Vulcan is in his apartment, where he opens a refrigerator. It’s almost completely empty, save some for some drinks and a spaghetti & meatballs box. Vulcan picks it up, and jokes there’s no way of going around it now: tomorrow, he’ll have to go to the store. He starts cooking the spaghetti, and takes out a drink as well. Next, he places a disk in his DVD player, which stands beneath a huge, wide-screen television set. He goes to sit in a coach, and watches the TV showing an image of himself in his X-Men uniform.
On screen, an announcer proudly introduces a Fever Dream Entertainment special, presented by Hunt Kerman. With fire in the heart, this will be the story of Vulcan… the world’s greatest hero! Vulcan starts eating his dinner, and jokes “yay for me.”
The show shows footage of Vulcan and his team of Darwin, Petra and Sway fighting Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants. Kerman explains to the audience that, for years, Magneto and his band hid behind the legitimacy of an independent state, and launched attacks on the USA and Europe with apparent impunity. But when the United Nations finally withdrew its recognition of Genosha’s sovereignty, the gloves came off in a spectacular fashion. This was the scene as the X-Men finally put an end to the reign of terror. The team, led by Vulcan, took down Magneto and his followers in a clinically efficient operation. In the final minutes of the battle, Vulcan subdued the renegade mutant leader long enough to deliver the coup de grace… a helmet designed by Charles Xavier to neutralize Magneto’s mutant powers. As long as he wears the helmet, Magneto is just one of the Homo sapiens.
The show shows what happened after Gabriel won…
While human guards restrained Magneto and placed the helmet on his head, Magneto shouted at Vulcan that this isn’t a victory. He didn’t win anything today. He reminded Vulcan that he is a mutant. He’s certain that one day the humans will turn on him, as wolves do not lie down with lambs! Magneto finishes his speech by saying, “We eat them.”
Continuing the show, Kerman concludes that today, Magneto and his gang of thugs are safely behind wire in Camp Delta. And, he adds, they are privileged to have with them, live in the studio, the man who put the Brotherhood in jail: Mr. Gabriel Summers, leader of the X-Men, the world’s greatest hero… Vulcan! Gabriel enters the stage and the crowd goes wild seeing him. He goes to sit in a chair and the host says it’s an honor to have him there. He admits that was a defiant message Magneto spoke out there. Gabriel calls Magneto a seriously deluded individual, and that Magneto set himself up as spokesman for mutants. But he never represented mutants. If you take any group of individuals, Gabriel adds, you are going to get that minority. The lunatic fringe. That’s what Magneto represented according to Gabriel. The 1% crazies.
The host asks Gabriel if he has a personal response for Magneto. To this, Gabriel jokes he doesn’t know if they have a TV in Camp Delta, but he wants Magneto to know, if he’s watching, he can bite him. The crowd goes wild again, and Gabriel smiles. The host continues to explain it’s been said that, without Vulcan’s leadership and example, relations between humans and mutants might have taken a very different course. But, he wants to figure out who the man behind the costume is. They’ve put together a short movie, re-creating key moments from Vulcan’s career. Of course there were no cameras to record these events when they originally occurred, so what they’re going to see is accurate reconstructions using the very latest C.G.I. technology.
From the first, Vulcan’s life was marked by tragedy. Shortly before he was born, his parents were captured by aliens known as the Shi’ar and taken to their imperial throneworld where, in an act of unbelievable brutality, his pregnant mother was murdered by Shi’ar Emperor D’Ken in front of her husbands eyes. Unknown to Gabriel’s father, the unborn child was kept alive to be raised as a slave by the Shi’ar. But this human child was special. As he reached adolescence, he discovered that he was a mutant, possessing the power to control energy. Gabriel used that power to make a daring escape from his captors and took the name of the roman god of fire… Vulcan.
