Genosha, inside the laboratory of Dr Sasha Ryan, several security locks open, and a massive door shunts open. A loud voice booms: ‘Sasha Ryan…it would appear that you are not here…very well. I can wait. I have all the time in the world…’.
Elsewhere in Genosha, a land where the people have lived through some very odd times. Wars between beings whose abilities seem drawn from ancient myth rather than modern reality. But an incoming, oddly shaped aircraft that carries a group of American mutants and renegade Genoshan mutates…brings with it the potential to make everything that’s come before…look like an ice cream social. Several mutates are out and about, going about their business, and look up at the air craft as it comes in to land. Look up with concern….
Soon, X-Factor and the X-Patriots step out of the limousines that have brought them to the President of Genosha’s office. Alex “Havok” Summers tells James Madrox the Multiple Man to knock it off as several dupes all step out of one of the limos. ‘The President of Genosha was kind enough to see us immediately. Even sent limos for us at the airstrip…so would you please stop doing your ringling brothers clown cars bit? It’s getting old!’ the agitated Havok exclaims. ‘Could somebody gimme a hand here? I’m kinda stuck!’ Guido “Strong Guy” Carosella exclaims as he tries to get out of the limo.
Lorna “Polaris” Dane, Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair and X-Factor’s Government Liaison, Doctor Valerie Cooper round out the X-Factor contingent, as they make their way up the staircase, along with the X-Patriots, to where Madame President of Genosha, President Mabawa of Aznia, Doctor Sasha Ryan, and the world-renowned Doctor Moira MacTaggert are waiting.
‘Madame President, may I present Doctor Valerie Cooper and her associates, the American team “X-Factor”, with the colourful sobriquets of Wolfsbane, Havok, Multiple Man, Polaris and…ahem…Strong Guy’. Dr Ryan adds that X-Factor are accompanied by the group the America media have dubbed “the X-Patriots”, reminding the President that she has been briefed on this group. ‘Thank you, Doctor Ryan’ the President declares. ‘You would be the leader, “Prodigal…” yes?’ the President asks. ‘That is correct’ the green-clad mutate replies.
Madame President tells Prodigal that she knows why they had to flee their homeland those many months ago. ‘The previous regime left no alternative’ she remarks, before declaring ‘May I be the first to say…welcome home’. President Mabawa tells the Genoshan President not to expect the X-Patriots’ gratitude or trust. ‘Their kind does not understand about such things’ he declares. ‘”Their…kind”?’ Prodigal snaps, while his teammate Lukas frowns. Dr Ryan quickly apologizes on behalf the President of Aznia. ‘We had a discussion about his…opinions…earlier. It appears, with all due respect to him, that some people never learn’ she exclaims.
‘With all due respect to you, Doctor Ryan…I could say very much the same of you!’ President Mabawa exclaims, before turning to the Genoshan President and tells her that affairs of state await him. ‘I must return home’ he exclaims. ‘By all means, don’t let us stop you’ Valerie tells him. ‘Ignore him, the man’s a twit’ the Genoshan President tells her guests, assuring them that they will all be put up in the finest facilities in Genosha. She tells everyone that after they have had some time to rest up they can feel free to explore Genosha, and experience the country as it is, rather than what they believed it to be.
Multiple Man approaches Moira MacTaggert, who is dressed in a red one-piece spandex outfit and remarks to his former leader ‘Hey…I know you from somewhere, don’t I? What was it…Mera? Mara?…’. Dr MacTaggert frowns: ‘All right, Jamie Madrox, very funny. Ah know the last time we spoke was under less than ideal circumstances…’ she begins, to which Madrox tells Moira ‘Oh, heck, I love being strapped in a chair and being told I’m a dupe!’ Rahne stands beside her foster mother and tells Madrox to calm down, that it was not an easy time for any of them.
