The powerful figure of Quicksilver is a blur as he runs, fast, very fast through Central Europe. As he leaves a cloud of dust trailing behind on the dirt roads intersecting the mountains around him, a cockerel sitting on a fence appears shocked as Pietro sends feathers flying into the air as the wind follows him with some force. He comes to a wooden fence bordering the track and crashes through it, screaming as he does so. He hits the speed of rage, shatters the frustration barrier, overtakes anguish and leaves peace of mind in the dust. Coming to a halt on a grassy precipice overlooking a small but colorful village, his race ends, just short of the one barrier his mutant speed can never crack; the impenetrable wall between himself and a life of sanity and order. Beyond that barrier, homo sapiens dance to a beat too slow for him to trace as his mind and thoughts work at super speed. He listens for the gentle rhythms of life in vain. He has heard them only twice in his life; the first when his daughter Luna was born and before that when he married the Inhuman Crystal.
Opening correspondence file ‘Crystal 997’ which he records using a microphone attached to his head, he begins to put down his thoughts. He tells Crystal that he needs her, that Luna needs her and he thinks there is something wrong with him. He is awakened every day by a snarl and realizes it’s coming from himself, from inside his head so he runs screaming for hundreds of miles, thinking he cannot kill the hungry beast inside of him. Maybe, he feels, he can exhaust it before it does any harm. And then he talks to her which is the one thing that does help. However, it helps only slightly as he cannot hold their child without sadness; he cannot gaze into a peaceful valley without seeing an abyss, without seeing his life.
Pietro then recalls the loneliness he felt in the months since Crystal and his twin sister Wanda, the Scarlet Witch and so many of their comrades were slain by Onslaught. He thinks back to the wasted years when he and Wanda were a part of mad Magneto’s war on the human race and its defenders. He tells Crystal that he used to tell his sister they had no choice, that humans would gladly slay them simply because they were born mutants, as their dear Balkan countrymen had amply demonstrated. He adds that he was later proven right about one thing - choice had nothing to do with it. The waves of hatred crashing through his head came naturally, for Magneto, the master of hate was later revealed to be their blood father. Continuing the letter, Quicksilver moves on to point out that at least their dear, late mother loved her infants enough to run from him. It was rare good luck when the High Evolutionary allowed Bova, the gentlest of his New Men to take her in. Magda gave birth to them not far from where he was standing, at Wundagore Mountain in Transia, away from humans, and Pietro’s debt to them doesn’t end there. He apologizes to Crystal because his problems have led him to place Luna in the care of Bova.
Coincidentally, Bova, a gentle natured being evolved from an Ayrshire cow now calls him on his headset. Pietro asks her how Luna is but although the call is broken up, possibly due to the mountainous region Pietro has entered, he gathers from an excited Bova that Wundagore mountain is under attack from thousands of invaders. Knowing his daughter Luna is currently under her care and protection, Pietro screams her name as he runs at full speed towards the mountain.
The imposing golden citadel is indeed under attack, as Genoshan mutates faithful to the Acolyte Fabian Cortez storm the building and confront its defenders, the Knights of Wundagore, better known as the High Evolutionary’s New Men. Two Knights seen swooping to the foot of the citadel where the mutates are mounting their offensive are Lord Churchill, an evolved dog, and Lord Anon. Lord Anon is a mystery to the other Knights and he wears a mask (which resembles a gas mask) to cover his face but his commitment is second to none. Several other Knights follow on their atomic steeds, small flying craft which despite not being particularly fast are agile and allow the Knights to confront the mutates quickly.
On a ledge leading to the citadel, Lord Tyger, the most literate of the Knights (evolved funnily enough from a tiger) and Lord Gator (an evolved Florida alligator and probably the most powerful Knight) fend off an attack by several costumed mutates including Brother 8 who Lord Tyger kicks off the ledge while quoting “Inhuman man! Curse on thy barbarous art - and blasted be thy murder-aiming eye!” A fallen mutate behind him asks “What?!” and Lord Tyger replies “Robert Burns, 1759 - 1796, and I’m so gratified you asked - Lord Tyger vows that all of you mutates will enter the next world with a bit more cultivation than you’ve enjoyed in this one!” Lord Gator meanwhile blasts a group of mutates with a weapon which appears to possess a concussive electrical blast.
