Like lightning-fast creatures of some forgotten Hong Kong folk tale, masked men descend from everywhere on the high-flying Storm. Having travelled half a world to this pre-arranged meeting point on Sejongo Street in Seoul, South Korea, Ororo feels deep in her heart that she has been tricked. She does not know who has sent them here, but she generates some winds with the intention to send them back to him with a warning: she will not be diverted from her mission in this land!
After she disposes of her attackers, Ororo spots more of them on the street below. One of them vows she will die; so states the one true god, Cytorrak! Storm points out that the god they speak of is not hers, but if is theirs, they should best pray she is merciful. With this, she assails them with her gusts of wind and her lightning bolts, effectively dispersing them and exploding a car. A civilian walks into the scene, astounded, wondering what is going on here. Storm urges him to get away from this place; it is not safe! The man complies. “Not for… who?” one of the masked warriors exclaims as he is about to hurl a spear against Storm – but just then, two hands emerge from the brick wall next to him and grab him.
Shadowcat phases out of the wall and unmasks him. She introduces herself with a mischievous smile. The warrior is astonished: she… she moves past stone walls? Walls, doors, trees, she confirms; he names it, she’ll phase through it. “Want to give it a try?” she suggests and slams his face against the wall! “Outch!” she exclaims, as the man drops unconscious – she guesses it only works for her. “Sorry,” she quips.
Ororo comes down on the street. She appreciates Kitty’s assistance, but reminds her she told her to remain sequestered in case of surprise. Kitty ironically apologizes; she thought a man about to impale Storm in the back qualified. Does she think they were set up? Storm admits that at first she did, but these men seem to have their own agenda, and one not in keeping with her contact here. But the question remains…
“Where, oh where, is Black Tom Cassidy?” a voice is heard, finishing Storm’s intended phrase. It’s Black Tom in person. He urges the two women to cast their eyes up, for that’s where he is, just as he said he’d be, true to his word. The same cannot be said for Storm, though. He thought he told her to come alone. Storm retorts that she is neither in the habit of being told what to do… nor following orders from one of the X-Men’s oldest enemies. “Gah! Listen to ya!” Black Tom reprimands her and reminds her she came of her own accord.
Shadowcat is surprised that Storm willingly agreed to meet him. Black Tom Cassidy’s got a rap sheet with the X-Men a mile long. He tried to kill her the first time he… Ororo cuts her off and assures her she’s well aware of Black Tom’s prior sins, but he offered a bounty that, as leader of the X-Men, she couldn’t ignore. In exchange, he requires the skills of a thief to obtain a dangerous gem before another set on the same prize acquires it. Flying up to the spot where Black Tom is sitting, she lifts him with her winds in the air. Panicked, Black Tom demands she stop it and put him down!
Kitty wonders why Cassidy set them up; why did he get his little robed goons to attack them? Black Tom believes they’re daft if they think these men are his! That’s the bunch he’s hiring Storm and Shadowcat against! Storm admits there is much they should know, but first they should adjourn, before any other unwanted surprises find them here.
Meanwhile, back in the United States, a tearful, dejected Rogue flies through the window and into her bedroom, in the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. Wolverine is expecting her there, though, and upon seeing her, inquires her: “Gambit?” Startled, Rogue asks him what he’s talking about. His arms crossed, Wolverine sternly points out that she smells like nothing on this continent. She went looking for Gambit again, didn’t she? In Antarctica. Did she think her days of sneaking out on secret missions were over? Besides, even if she does find him, she can’t make a man who wants to be gone come back.
Disgruntled, Rogue retorts: who… who said she wanted him back? You did, Logan glibly replies. Her eyes. Her mouth. The way she holds a fork when she eats. No trace of him? he asks. Nothin’, she replies. She’s been there four or five times, but the fortress where Remy was put on trial is gone without a trace. She never should’ve left him there. She should’ve been stronger, should’ve fought against his mind telling her he wasn’t worthy of saving. Should’ve…
“Shoulda, woulda, coulda,” Wolverine mocks her. All that matters in life is what is. Everything else is a fairy tale. Rogue admits she wants a happy ending. Only happens in stories, Wolverine dashes her hopes. Seeing her about to open the door leading to the corridor, Wolverine tells her he wouldn’t do that. “Why not?” Rogue wonders and opens it anyway.
There’s pandemonium in the corridor. An incensed Colossus demands that Marrow give him his sketchbook back! Eluding him, Marrow asks him why should she – why should his stuff be any more private than her stuff? Colossus exclaims that she did not even ask to see it! “Tough spit! Welcome to the club!” Marrow snickers. “Club? And how does one join? By purloining the artwork of another?” Nightcrawler remarks as he teleports behind her and snatches the notebook, adding that he must be a member then! Threatening him with one of her bones, its sharp tip aimed right at his face, Sarah believes that if it’s a swiper’s club, Nightcrawler is the president!
