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Al Ewing(writer), Stefano Caselli (artist), Federico Blee (color), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller and Jay bowen (design),Russell Dautermann (cover artist),)VC’s Clayton Cowles (production), Laure Amara (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
The Five resurrect Cable. Thunderbird awaits him, seemingly to challenge him, but actually they and Manifold are secretly working together to bring down Brand. Brand, in the meantime, has made Vulcan challenge Tarn for his seat on the Great Ring. The Brotherhood discuss this, wondering what Brand wants. Anyone who would kill Tarn would be a hero to most Arakki. Sunspot heavily hints that Magneto should challenge Tarn. Magneto makes it clear he is no longer involved in politics. He reveals the fact that his first daughter Anya was human and can therefore not be brought back via the Waiting Room was the last straw that broke his heart. Later, at the arena, Storm offers Khora to join up with the Brotherhood, while Sunspot sits down next to Isca and flirts with her. Vulcan challenges Tarn, who takes Vulcan’s power. At the same moment, Vulcan blocks his, so now they battle by hand. First Vulcan leads but Tarn fights smarter, gets the upper hand and beats him to death. Immediately afterwards, Magneto challenges Tarn. Sunspot bets Isca that Magneto will lose. She realizes that he has used her power against her and kills him. Before Tarn can neutralize his power, Magneto drops his helmet on Tarn’s head, blocking his power and then crushes his skull. Magneto wins the Seat of Loss.
Images of a life from birth to death. Cable, Professor X states and returns the memories to the resurrected Nathan Summers.
Xavier hopes the resurrection process wasn’t too arduous. Cable jokes that the yolk gets everywhere but his T/O load is back to normal levels and he sees they installed the stealth arm as instructed. The Five work to order, his adopted daughter Hope jokes. Just do her a favor and don’t come here again for a while.
“Hey junior!” comes a voice from the entrance. Cable assures his daughter he will do his best, but John here might have other ideas. He might, John Proudstar agrees. Time they had a little talk. Hope bristles but Cable assures her it’s fine. He’s in the mood for a little post-resurrection workout. He suggests to John that they settle this away from the delicate business of the Five, and the two men leave.
Hope asks if Proudstar was always such a jackass. He was always troubled, Xavier replies, and while he won’t spy, he can’t help but worry about him. The world has moved on without him.
Outside, Cable chuckles that Charles is worried about him. Baldy and his savior complex, John scoffs. Ready to get down to business, junior? Cable activates his stealth arm, which shields them from all forms of surveillance including telepathy, while broadcasting a deep-faked stream of John cursing him out - extrapolated form their encounter in the Red Lagoon. He praises John for his realistic performance. John retorts he wasn’t acting. He meant every *§$% word. Cable and Frost used his younger brother Jimmy for their wars! And yeah, he wasn’t there. But he is here now! And he says there will be consequences as soon as they fry the bigger fish! What is he looking at? he belligerently asks someone else.
He's looking at all the testosterone floating about, Eden Fezi replies. They gonna talk Brand or what?
SWORD Station two, the KEEP:Storm is paying a visit to Abigail Brand, demanding what her game is. She refers to Vulcan’s challenge of Tarn, which is meant to go on this night. Brand plays innocent. Storm scoffs that, out of all the Seats on the Great Ring, Vulcan challenges for the Seat of Loss, the seat with the least cachet. If Vulcan was doing the thinking, he’d challenge Isca or take another shot at Storm. And he’d lose, Brand smirks. He knows that. Storm warns he will lose against Tarn. She didn’t, Brand retorts. Storm explains that Tarn was arrogant in their battle; he thought stealing her powers gave him room to gloat. Now he knows better. Instead of gloating, he now kills with a single thought.
Brand asks if she is worried that Vulcan will lose or if she is worried, he might win? Should that be a worry? Storm retorts. What does Abilgail plan with one of her people on the Great Ring? Their people surely, Brand stresses. Vulcan is Krakoan. Krakoan royalty, she hears. And Shi’ar royalty, as well…
Storm replies that the Shi’ar won’t even acknowledge that he exists or ever existed. And there is the little matter of Empress Xandra being on the throne. Of course, silly her, Brand simpers. But once he put down Arakko’s most hated mutant like a dog, she imagines he will be royalty here as well. Someone has to be after all, she needles. Storm stalks away and Brand calls after her that she will see her in the audience.