Unfortunately, Brother 8 (his number, as with all the others is written on his shoulder) lands painfully next to Bova who was protecting the frightened Luna. She tells Luna that she should hush, because should her sobs attract their enemy’s attention, even Lord Tyger may not be able to stop them all. She asks Luna to shut her eyes and ignore the war sounds, and listen to the poetry instead. Brother 8 however has seen them and says “Well well, a big, fat cow! Looks like dinner is served!” He looks furious but his concentration is quickly broken by the hand of Lady Ursula, (an evolved bear) who grabs him by the head and lifts him off the ground and says “Good joke mutate! You’d make a fine jester, but for your backbone of butter! No one who’d threaten a bovine and a baby could be brave enough to mock a king! Well? I’m waiting for your next jape! Got any courage to show Lady Ursula?” With no retort forthcoming, Lady Ursula lands a right hand on the hapless mutate who is sent flying for the second time.
Not far from there, Brother 7 (who appears to have stretching powers similar to Mr. Fantastic) and Brother 3 (whose eyes glow like Cyclops’) see the nearby action. Brother 3 asks him if the girl is Magneto’s granddaughter and Brother 7 replies that he sees her too and Exodus will pay a handsome bounty for the severed head of “that mewling bloodline-stain”! Lady Ursula spots them and grabs Brother 3’s extending arm tightly and, grabbing her holstered gun with her free right hand, says to Bova “Hear that Bova, this war is all Exodus’ doing! You know how he feels about Luna! Take my atomic steed and hurry her to the citadel!” Bova replies “But you’ll need it!” but Lady Ursula replies “What for? I’m not going anywhere” as she unloads the weapon on Mutates 3 and 7. The New Men are always ready for a fight. Bova thanks her as she and Luna fly away on the steed. Instead of saying God be with you, Bova says “High Evolutionary be with you!” which shows how much she thinks of her exalted master. Lady Ursula replies “And with all of us! We’ll need him I fear!”
Inside the citadel, the High Evolutionary watches proceedings with Sir Ram and contemplates the events happening outside. He tells Sir Ram that this unprovoked attack could not have come at a worse time, with his powers being depleted due to his all-important experiments with Isotope E. He says that somehow their enemies were aware of this and knew precisely when to strike. Sir Ram is positive. He assures the High Evolutionary that he has always provided for his New Men and given them their lives, protecting them from the outside world. Now it is time he let them shield him. At that moment, they receive a call from Exodus on a video monitor. Exodus was Magneto’s second in command and has taken it upon himself to continue his master’s work. He tells the High Evolutionary to ignore the goat’s clever bleating and surrender, or his officers will feast upon his flesh in celebration of their victory. Exodus was nothing if not confident. The High Evolutionary however replies that he knew of him, calling him Magneto’s ‘chief bootlicker’. He tells Exodus how he blindly follows his pathetic principles of mutant supremacy whilst he himself has personally evolved to the furthest ends of human evolution before returning to the mortal shell he currently resides in, and knows the folly of the path Exodus pursues. Exodus calmly replies “Such disdain for my beliefs from one who daily sunders natural law? Magneto’s way is the wave of the future. But you…your controlled mutation mocks creation itself! In the name of my lord Magneto…” The High Evolutionary interjects, “Your Magneto is dead, Exodus! And before this is over - you will join him!“ With his final word, the High Evolutionary angrily smashes his gloved fist down on the control panel and breaks it.
