Chicago – One Year Earlier:
The Reverend Stryker sits in a stretch limousine waiting as rain pours down onto the streets of Chicago. Dr. Jack Abrams emerges from St. Michael’s Hospital and hails a taxi. Just as Abrams is about to get in, Stryker emerges from his limo and stops him. Stryker asks for a moment of his time and the doctor says he’s in a bit of a rush. Stryker asks him if he knows who he is and Abrams says he recognizes him from TV and asks why he wants to talk to him. Stryker says it’s a matter of life and death and asks for a moment to explain. Abrams tells the taxi driver to go ahead. Dr. Abrams is a bit annoyed and still unsure about what it is Stryker wants with him. Stryker asks if he believes in God. As he asks this, a city bus plows into the taxi that he just sent on his way and it bursts into flames. Abrams looks at Stryker and asks how he knew. Stryker smiles and replies “Because God believes in you.”
Xavier Institute – Now:
Looming above the Xavier Institute are several giant Sentinels, assigned to the school by the Office of National Emergency (O*N*E). Inside, Forge is meeting with Surge and has just presented her with a new set of gauntlets to help her control her electrical powers. She tests them out and tells him they feel really good. Forge notes that they weigh about half what her old gauntlets did and Nori thanks him. He replies that she seemed to have enough weight to carry around and Nori confesses to him that the last several days have been pretty stressed out with the effects of M-Day setting in and so many of her fellow students leaving the school. She admits that things are kind of up in the air and uncertain right now. She looks at Forge and adds that nothing’s ever going to be the same. He agrees with her and says that dark times are ahead and they must do all they can for their people or risk losing everything.
Elsewhere at the Institute, a group of students have gathered to discuss the situation at hand. Mercury asks Tag what he plans to do now that he’s lost his powers. He confesses that he doesn’t really want to go home and wonders if they’ll make him. Rockslide offers to help Brian fake his powers by running away from him all the time and Cessily tells him to shut up. Rockslide says he was just trying to help, as he flips through channels to a wrestling program. Mercury wonders if he goes out of his way to be a jerk but Santo seems genuinely oblivious. Victor snags the remote away with his prehensile tongue and declares that he is not watching wrestling. Pixie chimes in, agreeing that Santo is being a jerk. Josh asks if any of the other healers have had any luck restoring the lost powers of their fellow students. David replies that the Beast says there’s no trace of the X-Gene in any of the depowered mutants, thus there’s nothing to heal.
As Prodigy shares this, a news report about the fallout from M-Day comes on. Nori joins them, wrapping her arms around David and startling him. The others tell them to get a room as they try to listen to the broadcast. The news program includes reports from Neal Conan in Mumbai who reports on the closing of the X-Corporation offices there. He adds that no explanation has been given but there are whispered rumors of a wide-scale crisis in the mutant population that is being referred to as “M-Day”. The kids are surprised that news is spreading so quickly and worried that this phenomenon isn’t just affecting mutants in the US. Reporting in from Mutant Town, Trish Tilby adds that the streets there are empty and that the once visible mutant population is either in hiding or has simply disappeared. She notes that there has been no comment from the superhero community and that four Sentinel units have been stationed at the Xavier Institute. Even the White House has refused to comment, adding fuel to the fire of rumors surrounding this recent development.
The report then cuts to a related story featuring Reverend William Stryker. At a crowded press conference days before M-Day, Stryker states that God will send them a sign that the faithful must heed. He is surrounded by his followers who wear hooded purple robes. Standing next to Stryker is Dr. Jack Abrams. Stryker says that they must look to the results of this “miracle” and find a “path of righteousness”.
Watching from another room, the X-Men Colossus, Beast and Shadowcat are dismayed by Stryker’s statements. In a follow-up interview after M-Day, Stryker answered questions about his whereabouts in recent years. The interviewer notes that he was imprisoned after his encounter with the X-Men and believed dead after disappearing while being transported. Stryker notes that God saved his life. The interviewer then asks about his thoughts on the governor’s controversial decision to commute his prison sentence for murder and conspiracy. Stryker smugly replies that it is all according to “God’s plan”. Next the interviewer brings up the numerous accurate predictions that Stryker has made over the last couple of years and asks how he explains this. Stryker replies that when God spared his life, he gave him the gift of foresight so that His miracles are no longer ignored. The interviewer goes on to ask how he deals with being considered a savior and prophet on the one hand and a racist and bigot by others. Still smiling with a smug confidence, Stryker that the path to Eden is paved with challenges and he’s not there to complain but to lead the way for the Lord’s children. He ends by saying that “God has taken the first step, now we must take the next.”
This commentary elicits a number of responses among the kids. Nori and David interpret this as him instructing the “faithful” to burn mutants at the stake. Icarus however wonders if perhaps this was a miracle. Mercury is taken aback and asks Jay if he really thinks God meant to cripple mutants around the world with the notable exception of them. Josh thinks Stryker is certifiably nuts. Jay is still skeptical and asks everyone there if just once they hadn’t wished they were ‘normal’ and suggests that maybe there’s a reason they weren’t chosen. Nori gets visibly angry and says that if this is such a beautiful miracle then where is Jeffrey Garrett? Or Hydro? Or all the other mutants who are dead or dying as a result of this “act of God”. David steps in and tries to calm these two down. He reminds them that they don’t know why this is happening and says “…we need to stick together, not attack each other.”
At that moment, Hellion enters and asks David exactly what he means by “we” and calls him “human”. With a cocky sneer on his face, Julian reminds David that he just became a part of “them”. Nori quickly defends David asking Julian what his problem is. Julian says that when their backs are up against the wall, David here will be free to walk away. He then asks if David bothered to tell her about his recent call to Harvard. Nori is surprised and before David can explain, Julian says that she’s better off since David no longer belongs there or with her now.
