On an alien world, the mutant Archangel waits, held prisoner by the genetically pure race called the Chosen, bound in chains, Warren Worthington’s mind drifts free…
Weary, his system full of drugs, Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel thinks that he is powerless, and wonders why he is always so powerless. ‘No…not without power, but…lost helpless in the swirl of time and events…like a ghost in a hurricane…alone…’ Warren, chained to a large pillar, tells himself that he must not despair, that he must be strong and remember the children - as the children brought hope. ‘Hope is power…remember…’.
Some time earlier…
(Flashback takes place prior to the “Judgment War”)
New York City, at the Port Authority bus terminal. Various people mill about - street workers go about their business, homeless people stake their ground, and a young blond boy, stepping off the bus, clutches a shoulder bag, while unwillingly gaining the attention of various people. ‘Sense?’ someone asks. ‘Yo, sense?’ asks another. ‘C’mon, you a big boy, ain’tcha?’ asks someone else. ‘Hey, junior, wanna play?’ someone asks, while someone else asks for sense.
The blond boy approaches someone sitting slumped against a wall, holding a metal cup, and clutching a sign that reads: Help Me I Am Blind And Homeless. The blond boy presses his hands to the blind man‘s forehead: ‘Hmmah…wuzzat?’ the blind man exclaims, before shouting ‘Hey! Whatcha doon, man? Git offa me!’ and leaps up at the boy, ‘Must be crazy, all touchin…’ the blind man exclaims, before suddenly realizing, as his glasses come off, that he can see. ‘Great God, I can see!’ he shouts, dropping to the ground and raising his hands into the air. ‘Crazy ol…’ one of the many onlookers mumbles. ‘…kid…’ someone else exclaims. ‘Blind man…’ another points out. ‘…kid!’ someone declares.
The blond boy looks around, and suddenly, the myriad onlookers all begin reaching out for him, pleading with him to help them. The keep repeating ‘Help me!’ and ‘Please!’ over and over again as they pull at the boy, who begins to cry. The boy extends a hand through the crowd, when, suddenly, several men arrive on scene, and pull the homeless people and street workers away from the boy. ‘Okay, creepo, bite the pavement!’ one of them exclaims, and laughs as he smashes someone to the ground. Two of the sudden arrivals help the blond boy up, and ask him if he is okay. ‘Hey, everything’s cool, man! Just relax. Me and the boys are taking care of things’ another of the men exclaims, before asking the boy his name. Still weary, the blond boy reveals that his name is Mike. ‘Mike? Yeah, that’s cool!’ one of his rescuers exclaims. ‘Get outta here, you filthy &#$%* street trash!‘ someone shouts. The men ask Mike if he needs a place to stay, to which one of them exclaims that he can crash with them, ‘We’ve got a place for you, kid. Cool?’ another remarks. ‘O-okay…thanks…’ Mike replies.
Meanwhile, high above in the night sky, soars Archangel! ‘Friends…never friends…birds of a different feather…always alone!’ he thinks to himself, as his mind casts back over many years:
(Flashbacks to various points in Archangel’s childhood)
‘Why, aren’t you a little angel?’ a young Warren’s school teacher exclaims as Warren hands her an apple. ‘Look, guys…look at little Angel Worthington the Third!’ a bully exclaims as he places a make-shift halo on Warren’s head. ‘HEY!’ Warren shouts.
Later, a huge birthday celebration is thrown for Warren, with countless guests, only Warren sits in his room, gazing out at some birds flying nearby. Suddenly, his father enters his room: ‘What the devil are you doing in your room?’ he shouts. ‘This party happens to be for you, young man, so get yourself back down there right now, hear!’.
Later, Warren is in his teens, attending Fairburn Boys School, a teacher asks Warren to read his paper aloud to the class. ‘Of course, Mr Roth’ Warren replies, before beginning his speech: ‘“History of the Flight”, by Warren K. Worthington, the Third, Esquire…’ ‘Get a loud of this! What makes him think his feet don’t stink?’ one of the students whispers to another.
