Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn
Eighty Years from Now…
At the edge of the internment camp, his back to his fellow detainees, a young, dark-skinned boy with an “M” tattooed over his right eye clasps his fingers through the holes of a chain link fence. Peering through the barrier, his stare is cold, hard and unforgiving.
Lost in thought, the boy is brought back to the here and now by someone inquisitively calling out his name. He’s Bishop? Lucas Bishop? Answering with another question, the boy asks who wants to know. The source of the question is a young girl, accompanied by an older man, both light skinned, with shaved heads and an “M” tattooed over their right eyes, like the boy. The name’s Layla, the young girl replies. Can they talk to him? Turning his back to the newcomers, the boy waves back to them, telling them to talk to themselves.
Not taking no for an answer, the two newcomers, Layla and Jamie Madrox, chase after the boy, who breaks into a sprint and jumps over rubble in his way. Layla calls out to Lucas, telling him to wait. She eventually catches up to him, grasping his arm and telling him he needs to trust her, but the boy is resolved. Pivoting, he catches Layla off-guard and pushes her into a guard, who immediately responds by calling her a “genefreak” and begins to beat her with his baton, telling her not to ever touch him. As the young Lucas Bishop runs off, the guard tells Madrox to take his girlfriend and get out of there.
Once Layla seems to be okay, Madrox runs after Lucas, who has stopped a short distance away in an alley. Turning to Jamie, the boy asks him if the “M” on his face stands for “moron.” Is he trying to get him beaten? He doesn’t just talk out in the open in front of guards. Immediately, Jamie apologizes, but then presses that they need to talk to him. There’s things they need to know. Crossing his arms defiantly, Lucas replies that nobody there knows nothing, and nobody trusts nobody! Sooner they learn that, the better.
Trying a different tack, Layla tells Lucas that they know he’s been through a lot, but they really need him to talk to them. It’s important. They need to know what caused this. Who caused this. Detecting something familiar, Lucas points to the two, asking if they both are destiny freaks. Both wide-eyed, Madrox asks for them both Are they what?
Narrowing his eyes, Lucas tells them that there was a group of mutants who thought that the mutant race was “special.” That mutants would lead humans to this great destiny, and they’d all live together as one. All that garbage. As if humans wanted to be led anywhere. S’all crap, y’know? Big-ego bullcrap.
And then, he continues, about eighty years ago, almost all the destiny freaks vanished. “The great darkness,” some called it. And everything would have been great if it stayed that way. But no, the destiny freaks kept pushing and another mutant came along. The mutant messiah. Things seemed just great for mutants then. Chiming in, Madrox points out that with out the “messiah,” mutants wouldn’t even exist anymore. They would never have…
“Never what?” Lucas asks, beginning to become angry. Never been born in a camp? Never seen his parents die?! Never… But no, the messiah comes along and everything’s great! No one sees any problems with mutants living, until the messiah kills a million humans. Seeing Madrox reel at this, Lucas presses, stating that he wishes that messiah was never born. He hears that people tried to kill her when she was born. He wishes they would have. He wishes someone would have. He wishes he could. He wishes his parents weren’t killed. After punching the brick wall of the building in frustration, pain and emotion causes Lucas to rub his eyes. Cursing to himself, he asks why he’s even talking to them and departs.
Now left alone, with only the answer they sought as company, Layla and Jamie consider what they have learned. Over their somber success is broken by a guard calling out to Layla as “You! Girl!” Immediately, Layla gives Jamie a big hug, much to his surprise. By the time the embrace finishes, the guard is nearly upon them. Calling Layla a little brat, he asks where the grenade is that she grabbed off him? It must’ve been her!
Confused, Jamie turns to Layla asking what the guard is talking about, but his sentence trails as he sees his answer. Apologizing as she tosses the grenade, much to Madrox’s surprise, she explains that this is the only way. Trust her. She’s Layla… Madrox. She knows st… Layla is unable to finish her sentence before the grenade detonates, killing the Madrox dupe instantly.
In Forge’s Aerie in Dallas, TX, Cyclops, Emma and Monet consider their state of affairs. Scratching his chin, Cyclops muses aloud that they’ve got to be missing something. Something’s wrong. Something doesn’t gel. Cable. The Purifiers. The Sentinels. Sinister. The Marauders. Something’s wrong.
