Westchester, New York, Xavier’s School:
And who knew our Mr. Summers was a closet scientist? Dr Moira MacTaggert jokes as she finds Scott Summers busy in a lab. With Hank gone, someone has to step up, he answers seriously. Luckily, he can ask Cerebro to run an analysis.
He wouldn’t think I should ask Doctor MacTaggert to do this? she remarks half-seriously. He replies that he should be able to rely on one of the X-Men. As it is, he’s lucky to even have this tiny sample… He wouldn’t be complaining about his new team, would he? Moira observes. Scott turns away. He doesn’t want to talk about it. Fair enough, she agrees, but Scott interrupts, clearly wanting to talk about it. So, he was trying to round up everyone for a training session, right?
He went to prep the Danger Room for a demo and saw it was already open for an unauthorized session… Within, he found Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Banshee already using the room. Wolverine was demonstrating the use of the room’s laser by having them demolish all kinds of foodstuff.
Hey, Summers, Wolverine ordered him, take out those cabbages with your eyebeam! Okay, Cyclops began to reply reflexively, before asking them what they are doing making a mess here? This is for tactical and combat training! He was just going to schedule a session!
Wolverine slices a part a watermelon with his claws and tells Scott to let them know next time. They thought he was out camping with Jean. She’s not camping; she’s at her family’s house recuperating from her ordeal on Krakoa. Scott presses a button, announcing he will send in the janitorbots, so clear the room out. And he’s resetting the access to answer only to his voice.
Is he the party, or what? Wolverine mutters. Or vat, Nightcrawler replies.
Banshee flies after Scott who is stalking off outside. Sean suggests Scott be open for a bit o’ the fun. He’s right, Scott replies sarcastically. He forgot about professor Xavier’s pledge for mutantkind “to have a bit o’ the fun…”
Well, it looks like Peter has the work ethics Scott is looking for, Sean suggests, looking ahead of them and Scott is in for his next shock as Colossus is busy plowing the campus. When Scott demands to know what he is doing Peter replies very sensibly that he’s plowing rows to grow crops. How are they to eat if they do not farm? Sean, agrees and suggests he plant some “p’taetas” while Scott just holds is head in despair.
Suddenly, thunder rumbles, threatening to ruin Colossus’ plan. He has not sown the seeds! he states anxiously. Sean recalls that in his homeland they’d say the fairy king as mourning the missing moon.
Scott looks up to find the cloud right above them. And a crying Storm. Is she causing this rain? Scott asks. Ororo sniffs and apologizes. She was thinking about her beloved Kenya and… she grew homesick… she will make it stop. The drenched Cyclops doesn’t reply.
He walks into the Cerebro chamber, addressing Cerebro and ordering it to find him a mutant anywhere. Scans result better with an advanced telepath such as Charles Xavier or Jean Grey, it reminds him. Just find one, Scott orders. Gotta be someone better out there, he mutters.
Cerebro locates someone and some time later, the Blackbird is on its way to Kentucky. Nightcrawler approves of that state. Its capital is called Frankfort.
The team argues on whether Cerebro said mutant or mutants as it kept alternating with no explanation. They descend. Wolverine announces that Cerebro is a piece of junk. Junk? Cyclops turns around angrily. Xavier designed it and it found most of them. He also designed this jet that just go them here and this visor that’s keeping his force beam from taking Wolverine’s head off! Could he keep at the landing then, Banshee suggests.
As they exit the jet, Storm diplomatically suggests that Wolverine meant to say it was unusual for Cerebro’s readings to change so drastically as it did. That’s what he said, Wolverine points out.
Cyclops wonders where the mutant or mutants is or are. The scanner says it or they should be right here. He sees nothing, Colossus announces, calling Cyclops leader. He doesn’t have to call him leader, Scott immediately corrects him. Da, Chief Director, then.
Kurt steps into something brown and moist. Yuck, watch out for spetzlemischmekt, he exclaims while Scott is still trying to explain to Colossus that “Cyclops” or “Scott” will do. High Authority Cyclops? Peter suggests.
Hey! Wolverine shouts. The junk is not just on the ground but falling from the trees! Cyclops’s scanner shows him the mutant is the mold. It’s some kind of mutated spore. A spore culture is multiple, yet still part of the same organism, Storm suggests. That is why Cerebro had trouble distinguishing it.
As the spores form into one huge body, Cyclops states he thinks Hank would have called it a conglomerate being… functions with a group mind.
It stands before the still-human Colossus and reaches out, then hits him. Wolverine instantly slashes at it and is also hit. Angrily, Peter transforms into Colossus. It may harm his Proletarian form, he announces, but it will not stop him as Colossus! He tries to hit it and breaks right through the body, creating a second one.
