‘Don’t mind me, I’ll just watch!’ the android Vision announces as he enters the Avengers high-tech training room, where Captain America and Namor the Sub-Mariner are engaged in a work out. The Avengers’ butler, Edwin Jarvis also stands in the doorway with a bag of goods from Macy’s. Suddenly, Namor is knocked aside by the mechanical device that they are fighting. Captain America rushes to his teammate, thinking that Namor let himself get distracted, something that one cannot do when in combat. However Captain America knows he cannot tell Namor that the way he would tell any other Avenger, as the Prince of Atlantis doesn’t take too kindly to criticism. The Sub-Mariner declares that this is a fool thing, and after all the real opponents he has faced, he has no need to play with a combat simulation room. With that, Namor smashes the metal machine that knocked him, breaking it in two.
Angrily, Captain America scolds Namor, and is about to reveal how much money that cost Tony Stark, when he himself gets smacked over by the machine. Cap pauses for a moment, before getting back into the game, dodging some tendrils, he makes his way to a switch, and slamming it down, he tells Namor that the objective when they are in this room is to get to the kill switch, not destruction, but the demonstration of skill. Namor replies that he understands, before turning to the Vision and asking him why he interrupted them like that.
The Vision smiles and remarks that he used to interrupt quite often when he lived here, explaining that when the simulation machines were not set for his particular abilities, he could enter without great danger. The Vision tells Namor that he really must learn not to let such things distract him. Captain America smiles and agrees with the Vision, before asking the Vision if he was testing them, or just dropping by to wish them Seasons Greetings. The Vision replies that it is neither, and explains that he has been doing some thinking about something Cap said at their Thanksgiving feast last month, so he wanted to ask the both of them for first-hand information on the android who lived in this body before he did - the original Human Torch!
Technically, the Vision is no longer an Avenger, but Jarvis needed no official card to admit him, just as he now needs no word to know what the Vision, Can and Namor want for refreshment as they retire to the mansion library. ‘Whole milk, Captain America, cold spring water, your highness…and nothing for you, master Vision!’ The Vision thanks Jarvis, before Namor exclaims that his memories of the Torch mainly revolve around their many battles. Cap smiles and thinks to himself that it doesn’t seem strange any more than he was frozen after World War II and escaped decades of aging, or that Atlanteans age slowly, so even though Namor was born in the 1920’s, he is still in the prime of his life. However, trying to understand how someone he knew well, the Torch, could be rebuilt as someone he knows equally well, someone completely different. Cap also wonders why the Vision decided to look into it after all this time.
(Shown with Flashback images)
‘I hate to say this, but the Torch was always in the wrong when he fought me’ Namor boasts, explaining that he had promised to aid the Allies, but a few fools had turned on him, so he decided to show them who they were dealing with, and the Torch had had joined the New York City police. The collided one time when Namor was tearing up the George Washington Bridge. Namor remarks that as the Human Torch’s name indicates, they had no idea that he wasn’t a human Torch, and of course his being an android explains why Namor lost to him - on rare occasions.
The Vision asks Namor and Cap if they never suspected that the Torch was synthetic until he told them, and asks if his voice wasn’t cold, or his speech patterns mechanical. Namor replies that he never noticed it, and Cap remarks that the Human Torch spoke basic American like the rest of them, with a New York accent.
(Shown with Flashback Images)
Cap declares that what he remembers best is the Human Torch’s patriotism, for Torch felt very keenly that he had to preserve freedoms for his young partner, Toro. Cap adds that the Human Torch put aside his differences with Namor, as best he could, when Churchill asked them to band together as the Invaders. Cap wanted a name that said what they really are, Protectors, Preservers, while the Human Torch wanted a name something like the Revenge Squadron, or the American Avengers.
The Vision asks if the Human Torch ate, to which Cap replies that he did, and asks Namor if he remembers the steaks that the Human Torch broiled with his hands in Casablanca. The Vision asks if the Torch had a girlfriend, to which Namor reveals that in the 1950’s there was his police chief’s daughter, Betty, but he doesn’t think they were anything more than friends. Captain America asks the Vision why he is asking all these questions, if he is trying to see if he remembers any of it. The Vision replies that is correct, to which Cap asks if he in fact does remember any of it.
