The Floating City of Attilan, Niagara Falls, Amerika Three Days Later

“This will be attempt eleven.” Maximus spoke aloud in his laboratory.

The question of the female was proving harder to answers than he had expected. She would not speak, and he had not been able to bring her phase into a solid state. The equipment said she was a mutant, likely had been one of the X-Men before the fall. How she had gotten into the bullet, he desperately wanted to know. But though he could move her around with the collar, his torture devices were proving inadequate, and his powers were not having any effect.

Records said that direct exposure to the Terrigen Crystals had yielded surprising results on a mutant before the Silent War, the one they called Quicksilver. Maximus’ more basic experiments on the phased one had proven inadequate, so he would now try something fittingly mad. The restraining collar held the subject to a table, while a mechanical arm slowly lowered a Crystal down. He had attempted to sync the phases of the crystal and the subject, which was a difficult endeavor. Maximus controlled the arm from behinds a glass wall: experiments could get messy, after all.

At first, contact yielded no results. Then, suddenly, there was a flash of light as feedback rocked the lab. There was the sound of metal bending, and then tearing, and the rushing sound of air. When Maximus opened his eyes, the lab was empty of all subjects, and a hole had been torn in the floor. He roared in his mind, and all the Inhumans felt pain. He would have the subject returned to him. The Seekers would return to him his prize.

Kitty Pryde had not felt so much in a long time. Unfortunately for her, what she felt was pain. A tiny fragment of the Terrigen Crystal had been embedded in her chest, and she felt the mists race through her. Her powers, in response to the exposure, were going haywire. Far as she could tell, she had fallen because her powers had momentarily reverse themselves, making her incredibly dense, too heavy for the floors to handle. Her phase state fluctuated uncontrollably as she dragged herself out of the river.

She felt around on her chest and dug the crystal out of her skin, casting it aside, before collapsing on the river bank. The Terrigenesis had not only jump started Kitty’s powers, but also her long-dull mind. After a brief moment, she got to her feet and began to walk away at as steady a pace as she could manage. No doubt her would-be captors would be after her soon enough. With luck, she’d find her way to help before too long.

The X-Men could not be far away, or maybe the Avengers. Earth, it felt like it had been forever since she had been here. Niagara Falls was hardly remote, it was a city of its own. She could get to safety, no doubt. Terrigen burned in her veins as she scaled the cliffs, burning itself out. Kitty finally reached the top, and spying the silhouettes of buildings in front of her, began to run. As she neared the city, she slowed, and then stopped, as she saw the banners hanging from the buildings.

“No.” Kitty said, whispering to herself.

Swastikas, emblazoned on bright right fabric, fluttered in the breeze. “ALL HAIL THE REICH ETERNAL”, plastered on billboards in alternating English and German. The Red Skull posing proudly in the background. When she had been trapped in the bullet, she had often thought that perhaps it had been a terrible dream, and that she would one day wake up from it. Now she was awake, and found herself in a even more horrible nightmare. This was not the home she had longed to return to.

Kitty heard sirens in the distance, but not the police sirens she was familiar with. This was a distinct sound, haunting. She turned around and ran, before anybody even saw her. The terrigen was almost entirely out of her system. She ran across the countryside, phasing through trees and bushes. Kitty comforted herself with the knowledge that there could not possibly be any news more horrible than the Red Skull’s ascendency waiting for her.

She was wrong, of course.

End Prologue