(the White Hot Room: the core of creation. All times and no time - during the House of M)
Rachel Summers sits opposite Betsy Braddock cross-legged. They appear relaxed. "Why the sword?" asks Rachel. Betsy says she doesn't understand the question, but Rachel reckons she does. Maybe she never thought about it, but she must know what she means. Rachel likens it to the Phoenix Force. It's the same no matter what vessel it inhabits. But, Rachel adds, Betsy is the only psi-powered mutant whose power manifests itself as a sword. She wonders why.
Betsy replies that it's not a sword. Not just a sword, anyway. She shouldn't forget about the butterfly.
(the Savage Land, two years ago)
Psylocke is fighting alongside Ka-Zar, Bishop, Nightcrawler and X-23 against a horde of armed lizard-creatures called the Hauk'ka. Ka-Zar leads the charge, wanting to show the lizards some respect. Psylocke uses her blade to smite an opponent and X-23 comments that it's wicked. Betsy seems surprised. She informs Sara that it slices through armor but spares flesh. It cuts only what she tells it to cut. She thinks it's more merciful than most. Bishop interjects, telling Betsy that they're just fighting a holding action, but Betsy tells him she knows that. She can see how bad the odds are. If the Hauk'ka bring their super-powered warriors into the fight, then it's only going to get worse.
Bishop informs her that he and Kurt are mind-blocked and cannot access their powers. He thinks she may be able to break them free. "You mean... cut you free?" asks Betsy.
Rachel says that the butterfly manifested when she was telepathic, right? Different power, different manifestation. Betsy thought that too, but now in the White Hot Room she sees it differently. She had such finesse back then, such delicacy of thought. She could take a thought of Rachel's mind without her ever realizing she was ever there. The butterfly was an expression of that - the subtlety of fine control. It was everything she thought she'd lost when she came back from death.
(the Savage Land)
Betsy believes that this might be a bad idea, but Bishop believes that so is dying. They're out of options. Betsy reminds him that she can't read minds anymore. All she has to go on is instinct. Trying to cut the psi-compulsion without frying his brain? If she's off by a hair's breadth...
Kurt tells her that he trusts her, but Betsy replies that she doesn't trust herself. Kurt says that in that case, they must just hope. He reckons he is a better judge of character than her.
Betsy is assured, and she holds out her katana, asking them to kneel down. She tries to get the battle out of her head. She doesn't want to be thinking about mayhem while she's doing this. Bishop reminds her that they need them out there. If they fall... Betsy asks him to keep talking. That helps. She informs them that, in theory, she can control how deep the katana cuts and where it stops. But, she needs to send out her thoughts and senses along the blade. She can't risk even the slightest distraction: not if they wish to come out of this in one piece. Kurt and Bishop go quiet and kneel down facing away from Betsy. She raises the katana and prepares to strike.
After Psylocke died and came back, she went to one extreme. She had as much power as she could use but she didn't know how to channel it or make it do as it was told. The sword was her whole being. But, the sword by itself will never be enough. She swipes the katana through the back of Kurt and Bishop's skulls, and they collapse to the ground. She asks how they're feeling. Kurt replies that he's not dead, at least. Bishop reckons it needs work. He just needs a second to recover. Betsy, now oozing confidence tells him to take as long as he wants. She'll hold the fort!
She returns to the battle ground and leaps back into action. To wield a katana needs strength and power, but it isn't the half of what you need. The sword has to become an extension of your arm... of your will. You need to let it fly and then call it home again, as though it were a living thing. It must be responsive to your every thought.
Rachel asks Betsy what she's saying, then. That she gets to choose? That the sword and the butterfly are both always there inside her? Two different expressions of her power? Betsy replies that it isn't exactly what she's saying. She thinks the blade can be the butterfly. The delicacy can live inside the power, directing it and focusing it. It's like some puzzle picture in an old book, she adds. Two faces or a vase. Old woman or young girl. It's not two things. It's the same thing seen from different angles. "It's me. Just me."
(another Asgard, another time)
Dani Moonstar looks back on the final hours in the lives of her friends, the New Mutants. After leaving Asgard to head for home, Magik took them to Limbo. She created a portal into which the team stepped, transporting them away from Asgard. Cypher, Cannonball, Sunspot, Wolfsbane, Dani Moonstar, Karma and Magma, along with Dani's ride, Brightwind, were living the best times of their lives. They had grown into something more, something greater. They had become warriors... victors. When they returned home, it would be as heroes. Instead, though, their trip went sideways; sideways and twisty. You could call this the graduation for the students of Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Children.
When the professor recruited them, he told their parents that they were too dangerous for the world. He said that he would protect them and prepare them for the future, teaching them to control their gifts, helping them so that they would not hurt themselves or others. Instead, they became pawns: disposable pieces in an all-too-adult game of winner-take-all for the future of humanity's place in the world. With the best training in the world, children are never ready for the world. It was truly the end of the New Mutants, and Dani remembers them with clarity and honesty.
Roberto was the first to die, bitten on the neck by Magik. Roberto loved and lived too much. He was a slave to his passions. No one burned more brightly than Bobby and no one wanted to be a hero more. In this place, however, it's about surviving, not overcoming. He didn't survive long. Neither did Karma, captured by small demons. She was the oldest member of the team, and as such she always carried a heavy burden. She did that with such ease, they always wondered if there was no duty to much for her to handle.