The Vision replies that he doesn’t, and remarks that he doesn’t really know what he hoped to accomplish here, as he has been enjoying his increased human-ness lately - unequivocally - but after taking his synthetic side too seriously for so long, he now wonders if he is now taking it too lightly. The Vision explains that the idea of his body being with Cap and Namor in those adventures, while he himself wasn’t, intrigues him. Not to mention the fact that the consciousness in that body was more physical than he is even now. ‘I don’t know!’ he mutters.
Meanwhile, in the home of the Vision and Scarlet Witch a.k.a. Wanda Maximoff in Leonia New Jersey, Wanda sits beside the fire place with Holly Ladonna, her new pupil. Wanda explains that the Yule Festival marks the lowest arc of the sun in their skies, and that today is the shortest day of the year, and the Ancients felt that this day marked the death and rebirth of the Sun God. Wanda adds that the Yule Log was lit to keep the fire alive in the world until the birth began.
Holly tells Wanda that she doesn’t understand, and points out that she thought she was going to be taught witchcraft, yet this sounds more like Christmas, which she already knows. Wanda explains to Holly that the birth of the sun - or the birth of the son - and that Mother Nature follows the same pattern every year, only the manifestation changes. Wanda adds that the great Persian god Mithras was also born at midwinter and explains that the point is that this is a time to put aside the problems of the waning year and celebrate new prospects - no matter who you are.
Wanda begins to say that it is a time to gather around the fire with family and friends, when the doorbell rings. Answering the door, Wanda is greeted by her sultry sister-in-law Crystalia Amaquelin Maximoff, better known as simply Crystal, one of the Royal Inhumans. Wanda greets Crystal, who informs Wanda that she came down to see if she could help her with her holiday preparations. Crystal adds that she is all finished with hers, and explains that she left her daughter Luna in Attilan with her nanny.
Wanda exclaims that this is rather embarrassing considering what she was just telling Holly about family, but that she and Holly are going to be performing a seasonal ritual meant for witches only in a little while. Wanda informs Crystal that she has been told she hasn’t been taking the craft seriously enough since she got pregnant, so she is trying to be diligent. Crystal smiles and remarks that now Wanda mentions it, Quicksilver has told her how midwinter was special to witches, but she must have forgotten. Crystal exclaims that it will be fun to wander through real snow while Wanda is busy, but Wanda tells Crystal that she can wait inside. Crystal replies that it is fine, as she has been wanting to explore Leonia anyway. Sporting an elegant green coat, Crystal makes her way down the snow-covered steps as Wanda calls out that she will see her later.
Meanwhile, at Project Pegasus, the Avengers’ liaison Raymond Sikorski is shocked by the arrival of the Vision, and exclaims that he never thought he would see him here again after the way he and Wanda left them last time. The Vision replies by telling Raymond that it was very nice of him to smooth that matter over. Raymond points out that he is one who thinks that being a liaison to the Avengers - even ex-Avengers - means helping them get what they want if it sounds at all reasonable.
Raymond reminds the Vision how he wanted to see the synthetic “evil mutants” that he and Quicksilver bested last month, so here they are. ‘Consider it a late Hannukah gift!’ Raymond exclaims, before pointing out that it wasn’t so long ago that the Vision himself was in this room. The Vision assures Raymond that he still accepts the necessity for that, and that he holds no animosity, before motioning to the synthetic Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and remarks that he was not being dismantled the way they are. Raymond pats the Vision on the shoulder, ‘You’re human, Vision - you convinced me of that!’ he exclaims, reminding the Vision that it was he who said “A human mind directing an artificial body”.
Raymond motions to where a Project Pegasus scientist is removing something from the head of “Magneto” and declares that these things are just machines, fiendishly complicated machines, based as they are on the Stranger’s science - but machines nonetheless. Raymond assures the Vision that their consciousness is only computer-generated analogs. ‘Hel-lo’ the Mastermind robot says. Raymond assures the Vision that they have removed his illusion powers, to which the Vision asks about the others. Raymond informs him that they have already been completely dismantled, and remarks that they are a fascinating study.
Raymond reveals to the Vision that the Toad refuses to help them, so they have had to figure everything out on their own. The Vision asks Raymond if he could prevail upon him once more and speak to this synthezoid alone. Raymond hesitates, unsure of what to say, to which the Vision tells him that it is very important to him. Raymond beckons for the staff to leave the lab, and warns the Vision not to muck him around here. The Vision assures Raymond that he takes full responsibility.