Banshee’s sonic scream shakes it apart as does Cyclops’ optic beam. He orders the others to stop so he can try to communicate with the mutant(s). It’s possible it doesn’t mean harm. In their first mission, the X-Men encountered a subterranean entity that projected…
He is summarily ignored by the team as they take the creature apart. Every one stop! Scott shouts.
They cease and look at him speechless. Around them is complete devastation, the being is destroyed. Wolverine hands Cyclops a small scrap of it with one claw. Here’s a bit of it he can examine, he suggests. Lucky, huh? Cyclops sighs and gives the order to get back.
Moira admits she understands Scott’s frustration at the way the X-Men have changed. But she’s been getting to know them a little better. While he analyzes that, she suggests he listen to her audio and get to know his team in their own words…
Cairo was alive with color and laughter when she was a child. She loved it. She was the star pupil of Achmed el-Gibar, the city’s greatest thief king. Her name was Snow-top…
That night, she was on a mission; her first solo mission. She was only eight years old. But her coordination and reflexes were far more advanced than Achmed’s other students’.
Proudly and happily, the girl swings across Cairo’s rooftops and picks the locks of a window in the museum of Set. She jumps inside to face two growling dogs.
Unsurprised, Snow-top blows dried mimosa leaves at them which makes the beasts fall asleep. Skillfully, she makes her way down corridors of cold shadows and gleaming metal. Finally, she comes to the main exhibit hall and beholds the prize she has been sent to steal. A statue of Set under a glass covering. She opens it to get the wooden box underneath the statue.
As she hesitates, wondering why she is to leave the far more valuable statue behind, black snakes are lowered from the ceiling. She jumps and somersaults out of the way and even escapes the human guard with a light grenade before smashing out of the window and getting back to the rooftops.
Retuning to Achmed’s lair, she hands him the prize. He replies that this is indeed the box he desired, the one he placed in the museum last night.
He orders her to open it. Inside is a picture of her with her parents. When they died the loss scarred her mind and heart. She has hidden from their memory ever since. But a great thief hides from others, never herself. She has been Snow-top long enough. He tells her to wear her true name now – Ororo.
No! she refuses angrily and crumples the photo. She doesn’t care about them! She hates them! They left her and she hates them and she hates Achmed! She doesn’t want to remember! She’s Snow-top!
Crying she ran, but in time came to understand her pain. In time, she was able to mourn her parents. And thank Achmed for the gift he gave her that night.
So Moira wants a tale of his misspent youth? Well, where to begin? He thinks of one. He had a wee bit of a scrap when he was sixteen. A friend even wrote a song about it. Now then, how did it go?
From out of County Mayo’s heart
A fine young lad did ride—
His name was Sean, his hair was red
(a source of family pride)—
In all of Ireland you could search
but ne’er would you find –
A fellow with more grace and skill,
And love for all mankind—
One starry night out on the moors
Young Sean received a shock—
A young girl’s scream did echo out,
Near waltzing Minstrel Rock—
So Sean rode forth to find the lass
And maybe lend a hand
And soon discovered that the strife—
Came from a gruesome band.
(Namely a bunch of trolls)
The brothers Bogg had grabbed the girl,
Three trolls of hefty size—
The eldest was big Dougal Bogg,
He’d trouble with his eyes—
His brother Ardal was a brute
And smelled like mangy cats--
The youngest, Pat, had a dribbly nose,
and terrible taste in hats –
Away with ye! Big Dougal growled,
The wench belongs to us!—
That’s right! his brother Ardal scowled,
There’s no need for a fuss!—
But Sean could only see ahead
A dream in purest white—
And so at once his heart was claimed,
He squared up for a fight—
Now Sean, he had a secret,
Though I promised ne’er to tell—
When danger show its ugly head,
He’d give out quite a yell.
His cry could lift him in the air,
Like a bird his body soars
And if the Boggs had spoken French.
They would’ ve cried Alors!—
The sound that young Sean made that night
hit like a great big hammer –
The boy’s bewitched!
Pat yelled out loud
with just a little stammer—
The brothers Bogg were tossed around
like leaves caught on the breeze—
Big Dougal fell into the mud,
Pat landed in the trees—
(Sean scoops up the girl.)
Sean Cassidy’s the name, dear miss,
he said, his eyes all wide—
If yonder pigs have harmed ye
then their Skulls I will divide—
My name is Cadhla, she replied.
I feel I must rejoice—
I’ve never met a boy before
with such a lovely voice—
Poor Sean was lost for words just then,
He couldn’t really choose—
He didn’t notice Ardal had
Awoken from his snooze—
The troll took aim and fired his sling
Made from a demon cow—
Sean’s head exploded into lights,
He fell back, shoutin’ Ow!—
Now Waltzing Minstrel Rock, y’see,
Is hallowed ground indeed—
A stairway ‘tween the daylight
And the shadows we must heed—
(The trolls grab the girl and head off.)
