonating several notable inhabitants of the Shi’ar Empire. While releasing her lightning bolts against her adversaries, Storm begs Professor X not to do it. Likewise, Colossus implores Xavier not to do it: just the effect of will required to make contact with a being such as Galactus could cripple him! Nightcrawler also alerts Xavier to the fact that his body will be left defenseless against all these Skrulls!
“Enough!” Xavier rigidly rebuffs their pleas. He assures them he is aware of the risks but he no longer has any choice. Every day, in every way, his students’ actions set new standards of courage and honor and once again, he feels that the teacher must rise to the example of his students.
Xavier’s psi-form instantly escapes his body, taking Xavier where his damaged legs cannot: through the empty cold of space itself, from the moon to the Skrull homeworld below. As Charles’ psychic form passes through the remnants of what used to be the Skrull armada and witnesses the innumerable corpses floating around in the coldness of space, he laments that so many lives are lost here already and so many are still at stake. He realizes he must confront the source itself face to face: Galactus!
Charles’ psi-form finally stands defiantly in front of Galactus and orders him to stop. He tells Galactus that he knows of his history; he knows of Galactus’ eternal hunger for life-energies of world after world. “But I speak now to your heart,” he tells him. Xavier can see it in Galactus’ eyes: he is more than the unfeeling force of nature described by the few survivors of his passing. On behalf of the eight billion Skrull souls who will perish if Galactus proceeds, Xavier appeals to him to have mercy.
“You do not belong here,” Galactus rebuffs him. “True,” Xavier admits. He explains that he and his X-Men were mistakenly delivered to this place and time – some years in their own past – to a date forever remembered by all the universe as the day Galactus consumed this planet. However, Professor X believes the details are unimportant. If there is a reason the X-Men are here – and Xavier believes there is – it is to prevent the atrocity Galactus means to perpetrate.
Galactus wonders why would this human want to save the Skrull. He knows very well who they are, what they would to him and to his people, yet he defends them. “Yes,” Xavier admits. He tells Galactus that his vision extends to the minds of others. And even now – especially now – through the confusion and panic caused by Galactus’ very presence, Xavier cannot escape the overwhelming love of the Skrull families, united in support against the inevitable end; the strength of real faith, echoed in whispered prayers; the unshakable innocence of the young. He urges Galactus to open his eyes and see what he sees for a moment… see for himself for even he cannot be impervious to the feelings of an entire race!
Meanwhile, on the moon above, in the sector designated stage-Earth, the feral X-Man known as Wolverine is lost to a maddening crowd of Skrull spies-in-training, wearing the familiar forms of superhuman heroes and villains they would replace and wielding their full array of powers. As Logan fights five of these Skrulls – impersonators of Medusa, Havok, Captain Britain, Green Goblin and Ch’od – his mutant healing factor is working overtime, stitching and sealing wounds almost as rapidly as they’re inflicted. His animal-keen senses and reflexes are put to the test, stretched to their very limits and beyond. However, in the end, Logan is only one man and one man alone is not always enough. Indeed, the Ch’od impostor knocks him to the ground.
Suddenly, Wolverine is astounded to see help from another Skrull, as a dead ringer for the late Thunderbird appears, grabs the fake Ch’od and holds him up in the air. Shadowcat appears behind the fake Thunderbird and tells Wolverine to relax. She explains “Thunderbird” is in their side… same goes for “Adam Warlock” and “Captain Marvel,” two other Skrull doppelgangers of familiar heroes, who also appear and begin fighting their fellow Skrulls, taking them all out in a few seconds.
Wolverine tells Kitty that he has been looking for her. Kitty figured as much when she heard Professor Xavier’s radio warning. Her dance-partners didn’t believe it at first but the Warlock doppelganger is engineered to be a telepath and what he saw in her thoughts and memories convinced him that Xavier could be trusted. She tells Logan that the boys did everything they could to convince their bosses after that. They begged and pleaded, not so much for their own lives, as the lives of their families on the homeworld. She tells Logan that these three Skrulls – the doubles of Warlock, Thunderbird and Captain Marvel – are fugitives, regarded as useless since the real Warlock, Mar-Vell and Thunderbird died… and uselessness is a crime here.
Logan realizes they don’t have much time. They’ve got to find the other X-Men and get away from here – far away. Shadowcat fears it might not be that easy. “Thunderbird” intercepted a transmission saying the rest of the team in the Shi’ar sim-city now. “Then we need transportation. Fast,” Logan remarks. The Captain Marvel impostor assures him that the three of them can take them to the craft. “You first, “Captain.” We’ll follow,” Wolverine ironically exclaims.
