The state of the future...
The march to war had turned ugly. Bishop had gathered his forces of both men and mutants alike and led them into the mountains, on toward Chronokeep and the Chronomancer, aka Trevor Fitzroy. Once gathered, however, the refugee army proved little match for the mountain winter as an avalanche of rock and snow struck from above. Most survived, unscathed. But the giant, Nom, was lost in the landslide. Plucking himself from the aftermath, Bishop looked up to realize the treacherous mountains were hardly uninhabited... and that there were far more mutants in this strange future than he had previously thought. Outcasts among outcasts, they call themselves now as they always have. They are... the Morlocks!
One of the newly arrived Morlocks asks Bishop if he seeks to go through the mountains. But instead, it looks like the mountains went through Bishop first! The stranger claims that these are the Morlock Mountains, and neither of them thinks they want Bishop there. Bishop tells the ancient Morlock that he’ll have to excuse his lack of social grace, but they have lost several of their own today. They indeed wish to go through these mountains quickly and without interference! And they are not without powers to back up his words, Bishop can assure the Morlocks that.
The ancient Morlocks with a blindfold covering both his eyes continues to mock Bishop, thinking these mountains aren’t good enough for him. Or, maybe the Morlocks believes, it’s just that “special-ones” like Bishop and his other friends got too many humans following behind them that need to be impressed. He proclaims that a man without eyes can see lots of things if he looks hard enough. A man like himself can see everything. The future has told the Morlock someone great his heading this way, someone to deliver Morlocks from bondage. Someone blessed by the great ‘Oro.’ Someone to help save this world, and set things right. The Morlocks asks Bishop if they are to believe he is that person.
A small-looking Morlock tells his leader, Seer, to stop wasting time with these “losers.” He thinks that if they are mutants, they’re an embarrassment to their kind. He, Thumper, wants to do what he does best! Scorch powers up, wanting to wipe that smile of Thumper’s face! Bishop tries to calm Scorch down, wanting to handle things himself. Bishop knows the Seer knows who and what they are. And Bishop is aware that the Morlocks and the X-Men have long called themselves as allies. He wonders how great a student the Seer is of history. The Seer proclaims that what’s past is past. It’s the future which is his concern. He allows Thumper to begin the battle, and to make the Morlocks proud as always. Bishop states that they do not wish to fight the Morlocks, but Thumper doesn’t care and delivers the first strike!
Thumper wants to tell Bishop something about the Morlocks: nobody tells them what to do, especially not on their own turf! Jinx wants to protect Bishop, but he asks her to stay back. Jinx wonders if Thumper’s little bones will break the same way as the big ones do. As Jinx wants to find that out, music starts playing, and Jinx gets hypnotized by it. Wh... What’s happening?! Link and everyone else are also annoyed by the music and, though her telepathic powers can protect herself, she isn’t strong enough to do the same for the others. Seer warns Note to take it easy, but she can show these folks the most beautiful song she can sing. Note takes off her hood, revealing her half-scarred face, and continues singing. Thumper knocks Bishop down and sarcastically asks if he likes the song. He reveals that Note can hypnotize everyone with just a whistle. Thumper jokes that he can’t even hum a tune, but he still does what he does best.
Upon hearing those words, Bishop tells Thumper that he reminds him of a friend of his, though that guy never talked as much as Thumper does. Bishop grabs Thumper’s clothes and throws him on the ground, proclaiming that his friend truly was the best at what he does! Bishop confronts Seer, determined to show him what the future will bring. He threatens Seer to release his people, or else, he swears, no songs or spells will stop him! Tracker jumps on Bishop’s back, holding him down, and smiles that he saw there are so many pretty people there with so many pretty things. And for passing the Morlock Tunnels, they will have a to pay a toll.
Tracker mocks that those who don’t stick with their own kind will even have to pay double! Bishop outmaneuvers Tracker and grabs him by the throat, warning him to stay away from his things, people, and to be grateful he lets him walk away alive. Bishop sees Tracker looking at something and wants to know what it is. The Morlocks think Bishop may be the answer to their prayers after all, as they just found the tiara Bishop got from Storm earlier, and his X-belt. The Morlocks recognize the tiara as it comes from, according to them, “Oro- the Rider of the Wind.”
Fitzroy proclaims to his Chronotroopers that he built them all from nothing – and he can just as return them all to nothing. So they’ll have to obey their master, the Chronomancer, aka the Lord of Time, and soon so much more! Fitzroy orders the Chronotroopers to scour the entire keep, as he wants Bantam found! Once the Chronotroopers are gone, Fitzroy swears he’ll peel Bantam’s skin slowly for his betrayal. But he first wants to see how much damage Bantam has done, and see how much of that he can use to his advantage.