Sir Ram is contented with his master’s words and tells him that he can trust that his New Men will uphold his word until the last. His master says he counts on it and if Exodus has his way, his dreams to bring humanity to the next stage of evolution will crumble into dust. At that moment, Luna and her nanny Bova enter the control room and the High Evolutionary greets them, exclaiming that he is happy they are safe. Bova thanks her lord and tells him they were plucked from the war by Lady Ursula. Luna rushes to him and shouts “Daddy --?” and then looks at the High Evolutionary directly, squeezes his fingers and repeats the question. He tries to pacify the youngster by telling her that her father is far away and safe, as are she and Bova within the citadel’s mighty walls. However, before he finishes the sentence, a thundering noise is heard, startling the two canine guards. Sir Ram asks “but, who is powerful enough to breach the citadel?“
Pietro meanwhile arrives at Wundagore, still working on the correspondence file as he runs. He tells Crystal that things are bad. Wundagore Mountain is ringed with flame and Bova’s cottage has been reduced to ashes. He has carried out a quick check and thanks god he found the cottage empty. He swears he will never delegate his responsibility to Luna again and prays she made it to the citadel, though he knows even these walls may not be enough as the mountain is swarming with invaders. Suddenly, he recognizes the encroaching army; they are expatriate mutates who he had come across back when Fabian Cortez kidnapped his daughter during a recent adventure in Genosha. As he knows, Cortez is a political opportunist, a man who will do whatever is necessary to serve his own selfish ends, even to following the orders of Exodus, even to killing their daughter in the name of mutant supremacy.
Pietro’s thoughts quickly return to Luna as he rockets up the steps still faster towards the entrance to the citadel. Electricity appears to spark from his body as he rushes past several more mutates on the stairway. He promises he won’t fail Luna as her father has lost much these past few months. He will never lose Luna. From high above, mutate 28 spots Quicksilver’s dust and is glad to see him as he was getting bored slaughtering animals. He already looks like he is beginning to concentrate on his next move.
Elsewhere, a group of Acolytes in their matching uniforms enter the building led by their field leader, Scanner. Following her are Joanna Cargill, Carmella Unuscione, Fabian Cortez and the powerful Kleinstock brothers, Sven and Harlan, who are joined at the waist. Fabian asks her where the High Evolutionary is as she said he would be there and she replies, almost sarcastically that he was, only the sound of the Kleinstocks banging the door just might have scared him off. Cargill points out that soon they’ll have his citadel and his depraved inventions and asks Cortez “Isn’t that enough?” Cortez replies that maybe it is for her, but he wants a victory that will fill Exodus, Acolytes, mutants and mutates alike with a boundless gratitude and he wants them to know he gave it to them. He also silently reveals his ulterior motives in this operation, which are to try and pry the Acolytes devotions away from Exodus and towards himself. He sees himself as the rightful heir to Magneto’s throne and Exodus as the usurper. He commands Scanner to find him. She climbs a small staircase to what appears to be a control panel complete with television monitors, all switched off. She tells Cortez that the citadel is riddled with secret passageways as one might expect, and if she were the High Evolutionary and her kingdom was crumbling, she’d probably select a route that leads to an airship. Knowing she is, in all probability correct, she asks if they should split up.
In one of the secret tunnels just mentioned, the High Evolutionary leads Sir Ram, Bova and Luna towards the waiting airship and a frightened Luna says she wants to see her daddy. Bova tries to appease her by telling her she will and Sir Ram points out that first they must get out of there. He adds that the airship bay is just ahead and he tries to convince his master to retreat as well, as the experiments have drained him too. His master stops and reminds Sir Ram that “The result of those experiments bids me to stay. I cannot let Isotope E fall into the hands of these…” Before he completes his sentence, he is interrupted by Scanner who asks “These what? Do you mean us?” before calling Fabian Cortez and telling him she has found them, along with the brat (as she refers to the innocent Luna). She tells him to follow her signal and when he arrives, to be sure to enquire about something called Isotope E. The High Evolutionary tries to grab her, but his hand simply slips through her body and he asks “Are you a wraith?” Scanner replies that she is an electro-transitional mutant but he shouldn’t worry as some solid opponents should arrive momentarily. This is bad news for the group and Sir Ram makes a call to all the Knights on a radio device, telling them their lord is under attack and to send reinforcements, “And hurry!” he shouts.
