Alcatraz Island, Westcoast Headquarters of HAMMER:
Norman Osborn talks with his assistant Victoria Hand. He did what? he asks, incredulous. Head-butted Sunspot, comes the reply. On TV. Well… that’s… okay, actually, Norman decides. Sunspot doesn’t look like a kid. He looks like a… scary black-hole thing. That’s just … kind of… lacking class by his standards. And have the bugs picked anything up? Anything he’s said? Abut the Atlantean terrorists? About Reynolds killing the Atlantean terrorists. No Sir, comes the reply. He has just seemed… calm. Really… really… calm.
Namor, Osborn muses. He was sure they were done. Why is he still here? What the hell is he doing here in the first place?
Norman steps in front of the shower… where Namor is. So, about the Atlanteans… he begins. Namor doesn’t even turn around.
Osborn recalls the last time they spoke.
Flashback to the first meeting of the Cabal:
Namor was in Norman’s face. Aggressively, he pointed at him, snarling the fact that he even allows Osborn to speak directly to him is a gift he bestows upon him. Do not order him. He tells Osborn he begs for Namor’s appreciation and then waits to see if he chooses to bestow it on him. Atlantis is no more, because the surface world destroyed it. And the fact that he hasn’t dropped a tidal wave on the United States in retaliation is, in his opinion, an act of unimaginable patience and character. So no, he will not help him, and he will not be his dancing monkey. And if he and Osborn nee d to do battle about this, let it be now.
In contrast to this, Namor is completely calm as without turning around he asks: what about the Atlanteans?
Well, Norman begins, the last time they talked about that situation, Namor refused to denounce them. Indeed, he came dangerously close to agreeing with them, so Norman had them put down. He had them exterminated. And Namor’s only reaction is… to pitch in and help with this whole mutant thing. He means, he half-expected Namor to ride some giant sea-monster right up to his building. Force them to see who is stronger, Namor or the Sentry. But he didn’t.
Continuing, Norman points out that, at first, Namor did nothing. Then he showed up here at the lovely Ms. Frost’s bequest. So, as he’s sure Namor can imagine it made Norman curious. Curious as to why he did that. He means he didn’t even know Namor was a mutant. Someone informed him of the fact. But how would he know? Namor hasn’t exactly been shouting it off rooftops. If they have those on underwater buildings.
He didn’t join the X-Men when Xavier or Summers were running it. Osborn takes a towel and offers it to Namor. Is it Frost’s feminine wiles getting to him? Or, dare he say it, is their proud Atlantean king having an identity crisis? He means, why else would he come back to Osborn after what he did? Does he need someone to him who he is, someone to give him orders?
Quick as a snake, Namor goes for Osborn’s throat and slams him against the wall. You do not give me orders, he hisses. Your Highness, with respect… this is insane, comes the reply. He reminds Namor that he joined Osborn’s organization. His X-Men. Osborn was asked to take him on. Namor volunteered.
Namor lets go. And Osborn rubs his throat. If he doesn’t want to take orders he can always just leave. Namor turns his back on him. Haughtily, he inform him this conversation is…
Oh, he sees, Norman replies while straightening his tie. He doesn’t really know why he’s here. Or he wouldn’t fly off the handle like that. He does understand. About being two things. Two things? Namor asks surprised. Which?
Yes, exactly, Norman muses. Which two things? Indeed. A “Super villain” and a “super hero.” He’s made the same journey Norman has. From threatening the world, or at least a part of it, to saving it. But that’s not all.
He thinks right now Namor is looking at his life and questioning whether what he’s been doing for years is working. He touches Namor’s shoulder. He’s been there too, he reminds Namor. All this time he hasn’t seen himself as a mutant. But rather as an Atlantean. Now he’s thinking of making a change, not fighting a lost cause anymore. He thinks coming to them in those circumstance is admirable. He doesn’t think Namor should feel vulnerable about that.
He could have a home here. In the bosom of Ms. Frost. Metaphorically speaking, he means. Although he thinks they’d be great together.
Arms akimbo, Namor doesn’t reply. He’s glad they brought this to the surface, Norman continues, because he wants Namor to consciously sign up for this. He’s offering him his chance. Something he can be: a mutant, an X-Man. A new people he can defend and represent. A people this time some of whom the surface dwellers have at least met and liked.
So now they’re clear. All this is why he’s going to stay. And allow Osborn to keep on giving him orders. Right?
He has said too much, Namor states, looking down on him. But he’s worked him out, hasn’t he? Norman replies. So… the next time he sends Namor on a mission…
Then he will give Norman’s…request serious consideration, Namor concedes and leaves. Norman looks after him triumphantly.
Later, he notes down in his computer files: move subject Namor is not category green for regular assignments. Norman then looks out at San Francisco. He believes he has the measure of him now. It’s nice when someone who was a threat volunteers to be an ally. A flunky! And it’s always good to have a prince on the team.
Have you ever come back from the dead? Does that sound like a stupid question? Because people like us, I hear it happens pretty often.
The Mimic recalls. He’s been killed, but also buried. A few times. When you come to there’s a few moments that are pure impulse. You are just a thing, clawing, gasping choking, like a reflex. His eyes glowed and with an optic blast he freed himself from his grave.
That moment, you actually have no idea who you are. There’s no questioning what you do. You just do it. Because if you don’t, you’ll swallow dirt and never move again.
He recalls being buried, but also feeling that way all the time… being a trouble maker, a drinker, being beaten by the Hulk, by Professor X, by Wolverine….
Even if he hadn’t been killed, never had his mind erased, he doesn’t know what difference it would have made. He feels like he never knew who he was to begin with.