He knew little of Earth’s culture. For a year, he hid among the homeless of New York, until he was arrested and came into the care of Doctor Moira MacTaggert. MacTaggert was running a project to develop the powers of a small group of young mutants. Her close friend, Professor Charles Xavier, mentor and creator of the original X-Men, became a huge influence of these young mutants, helping to train them and develop their powers. Vulcan joined Suzanne Chan, known as Sway, who is able to slow time and replay past events. Armando Muñoz aka Darwin, the evolving boy, who is in a state of constant reactive mutation, developing new powers as he needs them to survive. And there was also Petra, the geomorph.
For the teenaged Vulcan, these were the happiest times he had known but, soon, tragedy was to strike once more. The drama began to unfold when an alarm was sounded by the mutant detector, Cerebro. A new mutant had appeared on the uninhabited island of Krakoa. A mutant more powerful than Professor Xavier had ever encountered before. Professor X dispatched the original X-Men to the island: Cyclops, Havok, Polaris, Marvel Girl, Angel and Iceman. Soon after landing, Professor X lost his telepathic link with Marvel Girl. The last thing he saw was his X-Men being attacked by mindless monsters. In desperation, Professor X turned to his future wife, Moira MacTaggert. Her mutant protégés were young and inexperienced… could they possibly defeat the mutant menace of Krakoa?
For Gabriel, the stakes were raised when Professor Xavier confirmed that his father was Major Christopher Summers, and that the two of his missing X-Men, Cyclops and Havok, were his own brothers. Once on Krakoa, Vulcan and his team discovered that nuclear tests had triggered a mutation, which led to the island developing a primitive form of intelligence and the ability to create humanoid creatures to defend itself. At first, things went well for the youngsters when they fought these creatures. They soon found Vulcan’s brother, Cyclops, who, like his fellow X-Men, he had lost his powers. Knowing that he would be a liability, Cyclops agreed to leave the island, flying to safety and leaving the inexperienced new team to find the remaining X-Men.
Vulcan became separated from the rest of the group. It was he who found the ancient temple where Krakoa had trapped the X-Men to feed off their mutant powers. By the time Gabriel found them, it was too late. The island had sucked the life-force from them. The X-Men were dead. Distraught and angry, Vulcan attacked the core of the island’s intelligence, setting off an explosive chain reaction. Realizing what was about to happen, Vulcan ran to warn his fellow mutants. He found them, and the temple exploded. The young mutants were caught in the wave of unidentified radiation that swept across the island.
As Petra used her geomorphing powers to take them to safety on a rock floating across the ocean nearby, it became obvious that the burst of radiation had boosted their powers to extraordinary levels. Vulcan and Petra combined their newly enhanced abilities to launch Krakoa into space. There, deprived of water and oxygen, the living island must have certainly died. Krakoa has never been seen again but it is out there, somewhere, drifting in the endless reaches of space.
The host asks Gabriel how he feels about that? About the X-Men’s bodies never being recovered? Gabriel thinks it’s kind of appropriate. They’ll be now preserved out there forever. They can’t see them, but they can honor the original X-Men in their hearts for the ultimate sacrifice they made. The host asks if, when Gabriel returned from Krakoa, would Professor X have known that the original team of X-Men had passed away. Vulcan confirms; Xavier’s psychic link to Jean Grey was cut off by the island’s field of energy, but he was still using Cerebro to track them. So, the host thinks, Xavier would have seen their genetic signatures. These signals would have just blipped out, like planes disappearing off a radar.
The host realizes that must have been a terrible thing. However, for Gabriel’s brother, Cyclops, the leader of that team of X-Men, it must have hit him even worse. Gabriel confirms; Scott was devastated. He felt it was his responsibility. The host defends it wasn’t Scott’s fault, and that he did all he could. Gabriel agrees, but can understand how Scott felt. Losing his team, his own brother… and Jean. When the host then asks if Scott and Jean Grey were in a relationship, Gabriel confirms they were very much in love. Scott never wore the costume again after that day.
