Donatello’s Restaurant in Washington DC, Alex “Havok” Summers is dressed in a suit, and sits a table, poking his food with his fork, while frowning. A waiter walks past Alex’s table and looks surprised at the strange metal scorpion created out of cutlery. A voice exclaims ‘And so it crept out of the atomic mists - the incredible silverware creature. Its only goal, to destroy mankind as we know it - spooning and forking its way to world domination!’. Lorna “Polaris” Dane looks at Alex and exclaims ‘Funny - huh, Alex? I mean, it’s not everyone who can go out to dinner with a woman who’s smart, beautiful and amusing. Alex? Yo, Summers - snap out of it!’ Polaris exclaims, before using her powers to return the cutlery to its true state.
‘Huh? Did you…ah…did you say something, Lorna?’ Alex asks, looking up. ‘I said I’m going to start parading around the restaurant in my underwear if you don’t pay attention to me!’ Lorna declares. ‘Promise?’ Alex asks. ’Alex!’ Lorna scolds. Alex tells Lorna that he is sorry: ‘Our first romantic evening together in weeks, ands I’m ruining it -’ Alex begins, to which Lorna tells him that it won’t be ruined if he starts gazing at her with puppy-dog eyes and swearing that he will love her until the end of time. ‘Alex…?’ Lorna asks, before sighing, and telling Alex that he is doing it again. ‘Oh. So I am’ Alex realizes, from their window seat in the high-rise building, looking out over the city. Other patrons and staff begin paying attention to Alex and Lorna as they continue to talk.
‘What is it? What’s got you so preoccupied?’ Lorna, wearing a pink dress with a purple short jacket, asks, before muttering ‘As if I didn’t know’. ‘It’s Rahne -’ Alex begins, but Lorna points out that Wolfsbane made her decision, adding that, in her opinion, it is a smart one. ‘All we can do is support her. Be there for her when she needs us’ Lorna points out, to which Alex replies that he should have been there before things got so bad.
‘Check, please’ another patron asks one of the waiters. ‘Leaving, sir? But you haven’t touched your dinner. Is everything all right?’ the waiter asks. ‘No - it most certainly is not. The sight of genetically-imbalanced animals has ruined my appetite!’ the bigot exclaims. ‘Did he just say?’ Alex asks, overhearing the mutaphobe. ‘Oh, never mind him. It’s you I’m concerned about. The Rahne thing is becoming an obsession!’ Lorna exclaims. Alex replies that it was all his fault. ‘After the Genengineer bonded her to me, I -’ Alex begins, while Lorna exclaims ‘Let me get this straight! The Genengineer bonded her to you - without your knowledge - and it’s your fault?’ Alex admits that perhaps it is not his fault directly, but points out he is the leader of this team, and is responsible for his people.
‘Do you understand what an incredible burden that is?’ Alex asks. ‘Oh…now I get it. I thought I was out with Alex Summers - but I’m really out with Scott!’ Lorna exclaims. ‘Yes, well I - WHAT?’ Alex exclaims. ‘Gotcha’ Lorna declares. ‘Oh, man - I really do sound like him, don’t I?’ Alex asks. ‘Pretty soon you’re gonna look like him, too- you know - all hump-backed from carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders?’ Polaris exclaims, adding that she is not saying Alex shouldn’t care about Rahne. ‘God knows, my heart’s been bleeding for her every step of the way - but you’ve got to keep it in perspective’ Lorna exclaims, reminding Alex that Wolfsbane is on her way to Muir Isle, and with a little luck, she is going to get her mind back.
Polaris continues, remarking that what Rahne is doing is an incredibly courageous thing, and suggests Alex focuses on that, on Rahne, instead of making himself the center of attention. The bigot and his female companion get up and leave, while Alex exclaims that Lorna is never afraid to tell him when he is being a jerk. ‘Uh-uh’ Lorna remarks. ‘Guess that’s why I love you’ Alex tells Lorna, who replies that she thought Alex loved her because of the short black dress with the low back. ‘The least they could do is put up some kind of…partition. So we don’t have to smell them!’ the bigot exclaims.