Quicksilver meanwhile has reached mutate 28 who immediately uses his mutant concussive power, which emanates from his body to knock Pietro tumbling backwards to the floor. He gloats “So! Nothing will keep you from your child, eh, beast-lover? Well, just try and get past Burst!” With Pietro temporarily disorientated, the sound of Burst’s attack has attracted the attention of the hooded Lord Gator who turns and stares at the mutate, holding his weapon beside him. He whispers “Ssssshhh” and Burst turns, still eager for action. He asks “Who--?” and Lord Gator replies, in a barely audible hush “Bluster is not the true warrior’s way, Mister Burst, and bombast never won a battle.” Burst asks who he is and what he is whispering about as he can hardly hear. As Pietro stands up, dazed but still functioning and with another mutate closing in behind him, Lord Gator continues “be still, be calm, lure your quarry near…” at which point Burst loses patience and says “Enough of this! Burst will kill you, you...” Suddenly, and ferociously, with Burst in mid rant, Gator leaps onto the hapless mutate and bears his teeth, killing Burst in a barbarous attack.
Lord Tyger and two other New Men swoop towards the action from above, Tyger skillfully throwing a couple of shuriken which score direct hits on one mutate. Lord Tyger poetically commentates on events. “So Gator, in his ravenous way, defends a guest, the father of Luna. Still others wish a dazed Pietro slain; Thus Tyger carves and cans those like tuna.” As Lady Ursula physically attacks mutate 19, she asks casually if that was Burns again but Lord Tyger replies “No Ursula, it is mine! Burns didn’t know Quicksilver!” As Pietro looks on, Lady Ursula matches Lord Gator’s earlier attack by crushing mutate 19 with her bare hands, which makes Pietro feel physically sick and he covers his mouth in horror.
Back inside the citadel, Sir Ram tells his lord that the citadel is lost and he must flee. He replies that it is Sir Ram who must flee, and to take Bova and the child to safety with him. He will remain to safeguard the Isotope E as it could not fall into the hands of someone like Scanner. Scanner taunts the High Evolutionary as he is unable to touch her in her holographic form. She has her hands casually holding her hips, emphasizing his helplessness. She tells him to insult her all he likes but she won’t leave his side; not while her fellow Acolytes are homing in. As she speaks, the Kleinstock brothers crash through the wall and shout “Found you! You’re ours Evolutionary!” Instinctively, the High Evolutionary activates his personal force field and tells Sir Ram to go as his force field will protect them. Using the field, he blocks the entrance to the tunnel that Sir Ram, Bova and Luna scuttle through leaving Scanner, the Kleinstocks and Fabian Cortez stuck on the other side. The Kleinstocks make a futile attempt to smash the force field but Scanner tells them they are idiots, and that they’ll never make a dent in it. She thinks quickly and tells Fabian she has need of him. “Of course you do” he replies and adds “Evolutionary, Scanner can detect energies the rest of us are blind to. If she says this field is too powerful to penetrate, then that’s enough for me. Naturally, even my mutant power can do little to diminish it - but I believe I can intensify it!” Before he can act, the High Evolutionary tries to bluff by saying “What? No! Stop! You have no idea of the forces you’re unleash..” but before he has finished, the barrier collapses in a loud explosion to which Cortez says “Oh, I think I do.”
Back outside the citadel, Pietro sees Lady Ursula, Lord Gator, Lord Anon and Lord Tyger mounting their atomic steeds and asks if they are retreating. Lady Ursula replies that Mr. Steed (a New Man evolved from a horse who is standing beside them) has brought urgent word from Sir Ram that they are to retake the citadel and the masked Lord Anon adds that they would be honored if he would join them. Pietro replies that he will gladly do that, once he has found his daughter. Lady Ursula says “Then come! Last I saw of her, she and Bova were headed to the citadel” and Pietro adds “Then that’s where I’m going, but don’t think I’ll wait for you to keep up.” Before he departs however, Mr. Steed points out that his knowledge of the terrain and his sure tread means his way will be faster. Pietro concedes the point and asks the hoofed Mr. Steed to lead on.
