Toronto, Canada, within the top-secret Department H, formerly the headquarters to Canada’s premiere super hero team. Now, home to said former premiere super heroes, reduced to little more than “advisors”. ‘JEANNE-MAIRE!’ cries Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier to his sister as he knocks on the door to her quarters, calling out to her, he asks her to open up, but when he gets no answer, overrides the security access and enters her room. ‘Are you sure?’ Eugene Milton Judd a.k.a. Puck asks. ‘It’s been two days…’ Northstar points out.
Opening the door and entering the dim quarters, the duo examine the messy room and Judd exclaims that she is gone. ‘As you suspected’ Northstar points out, remarking that he doesn’t know how he could have been so blind to his sister’s condition. ‘Hiding away in here all these weeks…willing only to talk about her deluded love’ Jean-Paul remarks. Judd exclaims that they have to go after Aurora, to which Northstar assures the aged Alphan that they will, adding that, unfortunately, he knows exactly where his sister is headed…’Straight to him’.
Elsewhere…deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, fifty miles outside Washington D.C., more specifically, the outer permitter of Fall’s Edge, one of the federal governments high security intelligence facilities, now headquarters to the mutant group known as X-Factor. A rather untamed-looking young man is riding a dirt-bike, simply cutting loose. He was born Kyle Gibney, but on the day his mutant powers kicked in, and his parents kicked him out, he became known as Wild Child. For obvious reasons. A few years spent working with Department H, the top-secret Canadian scientific research agency, took some of the rougher edges off.
Some…not all. Even though the years have been less than kind to Kyle, he tries to have fun. Like today, riding down the side of a mountain at seventy miles an hour, kicking up some dirt and letting the adrenaline flow. Any pain he’s felt in the past seems like a ghost of a memory. However, memories are a hard thing to escape - no matter how fast you go. ‘YEAH!’ he shouts, while thinking to himself that these are not the Canadian Rockies, but that they will do. ‘Rough ride, but all it takes is a little skill, a lot of guts and some - whoa, what the -?!’ he thinks to himself as something flashes right in front of him, causing him to swerve and lose control of his bike. Kyle flips over, and lets go of the bike. He knows that the bike will be destroyed, but exclaims that he saved his own tail.
‘Not for long, Kyle! Not for long!’ exclaims a voice, before that mysterious flash reappears - it’s Aurora! The French-Canadian heroine tells Wild Child that he should not have left her, as it wasn’t very nice. Kyle looks at Jeanne-Marie Beaubier and asks her what she is doing here, what she is talking about. ‘I go wherever I wish, Kyle!’ Aurora, clad in the red and white costume that the last incarnation of Alpha Flight wore as their team uniform and exclaims that she goes wherever she wishes. ‘Why does everyone treat me like a child? WHY!?’ she shouts, before firing a beam of light at Wild Child.
Kyle dodges, wondering how Aurora did that, as her mutant powers always manifested as flashes of light, not concussive force. Kyle begins his escape, running through the woods, deciding that this is not the time to be inquisitive, and that all he can do now is lose her and hope to make sense of this before she nails him. ‘Don’t run from me, Kyle! Not again! I need you!’ Aurora screams as she pursues Wild Child.
Half a miles away, at Fall’s Edge, where Doctor Valerie Cooper is escorting a very special prisoner for a unique examination. ‘I don’t like being dragged about like this, Val!’ Raven Darkholme - better known as the devious Mystique - exclaims. ‘That’s just too bad, Mystique’ the sultry Dr. Cooper replies. ‘You’re an X-Factor operative now - and that means you follow my rules!’ Valerie, dressed in her yellow and blue X-Factor costume, tells Raven that rule number one is to make sure her neural implant is working properly, as she wants to be certain Mystique’s shape-shifting powers are still under control. ‘You’ve always been such a killjoy, Val’ Raven replies.
The door opens to Forge’s workshop, and a strange woman appears. ‘Excuse me, ladies…I assume you’re looking for Forge?’ she asks, blocking Valerie and Mystique’s way, she declares that Forge is busy with her right now. ‘If you know what I mean…’. She smirks, and suggests they come back at a more convenient time, when suddenly, she begins breaking up, and disappears, while calling out for Forge to check the matrix generator.
‘Uh…Forge?’ asks Valerie as she enters the workshop. ’Yes, Val? Is anything wrong?’ Forge replies nonchalantly as he tinkers with some device. ’Who…or what…was that?’ Val asks. Mystique grins as she suggests that it looks like someone is turning to their holograms to keep them warm at night. ’Forge, I’m hurt. You should have come to me!’ she adds. Forge ignores Raven’s advance and holds up the device he is tinkering with to Val, explaining that it is the holographic matrix projector belonging to Bishop of the X-Men, and that within the device is the essence of Bishop’s sister, Shard, and the only link to his timeline. Forge adds that the matrix was severely damaged in Bishop’s recent confrontation with Mountjoy.
