Chapter One: Greenwich Mean Time
(Caldecott County, Georgia, three weeks ago)
Anna Raven is in the local police station. The office is tiny and narrow and she finds it hard to breathe. The sheriff has switched off the fan to make it more uncomfortable, but he's the one who's sweating. He mops his brow and tells Anna he'll start again. Walking around her as she is seated, he remarks that they say she is a smart girl, so she can prove it by telling him everything. He wants to know what happened between her and Cody Robbins. The boy is in a hospital bed, in a coma, and only she knows the truth.
"The truth?" replies Anna.
Anna recalls that fateful day. The truth is, they only kissed their first kiss. They were in the park, and it should have been something special. Instead, she picked up his thoughts and saw his memories. It was like being him. After the kiss he collapsed. The truth is, she's the one who hurt Cody, but if she told the sheriff that he'd think she was insane. She remains silent; her arms folded in a defensive manner.
The sheriff knows he's on to a loser, so he takes Anna into the corridor where her aunt awaits her. He hands Anna over, telling her that the girl is a real southern rebel. She kept her mouth shut the whole time. Maybe she'll be more talkative with Social Services. Anna's aunt warns him not to even think about it. She doesn't want any strangers in her house. She raised her niece on her own and she's going to carry on doing so. The sheriff retorts, "Given the results, I wouldn't tell too many people if I were you." The aunt tells Anna that they're going home, but Anna pulls away, asking her Aunt not to touch her. She runs to the car and her aunt drives her home.
During the journey her aunt informs Anna that she met Cody's parents that morning. They'd like to talk to her. "To ask me what?" replies Anna. Her aunt says that what happened is terrible, but the most unbearable thing for them is not knowing why. Anna wonders what if there isn't an explanation. Why should there be a reason for everything? she snaps. She says she's been hearing the same questions for two days. People in the street look at her like she's some kind of rare animal and the sheriff treats her like a criminal.
As they pull up to the house, Anna marches towards the door and exclaims that she's had enough. Her aunt assures her that the Robbins are not the sheriff. They're not accusing her of anything and aren't expecting her to explain something that even the doctors can't explain. They only know that Cody isn't going to wake up from his coma and that she was the last person to see him. They just want to listen to her and have something more to remember. "Great," replies Anna. "I'll write them a letter." She's had enough of the people of Caldecott County. She doesn't want to see anyone anymore. She doesn't want to kiss anyone anymore. She sits on her bed, pulls on a pair of gloves and strokes a photograph of herself and Cody. She doesn't want to touch anyone anymore.
(seven days ago)
Anna's aunt retrieves a letter in the post box. It's from the Robbins, and she offers it to Anna. Anna asks her to leave it on the table. Maybe she'll read it later. For now, they have visitors. A silver car pulls up and two people step out, one male, one female. Anna's aunt tells them that if they're from Social Services, they've wasted their journey. The woman replies that Connecticut isn't exactly just around the corner. She offers her hand to Anna, but she tells the woman, Carol Higgins, not to take it personally, but she doesn't wish to shake it. Carol understands. She tells Anna that it may seem bizarre, but she is in Caldecott County to make her an offer. It's a scholarship at the school she runs. "A scholarship!" exclaims Anna. "Me?" Carol asks if she's ever heard of the Worthington Foundation. It's a special school for gifted youngsters. Anna reckons she must have come to the wrong place, because Jenny Kincaid lives on the next street and she's great on the banjo. Carol assures Anna that she's the one she was looking for.
(Greenwich, Connecticut. The Worthington Foundation. Today)
An audience of staff and students are seated in a large auditorium. Warren Worthington II is introduced to the audience and is greeted by applause. He thanks them before launching into an introduction that one of the students, Logan, has heard before. Worthington says that he hopes the foundation which is named after him will give everyone the chance to find what they are looking for. A path... an answer. Help to achieve their dreams. He tells them that they are all gifted young people. Some of them are aware of that already. Others will become so.
