I am an X-Man, a young redhaired, freckled man says, his eyes empty. His statement is chorused by a crowd of people, all with the same glazed look in their eyes as they shuffle straight onward. Please, listen to me, a desperate policeman orders them. They’ve got to stop walking! If they don’t stop, they’ll die! He is all that’s between the crowd and a cliff leading straight down.
Suddenly, though, the people seem to awaken and look around confused. Thank God! the cop moans in relief, as the confused people (one a woman dressed only in a towel) quickly leave.
The incident is reported in the news. They were like sleepwalkers who suddenly woke up, the anchorman reports, adding that the people have no memory of what they did or why they claimed to be X-Men.
In a special HQ in New York City, a special group is watching the report with varying levels of interest.
There’s Norman Osborn (The banality of evil. Glass Onion). He is displeased. The people have been repeating “X-Men.” A name he should own. This is the third such incident in two weeks but the first that’s made the news. He wants them, his X-Men, to check it out.
Well, if he thinks, one of them answers undecided. Mimic (Copies mutant powers. Nowhere Man).
By contrast the man next to him is bubbling. Omega ( Sucks mutant powers. Helter Skelter). No, he’s an X-Man. Like with, they know, Spartacus? Okay, sorry in that movie--
They get it, the only woman present interrupts him. Mystique (Shapeshifter. Eleanor Rigby).
He’d be so much better without a mouth, the last person present remarks about Omega as he skillfully peels an apple. An hour’s surgery and then just mmph mmmph mhp. Although he’d probably make that annoying too. Dark Beast (He’s a monster. Help).
What he doesn’t get, the evil Dr. McCoy continues, is why Osborn wishes to use him “in the field” rather than as a biologist. He has no interest in pretending to be a hero or a villain.
He isn’t asking him to fight super-powered battles, Osborn clarifies. In fact, surveys show that’s what the public hate the most. No, this will be a scientific investigation of a phenomenon that, if repeated, could damage their brand. A goodwill visit to the quiet little town of Burton, California. They shake some hands, indicate they are on it. Leave behind a chamber of commerce who feel that those nice young mutant fellows are obviously capable of policing themselves.
He leaves the room, the meeting finished. Mystique follows, switching from her default blue-skinned form to that of a beautiful young redheaded woman.
She isn’t sure about those three as an ops team, she remarks about her teammates. Right now if they are making a stand about mutants handling mutant problems they are all they’ve got, Osborn points out. He’d be interested to hear—Oh. He breaks off as he turns around and now recognizes her “look.” Is that going to be Mystique’s sapiens sapiens form now? Yes, Mystique replies. Nobody can prove Jean Grey is dead. And this would really annoy… several people who have made her suffer for their cause.
She actually does “evil” sometimes, doesn’t she? Osborn remarks somewhat interested. Like some sort of… vengeful… mother… goddess… but, whatever… he returns to the subject at discussion. He was going to ask what she made of her teammates…
Narration accompanied with pictures:
McCoy is the most stable one, Mystique summarizes. In purely functional terms, he is entirely sane. Which is scary in itself. But he gets bored. She’s afraid he might do something extreme, just to keep himself entertained.
Beast works on separated brain kept alive in tanks. He thanks his frightened assistant Bleaker for bringing him tea. He’s got a good head on his shoulders (currently).
Pointer, well. Mystique pauses.
Strapped into a chair, Pointer babbles that he is past the guilt. He is working for his karma now. Making up for it all. That is why he doesn’t want to be called Weapon anything. Only--
Engage Omega machine, one of the scientists orders. Pointer begins to glow. He has to absorb power from other mutants. But the more he takes, the more random he… He’s sorry! he shouts. He can’t help what he’s doing or saying. He’s going to start-- He begins singing. I love you baby! And if it’s quite all right…!
Pointer varies, Mystique decides.
Rankin is a depressive. She really does feel for him. But though Dr. Sofen says he’s ready, she worries.
While a bored Karla Sofen writes something on a note pad, Calvin Rankin sits crouched, trying to describe his problem. It’s like… like he knows there’s some great doom waiting for him. It’s not grand and operatic. It’s tawdry and cruel and… just the end. For him. As a moral person.