Rogue intervenes and grabs the bone, warning Marrow to get a hold of herself and reminding her that Nightcrawler isn’t her enemy, he’s her teammate. Ist so, fraulein, Kurt reaffirms – and he was only joking. Marrow produces an ostensibly fake laugh as a response and points out that’s about as funny as kicking someone out of their room. Kurt retorts that she is living in the Danger Room; they need to convert that space back into what it was before, a room fraught with danger that they can all use to train as a team, to hone and perfect their skills.
Bull, Sarah snaps back; the room doesn’t have anything in it. They’re just picking on her because she’s new here. Colossus argues that, while he too would prefer his old room, in his absence it has become Wolverine’s. They all must make adjustments. Nightcrawler assures her he did not want to upset her. If the room is that important to her, they can…
“You’re so stupid!” Marrow grunts and grabs Peter’s sketchbook from Kurt. She didn’t take the book because she’s mad. She took it because she liked this, she claims and show them a sketch of Kitty. She finds it pretty. “But forget it,” she snarls. They marshmallows do need a Danger Room, because they wouldn’t last a day in the Morlock Tunnels.
After Marrow walks out, Wolverine tells Peter that if he wanted his old room back, he should’ve said so. Peter claims he was merely making a point for… Wolverine cuts him off and announces the room is Piotr’s. Logan has been thinking of moving out anyhow. Rogue is surprised: he’s leaving?! Now who’s keeping secrets? Wolverine clarifies he’s not leaving, just moving out; outside; on the grounds. Getting back to nature has done a world of good to Storm of late. He thinks it’ll work for him, too. The others wonder where Storm and Kitty are. Wolverine replies that, now, that’s a secret.
In downtown Seoul, Black Tom wishes Storm would reconsider this. Ororo explains that he has called her from her team at a very delicate team. She wants proof that his story is real – that the Juggernaut is dying. Black Tom assures her she’ll see the genuine article himself. Though he’ll not be happy they’ve come to look in on him. He’s weak, not at all the man they knew.
Shadowcat wonders how someone could have stolen the Juggernaut’s power gem. She read S.H.I.E.L.D. reports that said he had merged with it. True enough, Tom replies. But power is a strong siren, and it called to Cain Marco from the country where he first heard its song. He was lured back to Korea by word of a second gem having been unearthed. Overcome with the thought of doubling his power, he set out to retrieve the second stone. Though Black Tom was recuperating from his own injuries, Juggernaut wanted him along in case of trickery… and trickery it was.
At the forbidden temple of Cytorrak, Cain was bound in a mystic circle. There was a second gem, that much was true, but it had no power – not until the crimson energies of the Juggernaut were painfully leeched from Cain’s body and channeled into it. They’ll see the results for themselves. They should be ready for anything, though. Marco is liable to be…
“Gone?!” he cries out in despair, as he enters his hideaway and finds it thoroughly empty. He deduces they’ve come for him! Storm disagrees. She observes the wall was broken from the inside. Cain left of his own accord. Shadowcat presumes this means Cassidy’s whole “Cain lost his powers” story looks like a lie, and this was just a set-up. He brought the two of them here for an ambush!
Black Tom swears it’s not so! Juggernaut did lose his powers! He’s just had little bursts of power since he lost the gem, but few and far between. His being gone is just as big a surprise to him as anyone! Storm notes that, as Shadowcat pointed out, Black Tom’s treachery has known no bounds in the past. She is beginning to see its shape forming again. Tom pleads them, if they don’t find Marco for him, they do it for their mentor, Charles Xavier. Cain is Xavier’s brother, after all, and it was him Black Tom was trying to reach when he came across Storm.
Ororo advises him not to try to use Professor Xavier as his leverage. They will take Cassidy at his word. They will follow this new trail of destruction to Juggernaut and investigate Black Tom’s claims once and for all. He, however, will remain here until their return. She warns him that what they find had best be what he described, with no further surprises. Storm and Kitty take off together, leaving Cassidy behind – all three oblivious to someone spying on them from the shadows.