He adds that he always had faith in the future, and they are the future. The years they will spend in the Worthington Foundation will be intense and demanding. This will be a time of growth and discovery. They have been given an opportunity which is all he longed for when he was their age. As teachers Charles Xavier and Jean Grey look on, Worthington breaks out of character. "Thank heavens my father died. I became obscenely rich and my life got much easier." Carol Higgins lets out an audible gasp and steps in. Worthington asks what's so funny. What did he say? Carol Higgins laughs it off and tells the audience that Mr. Worthington is incorrigible. Could they give him a big hand to thank him?
Logan catches up with another student, Scott Summers, in front of the school. "You're a first year, right?" he asks. Scott asks why he wants to know. Logan places a finger to his lips and says shush. He warns Scott that next time he tries something like that again, he's gonna cut his finger right off. As he slopes off, a guy named Sebastian appears with his arm around a blonde named Emma Frost. He asks if there's a problem, and adds that if Logan tries to steal his lunch money, he can come see him. He complements Scott on his ruby glasses and walks off. Scott heads past a tree, under which Anna Raven is relaxing in the shade. "I don't know about you," she says, "But I'm missing home already." Scott turns and replies that he was in an orphanage until three hours ago. He'll be fine there.
Professor Magnus looks out of the school window at their future. He turns around to where Warren Worthington II is seated and he congratulates him on his fine speech. Without the crucial ending it would have been the usual pompous nonsense. He asks since when has he been taking these initiatives? Since when has he started using his own brain again? He turns to Mesmero who is standing close by, and wonders more importantly, since when has the great Mesmero not been doing his duty? Mesmero assures Magnus hat everything is in order now, but Magnus reminds him that it wasn't before in front of a room of two hundred people! Mesmero admits that he can't explain it. It was as if someone was talking through him. Magnus tells him that this isn't the time for a mystical crisis, but Mesmero adds that he meant it was somebody with psychic powers. Magnus immediately grabs the phone and asks his secretary to get hold of Emma Frost... now!
As the call goes out and Emma heads to the director's office, Carol Higgins meets Anna Raven in the corridor. She tells Anna that she is pleased that she decided to come to Greenwich and convinced her aunt. Anna informs her that she didn't, but that doesn't matter. She wanted to leave Caldecot and they showed up at the right time. This place or somewhere else... it wouldn't make a difference to her. Carol says it would have made a difference to the Worthington Foundation. There's something she's not quite sure about, right? She still thinks this is some kind of big mistake? Anna replies that they're looking for talented people, but she's only good at being mediocre in everything she does. She asks why she is there.
Carol tells her that each one of the kids at the school asks themselves the very same questions. The Foundation, she explains, looked at thousands of school reports. Their scouts visited schools all over the county and these are the results. They look for intelligence, empathy and determination. They're not looking for geniuses, but for valuable people. Anna thinks she is teasing her, but Carol assures her that this is no dream. If she thinks it is, then the bell will wake her up tomorrow morning for the start of classes. She asks if she's met her roommate yet.
Anna turns to the door which now has her name on it, above that of Miss Munroe. She opens the door slowly and peeks inside. She sees a striking, tall black girl with white hair checking out the letter she received from the Robbins. Anna makes a noise and the girl stuffs it back inside Anna's bag quickly. "Coming," she shouts. She opens the door and says, "Hi! Anna, right. I'm Ororo." Anna doesn't like her already. She thinks Ororo is a good name for a parrot... or a thief.
Robert Drake pulls away his bed sheet to reveal a puddle of water. Henry McCoy, sat on the adjacent bed, assures him that it's no big deal. It happened to him until he was eleven. Robert tries desperately to assure him that it's water, but Henry launches into a description of how urine is created. Hank probably knows full well that it's only water, but he certainly enjoys teasing his roommate.
They call for Scott Summers by banging on his door. Scott is struggling a little as his ruby quartz glasses have shattered and his eyes are beginning to glow. He asks them to go down and he'll be right with them. Downstairs in the cafeteria, Warren Worthington III, the foundation owner's son, approaches Logan's table and comments that he didn't sleep too well. The mattresses are just too soft for him. Logan abruptly warns him not to sit down. Just because they share the same room doesn't make them best buddies. He doesn't like daddy's boys and it's only fair that Warren should know that.
