With the New Mutants finally having returned to Xavier’s School again, Danielle Moonstar formally introduces their newest member, Amara Juliana Olivia Aquilla of the lost city of Nova Roma, to their teacher Professor Xavier. The professor welcomes Amara both to the school and the New Mutants.
Amara formally and graciously thanks him, before shyly asking whether Xavier is also a mutant. Xavier explains yes and that is the reason her father placed Amara in his charge. He asks her to walk with him a while, so they can get to know each other better.
As the other New Mutants watch them leave, Dani muses that it can’t be easy for Amara. In one leap, she is jumping from the first century to the twentieth. Sam states that if she needs help they’ll give it to her.
Amara asks the obvious question. What is a mutant? Someone born with extra-human powers and abilities, Xavier replies. In Amara’s case, it involves manipulation of tectonic forces. He continues, this time using his mental powers to reveal that he is a telepath. Amara is shocked to have heard his words in her head. Xavier continues to explain that he can project his thoughts and read those of others. He shows her a door, telling her this is her room. Amara exclaims Minerva in surprise, as the room is a perfect copy of her room in Nova Roma.
Xavier explains that some of the more personal items Amara brought with her. The rest was reproduced from a memory image he took from her mind. He felt those familiar surroundings might ease her transition to her new life and make her feel more comfortable… more at home. Are none of her thoughts to be secret or sacred, she almost protests. Xavier cuts in that PSIs like him prize privacy above all else. Her mind is her own. He will not pry. With that, he leaves Amara to her thoughts.
Amara feels reminded of her father. Xavier is also stern and proper, but fair and just as well. He would never harm her or lie to her, but the room makes her anxious. She has this mad notion that, if she calls out, her maid Dione will bring wine and cakes. But Dione is half a world away. She steps to the windows. Her room in her father’s villa had a view of the mountains and no magic lamp to turn night to day with the touch of a lever. She remembers that Dani referred to this as “electricity.” She has so much to learn, she realizes. Her ignorance of all these things make her feel like a savage.
Amara’s anxiousness is reflected by the ground, as there is a slight rumble. Amara immediately prays, hoping this wasn’t her doing. Is she so powerful, that her slightest emotions provoke a response within the Earth? She urges herself to master her fear.
Xavier outside sensed Amara’s panic and the tremor but now feels both her fear and the micro-quake subsiding. He is grateful that he won’t have to use his psi-talent to calm the girl. Until he‘s established, the parameters of her ability he’d best maintain a constant light rapport with her, he decides. That way he can monitor her emotional state and prevent any accidental tectonic disasters.
In the evening, the kids along with the professor and Stevie Hunter are preparing a “welcome barbecue” for Amara. With Dani busy at the grill, Bobby sighs that he’d rather send out for Pizza or Chinese food. Dani icily remarks to Stevie that those who suggested this party are also the first to use their ignorance of the culinary arts to get themselves excused from the chores. He’s willing to cook, Roberto retorts, if Dani is willing to risk food poisoning. He’s a bright lad, Dani teases, so learn!
Amara, shows up, dressed in an elegant silk evening gown. Stevie introduces herself as the dance teacher. Amara greets her formally. Stevie quietly asks the others if none of them informed her this was an informal picnic. She’s dressed for a royal banquet.
Amara feels foolish, fearing the others think her a snob or a fool to don her loveliest gown when they wear casual clothes. Roberto tries to save the situation by bowing and telling Amara the fault is theirs alone. But well worth for the privilege of beholding such loveliness as her. Dani grimly thinks that given half a chance, Bobby could probably charm any woman alive. The riff is working on Amara, who’s actually smiling, Dani just wishes he’d use it on her once.
Sam comes flying in with a crate of sodas. Seeing Amara in her gown, he’s utterly surprised and wants to impress her with a looping. The professor tries to warn him but too late. The crash landing doesn’t hurt Sam, but the bottles break and the soda drenches Amara and her gown. Furious, she shouts that this was her mother’s, one of the few things she left her and he’s ruined it!
Dani tries to calm her. There might be a way to clean it. She tries to tell Amara it was an accident… and almost falls into a gap in the ground that opens under her. Lava pours out of the fissure, setting an oak ablaze. Sunspot gets rid of the tree whereas Rahne turns into a wolf to track Amara, who has run away.
Amara hasn’t run far. She’s broken down nearby and cries. Dani telepathically asks Rahne to not to let her know they are there. She needs some time alone. They’ll keep an eye on her.
Amara’s mostly upset as she lost control of her powers again. Will she ever be able to live a normal life? Suppose someone is harmed and killed because of her? She tells herself not to despair. Xavier is helping the New Mutants. He can do the same with her. He must, for if he fails she cannot allow herself to live.