Forge informs Valerie that he is trying to repair the damage as a favor to Bishop, and in the process, he has discovered an amazing amount of untapped potential in this device, capabilities which he doubts the original inventors ever dreamed of. ‘Isn’t that lovely! Plus you get a little holographic playmate to boot!’ Raven mutters. Forge begins to tell Mystique something about “envy”, when the computer announces that there has been a security breach in compound sector twelve-artemis of an unauthorized person of a super-powered nature, and that X-Factor designate Wild Child is currently under attack. ‘Let’s move it, folks!’ exclaims Forge as he leads Val and Mystique to investigate the situation.
Elsewhere, deep below the streets of Manhattan in a place where no humans venture, dwells a very unique being. For he is one of a but a handful in the universe - a survivor, a castaway…of a parallel time, of another Earth. It was a world of untold horrors, of humanity enslaved and death ascendant. And this being was one of the chief architects of that lost world. Of that horror. This man…this beast. He watches the mutant called Random as he drives. ‘Random, my protoplasmic pawn…’ the Dark Beast exclaims, asking Random if he can hear him, as the video link with Random’s ocular enhances is working precisely as designed, but there is something wrong with the audio.
The Dark Beast realizes that it is the radio in Random’s car and tells him to turn it off. ‘The din of that which you think is music is deafening me!’ he exclaims. Random does as requested, and the Dark Beast thanks him, and tells him that his insolence has been noted, and is not appreciated. The Dark Beast asks if they shall implement a drill in Random’s morphing repertoire, and decides that they will. The Dark Beast orders Random to proceed while he monitors the recent adjustment he made to his DNA structure, as they cannot have him unravelling when facing Prelate Summers!
‘Ah, if you could only have known the man he was in my time!’ the Dark Beast exclaims. ‘One of the elite! An exemplarily genetic model…and one worthy of being at the forefront of the forces which I am gathering!’ The Dark Beast narrows his eyes as he exclaims that time us upon them, the final conflagration is nearing and he intends to be victorious - and never to dwell in the shadows again! Random asks the Dark Beast how he can get close enough to Havok without the rest of X-Factor coming down on him, to which the Dark Beast tells Random not to overly tax his gray matter with such concerns, and that he can rest assured knowing that all will be taken care of by Edna McCoy’s baby boy. ‘By morn’s early light…Prelate Summers will be mine!’.
Back at Fall’s Edge, ‘Kyle! Come back here!’ screams Aurora as she fires another concussive beam of light at him. Wild Child calls back that this is ridiculous, and tells her that she is right, he is through running from her, and that he is worried about her. He remarks that he knew she had some problems in the past, but she wasn’t like this! ‘I’ve changed, Kyle!’ Aurora exclaims, suggesting to Kyle that if he had stayed around, stayed with her, then he would have found out how much. ‘But you had to leave…leave me when I needed you the most!’ Kyle lands in some water and looks up at Aurora as she screams ‘But now…you’ll never leave me again!’ - suddenly, a beam of power knocks Aurora out and she falls to the ground.
It’s Northstar! Jean-Paul stands over his sister and tells her that he is sorry, but that he had to stop her. Puck is with him and tells Northstar not to blame himself, and that Aurora will thank him when she is better. ‘Will she, Puck?’ Jean-Paul asks, remarking that he would ever raise a hand or turn his powers against his own flesh and blood is unconscionable. Wild Child turns to his former teammates and asks them what happened to Aurora, and what he can do to help. ‘You’ve done enough already, haven’t you?’ Jean-Paul snaps at Wild Child, while picking his sister up.
Northstar declares that Wild Child knew Aurora has always been delicate, but he toyed with her affection anyway, then abandoned her. ‘I should kill you for that!’ Northstar snaps. Suddenly, X-Factor - Havok, Polaris, Forge, Mystique and Valerie Cooper - appear, and Havok declares ‘I don’t think we can let that happen, Northstar’ before telling his teammates that it is obvious they have stumbled into a real tense situation, and declares that everyone should calm down, so someone can explain what is going on here. Northstar turns to Havok and declares that this does not concern him, or any of X-Factor.
