Chambeaux Switzerland. A woman skis down the slopes. She elegantly finishes before the hotel where she is greeted by other people. Elizabeth Braddock was a hero. Not so long, she took up her brother’s mantle as Captain Britain. It cost her dear.
Betsy touches the carousel inside the hotel, wishing she could ride it again with the joy and innocence of a child. She strips off her skiing mask, as she silently mocks her self for her self-pity. Her eye-sockets are empty - She was blinded by a foe when she tried to take her brother’s place. Fortunately, though, she is a telepath and does not need eyes to see. Her powers are formidable, but they did not save her from being blinded. They do not save her now.
She senses a presence, but too late. Her mind literally shatters, as Spiral and Mojo appear in her room. Mojo gather up the pieces of her soul, twisting them until she looks like him – a grinning Spineless One. Carelessly dangling her body, Spiral scoffs that the toy is broken. With a mad grin, Mojo informs her that he knows that. The challenge comes in putting it back together again.
Why do we do these things we do? Doug Ramsey writes on a sheet full of doodles, before frustrated with his lack of answers, he tosses it at the dustbin and misses. A terrific metaphor for his life, he whines as Dani enters the room. She asks him if he wants to talk. He doesn’t know but finally confides that being a mutant is driving him crazy. He’s got this life, been to Asgard, to the stars, helped save the world! And he can’t tell anyone about it, not even his parents. When he’s in town, hanging out, he no longer fits in with kids who were his pals before. The stuff they talk about doesn’t have much meaning for him anymore, so they figure he’s become a snob. It’s like the only person he can trust as friends – is allowed to know even – are at this school. He feels like an outcast or convict.
Does he think he’s alone in that, Dani asks. A while ago, she asked herself who she is: Cheyenne, Mutant, Valkyrie, or an ordinary girl. She still hasn’t figured out the answer. Her powers as a Valkyrie allow her to see who’s about to die. She can battle death to save them, but even when she wins, she’s only delaying the inevitable. Each morning, she’s afraid of waking up and seeing the reaper’s shadow in the face of someone she cares for and she’s so scared she wants to run away. But she’s co-leader of the New Mutants. She bears a responsibility. They are all outcasts. They can either give up or make the best of things.
Across the world, a new animated television series makes its debut. Entitled Wildways and starring gentler cartoon versions of Mojo and Spiral, as well as Psylocke, it’s an instant success. Among the youngsters entranced are Rahne Sinclair on Muir Isle, Darla, Butch and Alfie, Roberto DaCosta at Xavier’s school and Leong and Nga Coy Manh in Salem Center.
In Great Britain, where Brian Braddock aka Captain Britain and his lover, Meggan, are watching the show, Brian suddenly becomes agitated, shouting that that Psylocke character is his sister, Betsy!
Last night: a rough New York neighborhood named Alphabet City, an abandoned school. Captain Britain smashes the door, shouting for his sister, Betsy. It’s taken him months to track her down, but he knows she’s here. If she’s been harmed in any way, he’ll make her kidnapper wish they’d never been born. He flies to the upper story causing some destruction along the way.
Brian, suddenly a voice calls out, chiding him for causing such a mess. The voices treat him like a stern parent would address a wayward child and, surprisingly, Captain Britain responds in kind, begging “mummy” and “daddy” to forgive him. He’ll be a good boy.
Last night at Xavier’s school:
Roberto calls a number, only to be asked if he wants to walk the Wildways. Roberto enthusiastically answer ‘yes’ and, in a lightshow, Spiral and Mojo appear and invite the happy boy, teleporting away with him.
Now - the Danger Room:
Cannonball tests his maneuverability and his results are abysmal. He used to be better than that. Dani points out that all New Mutants who encountered the Beyonder have suffered a marked deterioration in their skills. Except for Sunspot, they’ve regressed to the performance level they established when they first entered the school.
Meanwhile upstairs, it’s Illyana’s turn to clean the breakfast table. Disgusted with her chore, she decides to teleport the entire mess to Limbo and let her demons do the work. A moment later, the table reappears, clean but now set as though for a satanic mess. Angrily, she teleports to Limbo to have a word or two with her demons.