In another part of the moon, Gambit takes on several Skrull, while realizing that, from the sound of things outside, this entire hospital he is in is under siege. Not that Gambit is going anywhere just now, anyway; not without Marrow. She is dying from injuries caused by him, by his arrogance, and that med-pod Remy’s put her in is her only hope. Fighting to keep the Skrull warriors from approaching the med-pod, Remy cannot even imagine what would happen if the procedure was interrupted at this stage. The programmers are down for the count already and all this alien technology is totally… alien to Remy. He realizes they’ve got to see this through to the end now.
Gambit is fully aware that he’s played his part in hurting Sarah once before. The massacre that took her Morlock kin away from her happened, in large part, because of his selfishness. Now, Sarah’s got no other family but the X-Men. Gambit swears he won’t let her down again. Maybe this is his chance to… His thoughts are violently interrupted, as one of his adversaries hits him in the face. Surrounded by six Skrulls, Remy realizes there are too many of them… too fast… and he can’t risk using his powers this close to…
Suddenly, a barrage of oblong, razor-sharp, delicately-shaped bones pierce through the flesh of Remy’s assailants, coming from behind their backs. Though their wounds are superficial, the six Skrulls break into rout. “Marrow…?!” Remy mutters in shock.
At the Skrull homeworld, Galactus tells Professor X that this was a wasted gesture. Although Xavier would have moved him by the supposed nobility and goodness of the huddles masses below, Galactus will see him touched by the depths of their hatred instead. As the enormous being’s eyes gleam, a beam of energy escapes his forehead and blasts Xavier’s psychic form. Despite the pain he experiences, Xavier still complains “W-Why…?” He tells Galactus that even though the Skrull are warriors, they are frightened beyond all measure. He believes that a people should be judged not by their lowest, most basic instincts but by their highest aspirations. By the very best they…
“No,” Xavier suddenly cuts himself short. He knows that Galactus listens but he will not hear and Xavier’s own psi-form is fading already. He realizes he doesn’t have the strength to return to his physical body on the moon above!
On the moon, masses of Skrull soldiers have gathered outside the only lifeboat available but are repelled by higher officers who don’t hesitate to open force against their inferiors, in order to keep them back. Wolverine and Kitty Pryde suddenly appear, accompanied by the three renegade Skrulls. “Coulda guessed” Wolverine remarks upon seeing this: only one lifeboat and a couple of hundred rats desperately determined not to go down with the ship! The Captain Marvel impostor instantly dives down on the Skrull commander, calling him a treacherous coward! He tells him that this last escape craft belongs to all of them; to all the family and friends they might still reach with it – not just the Skrull with the biggest…
“Wrong, brother!” another Skrull viciously remarks and shoots Captain Marvel’s doppelganger from behind. However, the Skrull’s shot also gets to the power-pack the Skrull commander carries in his back. The power-pack begins spitting sparks and then a huge explosion ensues!
Somewhere else, Gambit is astounded to see Marrow – an all-new, all-different Marrow. Mesmerized, he asks if that’s her. “Duh” Marrow replies, having just used her bones to injure Gambit’s assailants and cause them to flee. “What’s your problem already, Cajun?” she asks him only to suddenly realize that something is… different on her. Remy explains she was hurt and he… he just wanted… Her bone growth seems so… controlled… she looks so… At loss to understand how Sarah has turned so beautiful, he asks her if she’s okay. “Yeah, actually. I feel… wonderful,” Sarah replies with a smile. Gambit tells her they should go then, while they still can.
In the Skrull homeworld, Xavier’s psi-form has begun fading. Still, he perseveres, pleading Galactus to spare the Skrulls. “You fail to understand,” Galactus reprimands him. He defines himself as a primal force of the universe, the end that comes to all eventually. He is beyond such petty morality. Xavier thought he could change history. Yet, if he knew this is the way it was, he must have known it is the way it should be.
On the moon, Wolverine thanks Shadowcat for her phasing them; this is the second time today someone saved his tail. Kitty confesses she’s starting to think it’s what she does best. She asks Logan about the Skrulls: is he picking up any signs off… “Dead” Logan cuts her short. All of them dead… or dying. He points Kitty to the sight of the Warlock and Thunderbird impostors, both of them barely clinging to life. The fake Warlock urges them to take the ship and go quickly. The planet is doomed, as is this moon. There is nothing they can do…
Kitty asks them to come with them, then. “No, Shadowcat…” Thunderbird’s doppelganger refuses. He explains that their only desire was to be part of the Skrull society once more. However, because their deep-cover physical transformations were so complete and permanent they were excluded by their own. Now, at least, they can be with their own kind again – if only in death. “But before you go, child, a gift…” Warlock’s double mutters and touches Kitty’s forehead, a glow escaping his finger.