It's time for a biology lesson. Charles Xavier and Jean Grey are taking this class, and they have already discussed three of these youngsters. Robert Drake looks like he produces and controls some kind of organic ice. Henry McCoy has superior intelligence and agility, whilst Scott Summers is able to emit concussive blasts from his eyes. Jean was impressed. Logan and Warren, on the other hand, have both got something to hide.
Charles introduces himself to the assembled class along with his assistant, Dr. Jean Grey. He explains that biology is their subject, but studying life is first and foremost their mission. To understand what they are and the world around them is the only way to face the stars. He hopes that, at the end of this journey, they will know a little more about themselves. He adds that they are the result of six million years of evolution. They surely don’t want to stop now, is he right?
He hands over to Jean Grey who dishes out a little test. It's just a couple of questions for them to see their level of knowledge. They shouldn't worry if some of the questions are difficult. Bobby Drake looks at the paper and scratches his head. "Some? he remarks. He doesn't know if he's holding the page upside down! Henry replies that they’re not so difficult, and yes, he is holding the page upside down. Jean watches over them as they crack on with the test. Bobby isn't sure he got number twelve right. 'All nucleids are... sour?' Henry says the correct answer is 'All nucleids are polymers of nucleotydes' but he was close enough.
Logan leans over to Emma Frost and informs her that the guy with the glasses, Hank, knows all the answers. Why doesn't she just take a look around his head and then pass the answers his way? She tells him not now. She can feel something else. It's a terrible feeling. There's somebody who doesn't feel well nearby. Behind her, Scott Summers is visibly sweating and shaking a little. Jean asks if everything's all right. His answer sheet is blank and he's sweating. Scott, now wearing a new pair of glasses, replies that he just has a really bad headache. He groans, removes his glasses and clenches is eyes tight shut. He can't stand it any longer and he jumps to his feet, heading for the door. "No! No!" he cries. "Not now! Not here!" He dashes for the boiler room, and his antics are picked up by Charles Xavier seated elsewhere.
Scott reaches the boiler room and stands still. "My eyes are burning," he exclaims. He then opens them and smashes the floor with an optic blast. Scott then looks up and his blasts demolish some of the boiler's pipework. Charles calls for everyone to get out of there and, moments later, the boiler explodes, taking a large chunk of wall with it. The students inside panic and make for the exits. Jean Grey becomes trapped between falling masonry and a fire takes hold. She calls for help from Anna Raven, but knowing how her power works, Anna freezes, unable to assist. Fortunately, Logan appears and grabs Jean. As they leave, Jean remembers Professor Xavier. Right on cue, Hank McCoy leaps into action, literally. He lands besides Charles and pulls him to safety.
Soon, fire crews are on the scene and the place has been evacuated. Many are in shock at what happened. When a firefighter leads Scott Summers from the building, Sebastian offers a smirk. "You're in trouble, Summers."
Chapter Two: Cyberno
Anna Raven reckons that she'll be telling this story with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence.
(Worthington Foundation, yesterday)
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by. And that has made all the difference."
Miss Brooks is taking English class, reading from Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken.' Sebastian leans over and asks Emma if he's a relative of hers. She thinks not. They don't have poets in her family. Miss Brooks concludes the lesson and gives them some homework. She warns them to work extra hard this time. Mr. McCoy won't be so kind as to let them copy. Hank grins. "It's just the free circulation of knowledge, Miss Brooks." She asks Anna if she and Emma want to study together. Anna knows that a simple no would have been enough, and she could have gone without the others. But, there's something about Emma Frost that she likes: her confidence, her unique way of always being the center of attention.
Emma asks if they can meet at her room at four. Anna likes Emma because basically, she wants to be like her. Later that day, she gets into a car with Emma and Sebastian to go for a drive. Anna wants confirmation that they're not going to be back late. She hasn't done her homework yet. Emma asks her to relax. There's always time for that. Sebastian agrees. They should try have some fun.
