Delta State, Nigeria, where Idie Okonkwo prays the Rosary one hundred times, then holds her breath one hundred seconds, before doing the same again and again and again. Someone told her that would help, that the Blessed Mother would hear her. But she didn’t, and it doesn’t. “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee” she exclaims, again and again, one hundred times over. But nobody listens. Nobody could, as they all abandoned the village once Idie’s fires came. And by the time she started freezing things, well, nobody listens to the prayers of a monster. Two soldiers stand before Idie, frozen in ice as they raise their weapons towards her, while Idie continues to sit on the floor of the church, fire surrounding her.
Suddenly, a voice from outside booms ‘IDIE OKONKWO! Can you hear us?’ Several soldiers have gathered outside the small church, and one of them tells the girl that if she does not exit the church immediately with her hands raised, they will come after her. ‘We are not afraid of you!’ he boasts, before shouting through a megaphone ‘God will not protect you from us. You are a witch child and God will not listen to you!’ He continues, telling Idie that her family is dead, that her friends are dead, and there is nothing she touches that does not suffer and die.
‘ - the Hell?’ one of the soldiers mutters as it suddenly begins pouring with rain - Ororo “Storm” Munro of the Uncanny X-Men has arrived, hovering above the soldiers, she carries the apparent mutant messiah, Hope. ‘They say you men have isolated and concerned a terrified twelve year old girl inside her church’ Storm declares. ‘They say you made her listen as you slaughtered her kin. They say you cowards and bullies are going to kill her next. If this is true…we are not amused!’ Storm declares angrily, while Hope whispers ‘Don’t drop us!’
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, California, inside the offices of Hestia Public Relations, Bobby “Iceman” Drake is wearing a suit, and stares out the window, looking over the high-rises he gazes through the rain and remarks that he thought it never rained in Los Angeles. Kate Kildare, the PR President of Hestia, who specialises in the public relations needs of the super-powered and powerful sits at her rather empty desk and replies that it rains here all the time. ‘I just spin it so hard nobody outside of LA County knows about it’ she remarks. Bobby rubs the back of his head and asks ‘Are you guys going to be able to help us or not? And why does it feel like I’m hoping you hire me?’
‘Well, it’s not you, it’s me’ Kate replies as she taps a pen against a bobble-head ornament, telling Bobby that the last time she was involved with a team of…differently powered whatevers… as she calls them, and it ended very badly. ‘There were tings I didn’t know, and when the bad stuff came down, I was unprepared to help them because - well, what I don’t know stops me from being able to do my job’ she explains, before addressing Bobby as “Mr. Drake” and telling him that she was just as thrilled as anybody to see the X-Men save the world. ‘Even more so to see the President pin a medal on your man - the things you people have had to endure are shameful so it’s nice to see a federal reaction to mutants that doesn’t involve riot cops - but you’ve lived in the dark an awful long time’.
Kate tells Bobby that if she takes on the X-Men as clients, she will need absolute transparency, no matter how murky, how unpleasant or incriminating. ‘No skeletons in any closets, Mr Drake. Honesty, 100% down the line. Can you assure me of that?’ she exclaims. Bobby throws a hand into the air as he replies ‘honesty? Uh -I, well. I mean skeletons. What are skeletons, really, when - uh - uh, Magneto’s back!’ he exclaims. ‘That’s probably a thing, right? That Magneto’s back and we didn’t’ tell anybody?’. Kate peers at Bobby over her glasses and remarks ‘Ahh, good’ before asking if Warren Worthington still bankrolls the X-Men. Bobby smiles and replies ‘Yeah, absolutely. Why? What do you need?’. ‘Overtime. I’m going to need a lot of it’ Kate tells him.
Meanwhile, a nightmare of Sebastian Shaw holding a chain around Emma Frost’s neck, while Cyclops is tied to a cross, covered in blood, and Hope Summers holding his visor, while Fantomex stands nearby rushes through Emma’s mind. She wakes up alone in her bed on Utopia. ‘You’re in my head forever, Sebastian Shaw…no matter what I do, you’re in my head’ Emma tells Sebastian Shaw who is plugged in to a virtual reality system down in the brig. Emma stands before his cell, ‘My dirty little secret. The man I owe everything to’ she exclaims. ‘The man who plucked me off the streets and showed me what power was and just how much of it I had inside of me’.