The Acolytes congregate around the High Evolutionary and realize his energies are spent. The Kleinstocks are eager to use their muscle on the High Evolutionary but Fabian Cortez denies them that privilege, demanding instead to know what isotope E is, but the High Evolutionary replies that it is a greater power than he can be trusted with. Cortez threatens him with the Kleinstocks if he doesn’t disclose its location, and then threatens Luna with them as well. Holding his head in his hands, the weakened scientist points at a vault door which has a sign saying ‘Do Not Enter’ on it. Cortez tells the Kleinstocks to open the vault before the entire place comes crashing down around them. Scanner is about to suggest something, but is shushed by Cortez. Always eager for duty, the brothers concern over the state of the creaking floor is forgotten as they have their strength augmented by Cortez and proceed to tear the vault door apart as if it were paper.
Unfortunately for them, they find that the High Evolutionary has cunningly lied to them and hundreds of gallons of water gushes from behind the door, sweeping some of them to the floor and then through it as it collapses under the weight of the water. The Evolutionary says “Did I neglect to mention that door opens into the aquatic wing?” Scanner says “Blast you Evolutionary, and blast Cortez! He should have listened to me” and contacts Exodus on a wrist communicator, wearily informing him that they have breached the citadel, but Cortez and the Kleinstocks have fallen into an infuriatingly avoidable trap. Exodus replies that this is disappointing. He anticipated perfidy, but not errors and it seems that he will now have to step in personally. Before he does that though, he asks Scanner to return to him and brief him personally. Meanwhile, a previously hidden Knight, the aquatic Lord Delphis (an evolved dolphin) steps out of the vault, notices the wreckage and asks his master if the invasion has begun. When Delphis asks if he should join the fight, the High Evolutionary replies that he should instead secure the isotope and follow him.
At the citadel’s gate which is on fire, Gator, Anon and Ursula reach Wundagore’s summit on their atomic steeds, while Quicksilver and Steed match their airborne speed on foot over the rugged mountain terrain. Quicksilver and Mr. Steed happen upon Lady Vermin (an evolved rat) sat upon Lord Churchill’s shoulder who is already mourning the dead as his canine senses grant him deeper feelings than most. Pietro asks if they are too late as he sees the flames but Mr. Steed tells him it is only Churchill, who should have waited until the job was done before burning the dead. Churchill though is now ready to attack Exodus and give him a surprise, “a surprise carried on the edge of razor-sharp teeth”.
Back inside, Sir Ram, Bova and Luna are heading for escape in the hangar when Cortez and the Kleinstocks happen to land beside them, carried on the waves of water from the vault. Sir Ram calls for them to brook no distractions but Bova is understandably afraid as she sees the robed figure of Cortez landing beside them. Cortez notices them, praising his luck at where the flood has delivered them. Bova tells Sir Ram that Cortez has seen them and Sir Ram tells them to hurry. However, they are too late and Cortez points his weapon in their direction, particularly Luna’s, with the Kleinstocks goading him into firing. As he pulls the trigger, his hand is inexplicably wrenched sideways and the shot instead strikes the Kleinstocks (though not fatally). Cortez is surprised, claiming they were not his target and is saying his target was Luna when Quicksilver appears before him with the Knights behind him riding the atomic steeds. He tells Cortez that the jolt he felt as he shot was himself choosing a better target. Pietro demands that Cortez drop the gun because before his finger can twitch on the trigger, he could wrest it from his fingers and shove it down his lying throat.
Feeling cornered and alone, Cortez, being a renowned coward instead desperately aims the gun at Luna, saying he will not face Exodus and the rest of the Acolytes and tell them Magneto’s bad seed still breathes. To Pietro’s super-fast mind the situation plays out in slow motion as he finds his feet shackled by the powerful hands of the Kleinstocks. He watches helplessly as Sir Ram holds up a defensive hand as Cortez squeezes the trigger and fires. Mr. Steed however, in an act of unselfish heroism leaps in front of Bova and Luna as the airship’s cockpit closes. Cortez mouths “The child is mine!” and the weapon is discharged. Unfortunately for Cortez, the gun’s blast strikes Mr. Steed full in the chest, fatally wounding him but in doing so Mr. Steed has saved Bova and Luna whose craft blasts away to safety. Sir Ram catches him as he falls and tells him that he has saved them as he collapses, never to awaken.
