All is calm at the X-Men’s new home. Armor is posting in the internet. Srsly, I need a better X-name. Magical Armor girl?
Wolverine is sleeping in the branches of a tree outside. Hank McCoy is already up, standing outside and taking in the view, sipping coffee and singing the blues. Blues ain’t nothin’ but the easy goin’ heart disease… Brother stop your moanin’
Blues can’t make you warmer if you’re bound to freeze… Sister stop your groanin’…
Elsewhere, a man cries in agony as he burns up. You deserve it, don’t you? another voice says. Nod your head or it’s going to hurt a lot worse before you go, you filthy disgusting fake…
Having finished his coffee, Hank steps inside their new HQ. Why don’t you rise and shine… Takes dem blues right out of your mind…
Doctor McCoy, are you singing again? Hisako asks. He is indeed, he replies. Standing up before him, arms crossed and looking not very fearsome in her polkadot pajamas, Hisako asks him what did she tell him about the singing?
She said she’d wait until he was asleep and then shave Japanese obscenities into his fur. And? she asks. And he finds he needs no more than two hour sleep a night. Also, he is blessed with incisors that could snick off her little head.
Why is she awake? he asks. She moans that she couldn’t sleep… she needs a new name! This again? he asks and puts an arm around her shoulder. Hisako complains that Logan keeps making fun of “Armor.” She’s really tired. Hank suggests she get some coffee and not to pay attention to Logan.
He says that if her name is “Armor,” then his name is “Claws” and Ms. Frost’s name is “Brain” and Ms. Rogue’s name is “Suck,” Hisako sighs. Ouch, Hank comments.
Elsewhere in a swanky hotel room in a very large bed, Cyclops and Emma Frost awake. You okay? he asks. She didn’t take her boots off before she fell asleep, Emma complains. Heh, morning, he replies. God isn’t it just, Emma moans and snuggles up to her lover. Why is she awake?
She’s getting used to him, he assumes. He’s been getting up early for training since he was a kid. She’s been getting up at noon since she was sixteen, Emma shoots back. Does he ever sleep more than five hours a night? Once or twice recently but he seems to be building up strength, he jokes. Emma considers this almost flattery.
Scott tells her that he and Logan promised Hisako an advanced training run this morning. Good God, Emma moans, look out there, it’s practically dawn. She might die right here.
Scott gently tries to usher her to the shower, while Emma insists that Logan can’t possible be awake yet. Leave him to whatever dumpster he’s bedded down in and stay here to tend to his dying love, she orders.
Despite Emma’s protests, they are up and in costume a little later and on the roof. Seeing their transport, Emma comments that her eyes just burned out. He’s going to have to drive. He thought she liked the new car, Scott remarks mildly. She can barely see. If she drives, they’ll end up somewhere in Oakland, and then she shall simply have to kill herself. Such a shame though. It was nice of those local people to donate them the car – she refers to a high-tech glider.
Well, they get free advertising out of it, Scott shrugs. But it is a nice car.
And so a little later they land in the HQ. Emma greets Henry with the demand for coffee, or else she will simply believe there is no God. Organic, single-estate, shade-grown, bubbling away in the ops room, Hank can calm her. Good morning you pair of teenagers, he greets them. Logan’s not yet in, nothing of interest otherwise. All quiet at X-Base Alpha.
Is that what they are calling it now? Hisako pipes up. He doesn’t know that they are calling their new headquarters anything yet, Hank admits. This place needs a name, Hisako decides, but not X-Base Alpha. So she can think of an apt title for their new location, he suggests. She has enough trouble trying to think of a new name for herself! she protests.
Emma cheerfully agrees and adds Hisako also needs a new uniform with some personal expression to it. Some art, some élan! Always remember the presence you create is quite as important as being able to chop wood with your teeth or whatever it is Logan teaches her. Stick with Auntie Emma, she tell the teenager, and they’ll have this planet eating out of her hand in not time at all…
While the ladies talk, Beast observes that Scott looks happier than he’s ever seen him. This makes him a tad nervous. Scott has a tendency to self-sabotage. How many times are they going to have this talk? Scott groans. Regularly, Hank shoots back, because without someone to remind him that this is the best it’s ever been, Scott starts looking for a shadow to brood in. And Hank is a genius and not to be questioned in these things.
