(Flash-Forward, narrated by Greystone)
New York City, the future…this is the world into which Greystone was born. A world where human and mutant alike were subjugated by robotic hunter-killers called Sentinels. The humans got off lucky - civilization was simply brought down around their ears. Mutants however suffered a much harsher fate. If it wasn’t for those of them born with the x-factor in their genetic code, if it wasn’t for the humans’ fear of their mutation, then the Sentinels would never have been created, and a young Greystone would not have been standing in line, with his mother, waiting to receive a certain marking. ‘And he would never have entered my life’.
Standing in the line with a myriad of others, Sentinels looming over them, and guards standing nearby, young Greystone’s mother reassured him that everything was going to be fine, that he wouldn’t be hurt. But, as they moved ahead in the line, and the first screams of those being branded began to reach their ears, both knew that she was lying. There was no choice though - you either volunteered for the branding and power-restraining collars - or you were hunted down and killed by the Sentinels. The boy who would become known as Greystone had heard rumors of a rebellion - but his mother didn’t want to know about it, as she told him it was too dangerous to speak of such things - especially with the likes of Micah among them.
Micah was a betrayer to mutant and human alike - a Hound who wore no collar and no mark, other than the horrible scar which mutilated the right side of his face. Micah was the overseer of the death camp and was rumoured to have personally killed thousands. And on this certain day, his loathsome gaze fell upon the young Greystone. The child clung to his mother, but Micah’s lackeys dragged him from his protective mother, and gave him to Micah. The child tried to be brave as the M-shaped brand approached his face, but he began to cry. He thought he had prepared himself for the worst - but he was wrong. It happened then. Presumably triggered by the branding, right there with his mother looking on - the boy who would become Greystone developed his mutant power.
The camp guards jumped forwards, but Greystone’s power blossomed, and suddenly, he was strong. He no longer needed to be frightened, and now he could fight. His increased form easily swatted the guards aside, but then his mother came forward and pleaded with her son not to resist, as she wanted him safe and alive. Greystone was ready to listen - when, suddenly, a powerful blast tore his mother in half, right in front of him. She never stood a chance. Greystone turned to the direction of the blasts’ origin, and across the yard, he saw Micah, his scarred face simply smiling at him, while a weapon simmered in his hand. It was time for Greystone to act. Time to avenge the deaths of all those who had died at Micah’s hands…time to avenge his mother.
But, suddenly, an explosion ripped through the camp yard. Sentinels began to fall, and in the ensuring confusion, Greystone and Micah were swept apart. The Summers Rebellion had begun, and Greystone never saw Micah again….
…until today, that is. In New York City, ‘Everybody ready?’ Alex “Havok” Summers, formerly of X-Factor asks his time-displaced companions as he stands in the middle of a field. A storm rages in the sky - lightning crackles and rain pours down. ‘Come on, Havok…all of us against you?’ one of his companions asks. ‘Believe me…I’ve been up against worse’ Alex replies, before pointing out that if he is going to trust them to handle his back, he wants to know what they can do. Alex tells everyone that they need to get this over with, for although a training session in the middle of the night, during a thunderstorm in Central Park might be romantic, and guarantee a certain amount of privacy, it is not exactly his idea of a good time.
‘Okay, old man, but you’ve been warned!’ one of the time-lost mutants cries out. ‘Old man?’ Havok retorts, before calling out to Archer: ‘Let’s you and me dance!’ he challenges him. While Havok and Archer battle it out, Archer’s X.U.E. teammates Fixx and Greystone, as well as Shard, formerly of both the X.U.E. in the future, and of X-Factor in the present day stand nearby. Fixx turns to Greystone, whose massive form sits slumped under a large tree, and asks him if he is joining them. Greystone replies ‘Not right now’ and tells her that he is sure she, Shard and Archer can handle one former X-Man.