Upstairs, Amara composes a letter to her father and waves at Doug, Warlock and what seems to be Sunspot, who are about to clear away some dead trees. Warlock surrounds Doug as a worksuit and Doug asks if he’s imagining that Bobby’s unusually nice to everybody. Warlock announces that there are anomalies in Bobby’ physiology.
Doug and Warlock grabs the crown of a tree, while Sunspot is to take the roots. Is he sick, Doug asks his teammate. Bobby replies that he’s fine. Doug counts to three and he and Warlock heave. A moment later, there is a cry of agony, as Sunspot is crushed by the tree.
The others join them, taking in the sight of their dead teammate and Doug desperately shouting that he said he was ready.
Later, the mutants are gathered in a room. So far, they couldn’t track down their headmaster, Magneto, and are hesitant to notify Roberto’s parents themselves. Doug lashes out, asking Dani why her Valkyrie powers didn’t warn her of any danger to Bobby. Dani doesn’t know. The power’s never failed her before. It picked a heckuva time to start! Doug shouts as he runs out of the room. Warlock follows.
Hesitant, Doug enters the infirmary, where Bobby’s corpse is stashed. Crying, he apologizes until Warlock shows up, informing him that there are anomalies relating to “selfriendbobby.” Doug explains that his “lifeglow” has gone out – Warlockspeak for “he is dead.” Warlock corrects him: Sunspot didn’t have a proper lifeglow before. The radiance was similar but different. He asks Doug for help to perform an analysis.
Warlock covers Doug in part and they perform an autopsy. They have to probe down to the subatomic level but find that Warlock is right – the corpse is a fake- a sophisticated android that couldn’t mimic mutant powers. That’s what tripped him. Otherwise, they’d never have known – especially if the android had resigned from school. Doug wonders who pulled the switch as they are joined by a very surprised Sam and Dani.
Another time, another place. Mojo gives new eyes to his blind pet, Psylocke, who he has now made over in his own image, such as fastening wires to her eyes and mouth that force her eyes permanently open and lock her mouth in a rigid smile. She’s thrilled, Spiral states sarcastically. Just as she was, Mojo reminds her, when he made her what she is. What she is is not what she was, Spiral thinks to herself, nor what she will be, when she dances him off his throne and makes it hers. So what’s next? she asks. Does he intend to stand watch until his toys rot? Rot? he asks. Agitated, he grabs Spiral and has both her and Psylocke decay. Nobody rots until he says so. And anyone who tries will die to regret it.
He restores both women and prattles on that an artiste cannot create epics without the proper tools. He’s bored with the ones at home. These spineful babes will serve him better. He tells Spiral to give him the names of the youngsters she has collected for him. Spiral explains that most of them are connected with the X-Men they have come to hate. Wolfsbane, Sunspot, Leong and Nga McCoy, the siblings of another of Xavier’s protégés. The other three kids – Darla, Butch and Alfie are the Bratpack, whose transgression was to befriend their greatest foe, the accursed lucky one, Longshot.
On Mojo’s order, Psylocke mentally blasts the twins, stealing the others’ soul, as Mojo did hers. While their bodies are shaped from flawed individuals to those of perfect adults. And, when the entire process is finished, Mojo announces that all that will be left of his Bratpack in flesh and spirit is what he’s placed there. Now the fun begins, he announces, while his toys all smile identically.
Later, the Mutants all teleport to an abandoned school in Alphabet City, where Warlocks’s sensors have located Sunspot. Dani looks at her portable Cerebro unit. It confirms Warlock’s scan. Sunspot’s in there and not alone. ‘Yo kiddies, looking for trouble?’ a voice suddenly announces. It’s the grown-up Butch, standing in a doorway and lazily filing his fingers. As Dani asks him who he is, Sam uncharacteristically shoves her, telling her he’s oldest. He’ll ask. Besides, he’s going to be in charge from now on. Butch smiles. He really loves friends acting like enemies. They can call him Snitch and they are probably never going guess his power.