Alex overhears that comment: ‘That does it! I’m gonna -’ he exclaims, but Lorna tells him to forget it. ‘Being in X-Factor makes us the most public face of mutants in America. Everybody knows us - so you’ve got to expect a few brain-dead mutaphobes now and then’ Lorna points out. The bigot walks past Alex and Lorna’s table, and sees a wine glass. ‘Oh - how unbelievably clumsy of me’ the mutaphobe remarks fakely as he purposely knocks the wine glass into Alex’s lap, spilling wine all over him. ‘HEY!’ Polaris shouts, furiously.
‘HEY -’ Guido “Strong Guy” Carosella exclaims as Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair lunges at him, growling. Guido tells Rahne that she should work on her dialogue. ‘I mean - “grrrrrrrrrr?” Even Random’ more eloquent than that!’ he exclaims, while Rahne clings to his muscular arms, growling again. Guido tells her that “arrrrrr” is not much of an improvement, and suggests she tries “rowf rowf” or “arf arf”. Rahne responds by lashing out at Guido, who pulls himself back just in time. ‘Or better yet - how about - “I give up”?’ Guido exclaims as he slams Rahne into the wall.
‘Uh…you think you two could take it easy back there?’ a pilot who is flying the jet asks. ‘Uncle Sam’s got no problem chauffeuring you around - but I think he’d like his transportation returned in one piece’ the pilot declares. Rahne addresses the pilot as Captain Filmore, and asks for his pardon as she explains she and Guido were just having a wee bit of fun, and did not mean any harm. ‘Of course we did!’ Strong Guy exclaims, asking what the point of equipping this jet with a mini Danger Room if they cannot indulge themselves in a little mindless violence and uncontrollable mayhem.
Rahne tells Guido that they have had a good workout, so they should not give the poor captain heart failure. ‘Yeah - think of the bad press!’ Guido replies, to which Wolfsbane asks him if he must always be joking. ‘Not always. Only when I’m awake’ Guido replies, adding that once in a while he talks in his sleep. ‘Yui’re impossible!’ Rahne exclaims as he leaps from Guido’s arm. ‘So I’ve been told’ Guido replies, before asking Rahne what she wants to do now. ‘Play some cards? Listen to a few CD’s? Oh, I know! I brought my guitar along - I could serenade you all the way to Muir Isle!’ Strong Guy exclaims, telling Rahne that she has not heard anything until she has heard his acoustic version of “Revolution Number Nine”.
‘Guido - how d’ye do it?’ Rahne asks. ‘It’s easy. I just put my fingers on the frets and strum’ Strong Guy replies. Rahne tells Strong Guy that is not what she means. ‘I know that yui’re hurting inside - yet yui’re always laughing and joking’ Rahne points out. ‘Hurting? Me? You must have me mixed up with one of those angst-ridden super heroes -’ Guido exclaims, while Rahne remarks that although Guido never talks about it, she knows better, adding that she thinks that is why she asked Guido to come along with her on this trip.
Wolfsbane exclaims that she does not know if what she is doing is right. ‘If I don’t at least try to get muh own will back…undo what the Genenengineer did…I’ll never forgive muhself’ she exclaims, adding that so much could go wrong, as Professor Xavier said there were no guarantees - and that she could end up in worse shape than she is now. ‘So naturally you wanted someone like me around to lighten your load with zany antics and hilarious hi-jinks’ Guido exclaims, to which Wolfsbane, gazing out a window, replies that what she wanted was a kindred spirit. ‘Someone who understands the nightmare I’m living’ she exclaims. ‘Hold on a minute. You keep talking like you know what’s going on inside me - but I’ve never once discussed my personal life with you…or anyone on the team!’ Strong Guy declares.