Swept in the air by Storm’s powers, Kitty reminds her she trusts her implicitly; without her leadership, Kitty would be probably be dead in a Florida swamp by now… “But?” Ororo expects what’s coming. But Kitty feels like Ororo’s keeping information from her. They’re equal partners in the X-Men, aren’t they? Ororo assures her that indeed they are, but she asks Kitty’s trust. She has her reasons, not the last of which is that they are being asked to take the word of a man like Black Tom Cassidy as their only…
“Goddess!” Storm exclaims, as something heavy is hurled out of a window, from a skyscraper close to them. Peering inside, the two women discover the source of this upheaval: Cain Marco – and he is still the Juggernaut! To the street, Storm urges Kitty. As they land down to face him, Marco explains that there may be less of him, but there’s still enough to take this city and everyone in it down when he falls! And there’s nothing they can do to stop him! Saying this, he tosses a car at the two of them. Ororo retorts there is much they are capable of – like cradling this wreckage in a cushion of wind, which she proceeds to do.
However, Storm realizes they cannot spend what precious little time they have here, merely keeping Juggernaut in check. That could leave the door open for others to capture their prize unchallenged, which perhaps is the real plan here. Kitty notes that Marco is crazed; he’s going to kill himself acting like this! Were that his life were the only one in danger, Ororo remarks. She is more concerned with the thousands of innocents at risk. What Juggernaut does to himself is his own concern. What he does to others is theirs.
Marco is still raging uncontrollably and now tears off a building! Are they going to stand around yapping, or are they are going to get into this?! “By the four winds! How…?” Storm exclaims in surprise. Kitty wonders how even a little Juggernaut is looking too much for two X-Men. “Because a little goes a long way!” Juggernaut replies. Ororo demands he stop this insanity. He should preserve his strength and return to Black Tom so they can set about helping him. Marco is incredulous: help? He’s helping himself. He knows where the losers who murdered him are, and he’s going to make them pay if it’s the last thing he does!
Building her power for a final strike, Storm’s mind tries to make sense of the chaos. Unaware to everyone, a man rides on a bike, all along the building Juggernaut barely holds in his arms and revs downward, charged with energy – until he finally jumps out of his motorcycle and attacks Marco full-on with bursts of kinetic energy. He introduces himself as Remy LeBeau to his friends – to his enemies, the name’s Gambit! He tells Marco they can go on ahead and forget that first name right about now. Weakened by Gambit’s unexpected attack, Juggernaut cannot hold the building any longer and collapses. Remy quips that the Juggernaut is losing his touch. Storm nonchalantly notes that Remy looks as though he’s regained his own – or should she call him Gambit now? “You tell me, chere,” he replies. That call is Storm’s to make, right?
Gambit explains he just saw an old friend in a big trouble of mess and thought he’d lend a hand. More than that, he wasn’t thinking. Juggernaut roars that he must have not been thinking! Nobody does that him and lives! Nothing can stop the… the… The Juggernaut? Nothin’ ‘cept himself, Gambit scoffs, disdainfully noting that Marco is too weak to even speak properly. “Nighty-nine, fence post,” he adds and incapacitates him with a charge of energy.
Storm is indignant: what has he done? Remy thinks he saved the day. Storm stresses that Juggernaut is sick; they are here to save him. Remy quips he must’ve missed something while he was gone. Ororo, pointing her finger at him, insists that his briefing can wait along with the explanation of why he did not notify those who care about him that he was alive and well! Gambit admits he didn’t know anyone did care. “Later, Remy,” she closes up the topic for now and tends to the dazed Juggernaut. Marco insists they leave him alone. Storm tells him he’s sick. If he is to live, he must set aside his anger and accept assistance from those willing to aid him.
A policeman tells Shadowcat that they must come with them and pay for the property damages inflicted by Juggernaut. Shadowcat refuses. They have to save the world first. She tells him to wait here until she tells him it’s safe, okay?
Gambit playfully wonders if Storm was talking to Juggernaut just now, or to Remy. If Remy thinks he hears wisdom in her words, then he should hear it, Ororo replies. She asks him why he is here, after all this time. Remy explains he’s back to business as usual. He’s got a big offer to steal a big jewel. He’s a thief when all else fails – and all else failed.
Kitty joins them and informs Ororo they’ve got police problems brewing; they’ve got to scat. Storm agrees. As she too is here to pluck a valuable prize that lies on the same path Remy travels, she proposes a partnership. Whoever’s fingers touch the gem first gets it? Remy quips. It’s fine by him. Shadowcat tells him she’s heard a lot about him. Gambit recognizes Kitty and shakes hands with her, introducing himself to her; pleasure all’s his. Kitty thanks him, but reminds him: business before…
She suddenly spots something sticking out of the unconscious Juggernaut’s pants: it’s a map. Gambit deduces that Juggs had a destination in mind at the end of his rampage. Shadowcat pinpoints Juggernaut’s destination as a temple on an island off the coast called Cheju-do. She asks if anybody’s up for a little Indiana Jones globe-hopping action.
