‘You’ve got to know where to look, and what to look for. That’s what they say. They say, a man like that, a man who you can offer you a sweet deal like that, he won’t make himself easy to find. Too many people would want a piece of him if he was out in the open, you know?’ a young man thinks to himself as he stares at a wall covered in graffiti. ‘He needs to stay on the sly, so that the only people who find him are the ones who really make an effort. Because they really need what he’s got. So they’ve got to know where to look, and what to look for’ the young man thinks to himself, looking forlorn.
The boy’s name is Ronny. He walks down a dirty street, hands in pocket, slumped over as he walks. He used to be able to break things with his voice. Since he hit puberty, he could do that - always had a fine singing voice, sang in his high school choir, and also sang in a band, he had a strong voice. It got to be where certain notes, if he hit them right, could shatter a dinner plate, or blow out a window, or knock a person down from twenty feet away. The day Ronny turned thirteen, he realized he had been born with a special gift. Then, one morning, it was M-Day and mutants like him all around the world lost their special gifts. Ronny has been looking for a way to be special again ever since. But you’ve got to know where to look, and what to look for.
Ronny stares at another wall covered in graffiti - this particular wall surrounds a large abandoned building. Ronny goes over to the building and breaks in through a doorway that is not completely boarded up. ‘Hey? Hello? Is it true there’s a guy here who helps people? Is it? Can he help me?’ Ronny calls out. Four others appear before him. ‘He can’t give you back whatever you’ve lost. But he can give you something else instead’ one of them, with apparently cybernetic legs announces. ‘Like what?’ Ronny asks. ‘Like anything. It can’t be a mutant gift. He can’t do that. But it’ll be something’ the young man tells Ronny. Ronny asks what it costs, and if it costs a lot. ‘Because I don’t have -’ Ronny begins, but the young man tells him it just costs time and help. ‘You help him, he helps you’ he explains. ‘Help him what?’ Ronny asks. ‘Find what he’s looking for. What he’s really looking for’ the young man explains.
Elsewhere in the seemingly abandoned building, five young heroes enter the darkened building - Danielle “Mirage” Moonstar, Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta, Amara “Magma” Aquilla, Doug “Cypher” Ramsey and the alien Warlock. ‘Why here?’ Doug asks as he looks around. Mirage explains that Nate Grey’s last known whereabouts was with Osborn and HAMMER, and this building was Osborn Central before the wheels came off and everyone saw him for the nut cake he truly was. ‘I gotta ask…do we really wanna find Nate Grey?’ Sunspot calls out to his friends, to which Mirage reminds him that is the assignment Cyclops gave them. ‘Feels a little like this team is just cleaning up after the seniors’ Sunspot complains.
‘Unfinished business. It’s better finished, Bobby. It’s the one important thing the X-Men should have been doing as they went along’ Mirage exclaims, adding that there are too many skeletons, too many cupboards, too many nasty surprises coming back to haunt them. ‘I guess’ Sunspot mutters, before telling his friends that Nate Grey is “freaky powerful”. ‘The dude’s scary’ he adds, asking his friends if they really want to mess with him. ‘He’s one of u. That’s all that matters’ Mirage declares, while Cypher announces that he has found something. ‘A clue, Doug?’ Magma asks as the others follow him into another room. ‘Like a clue. Only bigger’ Cypher replies as he comes face to face with Captain Steve Rogers. Several SHIELD officers are examining some equipment in the room, while Victoria Hand supervisors them.
Meanwhile, in a room lit only by a small fire, ‘Will it hurt?’ Ronny asks. ‘Hurt? No. Well, maybe. But not for long, and not so you’ll care afterwards’ replies the Sugar Man as he busies himself with his equipment. The other youngsters stand nearby, as Ronny asks ‘What kind of name is “Sugar Man”?’ ‘Mine. what’s your name?’ the Sugar Man replies as he holds up a spanner. ‘Ronny’ the young man replies. ‘Like Ronald?’ the Sugar Man asks. ‘Like’ Ronny replies. The Sugar Man asks Ronny if he is afraid of him, to which Ronny replies ‘No, Sir’. But Sugar Man declares that Ronny is scared, as he can smell it. ‘You don’t have to be afraid’ Sugar Man assures him.