Fixx’s psionic fairies begin floating around Greystone, so he tells Fixx to keep them out of his face, otherwise he will smoosh them. ‘And you know that gives you a headache!’ he reminds Fixx. Fixx asks her teammate what is wrong with him, motioning to the newspaper he is reading she points out that it isn’t like him to sit out a fight for a newspaper. ‘I’m telling you, it’s him!’ Greystone replies as he closely examines a page of the newspaper. ‘Come on, Greystone, what are the odds?’ Archer asks his teammate while he tackles Havok. ‘It says right here that the kidnapped boy’s name is Micah Leash’ Greystone replies.
‘So we just happen to run into the worst enemy mutant kind has ever known in the first week we’re here?’ Archer asks. ‘Think!’ he tells Greystone. ‘Look!’ Greystone retorts, ‘Look at the face! Look at the eyes!’ he exclaims as Fixx takes the newspaper. Greystone shifts into the form of the boy whose body he resides in, Brian Young, as Fixx hands him back the newspaper, ‘I don’t know, Greystone. He’s just a boy’ Fixx points out. Greystone suggests to Fixx that she could find him, reminding her of the link she established with Micah in the camps. ‘No! I won’t!’ Fixx replies quickly. Archer asks Greystone how he could even suggest that. ‘After what she went through? After what we all went through?’ he remarks. Greystone replies that he suggested it because of what they all went through. ‘And because…it’s him!’ he adds as he walks away from the group. Havok asks Greystone where he is going, to which Greystone replies that he is going to find Micah, and then he is going to kill him. ‘Anyone want to clue me in on what’s going on here?’ Havok asks. ‘It’s a long story, Havok. It’s our story!’ Archer replies, while the newspaper falls down in front of them, on the page where a photo of a young boy with the headline “Kidnapped: Micah Leash” is showing.
Sometime later, at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, the rain continues to pour down, but inside the massive church, Greystone, still in his Brian Young guise, stands before the altar, and asks his mother what he should do. ‘I didn’t know you were catholic, Greystone’ a voice asks. Greystone realizes that it is Fixx who, in her Jane Doe guise, stands behind him. Greystone replies that he is not much of anything, but that his mother was Catholic. ‘At times like this I figure it’s best to keep all the bases covered’ he points out. ‘You really think it’s him?’ Fixx asks. ‘I know I wont be able to stop thinking about it until I know for sure!’ Greystone replies.
Fixx remarks that she, Greystone and Archer travel back in time, link their very essences with three dead humans and, at least for Greystone and Archer, retain the memories of the host bodies. ‘Me…I’m lost in the mind of Jane Doe. An amnesiac’. Fixx explains that her point is that it is possible they might see things that aren’t really there. ‘It’s a confusing time’ she tells Greystone. ‘But what if it is him?’ Greystone asks. ‘What if we could guarantee that he would never get to commit the atrocities we know he’ll commit?’ Greystone exclaims, asking Fixx ‘Don’t you want to know?’. Fixx pauses, before replying that she does. Fixx hangs her head as she promises Greystone to help him find the boy. ‘But…what if it is him?’ she asks. ‘Then we’ll do what needs to be done!’ Greystone replies, blowing out a candle.
Elsewhere, Archer ponders the inherited memories of Jude Black, the man whose body he inhabits. No ordinary man, Jude Black is an international terrorist. But he has a family also. Archer stands in the rain, looking at a phone booth, before entering the booth and dialing a number embedded in the dead man’s memories. Archer will be forever linked to this other life, and to a family. This a second chance at something Archer thought he would never have the opportunity to have again. And it is something he isn’t sure he deserves. So he hangs the phone up and steps back out into the rain.
But, Archer knows he has to do this, so he steps back into the phone booth, and dials the number once again. Suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘If this is about switching my long distance service…give it up already!’. Archer smiles as he asks ‘Rachel?’ Rachel Black goes wide-eyed, ‘Jude? I thought you were dead. I prayed that you were’ she tells him, before slamming the phone down. Archer slowly hangs the phone up, telling himself that he will make it better. ‘Whatever he has done…I wont fail them!’ he exclaims. ‘Not again. Not his time’ he whispers, smiling.