Moira hands her head and tells Rahne ‘That’s better than Ah deserve, Rahne. Ah haven’t been much of a guardian t’ye’. Rahne tells Moira that it is okay, as she has been keeping herself busy. ‘HEY!’ Madrox shouts, eyes going wide. ‘I felt that!’ he tells Wolfsbane. ‘Felt what? I dinna touch ye’ Rahne tells him. ‘You squeezed my…’ Jamie begins. ‘But…’ Rahne remarks. ‘Exactly!’ Madrox tells her, before Havok tells Moira that he thinks there is a lot they need to catch up on. ‘Isn’t there, Rahne?’ Alex asks. ‘If ye say so, Alex’ Wolfsbane gushes.
Meanwhile, in the United States, ‘It’s all my fault! The death of my brother, Vic Chalker…and my cousin, Mick Chalker…it’s because of me…Dick Chalker…a.k.a. Carnivore!’ a voice booms from inside a oddly shaped building in the dead of night. A large reptilian stands up inside some sort of laboratory: ‘The mutant outcast of the family’ he exclaims. Carnivore exclaims that he has used his mutant dinosaur power until now to commit robberies, murder, mayhem and postal fraud, all the while blackening the family name of Chalker, and inciting mutant hatred in his kin. ‘But no more! No more!’ he declares, adding that their deaths are on his conscience, so he must atone.
He presses a button by an exit sign, and declares that the only way he can atone is to go forth and wipe out every last mutant so that no one can misuse their powers the way he has. Carnivore makes his way across a road, declaring that once he has destroyed them all, then he can complete his mission by destroying himself - an oncoming truck honks - but it’s too late for Carnivore, as he is blinded by the oncoming lights, an instant latter, he is splattered across the front of the truck.
Note: Despite what some of you may think, there really is a point to all this Chalker nonsense…a point beyond the lesson of what happens when good writers go bad. But you will have to check out this year’s X-Factor Annual to understand. Otherwise you will be left with the belief that life is a senseless exercise of destructive power. A sad message, yes, but one that can prepare you for a job in the exciting field of government bureaucracy. Thank you - the management.
‘What’s this say here? Hmmmm… “don’t rub unless you really mean it”!’ exclaims a young man as he rubs a lamp, only to drop it when a wolfen-like genie appears from it. ’Oy! Is it good to be outta there!’ she exclaims. ’Hey, master! You ain’t never had a friend like me! Cause into each life, a little Rahne must fall. What’s your name, kid?’ the “genie” asks. ’Alexaddin’ comes the reply. ’Al-ex-adding! Should I call you “Al”? but then you’ll sound like a Spike Lee movie!’ the “genie” exclaims ,before telling Alexaddin that she is here to grant him three wishes. ’Name on’ she tells him. ’I’d like to be a cowboy’ Alexaddin reveals. ’Happy trails, kid!’ the “genie” exclaims, casting some genie dust over Alexaddin.
‘Wake up. Please…I…I want to wake up now…somebody help me wake up!’ Wolfsbane exclaims as she finds herself tied to the mutate bonding process machine. Naked, her head shaved, she cries. Suddenly, the now cowboy Alexaddin rides past the trapped Rahne. ‘Yeehaaa!’ he exclaims, holding a hot poker. ‘Alex - no! I…I thought ye were muh friend! Please dinna do this!’ Rahne exclaims. ‘Ya’ll are mine, little doggie! All mine!’ Alexaddin exclaims as he holds the hot branding poker out towards Rahne. It reads 490, and with it just inches away from Rahne’s forehead, Rahne exclaims ‘Please…it…it’ll hurt…’. ‘A-yup!’ Alexaddin declares as he presses it against Rahne’s forehead.
‘NOOOOOO’ Wolfsbane screams, sitting up in bed, crying. ‘Rahne! Rahne! Darling!’ Moira exclaims as she rushes into the room where Wolfsbane is stying. ‘Moira?’ Rahne turns around, as Moira wipes tears from Rahne’s eyes, asking her what happened. Rahne hugs Moira as she sits down beside her on the bed. Rahne explains that the dreams are getting worse. ‘Make them stop…please make them…’ she utters. Moira tells Rahne that it is okay, and that she thinks she has had enough “rest” from jetlag, so they should go over to the labs and run some tests.