At the school dance, Warren dances with a girl who tells him that he is so light on his feet she would swear he had hollow bones. Warren just laughs, while some bullies call him a show off.
‘Different’ Archangel thinks to himself, hovering above a church. ‘Separate. And finally…separated. Always hiding…pretending…’. Warren thinks to himself, before his mind casts back once more:
(Flashbacks to various points in Archangel’s childhood)
Separate was how Warren felt when he first discovered his then-small feather wings growing out of his back. And, after beating up a fellow student who was picking on a student called Cameron, Warren was moved to his own quarters at the boarding school, separated from the others. But, Warren managed to use his wings to fly out of the building during a fire, and help his fellow students out of the burning building with a rope - though he kept his face hidden by long hair.. ‘Totally neat, man, with wings ‘n’ everything!’ a student shouted. ‘So keen!’ Cameron exclaimed.
‘Cameron. I should have known then - should have realized - he was the Devil in disguise!’ Warren tells himself as he continues to hover over the church.
Down below, Mike’s rescuers are taking him someplace safe. ‘Ever been to the Big Apple, before?’ one of them asks. Mike replies that he hasn’t, so his rescuer continues: ‘Great babes, my man. Just follow my nose - it always knows!’ One of the other rescuers shouts ‘Leave the poor kid alone, Greg!’ and points out that Michael has been through enough already. Greg tells Donny to relax, and explains that he was just making conversation, ‘Or hadn’t you noticed that he ain’t exactly volunteering info left and right!’ Greg exclaims. Donny tells Michael to ignore Greg, as everybody else does. This causes the others to make snide comments.
Greg pushes open a door and announces that they have arrived. ‘Father, I found this boy at the bus station. His name’s Mike - and he’s unique!’ Greg announces. The elderly man that Greg spoke to sits behind a desk and replies ‘Very good’ before asking to be left alone so that he and Michael can get acquainted. ‘I am Phillip’ the elderly man reveals, before placing his hands on Michael’s head and shoulders, telling him not to be uneasy, as he merely wishes to learn some things about him, and this is the easiest way for him to do so.
‘Ay, yes…I see. Enthusiasm and vitality - met by misunderstanding…anger…fear’ Father Phillip thinks to himself, as images race into his mind - appearing on a blackboard are three apparently human faces, seemingly drawn by a child. Mommy, Daddy - look! Rusty’s back! are the words that accompany one of the drawings. What the #&*@? is scrawled alongside another, while EEEEEKKK!!! accompanies the third.
(Flashbacks images shown through Michael’s mind)
‘I found him in the garden, Daddy…and he wuz real sad, cuz it wuz real dark an - an - he was lonely!’ a young Michael exclaims, clutching a dog. ‘Give me that thing, Michael!’ Michael’s father suddenly shouts, before telling his wife to take Michael out of here, now. A confused Michael is taken away by his mother, while asking’ B-but what is Daddy gonna do to Rusty, Mommy?’. Michael’s mother just tells him to “hush”, followed by the dog barking - which is quickly cut short by the sound of a loud THAK!
‘You forced down those beautiful powers for years because of that fear, but when a time came to make a choice, you did the right thing. And once again…your efforts were met by fear and hatred’ Father Phillip remarks to Michael.
(Flashbacks images shown through Michael’s mind)
Father Phillip refers to an accident outside Oakvale Jr. High School, some years later, where someone was hit by a car. Michael rushed over and put his hands to the injured person’s head, and despite lying in a pool of blood, the victim sits up - revived! This causes an uproar, and later causes a protest, with angry people waving signs about: No Muties in our Schools and Mutie Get Out. Later though, this causes Michael to get a beating from his father: ‘Disgrace me, humiliate this family to the whole town? How dare you, boy? How dare you!?’, all while his mother watched on helplessly.
And it was this that led Michael to get on a bus and head to New York City.