Shown with flashback illustrations, narrated by Wolfsbane:
‘Ye dinnae have to’ Rahne replies, before asking Guido if he remembers that weekend when he took she and Madrox to the beautiful house Guido owns in the Catskills. ‘Yeah’ Guido replies. Rahne reveals that she woke up early one morning, as she never sleeps well in a strange bed, and decided to have a run around the property, which is when she saw Guido, sitting under a tree, in a meditative pose and looking more alone than she has ever seen him. ‘And the expression on yuir face…such agony…like ye were trying to hold back an ocean of pain’ Rahne exclaims, adding that she knew, just looking at him, that it was a pain he had been living with all his days.
‘Hey - you’ve looked that way too if you were doing your morning yoga - and got yourself stuck in the lotus position’ Guido replies. ‘Go ahead…joke if ye want. Tell me I’m wrong. But I know what I saw’ Rahne declares. ‘Being a mutant - it’s taken its toll on ye’ she tells him. ‘Whatever you say, kiddo. Whatever you say’ Guido replies, patting Rahne on the head.
Meanwhile, in Georgetown, District of Columbia, the home and headquarters of X-Factor, where Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff stands in his new costume, a white lab coat covering it, and thinks to himself that he cannot believe this. ‘Hobbies are for obese, middle-aged couples…or pimple faced adolescents…not for Pietro Maximoff’ Quicksilver thinks to himself. ‘Yet here I am, like some refugee from a Sunday afternoon art class contemplating a mountain of clay. And all because of that self-righteous, Freudian misanthrope Leonard Samson - told me to find some activity I could do at my own pace…as a way to express my deepest truest self’.
‘What a load of pseudo-analytical claptrap!’ Quicksilver tells himself as his arms move at a rapid pace, constructing something from the clay, while admitting that Samson is right. ‘I’m the fastest man alive - trapped in a world of perpetual slow-motion. All around me, people plod along like lead soldiers…thinking, walking, talking, laughing with such a maddening sluggishness - that it’s all I can do to keep from screaming!’ he thinks to himself, looking at the clay rabbit he has created and wondering if perhaps a silly hobby is what is called for. ‘A release of tensions in a burst of speed!’.
‘In the wink of an eye, I can create - destroy - and create again!’ Quicksilver tells himself as he slams a fist down on the clay rabbit, and begins working on it, transforming the clay into figurines of X-Factor. ‘Even in clay I look out of place among them! From my father’s so-called “Evil Mutants” - to Captain America and his Avengers - to this ridiculous band of misfits - I seem to always find myself in groups - but never of them!’ Pietro thinks to himself, before slamming his first into the clay models. Pietro tells himself that all of his life he has felt like an outsider, even mong his own kind, and yet, time and time again, he finds himself working with mutants and humans alike. ‘Why?’ he wonders.
Quicksilver hastily creates another sculpture, telling himself that no doubt Samson would say a part of him is desperate to belong. ‘That my arrogance is just a mask. A way of protecting my - what is it these new age psycho-babblers call it? Inner child’. He stands back and admires his newest sculpt - one of Crystal kneeling, holding their baby daughter. ‘Which goes to show how little he knows. There’s only one place in all the universe I belong - and that’s with my wife and daughter. Crystal and Luna’. Pietro tells himself that with them, he does not need the world of humans or mutants. ‘We’re our own world. No Acolytes to constantly remind me of my cursed heritage’.
‘No Val Cooper trying to force me into a super-heroic role as ill-fitting as this costume. With my family, I’m just a father…a husband…a man at peace’. Pietro tells himself, while wondering why he is here and not with his wife and child. ‘Why do I manage to torpedo every attempt at reconciliation that -’ Pietro thinks to himself, when suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘You really miss her, don’t you?’. Pietro spins around, ‘You - snuck up on me? Impossible!’ Pietro gasps. ‘Maybe - you had other things on your mind?’ James Madrox the Multiple Man suggests. ‘Perhaps I did?’ Pietro replies, before asking Madrox if there was something he wanted.