Incidentally, Abigail asked if he could get the weekend off so that she can tamper extensively with him. He’d hate to get in the way of science, Scott replies. The only thing that bothers him, is he going to lose his edge? He’s the world’s best superhero, Hank tells him, and night maneuvers with Emma will only hone his fine tactical edge.
Looking at the base’s screen, Hisako remarks she thinks she can see Logan approaching. That could just be a wild ferret seen from afar, Emma suggests as she pours herself a cup of coffee. Is it pawing itself as it wakes, as if it has great heaving nests of fleas in its more private areas?… Yes, Hisako agrees. Then it’s Logan, Emma decides.
Hisako suddenly notices the intelligent security’s calling something out over the north entrance. They’ve got an airspeed alarm. Hank switches to manual and a little later asks Hisako to make some green tea.
Moments later, Storm, wearing a new more regal version of her original uniforms, lands among them.
Permission to come aboard? she asks Cyclops. Hank gushes she looks wonderful and Scott tells her it’s good to have her aboard, calling her Ororo. Or should he call her “Queen Ororo” now? Hank hugs her and asks what is her official title now. Officially? Storm asks. Ororo Komo Wakandas is the short form. Except in France, where they actually call her la reine Storm. Which shouldn’t’ amuse her as much as it does. In the Hausa dialect her full title takes about five minutes to recite. Her married name is Ororo Iqadi T’Challa. But she’s generally just called…
Hey ‘roro. comes from Logan who has finally dragged himself in. Is there coffee? He swears, why a healing factor can deal with bullets and knives, but not four lousy bottles of hemp wine is a mystery for the ****ing ages…
Hisako offers Ororo a cup of green tea and addresses her as “Your majesty”. Ororo thanks her and asks her to call her Ororo.
So, is she just stopping by to check out the new place, Cyclops asks. Not like the old days, is it, Ororo muses… or stalls? She remembers being so intimated by the old mansion’s opulence, when she joined, but she supposes this is intimidating too, in its own way. Ororo, Scott interrupts.
Okay, she tells him. Her husband is putting some money into Mutantes Sans Frontieres in return for a greater focus on African matters. And since the X-Men are now funded by MSF, T’Challa thought it practical that she spend some time with the field team and get a sense of their current operational methods.
She’s scoping them out for T’Challa? Cyclops inquires. Goddess, Ororo exclaims, it was her idea. She talked him into it. She never knew that guilt-free shopping and constant lovemaking could get so boring!
She does not believe she heard another human being say that out loud, Emma bursts out. Ororo turns to her and assures her she is climbing the walls. Please let her come back for a while, just a few weeks. She misses the work, she misses them all!
She doesn’t want to start some tedious argument, Emma retorts, but let’s be clear. Ororo misses them. She and Emma have never seen eye to eye on anything. And she is sick and tired of old team members denouncing her as an evil witch five minutes after they walk in the door, so…
Ororo interrupts, asking her if she knows how far Ororo has to go in Wakanda to find someone who’ll dare have an argument with her these days? There’s a hundred years old man on top of Mount Kanda, who’s worn nothing but a squirrel pelt since 1977 who’ll denounce her if she brings him a bowl of steamed bananas. She will drink champagne with Emma and let Emma insult her until the sun goes dark, she promises. Annoyed, Emma tells her to drink her tea and shut up. Eagerly, Ororo thanks her.
Wolverine hands Scott the phone it’s the SFPD. While Scott takes the call Logan explains to Ororo that they love them here. It’s weird but the X-Men are official consultants to the San Francisco police department now.
Scott informs them that the SFPD have something they want the X-Men to take a look at. He orders them to wear street tactical gear and they’ll take the big car. Henry’s going to need the field kit. He explains to Ororo that they’ve had some new gear made for everyone. Hisako and Emma will show her.
