Election morning in Chicago. The polls are open and the turnout is heavy in the most hotly- contested municipal campaign in years. One correspondent on the news observes that Kate Pryde was clearly leading until her closing statement. Suddenly, for no reason anyone could see, she was in tears. That moment instantly reframed the debate in wholly non-mutant terms. Not “is she a monster?” but “is she qualified?”
Elsewhere, on the streets of Chicago, men are beating up a young boy wearing a Pryde campaign t-shirt. The men label him a race-traitor.
Chandilar, the Imperial Shi’ar throne world. They came for peace but are ready for war, Rachel Grey, Nathan Summers and, masquerading as Mr. Sinister, Remy LeBeau aka Gambit. However, they are currently standing on the sidelines, watching a drama unfold. Moments ago, the Shi’ar Lord Chancellor ordered the death of new arrivals, Charles Xavier and Magneto, but that moment Lilandra and her son showed up.
Lilandra quickly informs her chancellor that, while he may administer Shi’ar in her name, only the Majestrix can orders the sentence of death. Especially of one who stands protected by the banner of truce. She reminds everybody that Xavier was once her consort. He is sire of the imperial heir. Charles’ eyes grow wide at the news. Lilandra continues that her chancellor is to accord him all appropriate respect and extend him every courtesy. The Lord Chancellor kneels and promises to obey.
Gambit observes to his compatriots that the chancellor doesn’t seem too thrilled, though. He wonders how much trouble that will spell for Lilandra and how far down the road it will come.
Lilandra adds that the Superguardian Plutonia will see to the needs of Charles’ companion. He may remember her from when the impostor took his place and returned to destroy the X-Men. She stood in his defense and paid dearly.
Cable is amazed at the sheer scope of Magneto’s power, as he is sustaining a wormhole all the way back to Earth. Good thing he wasn’t so talented when he was younger, Gambit replies wryly. He muses that the chancellor seems familiar somehow. Rachel cannot help with her telepathy though as his mind is too well-shielded for unobtrusive telepathic probes. Gambit warns both of his companions to be ready for anything. He’ll try and figure the Chancellor out.
The chancellor asks if Sinister’s Hounds – referring to Rachel and Cable – can take out Magneto. At the same time, he too is struck with a sense of déjà vu, as far as “Sinister” is concerned. Lilandra won’t approve, Gambit chides while realizing, at the same moment, that the chancellor is Khan. Khan replies that Lilandra’s reign will end today, as well as the Neramani dynasty.
In private, Charles addresses Lilandra: she never told him they had a son. It was none of his concern, she replies coldly. Charles’ home is Earth. Her son’s destiny is to rule the Aerie. Given what was happening in those days, there was no place for Charles in his life. Indeed, he’d likely have been killed on sight. Many among her people still feel that way, she adds.
The child watches them, seemingly uncaring.
Xavier gets to the reason for his visit. Namely the Warskrulls’ attack on the X-Men. And he thinks the Shia’r are responsible? Lilandra asks. No one’s forgotten what was done to Rachel at her command, Charles remarks stony-faced. Nor has anyone here forgotten what was done by the Immensity wearing Charles’ face, Lilandra retorts. The empire was laid low in a matter of weeks by a single creature. And that was nothing compared to what Cassandra Nova did to her soul!
Lilandra explains that the Shi’ar are creatures of passion. That is why the entity Charles calls the Phoenix is one of their primal totems. She points towards giant statue of the Shi’ar gods. These are the Phoenix’s aspects in Shi’ar theology. Sharra: the fire of creation. K’ythri the absolute and final destruction. Kept separate and apart, they remain forever in balance. Combined, they well earn their title, “the end of all that is.”
Angrily, she turns towards Xavier, asking accusingly if he has any idea of the risk he took coming. The Shi’ar descend from a race of predators. Even today they live by blood and beak and claws, though they sublimate those primal urges beneath a veneer of a thousands generations of civilization. All that saved his wretched world years ago was the fact the empire was in chaos. They are not in chaos anymore, Xavier points out. Lilandra retorts that in her file queue is a submission to unleash the grand armada on Earth. He shouldn’t push his luck. Xavier snarls that his school is gone. Children are dead by the score and X-Men by their side. He has no more luck to push.
Lilandra replies that she mourns his loss, but reminds him that the Immensitiy cost Shi’ar a score and more worlds. Their dead numbered in the billions. Always the threat comes from Earth. Always the X-Men are involved. In her lifetime, she has ruled two whole galaxies, yet at her worst she inflicts hardly a fraction of the horror on the cosmos as the mutants do. So, when her people come to her demanding vengeance – simple justice, how does she answer? Xavier earnestly suggests they find a better way, while they still can. Lilandra recalls that her mad brother craved oneness with the Phoenix. Had they never met, D’ken would have annihilated the cosmos to get it. There are days she wishes he had. Does he ever feel that?
