There is darkness all around, as Lorna “Polaris Dane” tells her armed opponents that if they want her, they are going to have to kill her, but that she is going to take as many of them with her as she can. Lorna gasps as she finds herself plucked from the streets of Georgetown, to an alter lit by dozens of candles. A voice calls out ‘Despite the fierceness of your words, Lorna Dane - you are not a murderer. Yours is a soul too sensitive for this evil and corrupt age. Release it - and embrace the age to come - an age of hope for man…mutant…and the new humanity!’
An exotically-clad woman with floor-length dark hair stands over Lorna, who looks up and exclaims ‘I don’t know what’s going on here - or who you are - but your gang of assassins just tried to take me down and failed - miserably, I might add - and if you think you can -’, but the mysterious woman interrupts, declaring that Polaris begins their association with a false assumption. She claims that she was not responsible for the attack on her, and boasts that, in fact, she saved her life.
The exotic woman introduces herself as Haven, and informs Lorna that she is not an enemy, but the greatest ally she has ever known. ‘Back off!’ Polaris shouts, surrounding herself with a magnetic force field. Lorna warns Haven that if she takes one step closer and she will tear her apart, just like she did her little tin soldiers. Haven’s eyes sparkle as she tells Polaris once again that they were not her “tin soldiers”. ‘I don’t want to hear any more lies!’ Polaris shouts, getting to her feet.
Haven opens her arms and replies ‘Excellent - because I have no lies to speak’ and points out that Lorna was in danger, so she retrieved her and brought her here. ‘If that explanation doesn’t satisfy you, then do what you must. I won’t resist’ Haven announces. Calmly, she adds ‘The choice is yours. Which will it be? Fear, suspicion and violence - or the hand of trust?’ Lorna looks confused, before exclaiming ‘All right…Haven. Let’s give trust a shot - for now’ and she reaches out, taking Haven’s extended hand.
Looking around at statues which are throughout the alter, Lorna remarks that she would like to know where they are, and how Haven got her away from the hit-squad. Haven explains that they are in a place between. ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ Lorna asks. Haven explains that she removed Polaris from the plane of reality and shifted her to another. ‘Right now, we stand with one fot in the everything…the other in the nothing. All that you see around you is - and is not - simultaneously’. ‘Well - thanks for clearing that up. Now would you mind trying it again? In English?’ Lorna asks.
Haven declares that the “where” of their meeting is unimportant, and tells Lorna to instead concern herself with the “why”. ‘Okay, I’ll take the bait. “Why”?’ Lorna replies. ‘Why pull me to this place? Why save me from that goon squad? What’s your game, Haven?’ Lorna asks. ‘You speak of trust…but you reek of suspicion’ Haven remarks, adding that is not surprising considering the years of manipulation and violation that Lorna has known at the hands of Mesmero, Malice and the rest, who used and abused her, treated her like something less than human.
‘I see you’ve studied up on me. Which brings me back to our original question: why?’ Lorna insists. Haven replies that time is short, and that there is only so long she can sustain this pocket between worlds, and tells Lorna to listen carefully. Motioning up at a large statue, Haven explains that the planet is at a crossroad, that they stand on the brink of a golden age - an age not of man, not of mutant, but of something that contains - and transcends - both. ‘A New Humanity is being born, Lorna. A humanity unforeseen by Xavier and Magnus both. Each of them so locked into his limited perception of reality - so attached to their way of seeing - that they’ve failed to grasp the truth’.
‘Xavier? Is that what this is all about?’ Lorna asks. ‘Using me to get at Charles?’ but Haven brings her fingers to her face and remarks that yet again mistrust colors Lorna’s perceptions. She announces that Charles Xavier has nothing to fear from her, that she knows his purity of heart and knows the power of his dream. ‘And I know that the time is fast approaching when you and he both - will come on bended knee - seeking haven’.