The mutants ignore him, as they argue over who should be leader. All save Illyana, who thinks they are all pathetic. She is the only one noticing Sunspot coming and teleports to safety, as Sunspot hits the ground, causing it to shake. Sam grabs Magma to keep her from dropping into the fissure. She burns his hand, warning him not to lay his hand on the daughter of the first Senator of Nova Roma. Suddenly, Wolfsbane physically attacks them. Before they can get their bearings, Darla, now called Jubilee, attacks them and blinds them with fireworks.
Some of the mutants realize they are behaving strangely, but can’t stop themselves. Suddenly, stern voices order them to stop this at once. Leong and Nga, now Template, order them to act like good little boys and girls and the Mutants obey like children would their parents. Only Warlock shouts alarm and grabs Doug and flies away with him.
Template orders the mutants to come inside. Class is about to begin. Magma struggles and refuses. Since she insists on behaving like a child, then a child she will become, Template tell her and transform her into a preteen before she manifested powers. They take the helpless Amara inside with them.
What is he doing, Doug asks Warlock, who flies them high above the roofs. Warlock makes it clear that he fears their “parents” will kill them, and Doug remembers that that’s what happens on Warlock’s world. He is so panicked that he drops Doug. At the last moment, he catches him again, apologizing profusely as Doug tells him they have to return and save their friends. They land on the school’s roof and Warlock hides them from detection while he searches for the others with a spyeye. He shows his findings to Doug via TV screen.
Inside the classroom, Template reshapes the New Muants in body and mind to adult perfection as they have done with the others. This is way out of their league, Doug realizes. They need the X-Men. Warlock suddenly warns him of an intruder. He is registering a young male parahuman atop a neighboring structure. They find a naked, crying blond boy clutching the Captain Britain helmet. Doug walks to the boy and the kid hits him with superhuman strength before trying to fly away. However, Warlock catches him.
Later, after Doug has given the boy part of his costume to cover himself, the kid introduces himself as Brian Braddock. He used to be bigger, but his parents yelled at him and said he was a naughty boy. They punished him and made him little. So he ran away. Doug figures out what he means. He must be a superhuman but apparently not a mutant or he’d have lost his power when he passed through puberty. He sounds English. What brought him to New York?
Doug once again decides to contact the X-Men but Brian insists there’s no time. The Wildways is in another dimension and the Bratpack is going there tonight. If Doug doesn’t act now, it’ll be too late. How does he know so much about this? Doug asks. Is he keeping something back? Brian admits that the person responsible is his sister Betsy. He came here to rescue her from the villains who’d abducted her months ago only to discover she’d become one of them.
Warlock points to his screen. There is commotion below as Magma is acting up. She refuses to be a slave, she shouts as her powers go wild. Template regresses her to a young child once more. Amara appeals to her fellow New Mutants, telling them to reach into their souls. They can be free. But this is what they want, Illyana and Dani reply. Shouting that she’d rather die, Amara flees through a hole in the wall. That may yet be arranged Leong shouts and Nga orders the Bratpack to folow her and bring her back quickly. Time grows short.
Doug tells Brian to help Amara while he and Warlock will tackle Brian’s sister. Brian is full of doubt. Suppose he fails and they catch him again? Doug tells him to remember what Amara said. Remember who he was! If he abandons her, he won’t need Template to make him part of the Bratpack, because where it counts he already is one of them. His choice, what will it be?
As Amara runs, she keeps on falling over her boots, as her costume didn’t shrink with her. She wonders where to run, as arrows suddenly land to the left and the right of her. Straightarrow, another member of the Bratpack, tells her not to be scared. A glorious destiny awaits her on the Wildways. They are joined by the other members of the Bratpack and Amara shouts that she wants no part of it. Suddenly, Brian, now wearing the Captain Britain helmet, rams into Straightarrow’s back and grabs Amara. He flies away with her wobblily, finding that that his strength and flight abilities have been reduced. Who is he, Amara asks. A knight in borrowed armor, fighting with borrowed courage, he replies.