Meanwhile, in a residential part of Genosha, ‘She’s not going to believe this’ remarks Pirouette as she presses the doorbell to a home. ‘Yes? Can I help y-’ an elderly woman asks as she opens the door. ‘Gramma…? I…I’m home, Gramma!’ Pirouette explains. ‘Ohhh my lord…JO BETH!’ the elderly woman shouts, while Strong Guy smiles at them. ‘Oh, child! I didn’t think I’d ever see you again! I…Lord, look at you! There’s nothing but bones left of you, girl! And what are you wearing?’ Jo Beth’s grandmother exclaims.
Jo Beth clears her throat, before introducing her grandmother to Guido, and telling Guido that her grandmother raised her from a baby, as her mother died in childbirth. ‘Are…are you responsible for bringing my baby home to me?’ the old woman asks. ‘Partly, yeah’ Strong Guy replies. Jo Beth’s grandmother takes Guido’s over-sized hand and strokes it against her face. ‘I think she likes you!’ Pirouette exclaims, and Strong Guy grins.
At the Parliament grounds, Havok and Valerie look around at the large shrub sculptures of animals, and Alex coldly remarks that it is nice to see the current administration is doing alright for itself. ‘Down boy’ Valerie whispers, while telling the Genoshan President that this is an incredible garden she has here. ‘I call it my “Garden of Earthly Delights” the President replies, while Prodigal admits that it is very impressive. ‘Finally! An approving word from Prodigal about something…anything!’ Madame President exclaims.
Several mutates follow the President around, one of them carries a tray with champagne and wine glasses, while Prodigal replies that he has not found a great deal to comment on. ‘I don’t like speaking for no reason’ he adds, pointing out that words are the coin of the realm of thought, and does not like to waste them foolishly. ‘Very eloquent, Prodigal. A bit arch, but eloquent’ the President replies, telling Prodigal that the mutates need someone like him, someone who can act as their voice in the new government that has been set up. The President reports that, thus far, their attempts to undo the physical changes of the mutates have proven unsuccessful, although Dr Ryan is making progress.
Continuing to walk through the garden, Madame President assures Prodigal that they are working with the mutates to restore their sense of pride and of self worth, but that it has been slow going. Suddenly, ‘OOOF!’ the mutate walking behind the President gasps as she trips over a rock on the path, sending the champagne and wine glasses crashing to the ground. ‘Oh no! I spilled it! I spilled it all!’ she exclaims, throwing her hands to her head. ‘Calm down, Alice, these things hap-’ the President begins, but Alice the mutate exclaims ‘I’ve failed you! I’ve failed you! I don’t deserve to live!’
The President kneels down beside Alice and tells her that it is all right, assuring her that she is not upset. ‘You’re…you’re not upset? Really? Truly?’ Alice asks. The President sighs, before replies ‘Really. Truly’, and turning to Prodigal, she tells him that, as he can see, they still have a long way to go, and the mutates’ need for firm, unwavering representation is vital. ‘Are you up for the job?’ she asks. Prodigal remains silent.
Elsewhere Wolfsbane and Moira walk down a suburban street, past several houses with dogs in the yards. Rahne tells her foster mother that she helps these tests give her a handle on her problem. ‘What problem is that, darling?’ Moira asks. ‘Well, it’s…it’s kinda embarrassing, t’be truthful’ Wolfsbane admits. Moira admits that she has made a stuff-up having Rahne as her ward, ‘But now ye feel ye can’t even be talking to me?’ she asks. ‘Well, it’s…it’s men. I mean…I’m thinking about them, all the time. About what they feel like and smell like and…ach. I canna say it. It’s not polite’ Wolfsbane exclaims.