Like most people, Rahne Sinclair craved domestication. She submitted herself to a comfortable and predictable hierarchy. Douglas Ramsey was blessed with the gift of tongues. No one higher or lower in all of hell could determine the will and secret intentions of Limbo's host. Working together with Karma, he gave voice to, and helped control, the oh-so-quiet whispers of rebellion and discontent. The voice of the people was the voice of the damned, and once he was plugged into the lifeblood of Limbo, Doug was their one true cypher.
Feeding on the stuff of Limbo drove Warlock into an endless cycle of appetite and expansion. He became the all-consuming place where evil things went to die. Magma always played pious, but Dani always knew better. She became a demon's slave. Sam Guthrie... Sam was the most noble of all. A true warrior. He fought to the end against the demonic hordes, and Dani would miss him the most.
The New Mutants were going to be so much more; better than those that came before. They were children of a new age, full of promise. Instead, they became something twisted... their innocence lost. Magik controlled the demons, and for that, she had to die at Dani's hands.
This is the future of man, of a society that doesn't protect its children. This is what you get. This is what becomes of your sons and daughters. Danielle Moonstar sits with the subservient Wolfsbane at her feet. She had dreamed a dream and watched it become a nightmare. Believing it would ever be otherwise was a lie. We all inherit the future we were meant to have.
The deluded anti-hero Deadpool believes he is in a session with his psychiatrist. The doctor asks what he's been up to since they last saw each other. Deadpool replies, "Pretty much the usual, Dr. Melfi." The doctor reminds Wade that he's asked him repeatedly not to call him that. Their sessions are quite serious and he would appreciate it if he took them as such. Deadpool can't believe some people just can't take a compliment. Maybe it's just his way of saying he has some sexy Lorraine Bracco legs. Has he ever thought of that? The doctor has no time for Wade's games, so Wade says there'll be no more name calling. They can talk about yesterday, but he slips in the name Frasier as he does so.
(yesterday - the Stop & Save market)
Deadpool is in costume, stocking up on groceries. He has five bags of double-stuf Oreos, forty-two individually wrapped fish heads, eleven sham-wows and twenty-seven doggie diapers. He notices a magazine on the rack and can't believe it. Tomcat were abducted by aliens disguised as Elvis? He's got to buy that. He heads to the counter where a diminutive assistant asks if it'll be paper or plastic. Deadpool pulls out a pistol and asks, "How about Smith & Wesson instead? He shoots her in the face.
(the session, present)
The doctor assumes there is a reason she shot that poor woman in the face. Wade replies that it's because of the whole paper or plastic thing. Does he have any idea what plastic bags do to the environment? He is Al Gore's messenger of death! The doctor mentions, while they're on the subject, that he's typically had trouble with women in the past, yes? Wade recalls Siryn, who wanted nothing to do with him, Copycat who was turned into fish food by Sabretooth, Typhoid Mary who made him look sane, and the Black Widow who had his head cut off. Whatever gave the doctor that idea? He returns to his story.
(yesterday - the Stop & Save market)
It was around this time that someone split his head open with a meat cleaver. Luckily, he can take that sort of punishment thanks to the Weapon X experiments. They gave him cancer, sure, but they gave him a kick-ass healing factor. Unfortunately, they also turned his body into six feet of downtown Newark.
The doctor says that his face really bothers him, doesn't it. It drives him to do the things he does. Wade doesn't wish to talk about it, but the doctor reminds him that this is why he is there. Wade covers his ears and starts singing Barbie Girl. He explains that Weapon X turned him into a killing machine, so that's what he does. He kills. The doctor says fair enough and asks him to continue with his story. He's sure there'll be a point to it eventually.
(yesterday - the Stop & Save market)
At this point, the whole joint turned on Deadpool. The bag boy with the lazy eye, the manager with the disturbing man boobs, the geeky cashier with pimples the size of golf balls, the old lady... Wade pauses a moment. "The old lady. I Hesitated on the old lady.” The doctor asks why. Wade tells him she reminded him of someone. The doctor knows he's talking about Blind Al and he asks Wade to tell him about her and his... friends. Wade asks what's to tell? He either drives them all away or they end up trying to kill each other. The doctor asks what happened to the old woman. Wade asks what he thinks happened. This was one Golden Girl that wasn't making her next mahjong tournament. The doctor gets the point of the story now and asks him to cut to the chase.
Deadpool explains that it was all a job. The supermarket... these people were all secretly part of a terrorist organization called G.O.A.L. It stands for Global Obliteration and Annihilation of the Lollipop Guild, or something like that. It doesn't matter. People wanted 'em dead, and he deaded 'em. He opens his arms out wide and exclaims, "So welcome to the bad guy!" The doctor asks if that's what he's supposed to be getting out of this, because that's not what he's getting. Deadpool asks what he is getting. Gas?
The doctor says that bad guys don't fight the threats he has. Bad guys don't save the world as often as he has. He can spin this however he wants, but what he sees is a man who took out a burgeoning terrorist organization before they became the next A.I.M. or Hydra. He then asks Wade if he can spare a quarter. Wade says, "What?" and then realizes that he's not in a doctor's surgery after all. He's sitting on a recliner on the sidewalk.
A woman asks him again if he has a quarter for the meter. Wade looks around before standing up quickly and aiming his pistol at the woman. He orders her to get lost. He still has another fifteen minutes of therapy. He sits back down and puts his hands behind his head. "So, doc," he says, "I ever tell you about the time with me, J. Jonah Jameson and the amputee midget sisters?"