The handsome Alex Summers turns to his team, and asks them if it was just him, or if they also do not like the way Northstar spoke to them. ‘I can’t imagine liking much of anything he might say. Want me to kill him, Summers?’ Mystique asks. ‘Er, thanks, but no. I thought I might try a slightly reasonable approach, first’ Havok replies, before turning to Wild Child and asking what is going on. Kyle replies that it is Aurora, sometimes she gets a little out of control and doesn’t act like herself.
Northstar interrupts before anything else can be said, exclaiming that his sisters condition is not for public airing. Puck hangs his head and remarks that this is starting to get embarrassing, before whispering to Jean-Paul that they are the intruders here, they owe X-Factor some sort of explanation, and motions around at the damage Aurora has caused. Havok tells Puck that is not a concern here, and Valerie looks at Alex suspiciously as he remarks that he knows and respects Aurora, so all he wants to do is help. He suggests they go inside, calm down and talk, but Northstar protests, exclaiming that he doesn’t want to risk hurting Aurora again.
‘What is all this touchy-feely stuff? Are we going to fight or not?’ Mystique asks, before asking what this has to do with dog-faced boy. ‘Is he really worth all this tea and sympathy?’ Forge turns to Raven and tells her to cool it, and assuring her that they are doing for Wild Child and Aurora the same they would do for her, although he cannot say he would be too crazy about that either. ‘Of, stop it Forge…you’ll make me blush’ Raven replies dryly. Suddenly, Wild Child exclaims ‘Enough! None of you…not you Northstar…nor you, Havok…have the right to talk about Aurora like she isn’t here!’ Kyle suggest that if they want to know what is going on, then they should talk to her like a person.
Wild Child puts a hand on Aurora’s face and asks her what happened, as she wasn’t like this the last time he saw her. ‘What made you go this far? Why would you want to hurt me?’ he asks her.
(Shown with flashback illustrations that take place between Alpha Flight (1st series) #130 and X-Factor (1st series) #116)
Wild Child announces that once, he and Aurora were actually in love. Back when his mutation was playing tricks on him, back when he was handsome and dared to dream of having a normal life. He remarks that being with Aurora was the best thing that ever happened to him - all his life he had been this hideous thing, then finally, he wasn’t afraid to show his face, or his heart. But then, it all fell apart. He mutated back to the way he looks today, and couldn’t feal with looking like an animal again.
Wild Child tells Aurora that it nearly killed him, that he couldn’t look in the mirror again, all he could do was sit in the dark, hating God for doing this to him. He explains that he could not deal with her seeing him this way, so he had to pull away, which is why when Valerie asked him to go and help X-Factor find Havok, he jumped at the opportunity to get away, from his own past, his own ugliness.
Aurora cries, and Wild Child tells her that he is sorry, as he should have spoken to her before he left, but he couldn’t, as he felt that looking the way he does, he didn’t deserve anyone as beautiful as her. ‘I’m sorry if I hurt you he tells her. Suddenly though, ‘Sorry? You’re SORRY?’ Aurora exclaims as she takes to the air, knocking everyone around her over with a blinding flash. ‘You thought so little of me…of the love I had for you…of our relationship…and all you can say is…sorry?!’ she shrieks, before telling Wild Child that he made her feel ugly, as if she had done something wrong.
Aurora remarks that she thought it was because of how she gets, her bouts of schizophrenia, her erratic mood swings, before declaring that when she was sitting in her room, thinking about him, she made a promise. ‘If I cannot have you…no one will!’ she screams.
Outside X-Factor’s compound, Random pulls up in his car, and wonders what he is doing here, and what this will do to Polaris. ‘Lorna’s the only one that ever treated me like a person’ he reminds himself, wondering why he is now coming back to repay her like this. ‘How much do I want what the Beast is offering me? How much am I willing to give…to be able to be whole again?’ Random asks himself. Taking off his sunglasses, he looks in the rear-vision mirror, he knows that this isn’t who he really is, what he really looks like, but then, how much more of his soul does he have to give up to the Dark Beast to get back what should have been his all along?
Suddenly, the Dark Beast’s voice is heard from the communicator in the sunglasses, exclaiming that their audio-visual seems to have been disrupted. The Dark Beast remarks that some post-adolescent females from the surface world might find the rear seat of this car titillating, he is not amused, and orders Random to put the ocular communicator back in place immediately. Random does so, remarking that he just had something stuck in his eye. ‘Ah, the lad has a sense of humor!’ the Dark Beast remarks, before Random informs him that he is at Fall’s Edge, and is going to find some place to park the car so he can do some reconnaissance, and will check back in later.
