Two weeks ago.
A small, blonde girl sits in a disheveled room, playing with her doll. On the messy, wooden floor there’s a scary drawing on the ground, as well as an X-symbol. The door opens and a Karma enters hesitantly, telling the girl, Marci, not to be scared. She and her friend Dani have been looking for her.
Shan kneels down next to Marci, telling her they’ve had so much trouble finding her. She thought she’d just visit Marci here. She knows this is a private place, but she hopes she doesn’t mind.
She’s new, Marci tells Karma matter-of-fact. They like the new ones. Who? Shan asks. Them, Marci replies and points to the closed door.
Something bangs against it repeatedly, eventually smashing through the door; something feral, monstrous. Still, Marci stays calm and coolly tells a panicked Karma to come on. They should hide now.
Marin Headlands, CA.
An energy circle manifests outside the building and through it falls Illyana Rasputin, landing hard. She’s wearing a costume with a large X-symbol, bits of armor covering her where arrows hit her. Battered, she holds onot her Soulsword as she gets up. They are still here, she remarks to herself. There’s time!
The X-Men students sitting outside and enjoying the sun are angry to see her and instantly assume threatening stances. Thought she’d taken off for good, Rockslide sneers. They had a party and everything! Yeah, Anole adds, just ‘cause Cyclops said she’s welcome here, doesn’t mean she’s welcome here, get it?
“Still mad at her?” Illyana mutters, good. Damn right they’re still mad at her! Victor shouts. She got his arm chopped off and ate a piece of Pixie’s soul!
Oh grow up, she shoots back with a smirk. It was only a taste. Furious, Anole gets ready to hit her but his arm is held back. Is there a problem here? Sam Guthrie, who has arrived with Roberto daCosta, asks. There is, if they are protecting the succubus! Victor insists. She’s got more of a right to be here than any of them, Sam shoots back. Who says? He does. This isn’t a school anymore, Victor reminds him. He can stop walking around like he’s an “upperclassman.” Yeah like now, Santo adds, looking threatening.
Sam’s not an “upperclassman,” Roberto informs them, amused. He’s a graduate… like him. He doesn’t have to show Victor what that means, does he? Sam asks. With a grin, Roberto recommends they wanna answer ”no” on that.
Whatever, Victor tells them. They wanna act like she’s one of the good guys? Good luck. Hope they know how to regrow their arms. As all the kids get up and walk away, Santo shouts back at Magik that, if she needs someone to saw her in half, how bout giving them a call?
How ‘bout his feet teach Santo how to talk to a lady at around seven hundred miles per hour? Sam shouts after him, angry. Roberto tells him to calm down. If Colossus hears Santo talking like that, he’ll be begging for them to save his life.
That moment behind them, Illyana breaks down, muttering: the fixers… Shan and Dani… Roberto deftly catches her. …they’ll be almost dead by now… she mutters. Almost dead.
In the X-brig, the recently-blinded Empath is rioting and ranting, threatening he will kill them all when he’s free. Amara Aquilla walks in with a tray, telling him he has to eat. He calms down. He didn’t know it was her. She knows, it’s okay, she replies. She sits down next to him and warms up the food again with her powers.
He wasn’t apologizing, Manuel stresses. She knows that, Amara replies calmly. As he takes the plate, he tells her the X-Men took his sight. He’ll have his revenge on them. She knows him well enough to know this is true. There is nothing he can do at the moment, she replies and tells him to eat. That moment, Sam calls her over the comm-system and asks her to come to the medic bay. Illyana’s back.
In the medlab, Illyana lies on a hospital bed while Beast examines her. The arrows that caused her injuries have slowly disappeared. He assumes they were “magic” arrows? Oh yes, Illyana agrees. He wishes she’d have stayed longer than she did after Cyclops offered her a home. They all worry about her and the things she gets up to in… Well, he changes the subject, the fresh San Francisco air seems to be doing wonders for her. Her vitals have normalized and her wounds are healing.
She loves his new look, she remarks, has she told him that? He thanks her. He likes it too! He supposes even them “monsters” get used to themselves eventually. We do, don’t we? Illyana agrees with a smirk.
