Nightcrawlers #3

Issue Date: 
June 2023
Story Title: 
part 10: The Sacred Heart

Si Spurrier (writer), Lorenzo Tametta and Philip Sevy (artists), Rain Beredo (color), VC’s Ariana Maher (letterer), Jay Bowen (design),Leinil Francis Yu & Matt Milla (cover artists), Salva Larocca (variant covers), VC’s Clayton Cowles (production), Laurie Amaro (associate editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

A thousand years into the Sinister timeline, Mother Righteous is impatient for its end. She has had generations of fanatical nightkin sacrifice themselves for her, but the forcefield around the Moira lab still holds. Her sentient ship Dr. Nemesis informs her that Mr. Sinister has arrived at the World Farm - time is running out. She orders all the Nightkin (save one) to do their kamikaze jump and has Nemesis take her to the World Farm. Still, the field holds. She sees a skeletal Galactus, possessed by spirits of vengeance, hovering outside the World Farm and realizes that Destiny planned for all of this. He is a distraction as people only notice too late that the Juggernaut, who was sent against Thanos a thousand years ago, now flies through the World Farm, almost destroying the forcefield, almost but not quite. But it disappears after Mother Righteous orders the last Nightkin Auntie Fortune to sacrifice herself. Inside the lab, Mother Righteous begins preparing her weapon, a heart containing the essence of several important things, as well as knowledge which she will send back to her present self as the timeline gets destroyed. All of which will be steered by the consciousness of the Golden Child, whom she kidnaped from her mother Wagnerine. Vox Ignis is horrified by her but can’t do anything as she kills the Spirit of Variance part of him and feeds it to the heart, leaving behind a wizened Banshee. Wagnerine teleports in to attack and save her child. Banshee manages to distract Mother Righteous, allowing Wagnerine to kill her. She wonders what their lives were for and Banshee tells her nothing is so important as being in charge of your own story, even at the end. She leaves with her child. That moment, Moira X appears. Agreeing with Banshee, she kills him and takes the primed heart…

Full Summary: 

1,000 years later:
Mother Righteous thinks to herself that she has been ready for centuries! When the Silver Mercator unstitched the Low Key Corps from the Omniverse – she didn’t really need the Infinity Dust they’d been snorting. She stole it anyway.

When the Spineless Gamers wagered the guts of the Peregrine Child, she sent undead Auntie Fortune to get them. Even this business with the Teeming Dupedom and its crusade against the Brood, she didn’t have to go in there and find what they were fighting over. Still, it’s good to sometimes get one’s hands dirty. Together with her Nightkin, she found a Phoenix Egg. How quaint, she muttered.

Fact is, the sacred weapon she’s been building had been loaded and armed for ages. And as for the oil to grease the trigger: they are up to the fiftieth generation by now. She walks through a ship of degenerated Nightkin. They are vat-grown and clumsily crossed. Stupider and more trusting and faithful with every batch. While they have removed any trace of Sinister ages ago, still some of them come admitting fears and doubts after hearing tales of the apostate, as one does now. She tells him to find redemption with the Golden Child and make the final jump. With a final ‘thank you,’ he teleports to his death against an impervious forcefield which contains the Moira Lab.

Frustrated, she thinks it has been a full millennium of waiting for the rest of this timeline to get its */&/# together. A millennium of hiding her true intentions. It’s bloody hard work being an impatient saint!

Her ship (or rather what Dr. Nemesis has grown into) contacts her. When he preens, she verbally cuts him down to size. He reminds her of his brilliance and how he discerned the location of Sinister’s lab. Ever since the kamikaze idiots carried his spores with them to the lab. And they’ve been watching toadstool TV ever since, she retorts and tells him to make his point. He shows her and she watches as Mr. Sinister is now at the World Farm. The Diamond Empress is at his heels and the Brotherhood holds him prisoner, Nemesis tells her and goads whether she has missed her chance. Will Sinister reach the lab before she can deploy her unscientific little payload?

She ain’t missed #&%! she bristles. Sinister can’t get into the hangar to his clone! But she can? Nemesis asks. Faith can, she replies. She challenges him to prove he is the most brilliant processor in the universe, Scan every quanta from the Worldfarm outward. He has to find something!

A millennium ago, Destiny stole the Moira clones. She preserved this timeline just to give her wife Mystique the longest life possible. Mother Righteous has spent the entire time banking on a single article of faith… that people will do anything for love. Put it like that: of course, Destiny foresaw a time when Mystique would die. And then, what is the only way for the lovers to reunite? To hit the very reset button she spent so long avoiding. That’s all this galaxy of death and hate was to her - a game of hide and seek with the Reaper. They heard she tried to reset it herself in the second century and failed utterly. Stands to reason there is a Plan B. Mother Righteous bets it was Destiny who led Sinister to the Worldfarm. But that wouldn’t be enough. Her piss-witted brother cannot be trusted to finish anything on his own.

One of her servants shows her an unexpected object on the screen.

Oh Irene, you clever cow,” Mother Righteous laughs, gives the order to signal Vox Ignis the coordinates and sound the trumpets: Let the rapture begin!

The call goes out and Mother Righteous mockingly watches as the undead Auntie Fortune organizes the death jumps of the surviving Nightkin against the forcefield around the Moira lab. They teleport and shatter against the shield and die.