Meanwhile, Doug, now wearing Warlock-like a suit, sneaks into the school’s principal’s office, where according to Brian his sister is. Warlock raises shields and they see Betsy who in turn turns to see them. Betsy has been transformed into a monstrosity, resembling a Spineless One, like Mojo, who sits before several screens. Despite having looked directly at them Psylocke doesn’t react to their presence.
Warlock explains that the shields’ performance is at maximum meaning they are cloaked from eletronic sensors. What about her eyes, Doug wonders. She looked at them. Warlock explains that her optical sensors are non-organic – artificial. He suggests that he transform Betsy into a technoorganic being and drain her lifeglow. It would end the conflict the fastest. Makes sense, Doug agrees, but Brian said she’d been kidnapped. Suppose she is also a victim? They have to be sure. He reaches out with a part of Warlock to tap into her brainwire. He reaches out and is overwhelmed by a tumble of images from Betsy’s past: being Captain Britain, being blinded, Spiral, Mojo, but most of all pain and eyes.
Meanwhile, Brian and Amara have to resort to running. Brian no longer has the strength to fly both of them above or around the buildings. They see that the alley crosses a main street. Reach that and they’ll be safe. But before they can do that, the Bratpack appears before them forcing them to run into another direction. Amara points out that Rahne can always find their scents and Brian replies that they have to buy Doug and Warlock time.
Doug and Warlock are still recovering from the jolt they received when they tried to mindprobe Psylocke. Doug realizes that Betsy is a victim as well, manipulated like a puppet, being remade in Mojo’s image. His powers control her and hers the Bratpack. To free her, they have to disconnect those brainwires, but they can’t just yank them loose. This is basically a software problem, he decides. They have to block the negative input from Wildways and restore Betsy’s natural programming and that’s right up his alley. If he can get inside her head somehow.
It’s possible, Warlock ventures, but dangerous. If the two of them merge and form a gestalt. But there’s a high probability that this process might infect Doug with the transmode virus. Doug decides to take the risk and they merge into a fantastic synthesis. Through Warlock’s senses he perceives the world in a totally different way. Warlock suggests they hurry. The longer they stay that way the greater the risk. Doug refines their vision so they can scan the energy patterns of the brainwires. Betsy suddenly addresses them and grabs Douglock with the artificial spine behind her.
(Astral plane / Psylocke’s mind)
Another flash: DougLock wonders where he is now, switching between Doug’s and Warlock’s thought patterns. Before him, he sees a gate with the letters’ Wildways.’ Behind that, there’s a carousel, where all the New Mutants and Bratpack members are, happily riding, half human, half horses. Atop the carousel stands Betsy, dressed in black and announcing that their wish has been granted. They are within Betsy’s brain. She tells them to join, after all they are the only ones left out. DougLock points out that there’s still Amara and Brian but, even as he speaks, they are caught as well and appear on the spinning carousel.
Betsy attacks Douglock and he too changes into a grinning centaur. Betsy tells him to come aboard the carousel. There, he can truly play the hero instead of being the New Mutants’ weakest link.
Douglock tears at himself, a more normal self, appearing behind the grin. He refuses to be controlled by her. Has he considered the alternative, Betsy asks. His corporeal form lies catatonic in her office. A simple thing for the Bratpack to slay it. Not if he gets her first, Doug shouts. He reaches out, stretches his arm, touches Betsy and tries to infect her with the transmode virus. Instead, Betsy snaps off his arm and changes to her true form, that of Spiral.
Atop the swirling carousel, she points at the wasteland around her – Betsy’s consciousness, held in thrall by Mojo, just as her telepathic power enslaves the Bratpack. Every facet of Psylocke’s being will be torn from its roots by Spiral’s chaos waltz. The moment they touch the vortex Spiral creates, they’ll be destroyed and those psychically linked to her will share her fate. Mojo sought to make them stars, but the Wildways is Spiral’s to dance upon alone! As she talks, it happens and pieces of Betsy’s psyche fly towards the vortex.