The host says that Scott has been described as a recluse, to which Gabriel explains that Scott has devoted himself to art now. He’s a sculptor, and that’s how he expresses himself. Gabriel would have been honored to follow Scott’s leadership, but he chose to follow another path and he respects that.
Elsewhere in a dark place…
Scott turns off Vulcan’s interview. He takes a look around in his room, which is filled with statues of the original X-Men. He stops to stare at Jean’s unfinished statue and, opening his visor, Scott emits a tight optic beam, which he uses to carve Jean’s eyes. His finishing touch made, Scott gently touches the statue.
Suddenly, a telepathic voice tries to reach Scott’s mind, asking him to forgive the intrusion. Scott tells Charles that this isn’t a good time to talk to him, but Xavier apologizes that this can’t wait. Scott reminds Charles he told him not to do this. If he wants to talk to him, Charles should use the phone. Xavier tells Scott he never picks up. “So write me a letter,” Scott coldly replies. He doesn’t want Xavier in his head. Ever. Xavier sternly says this won’t wait… they’ve found Krakoa. Hearing this, Scott’s visage turns to rage.
The host continues to say that Gabriel’s mother died. They’ve seen that it occurred in tragic circumstances, and Gabriel never got to meet his father. Charles and Moira married soon after Krakoa. He asks if it would be fair to say that the Xaviers came to represent parent figures for Gabriel. “Sure,” Gabriel says. They became parent figures for all of them. Petra, Sway and Darwin… they all lost their parents in one way or another. They were teenagers, they were vulnerable and they had no one to look out for them. Then Charles and Moira came along and they’ve been there for them ever since. Every day. Twenty-four, seven.
And with Gabriel’s boosted powers, the host adds, the four of them replaced the original X-Men and as they all know, became the greatest team of super heroes the world has ever known. But the Xaviers continued their work, using Cerebro to find more mutants, who formed other teams to support Gabriel. He suggests they take a look at those teams now. The show’s designers have come up with one heck of a visual of them all. He shows the entire lineup of Legion X, the X-Patriots, Mutation Zero and the X-Men themselves. The host mentions that the composite is available to subscribers as a downloadable wallpaper from their web site www.feverdreamentertainment.com. And if you log on right after this show you can also enter a competition to win a reproduction of Vulcan’s costume. All a visitor has to do is call the toll-free number and name the members of the various X-teams in that image. Lines will be open until midnight, Eastern Seaboard Time. That’s the challenge: how many heroes can you name?
The host thinks Gabriel must be proud to have played such a huge part in making the world a safer place. “Yeah, sure,” Gabriel says to that. But that picture they show says it all. It’s been a group effort. Every one of those people can take equal credit. The host understands. He then adds he has to say that’s just typical of the generosity in Gabriel, who’s inspired a generation of both mutants and humans. The host says that, with Magneto out of the picture, the last of the major super-powered threats is gone. So, he wants to know, is the job done? Gabriel admits things are looking good, but it isn’t time to hang up the costume just yet. The host thinks there’ll always be bad guys. Gabriel explains human nature is what it is. And there’s plenty of other work for them to be doing. The host agrees. He believes that, as they speak, the other X-Men are in orbit up there in space with Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four. He asks for any updates on that situation.
Gabriel doesn’t know much about that, actually. It’s something the Silver Surfer brought to Reed, but is certain it’s nothing catastrophic. The host asks if Gabriel’s certain it’s no giant comet or an alien invasion. Gabriel smiles he’s sure he would have been told if that were the case.
The X-Tower, downtown Manhattan…
Vulcan enters the building and passes a guard. Donovan congratulates “Mister Summers” on the terrific show, to which Vulcan thanks him. Donovan mentions the team’s back, and so is the professor and Doctor Xavier. He already sent them up. Vulcan meets up with them in an office and asks what the story is. He hasn’t heard a peep from them all week, so he wants to know what the deal with the Surfer is. Scott explains the Surfer found something.