Elsewhere, Havok and Shard head to the suite of rooms in which he and the others are currently crashing in. Alex tells Shard that it seems like her buddies from the future have got some problems to work out. ‘They are not my buddies. They’re traitors to the X.S.E. and -’ Shard begins, before telling Alex to wait as he proceeds to open the door to one of the rooms. Shard exclaims that there is someone in there, and tells Alex to stay here while she handles it. ‘No, Shard, it’s -’ Alex begins, as he knows who is in there. ‘YOU?!’ Shard gasps as she begins to use her powers, until Havok blasts the door frame down, knocking Shard back.
‘A bit of an overly dramatic entrance…don’t you think, Alex?’ a voice asks. Alex smiles and replies that he was afraid Shard was going to hurt them. ‘Forge!’ Shard exclaims, looking up at the present leader of X-Factor. Forge declares that he doesn’t know why he is trusting Alex, not after what he did to X-Factor - what he did to Lorna. ‘How is she?’ Alex asks. ‘Do you really care?’ Forge replies. Havok replies that he does care and that he is sorry things worked out the way they did, reminding Forge that he explained it all to him on the phone. ‘Sure. A phone call clears everything up’ Forge replies sarcastically. ‘Explains why you couldn’t trust us, your teammates, your friends, to help with the Black Beast’.
Forge tells Alex that he believes he had the best of intentions, ‘But I don’t have to like you, Alex’ Forge adds, tossing Alex a set of keys, he tells him that it should cover everything he needs. ‘They’re to a property I no longer use’ Forge explains. Turning away from Alex, Forge tells him that his “team” can utilize the property for as long as they need to, but with one caveat. ‘If I get word that you are up to no good…we will see each other again. Good-bye. And don’t contact me again’ Forge says to Alex. ‘Looks like we’re in business’ Alex smiles.
Meanwhile, elsewhere, Greystone and Fixx stand outside a building, and Greystone remarks that this is the place the paper mentioned, telling Fixx that Micah was kidnapped from the schoolyard while classmates and teachers looked on, but that there have been no ransom demands and no contact of any sort with his family. Greystone asks Fixx if she thinks she can find him, to which Fixx shifts from her Jane Doe guise into her true form, psionic fairies darting all around, and Fixx exclaims that she can find him, with a little help from her “friends”. She tells Greystone that the psionic path isn’t very cold, so her sprites should be able to pick up some psychic residue.
Fixx remarks that the boy should have been frightened. ‘Which leaves all sorts of…got it!’ she announces, ‘It’s the boy and he was scared!’ she tells Greystone, explaining that they can follow his psychic trail to wherever he is being held. ‘If you’re sure we’re ready to deal with whatever we may find at the end of this trail’ Fixx tells Greystone, who replies that he is ready. ‘Micah can’t be allowed to do what we know he will do!’ he exclaims as he shifts into his true form, dropping his Brian Young guise. ‘If we can’t stop this kind of stuff…what was the point of our traveling back to this time?’ Greystone asks, before telling Fixx that they need to go find him. Fixx and Greystone begin following the psychic fairies, unaware that Archer is quietly following them.
A short time later, Fixx and Greystone arrive at a warehouse on New York’s Lower East Side. ‘This is it? You sure?’ Greystone asks. Somewhat hesitant, Fixx replies that she is sure he is here. ‘We’ve got to do this!’ Greystone exclaims, telling Fixx that there is no room for doubt. He makes his way up to the entrance, telling Fixx that if she cannot go through with it to remain here. ‘I’ll handle it myself’ he exclaims. But Fixx replies that she will come, as she must know, when, suddenly, Archer appears, ‘NO!’ he shouts, asking Fixx and Greystone if they are insane. ‘I’m not going to let you go through with this!’ he tells them, adding that he was hoping they would realize how ridiculous this is.