In the Xavier Institute, Colossus enters Marrow’s room in the basement. He asks aloud is she’s down here. He hears Marrow grumbling and blabbering further inside: “stupid, home-wrecking, room-taking, sun-loving…” He tells her he’s been thinking about… “Bozhe moi!” he exclaims as he comes across Marrow tearing posters off her wall – posters of beautiful people, models in ads, couples. Sarah, almost hysterical, demands he get out of here; she doesn’t want him to see this! She doesn’t want anyone to see this! Peter tries to tell her to wait, but Marrow forcefully pushes him outside. Doesn’t he know anything about knocking? It’s simple; he just makes a fist and pounds! Does she want him to demonstrate?!
Marrow slams the door in his face. Piotr explains that he was just coming to apologize for earlier. He promises he will never tell anyone what he saw, but she needs not be ashamed. He too understands the need to appreciate beauty. He overreacted about his sketches, and so he made this one for her. He slips a sketch of Marrow underneath her door. Sarah picks it up and looks at it.
In the island of Cheju-do, Gambit, Shadowcat and Storm land down outside a majestic temple. Whatever else Juggernaut’s destination may be, it certainly is beautiful, Ororo notes. “Beautiful?” Kitty exclaims. Ororo did see the skulls on the pike, didn’t she? “You say stew, I say gumbo,” Gambit banters and agrees it’s a dangerous beauty. Not everything’s clear black and white. Truer words were never spoken, Storm agrees – although she suspects this “temple of Cytorrak” is more black at its heart than not. Gambit remarks it doesn’t look it’s much of nothing, save deserted.
Perusing the map, Shadowcat agrees; it’s like they’re in the right place, but in the wrong century. As they enter the temple, Storm advises them to maintain their guard. This is a land where ruins become palaces as readily as thieves become champions. Shadowcat notes there’s no one inside, either. How are they supposed to find if its takers aren’t here? Gambit tells her not to worry. He’s got a feeling… they already found them.
Indeed, from everywhere and nowhere, cadres of masked warriors descend and begin to fight them. “Defilers!” one of the warriors snaps at them. Storm insists they came only for the crimson gem stolen from their fallen ally. The warrior reminds her that the get was stolen from him as he it stole from them years earlier! The gem is the key to their holy ascension. They will never allow it to be taken again! Gambit guesses they need to hear nothing more from them then! Shadowcat is troubled: if the gem was theirs to start with, then Juggernaut took it and used it for evil… aren’t the X-Men at least partly in the wrong if they give it back to him? Remy replies that he never said anything about giving it back to Juggs. Meantime, he reminds her they are in for this now – if they stop, they all fall.
“Shadowcat! Gambit! Behind you!” Storm warns them. Remy and Kitty find themselves stuck in a corner as more and more approach them far and wide. Kitty asks ideas for strategy. Gambit asks her if she knows they one they call “retreat.” Sure, Kitty quips. As she and Remy begin to back off further inside the temple, keeping the warriors at arm’s length, Kitty wonders: retreat to what? She and Remy have a stream of water behind them. Gambit banters it looks a whole lot better than the river of hate in front of them! Kitty realizes the men are trying to force them back. It’s a trick; something’s in the…
Just then, some of the warriors lunge forward and push Kitty into the water, although they miss Gambit, who leaps in the air. Before she vanishes into the air, Kitty warns Remy to stay back: piranha! The warriors hurl their spears at Remy, but all shots dodge the target. Gambit advises them to keep their spears; they are not going to stick him with them. He’s got the luck of ages on his side. And if they’ve killed little Kate, he’s going to use a spear to put a cunja on them no amount of voodoo is gonna break! Of course, now that he looks at it, spears are as good a way out of here as any. Grabbing onto the spears stuck in the wall all around, Remy climbs his way out of the room. At its entranceway, he attacks and successfully causes the men to scatter with kinetic energy – no need to show him out, he remembers the way!
