Oakland – Just across the Bridge from San Francisco. Nighttime
It’s one of those absolutely perfect nights. Megan Gwynn – the mutant also known as Pixie – can’t remember the last time she danced so hard, laughed so much or had quite so many Red Bulls. Walking in the streets in the company of a male friend, Megan is laughing so hard and dancing so much even now that she doesn’t hear the thundering of a dozen steel-capped boots coming her way. She doesn’t hear the chain clatter or the crunch of leather as it tightens. She doesn’t hear the sounds of the past rushing in from behind to bash her brains out. She doesn’t hear the cavemen as they come, racing out of the caves, coming to stop the futuremen from taking over. It’s the wrong time of night and the wrong part of town and Megan is the wrong kind of person.
“Die, mutie!” one of Megan’s stalkers howls and then strikes her from behind with his bat. Simultaneously, his comrades – all of them armed with clubs and donning the helmets traditionally worn by the soldiers of the Hellfire Club – grab Pixie’s hapless friend and proceed to bludgeon him. The men move fast; they don’t pull their punches. One of them even kicks Pixie’s friend in the face.
The man who attacked Pixie informs her that the helmet he’s wearing filters out that damn, dumb-dust of hers… nothing can help her now. Kneeling on the ground, her face in her arms, Megan realizes that this is really happening. She’s been in enough scraps by now to recognize when people know what they’re doing. She is fully aware these guys know what they’re doing. However, Pixie’s learned to fight from Wolverine; she knows what she’s doing, too. She is too tweaked to remember her teleportation spell… too buzzed to draw her soul knife. Right now, she’s got to choose between fight or flight… so she goes for a little of both.
Rushing upwards in the air, Megan simultaneously kicks two of her assailants in the face. “Megs, what’re you…” Megan’s friend mumbles upon seeing Pixie in fighting mood. Before he finishes his phrase, though, one of his attackers punches him. Pixie rushes to her … and then, one of the men pulls her hair from behind. In the next few seconds, Pixie is relentlessly walloped – bludgeoned, kicked, chain-whipped – before the men decide to depart. After the ordeal is through, the bloody Pixie still has enough strength to utter one word: Cyclops.
Downtown San Francisco – Worthington Towers
Standing before Cyclops in her new, sexy lingerie, Emma Frost, as voluptuous as ever, narrates her latest shopping adventures. She explains to Scott that, since she had the Blackbird, she decided she might as well use it and so, after Milan and Tokyo, she decided she simply had to hit the Champs-Élysées before returning home! It was there where she bought this… piece de resistance. “Hah. Nice,” Scott approves. He asks her how much it was. “Darling, please,” Emma retorts. She reminds him she doesn’t shop at places so gauche as to sully their merchandise with things as vulgar as price tags. Scott asks her to turn around and then asks her if there was a comma in the price. With a wicked smile, Emma admits there were two, at least. However, she thinks Scott will agree: the view alone is worth every euro.
Joining Scott in bed, Emma lays her arms around him, while wondering: is she imagining things or are they all much more… squirrelly since coming to San Francisco? Not just the two of them – all of the X-Men seem much more sex-saturated… “Well, sure,” Scott agrees. He reminds her there was a mutant birth. How else can there be more mutant births? If they want to stop their species from flatlining, they better start making more babies… “Or practicing, anyway,” Emma quips and passionately kisses Scott before the couple becomes more intimate.
After they make love, Emma, still in bed, confesses that, between the wall-to-wall fornication and Scott’s all-new, all-different large-and-in-charge side he’s been showing, he might just change her mind about spawning. Scott tells her that, despite how romantic she makes that sound, he has a thing to do. “Hot date elsewhere?” Emma playfully asks him. “Not quite” Scott replies. He explains he’s too wired to sleep. However, he urges her to get some sleep; he’ll be back in a little bit.
Emma falls asleep… only to be awoken later by Scott’s voice: “Dammit!” She quickly finds him in a room, lying on the floor and looking at some documents. Emma wonders what he’s still doing up. “Sorry baby… go back to sleep,” Scott replies. He promises he’ll be done soon. “Is that a…” Emma asks him, realizing what he’s trying to make. Scott explains it’s a crib – or will be a crib when he gets it done. It would help if the directions were accurate and in English!
Scott mumbles that with Cable out there with the baby… he knows they’re going to be back and… Nervously stammering, Scott explains that when they had Nathan, he and Jean couldn’t… they were on the run and he didn’t really… Now finally regaining his calmness, he tells Emma of his belief that they’re coming back. They’re coming back and the baby will need a room. He tells Emma that a baby needs a room; a baby needs a crib. “Okay, Scott,” Emma replies. She advises him not to stay up too much later, though: he’s got a big day tomorrow.