Madrox replies that he was just passing through, and saw the light on. ‘Didn’t know you could sculpt’ Jamie remarks. ‘Until today, I couldn’t’ Pietro replies. ‘Until today?’ Jamie asks. ‘I’m a fast learner’ Pietro replies, before telling James that he would like to be alone. Madrox tells Quicksilver that being alone is not all it has cracked up to be. ‘Sometimes…a man needs to get out of his own head. Find another heart to open up to and -’ he begins, before Pietro exclaims that if this is some pathetic attempt at male bonding, Jamie can forget it. ‘I’m quite content in my solitude. And I don’t need to “open up” to anyone, least of all -’ he declares, before Madrox interrupts him: ‘Maybe I wasn’t talking about you, Pietro. Maybe - I was talking about me’ Jamie replies.
‘Oh. Well. I - uh -’ Quicksilver exclaims, before a dupe bursts into the room, ‘So there you are!’ he exclaims. ‘What is it now?’ Jamie asks. ‘Hey - don’t take that tone with me - it’s your turn to sit with Jamie and you know it!’ the dupe exclaims. ‘Sit with - ? You mean - you’re not Madrox? You’re one of his dupes?’ Pietro asks. ‘And glad of it!’ the first dupe exclaims adding that Madrox has turned into the biggest depressive this side of Ingmar Bergman. The second dupe begins pulling at the first: ‘Right - and I’ve been listening to him ramble on about the meaninglessness of life for three hours - you promised you’d spell me - and you’re going to!’ the second dupe declares, dragging the first from the room.
‘Forget it! I’ve got enough problems without him brining me down!’ the first dupe exclaims, clutching at the door. The second dupe tells the first that with any luck, Madrox will just take a couple of “sleep-eeze” and nod out. ‘Either that or start that whole routine about “if there’s a God, why does he allow human suffering” again!’ the first exclaims. The second manages to pull his fellow dupe into the corridor. ‘For Heaven’s sake, have a little compassion! He is you, y’know!’ the second dupe exclaims as he pulls the first along. ‘Exactly! And I get enough of me as it is!’ the first dupe mutters, to which the second tells him to stop acting like a juvenile and come along. ‘All right! All right! But don’t pull!’ the first dupe mutters, before a door slams. Quicksilver sighs, and begins work on another piece of clay. ‘I thought he’d never leave!’
Back at Donatello’s Restaurant, Lorna gets up from her seat and exclaims ‘You did that on purpose!’ ‘And if I did, what are you going to do? Attack me…like the rabid dogs you mutants are?’ the mutaphobe asks, while his female companion exclaims ‘Darling…please - don’t -’, and Havok, covered in wine, announces that what he is going to do, and what he should be very grateful for, is let this go. ‘Providing you go…right now’ Alex exclaims. ‘With pleasure. I could use some fresh air’ the mutaphobe exclaims, while ushering his companion ahead of him, he tells her that the mutants are pathetic.
‘A human being would have had the courage to stand up for himself!’ the bigot exclaims, while grumbling ‘Gutless mutie freak!’ This angers Lorna further, who exclaims ‘Just. One. MINUTE.’ Alex tells Lorna to calm down, but Lorna exclaims that she will not. ‘Aren’t you the one who told me that we’ve got to…and I quote… “expect a few brain-dead mutaphobes now and then”?’ Alex asks. ‘I never said that!’ Lorna exclaims. ‘Then it was somebody who looked just like you’ Alex replies, while Lorna tells him to get out of her way. ‘I’ve got a point to make!’ she exclaims as she magnetically lifts the bigot into the air. ‘YAHHHH!’ the bigot exclaims, while his companion addresses him as Bob, and calls out to him.