They pull up outside a shopping mall, and Anna isn't overly impressed. Sebasian asks her not to judge by appearances. He promised her a 'special' evening and that's exactly what she's going to get. She should forget about those first year losers. They're completely different.
At the school, Bobby Drake is organizing a basketball game for that afternoon. He asks Logan if he can count on him for that. Logan replies that it depends who's involved. Drake says it's only him for now, so Logan says okay. He'll be on the other team and he wants McCoy with him. A guy who can jump like that should be on his side. Hank agrees, but in exchange he wants them all in the movie theater afterwards. After dinner there's going to be a screening of some classics from his private collection. "Strong stuff?" asks Ororo, cheekily. "Is a Molly Ringwald marathon strong enough for you?" asks Hank. Ororo says she'll pass, and Logan does likewise. Hank asks them not to be like that. It's time for a reappraisal of Pretty In Pink. And besides, he adds, she's good. It's not her fault if the eighties were depressing.
Bobby smiles and tells Anna that she can't say no. Logan reckons she's asking too much from Anna. She didn't lift a finger to save Dr. Grey during the fire. Why should she get her gloves dirty in a basketball game? Anna tells him to give her a break. He's not funny. Ororo backs her up. She might have done the same were she in her shoes. It's normal to be scared. Anna replies that she wasn't scared, but Ororo insists she was just trying to help. Anna says she can look after herself. She doesn't need her help! "I don't need any of you losers."
Hank takes offence at her remark and Bobby reckons it's a nasty word. He reckons he should organize a nice Steve Guttenberg evening and not invite her. That'll teach her.
Anna heads outside and slumps against a tree. "Losers," she repeats again. What do they know about her? What do they know about her hands? Watching from an upstairs window is Emma Frost who is in Magnus' office along with Sebastian. She reckons that in a herd, the animal that strays away is always the most vulnerable. Magnus provides a second option. Maybe they're the strongest. They should never underestimate Anna Raven. She's confused and isolated, he explains, but she isn't helpless. They should treat her as a friend and welcome her to their little exclusive circle. That way, they'll show her which side the winners are on and which side is for all the others.
Emma promises that they won't let him down. She can be very persuasive when she wants. She and Sebastian head for the door, but Magnus asks them to wait a moment. He has a task for the. "Cyberno talked to me."
(yesterday, the mall)
Emma heads back into the faculty, and when Anna tries to attract her attention, she finds Emma distracted. Anna says they've been wandering around for an hour. Can't they go inside or maybe back to the campus? She's starting to get bored. Emma turns to Sebastian and informs him that the target is upstairs. He's sitting on a bench alone. Anna asks what's going on. Sebastian starts running. "Did you say you wanted some action, Anna?" he asks. Emma asks her not to be scared. It's time to make some new friends. "Let the party begin!"
Emma is listening to the Lovin' Spoonful's Summer in the City as Anna arrives. Emma asks her to step inside her room and wonders what she's doing there. Anna reminds her that she's there for the literature homework. Emma reprimands herself. Of course. She asks Anna to put her books down and make herself at home. Anna looks around, gobsmacked that Emma has all this place to herself. Emma opens her arms wide and introduces Anna to her little kingdom. She and her gang call it the Hellfire Club. Every so often they throw a party that's a bit wild. Her door is always open for her friends.
A blond-haired guy appears at the door. He asks why she doesn't close it once in a while. He's trying to study and her granddad’s records aren't helping at all. She offers Donnie Pierce a word to the wise. He should show a bit of respect when he's talking about the Lovin' Spoonful. She won't warn him twice. She introduces him to Anna, explaining that Donald is a second year student who flirts with every girl around. Donald tells Anna that she adores this girl and Emma's friends are his friends. Emma shoves him out the door. "What a character," remarks Anna. Emma says he's a nuisance but she can put up with him. Her classmates must be far worse judging by how far she stays away from them. She's seen Anna in class and out. She keeps them at a safe distance.