The following morning, Scott finds himself in a brand-new sports car, with Warren Worthington III on the driver’s seat. Scott enthusiastically exclaims that the ride is incredible. He asks Warren if he’s really giving him one of these cars. Angel informs him that Worthington Automotives has provided prototypes not only for Scott but also Emma, Hank – for all their senior staff. He reminds Scott this isn’t Westchester. They won’t be able to loan out the family car to everyone on a schedule.
Scott cheerfully thanks Warren, joking that the X-Foundation is overwhelmed by his generosity! Warren assures him it’s nothing; besides, Scott can’t pay for advertising like having Emma photographed behind the wheel of his new yellow sports coupe! Warren goes on to enthusiastically blabber about the car. He informs Scott that it’s the crown jewel of their new line: aluminum frame, made entirely in the US, in plants they bought and repurposed in Detroit. He also tells Cyclops that the car runs on a hydrogen-electric hybrid V12 engine that’ll pull 310 hp out of the gate and a fuel-boost option that’ll kick up to 480 in a crunch. “Whatever you say…” the not so car-savvy Cyclops remarks “…anything to make this awful morning commute go faster.”
Smiling, Cyclops admits that he doesn’t know how they all manage to hold down these crushing nine-to-five bank jobs. “Listen to you,” Angel remarks. He wonders if this is how Scott’s first-day jitters manifest themselves – as sarcasm? “Believe it or not, this is me getting relaxed,” Scott laughs. After everything that’s come their way lately, he’s starting to feel like the clouds are starting to lift…
Katie, Warren’s secretary, suddenly appears in a small screen right next to Warren’s seat. Katie is aware that her boss is not scheduled to be in the office until 8:30 but she thought he might want a heads-up: his 9:00 appointment is already here and already acting cranky! Warren informs Katie he’s halfway to Marin and he’ll get in when he can.
Warren then turns to Cyclops. “You think being an X-Man meant high school drama? Try running a fortune 100 company,” he jokes. Cyclops suggests Warren takes off; he believes he can get the rest of the way from here. Warren, however, fears that Scott will get lost if he leaves him. Scott reminds him he’s been here before; he knows where he’s going. Besides, this thing has GPS! He urges Warren to go be Mr. Billionaire Boss-Guy, joking that everybody on the Golden Gate Bridge will spend the next day and half telling everyone they know that the coolest thing they ever saw was the uncanny X-Men driving to work! Angel complies and soars in the air.
Now driving solo, Cyclops soon reaches the mountains in Marin and again observes how littered they are with decommissioned military bases built into the Earth – so the X-Men bought all of them. He contemplates how they’re building a new base here and will then open the doors to mutants far and wide. He hopes it’ll be a resource for their people – people who are diminishing bit by bit every day.
He envisions it as nothing so formal as a school. Nothing that requires invitations, invocations, secret handshakes or letters of recommendation: almost like a community center; a resource for the public good; a place to go to ground when trouble comes. A place where all of their kind – powered or depowered – can find protection and education and where they can keep an eye on the world. Safe and secure; ten times as big underground as above; and with a public façade that buys them just enough cover.
Just outside their headquarters, Cyclops is surprised to see what the giant welcome sign that acts as their public façade reads: Greymalkin Industries! “Warren, you gotta be kidding me,” he exclaims as he parks outside their ‘sanctuary.’
Inside Greymalkin Industries, Cyclops is surprised to see that the gang is already here, having some leisure time. Scott can’t help but wonder: he was driving a half-million dollar prototype sports car and they beat him here?! Logan exclaims that he doesn’t want to remind Cyclops how they do things but… “Some of us don’t worry about rush hour traffic, jah?” Nightcrawler remarks, teleporting right next to Scott.
Seeing Beast walking around in a chef’s hat, Logan asks him to beer him up. “As you wish, my good man – heads up, all,” a good-spirited Hank replies. Grabbing the can of beer Hank hands him, Logan remarks that some of them haven’t been to bed yet!
Hank greets Scott and happily informs him that he woke up to discover he’s regained a sense of dexterity in his paws he’s been lacking since his secondary mutation kicked in. He gripes that he came here to scramble a few eggs for breakfast since he can handle both a spatula and pan and yet all the ridiculous refrigerator has inside are “hot pockets!” He tells Scott he needs eggs, not “hot pockets.” He doesn’t even know what a “hot pocket” is and doesn’t want to know! Scott takes the hint: they need groceries. Undaunted, Hank keeps pleading him not to make him learn about “hot pockets”: his fingers are been generous again. He’s been having such as wonderful day!
Colossus enters the room and sees Wolverine drinking beer. “Ugh, so early, Logan?” follows Peter’s deprecatory remark. Logan retorts that everybody’s a damn critic. “Think big, fast man…” he exclaims and hurls the tin beer towards Colossus. Much to Logan’s surprise, though, Kurt teleports right between Piotr and the flying can, grabs the can and then teleports close to Logan and hurls it back at him!