Meanwhile, Aurora throttles Wild Child while her powers burst everywhere, she tells Kyle that she is sorry, that she doesn’t want to do this, but cannot help herself. Puck tells Northstar that he must stop his sister, but Jean-Paul replies that he cannot hurt her again. Lorna Dane a.k.a. Polaris announces that she has them magnetically shielded from the brunt of Aurora’s force, but that she has to be killing Wild Child, so they have got to do something.
Havok replies that he is open to suggestions, when suddenly Mystique, addressing everyone as “children” tells them to relax, and asks Forge if he has programmed Wild Child’s likeness into her morph-inhibitor yet. Forge replies that he hasn’t, and begins to ask Raven what she is going, but Mystique cuts him off and tells Polaris to drop the shield. Lorna also begins to ask Mystique what she is doing, to which Raven replies ‘Just drop it!’ and exclaims that she isn’t going to kill anyone…unless she has to.
‘Good-bye, Kyle!’ Aurora exclaims, her hands wrapping tighter around Wild Child’s neck, when suddenly, ‘Jeanne-Marie!’ exclaims a voice. Aurora turns and sees…Wild Child?! Handsome, and clad in his red and white Alpha Flight costume, Wild Child tells Aurora to ‘Let him go’. Aurora flies over, asking if it is really him. ‘Of course it’s me. The real me. The one you fell in love with!’ Kyle replies as he takes Aurora’s hand. ‘Not that ugly impostor. You saved me Jeanne-Marie - thank you!’ Wild Child exclaims. Aurora wraps her arms around the handsome Wild Child, declaring that she knew he wouldn’t have left her, and asks if he will come back to Canada with her. ‘Of course I will’ the handsome Wild Child replies, when, suddenly, ‘NO!’ screams the real Wild Child.
Kyle approaches Aurora and “Wild Child”, telling Mystique to stop this, to not do it to Aurora, as she is confused enough as it is. Wild Child turns to Aurora and tells her not to listen, that it isn’t him. ‘This is me! Look at me! This is the horror he has become!’ he says, his feral features heightened. ‘This is the face that I’ve got to look at in the mirror everyday! The one that I have to learn to accept!’ Aurora asks her handsome Kyle what this other one is talking about. ‘Ignore him. Just stay calm and everything will be fine’ “Wild Child” replies, when suddenly Kyle comes over and smacks his impostor over, ‘Shut up!’ he tells Mystique, who reverts to her default form when she hit’s the ground.
Kyle tries to talk to Aurora, who asks him what he just did. ‘Omigod! Mystique! It was a trick! Another lie!’ Aurora exclaims, before unleashing more concussive power, she asks Wild Child why he is doing this to her. ‘Stop it! Just leave me alone!’ she screams. Wild Child tells Aurora to listen to him, that she can control herself if she really wants to. Aurora looks at Kyle, ‘I can’t…I need help. I needed you’ she exclaims. Wild Child replies that he is here now, but as a friend, as it cannot be like it was between them anymore, too much has happened.
Wild Child exclaims that it is time for both of them to get one with their lives, and that he will help her, they all will. ‘NOOOO!’ screams Aurora as she takes flight. Wild Child rushes after her, telling her to come back as she will hurt herself overextending her powers like that. Suddenly, Aurora screams, and plummets to the ground. Northstar and Puck arrive to find Aurora, and Wild Child is not far behind, asking Jean-Paul if Aurora is okay. ‘What do you care? You did this to her!’ Northstar exclaims. ‘You knew she was in a fragile state…and yet you ran away from her with concerns only for yourself!’ he exclaims, before telling Wild Child that Aurora is not his concern anymore, and warns him to stay here or to keep running from his problems if he wants, but whatever he does, he is to stay away from Aurora.
Wild Child tries to talk to Northstar, before muttering that excuses don’t matter anymore, and promising to stay away, before telling Northstar that no matter what he thinks, he will always care for Aurora. Northstar picks up his unconscious sister and flies away without so much as a goodbye to X-Factor. Puck tells Wild Child that he is sorry about this. For all of them. ‘Save your pity for Jeanne-Marie, Puck. She alone deserves it’ Wild Child replies as X-Factor gathers around him. Mystique tells Kyle that she was only trying to help, and points out that it worked. ‘She didn’t kill you. Her brother didn’t kill you. I didn’t kill -’ Raven remarks, until she is cut off by Valerie who tells her to leave him alone, as Wild Child doesn’t need that right now.
Havok, Polaris, Forge, Mystique and Valerie Cooper depart, leaving Wild Child alone. For years, he prayed for a chance at a normal life. That chance was given to him - and cruelly taken away. Now, as he scans the horizon for a final glimpse of the woman who may have been the one true love of his life, he wonders…if there are any prayers left within him.