To the headquarters complex of the Federal Government’s Project Wideawake, this evening have come its director, Henry Peter Gyrich, Dr. Valerie Cooper (Aide to the presidential national security advisor, Judge Richard Petrie) and billionaire industrialist Sebastian Shaw, whose companies are prime contractors for the latest line of mutant-hunting Sentinels. The irony is that Shaw is a mutant himself, leader of the Hellfire Club’s secret Inner Circle, a cabal dedicated to the conquest of the world.
Valerie Cooper is quite impressed with the Sentinels, whereas Gyrich remarks that where Sentinels are concerned appearances are deceiving. They have yet to produce one capable of holding its own against any mutant foe. He orders a technician to run a test sequence. Shaw points out that they learn from failure as much as success. Eventually, they’ll get it right. Eventually, might be too late, Val states.
Something goes wrong with the test. The Sentinel malfunctions and goes wild. The technician shouts that a rogue operator penetrated the command computer system and has taken over the Sentinel. Gyrich orders him to do something before it brings down the installation around their ears. They’re trying, but the rogue’s locked them out. All their command programs are being bypassed and neutralized.
That’s impossible! Gyrich shouts. He orders them to cut all outside access to their computer. Shut down the entire system but they have to sever the rogue’s link with the Sentinel. It doesn’t work, though. Gyrich has no choice but to resort to initiating the Sentinel’s destruction. Furious, he states that this is more than a five million dollar Sentinel down the drain. It’s an attack on the federal government. He wants the people responsible for that outrage. He orders his people to trace the computer any way they can. When he gets his hands on these jokers, he’ll make them wish they had never been born!
Far removed from the chaos of Project Wideawake at the Ramseys’ home in Salem Center are Doug Ramsey and Kitty Pryde at their computers. Scowling, Doug remarks that whatever system they accessed tonight just went off-line with a bang. Its operators are going to be really mad. Can they trace them? Kitty asks worried. Doug doubts it. They came in through a back door and caught them by surprise. She can bet this won’t happen again. What was she looking for anyway? Curiosity mainly, Kitty answers evasively about a bigshot tycoon named Sebastian Shaw and that kinky club he belongs to.
She wishes she could tell Doug the truth, but that would mean having to come clear about being an X-Men and that Shaw is one of their deadliest foes. At the risk of being obvious, Doug jokes, curiosity killed the cat. Which is why they have nine lives, Kitty retorts.
Doug muses that this is very weird. A contact of his on the hacker network got him the entry code to Shaw Industries computer system. From there they made their way into the Hellfire Club. Doug thought he deciphered Shaw’s private executive code but, the first time they tried to, they didn’t access the club or Shaw’s corporation but some kind of government system. Kitty wonders whether that means the Hellfire Club and the government are working together and what the government knows about Shaw, but she can’t tell Doug so she tries to diver him by claiming she’s famished.
As they walk to the kitchen, he gushes about the improvements Kitty has made to his hardware. She gives ‘em the voice, Kitty jokes, but he makes them sing. She Stradivarius, he Itzhak Perlman. She grabs a bag of chips. The team supreme? Doug wonders as he gets out a soft drink.
At the table, they soon talk about other things. Doug learns that Kitty’s parents divorced last spring. Everyone’s very prickly. Her parents don’t know whether to be having second thoughts or not. Doug points out that Kitty seems to be handling it well.
Kitty looks at her watch and blanches. She didn’t realize it was that late. She says good-bye and they decide to meet the next day after dance class. She’s barely outside the house when a stern Xavier’s projection appears, ordering her to return at once.
Kitty cuts cross-country to save time. While she does so, she muses that she shouldn’t involve Doug in X-Men business even peripherally, but she doesn’t have anywhere near his skill with computers. Suddenly, she notices the sound of crying. She finds Amara and recognizes her as the new girl from Brazil.
Kitty greets her and introduces herself and asks if Amara is OK. Amara politely assures her that she needs no assistance and asks her to leave her alone. Kitty remembers how homesick she was the first months at Xavier’s and figures it has to be worse for Amara. Trying to be nice, she asks if there is nothing she can do. Almost shifting to her lava form, Amara shouts at her to leave. Angrily, Kitty apologizes and leaves, wondering why she always screws up with kids her own age (except for Doug).
But that thought leads her to wonder if her close friendship with Doug will have any effect on her relationship with Peter Rasputin. She loves Peter. Suppose she starts to love Doug too?