Moira assures Rahne that is part of being a teenager. ‘Even a lass with a strict upbringing like yours is, inside, a sack of rampaging hormones’. Rahne exclaims that it makes her feel so weird, and she just wants to jump out of her skin. ‘Oh, smile, Rahne! It’ll be alright!’ Moira exclaims. Rahne turns her attention to the dogs, and asks ‘Will it? Look at me, Moira! Rahne - the wolf-mutant. More like those wee dogs than a real girl! What man will ever look at me?’. Moira tells Rahne that she knows life has been cruel to her, but that it is heart and soul that matters. ‘Everything else is mere shadow and fog’ Moira exclaims. ‘Really, Moira? Tell me, will anyone look at me like Alex looks at Lorna? Will they?’ she asks.
Soon, ‘The trouble as I see it, Rahne, is two-fold’ Sasha Ryan declares inside her lab, while Rahne sits in a chair, hooked up to monitors. Moira and Polaris stand nearby. Dr Ryan declares that Moira’s theory about Rahne’s accentuated proclivities due to her canine body seems to be on target. ‘However, your overwhelming biological mating imperative has been exacerbated by psychokentic conditions that were part and parcel of your being made into a mutate’. Confused, Wolfsbane tells Dr Ryan that she doesn’t understand all of that. Sasha replies that she checked the medical records from when Rahne was mutated, revealing that during the procedure, she was bonded in a master / slave relationship with Alex Summers. ‘Between the biological imperatives and the bonding…’ Sasha remarks.
A wide-eyed Wolfsbane exclaims ‘So…so all the things I’ve been feeling…they’re…they’re forced on me? By muh body and muh mind? Make it stop!’. Sasha explains that she will need to run some more tests, to which Wolfsbane switches into a save wolfen form: ‘Dinna ya hear me? I’m a good girl! I am! Make it stop!’ she snarls. ‘MAKE IT STOP!’ she shrieks as she rushes through the lab, while Lorna, Moira and Dr Ryan look on in horror.
Some time later, Moira is studying volumes of reference work on mutates, while Sasha is…occupied. ‘I’m here!’ she announces, standing in front of the massive doors. Smoke billows around her, and a blinding light engulfs her, as a voice replies ‘Yes, Sasha Ryan, I know’. Sasha turns to see a shadowy figure standing before her, a cloak billowing in the smoke, something around one eye gleaming. ‘I have been waiting for you. But I will wait not that much longer’ the mysterious stranger tells Sasha. ‘I have given you time, and more time, to prepare for my arrival. And soon…very soon…I will walk among you!’ he declares, adding ‘Whether you’re ready or not’.
‘I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I’m afraid unexpected complications have arisen’ Sasha replies, explaining that the return of the X-Patriots has focussed much unwanted attention on Genosha. ‘We don’t dare continue with our plans until X-Factor has concluded its business here’ she exclaims. The mysterious stranger tells Sasha that, because of all she has done for him, he will acquiesce to her decision on this matter. ‘But I swear the day will come - that our country will once again be free of the genetic dregs known as mutants!’….
‘Crystal…may I ask what you’re doing? There’s a perfectly functioning shower inside the cabin!’ Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff exclaims to his estranged wife as he watches her shower herself outside the cabin. The powerful Inhuman replies that she knows, but that she wanted to get back to nature, so figured she would go au natural. Pietro holds his hand out to touch the rain, only to discover that it is only raining above Crystal. ‘Of course not. Conjuring up my own outdoor shower is an option I have as an elemental…although not as a city-bound Avenger’ Crystal replies, running her hands through her wet hair, she tells Pietro that she will only be a little while longer, as the sun will be up soon and she doesn’t want to miss it. ‘Take your time’ Quicksilver tells the Avenger, as he removes his dressing gown and steps into the rain. ‘Oh, good. Do my back’ Crystal tells him. ‘My pleasure’ Pietro replies.