From the observation booth, her three former teammates are watching. Amara remarks she is acting strangely. Are they sure it’s her? Hank says she is and she checked out with Cerebra, Roberto points out. Has she said where she’s been? Amara insists. From what she heard, it was a lot of work to get her back to Earth, then she just took off. Is it too much to ask where she’s been and why she came back?
Sam interjects. Illyana says Shan and Dani are in trouble. She says she needs their help to find them. Do they believe her? Amara asks. Hank’s machines say she’s telling the truth, Roberto points out. What does Sam think? Amara asks. He doesn’t, Sam replies. If Amara, Illyana, any of the “New Mutants” ask for help… he doesn’t need to think about it.
Roberto slugs his arm around Sam’s shoulder and points at him mock-accusingly. He hasn’t seen that look in his eyes for a long time. Are they doing this? Is he in? Sam asks. Is he kidding him? Roberto retorts, If he has to stay he and pretend he’s a teacher for one more day, he’s going to off himself.
Amara? She stares down at Illyana, transfixed. Absent-mindedly, she agrees.
Later, in Cyclops’ office, Sam explains matters. Scott tells him that Shan and Dani went to Colorado on an “educational mission.” They got an anonymous tip that a young mutant was endangering a town there.
And he sent them there alone? Sam asks. It was a false alarm, Cyclops explains. Cerebra would have lit up like a Christmas tree if there were any new mutant on the planet. He sent Shan and Dani to calm the locals.
Sam explains he’d like to take a team to retrieve them. Scott reads his roster request: Cannonball, Sunspot, Magma, Magik. Not a very large team.
Sam explains there’s bad blood between Illyana and most of the younger mutants. They don’t trust her. Does Sam? Scott asks. He thinks he owes her that, Sam replies. He thinks they all do.
Scott is silent for a moment, then approves Sam’s request. Sam didn’t expect that reaction and is surprised. Sam earned his trust, Scott explains. He should know that. He then orders Sam to have Hank help them with the costume fabricators. If they need them. He’s also authorizing one of the jumpjets for their use.
Almost stuttering, Sam assures him he won’t regret this. Scott calls after him. The professor used to tell him the most important part of leading wasn’t personality, tactics or training. It was doing whatever it takes to get your team back alive. Bring them back, Sam. Every one of them. Sir, Sam replies.
And so a little later, the former New Mutants have all dressed up in their new uniforms, based on the one Illyana wore. With small individual modifications they all wear black uniforms with a large X-design from shoulder to thigh. #$%&, they look like grown-ups! Roberto states satisfied. Does he get to drive? he asks as they enter the plane. In his dreams, Sam retorts.
Sam pilots (and Roberto copilots), their goal is Westcliffe, Colorado where Shan and Dani’s signal disappeared. East, that feels right, Illyana who is in the back with Amara remarks. There’s still time before they die.
How does she know Shan and Dani are in trouble? Amara asks her suspiciously. Amara told her, Illyana tells her calmly. One year from now. She blamed Illyana for not being there. So… now she’s here! She hopes Amara was able to give her enough information to find them. She wasn’t making much sense at the time. It’s not Amara’s fault though. She had a rather large hole eaten through her stomach.
Is she having fun with her? Amara demands. Illyana shoots her a dark look. Why does she visit Empath in his cell after he tried to kill her friends? she suddenly asks. Does Amara still love him?
What? Amara bursts out surprised. He was blinded… he’s helpless and… She can cure him, Illyana suddenly announces. What Pixie does with her Soul Dagger she can undo. Would Amara like her to? Amara stammers. Conspiratorially, Illyana remarks Amara likes him helpless, she thinks. Still, she will help him if Amara asks her to. It can be their little secret. Amara looks at her in astonishment.
Soon, the jet lands outside the city limits of Westcliffe. Activating image inducers on their wrists, they give off the impression of wearing every day clothes and they even brought a car, which Roberto insists on driving.
After parking it outside a bar, Sam leads them inside, warning them to be friendly. As they pass locals in local attire, Sam needles Roberto about his pants. They are in style in some places, comes an indignant reply, though Roberto can’t specify in which.