Suddenly, mist engulfs Lorna, and an instant later, Polaris finds herself back in Georgetown, just up the street from where she was ambushed. Lorna tells herself that this is too weird, and that she feels just like Dorothy after Glinda the good witch sent her back to Kansas. ‘So, the question is, Auntie Em - did I just dream the whole thing while I was unconscious - or was my encounter with Haven…real?’ and just then, Lorna notices on the ground a book - Man, Mutant and the New Humanity, by Haven.
Elsewhere in Georgetown, inside the temporary residence of X-Factor’s former Government Liaison, Dr Valerie Cooper. Sitting in a living room with only a lamp for light on the dark night, Val thinks to herself that it is awfully quiet around here, which is kind of a refreshing change after all those months in the lunatic asylum living with X-Factor. Valerie tells herself that Uncle Sam treats his employees well, as she has her own car, a terrific house and an expense account - not to mention fascinating reading material, as she reads through Man, Mutant and the New Humanity, by Haven.
Valerie looks up from the book and reminds herself that she wanted a chance to prove herself, to take her involvement in mutant affairs one step further, and realizes that this looks like it. Val tells herself that Havok and the rest of X-Factor have been acting like she is some kind of Nazi since the mess at Camp Hayden. ‘When push came to shove, the battle lines were drawn: mutants on one side…me on the other. No faith. No trust’. Valerie reminds herself that she tried calling Alex a dozen times, but that he would not even talk to her, and even Lorna has kept her distance. ‘Well, maybe their opinions will change after this. I just hope I’m alive to see it’ Val thinks to herself as she holds up an invitation that reads: Brahma House, Tuesday night, Eight p.m.
Meanwhile, in Albany, New York, the mercenary called Random lies on a sofa: ‘Bills, bills - bills!’ he exclaims as he throws about several envelopes. ‘The whole way - while I’m flying back from DC - all I can think about is how much mail’s gonna be waiting fer me when I get home - and you know how I’m into the mail. Book clubs…magazines…mail order I love all that junk! So whadda I find when I get here? A stack of boring bills!’ he exclaims, when suddenly a voice calls out ‘Didn’t you see the “Victoria’s Secret” catalogue?’ ‘WHERE?’ Random gasps.
‘Try looking under the dirty underwear and the “Burger King” bags’ a woman replies, before calling Random Marshall, and exclaiming ‘Honestly…the whole time you’re away, I’m cleaning, cleaning, cleaning -’ ‘Don’t call me Marshall’ Random mutters, before the woman continues: ‘Then you’re back in the house for fifteen minutes and it looks like a tornado hit!’ She adds that every light in the house is on, and the radio, and the television, and the CD player. She suggests to Random that he take a look at those bills, as the electric alone is enough to break them.
‘Vera, my darling, someday I’m gonna have enough loot in the bank to buy the electric company, the gas company, “Park Place” and everything else on the “Monopoly” board Random exclaims. ‘That’s your problem, Marshall -’ Vera begins as she bends down to pick something off the floor. ‘Don’t call me that’ Random complains, while Vera continues, telling Random that he treats his whole life like it is one big game. Random tells Vera that it is late, and that the last thing he needs right now is a lecture. ‘And stop picking up after me, will ya? It makes me nervous’ Random asks as Vera reaches for some laundry.
‘If I don’t do it, who will?’ Vera asks. ‘How about the maid? Unless you’ve gone and fired another one-’ Random begins, while Vera exclaims that the maid would spend six hours here, and after she would leave, Vera would find dust and cobwebs everywhere. ‘I swear, Marshall - for what that woman was paid she -’ Vera begins as she picks up some more laundry, but Random interrupts: ‘Don’t. Call. Me. MARSHALL!’ he shouts as he transforms one of his arms into a three-barrelled weapon and aims it at Vera, who causally stares him down and points out that if he blows her head off, he is just going to have to hire another maid to clean up the mess.
‘Whoops!’ Random exclaims as he retracts his arm and returns its state to a hand. ‘Sorry, Vee. It’s just a reflex’ Random remarks, before telling her that she gets him so mad with that “Marshall” stuff. ‘It’s your name, isn’t it? Last I looked, that’s what is said on your birth certificate: Marshall Evan Stone the Third’ Vera exclaims. Random replies that he hates that name, that he has always hated that name, to which Vera asks ‘You don’t seriously expect me to call you that other stupid name, do you? Rambo?’ Entering a large foyer with an elegant staircase behind it, Random exclaims ‘It’s Random. Random’. ‘Rambo, Random…it’s still stupid’ Vera points out.