‘Perhaps even…envy? Yes…how dare you be different? Special. Well, you are special, Michael. Very special!’ Father Phillip assures Michael, who is now crying. ‘And you’re safe now’ Phillip assures Michael, unaware that Archangel is outside on a nearby building, watching through a window. The seemingly angry Archangel suddenly takes flight.
Back inside, Phillip leads Michael down a hallway, explaining to him that they have a number of young adults here like himself, and that most are paired up for space considerations, and it aids in building strong, supportive relationships. ‘I’m sure it’ll be great…’ Michael replies, before Phillip opens a door to one of the rooms, informing Michael that it is his room. ‘I believe you’ve met Greg’ he adds, motioning to Greg who is lying back on his bed, reading a copy of a magazine called Plaything. ‘Hey!’ Greg exclaims, before leaping up to the floor, ‘Yes, Sir?’ he asks Phillip. Phillip tells Michael not to mind Greg, and that he just needs someone to keep him in line. Phillip puts his hands on Michael’s shoulders as he tells him that he is pleased that he came to them, as he is indeed a blessing. ‘I’m sure we’ll have a mutually beneficial relationship’ Phillip declares. Michael thanks Phillip and wishes him goodnight, before Phillip leaves the room.
Marching down the hallway, Phillip enters another room, where two of his associates are holding onto a woman. ‘Well…what have we here?’ Phillip asks. One of the men explains that they caught her trying to escape, so they had to…restrain her. ‘I see…’ Phillip replies as he pulls the weary woman’s head up to him. ‘Please…’ the woman moans. ‘Please? Oh, Beth, dear, are you begging?’ Phillip asks. ‘We’ve had this trouble before, haven’t we, dear? Begging is a crutch for the weak!’ he exclaims, shouting that one should never reveal their weakness to him. Phillip then raises his hand and smacks Beth, hard in the face, before asking one of the men to bring him the new boy.
Shortly, a grinning Michael arrives in the room, but his smile turns to a frown, as he looks at Beth, lying unconscious on the floor. Father Phillip lies and tells Michael that his men found her badly beaten a short while ago, and that she is from here. ‘Only you can help her!’ Phillip tells Michael, who replies ‘Of course, Sir’ and kneels beside Beth, placing his hands to her face, and moments later, Beth wakes up, and looks around, before asking ‘F-father?’ Phillip tells Beth that she gave them all some worry, but that she is all right now, and motioning to Michael, explains that he helped her.
‘Oh, Father, forgive me…please forgive…’ Beth weeps, before Father Phillip embraces her, telling her to hush, that everything is fine, that it’s not her fault, as she is a victim, like everyone else. ‘But it’s under control now. You’re safe. You’re safe’. Phillip turns to Michael and tells him that he is a hero, that he has done a valiant thing tonight. ‘You are truly a godsend. Once again, thank you’. Phillip exclaims. ‘Sure…goodnight’ Michael replies, before bidding Beth goodnight. ‘Goodnight’ Beth replies, while Michael thinks to himself that she sure is pretty as he leaves the room, and Beth puts her head against Father Phillip, who tells her that she should turn in, as she has an early shoot tomorrow. Beth sniffs, before bidding Father Phillip goodnight.
Entering his room, Michael is excited, and wants to tell Greg about Beth, but discovers the room empty. ‘Oh, well…’ Michael thinks to himself, before getting into bed. Placing his head against the pillow, he thinks again ‘Gosh, she’s pretty…’.
Meanwhile, Archangel continues to soar through the night, when suddenly he comes across trouble. ‘Hey man - gotta try if I’m gonna buy!’ someone exclaims. ‘Suit yerself, but it’s clean, man - my word is gold!’ another man replies. ‘Yeah, but we like silver…’ someone else exclaims. ‘Heh!’ someone laughs. ‘Satisfied?’ the second man asks after the first has tried the substance. The first man sniffs some more, before asking not to be rushed, as his nostrils are delicate.