Gabriel is surprised to see Scott and says it’s good to see him. Scott answers this with nothing but silence. As a crowd gathers, Vulcan asks what this is all about, to which Scott curtly explains the Surfer found Krakoa. Gabriel is shocked, and immediately asks about Alex and Jean. Xavier confirms the bodies have been perfectly preserved. The Silver Surfer found Krakoa drifting towards Saturn. It was remarkable that he spotted it. A few more weeks and it would have been lost in the rings. The Surfer brought the island back to Earth. He left Krakoa in orbit and contacted Reed Richards.
Vulcan says he should have been told, to which Petra angrily states that Gabriel was busy shooting his TV spectacular. They didn’t want to mess it up for him if it was a false alarm. Still, Gabriel thinks he should have been told. Sway mentions there was a time pocket preserved up there. She replayed it all, from the moment they arrived on Krakoa, right up to the end. She saw it all. Scott reveals to Gabriel that they know what he did. Gabriel defends it was a mistake, to which Scott becomes furious at his brother. Gabriel does his best to apologize, but Scott doesn’t want Gabriel to touch him. Gabriel begs Scott for forgiveness and tries to touch his arms, but Scott attacks Gabriel and shouts at him not to touch him!
Gabriel begs Scott not to do this. They’re brothers. Scott is his big brother. Scott doesn’t know what the Shi’ar did to Vulcan, but is sure Gabriel could never be his brother. Gabriel disgusts him. Intervening, Xavier asks Gabriel why he didn’t come to him, and tell him about it. Gabriel responds by asking Xavier if that would have brought them back. He’s sure, if he told Xavier, he would have taken all this away from him. Being an X-Man. Leading the X-Men. Xavier looks unsure of Gabriel, who admits he didn’t tell Xavier because he didn’t want to see that look in his eyes. “So you lied!” Petra angrily shouts at Gabriel. Gabriel explains he made amends. Every day, he’s paying back for what he did. Sway mocks they all saw the show. Gabriel is the “world’s greatest hero.” Gabriel thinks they’re going public with this, and that they’re going to destroy him.
He asks if anyone else knows, anyone outside this room. He wants to know if they came to him first. Vulcan powers up, and Xavier tries to warn everyone. Acting first, Petra uses her powers on a nearby wall and throws it at Gabriel, though Vulcan easily crushes it with his powers. Shrapnel from the wall’s bricks injure Charles and he asks Scott for protection. Without a word, Scott fires an optic beam at Gabriel, who simply deflects it away with his hand. Coldly, he tells Scott that he won’t allow him to hurt him this time. Gabriel apologizes for having to do this. Ignoring this, Xavier instead informs Sway now “would be a good time” to do her thing.
Sway understands and uses her powers to freeze Gabriel in time. She explains that will hold Gabriel for a few minutes, but that’s all they’ll have. She can’t use a time field in the same place twice without risking a temporal anomaly. Moira is shocked Vulcan was going to kill them. Ignoring her, Xavier notes that it took Vulcan less than thirty seconds to make his decision and that Vulcan’s already coming up with an explanation for their deaths. Scott thinks Gabriel is sick. He must be. Charles describes Vulcan as a classic sociopath. He thinks Gabriel would do anything to preserve his self-image. Scott can’t believe Charles never knew about this. To this, Xavier admits he knew Gabriel was uncomfortable with him reading his mind. He just respected that. Sway reminds the Professor they don’t have long.
Xavier tells Darwin that, when Sway’s statis-field degrades, Vulcan will attempt to kill them all. He’s confident Darwin’s body will react to that. He will instinctively evolve the means to survive, however Vulcan will keep coming after him until one of them is dead. Hearing thism Darwin says he doesn’t want to kill Gabriel. In that case, Xavier responds, he wants Darwin to override his instincts and make the conscious decision to determine his own evolution. He reminds Darwin they’ve discussed this. He can do it. Xavier reaches into Vulcan’s mind and shows a black spot in Darwin’s skull. It’s in the lower hippocampus. That is where the control center for Vulcan’s power is located. Darwin has to do what he needs to do to survive.