Storm heads to meet her fellow Brotherhood members, Magneto, Sunspot and the Fisher King at Magneto’s Autumn Palace. The Fisher King agrees with her that Tarn takes no risks these days. He’s faced more challenges than ever, since she fought him. People thought they smelled his blood on the Circle floor, but it was their own and it spills by the gallon. In his opinion, this Vulcan is dead already. Sunspot retorts that Krakoans make a habit of surviving the impossible. Vulcan especially. If he wins? “A good if to if about,” Fisher muses. Tarn took the Seat of Loss to hurt the Arakkii. To signal their defeat. Who kills him will be a hero to them. It should have been her, he tells Storm, who replies that it would have lessened her. Tarn yielded. And he will again, with the right pressure.
Does that need to come from Vulcan though? Sunspot wonders. Anyone can challenge a member of the Ring anytime. Helps to be an omega though, he hints heavily.
Absolutely not! is Magneto’s answer. Killing Tarn would be no moral quandary for him, but to put him, another Krakoan, in his place to push Arakko in the direction they want it to be-- How does that make their Brotherhood different from Brand’s? Fisher King points out, he isn’t on Krakoa now, or in orbit, frowning at them. He built a home here and built it with an open door. He fought beside them, not above them. They see him. He has a place in the broken land. They don’t say that if it is not so.
Magneto thanks him for that and for his friendship. But, even so, does his sole voice give Magneto the right to act for a whole world?
Storms shares his doubts and believes Tarn’s blood on his hands would lessen Magneto as well. But Tarn is a living reminder of a dark past, a thorn in the paw, causing Arakko pain as long as he remains. While she doubts Brand’s motives, removing Tarn from power could make a difference here. Perhaps they owe it to this world to try.
Magneto accuses her of sounding like Charles. He asked Magneto to try. To work with him… make a difference. So he did and together they built a nation. And then he watched his daughter Wanda build a heaven. The Waiting Room – that lets them resurrect all mutants. Even mutants who died before their mutant gene activated are waiting in that room.
He smiles slightly, recalling the hope that brought him. He thinks of Wanda as his child, but she wasn’t his first. His daughter Anya… he struggles to say it, who he could not save… who died by fire. He is silent for a moment then reveals that Anya had no mutant gene. He will never see her smile again, never hear her laugh. Tears run down his face as he admits that for him their very heaven is hell. Ororo is on the Quiet Council. She knows the betrayals they suffered. The whole bloody business. But that was what finally broke him. That after everything. No more councils, no more utopias. He no longer has the heart.
Calling him “headmaster,” Roberto challenges he doesn’t believe him. Magneto silently glares. Roberto clarifies that maybe he wants to quit. To rest in peace. But what he wants to do and what he can do are two very different things. Ask him how he knows. Magneto stalks away, announcing he doesn’t know him at all!
Sunset at the Circle Perilous:The duel between Tarn and Vulcan is about to begin. Brand watches via satellite feed. She mutters, Gabe can do this. She trained him for it!
In the Circle, Tarn muses aloud he thinks he will melt Vulcan and paint a canvas with the goo. Immortalize him in art as well as their silly Krakoan eggs. He was never in an egg, Vulcan replies, he never died!
In the audience, Roberto takes a seat next to Isca. She addresses him as Ororo’s bartender friend. He replies he has heard she always wins. At everything. They say love is a battlefield. It is how she does it, bartender, she smirks.
Storm finds a bored-looking Khora of the Burning Heart in the audience. She asks if Khora is still working for Brand. Khora explains her weapon is enhancing others’ weapons. She is not useful here. She misses being useful. Does Storm want her for her faction? If Khora will have them, Storm replies, but they will speak of this another time. Khora has been watching a lot of these fights. Does Vulcan stand a chance? Khora grimly replies she watches so she can see Tarn’s death, but it hasn’t happened yet. He’s a weapons thief and a bodyshaper and he doesn’t waste time with either, since his duel with Storm. So she’d call Brand’s man a dead man, but he is Brand’s man and Brand wouldn’t send him to this without teaching him something.