Returning to the previous room, he reunites with Storm. Ororo has quite obviously quelled this arm of the attack, all men lying lifeless on the floor. She asks how Gambit and Kitty fared. Half good, half not, Gambit replies. Before he can elaborate on Kitty, he sees a giant statue coming to life behind Ororo, its eyes glowing. “Behind you this time!” he warns her. Storm retorts there is nothing behind her save the temple statue. He should not disappoint her now by trying to trick his way into procuring the gem for his own… Gambit knows that trust is never fast in coming back, but he never lied to her as an X-Man. Statue it may be, but it’s got eyes for her, and claws…
Elsewhere, Shadowcat is swimming in the piranha-infested pool. Her ability to phase is keeping these razor-jawed fish off of her, but she has to come up for air, or her lungs will burst. Maybe she can chance phasing through the side wall and hope she comes up somewhere. Escaping in this way, Kitty ends up in a side room. As she catches her breath, she sees the room is bathed in red light. Suddenly, she spots the coveted gem on the center of the room – the source of the light. “Don’t tell me that in the battle of the two great ex-thieves, Kitty Pryde of Chicago, Illinois, is the one who grabs the gem!” she banters. She sees a nice painting right beside the gem. She wonders what it... “Defiler!” a warrior roars as he storms into the room and interrupts her thoughts. “Great out of the Scilla, into the Charybdis…” Kitty grumps.
Elsewhere, Storm and Gambit are busy fighting the animated statue. With both of them ensnared in its fists, Ororo notes that her powers have no effect on it and asks Remy if he can charge the statue with energy. Remy can try, but he thinks it’s full already. He thinks this here is what the cult wants the gem’s power for. Storm wonders where Kitty is. Perhaps she can… “Don’t ask!” Remy cuts her off. He should just take her word that they save themselves or they aren’t going to be saved. Storm is upset: has something happened to Kitten?! Remy is counting on her being as good as her reputation. Storm insists she will not lose an X-Man under her watch! “I will not!” she screams and unleashes a tremendous amount of energy, which combined with Gambit’s power, effectively brings the living statue down.
Gambit hears that Shadowcat was trained as a ninja by Wolverine himself. He trusted in her abilities; so should she. Besides, if little Kate’s gone, it won’t be Ororo’s loss, it will be his. Storm points out that the leader of the X-Men is always held accountable. Though they were all too ashamed to speak of it directly, Gambit’s own disappearance was… Turning around to face him, she realizes he’s gone.
Elsewhere, Gambit sneaks into the crimson room and comes across Kitty, who’s just knocked out the two warriors who attacked her. He is enthused to see her alive. Shadowcat believes they won’t be alive for long if they don’t get that gem out of there. She tells him to check out the painting. Having a quick look at it, Remy deduces it depicts some kind of apocalypse. Worse than Juggie’s worst tantrum, Kitty remarks. She asks him where Storm is. Gambit explains she was looking for her. Kitty decides to go get her. Will Gambit watch the gem till she gets back? “Sure. Somethin’ like that,” Gambit replies.
Shadowcat soon bumps into Storm. Ororo asks her if she’s all right. Barely, Kitty replies. Gambit is watching the gem in… Storm asks her where she’s seen Gambit. Shadowcat leads her back to the room. However, when they get there, the room is completely dark and the gem is gone. Kitty is flustered. She hopes Storm doesn’t think… She doesn’t know Gambit, but he wouldn’t…
“Trick us?” Storm exclaims. She would have hoped body and soul he wouldn’t. Despite his dark past, she has never known Gambit to be anything less than honorable. To double-cross them is simply not within him. Kitty notes he is gone and the gem is gone; denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. Storm hesitantly agrees. They must accept the hand dealt to them and press on. They should return to Black Tom. Kitty suggests they at least look for Gambit. Storm stresses that if Remy does not want to be found, he will not. All that remains is hope that Gambit is the man she believed him to be, a man with the heart of a hero, not that of a thief.
Back in Seoul, Storm and Kitty return to Black Tom’s hideaway, only to find Gambit waiting there for them, together with Tom and a rejuvenated Juggernaut. Tom welcomes them; Juggernaut said they wouldn’t be coming, but Tom is glad they did; they both are. Juggernaut sternly points out they shouldn’t expect this to buy them nothing if their paths ever cross again. They shouldn’t try to follow them neither – and with this, he departs with Cassidy.
Shadowcat assumes Gambit had a change of heart after the temple. In it, he corrects her. But she shouldn’t go saying that on the street; she’ll ruin his reputation sure enough. Shadowcat wonders if he’s coming back. To the X-Men? he asks – nah. Sometimes you can’t go back; this is one of those times. Storm believes they both know the real reason he resists returning: Rogue. But issues between people must be resolved. At one point, Charles and Magneto were close, but when they drifted apart, it was the distance that made them enemies. Gambit doesn’t want that with the X-Men or Rogue. She asks him to come back with them, at least until he works this out. Gambit hesitantly admits she’s right. Curious, Kitty wonders how Remy did get out of Antarctica. He never did say. With a strange smile, Remy replies he walked. They should just leave it at that…
The Filchner Ice Shelf, Antarctica, months ago…
Fresh footprints all over the snow mark Gambit’s passage…