Later, Quicksilver and Crystalia are dressed in their robes and sit on a fallen tree as they watch the sunrise. ‘You’re right. It is a beautiful sunrise’ Quicksilver exclaims, telling Crystal that he is glad she suggested they have this time together. ‘I feel more relaxed than I have in a while’ he adds. ‘I know. Look…you can still see the moon. Home’ Crystal replies, before asking Pietro if he thinks, at this moment, anyone is on the moon looking down at them. ‘Maybe. After all, this is an inhuman hour to be up and about’ Quicksilver exclaims.
Crystal admits to Pietro that she has made some stupid mistakes, some bad judgments. ‘But…when you married me, you didn’t really think you were getting someone who never made mistakes, did you?’ she asks, adding that if they are both willing to start clean, they can make a go of it. ‘And let’s be blunt…you’ve made mistakes, too. You’re not perfect’ Crystal tells him. ‘Yes, I know. Far from it’ Pietro admits, as they lean into each other. ‘Oh, you may think you are, but…wait. You admit it?’ Crystal exclaims, surprised.
‘You’ve changed, you know that?’ Crystal remarks, before asking Quicksilver if there is something going on with him that she should know about. ‘Well…yes, I suppose there is. This is very difficult for me to admit, but…I’m seeing someone’ Quicksilver reveals. Crystal pulls away from Pietro, and stands up: ‘I should have known! The one with the green hair, right?’ she asks, hands on hips. ‘Why…yes. Yes, that’s right’ Quicksilver admits. ‘I’m not surprised. She’s gorgeous. So this was all -’ Crystal begins, before Pietro interrupts: ‘”She”? No…he’ Pietro explains. ‘You’re…you’re seeing a man?’ Crystal asks, taken aback. ‘When…uh…when did you first uh…realize?’ she asks.
Crystal kneels down beside Quicksilver, who replies ‘The first time I spoke to him. At first it seemed absurd, but…he’s very non-judgemental, and he brings fresh insights. You do understand, don’t you?’ Quicksilver asks. ‘I…I guess I have to’ Crystal replies, before Pietro announces that Rahne is seeing him as well. Crystal’s expression changes, so Quicksilver asks her why she looks so shocked. ‘She may be young, but it’s not like she needs a child psychiatrist’ Quicksilver points out. ‘Besides, when you’re talking about mutant problems, Leonard Samson is probably the best qualified…’ Pietro remarks. ‘Samson? The…the psychiatrist? You’re seeing a shrink?’ Crystal asks. ‘Uh…of course’ Pietro tells her. ‘What did you think we were talking about?’ Pietro asks, qhile Crystal puts a hand to her face and grins awkwardly.
Later still, back inside the cabin, Crystal asks Quicksilver if he would like her to make that applesauce chicken he likes so much. ‘That would be excellent’ Pietro replies. ‘Great. But I need some ingredients. Like applesauce. And chicken. Otherwise I’m all set’ Crystal remarks while looking in the refrigerator. ‘No problem. I’ll run into town’ Quicksilver replies.
Pietro’s last words to his estranged wife are overheard by the elderly man sitting on the rocking chair in town. ‘He’s coming. Get ready’ the old man tells someone over the phone, while Quicksilver speeds into town, coming to a halt outside the store that the old man is sitting in front of. ‘This establishment looks adequate to the challenge of buying foodstuffs’ Pietro decides, before entering the store. ‘Oh! Are you the gentleman from the cabin up by the lake?’ the cashier asks. ‘Yes’ Pietro replies. The cashier informs Pietro that his “missus” called, and asked him to get his order together for him. ‘She said you’d probably be in a hurry. You got here fast. I’ll have it for you in a jiffy’ the cashier remarks.