Xavier reaches out for her. The moment he touches Lilandra, images flare though his brain. The battle, when their minds first touched, the moment at Jean Grey and Misty Knight’s apartment when Lilandra teleported there and they first met in person. In that image, Lilandra takes off her space suit’s helmet, but her face is that of Cassandra Nova. It is Cassandra who now sits before him on Lilandra’s throne, surrounded by Brood.
At the Xavier Institute, the X-Men watch in awe as Polaris keeps up her end of the wormhole Magneto and she created. Beast wonders how they ever managed to beat Magneto. Cyclops just hopes the Shi’ar are as impressed. He asks the Spikes for information but they have no telepathic contact with Xavier or Rachel.
Iceman walks over to Polaris. Calling her ‘sexy,’ he asks how it’s going. Sternly, she reminds him they are so over. What’s a decade between buds, he jokes. Ten years? she deadpans. He seriously asks how she is and she assures him she will hold up as long as the old man. He tells her he bets and offers she should let him know if she needs to cool of or needs some water. Mollified, Lorna smiles.
Cyclops, in the meantime, suggests the Spikes try reaching Magneto. His powers are already in sync with Polaris. Maybe they can piggy-back a telepathic link along the same energy steam. A little later, a smiling Magneto observes that Cyclops paid attention in Quantum Physics class. He informs Scott that he is worried about Charles. Other than that everything there is almost too quiet.
The Guard’s leader informs the Lord Chancellor that the Starjammer is approaching and broadcasting a house Imperial transponder code that guarantees safe passage. The code is Deathbird’s, approved by Lilandra herself. Here comes the cavalry, Rachel mutters to Cable. Gambit, however, is worried by the behavior of the guardian Plutonia. In the past, when the X-Men were facing Cassandra Nova, Plutonia had almost died defending them. The betrayal comes unexpected, as Plutonia suddenly attacks Magneto and sucks the lifeforce out of him - Magneto reacts instinctively with a force pulse that vaporizes every piece of ferrous metal within range and fires every unprotected cortex. Even as he begins discorporating into his component atoms, Plutonia moves through the wormhole to her final target, Polaris.
On the Starjammer, the crew is moderately optimistic. The clearance codes Aliyah provided seem to be doing the trick as Aliyah had predicted. Kurt seems bothered though. He explains that, in his last movie, the hero came up with a great plan. But it turned out the villain had it first. He was a step ahead the whole way. The image of Cassandra Nova appears from Aliyah’s head as she asks if life should imitate art. Cassandra / Aliyah presses a button to take out the Carol consciousness of the computer. The next moment, Brood warriors enter and take out Nightcrawler, Nocturne and Phoenix. They gather around an exulting Aliyah / Cassandra.
At the Xavier Institute, the X-Men look in horror at what Plutonia has done to Polaris. Plutonia asks for forgiveness and states that the actions aren’t her own. She was forced by the Immensity. This is its vengeance on all of them. Beast warns Scott that Plutonia is hyper-saturated with energy. Her own energy combined with Polaris’ and Magneto’s is building to overload. She’ll breach the wall to 4-space. The blast will gouge a new moon out of Earth’s crust. Nothing will survive! Cecilia asks if her forcefield can help. Beast sadly informs her that all of them combined don’t have the necessary power.
He’s thinking in the wrong direction, Hub cries, as she jumps towards Plutonia. If you can’t contain a bomb, get rid of it! She sacrifices her life by teleporting Plutonia and herself into space.
After they get over their shock, Beast and Cyclops realize that the ‘Immensity’ Plutonia referred to stands for Cassandra Nova. The Professor is going to need them more than ever now. But how to reach him and Magneto? Lorna’s corpse suddenly gets up, speaking with Magneto’s voice. The next moment she seems restored. Sparkling with energy, she explains that she isn’t here for long. Her father is sustaining both of them by channeling Chandilar’s planetary magnetic field. Their bodies are done. They are both manifestations of coherent energy. They remain sentient and alive by her dad’s act of will. Together, they re-establish the wormhole. Lorna asks Scott to hurry.
Scott informs Storm that he’ll take his team (Dust, Monet, Captain Britain, Archangel, X-23 and several others) through. He tells Storm to follow plan B – come in the back way. Cyclops orders Beast to stay behind. They have a foundation to build. He asks him to be the new professor and teach the children well.
Storm informs Lorna that the others are through and tells Iceman to stay with Lorna. They will be waiting.
With her task done, Lorna collapses into Iceman’s arms. She tells him that she got beat so easily. She let down the team. They’ve all been blindsided and Mags got beaten first, he points out; it happens. Can she hold on? It’s too late, she retorts. She is only an echo of what was. She’s still, a babe though, he jokes. She apologizes for hurting him in the past and confides that she is scared. She doesn’t want to die. He tries to comfort her, telling her he’ll keep her warm. Lorna smiles. He’s made of ice! Her last words are of Kid Colossus, then she dies.
On Chandilar, Scott’s team has arrived. Magneto cries out that his daughter is dead. Humanity can breathe a little easier. The line of Lehnsherr is no more. So much for Charles’ hope of peace. Now those Shi’ar will earn to their everlasting sorrow how this old man makes war! The battle between Shi’ar and X-Men begins.