The trolls descended with their prize,
Their laughter mixed with jeers—
But Sean arose in time to see
Young Cadhla’s face in tears.
(He follows them into the cave, down a stairway)
The youth flew down into the pit
Where monsters there do dwell—
An underworld of fiends and freaks,
Sean prepped his voice to yell
Big Dougal Bogg saw Sean and so
He gave a strangled cry—
Rise up! he yelled, a boy-witch comes,
So kindly make him die!—
The scrap that followed was the kind
That none could e’ver forget—
The trolls and wraiths and darks elves came,
Sean fought with no regret—
He vanquished demons with one punch,
And giants with a kick—
He flattened all the werewolves
And a goblin-king named Dick—
The Brothers Bogg were last in line
(they’d cowered in the dark)—
Young Pat went down protestin’
It was really just a lark!
Then Ardal hit the ground face-down
All broke and bent and smelly—
Sean saved big Dougal for the end,
He got it in the belly.
And so the Irish underworld
Lay silent for a while—
Sean Cassidy stood proud and tall,
The victor by a mile—
A legend new was born that night,
Spawned by the boy above—
The monsters had been beaten
her face all flushed and bright—
They wanted me to sing for them
They chained me up so tight.
Sean grinned and said: I’ll have ye free
‘tis only a small matter—
A single cry sprang from his lips
And Cadhla’s chains did shatter
Thank ye so! the fair girl cried
And danced across the floor—
And in a heartbeat she and Sean
Stood once more ‘pon the moor—
The lad was shocked, His mouth gaped wide
At last he saw the truth—
The vision was a faerie child
And not a human youth—
Cadhla laughed and leapt into Sean’s arms
She hugged him tight—
Their lips met seconds later
And it was a splendid sight—
This was a first love for the pair
Their hearts were beatin’ strong
But both of them knew all too well
It couldn’t last for long
I am a banshee, Cadhla said
Her voice now just a sigh—
I sing when human men pass on,
And guide their spirits high.
I feared as much, Sean whispered low.
This means that we are done,
We’re from two different worlds
And we can never be as one
Fair Cadhla rose into the sky
Her tears became the rain
I must leave my love, she said
Although it brings me pain—
But know this well, my darlin’ Sean
When your time comes around—
I’ll be there and I’ll sing for ye
And take ye from the ground.
Sean Cassidy stood there all night
His soul left dull and achin’
But come the morn he walked off fine.
His heart in no way breakin’
For even if his life may end
With sins he must atone
He knows that when he breathes his last
He will not die alone.
It is his first night in the big top as a trapeze artist. Kurt Wagner performs his tricks: dancing across a rope, tricks on the trapeze and finally he teleports to the audience to give a lady a rose. The audience loves it.
It is his first time in the spotlight, the first cheer he hears when his name is spoken. It is a night to remember. Kurt Wagner is fifteen, eager to prove himself, hungry foe acclaim and the crowd’s roar is all he has hoped it would be.
His foster Mother Margali Szardos on the other hand is far from cheering. She has tried to dissuade Kurt from performing. He knew she would be furious with him for teleporting in public, but suddenly that becomes the least of their worries as a group of masked, armed thieves make their way into the tent to rob the people.
As the girl he gave the rose to is threatened at gunpoint Kurt has to act. If there is one thing he could never resist it is a damsel in distress. He jumps at the armed man, taking him out. It is as if he has lit a fuse. His people explode with rage.
Amidst the chaos, the gang leader tries to slip away. Kurt gets him down, asking if this makes him strong – scaring people? The man reacts frightened, believing Kurt to be a demon, as he realizes his looks are real. Horrified, he allows the police to lead him away.
Kurt looks after him pensive. He didn’t mean for that to happen. He will dance across that man’s dreams for the rest of his life, Margali observes. Who knows, perhaps it will make him a better man.
And what kind of man will he become? Kurt wonders. Must he hide in the shadows his entire life? No, comes the reply. Play in the light if you must, but let the world believe you are a lie, a man in a mask. It is the only way you will survive.
Kurt stayed on the trapeze. He still loved the crowd’s applause. But he knew it came at a cost. They were cheering the Nightcrawler, not him.
Peter Rasputin recalls his youth. He was thirteen. His brother Mikhail, his hero, had died in an accident a month earlier. Peter felt so lost and angry. He was also scared. He had discovered his mutant power but kept it hidden.
His friends Sergei, Viktor and Khristina wanted to cheer him up. One rare day off the quartet drove to a favorite meeting space of theirs, an old zinc mine near their farm.