It wasn’t till a couple of years ago: Dr. Moira MacTaggert, a good woman, figured out that he has bipolar disorder. How she described this condition was like she’d been walking around in his head. Moira got him to take some meds, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety ones and she was right. They helped. She was a good woman. But he still worries. He still waits for the other shoe to drop.
He addresses someone. He guesses that person knows what he can do. All these people around now shoot lasers from their face to whatever? He gets near them, and he can do it all too.
He recalls fighting the original X-Men, Cable and X-Force, Cerebro alongside the X-Men and the Brotherhood.
These people, they are practically gods. And whatever they spent their whole lives learning to manage, it just comes out of him. He’s hurt people. Because of what comes out and how his brain works.
He recalls inadvertently shooting a woman with his optic blasts. He sought solitude in the wilderness; tried to get away. But the world’s too small. X-Force found him and he inadvertently absorbed Sunspot’s power. And all these things other people can do… they just seep into him. Even if he doesn’t want it to. Sometimes it just comes out.
Some of the scariest people in the world? Wolverine? The Hulk? Charles Xavier? He’s got them all twisted up in him. And he can’t always control himself. Let alone the part of them he’s got stuck inside. He could really hurt people.
He’s afraid he’s already hurt people. He and Norman Osborn walk past a burning building (possibly destroyed by the Mimic). HAMMER agents work on the damage and the injured people. He has, Osborn agrees, calling him Calvin. But he promises him, he’s not worried about all that. He thinks he’s perfect!
An abandoned railway shack. The Hank McCoy from another dimension, the so-called Age of Apocalypse, also called the Dark Beast, smiles in his lab looking at a drop of blood in fascination. Suddenly he turns around, having heard something. He becomes alert, ready for an attack.
Moments later outside, Norman Osborn lands in his Iron Patriot armor. He walks inside, his armor changing into his suit. McCoy! he calls into the lab that seems to be empty, except for the corpse of a young girl on a table. He knows he’s here! Osborn shouts. It wasn’t easy and for him that’s saying a lot, but they found him. Tracked him down. He becomes aware of the corpse. Kidnapping children? he asks.
McCoy jumps down from his hiding place. Kidnapping, he repeats. How quaint. No, this one was a gift. A rich eccentric, terminally ill. Life for him, death for his niece. Not that she was supposed to die, he adds in mock regret. He’d hoped for an induced mutation. Sad. Still, nothing like the thrill of experimentation, especially when things go wrong, he states with a grin. It can offer up such… unexpected results. Wouldn’t Norman agree?
Osborn so far has looked at matters with disgust. McCoy knows who he is? he asks. No, sadly not, comes the reply. He’s spent the last several years with his head stuck up his…
He needs his help, Osborn interrupts him curtly. Turning back to his experiment, McCoy replies sarcastically that he’s thrilled. The nation is facing a threat, Osborn states. Mutants out of control, mutants…
This isn’t his nation, McCoy clarifies, hell, it’s not his dimension! He’s an out of control mutant.
Fugitive, yes, Osborn agrees. Out of control, no. Not like these. He needs a way to control them. A way to reduce their power, to make them safe so they can be placed out of harm’s way.
Boohoo, comes the reply. Call Reed Richards, he’s your gizmo go-to man. Osborn really doesn’t know him at all, does he? Actually, he believes he does, Osborn replies. He needs McCoy to experiment on someone. He already is… comes the reply. A mutant, Osborn continues. Now he has McCoy’s attention.
A young man by the name of Michael Pointer, he continues. He has an ability he can use, but it needs to be tempered, altered for their purposes. A mutant, McCoy repeats dreamily, caressing the face of the corpse.
Most people tend to imagine experimentation as boring lab work. And he guesses it can be, but it all depends on the subject. And how willing you are to get your hands dirty. Cutting into the flesh, altering the genetic code, twisting and changing… It’s enough to make your mouth water, wouldn’t he agree? Doing it to another is… exquisite. But doing it to oneself, now there lies something truly extraordinary. They both know this particular delight, don’t they?
Osborn silently glares. McCoy returns to the corpse and tells him not to give him that look. He knows all about Osborn’s past. Pumpkin bombs and all. But he needn’t worry. He’s his biggest fan.
He tosses the corpse aside. How long has it been since Osborn wore his real face? How long has it been since he felt the rush? He struts about the place, pretending to be something else, but why? Why deny who he is? It’s in his blood, he made sure of that. Give back to the beast inside, he lures….
Osborn, for a moment, looks as if he wants to kill him, then he begins to smirk. Take McCoy’s lead then? That’s what he’s suggesting? And where will that get him, exactly. Cast out of his reality? Forced to become an outcast? How’s the “rush” feel when you’re living in dank, decrepit old buildings, hmm? How’s it feel to be reduced to experimenting on children in conditions most rats would find inhospitable?
Accept his offer and McCoy’ll be given the best equipment money can buy. He’ll be given access to mutants and all he need do is follow Osborn’s orders. Toe the line.
Toe the line, Dark Beast repeats. Memories of home. Time to come out of the shadows, Osborn continues. And cut himself off from who he truly is? He can see that’s a price he’s not willing to pay. He needn’t deny his true nature, Osborn continues. He simply needs to be discreet about how much of it he reveals to others.
Like him, he means? Dark Beast asks. Is he in or not, Osborn asks, stone-faced.
Oh, he’s in, comes the reply. He can play the good house pet. But don’t worry, Norman, he’ll be sure to remind him of what he’s missing. Remember, he’s Norman’s biggest fan…