‘Bob? Is that your name?’ Lorna asks. ‘Uhhhhh…yes!’ Bob replies. ‘Hi, Bob. I’m Lorna. This is Alex’ Polaris infomrs him, introducing herself and Alex, before telling Bob that he owes them both one whopper of an apology. On a nearby balcony, someone stands in the shadows and watches Polaris: ‘Attagirl - give the #$%@ what he deserves’. ‘Put me down!’ the bigot shouts, to which Lorna tells him that would be no problem, after he apologizes. Bob’s companion tells him to apologize, while Alex tells Lorna that this is exactly the kind of behavior jerks like Bob expect from mutants. ‘Then how can I disappoint them?’ Polaris asks.
‘Honey, you’ve made your point -’ Alex exclaims, but Lorna spins around and declares that she hasn’t even begun. ‘We risk our lives every day to protect people like this - and what do we get in return? Vile, mindless bigotry!’ she declares. ‘But why should we stoop -’ Alex begins, while Lorna interrupts: ‘To their level? You mean they get to follow one code of behavior while we’re held to another?’ she asks, telling Alex that they deserve respect, and she, for one, is fed up with being denied it.
‘Well, you’ve got my respect! I appreciate everything’s you’ve done - for all people!’ a dark-skinned man declares, standing up. ‘Appreciate ‘em? What’re you, crazy? These mutants would like to see us dead!’ a white man exclaims. ‘Give ‘em rights…give ‘em respect - and they’ll drive the human race straight into the ground!’ he declares. The dark-skinned turns to the white man and tells him that is the same kind of nonsense that racists like him spew when any minority wants a fair share. ‘Who’re you calling a racist?’ the white man asks. ‘If the hood fits -’ the dark skinned man exclaims.
‘Gentlemen…please -’ Alex begins as he tries to calm the squabbling men, while Polaris asks Bob if he wants her to waltz him around the room a few times, but Bob quickly tells Lorna that he apologizes. ‘Good - going down!’ Lorna exclaims as she magnetically guides Bob to the ground, causing him to knock into his female companion, both of them subsequently falling into a table of food. ‘She should’ve thrown the idiot across the street!’ one man calls out, while an older man asks ‘Hey - whose side are you on - theirs or ours?’, and pushes him. ‘Who do you think you’re shoving, moron?’ the first man asks, while the dark skinned man tells the other man that he oughta take him apart. Alex is still trying to calm them and tells them that there is no need for violence. ‘I’m sure we can all -’ he begins, but the white man exclaims ‘I’d like to see you try!’
‘Watch me!’ the dark skinned man exclaims, while the other older man gets a fist in his face. ‘Mutant loving slime!’ someone exclaims. ‘Facist scum!’ another shouts. ‘Lock them up!’ someone declares. ‘Hate anything you don’t understand!’ another declares as a full on fist-fight ‘LORNA -’ Alex shouts. ‘This is why you love me, right?’ Lorna asks. ‘Actually, I love you ‘cause of that short black dress with the low back’ Alex replies, before asking Lorna if she would mind helping him break this up. ‘Boys, boys - what in the world’s gotten into you?’ Lorna asks sarcastically as she attempts to end one of the fist fights.
On Muir Isle, Strong Guy kneels in front of Wolfsbane as they stand just outside of the jet, the Genetic Research Center in the background. Guido tells Rahne that before she walks through the door, he wants her to think about it. ‘I have. I’ve done nothing but think about it’ Rahne replies. Guido tells her that he wants her to know that she doesn’t have to go through with it, that they can look for another way. Strong Guy exclaims that, as a good buddy said to him on the morning of his wedding, “It’s never too late to back out”. ‘Yui’re not married!’ Rahne exclaims. ‘My point exactly’ Guido replies, explaining to Rahne that what he is trying to say is that there is no sin in changing her mind.