Suddenly, a dark shadow moves over the druggies, ‘What the - omigod! Oh my God!’ one of them shouts, alerting the others to the new arrival - it’s Archangel. The druggies scream and shout as they try to run away. ‘&#$%* set up’ one of them shouts, before dozens of razor-sharp feather-knives are fired their way, forcing them against a wall, pinning them to it through their clothing. ‘The cycle of pain continues…unbroken. Like the serpent feeding upon itself…the disease eats its young’ Archangel thinks to himself, before asking the druggies what they were doing. ‘Pushing drugs to kids What evil possesses you?’ Archangel demands to know.
‘Hey man, we wasn’t selling no drugs!’ one of the druggies replies. ‘Really, what then?’ Warren asks. The druggie replies that it is like he says - they weren’t selling drugs, they were buying. ‘You expect me to believe…that you were buying drugs from these kids?’ Archangel asks, motioning to some younger men on the ground. The druggie swears, and points out that he and his group aren’t much older than the others. ‘They ain’t so helpless, neither!’ he adds as the younger men begin to get to their feet.
‘Is this true?’ Archangel asks, turning to one of the younger men, who shakes his fist at Archangel and declares that even if it is, what business is it of his. ’This ain’t no comic book, man, and things ain’t so easy! Besides, who died and left you God?’ he shouts. Warren pauses, and frowns, as he replies ’I know…right and wrong’. One of the other druggies points out that Archangel doesn’t sound too sure about that, before another tells him that perhaps he has some thinking to do before he goes about hassling people, and tells him to get out of here. ’Shoo, fly, shoo!’ someone else shouts. ’Yeah! Get lost, creep!’ the older druggies agree.
‘Fine! Destroy yourselves - destroy each other. I can always watch it from above!’ Archangel shouts as he takes flight, soaring across the moon-lit sky. ’Confusing’ he thinks to himself. ’Perceptions ever shifting. Professor X made all the choices and we followed his orders. So simple. So clear’. Warren recalls that there was Magneto and his Brotherhood, and so many others, and it was easy to distinguish good from evil - easy to be above them all. ’And yet, for a time, Magneto led the new students of the school, and even now, the Brotherhood works for the Government. And I…have become unclean. Or…was I always this way?’ Warren wonders.
The next morning, Father Phillip stands before his young followers, declaring that, in their own ways, they have all been altered by the outside world, but that they have also been blessed by forces from within, forces which have brought them all together, uniting them against their oppressors. ‘They have used us - they have abused us! They have profited from our pain and paid us back with degradation and shame!’ Phillip exclaims, telling his followers that they must no longer bow down to them and their blind selfish greed. ‘We must not bow to fear in the path of their dark purposes!’.
Father Phillip’s followers watch him intently as he exclaims that fear makes them weak, and any single weakness within their chain weakens the whole, so they must be strong to conquer fear. ‘And united, we will be strong!’. Phillip declares that they are united by the flames of Heaven burning within them - a raging inferno which shall be unleashed upon the unbelievers and the unblessed alike. ‘And as their world below burns, the fumes will raise our sails and we will glide among the clouds, the true children of Heaven!’
Outside, Archangel hovers towards Ship, but decides that he can’t go back there, not yet, but knows also that he cannot keep flying, as he has been flying for hours - how many he doesn’t know. All he knows is that he has to rest. However, on Ship’s deck, Jean “Marvel Girl” Grey and Scott “Cyclops” Summers see their friend. Jean points out that Warren has been gone for quite a while, and that she doesn’t think he even came in last night. ‘I wonder why he’s flying away?’ she tells Scott.
Warren lands on the Statue of Liberty: ‘Can’t think here…too many…too much…I…Jean’ he thinks, as his mind races backwards:
(Flashback images to Warren’s recent past)
Warren recalls how Jean made he and his fellow Original X-Men puppets, that she pulled the strings and watched them dance - Warren danced for Jean, but Jean for Scott. Warren remembers Candy Southern, and how she filled the emptiness - but somehow Jean kept coming back - from the dead, even. But Warren knows that Jean was never his - and Candy, well, Cameron took her away from him.