‘Vera - what am I gonna do with you?’ Random asks. ‘You don’t have to do anything. I’m perfect the way I am’ Vera replies. ‘Yukon - you are at that’ Random replies as he kisses Vera on the cheek and bids her good night. Random makes his way up the staircase, and exclaims ‘I’m going to bed. This boy is #$%@ exhausted’. Calling up from the bottom of the staircase, Vera shouts ‘Marshall - where do you pick up that kind of language?’ Random replies that he thought he got it from her, to which Vera sighs, and remarks that if Marshall is going to sleep she will just turn off a few - but Random interrupts her, telling her not to turn off anything. ‘You know I hate it when it’s quiet’ he reminds her, unaware that outside armed soldiers are surrounding the mansion.
At the Georgetown home and headquarters of X-Factor, Lorna is in the communications room, and speaking with Professor Charles Xavier via video conference. Lorna apologizes to Charles for getting him up in the middle of the night like this, but points out that Haven seems to know so much about them - Xavier interrupts and tells Lorna that he would have been upset if she hadn’t called him, before asking Lorna if she has had a chance to look the book over. ‘Just briefly’ Lorna replies. ‘And…?’ Xavier asks.
Lorna reveals that she found it fascinating - and as baffling as its author. Lorna points out that she is not much for mysticism, so a lot of it just sounds like spiritual psycho-babble to her, but that there is a real ring of truth to some of what she says. Xavier replies that he also received a copy of the book and tends to agree with Lorna’s assessment - equal parts brilliance and new age nonsense, but he feels that all of it worthy of further investigation. Xavier informs Lorna that he is extremely busy at the moment, and wonders if she would follow up on this for him. Xavier explains that he received an invitation with the book, and tells Lorna that apparently Haven is giving a lecture at some spiritual center in - ‘Annapolis. “Brahma House” yeah, I got one, too’ Lorna announces.
‘Want me to check it out?’ Lorna asks. Xavier replies that that he would be most appreciative and hopes that it is not inconvenient. ‘After what happened tonight, you couldn’t pay me to stay away’ Lorna declares. ‘Excellent’ Xavier replies, before informing Lorna that he would like to speak to Alex for a moment. ‘you’re not the only one. But he’s still tied up with Forge, sorting things out after the mess at the Kennedy Center, I guess’ Lorna replies. ‘I see’ Xavier remarks, before informing Lorna that he will return to bed and perhaps do a little reading. ‘If there’s a golden age coming…I’d hate to miss it’. Xavier bids Lorna good night, and a solemn Lorna wishes Charles good night also, while looking at the front page of a newspaper, two important headlines - one about the terror attack at the Kennedy Center, and one about a record flood.
Suddenly, ‘I see you got a copy of the book, too’ James Madrox the Multiple Man remarks as he enters the communications room. ‘Jamie!’ Lorna exclaims as Madrox announces that he got one in the mail last week. ‘Pretty amazing stuff, huh?’ Jamie exclaims, grinning wildly as he holds the book to his chest. ‘You know how it is, sometimes you’re in a certain frame of mind…you pick something up, seemingly at random - and the timing is just perfect - like the universe is sending you exactly the message you need. Synchronicity!’ Jamie exclaims.
‘I take it you were impressed’ Lorna remarks. Jamie exclaims that it is like Haven’s words just burned themselves into his soul, before reminding Lorna that his life has been such a crazy jumble lately, that he has had so many questions that he could not even begin to answer. ‘But this book - it answered all of them!’ he exclaims. But suddenly, ‘Oh, please! You are so disgustingly naive!’ declares another James Madrox, standing in the doorway. ‘Four hundred pages of smoke screens and obfuscation - and you act like it’s “the Dead Sea Scrolls”!’ he exclaims. ‘Jamie?’ Lorna asks, confused.