“Noooo!” Xavier screams at the same time, as his psi-form is forced back into his body. He explains that Galactus ignored him and shunted him back to the Skrull moon without a second thought. “Thank the bright lady” Storm remarks – Charles was gone from his body so long and the X-Men had every reason to fear the worst. “And every right as well, Storm. I’ve failed us all,” a brooding Xavier laments.
Gambit and Marrow suddenly join their teammates. “So what now folks…?” Remy asks them. “Marrow?” Colossus exclaims in surprise, upon seeing the radically different Sarah. Long story, Remy remarks – and something tells him this isn’t the time for it.
Suddenly, a starship from above beams them aboard. “No need to panic, kids… mommy an’ daddy are here now,” Wolverine welcomes them aboard, with Kitty comfortably seated on the pilot’s seat. Kurt wonders how they found them. Logan explains that they just aimed for the signs of most trouble – same as usual. Kitty explains that the Skrulls were already scattering by the time they got here, scurrying into the shadows, out of her reach. There’s nothing more they can do for them. She also explains they’re cutting it too close now and urges everybody to find something to grab onto… this could get pretty wild. Storm nervously asks Kitty if she’s sure she knows what she is doing – how to operate these controls. Is this not a Skrull…
“Stars-h-i-p?!” Ororo screams at the exact following moment, as the ship, without warning, takes away, moving at an exponential speed, under Kitty’s control, while cities around them crumble before the appetite of Galactus.
Kitty explains that she picked up a sort of crash-course on how to fly a Skrull starship. Kurt thinks she might want to rephrase that without the word “crash” if possible! However, he thinks she’s doing fine. Kitty admits she’s responding from instinct mostly, even if the experience isn’t actually hers. She tells the team to call it a gift.
Behind them, as it is drained dry of the ineffable energies that bind it, the gravitational field of the Skrull homeworld fluctuates once… and its moon is no more. Another seizure and the tortured field itself collapses. Gravity loses its grip. The planet’s withering crust shivers, shudders… and then shatters completely. Exposed to the heat of its own magma core, the atmosphere instantly burns away in a blinding pyre. And the people of the Skrull – all they might have been and done for millennia upon millennia, all they might ever have become – are reduced to ash.
The X-Men bear silent witness to this genocide. At the very end, there simply are no words. Xavier wonders: Galactus was totally remorseless in the midst of absolute genocide… why would he act to preserve his life? Storm theorizes that the nature of Galactus does not lend itself to easy answers, even at the best of times. She also assumes that Xavier is exhausted now, possibly even at shock.
Kitty presents the real deal to the team. They’re all alone out here, on the far side of the galaxy, years in the past. Although this ship is built for interstellar travel, life-support is limited and there’s no food at all. But… “You have a solution?” Ororo wonders. Kitty affirms that: she’s plotted a course home, the long way around. Years longer, actually: factoring in the exact amount of time needed to get them back to Earth just after they left… if they know what she means. She explains the ship offers internal suspended-animation options, so they can hibernate safely until…
Wolverine intervenes and admits he doesn’t like the idea of being frozen for that long. “No ice, no gas, no drugs. It’s a stasis-field, Logan” Kitty allays his fears.
Soon, with everyone comfortable in their seats, Kitty engages the auto-pilot, flips a switch…
… and a moment later, they wake up with killer cases of dragon breath, and in desperate need of hairdresser, all of them otherwise unaffected by the years they were traveling in space, safely contained in suspended-animation! As they all rise from their seats, slightly disoriented from the experience, Kitty happily informs them that right around the next corner is… Mother Earth! “Am I good or what…?” Shadowcat exclaims in satisfaction. Nightcrawler watches Earth as they approach it. He praises Kitty, telling her she’s remarkable. However, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, he also thinks she may have miscalculated.
Indeed, as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, it becomes apparent that they have arrived slightly earlier to when they left, during the time of their recent conflict against Magneto! The team first sees the energy ripple at the North Pole, generating from the tower-base established by Magneto. Wolverine recognizes it: it’s the electromagnetic disruption Magneto used, not long ago, to blackmail the world. Their sensor scans also detect the presence of the X-Men themselves, out there in the ice, helpless. Finally, in their monitor they see can Joseph, contained in an energy bubble by the villainess known as Astra – Joseph, right before he died at the hands of that witch!
Storm exclaims that they can save Joseph! Wolverine adds that they can also stop Magneto from being handed Genosha on a silver platter! Peter asks Professor Xavier if it’s possible: can they truly change history? Logan asserts they can try, for sure. Xavier, however, says nothing. None can hear the words echoing in his memory, the last words shared by the celestial Galactus “the way it was is the way it should be…”
Suddenly, though, the energy generated by Magneto’s tower-base hits the ship! In the commotion, Kitty screams that everyone hangs on, as the ship is violently repelled!