And sometimes he wants to fight it so much. He has a glimpse of how people free of depression must feel. Looking ahead to something. He tries to be this good person… and sometimes…. he doesn’t see the point of moving from his chair. Know what he means?
Hmm? Sofen asks absent-mindedly. Of course. She’s going to write him a prescription.
She worries that Sofen doesn’t particularly care, Mystique finishes.
And as for him, their sponsor. she turns to Osborn. McCoy doesn’t care who he works for. The other two seem to buy Norman is a reformed villain seeking order in the mutant community. She grins as she grabs his arm. Only he and she know what their deal is. She respects a man who fears her reputation enough to put a collar on her. She grins as he actually flinches at her touch. She whispers into his ear. He knows he has power over her, so suddenly he treats her like they are playing at being colleagues at… Wal-Mart. She is absolutely intrigued by what’s going on in his head. But he has to know that won’t stop her. When the times comes. With that parting shot she walks off.
Later, their jet lands in Burton, California. Dressed in matching costumes, the four exit the jet to begin their goodwill mission. Omega apologizes to Beast for being boring earlier, oblivious that his prattling is annoying McCoy even more.
Mystique, still as Jean Grey, with a simplified Mystique outfit – informs the others that the mayor wanted a civic delegation to go with them. But frankly, she didn’t want them to hear these conversations. When they get to the hospital could they at least try to be--?
She was about to say “normal,” right? Cal asks. Yes, she moans, but then she realized she’s with the three of them.
In the hospital, they visit one of the possession victims named Jack Fenner. With a smile, Raven asks him how he is doing. He is fine, Fenner replies. He keeps saying he is ready to go home. Just a few cuts and… What’s with the costumes? Are they Avengers?
McCoy sprays a green mist into his face. This will make him answer truthfully. Enraged, Mystique shouts they had no reason to think he wouldn’t. Or that he would, McCoy retorts, can they get on? The mice he has waiting at home won’t dissect themselves. Yet.
Cal informs them that the spaced out Fenner may have been calling himself an X-Man but he is not a mutant. Omega announces he is not getting anything either. That’s just confirmation.
Enough! Mystique orders and addresses Fenner. What can he remember about the word “X-Man?” He… he remembers, Fenner mutters.
But there’s lot of other useful stuff he does for this team, Omega mutters.
Suddenly, Jack Fenner’s eyes turn glazed and he becomes agitated. He remembers! he shouts. They are the X-Men! They are the X-Men! He’s Henry McCoy! he shouts, pointing at the evil Beast who remarks that his reputation precedes him. Mimic touches his head confused while Omega looks at his hands which are beginning to glow with energy. It’s like he’s suddenly become a mutant, Mimic moans. He’s copying a power off him. He thinks… he thinks he can--
It’s huge! Omega shouts. It’s so, so…
He can see into the future! Mimic screams. He knows they are going to--!
He can’t stop himself! a brightly-glowing Omega shouts. He’s going to exploode! With those words he bursts upwards through the hospital roof, adding a muttered sorry.
Beast wonders where that power level is coming from. So much for the PR mission, Mystique sighs and orders Cal after him. He groans and buries his face in his hands, overcome by precognitive powers, seeing his own future… everything he feared - -everything he deserves! It’s all going to come true… It’s all… Vera…
Mimic’s precognitive flash:
In the future, Cal sees himself married to his onetime girlfriend, Vera Cantor. They both sit on the couch, holding their baby. Cal marvels at his child. He never thought he could have this. Another life to care about instead of his. To give everything to…
Suddenly, he holds his head, sensing something. The next moment, optic beams burst forth from his eyes killing Vera and the baby.
Mystique shakes Mimic, ordering him to focus. They need him to get up there, mimic whatever power this is and bring Omega back here. He thinks swiftly would be good, Beast adds. He doesn’t think Omega is quite… on message.
Omega flies up in front of a news helicopter and grabs the front of it. Hello, good evening and welcome. He’s gone on holiday by mistake. Sorry. What he’s trying to say is his mind is going, time is fleeting, normal service will be resumed--
-- Maybe never!
He falls straight down.
Inventory of items destroyed by Omega: #1: Public library (sorry)p>
Within the hospital Mystique again addresses Mimic. Why bother? he moans. No matter what he does he knows what waiting for him. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? McCoy suggests and sprays a substance in his face, a different one this time. Uppers, teeth-chatteres. Power enhancers, out of his mind yodeling gung ho certainty… and a pinch of ginseng.