Ora Serrata gives the sign for the fight to start. A burst of energy separate both combatants. Afterwards, Tarn feels mindblind. Vulcan announces part of his gift is siphoning energy. Any energy if he is taught how to do it, and he has been. He can eat mutant power. As Tarn was stealing Vulcan’s gift, he did the same to him. Very clever, Tarn admits, but he learned a lesson from the Krakoans lately about gloating over a weaponless foe. Allow him to apply it…
Khora grins as she realizes they are both weapons thieves. Now they have a fight!
The far more muscular Tarn jumps to attack Vulcan, who dodges his blow.
In the audience, Robert asks if this stratagem would work on Isca. She replies that the power cannot be shut off. She cannot lose. Funny, Roberto smirks, neither can he. Even when he does. Annoyed, she orders him to speak sense. How can you lose without losing?
In the ring, Vulcan shouts slurs at Tarn as he hits him in the face. He orders him to kneel before his rightful king. Even a glint of the glory within this shell would strike him blind! What does he have, Tarn the malformed, to match his fire?
Face tentacles is the reply, as one of said tentacles grabs Vulcan’s fist, which was about to strike again. Now Tarn strikes – hard.
While Vulcan is baffled, Tarn criticizes that he is allowed to bring non-mutant weapons. Didn’t he even bring a knife? Who taught him how to fight? Oh wait, he thinks that he heard the tale: he was emperor of the bird people, with their hollow bones. He grabs Vulcan’s wrist and breaks it. And he is king of them still, or so he rambles, because he never died. Vulcan screams in agony. There’s first time for everything! He slams Vulcan’s head to the ground and strikes again and again. Storm looks horrified, Khora bored, Brand interested.
With bloody hands, Tarn announces to the audience the challenger is dead! Tarn the Uncaring sits in the Seat of Loss. Praise Tarn! He is the one who never dies! Have they not learned that? What will it take for them to learn? Who will be the next to challenge him?
He will, a voice comes from the sky. Magneto stands in the air, his helmet floating next to him.
He knew it, Roberto grins.
Magneto addresses Tarn. He wanted to turn away. To ignore Tarn’s stain on the planet Magneto gave life to. But what he wants to do and what he must do are two different things… so he offers a formal challenge. Here and now. Let him think about it, Tarn replies with a sinister grin, his eyes glowing.
In the audience, Isca muses that Tarn’s powers are returning. He will stall another moment, then slaughter the old fool. Sadly, he has to agree, Roberto announces. He bets her Tarn wins. Shocked, Isca jumps up and goes for his throat. She will kill him! she shouts. Storm tries to reach them and shouts at Isca to put him down. That is how you lose without losing, Roberto groans with a grin. Challenge by insult! Isca shouts and breaks his neck, then screams in rage. She drops the body.
Storm shouts she has gone too far. Isca suggests Storm fight her then. She can never lose! Didn’t they hear what he did? She fought beside Tarn for a thousand years! She shouts, tears in her eyes. She knows him better than any of them. It shouldn’t be like this! She can never lose!
Hearing the commotion, Magneto turns around. Ora Serrata announces there was a challenge by insult. No crime was committed. She orders him to turn his attention to what matters. She asks Tarn if he accepts or yields. Tarn replies that he accepts the challenge. His eyes glow as he uses his powers, but so does Magneto. He controls his helmet to fall onto Tarn’s head.
Tarn tries to tear it off, realizing he cannot use his power.
Magneto explains the helmet blocks psychic powers. And it’s made of metal. He tells him good-bye… this blood on his hands he accepts.
Not like this! Tarn pleads. Before he can yield, Magneto crushes the helmet and the skull underneath it. And he accepts what comes with it, Magneto continues. Magneto now sits in the Seat of Loss!
Fisher King, Magneto, Storm, Sunspot (Brotherhood of Arakko)Cable, Manifold, Thunderbird
Egg, Elixir, Hope Summers II, Proteus, Tempus (The Five)Professor X
Khora of the Burning Heart
Commander BrandVulcanIsca; Ora Serrata, Tarn (Great Ring)
A report from Mentallo to Brand regarding Vulcan’s psyche, making it clear that Vulcan’s more pleasant personality is only a very thin veneer.
Further notes:Storm and Tarn fought in SWORD (2nd series) #8
Vulcan surviving the impossible refers to him surviving the Fault after War of Kings.
While Magneto and the Scarlet Witch turned out to be not blood-related, he considers her a daughter.
The Scarlet Witch created the Waiting Room in X-Men: the Trial of Magneto.