Ronny asks the Sugar Man where he gets these powers from, to which the Sugar Man replies that he makes them. ‘They don’t come from your genes, Ronny, the way I’d like. They’re artificial boosts. A little tech. A radical reworking of the mutate bonding process - I see that blank look. It’s okay. It’s science, Ronny. The best I can do’ the Sugar Man explains. The other youngsters all smile, one of them holds up his extended fingers and exclaims ‘The powers are real good’, while another announces ‘We’ve all got one!’ Ronny sniffs and wipes some tears from his face as he asks the Sugar Man what he wants in return. ‘Oh, Ronny, you think I’m some kind of sick freak? Is that what you think?’ he asks, before explaining that he just wants help.
The Sugar Man’s long tongue hangs from his jagged-tooth mouth and asks ‘You know how bad you want to be the person you used to be, Ronny? I want that too. I don’t like it here, I don’t like this place’. The Sugar Man explains that he wants to go home, that he wants his old life back. ‘Where’s home? Are you from out of state?’ Ronny ask. ‘Yes, Ronny. He’s from out of state’ one of the youngsters exclaims. The Sugar Man tells Ronny that he wants to go home and that he needs his friends to help him find the way. ‘You will be my friend and do that?’ he asks Ronny, who looks at the others and asks if they help him. ‘Are they your friends?’ he adds. ‘Of course we do’ one of them announces. ‘We’re one big team!’ another exclaims. ‘Not a team…a family!’ one of the others declares.
The Sugar Man continues with the equipment and tells Ronny that the others are great, that they help him a lot. He explains that he needs more friends, because there is always a lot to do. ‘These guys look after the place, and keep me safe. They make sure nobody gets in who shouldn’t get in’ the Sugar Man explains. ‘S they’re busy and I need other friends to help find my way home’ the Sugar Man adds. ‘I’ll do that - I’ll do that’ Ronny exclaims quickly. The Sugar Man smiles, and stands up: ‘Okay, then. Let’s see about getting you a gift’ he declares.
At that moment, ‘This official X-Men business?’ Captain Rogers asks Mirage, who replies that they are looking for one of their own. Captain Rogers explains to Mirage that this HAMMER facility has been closed and sealed on State Department orders, that the whole site is being decommissioned. ‘Any particular reason you chose here?’ he asks. ‘Following a lead’ Dani explains. ‘Convenient’ Victoria Hand remarks as she approaches Captain Rogers and Mirage. ‘Victoria -’ Captain Rogers begins, but Victoria interrupts, ‘I’m just saying. And snooping is another word’. ‘Victoria’ Captain Rogers says again.
As the SHIELD agents continue to load some hardware into their vehicle, Captain Rogers tells Dani that the point is, there is nothing here at all, except the most insanely dangerous tech. He adds that this is the third time in a month he has had to bring support in because the decommissioning team has disturbed a fresh piece of crazy Osborn hardware. ‘We can handle dangerous, Sir’ Mirage replies. ‘I have no doubt’ Captain Rogers tells Mirage, adding that there is nobody here to find, and points out that the New Mutants could end up getting in the way. ‘Because there’s a long case history of X-kids getting in the way and making things infinitely worse for everybody’ Victoria points out. ‘VICTORIA!’ Captain Rogers declares sternly.
‘We’re not “X-kids”, we -’ Mirage begins, before informing Captain Rogers that her team does not want to cause a problem, and points out that it is already pretty clear this is not where they need to look. ‘Just had to cross if off the list’ she adds, before heading towards the door out of the room, followed by the others. Captain Rogers wishes the New Mutants good luck with their search, to which Mirage calls back ‘Good luck with this site. Miss Hand, good luck with the personality’. In the next room, Doug asks if they are really leaving, to which Mirage replies that it is a dead end, and points out that if they stayed any longer, she would have punched a government official, which would not have ended well. ‘Oh, okay. It’s just that this is the place’ Cypher announces.
Back in the Sugar Man’s lair, ‘So…show us’ one of the youngsters calls out. ‘Yeah, Ronny, show us’ another exclaims. ‘I don’t know…’ Ronny replies. Wearing a brown cloak like the others, Ronny now has a large metal piece around his shoulders that extends upwards. He opens his mouth wide - and a green energy is emitted. ‘Wow. Cool gift’ one of the youngsters remarks. ‘Feels funny. Feels like I’m choking’ Ronny replies. ‘It’s really cool’ another declares. The Sugar Man asks Ronny if her is ready, to which Ronny asks what he has to do. He follows the Sugar Man down some stairs as the Sugar Man informs him that he is going to open a door, that Ronny will then go through and tell him what is on the other side.