Rahne turns from Guido and tells him that she appreciates what he is saying, but her mind has already been changed often enough. Rahne begins to transform from her wolf-girl state back into her mutate form. ‘And I’m here to make sure - that no one changes it - ever - again’ Wolfsbane announces. ‘Rahne?’ Guido calls out as Rahne becomes unsteady on her feet. ‘changing after all this time…too much…’ Rahne exclaims as she falls into Guido’s arms. Strong Guy kisses Rahne on the forehead before carrying her to the scientists waiting nearby, who place her on gurney. Guido watches as they wheel Rahne inside, ‘I’ll be praying for you, kiddo - with all my heart!’ Guido exclaims, before a door slams down, leaving him outside.
Meanwhile, at the Pentagon, ‘I’m their Government Liaison! Of course I have the authority to post their bail!’ Forge shouts down a phone. ‘I want them out of jail within the hour - and keep them away from the press!’ he exclaims, adding that he doesn’t want them saying anything that will make this any worse. ‘Welcome to X-Factor, Forge - this is just the beginning!’ Dr Valerie Cooper declares. ‘Of what?’ Forge asks. ‘Migraine headaches. Nervous rashes. Gray hairs. Ulcers. Shall I go on?’ she replies. ‘Please don’t, Doctor Cooper’ Forge remarks. Valerie tells Forge that she should point out that Alex and Lorna are the mature cool-headed ones on the team. ‘Valerie - enough’ Forge exclaims.
Valerie apologizes and tells Forge that after months of putting up with X-Factor, she could not rest the chance to gloat a little, before asking Forge if he wants to continue with the orientation, or if he would rather fume for a while. Forge replies that he does not have the time, or the inclination to fume, and points out that X-Factor have been under a great deal of stress lately, what with the Cape Hayden affair, and Illyana’s funeral. ‘If they needed to let off some steam, it’s understandable’ Forge remarks, adding that he has bigger issues to worry about.
‘Such as?’ Valerie asks. Forge clenches a fist and tells Valerie that however bad it has been for mutants in this country, it is about to get worse. ‘How do you know that?’ Val asks. Forge replies that there is something in the air, that he can smell it, that he can feel it. ‘Oh. So now you’re a mystic’ Val asks. Forge responds by telling Valerie that was his grandfather’s department, while he relies on gut instinct. ‘There’s a storm coming. A big one. And X-Factor’s going to be right in the middle of it’ he declares.
Forge tells Valerie that X-Factor are in a position - working for the human government while looking after the interests of mutants. ‘There aren’t many who could walk that line as well as they have’. ‘Sounds like you really respect them’ Val replies. Forge tells her that he does. ‘Well, all evidence to the contrary, so do I. They’re good people’ Val exclaims, adding that if things are going to get as bad as Forge thinks they are, then she is glad X-Factor have him looking out them. ‘Let’s hope I can make a difference’ Forge replies, to which Val asks him where he intends o start. ‘I start with getting to know the members of X-Factor’ Forge replies.
Across town, Quicksilver leads Havok and Polaris out of a police station, and remarks that the order was no press. ‘Since when are you such a good little soldier?’ Lorna asks Pietro as the press moves towards them: ‘Polaris!’ ‘Havok!’ ‘Any comment?’ ‘The President refused to -’ ‘Senator Dole has been quoted as saying -’ the reporters all exclaim. Lorna steps towards some microphones and announces that she will make a brief statement, after which they will not be taking any questions. ‘What happened today was the restful of small minds. Bigoted hearts. It was the result of an America so frustrated and fragmented…so lost in the fear of what’s other…that hatred has become an accepted means of expression’.
Lorna continues, declaring that she can assure everyone one of them that no amount of hatred is going to make them go away. ‘I think I speak for all of us in X-Factor when I say that we’re dedicated to a vision of an America where diversity is respected - where divisions of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation and genetic structure will simply cease to matter. Maybe we’re dreamers. Maybe we’re fools. But whatever we are - we’re here - and you’d better get used to it!’.
Watching from the shadows is the same person from earlier. ‘Wow. How can you not love a woman like that?’ he asks himself, before stepping out of the shadows, it’s Random - one arm shifted into a weapon, he tells himself that it is too bad he has to kill Polaris….