The second Madrox tells Lorna that he certainly hopes she did not buy into this line of bull. ‘More than any of us, you know what it’s like to be victimized’ he points out, adding that is what people like Haven do - they go after the weak ones, the desperate ones, the dysfunctional and abused ones - fill their heads with metaphysical claptrap, and then empty their pockets and control their lives. The second Madrox tells the first to watch himself, least he ends up on some street corner selling flowers and preaching the wacko’s gospel. ‘You don’t even know what you’re talking about! I bet you haven’t even read the book!’ the first Madrox retorts.
The second Madrox leans closer to Lorna and tells the first that they are the same person. ‘What you read, I read - whether I like it or not’ he adds, before asking Lorna if she can believe him. ‘Give me half an hour and I’ll sell him the Washington Monument!’ Lorna asks ‘Wait a minute, which of you is the real -’, to which the second Madrox replies ‘Me. Him. Maybe nether. Maybe both. We’re all reflections of the same psyche, right? I mean, that’s why they call us Multiple Man’. The second Madrox continues, asking ‘Who’s to say who’s real and who’s not? Hey, listen to me, getting all profound and philosophical. I sound like the twit who wrote this book!’ he wonders if he can dupe some followers for himself and start a whole movement. ‘How does the name “Bararam Madrox” grab you?’ he asks.
The first Madrox exclaims ‘Go ahead - mock what you don’t understand!’, but the second Madrox asks him if he doesn’t get it yet, and declares that there is nothing to understand, as Haven is a con. ‘Just like all the rest of the dime-a-dozen seers and self-styled swamis who are cashing in on the millennial fever!’ the second Madrox adds, before turning to Lorna and asking her to straighten his other out for him. But looking around, the second Madrox sees that Lorna has gone. ‘Well, now you’ve gone and done it! She left!’ he tells his other. ‘Had to bore the poor girl to tears with all your talk about -’ he begins, but the first Madrox tells him to shut up.
Elsewhere in the complex, ‘Jamie…? It’s me, Lorna’ Polaris calls out through the wall outside Multiple Man’s room, where, inside, Jamie sits in the dark, slumped over in a chair. ‘I have to talk to you’ Lorna declares as she enters the room. ‘Not now’ Jamie calls out. ‘Now. Please. Before it’s too late’ Polaris exclaims. Lorna crouches down beside Jamie and exclaims ‘Something’s wrong, Jamie’, but Multiple Man replies that he is fine. ‘No, you’re not’ Lorna tells him as she explains that his dupes are walking around out there, and they are not just dupes any more - not carbons of him, extensions of his consciousness.
Lorna explains that they are different, that each of them is manifesting another aspect of his personality. ‘All your separate, unconscious urgings…all your contradictory impulses…given shape and form and -’ she begins, while Jamie interrupts: ‘Interesting’ he exclaims. ‘Interesting? Is that all you can say?’ Polaris asks, before noticing that Jamie is burning up. She asks him how long he has had this fever, to which Multiple Man replies ‘Dunno. Couple of hours? Couple of days?’
Polaris hangs her head as she informs Jamie that she pieced it all together tonight, revealing that she knows that when they were in Genosha he exposed himself to the disease - the same one that killed Illyana - to save that Mutate’s life. ‘That was an incredibly brave…and incredibly noble thing to do’ Lorna tells him. Jamie replies that he had no choice, but Lorna tells him that there was a choice, that there is always a choice.
Lorna stands up and grabs Jamie by his shoulders and tells him that right now, this moment, he can choose to stop hiding away in here, stop letting himself fragment into a dozen confused and frightened parts. ‘If you’ve contracted the disease, we’ve got to let Charles and Moira know! They can help you!’ she shouts. Madrox looks up at Polaris, his face sunken and his teary eyes hollow. He says nothing, before asking ‘The way they helped Illyana?’ Jamie falls forward and hugs Lorna, who tells him that it is okay, pointing out that they don’t even know if he really got it. ‘But if you do -’ she begins, before a voice exclaims ‘We’ll deal with it without you’.