Quicksilver shouts at the New Men to escort the craft out of the war zone as he has Cortez under control. The roar of atomic steeds following the craft however drowns out the sound of Exodus, Joanna Cargill and Carmella Unuscione teleporting in as the invasion’s second wave begins. Cortez has some explaining to do as Exodus asks him where the child is. Scanner warns her master to be careful as she has detected energies coming closer. She turns and points at the stairway behind her and their foe approaches. Exodus appears pleased to see the High Evolutionary who arrives to greet them brandishing a sword in one hand and a vial in the other and with Sir Delphis beside him, holding a personal teleporter. The Evolutionary is characteristically condescending and tells Exodus “So you are through taunting us from a distance? I am not surprised, given the ineptitude of your help.” As he speaks, the Kleinstocks prepare for an assault but Quicksilver is behind them, unseen and picks up the vault door which had come loose from its mounting earlier. Exodus furiously tells the High Evolutionary that Wundagore is now his and rants about how he no longer has any soldiers left to defend him. He adds that his vile biological experiments and occult dabblings are now at an end and he will mock creation no more. Suddenly, the Kleinstocks fall under the vault door’s weight and Exodus turns to see Quicksilver.
With the distracted Exodus threatening to mind-blast him first, Pietro seizes the chance to speak as Lady Vermin leaps into action. Pietro asks why Exodus would threaten to kill him when he can just do it. He continues, “Because you don’t want to! Because I’m too important! Because it is through torment that you become most like my cursed father, isn’t it? Congratulate yourself, for in both manner and aspect you resemble him, and it sickens me!” Meanwhile, the unseen Lady Vermin lands on Exodus’ shoulder and bites his ear painfully as Lord Churchill eggs her on. The bite is more painful than it would normally be, considering as Lady Vermin points out, her bite contains a fast-acting virus concocted by the High Evolutionary which will cause blinding pain and temporary dementia before wearing off.
Sometime after, recalling events, Quicksilver reopens correspondence file 997. He explains how he had the madman who had so desired the death of their daughter simply because of the simple make-up of her blood in his grasp. His hands longed for his throat, when suddenly he was denied the opportunity to strangle him by the High Evolutionary who teleported himself and the New Men away from the citadel. He adds in his file that it was in that instant that he realized Exodus was Magneto’s true child, the one his father’s legacy had poisoned and corrupted, and that for an instant he felt hatred toward the High Evolutionary for denying him the opportunity for vengeance.
Later still, several miles away from Wundagore, the High Evolutionary knights a kneeling Pietro who thinks of his joy at Luna’s safety, of Mr. Steed’s noble sacrifice and just how much, considering Exodus’ motives, Wundagore means to him. Lord Delphis, Lord Churchill, Lady Vermin and Sir Ram look on during the ceremony. He says that in knighting him, the High Evolutionary has bestowed upon him a touching honor. The High Evolutionary tells Pietro that though he felt the retreat from Wundagore had been prudent, albeit distasteful, Exodus will be occupied for some time rebuilding the structure and its many laboratories and in the meantime, before striking back, he will personally have to hide Isotope E from their enemies. He also gives Pietro the task of leading the New Men in his absence, though he doesn’t let on where he is heading for safety reasons. Churchill looks sad to see his lord and master depart. Pietro is honored and asks Sir Delphis to teleport them away. He now feels that he belongs with the New Men. He finishes off his correspondence file by saying “We’ll be joining Luna soon Crystal, and I can’t wait. But the anticipation’s not the same. In the past, I’ve run to her, asking her fragile young spirit to bear the whole burden of my yearning to belong. Today, I’ll take my time getting there. Today, albeit for a short time, the beast within me has been stilled. Today, I belong.” He and the Knights raise their swords skywards, their future looking uncertain, but interesting.