For a long still moment, the Vision looks into the Mastermind synthezoid’s unfocused eyes, then asks it what it can tell him about itself. ‘I am an I-Ra-Ta eight hundred X-L matrix model twenty-two dash two’ the synthezoid replies. After the Vision asks ‘What else?’ the robot simply replies in a droll tone ‘Null’. The Vision asks the robot if he eats, to which it replies that it does. When the Vision asks him what it eats, it replies ‘Power decay of unnilnonium two-fourteen’. The Vision continues with his questions, asking the Mastermind synthezoid what it remembers of its life before it came here. ‘Null’ is the response. When the Vision asks why that is, the response is ‘Artificial intelligence memory null’.
The Vision asks the synthezoid if there are any supplemental memory cards within it - anything at all to recall its life before today. ‘Null - but I remember the life to come!’ “Mastermind” declares as it increases its arm and fist, smashing the Vision across the room, then increasing the rest of its mass to match. The robot declares that its master, the Toad-King is a genius, for he alone could program them to transform themselves after one complete cycle of the moon. ‘You must have beaten us in our previous forms, but the Toad-King is always prepared!’ the robot declares as it looms over the Vision.
The Vision leaps up to his feet, exclaiming that the Toad may or may not be a genius, but that the toad couldn’t foresee his presence here, so whatever hidden resources he built into the synthezoid’s, they cannot escape his ability to alter his density. With that, the Vision plunges his hand into “Mastermind’s” chest, only to withdraw it immediately, howling in pain - and his hand is completely gone. “Mastermind” laughs, revealing that the energy matter within itself is now pure anti-matter. The large robot lumbers away from the Vision, stating that it must free its master, but it speaks as if there were more of its kind.
The Vision asks the synthezoid if it cannot see that there is only one of it left, and blasting it with his solar beam, the Vision explains to it that its consciousness is only simulated. The Vision then smashes off one of the synthezoid’s arms, ‘You’re only a body! You’re nothing like me!’ he exclaims, ‘I’m nothing like you!’ he adds as he smashes through the center of the synthezoid, causing its torso and upper body to be separated from its legs. ‘I’m human!’ the Vision shouts.
Somehow, the synthezoid’s voice continues to emanate from its legs, and it admits that the Vision is strong, but that he is useless against those who carry their memory and power in all parts of their bodies. The legs get up and begin running, declaring that its primary objective is the liberation of its master, and boasts that one way or another, it shall fulfil its instruction. With that, the legs disappear through a vent, and the Vision is unable to follow.
The Vision exit’s the lab, and calls out to Raymond, who is standing with the Guardsman, and informs them that the synthezoid has escaped into the ventilation system to free the Toad. Raymond is shocked, while the Guardsman exclaims that they heard nothing. Both follow the Vision towards an elevator, and the Guardsman remarks that this complex may be too well built well, for it is state of the art in security, including absolute soundproofing - and this is the result. ‘To the Devil with all technology!’ the Guardsman exclaims.
The Vision asks where the Toad is being held, and explains that he can pass through the walls and get there before the synthezoid does. Raymond replies that there is no chance of that, for even if he could describe the location of the Toad’s cell in this maze, he couldn’t begin to explain how to get there in a straight line. The Guardsman adds that half of the walls wouldn’t allow the Vision to take such a route, before radioing to other security personnel and issuing a red alert on the Toad.
Exiting the elevator, Raymond tells the fitter men to go ahead and he will catch up, so the Guardsman leads the Vision to the Toad’s cell, at the same moment the synthezoid legs enter the cell from the vent. The Guardsman, surprised to see just legs, tells the synthezoid to halt, and explains to it that if it breaks the beams of the force-bars, then it will destroy itself. The Toad looks up from where he is lying on a bed as the synthezoid legs leap into the force beam bars, announcing that it is not concerned with itself, and as the bars destroy it, the surge of power also knocks the Vision and the Guardsman to the ground.