Anna admits that a couple of them she really hates. Logan is a savage and her roommate's a thief. Apart from that, Drake's an idiot, McCoy is unintelligible, Worthington you can see right through and Summers doesn't say much. Actually, she decides, he's not too bad after all. "Poor Anna," replies Emma. "You deserve better. She informs Anna that she and Sebastian are going downtown later on. If she doesn't have anything else to do she could go with them. "Are you serious?" asks Anna.
(yesterday, the mall)
The three mutants find their target sitting on the bench wearing a hoodie, and Sebastian places his hand on the guy's shoulder. "Hey..." he says, "Can we have a quick word?" The guy makes a run for it, teleporting once he's out of sight. Sebastian follows but finds that he's disappeared. How the hell did he do that? Emma explains that he can teleport. Cyberno never makes mistakes. She concentrates, still sensing that he's not far away. He's going towards the parking lot. Sebastian sets of running again, whilst Emma asks Anna to save her questions for later. She needs to keep her eyes open.
Sebastian dashes through a door and crashes into another guy on the other side. Sebastian warns him to move it. The jock clenches his fist, ready to fight, and Sebastian relishes the challenge. Emma warns him not to, but Sebastian assures her that he won’t be long. One punch is all it takes and the jock is down. Anna follows Emma, asking her what they're doing. Emma explains that the guy who escaped needs their help. Their task is to find him and bring him to the school. He's like herself and Anna. He's a superhuman!
"No!" exclaims Anna.
Meanwhile, the target teleports away from the mall and then once again. Emma does a quick scan of Anna's mind and tells Anna that her Aunt Carrie isn't there. It's sweet of her to think about her, but nobody can help her now. She should forget about normal people. She is superior! Sebastian spots the target and he can see that he's getting tired. The teleporter comes to an unceremonious halt on a road barrier and Emma explains that he becomes tired when he teleports. He's worn down but he won't surrender. Sebastian asks what they're waiting for. They should go get him. The stranger gets a second wind and starts running. Anna doesn't seem too keen on this whole plan, and Emma tells her that it's a long way back to campus. Is she coming with them? Anna decides to get in the car and Sebastian drives off in pursuit. She asks Sebastian what the plan is. Sebastian says that the guy made them run a lot. Now it's his turn for a bit of exercise.
The car races after the runner, and Emma wonders if they're going a bit fast. She reminds Sebastian that they're not supposed to hurt him. Sebastian replies that he just wants to scare him a bit. Anna can't believe this. She grabs the steering wheel and yanks it to the left. Unfortunately, the car veers straight towards their intended target and both Emma and Sebastian wince as they're about to collide with him. Luckily, the guy has just enough energy for one last teleport, possibly brought on by adrenaline, and he disappears as the car slides down an embankment and into a tree. He takes this opportunity to make a run for it. Soon after, Anna recovers and looks out the window to see a figure looming above the car. Emma tells Sebastian to wake up. Magnus is there.
Magnus begins to dismantle the front of the car using his magnetic powers. He asks them not to be afraid. He's not there to tell her of her failings... but to say hello to a new student. "P-professor?" exclaims Anna. "Anna Raven, right?" replies Magnus. He informs Anna that she can absorb other people's memories and abilities simply through contact. He finds that remarkable. It's people like her, he beams, that will make them great! Anna nervously asks what they want. Who are they really? Magnus explains that he's a man with a dream. The Worthington Foundation gathers together many promising young people. And then there is herself. He's been looking for some of the most powerful mutants to create a small community... a brotherhood of people sharing the same vision. Anna asks what on Earth he's talking about.
Magnus replies, "Ruling the world. What else?" He teaches history, and he knows very well that in the course of time, there has always been just a handful of people dominating the masses... even when the masses thought otherwise. It will always be this way in the future, too. The Foundation will create a superhuman elite, and she will play a great role in his project. Democracy, he concludes, is a misunderstanding, but it's not up to them to make people see that. Anna is confused after everything she's seen.