Her reverie is broken as she faces the rest of the New Mutants, none of them looking at her too kindly. She asks what they are doing out there. Looking after their own, comes a stony reply from Roberto. From what she saw of Amara, she replies as coldly, she can take pretty god care of herself. She adds that they are acting awfully touchy. Is she surprised? Dani asks. Kitty’s made no secret of her dislike for the “X-babies.” It sort’a makes tonight’s sudden solicitude ring a little hollow. She can take a hint, Kitty states. Do better than that, Dani retorts, take a hike.
Xavier’s projection appears. Impatiently, he informs Kitty that he will brook no further delay. She is to report to his office. Kitty stalks off and the New Mutants, while they dislike Kitty, wouldn’t want to be in her shoes at the moment.
In Xavier’s office the professor sternly reminds Kitty that she had a training session scheduled for this evening. It isn’t the first she’s missed. For all that she’s an X-Man, they still know very little about the nature and extent of her phasing power. Kitty defends herself that she didn’t do it on purpose. When Doug and she are working, they tend to lose track of everything else. Xavier replies that he is pleased she is making friends outside the school and exercising her intellect to its fullest capacity, but when she joined the X-Men she chose to accept certain responsibilities. Her teammates’ lives depend on her as hers does on them. She must decide whether or not she is prepared to honor those obligations.
Furthermore, this idiotic feud between her and the New Mutants has gone one far enough. Novices they may be, but hardly “X-babies,” especially when two of them are older than Kitty. Turning away, Kitty asks if that’s all. Xavier asks her to think back on how she first felt when she realized who and what she was, the excitement, the terror. He asks her to help the New Mutants. In doing so, perhaps she’ll be able to better come to terms with herself. She promises to try and phases out of the room.
Alone with his thoughts, Xavier muses that Kitty wanted so badly to be an X-Man. She doesn’t understand why she’s having second thoughts. Her roommate Illyana is upstairs. He hopes Kitty talks things out with her. He wishes Amatra had someone to confide in. As soon as she’s asleep, he’ll have the mutants put her to bed.
That reminds him that he must schedule medical examinations for Roberto and Rahne. Mobsters injected them with a teratogenetic drug – a synthetic mutagen – designed to replicate the process that crated Cloak and Dagger. The chemical was supposedly burned out of their systems by those selfsame mystery beings, but he has to be certain there are no long term effects. His task would be easier if he knew precisely what it did to Cloak and Dagger. Should he or the X-Men attempt to contact them? Or should he leave well enough alone? They refused Cannonball’s invitation to join the school. He wishes he had Lilandra’s advice. Or just her presence.
Suddenly, he screams in pain. The scanning wave he sensed before erupts from nowhere and disappears again. The contact was more intense and painful. And he’s no closer to learning its origin or purpose. He should devote all his energies to solving this mystery but if he does who will look after his students? His obligations bind him as tightly as Kitty. Until he’s certain this represents a threat, he will keep on as before.
On the next day, Xavier’s giving the New Mutants a computer lesson. Dani notices that he doesn’t look well. A headache, Xavier claims. Sam remarks that this machine is doing its best to give him one, while Bobby boasts there’s nothing to working with computers. Dani laughs. He was weaned on those monsters. Merely one of his many talents, he replies smoothly. Xavier telepathically tells a frustrated Sam to cheer up. Things aren’t that bad. Sam admits he feels outclassed and Xavier offers to cue him telepathically step-by-step through the lesson.
Sitting at her computer, Amara marvels that this is magic. She presses this square and a letter appears on the glass before her. Would Xavier explain? Gladly, Xavier tells her. Amara makes amazing progress, much to the chagrin of Rahne, who thinks to herself that, despite being a heathen savage, Amara is getting the hang of these gadgets faster than her. She tells herself that she is as stupid as she is ugly. Xavier mentally overhears Rahne berating herself and wonders how he can give the girl some much needed self-confidence.
Their academic training over, the kids along with Kitty hike into Salem Center for a two hour session at Stevie Hunter’s dance studio. Stevie praises Amara, asking her if she had training. When he was very young, Amara explains. But for all her fancy schooling can she do this? Rahne boasts as she makes a high elegant jump, turning into her transitional form. The others are not amused. Sam angrily asks her if she is crazy, showing off her powers in public. Suppose someone saw her! Amara curiously asks if they must forever hide what they are. Is being a mutant something to be ashamed of or forbidden? Dejected, Rahne replies, “Aye.”
Kitty intervenes, surprisingly telling Sam to cool it. It’s only natural to want to show off every once in a while. She does that by just breathing, remarks Doug Ramsey who just entered. Oh brother! exclaims Kitty, clearly not unhappy at the compliment. While Doug drags her out for a visit at the mall, Kitty quickly tells Rahne that, not too long ago, she got yelled at by Ororo for the same kind of stunt. Some of them have to learn the hard way, but they all survive.