At her cell, the exhausted and disoriented Shard can’t help but think about her brother, Bishop. Fitzroy enters her cell, telling her not to worry as he has come to deliver and save her. Shard gets up, at first thinking she’s seeing Bishop, but gets furious when she realizes it’s only Fitzroy. She grabs him by the throat and Fitzroy tries to calm her down. She phases through Fitzroy and tries to get out of her cell, determined to find Bishop. However, her escape gets blocked by a teleportation portal of Fitzroy, who explains to Shard that her power to phase through him is only substantial. He steps through the portal, which closes behind him. Fitzroy further explains to Shard that they both know his power eclipses Shard’s, and that her ear belongs to him as much as anything. So, just this once, Fitzroy begs Shard to listen to him.
Shard begs Fitzroy to stay away from her. She tries to fire a blast at him, but he easily absorbs it. Shard wants to know how Fitzroy can do that and begs him to stop, as she can’t take this anymore. Fitzroy grins that time is his servant. Here at the castle, time stands still for the both of them. And he sees that as a good thing, for they have work to do! Shard accepts Fitzroy’s hand, who helps her up and asks Fitzroy what he means by that. Fitzroy knows that Shard has been through so much this past year. He fears his efforts to keep Shard safe may have driven her further away from him. But things will change now. He hugs Shard, admitting to her that her brother Bishop is alive, and that he’s coming there. He’s confident that Shard knows in her heart that Bishop is coming there – and Fitzroy needs her help to prepare for Bishop’s arrival. He again says he knows she has been through so much, but she needs to go through just a little more... for him. Shard says Bishop’s name. Fitzroy smiles, telling Shard that she must trust him, though he knows he surely doesn’t deserve it, in a world that would kill them for what they are, claiming that they only have each other now!
The Morlock Mountains...
The way through the Morlock Mountains is cold and fraught with peril. But now, Bishop and his people have guides. And, Bishop states to himself, if he is wise enough, and if he says and does the right things, they will take allies with them when they leave this place.
Bishop and his team are resting inside a mountain with the Morlocks. Bishop is awed by the Seer’s sense of history, but reminds him that the rest of his people are still outside shivering in the snow. They’ve lost the most irreplaceable of friends in the avalanche, one Bishop is sure wasn’t natural in origin. Bishop stands before a wall, which has a huge drawing of Storm’s tiara carved in it. He explains to the Seer that he and his people seek safe passage through these mountains, and will take it if they must. They have little time for ghosts today. Seer tells Bishop that he has been blessed by Oro. Bishop smiles that there were other syllables in Storm’s name when he knew her. Seer claims the same goes the better times for both the X-Men and the Morlocks once led. But the Morlocks’ deliverance had been foreseen, and now the spirit of Oro has returned to them. Seer reveals that the coming of the liberator has been told, and he believes the liberator to be part of Bishop’s group, though the Seer’s children aren’t so sure.
Everyone gathers around like the closest of tribes, as though living together in the darkness has made them tighter than family. The future has forgotten the Morlocks, yet after all this time, they still exist. They were not and shall not be wiped from this world. And in a war that might come down to the last man standing, the Morlocks would make the greatest of allies.
Bishop proclaims it has always been the X-Men’s goal to unite... ultimately, mutants with the outside world, but firstly, mutants with themselves. Mutants must be united in the fight against the Chronomancer. In that case, the Seer suggests that Bishop listens to what he’ll tell him. In the tragedy of the Morlocks, Seer hopes Bishop finds his way. The Chronotroopers took the weak Morlocks out first, coming out of the darkness the Morlocks thought belonged to them. They thought they knew where all the tunnels led. They were wrong. Some Morlocks tried to hide from the troopers, but were still found and killed. The Morlocks had lived in the dark for so long, and all they wanted was to be left alone. What they got was anything but. Seer says that the tunnels they are in now lead under the mountains, as well as the walls of the Chronomancer. He promises Bishop to help him infiltrate Fitzroy’s castle, and though there’s much they don’t know about the place, there is one who can tell him more. That person arrived in the tunnels shortly before Bishop did.
Elsewhere in the tunnels, Bantam hides. He hears someone coming and asks who it is, as he can’t see in the dark. He recognizes the silhouette: it’s Bishop! Bantam gets scared and tries to run away, but Bishop grabs him by his clothes and throws Bantam against a wall. Bishop shouts at Bantam that he’s got a lot of blood to atone for. Bantam tries to tell Bishop he doesn’t understand, as he tried to find him. Bishop lifts Bantam up in the air, with the tiny mutant explaining Fitzroy would kill him if he knew what he did. He tells Bishop that Fitzroy is mad and that he needs to stop him. Bantam thinks Bishop really doesn’t understand the situation, and reveals to him that Fitzroy has his sister.