Remaining at the doorway, Illyana reacts strongly to some posters of missing children, particularly to one showing seven-year old Marci, the girl Karma met earlier. Illyana tells Amara this is the girl she told her about…
Can he get them anything? the barkeeper shouts across the room. As Roberto assures him they are fine, Sam takes Illyana outside, asking what she’s got. She’s bothered by the missing girl. Seven years old. She must be very scared… She decides to check on the girl. See her family. It’s important to her.
Annoyed, Sam asks her what she’s talking about. They’ve got to look for Shan and Dani like she said. Anxious, she insists this is important. They don’t… No one should be taken from their home when they are seven years old. They don’t know what it’s like! With this, Illyana walks off, deciding to look for the girl, leaving the others behind, not knowing what to say. After a moment, Amara tells Sam she will accompany Illyana. Sam can call them if they find anything. Looks like it’s the two Musketeers again, Roberto jokingly tells Sam.
They enter the bar again, after which Roberto immediately begins to flirt with a table of girls. Typical, Sam mutters. Guess he takes the scary guy. He walks up to the bar. Problem with you ladies? the man gruffly asks. Nothing a beer wouldn’t fix, Sam replies. That it? he asks. Sam adds he’s looking for two friends of his. Last he hard, they were grabbing a drink at this place. Two girls, one Vietnamese, the other Native American.
Everything all right here? a tall redneck named Chuck asks as he grabs Sam’s beer. Thanks for the beer, stranger, Chuck remarks with a nod of his head and walks off. Okay, weird, Sam states.
What’s that guy’s problem? he asks the increasingly nervous barkeeper, who tells him he needs to leave now. If he doesn’t, he’ll call the cops. Roberto joins Sam, remarking the girls were ice cold. They disappeared when he sat down. He wasn’t even hitting on them. They were scared of something. Like what? they wonder. Suddenly, the duo notice shadows come from behind. Chuck is back with a local army of strongmen, two of which are blotching baseball bats.
The girls, in the meantime, have rung at the home of Marci’s parents. Showing them the flyer of their missing daughter, Amara tells them that they were wondering if they could help. Before they can reply, however, Illyana storms inside, past the parents, and races upstairs. She is transfixed by three sculptures on a mantle: a laughing clown, Elvis and a frog. It’s like Amara told her before she died, she announces. A prince disguised, a King on his knees and laughter eternal. She thought Amara was speaking nonsense; she’d lost so much blood. This is the place!
Marci’s father grabs her arm and orders them out. Where are they? Illyana demands. Marci’s mother asks her husband to stop her. He has a gun! he shouts. Illyana ignores them and heads for the pantry. The man grabs his rifle, but Amara uses her power to melt it instantly. Illyana has put away the stack of boxes containing soup cans at the wall and finds a door behind it. She kicks it in. Hello? somebody asks from the other side.
In the bar, Chuck’s gang attacks with the battlecry No mutants around here! Who said anything about mutants? Roberto wonders. He powers up a moment later; okay they got them, they totally are mutants.
Oh God! the barkeeper moans, looking at a door behind the counter while the boys fight. One of Chuck’s gang shouts at Noah, the barkeeper, not to open that damn door. The boys got it. Cannonball flies right through the door.
The girls enter the cellar while Marci’s mother begs them not to take her from them. They find a large, locked box. Good God! Amara exclaims. A voice comes from the box, asking if that is Amara. Get her out of there! The voice exclaims she’s trapped. They recognize Shan’s voice.
Via their comm. unit, Amara notifies the boys that they’ve found Shan. That’s impossible! comes the reply from Sam. For the unconscious, tied up Shan is in the room behind the bar. As Sam examines her, finding her catatonic, Amara assures Sam that Shan is with them. She can hear her. She’s locked in some kind of cell. No she’s not, Sam replies. She’s right here.
Amara opens the box. She’s free, Amara tells her. No she’s not, comes the reply as someone gets out of the box. She wasn’t talking about the box, the someone replies. She’s trapped in here! “In here” referring to the body of David Haller aka Legion…