‘That’s very kind of you -’ Quicksilver begins, before a suited man standing next to the counter puts a hand on Quicksilver’s shoulder: ‘Mr Maxim off -’ he begins, causing Pietro to spin around. The suited man introduces himself as Torq, explaining that he covers the “Super Hero” beat for the National Reporter on the East Coast. ‘We got word you were here, and…’ he begins, to which Quicksilver tells him that he has nothing to say to a rag such as his. ‘Oh, I’m not interested in you, per se, Mr Maximoff’ Torq replies. ‘Although if you have any reactions to these I’d be happy to hear them’ he exclaims, pulling some polaroids out of an envelope.
Torq smiles, while Quicksilver looks shocked as he stares at photographs of Crystal dancing and looking happy with Dane Whitman a.k.a. the Black Knight, Crystal’s fellow Avenger. Torq admits that he doesn’t know who Crystal’s gentleman friend is, but suspects it to be one of her teammates. ‘I have others even more explicit…but I’m not totally insensitive, sir’ Torq smirks. Quicksilver screws the photos up and announces that they are fakes. ‘All fakes. Keep your noise out of her business. You print any of these, and I’ll kill you’ Quicksilver warns Torq. ‘Crumble those if you want, Mr Maximof. I have the negatives. And your threats are -’ he exclaims, before Pietro punches him in the face.
Torq lands in a pile of tins, and exclaims that Quicksilver broke his nose. ‘Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear, Torq’ Quicksilver exclaims as he picks Torq up and throws him out of the store. Pietro grabs Torq by the collar of his suit jacket and declares ‘I will kill you…easily and with impunity. If you’re driving, I can crash your car. Or maybe I’ll take out out for a 300 mile-an-hour run, so you asphyxiate or have a heart attack. Or maybe you’ll just fall down a flight of stairs on day, or trip into traffic’ Pietro exclaims.
Quicksilver continues, exclaiming that a hundred little accidents can happen, and that no one will ever suspect homicide, much less prove it. ‘I can be the man who wasn’t there. So you will do nothing to humiliate my wife. Understood?’ Quicksilver warns Torq. ‘You’re…you’re bluffing’ Torq exclaims. ‘I don’t have to bluff. Nothing can stop someone with speed in his legs and murder in his heart. Remember that, Torq’ Quicksilver warns him, before dropping him to the ground and returning to the store. Pietro emerges a moment later, groceries in hand. ‘Have a nice day’ he mutters, while the old man on the rocking chair stands up and watches him, and the locals gather around to watch.
Soon, ‘Hi, honey! Wow! Five minutes to go five miles into town and back. You’re slowing down, hon!’ Crystal exclaims. Crystal wraps her arms around Pietro and remarks ‘I was thinking…wouldn’t it be fun if…’ but she quickly realizes that something is up, and asks Quicksilver what is wrong. Pietro turns to Crystalia and asks her if she is seeing someone. ‘Huh? No. of course not’ Crystal replies. ‘Pietro, something’s happened. You’ve got to be honest with me!’ Crystal exclaims. Pietro walks away from Crystal, to tells him that if they cannot be honest, then they have nothing, no hope. ‘So what’s going on?’ she asks. ‘Nothing, I swear. I’ll put the groceries away’ Pietro replies.
Back in town, Torq and the old man sit in a booth at a drinking establishment. ‘It didn’t work. He knows there’s no “explicit” pictures’ Torq exclaims. The old man replies that it worked, that although Quicksilver thinks there is no other pictures, he is now suspicious. ‘It’s different now between them’ he exclaims. ‘You sure?’ Torq asks. ‘Trust me…way different. So we’ve screwed up their reconciliation and stimulated the homicidal impulses of the son of Magneto!’ the old man declares, smiling he declares that this has been an excellent day. ‘Tell it to my nose’ Torq mutters.
Back in the darkened cabin, Crystal and Quicksilver are in bed, neither touching the other, their bodies as far apart from each other as possible. Tears streaming down her face, Crystal tells Pietro that she wants to go home tomorrow. ‘Fine’ Quicksilver mutters, before they fall into silence….