Today, Project Pegasus.
Wendell Vaughn, Carol Danvers and the Fantastic Four stare at the strange monolith that caused Vaughn to call for SHIELD’s help. Is it watching them? Reed Richards asks. Vaughn doesn’t know. Susan Storm remarks it does seem to be broadcasting. Is it some sort of sensor? It could be alive and they don’t recognize its form of sentience, Reed suggests, a thought that also crossed Sue’s mind.
While they all argue puzzled, Susan remarks that, whatever it is, it outside their school of reference. How long has it been down here? World War twoish, Vaughn replies, not sure. Reed suggests they all get out. Why? Carol Danvers asks. All of the technology created during the war was weapon-based, he explains, because they were…
…At war, Carol finishes. That’s a weapon? she asks. Or a bomb, Reed suggests, or confiscated from the enemy… or alien technology that was being used as a weapon, Susan ventures. An alien bomb? Carol muses, everybody out! she orders.
When they are outside, she states she wants that thing in there removed. Like, from this planet. Reed suggests she shouldn’t do that. What doe she want? She sighs. She wants a team of experts down there to take readings, he suggests. She wants to find out who put it here and why. She wants to find out if it’s radiating any type of energy or virus that is hazardous.
Yes! She wants answers. She tells Vaughn there is a trail of paper that leads to this and how it got here. Find it or go home. ‘Cause now she’s scared that a horde of alien warriors is gong to pour out if it or that it’s going to kill the gonads of every one on Earth. Yeah, that’s a good one too, Reed mutters.
Another SHIELD agent enters, telling Carol there is a call. Busy! she shouts. It’s important, he insists. What’s more important than this? she demands. Well, he begins…
And everywhere else, at Tony Stark’s mansion (home of the Ultimates), the Triskelion (SHIELD HQ), Xavier’s School for Gifted Children (the X-Men’s home), the Baxter Building (home of the Fantastic Four), the Daily Bugle (Spider-Man’s work place) where Jonah Jameson just shouts at his reporter he was supposed to write a story abut where Nick Fury is, in London (Captain Britain’s home), in Hell’s Kitchen (Daredevil’s home), Forest Hills, Queens, Peter Parker’s attic, in all of these places suddenly an identical monolith has appeared. Oh man, Carol Danvers mutters.
Alberta, Canada, 27 years ago:
James Howlett is still captured, floating in a tank, unconscious. A teenage boy with longish brown hair stands above the pool. Get up, he orders him. And impossibly James begins to rise, shouting in pain as he does so. He knows, the boy replies. What they did to him. His name is James, James, he stresses. Not Weapon X, not Mutant X. James. Does he know that? Does he remember? James just snarls. He knows, the boy tells him. It’s over now. He’s free. And with an inhuman snarl James Howlett runs off.
Erik please, comes a voice from above. A beautiful, dark-haired woman walks down the stairs, flanked by armed guards. This isn’t how to do it, she implores the boy. This isn’t his place.
Mother… he replies. She looks scared. Is she scared of him? She is right now, she admits, as he takes out the soldiers. She asks him to put everything back and just calm down.
With a gesture of his hand, he lets the metal float in the air. Her life’s work is to torture this man, he states darkly. Her lifework is to help them find a cure, she corrects him. For me, Erik states. For all of them, she stresses. They have a disease. She’s trying to help cure… Goodbye mother, he tells her as he gets ready to use his powers again. He hopes there is a hell.
San Francisco, 18 years ago.
Professor Charles Xavier is holding a lesson on the works of Christopher Marlowe. He tells his bored students that he loves Marlowe and today they are going to talk about Marlowe’s the Tragical History of Doctor Faustus which he’s sure they’ve all read before coming to the class. In which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge. This monologue he is about to recite for them… listen to the words, he urges them.
Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships?
And burnt he towers of Ilium? –
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss
He then, uh, kisses her, Xavier explains and continues reciting.
Is he reading his students’ minds? That thought suddenly reaches him. Undeterred, he continues reading while mentally reaching out to the other man, an older Erik, standing at the door. Isn’t that a bit unethical? The man continues. Though it probably does take the edge of dating them. Takes out the guess work. Who is he? Xavier asks telepathically. Why can’t he read inside his mind? He doesn’t know, Erik admits, but that’s interesting. Xavier can hear his thoughts to him but not look inside his mind. Who is he? Xavier repeats. His name is Erik, comes the reply, and he’d like to buy Charles lunch. Okay does anyone have any questions? Xavier asks his students.