Darwin touches Vulcan’s head, which suddenly glows purple. When Gabriel asks Darwin what he’s doing to him, Darwin explains to Gabriel the Professor showed him the portion of Gabiel’s brain that regulates his mutation. It is now a cluster of dead cells. Gabriel tries to power up, but can’t, and asks Darwin if he took his power away. Darwin denies that, and corrects Gabriel that he simply no longer knows how to use it.
Gabriel becomes incensed, shouting at Xavier that he should have killed him instead. “We don’t do that,” he answers. “Of course not,” Gabriel mocks. He mocks Charles he’s a decent, honorable man, who never had a moment of weakness. Who never had a moment of doubt. He asks Charles what he thinks will happen when he tells the world. They love him. What purpose will it serve to destroy that? They will never trust a mutant again. Everything he’s built for all of them will be wiped away!
Charles wants to know what Gabriel has done. He wants Gabriel to show him all of his “mistakes.” When Vulcan refuses, Scott grabs Vulcan by his clothes, shouting he doesn’t have a choice. Xavier reaches into Vulcan’s head and sees images of many Shi’ar people he has killed. Gabriel tries to tell Charles something, but he has no pity for him. But, he does admit Gabriel is right. It would damage them all for Gabriel’s crimes to become public knowledge. He’ll give Gabriel a way out. He will still have the love of millions to set against Xavier’s contempt.
A TV reporter explains that, since Vulcan’s documentary was first broadcast, there has been a startling development in Vulcan’s story. Gabriel is at a press conference together with Xavier, Moira and the Silver Surfer. He admits to the public what he has to say here today won’t come easily. Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer, has come to Earth with a request for help. Their planet is privileged to have scores of powered heroes, both mutant and human. But there are other civilizations, on other planets, who have no protectors, no one to fight on their behalf. One of them has become threatened by an alien race called the Shi’ar. He adds many people will know that these creatures were responsible for his mother’s death. He has decided to respond to that request for aid.
The many reporters present ask Gabriel where the Shi’ar planet is and for how long he’ll be gone. Gabriel claims that’s not for him to say. He’ll be gone for as long as he’s needed.
The announcer says so another chapter begins in the legend that is Vulcan… the world’s greatest hero. He ends the program with a joke, asking them to roll the credits.
Gabriel walks to his room where he takes a red jacket out of a closet. He says to himself he has to give it to Charles. He has a great sense of irony. State-of-the-art home entertainment system and all Gabriel has to watch is that one show. It’s a good show, but you know what they say about familiarity. And the fourteen identical costumes in his closet. What is that? One for every year? Gabriel wonders if they are planning to come get him after fourteen years, just to see if he has gone crazy? He walks through a room and passes the many statues and posters of himself.
Gabriel wonders if that’s maybe when the air cuts out. Or the food. He walks out of a dome and explains it covers about three square kilometers of Krakoa. The food is at the temple. Once a week, the computer that runs life-support releases his food supplies. There’s no way of knowing how much food is in there. Maybe it’s enough to keep Gabriel alive until he dies of old age. If he stays fit, that could be another forty, fifty years. Luckily there are no diseases up here in space. He won’t get hit by a speeding car, or shot by a psycho. He could kill himself. But he won’t. Charles read his mind. He knows him. He knows that’s not an option.
Sway created two time loops on Krakoa, replaying the events that destroyed Gabriel. His guilty past. Gabriel admits Charles did a good job boosting Sway’s abilities. There’s no visual deterioration. The sound is as crisp as the day he first came out of the forest. Gabriel can see the terrible event of the day on Krakoa right before his eyes, and he can still hear the fear in his voice when he tried to warn his teammates to run when the island was about to blow. But it wasn’t the island Gabriel was afraid of. He continues his walk, and makes it to the temple ruins. Gabriel notices they’re still here after all this time. The food store is buried underneath it.