And so soon they wear street wear versions of their uniforms. When Ororo doesn’t understand Scott explains they are all things to all people. Today, they are consulting to the police and there’s no police officer in the world who’s happy when he or she sees a superhero costume. Costume says vigilante and these days, costume can also say government flunky or illegal combatant, which is one step away from being a flying terrorist. So when they do something like this, they dress in a way the police understand and they jump past all the crap that comes with a costume right now. Not like the old days, Storm muses. It’s not the way the professor did it, Scott agrees.
And so a little later, the X-Men have joined the SPCD around what seem to be a burning, floating corpse. They can’t put the guy out for one thing, the detectives explain. The killer got disturbed by a store owner coming around back, ran for it. That was a couple of hours ago. They kinda got sidetracked by the whole floating spinning burning thing. And they are still sorting through the store guy’s security cam footage.
Cyclops asks Storm if she can… She orders everyone to take a breath and step back. Using her weather powers, she extinguishes the corpse which falls to the ground.
Beast begins to examine it, musing that the floating was some aspect of… no, he’s quite dead. But there must be some antigravity organ working independently. Independently of being dead? the detective asks.
It’s not completely unheard of among mutants, Hank concedes. That said… That said, they don’t know the guy, the detective finishes. Precisely, Hank agrees.
He asks Logan to get some unburned core tissue … presuming San Francisco’s finest have no objection? They were called here for a consult, comes the reply. If he needs it, take it.
Anywhere in particular? Wolverine asks as he unsheathes his claws. Celia Plexus would be good, Beast decides. Logan carves and a little later holds up the sample.
So what does he do with this? the detective asks. Beast explains that he sequences his genetic material to discover whether or not he was a mutant, and then he tries to find out who he was.
Cyclops notes he hears a “but” there. He knows all the surviving mutants, Hank replies. He doesn’t think this man is one of them. He doesn’t think his killer is one of them. But this man’s hanging in the air, and his killer was a pyrokine. Someone who can make anything burn, even wet human cells, just by looking at it. It’s a mutant trait. They know all the surviving pyrokines. They’d know if one were in town.
Cyclops asks the detectives about effects. The killer just ran for it, comes the reply. Didn’t stop to clean the scene. This bag has to belong to the dead guy. Emma takes a look. Is she gonna, like, take mental impressions of it? the detective asks. She thought she’d start by reading his notebook, comes the wry reply.
Would she actually be able to… Scott asks. Psychometry was her sister’s gift, not hers, she reminds him. Endlessly frustrating. However, it appears that their unlucky human torch was working very hard to make their lives easier, she notes, reading the diary. It would seem the dead man was tracking his own killer. He was following three men, then settled on “Subject X” (haha) who was coming to San Francisco. There’s timetables, maps, notes… last stop was somewhere called “Tian”…
The corpse falls down. Pretty weird stuff for them, huh? Logan remarks to the cops. Hell, no, comes the reply, this is San Francisco. Yesterday they had to arrest a seven fool tall dude dressed as a nun, and wearing someone’s kneecaps as earrings.
So, the detective summarizes, pointing to the corpse, he was trailing this guy and the guy doubled back on him right here and killed him for it? He had an impressive level of access to his presumed killer’s plans, Emma muses. Right down to flight times and car service. And if he’s right, then the killer is currently on a plane headed to Indonesia, where he’s engaged local services in advance to get him to Chaparanga beach.
Chaparanga? Beast repeats. They know it? Armor asks. Indeed, Beasts replies. Chaparanga Beach is one of the great ecological blights of its geographic region.
Cyclops announces that, whoever this man is, he’s trying to get off-world. Subject X, whoever he may be, is going directly to Chaparanga. And there’s only one reason to do that.
They don’t mind if they borrow these? Emma asks the detective, referring to the corpse’s belongings. He’ll square it with his bosses, comes the reply. He has the feeling this one won’t reach court anyway.