With Doug and Kitty gone, Rahne admits that she of all people should know the danger they face as mutants. Her fellow villagers in Scotland believed her to be a demon. They hunted her like an animal. They’d have killed her too, if not for her godmother, Lady Moira. You’d think she wouldn’t forget a lesson like that, but she did. She apologizes to Stevie and promises it won’t happen again.
Later, Amara, decked out in a New Mutants uniform, enters the Danger Room for the first time. Xavier is expecting her in the room, while Stevie Hunter is upstairs in the observation booth. Stevie muses that Kitty and Rahne are flipside of the same coin. Each jealous because they see their place threatened by new arrivals – each of them so insecure – and the terrible irony is they’ve no reason to be. She informs Charles that the monitors are set.
Xavier explains to Amara that this is where she will undergo the bulk of her training as Magma. The code-name is to protect both her real identity and the school’s true function, should she need to use her powers in public. Since her talent involves the manipulation of lava and tectonic forces, “Magma” seemed most appropriate. He points at a block of steel. He’d like to see her burn through this, a basic demonstration of her power. Unsure, she replies that she’s lost control of her powers before. He tries to calm her, promising he will be monitoring the situation telepathically.
Agitated, she asks whether he will be in her mind? But he said he’d never do that. It’s for her protection, he points out. He cannot teach her until he knows precisely what she can do and the physical or psionic mechanism that allows it. If she herself is worried about things getting out of hand… Angrily, she shouts that she never imagined he’d come into her mind. She runs away shouting, “Is this what his word is worth?” She will not be lied to! She’s not a slave to be paraded about and made to perform on command. She’s a freeborn citizen of Nova Roma and she demands to be treated as one! He shouts after her to wait… to no avail.
Later still in her bed, Amara, tears in her eyes, recalls that he kept calling but she refused to listen either with her ears or her mind. He could have forced her to his side, but he didn’t. That counts for something. He is not an evil man, far from it, she realizes as she puts on a dressing gown. She admits that he has treated her with courtesy and kindness, why can she not repay him in kind?
She leaves her room, wondering why she is so afraid. Partly it is the professor. His power makes him hardly seem human. Partly it is herself… not simply because of what she can do with her power. She walks down stairway. She is afraid of what he can see by accident in the secret chambers of her heart and soul. Not realizing Amara spoke English, Rahne poured out her heart and soul to Amara; spoke of things she’d never dare tell anyone else, secure in the knowledge Amara wouldn’t understand. Only she did understand. She’s never forgiven Amara for that.
She feels so vulnerable, so alien. She likes the New Mutants but does not fit in with them. Not anymore than they would in Nova Roma. She just doesn’t belong. She stops, seeing lights in the professor’s study. She wonders why is he up so late, because of her? Sarcastically she chides herself. His life doesn’t revolve around her.
She peeks inside and gasps, seeing the professor talk to a projection of his love Lilandra. She tells him that the reception is weakening and fears this may be their last conversation. Until her return, Xavier states. Fates willing, yes. How do you put into words what she could ay so much better with a caress or kiss, she sighs. Now he knows how Moira MacTaggert felt the day he went to war and left her behind. When he returned everything had changed. They love they once felt no longer existed. That may yet happen to them Lilandra fears, reaching out to him.
Reaching back, he tells her she’ll have to come back to find out. He has her word. He knows. “If need be from the gates of hell itself”. He’ll be waiting. They wish each other farewell.
Amara is ashamed and embarrassed at having witnessed this private moment. She wishes to get away but the professor has been aware of her presence. What’s done is done, he tells her. Hiding or running away changes nothing, makes nothing better. He invites her closer, suggesting they are long overdue for a chat.
Politely, Amara asks who that woman was. Xavier replies that Lilandra is the ruler of a vast empire far across the cosmos. As he takes Amara’s hand, she asks why she left him. Her sister seized the throne. Lilandra fights to win it back if she can. Does he miss her? Yes. Why didn’t he go with her? Because like her he has responsibilities that transcend personal desire. Each day more and more young mutants come into the world. If someone doesn’t help them to learn to properly and safely use their gifts, incalculable harm could happen.
They way she nearly destroyed Roberto’s city? Amara asks. Yes, is that the fear she lives with? She admits that she wants to be home with her father and her people. But her being there is the same thing as with him and Lilandra. It’s duty. Responsibility, obligation, he continues. Growing up, becoming an adult. It’s hard but a reality they must all face. Taking both his hands, she asks if he has ever failed with a student. Oh yes, but that will never stop him trying. She admits that in that he is much like her father. She was going to tell him she was going home. Now she thinks it’s best she stay. She’ll do her best to learn and be worthy of his trust.