Sergei jokes around, claiming the land in the name Czar Sergei the first while prancing around. Unfortunately suddenly the ground gives way beneath them and he falls. Due to recent rainfalls, the ground had weakened.
The other three gather around the hole but he doesn’t reply to them. Khristina and Viktor suggest getting help at the farm, but Peter decides Sergei needs them now. There’s rope in the car.
And so soon the three of them descend into the dark. They find him lying there and call his name worried. Weakly he corrects them it’s czar Sergei to them. They are relieved, however that moment an iron girder comes loose and is about to hit them with the wall caving in.
Peter cries out in rage and then his friends stare at him in wonder as he transforms into Colossus and holds up the ceiling. Peter manages to smash a way to the surface for them eventually.
He worries that his friends will reject him. Khristina asks him if he will be like that forever. He explains he can change back and asks her not to be afraid. She hugs him, telling him it’s the most wonderful thing she’s ever seen. Peter Rasputin, farmer of steel, Viktor adds. He’s gonna be famous now, Sergei adds.
Peter asks them to keep his secret. It was the first time he used his strength to help others and his bitterness died that day. Mikhail had pledged to use his strength to create a better world for others. And Peter now knew he wanted to do the same. He wanted to make him proud!
He doesn’t usually brag about his past, but for Moira he will make an exception. He was a dull kid growing up in a dull town (yet always wearing his mask). But one day he went to a science exhibition (motto: “radiation is our friend”) and everything changed, as he was bitten by a radioactive Wolverine.
The next day he sprouted some hair… and muscles… and claws. Time went by. He tried a lot of jobs like children’s book author…
Bouncy Bear went to visit his friend Walter Weasel. “Where’s the money you owe me, Walter?” Bouncy asked as he pulled out his favorite mallet…
This is one salesman who ain’t dyin’, bub!
… folk singer…
How many roads must a man walk down… before he gives up and steals a car…
But nothing seemed to work out though… but then he saw an ad:
a) enjoy punching creeps?
b) Like blowing things up
c) Really enjoy punching creeps?
Then SNIKT wants you.
Before he knew it, he was the top agent of SNIKT, fighting menaces like the zombie clowns of Budapest (with an ankle-clinging gypsy girl), the moon monarch (with an ankle-clinging female astronaut)… And the biggest threat: BIMBO (Bastion of International Models for Benevolent Obliteration), the terrorist group composed entirely of hot babes.
Yay Bimbo! Groovy BIMBO! We shall never be destroyed. Break off one nail and two false ones will take its place!
One day, the Supreme Diva gathered her forces, telling her agents that she texted them all to come to their secret base in fashionable Monaco for a truly awesome reason. Using the mental powers of their captive, they can, like, carry out their organization’s ultimate goal and humanely wipe out all of the world’s ugly people.
That moment, Wolverine crashes though the skylight only to be attacked by BIMBO’s designer droids. Wolverine flattens then and then threatens the rest of BIMBO by pointing out that he just put a big hole in their U.V. filter skylight. That’s heavy duty solar radiation coming down at them. What’s that gonna do to their precious complexions?
Afraid for their beautiful skin, the agents of BIMBO run for their lives. The Supreme Diva shouts that she hates him, but as long as fashion dominates the lives of insecure young women, BIMBO will survive.
Soon, it was just him and the guy in the chair whom he freed. Professor Xavier thanked him and then begged him to join his X-Men. Well, Wolverine was undecided. He’s go a good thing going with SNIKT…. But he hates to see a bald man cry and so he hooked up with the X-Men just out of the kindness of his heart (and seeing Jean Grey had nothing to do with it)
Moira breaks Cyclops out of it, telling him he has visitors. It’s the entire team. Banshee begins, they’ve been tossing the blarney… and they want to say something. Storm continues. Mainly… they were wrong, Wolverine admits. They should have followed Cyclops’ lead; the fight was his call to make. As supreme leader, Colossus adds helpfully. They apologize.
Cyclops replies he appreciates that very much but… they were all right to go full blast on the spores. The sample Cerebro analyzed shows that it was reproducing exponentially. If they hadn’t wiped it out, it would have covered three states within the week.
Maybe spores aren’t the only thing with a working group mind. Instincts like that are a good sign for a team. If he had a glass, he would make a toast, Nightcrawler announces. Let’s toast like X-Men! Scott suggests. Everyone to the Danger Room for an hour of destroying things? Yes! the others shout
And the session begins. In the observation booth, Moira asks Cyclops if she detects a note of hope towards this version two. Yeah, he admit, he thinks … it may take some adjustment on his part, but he thinks there is real promise there. But would it kill them to wear the same uniforms?