The revolting Toad steps out of his cell and remarks that anyone attacking super heroes these days has to know that capture may lead to Project Pegasus, so he was ready for that eventuality. The Toad turns to the Vision and reminds him that he has devoted lots of years to mastering the Stranger’s technology and becoming the Terrible Toad-King! ‘I told you - but you haven’t yet learned to pay attention!’ with that, the Toad is beamed up in a shield. The Vision exclaims that he has seen that shield before, it is from the Toad’s space ship. The Guardsman exclaims that it is impossible, as no know technology can penetrate these walls. ‘Tell me again later!’ the Vision remarks, before phasing through the roof of Project Pegasus.
Floating out into open air, the Vision sees the toad being beamed up to his ship, and knows that once the Toad is inside it and it gets underway, he will be left behind like he is standing still. The Vision knows that the automatic system rerouting in his damaged arm is pulling a lot of power, so he must keep precise control of his density now - not too heavy, so the winds can move him, but not to light so there is something for them to move. Floating up to the Toad’s ship, the Vision latches on, but his solidification is slow from the power drain, so the ship begins to take off with him not completely attached to it. The Vision has once chance left, and it pays off as his feebly grabs the edge of the ship as it passes under him then phases into it, landing with a thud on the floor.
Back in Leonia, sitting beside a Christmas tree, Holly exclaims to Wanda that people cannot have really thought that the sun died at midwinter. Wanda asks why not, explaining that the people saw him getting weaker and weaker, and all the vegetation he had given them last summer was already dead. Looking out the window at the snow, Wanda adds that the sun was definitely a “he” and not an “it”, and that if death came to every other living thing, why should the sun be any different? Wanda explains to Holly that is the reason the people created so much ritual around the rebirth - festivals, gift giving, evergreen trees as a symbol of survival, and the Yule log ritual.
Wanda’s voice trails off, so Holly calls out to her. Wanda turns back from the window and apologizes, explaining that she is distracted as her husband should have been home now, and Crystal too for that matter. Holly asks if they should finish this for the day, but Wanda tells her no, and that she is just being silly again, for as the pregnancy goes on, she finds herself worrying more about the Vision’s safety. ‘The idea of family is growing for me, I guess - and I couldn’t bear to lose him now!’
Meanwhile, an unconscious Vision is still on the floor of the Toad’s ship as the ship flies past the moon. Various images flash through the Vision’s mind, until finally he wakes - and makes his way through the ship, finally coming to the control room, where the Toad is muttering to himself ‘Sure, they despised me once! And I let them!’ he mutters that he was so ugly and misshapen that he would endure any insult just to be around them. ‘I was pathetic!’ However, the Toad thinks that when Magneto abandoned him on the Stranger’s world, he saw that he had to make it on his own, and he has. The Toad boasts that he stole everything the Stranger hadn’t nailed down, and made himself someone to be feared, ‘but those fools just can’t adjust to that!’
Suddenly, the Vision reveals himself to the Toad, declaring ‘I can!’ The Toad turns swiftly in his hover-chair, confused to see the Vision onboard. ‘You built some amazing synthezoids, Toad, but this synthezoid was amazing forty years ago!’ the Vision exclaims, boasting that he is state of the art. The Toad agrees that the Vision is an awesome machine, ‘A machine that married my Wanda and deprived me of the only human being I ever loved!’ The Toad declares that he is glad the Vision is here, and boasts that he is going to kill him at long last.
The Vision watches as the Toad pushes a button on his hover-chair and a large energy form appears surrounding the Toad, as if he was now a much larger and powerful person. The Toad reveals that this is how he trained his synthezoids, adding that although they may lack independent minds, when he is through with them, they know who their master is ‘And no so will you!’ the Toad shouts angrily, then smashing the Vision to the ground by means of his energy form. The Vision realizes that the energy field magnifies the Toad’s own strength and durability, however thanks to the rays of the sun that passed through a panel on the spaceship, he is now back to his full power.
The Toad’s energy form grabs the Vision, and the Toad points out that the Vision is only a machine, therefore vulnerable to electric discharge like any other machine. The Vision makes a strange sound, while the Toad asks ‘Why did she take you? Why didn’t she take me?’ before tossing the Vision across the ground. ‘I’m ugly, all right! But I’m real!’ the Toad exclaims as he hovers over the Vision, while the Vision thinks that he cannot let the Toad do that move on him a second time, for he might short circuit. The Toad asks the Vision why he doesn’t act like the other machines, to which the Vision replies that he acts like himself, and transforming in size, the Vision informs the Toad that he can increase his density until he weighs ninety tons, however at that point, he can no longer move, so he stops when he reaches seventy tons.