Back in their plane, Armor asks what Chaparanga is. It’s where the spaceships go to die, Storm replies.
Cyclops announces the police have called again. They say the chances of extraditing the guy from Indonesia are slim to none. They don’t even have a name for the guy yet. However, if they wanted to, say, go to Chaparanga and look around…
Do they really want a piece of this? Logan asks doubtfully. Scott passes the question to Hank, who announces he took a look at the tissue sample. They may have a problem. Basic mutant science, he begins to explain. They all have two sets of chromosomes, and they’re full of genes. The term for this is diploid. The X-gene always sits on chromosome 23 and uses an exotic protein to send chemical signals to the other genes which mutates them. Hence, them.
Their dead man has three sets of chromosomes. The third set is artificial. He has something like an X-gene in the third set, what would be chromosome 66. He’s a triploid. Functional triploids do not occur in human nature. Cerebra is designed only to read the exotic protein from a working X-gene on 23. So this guy would have been invisible to her. Someone was trying to create mutants where none could exist, due to Wanda Maximoff shutting down the X-gene throughout existence. This man was certainly operating through the period where there were only 198 of them.
His working hypothesis is therefore that the killer is also a triploid. Further, given that one was following the other, they’ve tripped over evidence of a hidden conflict. Also, he doesn’t like that either of them were in San Francisco where everyone knows the X-Men now live. He hasn’t finished doing the work, so he’s begging off from accompanying them, but he thinks the team has to go to Chaparanga.
Okay, Logan agrees, they want a piece of this. Next question: do they really have to take the new X-plane that Mutantes Sans Frontieres fixed them up with? He’s giving her crap about “Armor,” but this thing’s called the X-plane? Hisako snorts. Do they have an X-mobile too? Yes! That’s what their new base is called! The X-cave!
Cyclops explains that the “X” isn’t as in “X-Men,” but as in “experimental.” They all buckle in. Wolverine notes that Cyclops who’s piloting the jet looks a touch nervous there. He’s never nervous, comes the reply, he just, you know, hasn’t launched an experimental rocketplane through a hole in the coastline three feet above sea level before.
That doesn’t sound like such a good idea, Hisako protests, calling him “Mr. Summers.” Mission now, comes the reply. Codenames. Sorry, Hisako corrects herself, this sounds like they are all going to die, Cyclops.
They’re fine, Scott replies and begins the launch. Was this Worthington’s idea? Logan asks. He likes playing with Scott…. Scott continues, again assuring them it’s fine. He’s messing with Scott, Logan insists, and he’s having some fun with the idea of Cyclops trying to fly a rocket out of a side exit. He’s known Warren Worthington since they were sixteen, Scott points out. That’s kinda his point, comes the reply.
Main engines starts and the plane makes it out like a charm. It’s okay that she just threw up on the back of his mask, right? Hisako asks Wolverine. Jesus, Hisako, he groans.
Cyclops explains Chaparanga to Hisako. Alien spacecraft have been dropping on Earth for decades. They’ve been arriving for way before that. These days it seems like one a week. What’s more, they used to land. Now they usually get blown out of the sky by someone. Almost all of them contain toxic materials and not every government is set up to break them up, reverse-engineer them, whatever. So they get sold on to private companies who examine them and if the companies can’t cope, or don’t need what’s in there, they scuttle the thing and ship it out to Chaparanga.
But some of them aren’t properly scuttled. Some have systems that are intact. And the Indonesians couldn’t care less. Almost a fifth of the population lives below the poverty line. And when you take into account that half the country live on less than two dollars a day, you’ve got to ask yourself. … whether I’d be out there pulling off scary rotting spaceships? Hisako continues.
Right. Feed your kids before the pollution from the rusting-out gives them cancer. It’s poisonous, it’s totally unpoliced and smart people fight that at any one time there’s three ships there that are still launch-capable. Chaparanga Beach is one of the five most dangerous places on Earth, Logan continues, downing a beer. She should have brought her camera.