In the Cerebra chamber, Magneto and Xavier try to repair the device together. Isn’t it good to come together and try to build something positive? Xavier asks his estranged friend and archenemy. It would be a little better without him striking those kind of notes, comes the reply. They are both just good footsoldiers in this grand new regime. Let’s not sink to scoring points.
Xavier points out that mutants aren’t fighting mutants and new mutants are appearing… He thinks the points are already scored and all on Scott’s tally. He hopes that whatever this is meant to achieve will prove to be another notch. If this works, Magneto muses, they may be able to attune Cerebra to recognize the earliest stages of mutant emergence. Register the tremors that herald the great eruption. And if it remains as volatile as it was with the first five, any time they can buy to reach them would be precious, Xavier agrees. Assuming, of course, it does remain that violent.
Hope seems convinced it will, Magneto points out. After a moment’s silence, Charles observes that Magneto seems close to Hope. Is he fishing, Magneto asks with a raised eyebrow. Xavier replies, he is a little… worried. It seems that she considers Magneto one of her few true confidants. He suspects an ulterior motive? Magneto asks. There is none. He is merely trying his best to be a citizen… and a friend.
Imagine a switch, Xavier suggests. Flipping it brings back those sixteen million mutants who died on Genosha. But kills an equal number of humans. What would he do? Magneto doesn’t reply, but seems to be in deep thought. He sees why he may worry, Charles remarks.
His hypothetical fancies are confusing him, Magneto shoots back. This isn’t about some fantastical scenario. This is about Hope and him and what they share is… it would be easier for Charles to see, he decides. He hasn’t really met her, has he? How about an introduction? She’s down with her Lights on the volley ball field. How wonderful! Charles enthuses. There are few things he enjoys more than seeing young mutants at play!
What the youngsters are doing there is probably no quite what he has in mind. Hope is playing drill sergeant, teaching her five charges how to fire at targets (well, four of them, at least, Teon is too busy chewing the gun). Short controlled bursts! Hope shouts at Idie and then tells Laurie she isn’t even hitting the island let alone the target. Relax a little! She’s trying, Laurie replies. She’s Canadian, but not shooty Canadian.
Kenji tells her is even worse. Lack of a trigger finger doesn’t help. Can’t he just make a gun? Laurie asks. Doesn’t work like that, he explains about his powers. Moving parts, yes, chemicals, no. Besides: tentacles with guns? Very gauche. Don’t gild the lily!
They are making progress, Hope decides, but she wants to see some bulls before they break for lunch. Great, Gabriel complains, so they are going to starve because… Suddenly someone grabs a gun and scores three bullseyes in a row. It is Teon, who triumphantly shouts “eat!” and runs ahead towards the cafeteria. Teon does tricks, Gabriel announces. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the modern primitive!”
Knowing when she’s beaten, Hope decides they go eat. At that point, Erik and Charles join them. Magneto tells her he wants to introduce a dear old friend of his and Hope tells the others she’ll catch up. Only Laurie stays behind, determined to practice more and get it right while Hope walks off with Magneto and Charles.
Magneto begins introducing Charles as the headmaster for… the school in Salem, Hope interrupts. She’s been reading around. Mind if she asks a question? “School for gifted youngsters”. Something about that just rubs her the wrong way. Charles begins to explain that mutants were and often are viewed as monsters. He wanted to rephrase the debate. It is not a curse, but a blessing. And he trained people in secret to build towards a world where mutant and human would live side by side in harmony.
She gets that, Hope replies and she thinks he should talk to Idie. She’s all messed up about it but, when she was born, her entire town was wiped out. 300 humans dead by people trying to get at her. The problem isn’t humans. The problem is prejudice. That hurts everyone! She has known aliens, robots posthumans, walking talking insecty things… cyborgs. Thinking they are the “gifted ones”… they need to get past that. They’re all just people. And people who don’t see that… they are part of the problem. The “gifted” and the “ungifted,” it’s just “us” and “them.” That’s what’s wrong. It probably served its purpose in its time, she quickly amends, and Xavier has helped all these people, but that’s over. They’ve got to have a better future than that. And she’d better go before Teon eats all the food. Pleased to meet him, she tells Charles and leaves.
What does he think? Magneto asks smugly. He thinks Erik took him here for the pleasure of seeing him get lectured by a teenage girl, is the stern reply. Who really needs a few lessons in the finer points of mutant / human theory, he adds. It may help to know when she turned the conversation to his old ways, she was considerably harsher, Magneto points out. But knowing that he’s made his mistakes, she knows he will understand her making hers, and with everyone wishing the best for her, he suspects in that he is alone.
Later, in Emma Frost’s ethics class, Emma introduces herself in her usual charming way, telling the students they are here to learn two things: right from wrong and a mortal fear of yours truly.
Hope is extremely annoyed by Emma’s demeanor and her “droning.” She wonders why they are listening to her anyway. What does she have to teach them? Cable would have hated her. And nobody showing that much skin in front of a class of teenage boys should teach anyone about ethics. She’s lucky Teon isn’t trying to hump her leg.
“Enough!” Hope decides and gets up. When asked where she is going, she simply replies “Out.” Immediately, Teon Idie, Gabrie and Kenji follow, despite Emma’s protest. Laurie tries to hold on to her desk and stay but the compulsion to follow Hope becomes over-powering. She apologizes and promises to copy up the notes afterwards.