Warren sits atop of the Statue of Liberty, and drops his head into his hands.
Meanwhile, at Father Phillips’, Greg and Michael are in their room, watching television. Currently, an advert for a cereal called “Slack-o’s” is playing:
Yes, Slack-o’s good to the last pipe-ful…and into the next box! Slack-o’s is pretty darn proud to sponsor the sub-genius hour, and now back to the irreverent Rex Valve and his sidelick ID McMahonohman…
Greg tells Michael that he heard he helped Beth the other night. ‘Pretty cute, huh?’ he adds. ‘Yeah I guess’ Michael replies oddly, to which Greg asks him if he has a crush. Michael replies that he doesn’t know, to which Greg tells him that he can’t lie to him. ‘Well, yeah…I guess’ Michael admits. ‘You don’t know about her, do you? Why she’s here, I mean?’ Greg asks. ‘I don’t know…’ Michael replies. Greg asks Michael if he didn’t wonder why Beth wasn’t at this morning’s meeting, to which Michael replies that he did. ‘Man, this is too easy’ Greg exclaims, before holding up a video cassette and telling Michael that he is going to love this, before placing it into the VCR.
‘What is it?’ Michael asks, to which Greg tells him to sit tight. ‘Whuhh?’ Michael asks, confused as the video begins to play, before averting his eyes and asking Greg repeatedly to turn it off. Greg just laughs and tells Michael to settle down, when suddenly, one of Phillip’s men enters the room. ‘Hey, kid…’ he begins, to which Greg tells him that he should knock before he enters. ‘Maybe you should shut up’ the man replies, before telling Michael that Father Phillip wants to see him. ‘You’re girlfriend’s in trouble again - heh’, he announces. ‘Ooo, can I come?’ Greg mocks.
Moments later, Michael, Greg and the other man arrive in a large room, ‘We’re here!’ Greg announces. Phillip stands over Beth, who is keeled over, and remarks ‘Yes, Greg, congratulations’, before he greets Michael, informing him that they have need of his special abilities once again. Father Phillip explains that Beth is not happy here, that she no longer feels connection with the rest of the group, as she thinks she’s better than them all. ‘Run away again?’ one of the other kids asks. ‘What’s her problem?’ ‘Should know better’. Michael approaches Beth and exclaims that she is far worse. ‘That’s right lad, she’s worse because she’s lost faith - faith in us’ Father Phillip declares.
Father Phillip continues, exclaiming that a person without faith is weak, and asks Michael to help restore her faith, punish her. Phillip remarks that Michael will find, as many others here have found, that his powers may be used in many ways. ‘Just as that which you give you may also take away, that which you take away you may also…give’ Father Phillip exclaims. ‘Yes…’ an intense Michael replies as he reaches down to Beth, who looks up at him and begs Mike not to hurt him. Mike gasps and looks to Father Phillip, who tells Michael that he understands, but that it must be done. ‘She has betrayed us. Betrayed you. Punish her!’ he exclaims.
‘Yes! Michael replies as he places his hands to Beth’s head, causing the girl to scream, and keel over once more, clutching herself. ‘Nnn-o. No!’ Michael exclaims as he stands up, worried. But Father Phillip tells him that he has done well. Michael drops to his knees and covers his face, while Father Phillip stands over Beth, raising his hands in the air, he speaks to his other followers: ‘Look upon her, children - and learn! This is the fate of all who betray our union! We all must forfeit our selves for the higher purpose of the group! Betray one and you betray all!’
Michael is upset and wonders what he has done, while tears fall from his eyes, he begins to beg: ‘Save…us…God?’, when, suddenly, there is a screeching sound, causing Father Phillip and all his followers to turn to a large window - which shatters as Archangel soars through it. ‘Demon!’ Father Phillip thinks to himself, before a barrage of razor-sharp feathers pin him to a wall. ‘Blast him!’ one of Father Phillips’ followers exclaims, but the bullets just bounce off Archangel’s wings, as he stands in front of Michael and Beth, protecting them. ‘Wow!’ Michael gasps, before Archangel extends his wings, knocking several of the followers backwards.