Gabriel says the cruelty of the punishment is exquisite. If he wants food he has to come here at this precise time, to this exact spot and place his hand on a sensor. There’s no way to cheat. If he takes his hand away from the button on the sensor, the food won’t come. Gabriel does so. He tried shutting his eyes a couple of times, but somehow, hearing it without seeing it made it worse. So he watches his big moment.
Vulcan sees how he rescued Scott and now he’s going to rescue Scott’s girlfriend and his brother Alex. Alex doesn’t even know Gabriel exists and here he is, appearing out of nowhere to save his life. How perfect is that? They never know who built the temple Krakoa where held the X-Men captive. It isn’t known whether it’s alien or some lost race of Homo sapiens. The Professor figured the nearby nuclear tests had resurrected it in a massively mutated form that had linked with the island’s eco-system. Whatever Krakoa was… it was hunger.
Gabriel sees how Krakoa placed his vines inside Jean’s mouth, and fed off her. He sees how shocked he was when seeing that for the first time. Alex spoke to him. He didn’t know where Gabriel sprung from, but he warned him to get them out of their traps fast while Krakoa was busy with Jean. Gabriel wanted to help Jean first, but Alex shouted at Gabriel to listen to him: Gabriel can’t attack Krakoa now! Gabriel now concedes he should have listened to Alex. But he was inexperienced. What Krakoa was doing to Jean… and when Gabriel powered up, Krakoa ignored him… like he wasn’t even worth noticing. Alex kept warning Gabriel not to attack Krakoa as the thing was linked to Jean. Gabriel would kill her!
But Gabriel didn’t listen. He attacked Krakoa at full force, destroyed it… but also killed Jean! Once Krakoa was gone, the other X-Men were trapped, but Gabriel was shocked to discover Jean gone. Alex went to the remains of Jean’s body and shouts at Gabriel why he didn’t listen to him? He cries, not knowing how he’ll tell Scott about this. Gabriel immediately said it was an accident and that Alex couldn’t tell Scott. Alex angrily got up, demanding to know who Vulcan was. Lorna told Alex to leave it be, as they had to get off the island, as it was unstable.
Suddenly, vines came out of the ground, and Lorna opined hat the island was angry. Gabriel revealed on that moment to Alex that he was his brother. He placed his hand, blazing with energy, on Alex’ chest… which immediately kills him as well! Gabriel recalls he hardly touched Havok. He just wanted to stop Alex from talking. He didn’t mean to stop Alex’ heart. Angel, Iceman and Lorna were shocked to see this. Gabriel now wonders how it all went wrong so quickly. The way the X-Men would tell it… Scott would never believe him. He thinks everyone deserves a second chance. After killing Alex, Gabriel powered up and said he was sorry. He fired his powers on Warren, Bobby and Lorna… and killed them as well! It wasn’t easy.
Today, Gabriel says that, whatever Professor Xavier may think, it has never been easy. But Gabriel is confident he made the right choice as he walked out of that temple. History proved that. Gabriel continues to hold the sensor and watches himself run out of the temple. He thinks that what happened at the temple in the past was maybe for the best. If he had saved the X-Men, he would have been a hero, perhaps even an X-Man, but he would always have stood in Scott’s shadow. He would never have been the world’s greatest hero. They can’t take that away from him. Gabriel watches how, suddenly, a bright light surrounds the entire temple, causing it to explode.
It hurts him, seeing all of the X-Men die… over and over again… but that was Charles’ intention. It’s what they all wanted. Scott, Petra, Sway, Darwin… even Moira. Not one of them spoke up for Gabriel. They all wanted him to suffer. But they overlooked something. It gets easier. Every time it hurts a little less. He releases his hand from the sensor and picks up the food, and walks back to the dome. He recalls he has been on Krakoa for five years and three months now. He has watched the X-Men die two hundred and seventy-three times. With an angry look on his face, Gabriel wonders how many times do you have to see someone die before you feel nothing at all. He looks up in the sky, and again sees the image of Jean dying.