‘Is that all?’ Ronny asks. ‘Really quick, really simple’ the Sugar Man replies, while telling Ronny to wait here while he sets up. Suddenly, a voice from above calls out ‘If you can, you should get out of here’. ‘Huh?’ Ronny asks, looking around, where he sees someone trapped to a large contraption. ‘Who are you? Does that hurt?’ Ronny asks. Nate Grey a.k.a. X-Man replies that it hurts and he cannot get out. ‘This is the Omega Machine, and I’m stuck in it’ Nate explains. Ronny asks what an Omega Machine is. With wires and tubes attached to him, Nate explains that it opens the doors - the doors of creation, and that he is the only one who can make it do that. ‘You’re not stuck. You should get out. Get right out of here. Run’ Nate urges Ronny.
‘W-why?’ Ronny asks. Nate tells him that it is because he will either live long enough to regret ever being a part of this, or he just won’t live long enough. ‘What’s your name?’ Ronny asks, so Nate I introduces himself. Suddenly, the other youngsters approach Ronny and tell him not to listen to Nate. ‘He’s not well’ one of them remarks, before informing Ronny that Sugar Man is ready for him. Ronny asks the others if any are coming with him, to which one of them replies ‘Sugar Man told you, Ronny. We got jobs to do here. You’ll be fine’.
Meanwhile, the New Mutants walk down another part of the complex, past a wall covered in graffiti. ‘Look at the writing. The graffiti’ Cypher tells his friends. Sunspot replies that it is like any other dead lot, but Cypher explains that some of it is just vandalism, and some of it is tagging. ‘There’s wild style, which is pretty hard to extract meaning from’ he adds, before revealing that there is code here, as well. ‘Code, self-friend?’ Warlock asks his best friend. Doug asks the others if they have ever heard of the Hobo Code. Doug explains that it is a system of symbols evolved to help the homeless community - information, warnings and directions.
Doug continues, explaining that the code can tell a hobo where he could get food, or find a friendly house where there might be work- or where the cops were rough, or there was a mean yard dog. Cypher crouches down and tells his friends that someone has been leaving code marks here, for people who know where to look for them. ‘You’ve got to know where to look, and what to look for. And you’ve to want to find what they’re leading you to’ Doug adds. ‘Which is what?’ Amara asks.
Reading the graffiti, Doug replies that some are claiming they can get you tour powers back, if you’ve lost them. ‘Mutant powers? Is that what you’re saying?’ Danielle asks. ‘No, it’s what the walls are saying, and it’s probably a lie’ Doug replies. Motioning to the area around them, Doug declares that this whole place is a lie, that it is a good lie and even fooled the Avengers. ‘But reality here is false. This isn’t an empty building. There is a misprision in the language of actuality. The way certain shadows sit, the way light falls…the way reflected sound in a space doesn’t quite match the volume of the space itself‘.
‘You can see that? You can read that?’ Mirage asks. Doug replies that reality here is warped, and that there are people here who don’t want to be found unless the right people are looking for them. ‘Reality warping…’ Mirage begins. ‘That was in Nate Grey’s playbook’ Magma points out. Mirage asks Doug to read the code, to show them how to get in.
Meanwhile, in the laboratory, Sugar Man and his gang of re-powered youths stand on a platform where a portal has formed. ‘Here’s the door, Ronny. You just go through’ Sugar Man tells Ronny, who asks ‘What’s on the other side?’. The Sugar Man motions to the glowing portal and replies ‘That’s my question to you. It could be my home, in which case, I’ll be very happy you’ve found it for me’. With a rope tied around his waist, Ronny walks towards the portal - and passes through it .
‘Oh…’ Ronny utters as he arrives on a reddish barren desert landscape. Ronny walks across it, and passes some craters. He looks around the barren landscape, and suddenly, ‘Oh, my God, what the -?’ Ronny gasps as a most hideous, indescribable creature appears in front of him, barring its razor-sharp teeth.
Back in the laboratory, the rope suddenly swings backwards through the portal. ‘Shame’ Sugar Man mutters. ‘Aw well, he sucked anyway’ one of the youngsters remarks, holding up the broken rope. ‘Maybe. Still, we’re going to need another scout’ the Sugar Man points out as he walks away. He doesn’t get very far though, as a brick wall is blown open - and the New Mutants burst into the lab. ‘Oh, my God. It’s Sugar Man. It’s Sugar Man!’ Cypher exclaims. The Sugar Man grimaces and retorts ‘Damn right it’s Sugar Man! I’d ask who you are but I don’t care!’ Sugar Man rushes towards the New mutants, and his gang follows him as he shouts ‘All right, my friends! My beautiful New Mutates! Show them the door!’