Emma is fuming. They’re worse than the Cuckoos with this tiresome last-gang-in-townism, she mutters and runs after the kids. This is ugly insurrection, she warns Hope, and she will not tolerate it. Hope will return her little posse to class this second or she will have her on her knees, polishing these Jimmy Choos with her rebellious tongue! Why is Emma so scared of her? Hope challenges her. She’s been breaking little girls beneath her will for longer than Hope’s been talking, Emma retorts coolly and warns her not think of crossing her. As she said, Hope repeats, scared. Don’t get in her way and stay out of her mind, she warns Emma. And if she doesn’t, Hope will leave her in cinders.
Emma is visibly shaken for a moment. Hope walks off and the Lights looking back and forth finally follow Hope. Go then! Emma shouts after them. “Hurry along after your mistress like good little slaves! Just don’t expect to come back from wherever she leads you! She’ll be the end of you all!” she predicts.
And she’ll be the end of all of us, she adds more silently. Good to see her getting on with the new kids, Kitty Pryde observes. There is nothing or nobody that girl reminds her of that she likes Emma announces. She is a teacher, not a trainer. The girl needs a whip! Not exactly out of her comfort zone, Kitty suggests smiling. Crossly, Emma tells her not to go against type. Emma is the mean one. Why doesn’t Kitty try and be helpful here? Maybe she will, Kitty muses.
A bit further ahead, Gabriel gushes that Hope was plain bad ass. She just slapped down the White Queen! She hates her, Hope announces grimly. Gabriel continues he’d have said something like “I only take lessons on morals from people who aren’t happy with the entire front row seeing their panties”, but Hope was ice-cold. “Morals and ethics are different things, you idiot!” Laurie shouts at him. Not that he’d turn down some personal tutoring, Gabriel muses. Mate! Teon agrees cheerfully. Hope groans in disgust. Joking, Gabriel tries to assure her, but what was “I’ll leave you as cinder” about? It’s just what came to mind, Hope shrugs and enters her room where she finds a letter on the ground.. She sits down and reads it.
I’m sorry to write to you without a proper introduction, but ins some things time is our master and here I must be its slave.
I trust you’re well. I understand that Dr. Richards examined you upon your return, so I know you’ve been in the best of hands. This does not prevent me from worrying about your health in other matters.
You find yourself in a utopia called “Utopia.” You should learn to distrust anything that’s so terribly on the nose. Things are always beneath such surfaces.
I say this not to panic you. There are very many good people here, which makes what’s hidden worse. I’m sure many of these good people are already trying to craft you in their image. I’m afraid I must join their number. Thankfully, my message is a simple one, easily conveyed without need for charts, lectures, sweaty tiresome exercise or the other paraphernalia of the educational establishment. I hope that you pay it heed.
Henry McCoy (PhD)
Hope looks pensive after reading the letter.
A little later, she finds Wolverine in what looks like an empty bar. He is avoiding her, she accuses him. It’s not much of a Utopia without a bar, he retorts. Or a place where a guy can dodge kids. He and his beer are busy. He’s sure there’s plenty of folk who wouldn’t be adverse to keeping her company.
That’s the problem, she announces forcefully. Everyone just closes in on her. She needs friends and space. When she was small in the future his team came to help them. That was the first X-people she met. Apart from Dad, X-Force were the first mutants she met. She comes here and he is like this and Dad’s gone and she just needs… Tell her why! she pleads She’ll even say ‘please.”
Logan takes a swig from his bottle. If he’s going to be like this, at least give her his two cents, she continues. He’s one of the handful of people here she… He interrupts her. Her daddy didn’t raise a fool. It’s her life. It’s her call. Make it! But he doesn’t want anything to do with it. Disappointed with fists clenched, she leaves. It’s for the best, Wolverine tells himself.
The morning after, in a somewhat improved version of her uniform, Hope storms into Cyclops’ office. This is how it’s going to be, she announces. The Lights are just the start. Mutants will be coming and they won’t be right, until she’s helped them. And the sooner she can help them, the righter they’ll be. It’s the only way she can make sense of the messiah thing. It’s not a big thing. It’s a job. Her powers are for saving people. She’s going to do that. They are a team. A rescue team. He’s probably heard that she’s requisitioned uniforms. But that’s just the start. She needs everything he can provide. Transports. A support system. A place to train. But while she’ here she needs an absolute minimum of intervention from him. She’s going to make mistakes, but they are her mistakes and her responsibility. If he has problems with that, she’s out. And she’s betting her leaving would be another problem. So let’s put it like that, she states and the Phoenix may be shining in her eyes, could he stop her?
As he was about to say, Scott begins, thanks for dropping in. He was hoping they could have a real chat. His turn. She asked him to back her up in Tokyo. He’s not retreating from that. She wants to save mutants? This may surprise her but that’s not something he has problems with. She is only seventeen but she’s got life experience and training on a par with any of the X-Men. He’s got no problem with her running a team. She can go wherever. They are not jailers.
The team she’s running: He thinks, for their needs they should be there. She doesn’t need training but they do. Hope interrupts that she’ll train… Then they agree, he continues. And with the greatest respect, he points out, there are things the X-Men can train them in that she can’t. They also need study. The bond they seem to share is… They are her friends, she protests. He’s sure they are. But doesn’t she think it’s more than that? Okay, she agrees. They need looking at. And Teon and Gabriel aren’t … right anyway. And Idie is fourteen, Scott points out. Even trained, putting her in a hostile environment when they don’t have to is a bad idea. Yeah, she admits Tokyo was wrong. Is this a working relationship then? It appears so, he agrees. She thanks him. Don’t mess up, he calls after her and she smiles.
Outside, Gabriel, in his new uniform like the others, asks if there were any problems. They are golden unless they mess up. No worries then, he announces, because let’s be honest: When they look this good, how can they fail?