Mimic’s eyes glow reads as with a berserker scream he flies off to attack Omega. The NFL’s loss is his gain, McCoy gloats. Or maybe he should approach them again…
Furious, Mystique shouts that their problem was having one psycho in the field. Now they have two! Now do try to look on the bright side, he suggests.
In the library, Omega blasts the shelves and books, still ranting. Take that, Jemima Puddleduck! I never particularly liked, you, Anne of Green Gables! If that is your real name! He’s really sorry, he mumbles, this is so embarrassing.
The next moment, Mimic, still incoherent, hits him. Thank you! Omega replies.
Inventory of items destroyed by Omega: #2: statue of beloved former mayor and his dog (sorry)
In the hospital, McCoy and Mystique critically stare at the patient who is unconscious again. It’s something to do with him, McCoy summarizes. He’s radiating power to those two. Energy powers and precognition, Mystique agrees. But he doesn’t seem in control. It’s like something is using him as a channel.
Oh well. McCoy takes out a syringe. If they really want to put an end to this… Mystique tells him no. He’ll just fall asleep, McCoy tells her comfortingly. Well, and then die, he adds, but give him credit for at least trying to soften the blow. No, she orders sharply. This has become the opposite of a goodwill mission. Osborn has made a bomb out of her, does he get it? No amount of horrifying shape-changer yoga can change that. He can make her explode!
Erm, Mystique? McCoy looks at energy glowing brightly behind her. That could possibly do so also. He is referring to the energy that comes crackling out of the lying patient.
We’re tuning in… getting there… remember what an individual is like… familiar faces… Oh, yes, I know them.
The energy begins to assume rough human shape. He addresses McCoy, he knows him from home... And you, he addresses Mystique, still looking like Jean Grey. Mother it’s been so long…
“Mother?” she asks confused. She doesn’t know what he is. He thinks he does, McCoy suddenly admits, clearly frightened. Oh, this is not good.
He’ll try to bring himself together for a moment, the being replies. Ah, yes, yes. And before them stands Nathan Grey, X-Man Nearly Omnipotent. Sun King.
Please help him, he pleads. He’s trying to get home.
In a dark and damp warehouse, Hope, now a preteen, looks around anxiously. She can’t let him find her, is her all-consuming though. She hears a noise in front of her, only to have Cable come up behind her a moment later. Gotcha. Aah! Hope shouts out as Cable wrestles her to the ground.
Her enemy will try to distract her, just like he did, Cable informs her. Don’t let him, he orders. Be aware of your surroundings. That means every--
Okay, okay, she gets it, Hope calls out annoyed. No, she doesn’t get it, Cable replies strictly. Take that old boiler over there, for instance... What about it? Hope asks and looks at it. Cable uses that opportunity to attack and drop her again. She looks up at him furious.
Staying focused is the key, Cable continues his speech. Don’t allow herself to be lulled into seeing what her opponent wants her to see.
Resentfully she recalls all the speeches day in day out. Didn’t know he was her opponent, she sulks. He doesn’t know what to say. She gets it, she states. Never let her guard down. Now will he leave her alone?
No, he won’t, Cable replies. He can’t. Because the man who is hunting her won’t. Not until she’s dead. He knows this is tedious but it is necessary. It’s what will keep her alive. Understand?
He never cuts her any slack, she thinks. Never gives her a “good job” or “attagirl” – nothing. She looks at him sulking. He’ll take that as a “yes.”
Doesn’t he know that’s all she wants, she wonders.
Later, Cable calls her, telling her it’s time they got rolling. He looks into the darkened room, seeing her in sitting in the shadow with her back to him. He walks closer, telling her he knows he’s been hard on her. Walking closer still, he sees it’s only a deception, some objects made to look like her.
The next moment, the real Hope attacks from the shadows, kicking him in the face. When he says nothing, she explains she was trying to make him see what she wanted him to see. Right, he replies, cleaning the blood off his face.
He looks away. And then she catches him. Just for a moment, even though he tries to hide it, a quick smile. And she realizes that, in his own weird way, Nathan does encourage her. She just has to be quick enough to catch it.