Michael interrupts and warns Bishop that they’ve got company! The Chronotroopers have arrived in the mountains! Thumper wants to fight them, but Seer holds him back, as this too he has foreseen. He tells the Morlocks to let the Chronotroopers pass. When Tracker doesn’t understand, Seer tells Tracker to listen to him, as the troopers didn’t come for them... not today. Scorch tells Seer that’s easy for him to say, because it’s not his people the Chronotroopers are after!
The Chronotroopers soon find Bishop, Michael and Bantam. Bantam tells Bishop he can’t go back to Fitzroy. Bishop isn’t sure it’s Bantam the troopers want, though he has a theory to test. He shouts at the troopers they know who he is and how to hurt him. He’s aware the troopers know that the projectiles they fire from their staves do damage! He tells them not to just stand there and tick like clocks. Bishop jumps towards the Chronotroopers and starts fighting them. The troopers’ energy arcs to him. Bishop makes the power his. The troopers stab at him with white fire. Bishop shouts at the troopers to do it again. The troopers do as told, like good little soldiers. And then, Bishop is ready to pay the Chronotroopers back in kind. Having absorbed lots of energy now, Bishop unleashes it and destroys them all.
Exhausted, Bishop tends to the leftover body parts of the Chronotroopers. He states that they chase him across time at Fitzroy’s bidding. The troopers hunt and murder those closest to him, but they won’t hurt him much longer. He demands to know why. Bantam helps Bishop up, explaining it’s because Fitzroy wants Bishop to come to him. Fitzroy wants Bishop strong and angry. And, Fitzroy wants Bishop at his best. Bishop goes back to the rest of his team, promising that Fitzroy will exactly that, and more.
Bishop and the others continue to make plans in the darkness. There will be war, as expected, though the plans have changed. Seer tells Bishop he sees the future, though as a twisted vision. He sees downfall as well as triumph in the players’ fate. Though he can’t say for who the victory will be. Bishop knows from experience how twisted futures can be. He’s not afraid to die. Seer mentions there are downfalls worse than death, and he wants Bishop to be ware of those. Bishop tells the Seer he will free his people, and that they will carry Fitzroy’s body back with them... or his.
Bishop orders Scorch and Jinx to lead the army. They’ll have to march straight over the snow, settle in and wait for his signal. Bishop’s confident Fitzroy will know they’ll be there, but is okay with that. Bishop wants Link to come with him. They’ll head through the Morlock tunnels and beneath the gates of the keep. They shall have more than appropriate guidance, both under the keep as well as inside it.
Tracker grins that Bantam will stay with him, and touches his head. Bantam, disgusted, shouts at Tracker to get away from him. Link thinks they’ll need to hide in plain sight, and promises to work on her telepathy and do her best. Michael says he wants to go with Bishop as well, and promises he isn’t afraid. Bishop sits on his knees and touches Michael’s shoulders. He tells the boy he has chased after Fitzroy for what feels like an eternity now. He has seen Fitzroy suck the live out of children without hesitation, and without pity. He apologizes to Michael, but he must stay behind. Bishop, Jinx, Link and Scorch go outside, and Bishop promises Michael they’ll see each other again.
Once Bishop is gone, Seer agrees that Bishop and Michael will see each other again, but wonders if that will be a good thing. He tells Michael he sees much. It’s his curse as much as his blessing. He can tell Michael this much: every man suffers downfalls in live. They can only hope that wisdom follows greatness. He hopes that counts for both Bishop and Michael. Michael cries a bit, and wonders what that means.
Later that night...
Scorch is using his powers to make a campfire, and is joined by Jinx. Neither notice that Michael is eavesdropping on them, hiding behind a tree. Jinx asks Scorch if he has seen Michael anywhere. Scorch hasn’t, and thinks Michael is sleeping, as tomorrow will be a big day. Jinx is concerned as she hasn’t seen Michael since they left the caves. And they’ve already lost one member of their group. Upon hearing that, Michael runs away. Scorch tells Jinx she doesn’t need to remind him about their loss. Nom will be mourned when they have the chance. They’ll search for the boy but, first, Scorch wants to send out a sign. He speeches to let their friends be heartened, and to let their enemies shutter. He has learned a lot from Bishop, and now wants to make their presence known.
Fitzroy looks outside a window. Shard approaches him and reminds Fitzroy he said Bishop was coming, and wants to know if it’s time. Fitzroy tells his little one to be quiet, as he thinks others will come for them as well. Others, with hatreds and older solutions. He asks Shard to stay back and to let him keep her safe. Shard takes a confused look on her face. The Chronomancer grins, wanting to show Bishop and his friends how powerful he truly is!
Scorch’s sign has been completed, and his flames have carved a red “X” sign in the snow, with the meaning of declaring war on Fitzroy...