Mother Righteous orders Auntie Fortune to take her there to see hovering outside the Worldfarm. Auntie asks if it has worked. Has the faith of the congregation overcome the heretical barrier? Mother Righteous swears. She senses that while the field is depleted, it still holds. Then it was all for naught? Auntie Fortune asks dejected. Mother Righteous tells her not to worry. It’s all under control. She refers to what she saw on the screen before: A skeletal Galactus coming in infested by the Spirits of Vengeance. Vox Ignis joins them to explain that very thing. She has eyes, she replies wryly.

Vox Ignis continues, stammering they infested the great Devourer. So incandescent was his hunger for revenge on those who poisoned his reality that he became the perfect host f… Mother Righteous impatiently interrupts him and orders him to pipe down. They are waiting for something.

The Spirit of Variance part of Vox Ignis admits that the other spirits still abhor him. He had hoped to forge an alliance but they hounded him here like vermin. Bored, she tell him it is a tasty little distraction, pat on the head and all that. Distraction? he utters shocked. He’s been fleeing the Devourer for 56 years!

Worth every second to make all the warring wankers aim their sensors at the big fella, she explains. Otherwise, they might notice… She sees something in the distance. Here he comes!

A thousand years ago, the Sinister Council shot the Juggernaut through Thanos’s brain. They didn’t wonder where he’d go next but Destiny knew. A thousand years, his speed growing, unable to die or stop, while she tweaked the path of the Worldfarm, setting up an impossible conjunction… and so the Juggernaut flies through Galactus’s head into the Worldfarm, cracking the previously unbreakable shell around the Moira lab.

They walk through the ruins to find the forcefield still sputtering. Annoyed, Mother Righteous orders the last Nightkin Auntie Fortune to kill herself jumping against it. Resigned, she does so and the forcefield finally breaks.

Vox Ignis looks at the corpses of all the dead Nightcrawler chimeras who sacrificed themselves over the centuries. Does the Reliquary Perilous really require all this death? Mocking them for their stupidity, Mother Righteous explains, this is the Reliquary Perilous! A tomb of martyrs, immeasurable self-sacrifice, generations of faith. And all of it spent on this. She takes one of her flying light globes. The weapon that will purge the Sinister strain? Vox Ignis asks. She tells him not to be simple. If that was the goal, they wouldn’t have to lift their fingers. Soon all of the chaos from outside will reach in here and destroy that. She points at a vat with a Moira clone. Kill the clone, destroy the universe, she explains.

That’s monstrous, he protests. And it’s inevitable, she shrugs. Death follows life follows death. The best you can do is prepare.

She takes out another globe containing: a villain’s notion of perfection - the essence of Rasputin IV, a sword forged in hope - the Hope Sword. an egg of extinction - The Phoenix Egg… the most powerful artifacts of will and spirit fused into a holy virus to infect its way backward and rewrite it all. It was never about ending the story. It’s about changing the start!

Vox Ignis realizes that’s why she asked all those people about their regrets. She is sending those secrets back in the past. She agrees, this isn’t a cleaning purge. This is a cheat code so that in the next round hearts are trump.

Horrified, Vox Ignis points out all those people lived and nothing can change that. She replies that they served. It’s not the same at all. And they can serve still. All she needs to do is touch the heart to the clone, then kill it. This spell has a long journey ahead. It needs a snack. She separates the Spirit of Variance part from Vox Ignis and it gets absorbed by the heart, leaving behind an ancient Banshee. Which just leaves the navigation system, she continues. It needs a sentient mind to steer the payload. Not just free of the Sinister strain, but antithetical to it. A radiant soul, saturated in the purifying faith of fanatics without number. She opens another balloon, revealing the Golden Child. Time to shine, kiddo! she orders the frightened child.

Mother Righteous knows the child will burn to astral dust in a haze of screaming agony, but better the child than Mother Righteous herself!

That moment, she hears a bamf sound. She turns around to find a furious Wagnerine, demanding her baby and attacking.

Mother Righteous paralyzes her with a spell and loosens her claws which fall to the ground, she finds herself impressed that Wagnerine is still alive. She tells her her story is Mother Righteous’s to decide. A thousand times Wagnerine thanked her and with every grateful word she gave Mother Righteous dominion over her soul and flesh. She and her kin mean nothing to…

Suddenly, she screams in pain, as Banshee has used one of the blades to slash her foot. One of them is worth a billion of hers! he shouts and calls her a terrible old hag. He tries to use his sonic scream but starts coughing.

She paralyzes him. He complains he served and thanked her for a thousand years, and all for what? For what indeed? she echoes. A splendid distraction, he grins. Before she understands, Wagnerine stabs her with her tail through the chest. Nobody ever remembers the tail, she states.

Wagnerine turns toward the heart, but Banshee warns her she doesn’t have much time. Time for what? she demands. He tells her that, sooner or later, someone will destroy that thing. What have they achieved? What does any of it matter, if it can all be undone in an instant? She hears the plaintive voice of her child and cradles her to her chest. What were they for? she wonders. Banshee groans that there is nothing as important as being in charge of you own story before the end.

Wagnerine teleports away with her child, leaving Banshee and the primed heart.

Being in charge of your own story? a new voice asks. He can barely stutter her name, before she shoots him in the head, Well said, the original Moira X agrees as she takes up the heart…

Characters Involved: 

Mother Righteous

Vox Ignis / Banshee
Dr. Nemesis
Golden Child

Moira X

Auntie Fortune
Unnamed Nightkin

Story Notes: 

The story follows Storm and the Brotherhood #3 and is concluded in Sins of Sinister: Dominion.

Juggernaut was sent against Thanos in Sins of Sinister one-shot.

Moira X came aboard the World Farm /Storm system in Immoral X-Men #3.

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