Lorna looks up to see a dupe standing over her, telling her to get away from Madrox. ‘Stop it, Jamie! This has gone on long enough!’ Polaris exclaims. ‘We don’t need your help. We can take care of ourself’ the dupe tells her. ‘No you can’t!’ Lorna shouts as she holds onto Jamie. But the dupe angrily replies ‘I wouldn’t push us, Lorna. Don’t forget…you’re dealing with a cold-blooded killer here. We murdered Mellancamp!’ the dupe exclaims, before remarking ‘Who’s to say we won’t do the same to you - if you don’t leave right now!’ Lorna looks around and sees several more dupes behind her, while Jamie has slumped to the floor. ‘That’s the way you want to play it? Fine. But I’ll be back’ Lorna warns the dupes as she strides from the dark room.
Back in Albany, there is a mighty BWAKOOM, causing Random to wake. ‘What the #$%& was that?’ he exclaims, deciding that it sounded like a Mack truck just plowed into the side of the house. He goes to check the security screens, and gasps ‘Oh, man, I can’t believe this!’ Vera comes running down the hall, calling out ‘Marshall - Marshall what’s happening?’ Putting his shirt on, Random tells Vera that it is nothing for her to worry about, and tells her to et down to the sub-basement, as she will be safe there.
Vera shouts that they have to call the police, to which Random replies ‘The police? Please, Vera - don’t insult me’ and shoves her into an elevator, asking ‘If I can’t take care of this - what good are a bunch of cops gonna do?’ and as the elevator door closes, Random calls out ‘Oh, and one more thing…don’t call me “Marshall”!’ He shifts his arm into his three-barrelled weapon and leaps down into the foyer, where several soldiers are standing in a gaping hole in the wall. ‘I’ll tell ya, guys - I’m starting to lose all respect for dear old Uncle Sam!’ he shouts.
Random declares that if “the Department” wants to terminate him, to do it out on the street somewhere, not to come busting into his house in the middle of the night like a bunch of weasels. ‘Don’t you people have any respect for a man’s privacy?’ he asks. Random declares that his home is sacred to him, that it is the one place in the world where he doesn’t have to worry about maggots like them coming in like this. ‘It’s like you slime everyone and everything that matters to me!’ he snaps.
‘It’s only gonna matter for a few more seconds, freak!’ one of the soldiers exclaims, aiming a weapon at Random, who smirks and replies ’You think I’m a freak, huh? Buddy boy - you don’t know the half of it!’ and with that, Random guns down every one of his attackers as the sun rises over his mansion.
The next night, at “Brahma House”, Annapolis, Maryland. Valerie enters a large house, and tells herself that this is a pretty up-scale neighborhood, and a pretty up-scale crowd. She tells herself that she should not be surprised, as Haven has some big-money believers in her camp. But, Val reminds herself that from everything she knows, greed is not one of Haven’s motivations, as she comes from one of the wealthiest families in Bombay, and has spent the majority of her adult life using that wealth to help the sick and destitute all over India. ‘Oh…great! What are they doing here?’ Val wonders as she enters another room, and in amongst the civilians loitering about, she sees X-Factor!
‘…You sure you’re okay?’ Guido Carosella a.k.a. Strong Guy asks Multiple Man - or at least one of the dupes, who replies that he feels fine, that it is the other Jamie, in the corner, who has the fever. ‘Besides, even if I was sick - I wouldn’t miss this for the world!’ While the real Madrox hugs himself and cowers in the corner, another dupe exclaims ‘Yeah, me neither. I’m positively breathless with anticipation. Wake me when it’s over, okay?’ Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair, wearing a dress and a large hat to help disguise her appearance, suddenly exclaims ‘Well…will ye look at what the wind blew in?’ as she notices Valerie.
‘Cool! Val! Hey…VAL!’ Guido shouts out, waving at Valerie to get her attention. ‘so much for discretion’ Val thinks to herself, before approaching Multiple Man. One of his dupes calls out and tells Valerie that she looks terrific. ‘And you’re looking - awful’ Val tells Jamie, who tells her that it is just a ‘flu bug or something. ‘Shouldn’t you be in bed?’ Val asks, while Guido tells Valerie that it is great to see her, that they have really missed her. Jamie answers Valerie’s question by explaining that Alex called and told them to meet him here. ‘Ordered us, really. Very mysterious’.