Douglock analyzes what to do and then decides that Betsy can be freed if they save the pieces of her psyche and then replace them to their proper position. Douglock reaches out with lots of little Warlock-headed tentacles, forming a giant net completely enclosing Spiral’s carousel.
So linked are the two boys now that Doug uses Warlock’s speech patterns and Warlock uses Doug’s. Warlock worries about their psychemerge. This seems too natural for both of them.
While Warlock holds onto the pieces of Betsy’s psyche, Doug now reaches out to the spinning carousel, hoping to save his friends. He worries about the danger, but then decides that in a psychic environment it is merely a matter of will power. He grabs for a hand and is nearly pulled apart. Determined, he pulls and the hand he’s holding turns from that of a child to that of an adult, as Captain Britain is restored and free.
Spiral swears, as now Doug and Cap work together to save the others. The more they are, the quicker they can work in spite of the danger. The vortex finally passes and Warlock triumphantly puts the last piece in its proper place. A moment later, the others fear he has done something wrong, as an earthquake starts.
Quite the contrary is the case, however, as Elizabeth Braddock’s psiform appears before them, finally free and herself once more and angry as hell. She confronts Spiral, who seeks to trick a way out by reminding Betsy of the price of freedom. A slave has no worries. Freedom can mean hunger, homelessness, pain, blindness.
Douglock shouts at Spiral to leave Betsy alone. She didn’t choose her slavery. Spiral and Mojo forced it on her and the others. With a wicked grin, Spiral tells them to let her and everyone choose. The Wildways offers wonders, adventure and the fulfillment of every heart’s desire. Betsy agrees that she has been hungry, homeless, hunted and hurt. Things she swore she’d never be again. Spiral offers salvation. She prefers to make her own. With those words she psychically blasts the carousel apart. Spiral leaves calling her a fool. Betsy turns to the others, apologizing and thanking them and sends them to their bodies.
Doug awakes in the abandoned principal’s office, first talking like Warlock, but then quickly returning to his normal speech patterns. He is not alone as Betsy awakes next to him. Is she ok, he asks, calling her Miss Braddock. She is herself at last, she replies. She’ll settle for that. She asks him to call her Betsy As she muses how dull their world looks next to the Wildways, she suddenly gasps with horror. She can see again. Doug explains that the eyes are bionic. Mojo’s gift to his favorite slave, she realizes. She should destroy those eyes, she states. Nothing good can come from them. But she finds that she can’t do it.
Dani suddenly comes in and switches on the light and the others join them. Betsy and Doug suddenly find themselves embarrassed, as it turns out that Betsy is completely naked. It’s Warlock to the rescue, as he covers Betsy, in essence creating a bodysuit. Brian finally joins them and the twins happily greet each other. After that, Cap effusively thanks and commends Doug.
Later, on the grounds of Xavier’s mansion, the twins have another talk under more normal circumstances. Betsy informs Brian of her decision to stay at Xavier’s School. She’s been a victim too often. She wants to learn how to use her psi-talents better to protect herself and help others. Brian tells her she need only call if she needs something and leaves.
Betsy doesn’t know how to tell him about her new eyes and decides to keep it a secret between herself, Doug and Warlock for the time being. She notices Douglas watching from a window above and waves at him. Doug blushes aware that Betsy can read his mind.
Dani joins him, asking how he is and he tells her that there seem to be no aftereffects from their merge. According to the mediscanners, he’s clean. Dani warns him about pulling that stunt again. Doug reminds her of the talk they had a month ago. He might have found some answers. Mojo and Spiral reached through a TV program to ensnare the souls of innocent kids. If not for the New Mutants, they’d have been stolen away forever. In Scotland, when they fought Legion, Sam had said that their job as New Mutants was to protect kids. Because they are the future and represent hope. He’s right. Somebody has to stick up for them and Doug guesses that’s them.
The other mutants have, in the meantime, joined Betsy and call for Doug and Dani to comes as well. They are going to teach Betsy baseball. Dani agrees with Doug, telling him there are worse jobs and worse people to do them. They might just pull it off.