Magnus uses his power to rebuild the car's engine followed by each of the body panels. He asks her to forget about it. She's had a revelation tonight. She's discovered her mutant powers and been reborn. Together they will grow. Using their mutant powers to the utmost, they will easily reach positions of economic and political power. Some people spend their whole lives at war to obtain the very same result. They will rule tomorrow's world thanks to a silent revolution which nobody will be able to stop. They are the dominant species. Speech over, Magnus looks over to Anna. Does she want to join them?
Anna replies that with all due respect, he can forget about it. Magnus tells her that from all the possible answers, she picked the wrong one. She should think about what she's doing. As he takes to the air, he adds that in the human world she will always be an outcast... a freak, but in his world, it will be her making the rules. He flies away over the forest, and Emma tells Anna that she can walk back. She and Sebastian drive off, leaving Anna to ponder what on Earth just happened. Watching her from a branch high up in a nearby tree, the teleporting stranger remains silent.
Anna finally returns to the campus, alone. She'd really like to talk to somebody right now, but her friends will be asleep at this hour. Inside, though, this isn't quite the case. Logan is taping up wounds on his knuckles. Warren Worthington is discovering something strange his room. Bobby Drake and Henry McCoy are amusing themselves with a hologram of a bikini beauty and Scott Summers sits nearby looking deeply unhappy. Anna returns to her room and gets ready for bed, as Ororo lies there, pretending to be asleep. 'My friends...' thinks Anna. 'I must really be in trouble to call them that.
Scott Summers heads to Carol Higgins' office, and informs her that he wishes to leave the foundation for personal reasons. Carol replies that she respects his reasons, but she would like Scott to reflect a bit more. He won't be given this opportunity again. He may join another school but it won't be like the Worthington Foundation. She asks him what happened. The boiler room incident? he asks. He admits that it was him. Carol tells him that it was a gas leak. If he has another explanation then she is all ears. Scott pauses a moment. "I'll think about it, Missus Higgins."
He leaves her office and finds Anna sat on a chair outside. They exchange hi's before Anna enters the office. Carol asks what brings her to her room. Anna says she has a story to tell, and she only asks that Carol believes her.
Magnus is in a large room with Mesmero. He is wearing a helmet but keeps his glasses on. He tells Mesmero that it may take a day, a week or a month, but it's only a matter of time. The girl will fall. If she were who they think she is she would have left, but instead, she decided to stay. Cyberno has spoken. He asks Mesmero to keep an eye on Anna. He can leave it to his boys with the usual recommendations. Mesmero says Toad, Blob and Pyro will love it.
Over the course of the next few days, Anna is watched over by the three mutants. Toad poses as a gardener, Blob as a food counter operative and Pyro as an on-campus caretaker.
Magnus, in his office, explains to Mesmero that Anna told Principal Higgins everything. She let the cat out of the bag about Magnus and her project. She wanted an ally in her lonely battle, but ended up even more alone, losing her faith in the only person she trusted. After all, he adds, holding the Cyberno helmet in his hands, who in their right mind would believe in such an absurd story. Carol, stood listening, tells Magnus that she's sorry but she had to let Anna down. Magnus asks if she's getting attached to the girl. She did what she had to do. If it makes her feel better, she should consider it a necessary evil. When Anna is with them, he's sure she'll understand, and each one of them will finally be free to be themselves. Carol Higgins transforms into her normal appearance; the mutant shapeshifter, Mystique.
Outside, Anna Raven is slumped under a tree reading a book. Hank McCoy approaches her and tells her it seems like he needs to congratulate her. She asks what for. Hank tells her that her literature essay got a better grade than his. It was a really deep analysis. "And to think," Anna replies, "I had to write it last night." Hank walks with her and says he'd like to talk about it with her, if it's okay with her. Anna thinks not, but she'd like to watch one of his movies. He suggests Wargames. It's part of a tribute to Ally Sheedy... a 1983 classic.
Watching from a distance are Charles Xavier and Jean Grey. "Okay Jean," says Charles, telepathically, "Now It's our turn."