‘Even if this is the same Micah, he’s just a child. We’re not even positive that he’s the right child! I can’t let you kill him!’ Archer exclaims. Greystone shifts his form into a larger, more powerful one, warning Archer to get out of his way. ‘I don’t want to hurt you, but…’ he begins, until Fixx jumps between the two of them, ‘Stop this now!’ she orders. ‘We’re a team!’ she reminds them, suggesting that they find the boy, then they will all look in his eyes and decide as a team what to do. ‘Agreed, Greystone?’ Fixx asks. ‘Fine. Let’s just get it over with’ Greystone mutters.
Seconds later, the X.U.E. are about to bust into the warehouse, when the doors open and some cloaked men appear. ‘Looks like the kidnappers are prepared!’ Greystone points out. The men lunge at the X.U.E. with axes, but Archer easily disposes of them and knocks the men out. Entering the warehouse, the X.U.E. come across a large cult, with cloaked figure standing around a ring of fire, where cages filled with children are kept. A large skull hangs from the wall. ‘Who are these people?’ Fixx asks, while Archer motions to the cages filled with the children.
The apparent leader of the cult, a man with horned head-piece, announces that the dawn of the new millennium is upon them, ‘And we, the chosen few, those who wear the mark of the beast…shall be the only survivors when the great upheaval comes!’ he boasts, declaring that the seeds of the future will be planted now. ‘The children shall receive the mark, setting them apart from all others’. The X.U.E. stand behind some crates in the shadows as the cult leader exclaims ‘We will be their only family in the coming new age. And we shall rise above the others!’
The cult leader asks for the first child to be brought forth for the marking of the beast. ‘The boy! It’s HIM! It’s Micah!’ Greystone shouts as the cult leader holds a dagger above Micah. ‘He’s got to die!’ Greystone exclaims, revealing his presence in the process. The cult leader shouts ‘Intruders! Disbelievers! Kill them!’. Archer and Fixx leap into action, with Archer remarking that they cannot just let Greystone kill the boy, to which Fixx agrees, and points out that there are other imprisoned children to think of also, before asking what they do about the cultists. ‘What we were trained to do!’ Archer replies as he knocks two of them out.
Fixx attacks one of them with her psionic fairies, while Archer’s well-honed fighting abilities serve him well.
A massive Greystone shoves a whole lot of the cultists away with one swoop, ‘Get out of my way!’ he shouts, before his gaze turns to Micah, now cowering between some crates. ‘I want Micah!’ Greystone snarls. Staring down at the boy he exclaims ‘It’s you. Don’t try to deny it! I can see it in your eyes!’. Staring up at the massive behemoth before him, a frightened Micah asks ‘Who are you?’. ‘I’m your worst nightmare come back to make sure you never harm anyone!’ Greystone replies. Unaware that the cult leader is behind some crates near Micah, the boy replies ‘I never hurt anyone, sir’ when the cult leader grabs him, ‘Back!’ he warns Greystone, before placing the dagger above Micah’s forehead and shouting ‘The child will bear the mark! The mark which will set him on the path to his greater destiny!’
Suddenly, ‘If you don’t mind…’ Fixx exclaims as several dozen psionic fairies begin to dart around Micah and the cult leader, confusing him. ‘…we’d rather he not meet the destiny you’ve carve out for him!’ Fixx tells the cult leader, before Archer fires a blast of energy at him, knocking him out. Fixx tells Greystone to look into the child’s eyes. ‘You said you would!’ she reminds him, asking if he sees anything more than a frightened child. ‘But…it’s him!’ Greystone exclaims, looming over the child. ‘No…it’s not. we’ve seen to that today’ Fixx assures Greystone, exclaiming that there is no scar on his face now.
Greystone shifts down to his regular form, while Fixx tells him that, without the scar, without becoming an outcast, who knows what the future holds for him. ‘I’m sorry, sir. For whatever you think I did’ Micah tells Greystone, before Greystone falls to the floor, and covers his face with his hands. Fixx kneels down beside him to comfort him, while Archer lifts Micah off the ground and tells that everything is going to be fine. ‘Don’t worry about a thing’.