Emma presses a hand against the glass and remarks that she should have killed Shaw when she wouldn’t have cared. ‘When Namor wanted you dead and the only thing I wanted more than Namor was to be free of you. Namor’s too close now. Keeping you here is to risky’ Emma exclaims, declaring that she has to get Shaw out of here, out of her head, and out of her life - forever - otherwise Namor will kill them both.
At that moment, down beneath Utopia, in the undersea home of King Namor and the Atlanteans: ‘King Namor, the time to strike is now!’ an Atlantean exclaims as he and several others stand before the Sub-Mariner. He adds that they have consolidated their forces here in the pillar, and those who refused to join, who still roam the seven seas autonomously ‘Must be brought to bear!’ another exclaims. ‘What kind of monarch allows his subjects to wander free of his rule? We must strike, King Namor, and send a clear message - join or die!’ one of them declares.
Unimpressed, Namor addresses the Atlanteans as Commander Krang and Sucommander Selach, and asks ‘Am I to understand your presentation to me is, in the broadest strokes, that since the royal glory that once was Atlantis has been cast adrift far and wide…I should declare any Atlanteans not in the immediate vicinity traitors to the crown and strike them down?’. One of the warriors replies that those not immediately beneath the heel of Namor’s boot will conspire and rise up against him. ‘You are weak! You are vulnerable and districted by the affairs of the surface world and that woman -’ Selach begins, causing Namor to shout ‘Imperius Rex!’ and he lunges at Selach, knocking him to the ocean floor.
Namor holds Selach down and tells Krang to teach his lap dog not to bark so loudly in polite company. Namor turns from the warriors, adding ‘Or else your pet will not be allowed inside the house. Thank you for your counsel as always, Commander…’. Selach wipes his face and declares that Namor is a fool, to which Krang replies ‘Soon, Selach…soon…Namor will keep squandering his power underseas and when he finally realizes he needs help…no one will come to him’.
Back in Delta State, Storm and Hope enter the church. ‘Uh. Hi. Idie?’ Hope calls out, while Storm informs the girl that they have come a long way to see her. Idie turns to Storm and exclaims that she prayed for help, that she prayed to Mary and to St Sebastian. ‘I prayed to everyone!’ she exclaims, before announcing that it feels like she is on fire inside. ‘Are you who God sent to help me?’ she asks. Storm replies that God gives them no burden they cannot carry themselves, and points out that the tale is told in how they choose to carry it. ‘We’re just people, Idie. We’re mutants, is all, just like you’ Hope remarks.
Fire crackles around Idie, and she exclaims ‘Please - don’t - I can’t control it!’. She screams as the fire flows towards Storm, who easily deflects it as she exclaims ‘Calm yourself, child!’. Ice now forms around Idie, who replies that she can’t, and that it is so hot and then so cold. ‘God sent me angels and there’s a devil in my head that wants to kill everybody -’ Idie exclaims, while Hope tells the child to calm down. ‘Can you try that for me?’ she asks, before telling Idie that whatever it is she is becoming, she is stuck between who she was and who she is going to be. ‘I’ve got to touch you, Idie. I can help you if I can just -’ Hope begins, while Storm interrupts, creating a gust of wind, she tells Idie to gather her wits and find her strength.
‘Those men outside will not be afraid of me for very long and they’ll stop at nothing to kill you’ Storm declares. Idie begins crying, ‘Good! Good - I hate myself - I hate myself and I want to die!’ Idie cries.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, at the Museum of Modern Art, Jean-Paul Beaubier a.k.a. Northstar and Alison “Dazzler” Blaire stand before Nekra Sinclair and Joanna “Frenzy” Cargill who run from the museum which is now on fire. ‘Girls, girls, girls!’ Northstar exclaims. ‘Come on, traitors -’ Nekra exclaims, while Jean-Paul exclaims that it might be bad art, but that does not mean that they need to blow up the museum and set it on fire. ‘We thought you two were smarter than this’ Dazzler smiles. ‘Barry Richardman’s so-called art is cheap, exploitative porn!’ Frenzy shouts. ‘What he does to his models is borderline assault and unquestionably cruel!’ Nekra exclaims.