Greg rallies some of the others - Voodoo, Buzzsaw, Slimeball and Mowhawk, and tells them to attack. ‘Right on, Blowhard!’ one of the others tells Greg. ‘Don’t be stupid!’ someone shouts, ‘Good choice!’ Archangel declares, raising his wings above him, causing the five to run in the other direction. ‘They - they all had powers!’ Michael thinks to himself as he watches the others run. ‘Now I deal with you…’ Warren remarks, turning to Father Phillip, who replies ‘I think…not!’ and he does something, causing Warren to cry out in pain, and grab his head, keeling over. Father Phillip pulls out the feathers holding him to the wall, and decides that it is time to have a look inside Archangel’s own cathedral of fear.
‘Oh, my. A trifle melodramatic - hmmm?’ Father Phillip remarks as he sees inside Warren’s mind. ‘Why have I been forsaken?’ Warren cries. ‘Why, indeed…’ Father Phillip replies, as Warren sees himself, as his is now, but with his original wings, strung up, while stained glass windows depict, in separate panels: Professor X; Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman and the Beast as the Original X-Men and Original X-Factor; Apocalypse; his Horsemen - War, Pestilence and Famine; and Cameron Hodge and his soldiers in the Right.
Michael calls out to Beth, while Father Phillip stands over Archangel, holding one of the deadly feathers and ready to bring it down upon him. ‘You are a blasphemy - a vile blot on the face of our kind! You sully us with your very presence demon…!’ he booms, while Michael continues to call out to Beth, who rouses and tells him not to touch her. Michael assures Beth that he wants to help her, while Father Phillip shouts that Archangel must be cut away. With his hands on her face, Beth thanks Michael, then, just as Phillip prepares to strike Archangel with the deadly sharp feather, the old man cries out in agony, and falls backwards. ‘Take that, you slime!’ Beth exclaims angrily. ‘You’re a telepath…like him!’ Michael exclaims. ‘Never like him - never!’ Beth replies. Archangel gets to his feet, while Father Phillip blubbers, not to be left alone, and Michael helps Beth to her feet.
Later, Police Officers have arrived on scene, and Father Phillip is led away by one of the Officers. Archangel asks the kids what they will do now, to which they all reply with various plans - some sure they can stay somewhere, others not so sure, and others want to go home. Warren turns to Michael and asks ‘What about you? You’re still relatively untouched - will you try to go back home? I’m sure your parents just need time to accept…’ he begins, but Michael replies that he won’t, and tells Archangel that he appreciates the concern, but they have made their choice so they will have to live with it. ‘I think I can’ he assures Archangel, before announcing that he and Beth want to stay here and try and help people.
Archangel tells Michael and Beth that his friends in X-Factor have helped kids like them deal with their abilities, and informs them that they can come back with him. ‘Thanks, but I don’t think I’m cut out to be a super hero. We’d just like to help people down here if we can…’ Michael replies, and Beth smiles as she tells Archangel that they would rather not wear spandex. ‘No offense’. Archangel tells them that it is all right, before warning them that the street is a rough place, and that there are places they can go - like covenant house, but they shouldn’t try to do it all be themselves. ‘Yeah, that sounds good. We can start there’ Michael replies.
Some of the other kids chime in, announcing that they would like to come too. One of them calls out to Greg and asks if he is going to join them, but Greg shouts back ‘Forget it, you losers! I don’t follow anyone! Sayonara, suckers!’ he exclaims. Michael tells Greg not to be that way, before Archangel assures everyone that he will be keeping an eye on Greg, and on the rest of them. ‘Be careful…and good luck!’ Warren calls out, while Michael, Beth and the others bids him goodbye as he takes flight, and Warren smiles.
Between the dark and the daylight, when the night is beginning to lower, comes a pause in the day’s occupations, that is known as the children’s hour.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.