The Vision punches the Toad’s energy form, explaining that as her destroys it, he can enjoy insulation from its energy. The Toad however boasts that nothing can destroy him, that he has survived the worst life has to offer already. ‘Wanda’s all I lack now!’ the Toad exclaims, to which the Vision tells him it is too bad, because he will never get her. The Vision punches the Toad’s energy form once more, exclaiming ‘I am a man, Toad - no less than you!’ adding that it doesn’t matter if his body’s synthetic any more than it matters that the Toad is ugly. ‘Looks don’t make a marriage!’
‘SHUT UP!’ screams the Toad as the Vision punches him again, explaining that what matters is relating to who Wanda is inside, something the Toad was never able to do. ‘SHUT UP!’ the Toad shouts again, declaring that he served the Scarlet Witch faithfully when that was all he could do - but now he has changed, now he is in control. The Vision tries to point out to the Toad that it is too late, that time has passed him by. The Toad is about to shout again, when he suddenly weakens and realizes that the Vision is beating him, though he cannot believe it. ‘But it’s my ship - I’m in control - I’m the mater of machines!’ the Toad exclaims, before blasting the Vision with some sort of shield, and trapping him, before suddenly expelling him out of the Toad’s ship.
Floating in space, the Vision thinks to himself that the Toad is not going to escape that easily, and before the shield vanishes, Vision sends a solar blast down it, which hit’s the Toad and causes the Toad’s ship to shunt along in deep space, ‘Curse you, android!’ the Toad shouts. However, the Vision does not believe it will be the last he will ever see of “the Terrible Toad-King”. Turning to the row of planets, the Vision wonders what he is to do, stranded half a million miles from Earth. However, he knows that if he were a mortal man, he would be dead already - from the cold and the lack of air - but he is not a normal man, so none of it affects him.
As the Vision is completely weightless in space, the force thrown by his solar beam is enough to propel him in the opposite direction towards home, which he begins to do. The silence around him is absolute, as is each individual font of light - each point a sun in itself. There is no way to measure the speed of his passage through that silence, the star-suns don’t appear to move and there’s no breeze to blow past his ears - but the Vision doesn’t get bored - and slowly, steadily, the vast blue ball known as “Earth” looms larger and larger below him - and then, the first bare breezes do begin to blow as the Vision drops back into Earth’s atmosphere.
Almost at once, he begins to burn, like a falling star - like a human torch - but he regulates his density to decrease the friction and the fire dies away. Through the exosphere he falls, faster and faster yet gaining control as he gains air to work with - and as he enters the stratosphere he is as much a sky-swimmer as anyone. Anyone.
‘Look, Dad, it’s Santa Claus!’ a young child exclaims pointing out the window as the Vision streaks down to his home, landing calmly on his porch, he then enters his home, where Wanda is still with Holly Ladonna and exclaims that she has been worried sick. The Vision apologizes and explains that he had no way to telephone. ’You were only going to Macy’s! Wanda reminds him, while Holly puts her coat on and thanks Wanda for a fabulous session, but that it is time for her to leave, assuring Wanda that she really got into what she was talking about tonight though. Wanda farewells Holly and tells her that she will see her soon.
Wanda smiles at the Vision and asks him to tell her where he went, to which the Vision replies ’Into my head, mostly’ as it was the same old question - how much is he a man and how much a synthezoid? And now, which synthezoid? However, the Vision assures Wanda that he found a better answer this time. ’I’m the Vision!’ he exclaims. The Vision makes a joke about the Sub-Mariner, and Wanda leans into him, so to all a good night - with one exception…
…Holly walks down the side walk, admiring how pretty the stars are tonight, she decides that she has never truly seen them before - or any of nature for that matter. Holly thinks that Wanda is so nice, not at all like a “witch” in all the stories, and Holly decides that she might ask Mrs. Herbert to reclassify some of their occult section at the Leonia Library. Holly decides that she will cut through Norm Webster’s yard and take the trail through the woods, when she is about to do so, she sees Norm exit his home - followed by Crystal! A shocked Holly watches as her mentor’s sister-in-law passionately kisses Norm Webster. ’Oh…my…gosh! Poor Wanda!’ Holly thinks to herself….