This is when Sofia enters and asks Julian exactly why that is. She asks if it’s because David’s merely human and therefore not worthy of being loved. Julian realizes the implication of her question since she herself is now merely human. Julian stammers to explain himself but Sofia doesn’t give him the chance. She asks if she’s less beautiful to him now than before. He is speechless and she simply tells him to stop since he’s making them both look like fools. He begins to go after her when Nori grabs his arm fiercely and tells him that she isn’t through with him yet. Julian powers up and glares down at Nori telling her she just picked the worst time to mess with him.
Their confrontation is interrupted by Logan, who has arrived with X-23 in tow. He introduces her as his sister, Laura, and starts to explain that she’s his clone but stops and says it doesn’t really matter. He tells the kids that she has his claws and could kill anyone one of them if she wanted. He advises them to avoid making her want to kill them. His abrupt introductions done, he turns and leaves stopping only for a moment to add that his money’s on Nori.
David tells Nori to let it go and suggests a better way for them to blow off some steam. Nori doesn’t back dwon from Julian altogether telling him that she’ll see him later. He gives back just as much attitude saying he’ll look forward to it. Julian is surprised to see that Cessily is going with the New Mutants. He looks hurt and asks where she’s going. She tells him bluntly that she loves him but it’s time for him to start growing up. X-23 looks at Julian who takes his frustration out on her by asking harshly what she’s looking at and calling her “Clone”.
Meanwhile in the headmistress’s office, tensions are mounting between Emma Frost and Cyclops over X-23. Emma has telepathically scanned X-23’s mind after penetrating her shields and confirmed that all the girl has known in her life is death and murder. She mentions that X-23 murdered hundreds without remorse, including her own mother and refuse to allow her in the school. Cyclops counters her argument by saying that Logan vouches for her. Emma says that’s hardly a strong point of contention given Logan’s recent actions. She says that she doesn’t think he should be around the kids either! Cyclops argues that Logan is an X-Man and has saved both their lives. Logan vouches for X-23 in much the same way that Xavier vouched for Emma when she began working with the X-Men. Emma won’t let it go and argues that there are enough dangers facing the kids in these uncertain times without integrating someone this dangerous into the school itself. Scott tells Emma that he stood by while she dismissed Dani Moonstar and that he’s willing to let her try out her new training system but X-23 stays and it’s no longer up for discussion. He leaves the room and Emma is clearly not happy with her co-headmaster and lover.
David leads the New Mutants down into the tunnels beneath the Institute. As they’re walking along, Jay asks if he’s really planning to leave. He tells them it’s not by choice but it’s only a matter of time before Emma makes all the depowered students leave. He explains that he called Harvard to withdraw his application and that he plans to attend college nearby to stay close to the school and Nori. They stop just shy of the Morlock Tunnel entrance and emerge in a wide cavern filled with electronic devices. Jay asks if David’s been living there. David explains that he used the knowledge he borrowed from Beast and Shadowcat to build the Danger Cave for them. Nori thinks David is just weird to do this but he explains that this is an advanced training simulator that uses 3-d light images and can recreate the X-Men’s old field missions.
At that moment, the Hellions arrive and Julian snidely compliments David on his creation. David notes that he thought Julian was a leader not a follower. Hellions mentions how Cyclops will react when he learns what David has built down here. Cessily tells them both to knock it off already. David tells everyone to get in the center of the room and throws the power switch. This causes a power drain upstairs and knocks out the lights.
Rockslide densely asks if it’s a time machine and wonders if it has Dance Dance Revolution. David calls up an X-Men field mission with enough roles for the assembled mutants to play and settles on Fall of the Mutants. The kids find themselves cast as the X-Men and wearing their costumes. Nori is Psylocke, Dust is Dazzler, Elixir is Longshot, Mercury is Rogue, Hellion is Havok, Rockslide is Colossus, Tag is Wolverine and David programs in Archangel for Icarus, since he wasn’t an X-Man during this particular scenario.
Sooraya complains that she cannot see. He face is covered by Destiny’s mask with a dagger holding it in place just as Dazzler’s was during this particularly battle. David apologizes and calls up a different mission: The X-Men’s first encounter with the Brood! In this case, Jay is cast as Angel, Elixir is Nightcrawler, Nori is Lilandra, Mercury is Kitty Pryde, Hellion is Cyclops, Rockslide is once again Colossus and Tag is dressed as Storm!?!
Rockslide complains about being cast as Colossus again and Mercury refuses to play Kitty if it means being paired with Santo. Tag is none too thrilled to find himself clad in Ororo’s original costume either and demands a change of scenario. David’s files and system are clearly not fine-tuned but are still impressive. David threatens to turn the whole thing off if they don’t stop yelling at him. From the shadows, X-23 watches the group in silence looking a bit eager to join in.
Xavier Institute Infirmary – Ten Days From Now:
Elixir enters the infirmary to check on Laurie and is surprised to find Beast and Emma tending to Jay. He asks what happened and then notices that his wings are gone! Emma replies that his wings have been amputated and that they don’t know who did this. She adds that Jay’s healing factor is not compensating and that he is dying. As she says this, Jay comes to and she asks him who did this to him. Josh assures Jay that he’s going to help him through this. Jay sits bolt upright and cries “NO!” several times. He screams “Get away” and his convulsions start to pull out his stitches. The Beast orders Emma to help hold him down. Jay’s eyes fill with terror and tears as he cries out “Don’t touch me! Just get away!” Is Jay reliving the final moments before his wings were clipped or is he begging them not to help him survive this?