Later, outside the building, the two of them take a walk. He’s read Xavier’s book, Erik tells him. Well, that would be one of him, comes the wry reply. To say he enjoyed it, would be an understatement, Erik continues. It moved him. Charles admits he’s surprised. Wasn’t the thought behind it to move mutants to better their unique condition? Erik asks. He thought it would have a little more impact than it did, Charles admits. What was his print run? Erik asks with a smirk.
Who is he? Charles repeats. “Erik Lehnsherr,” comes the reply. How did he know Charles was reading minds back there? He can always tell when a mutant is using his manifestation. Is that his manifestation? Charles asks. No, actually, he can manipulate magnetic fields. Charles asks for a demonstration.
Erik transforms the trash cans into one giant floating metal ball. Has he tested himself? Charles asks. Informally, comes the reply. Why can’t he read his mind, Charles wonders. Erik admits he doesn’t know. Maybe their powers contradict each other. That really intrigues him. They should examine that.
They test it and realize Xavier can hear Erik’s thoughts when he is projecting them. Xavier admits it’s a nice change of pace. He usually knows the end of the conversation or the true intentions of a conversation before the conversation actually happens.
This he doesn’t know: who Erik is or what he’s going to say. He’s going to say that his friends and he were profoundly moved by Xavier’s book. And he thought his idea of a place where mutants can gather and train, cultivate their race… he loved this idea. He wants to make that happen. Oh, okay, does he have a billion dollars? Charles jokes. No, he has something better than that.
16 yeas ago:
Charles and Erik visit the Savage Land. A hundred times, Xavier marvels if he gets to come here a hundred times… Heaven on earth!
He knows, Erik agrees. Proof there’s a God. But is it too far away? Charles wonders. Charles, Charles, Charles, Erik chides him before telling him to come meet his students. A lot has changed since he was last here.
Erik points at a plateau with some people on it. Their brotherhood. Can Charles feel how excited they are to see him? They have gathered to do exactly what he has written. As they join the others, Erik addresses them as “brothers.” Charles thinks they have removed themselves from the fight, he adds. Charles insists that’s not what he said. He just wondered if they are too far away from the rest of the world. Yes, a dark-haired woman named Magda replies. They are where a normal human would never survive. A human would never come here. You have to earn your place here.
But by doing so, it feels like they have removed themselves from society, Xavier points out. They are building a new society like he said, comes the reply.
But, Charles wonders, it’s one thing to fantasize about it, it’s another to write about it, but now that they are here, the real thing.
Within the cave, Erik states, there’s something he never told Charles. His parents were Canadian Weapon X agents. Where they found the first mutant, Charles recalls. Erik was there. Erik explains he was born into a relatively normal life. Then he turned thirteen and made the silverware dance. So his father got drunk as he could and tried to kill Erik. He pulled his gun on him. But Erik turned the bullet around in midair and sent it back to him. Without realizing he was doing it. Just… a defense mechanism. And it was that day that he learned what his parents did for a living. Where he lived.
He broke into their labs and freed “Mutant X”. The rumors are true, they were doing experiments on him. All day. Every day… for decades, right under Erik’s nose. They were seeing what would happen to him if they did this or that. He freed that mutant. His first one. He freed him. His mother tried to stop him. She died trying to stop him. But that mutant was freed. And he knew that this was his life’s work. To set them free. One by one, if he had to. All of them. He was the first. Mutant X.
Will he come here? Charles asks. No, comes the reply. His path is his own, but he is welcome here. He knows that. But to take him out of a prison and to make him stay here if he didn’t want to… put him in another one. This is not what this is about. His path is – he takes a book – and his parents illustrated that to him. The reason they are there and not here is the humans are simply not ready for them yet. They will be eventually. Maybe even in their lifetime. But not now. He points at a passage in Charles’ book. Charles eve said so.
Charles corrects him: he said education of mutants is part of it. Education of the human masses another. One thing at a time, Erik replies and magnetically life some cubes into the air. Today is about them. In Charles’ head is his dream school. He’s dreamed it. He’s fantasized about it, down to the very last detail, right? Let Erik see it, put it into his head. Show him his vision of the world. Charles agrees and they both concentrate.
Erik rises in the air as, under his mental command a complex futuristic metal tower arises. One thing at a time, he announces, unaware that from the jungle a monolith with a red eye observes everything.