One of the dupes exclaims that it is no mystery to him. ‘I mean, all of us being here at the same time…it’s synchronicity, right? It’s all part of the cosmic plan! The divine blue-print!’ ‘Now you know what’s been making us sick’ Jamie mutters, before asking Valerie what is new with her. ‘Help Senator Kelly build any top-secret mutant-killing Sentinels lately?’ Unimpressed, Valerie declares ‘This is just what I was afraid of’, before telling Jamie that it is bad enough that Alex is crucifying her over the Camp Hayden business without hearing her side of it - but she doesn’t get to finish her sentence as Wolfsbane approaches Val and snarls ‘Alex? Don’t ye DARE say anything about ALEX!’
‘Rahne?’ Val asks, but Guido tells Valerie not to mind Rahne. ‘You know how teenagers are - they get so moody’ Guido remarks, while Rahne growls. ‘Uh, yeah…sure’ Val replies, before suggesting they get inside and find seats, as the ceremony will probably be starting soon.
In the auditorium, Valerie and X-Factor sit right at the front of the stage, and Guido remarks that it is too bad Lorna’s not here, as he knows she would have been thrilled to see Val. ‘I’ll just bet’ Valerie mutters, while at the back of the room, Polaris enters, wishing that Professor X could have come with her, as a telepathic mind scan of Haven would sure be helpful. ‘But I guess I’m just gonna have to trust my own insight - however fallible it is’ Lorna tells herself. Suddenly, ‘Good evening’ Haven announces as she appears on the stage, wearing a traditional Indian costume. ‘Hey, Jamie - you didn’t tell me she was a babe of the month’ Guido exclaims. ‘Zip it, will you’ Valerie snaps.
Haven stands at podium and begins: ‘Some of you know me from the books I have written. A few others from personal contacts. But the vast majority of you know little about me - and what you do know is grossly distorted’. Haven continues, telling her guests that they have come tonight to unravel a mystery - or reveal a charlatan - or perhaps even find a savior. Haven assures her guests that there is nothing mysterious about her, and announces that she is neither a charlatan, nor savoir. ‘I am just a woman - who has heard the voice of truth speaking deep within her’.
Haven explains that is why she has come here tonight, to share that truth with them. ‘To help “the one within” guide us all out of chaos and brutality - and into a glorious future…where we will find hope - and haven’. Haven continues, asking ‘And what is the future I’ve seen? That he has shown me? In brief - we stand on the verge of an evolutionary leap. A new humanity is being born. A humanity unstained by hatred and dysfunction…fear and misery’. Haven points out that as any mother will tell you, no birth is without pain, which is what they are seeing in the world today. ‘War, famine, disease. Suffering on an unprecedented scale. But when the birth-pangs are over…when the child finally emerges…our pain will end!’
Haven declares that the era of love and harmony - the golden age foretold by every religion and spiritual path - will at long last arrive. ‘But for now, all we see is our suffering. And we look for someone to blame. Man, woman, black white. Hindu. Moslem. We divide ourselves by gender, color, religion…and focus our hate accordingly’. Haven adds that nowhere is this diversion more apparent and more abhorrent than in the war between human and mutant. ‘But I tell you - there IS no division!’ Haven exclaims.
Haven declares that to assume that mutants are some separate species - rising up to consume humanity - is to miss the point entirely. ‘These seemingly random mutations are the awkward beginnings of a quantum leap - an evolution in form and consciousness…that every one of us - man and mutant alike - will one day -’ but Haven is interrupted, as a blast of energy is fired at the stage. ‘Sorry, folks - this lecture’s just been canceled!’ a voice exclaims. Valerie and X-Factor spin around to look up the back of the auditorium - where they see Forge and Alex “Havok” Summers, who exclaims ‘By order of the United States Government! Haven - you’re under arrest!’….