“Um… Cyclops? Guys?” a voice is suddenly heard as Pixie walks in, all bruised, bloody and battered. Pixie bluntly informs them that she got beat up. She got beat up real hard. Everyone tends at her. Scott merely observes.
What Scott remembers afterwards, the image that stuck with him more than anything else wasn’t the blood or the gore. It wasn’t his teammates helping the poor girl. It was her wings. Pixie’s poor, sad, fairy wings, just bashed all to hell. These magical things ruined… Scott swears he will find who did this to her. He swears to make them pay. Seeing Pixie hold the helmet of one of her attackers, Cyclops instantly recognizes it: the helmets of the soldiers of the infamous Hellfire Club. “Where did you get that helmet?” he screams, as rage starts building in him.
Hellfire Cult Headquarters
The loyal members of the Cult are gathered, carefully listening to their leader, Mr. Roache. The mysterious man, his eyes strangely glowing, recounts how things are moving along: seven mutants bashed in the last forty-eight hours; nineteen species traitors bashed with them; two cars burned; one house vandalized. “You know what I call that?” he asks them. “A good start,” he swiftly replies to his rhetorical question. “But not good enough,” he retorts.
Mr. Roache explains to his men that they need to get some more skull-crackers and car-jackers out there. He wants to ramp up recruitment. He urges his loyal followers to get their friends, get their little brothers, get their big brothers, get any full-blooded, real-blooded human being they know. The men remain silent as Roache looks intensely at them, exclaiming in satisfaction “Oh yeah. You feel me.”
Pointing at a map, Roache orders the assault teams to rotate onto their C and D routes today. He then instructs the Truth Squads to hit the north side campuses instead of south – he wants to switch it up some. He then orders every one of them to get out there and save the human race. “Let me hear you say it” he encourages them. “Save the human race!” Roache’s fanaticized acolytes scream in unison.
As the meeting is dissolved and everyone goes about their assigned tasks, a young man approaches Mr. Roache. The man apologizes for bothering him but explains that one of the guys told him that Mr. Roache used to work for the X-Corporation and that his name is really “De La Rocha.” “You didn’t really work for the muties, did you?” the man anxiously asks him.
The mutant known as Mr. Roache or Manuel De La Rocha or Empath asks him who told him that. “Bill… Bill Cooper” the young man replies. Empath tells him that Cooper is a liar. Doesn’t he hate liars? As Empath’s eyes begin glowing again, he asks the young man if he can feel that fire in his ears; that slick, metal taste in his mouth. “That’s your hate, boy,” he tells him. “That’s your hate bubbling up from within to make you a man.” Empath advises the young man to show Bill Cooper how he makes him feel and make sure he doesn’t lie to anyone ever again! “Bill. Hey, Bill!” the young man, now raging mad, growls, as he hastily leaves Empath to catch up with the “liar.”
Indifferent to the bustle coming from the nearby fight between Bill Cooper and the young man, Empath walks along the corridors of the warehouse that serves as the headquarters of the Cult and finally enters an ultra-bright, almost antiseptic room. “Well?” a woman inside the room asks him. Empath informs her that routes are shuffled, recruitment is pushed: everything’s fine. “Excellent,” she remarks. She finds they’re not monkey… they’re sheep. All of them, so easy to control and to punish.
Empath removes his shirt – his abdomen repeatedly carved by whip – and dutifully places his hands on some energy straps on the wall. He then tells his mistress these kids are angry, directionless, aching for anything – or anyone – to believe in. A little bit of attention and a little psychic push and they’ll do anything he asks.
“Anything who asks, Empath?” the woman retorts, vexed by Empath’s impudent remark. “I’m sorry, mistress, I’m sorry, I meant anything that you ask… Red Queen” he mutters. “That’s right. Me. Now scream, worm!” the woman commands him as she steps out of the shadows, dressed in a leather fetish BDSM outfit, holding an energy whip in her hand as she prepares to flagellate him.
San Francisco – SoMa
Karma is meandering through the streets, seemingly lightsome and breezy, listening to her iPod. As a van pulls over nearby, Karma enters an alley and speaks in her cell phone “They made me. Get ready.” As she hangs up, the men of the Hellfire Cult approach her. “Hey. Mutie. We’re gonna cut you, mutie… This alley is humans-only.”
Somewhere else, hanging up his mobile phone, Wolverine gives the signal: “On our way.” He asks Kurt if he’s ready. Kurt nods. Cyclops orders them to rough the men up; no berserker stuff; and to bring one back to him. This is their town now and Scott wants to send a message. “You got it,” Logan assures him and then Colossus performs his famed fastball special move and hurls Wolverine towards Kurt. Logan asks Kurt to do it just like that can of beer this morning… and Kurt teleports both of them. The next moment they find themselves in the alley, diving down on Karma’s assailants.