Frenzy lashes out at Northstar, exclaiming that the public funded it, and the public can shut it down. ‘This isn’t a joke?’ Northstar asks. ‘Please, sweetie. You’ve been in this town how long? The metric for what gets taken seriously here is entirely unique!’ Dazzler exclaims as she kicks Frenzy. ‘Believe me, I’d rather overzealous art-critic arsonists than -’ Jean-Paul begins, before Dazzler unleashes a burst of blinding lights at Frenzy, exclaiming ‘I come from New York City. Don’t talk to me about art!’
Frenzy falls to the ground and Dazzler pins her down, while some police officers handcuff Nekra. ‘Everybody’s a critic. And he, not for anything?’ Northstar replies, before telling Dazzler that they are getting pretty good at this. ‘I love being loved, I’m not gonna lie…and these days, who doesn’t love mutants?’ Dazzler replies, while several police officers gather around her, smiling.
Back in Delta State, Storm tells Idie, who has covered her face with her hands, that she needs her to listen closely and carefully. Storm declares that there are dangerous, stupid men with guns outside these walls who call her “the child that will not burn”. Storm tells Idie that, in a moment, the men will surely find strength in their stupidity and try to kill them all. Hope tells Idie that they are not witches or monsters or abominations. ‘Idie, you - me - we’re miracles!’ Hope exclaims, reaching out to touch Idie’s hand. ‘You are so very rare. You’re a treasure, Idie’ Storm exclaims.
‘I - I’m what? What am I? What’s happening to me?’ Idie asks. ‘You’re becoming something beautiful. Honest to God…’ Hope exclaims, before she and Idie clasp hands, an a flare of ice and fire engulfs them. ‘Oh my word’ Ororo utters.
‘Storm the church! Kill the witch now!’ one of the men outside orders his companions. ‘Get up there and shoot!’ he booms through the megaphone. ‘Go to Hell! You get up there and shoot!’ one of the men replies, while another one hides behind a car, ‘Someone’s coming. Someone’s coming!’ he exclaims. The door to the small church opens, and Idie steps from it, ‘The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want’ she begins, while Storm tells the child that she is her own shepherd right now, and to go where she wills. ‘And don’t be afraid’ Storm adds.
Storm turns her attention to the men: ‘All of you know who I am! All of you know what I am capable of doing when petty, venal, stupid men like you get guns and get violent!’ Storm shouts. ‘Storm! Tactical disadvantage! Tactical disadvantage!’ Hope exclaims. Storm announces that Idie is under her protection. She is in shock. She is terrified. And if any of you idiots dare to -’ Storm begins, but one of the men shouts ‘Witch!’ and fires his weapon. ‘NO!’ Idie screams, while fire bursts stream along the ground from her, and knock the men’s vehicles into the air. ‘Witch!’ another of the men shouts, while they all run away.
‘It’s safe now. Uncover your eyes’ Storm tells Idie, who does so, though she now appears with one blue eye and one orange eye. ‘What did - what did I do?’ Idie asks. ‘You survived’ Storm tells her. ‘To hell with that, you blew up the bad guys’ stuff and sent ‘em packing!’ Hope exclaims. ‘My Dad would’ve loved you’ Hope adds, to which Idie asks if she is in trouble. ‘You’re one of us now, Idie’ Storm declares. ‘And for all the good that comes from walking with our numbers…trouble is never very far away’.
Back on Utopia, ‘I’m coming with you’ Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde exclaims via her thoughts to Emma, who stands before the container Kitty is kept in and replies ‘The hell you are’. ‘The hell I’m not’ Kitty retorts. Shadowcat reminds Emma that she was trapped, travelling through space in total silence for so long, that she thought she was dead. ‘I thought I was crazy. I made myself so many…so many promises, Frost. You think I’m going to just stand by and let you murder somebody?’
Kitty adds that, ghostly or not, she will tell everyone everything. ‘You. Shaw. Namor. All of it. I’ll stop you!’ she declares. ‘You’d try at that, wouldn’t you’ Emma mutters. ‘So you’re blackmailing me into - into what?’ she asks. ‘Shaw is alive, here is a massive problem, Pryde. Go ahead and squeal. Maybe Namor won’t have killed us all by the time the words leave your throat’. Kitty presses her hands against the glass and replies ‘I’m a ghost, Emma. Let me help you think like a ghost. Let me help you make Shaw disappear…’.