Interrupting Scott’s rumination, Emma conveys a telepathic report that the girls have found them. They’ve found… “Gambit,” one of the Cuckoos reports from within the Cerebra chamber at the Xavier Institute. He was the easiest. Adding to this, another sister notes that his mind cries out to them. He’s so lost… so lost… Pity he doesn’t know it, the third remarks. Responding to the three, Emma telepathically informs them that their empathy is appreciated, but their destination would be appreciated even more… “Muir Island” is the response. Or at least what’s left of it, another states.
Back in Dallas, Cyclops radios Bishop in the Blackbird, telling him Muir Island is his heading. He’s to get going and they’ll be right behind him. Radioing back confirmation, Bishop reports that they’re on their way. “Scotland,” Wolverine muses to Rahne sitting in the row behind him that she’s lucky. She gets a free trip home. Aye, she replies. She could have wished for better circumstances for a homecoming, though. What, is she kidding? Wolverine replies with a smile. Heading for a major scrap to rescue a baby and save mutant-kind? Kid, circumstances don’t get any better.
Back at the Aerie, Siryn stands over the comatose body of the prime Jamie Madrox. She laments at all this has come to. Him unconscious, Layla missing… All for what? A vague chance that maybe he’ll turn up something useful? Lord, the whole world’s gone mad. Caliban dead… and that poor devil, Peepers, ripped apart by who-knows-what. Is this sense of… of hopelessness pervading everything… is this what the end times are like? It’s just not fair.
Clasping her hands and turning her eyes upwards, Siryn prays, calling to God. She tells him that it’s she – Theresa Cassidy… although she guesses he’d be knowing that. He’s, uh… he’s putting them through a lot down here. She knows they say he doesn’t give people more than they can handle. But honestly he’s pushing that axiom to the limit there. Anyway… with everything that’s going on… they could, y’know, use one in the “win” column. Turning her attention back to Jamie, Theresa tells God that, on that basis, she’d really appreciate having Jamie snap out of this. Call it… she doesn’t know… a good gesture. She knows, she knows, she knows… it’s selfish. She just… they need him back. She needs him back.
Almost on cue, Jamie opens his eyes. Startled beyond belief, Siryn screams “Jesus, Mary and Joseph” and then proceeds to call everyone in. Unfortunately in her excitement, Theresa loses control of her powers and her yells turn into a sonic scream. Even as everyone rushes to the medical bay, Jamie begins to contort with pain. By the time they arrive, the pain has subsided, but not the cause. To everyone’s horror, a large “M” tattoo has appeared over his right eye. Before he can address the varied questions being hurled at him, Jamie asks his own. “Where’s Bishop?!”
In the vacuum of space, a small craft passes through a field of small asteroids. Sitting at the helm on the craft, Cable remarks to Xavier that, considering their history, he should know by now that things with him aren’t always what they seem. Remember when everyone thought he tried to kill him? When Xavier then asks back which time, Cable remarks the first time. When Stryfe was… Impersonating him, Xavier finishes. Yes, he remembers. Good times, huh, Cable muses.
Suddenly aware of their surroundings, Cable rises from his chair, asking why they are on their old ship. And why are they just sitting there? The baby they… Standing next to the chair, Xavier replies that he’s in Cable’s head. He’s trying to make him as comfortable as possible. And take his mind off the pain. “Pain?” Cable replies inquisitively.
In the real world, Cable is sprawled shirtless on the floor of his craft, which is not in space but within the atmosphere. Though his concentration is on the welding torch he is using to repair Cable’s metal arm, Xavier explains that Cable’s been out for two hours and he’s had a lot of damage to repair and not much in the way of painkillers. Adding, Xavier tells Cable not to bother trying his psi-shields. He’s worked past most of them already. As soon as he finishes this weld, it’s time he explained himself. And, if he likes what he says, he won’t shut Cable’s brain down and they’ll save mutantkind. Sound like a plan?
At the Xavier Institute, Cannonball reports that he has been unable to contact Bishop, who seems to have gone radio silent. More than that, Emma adds, she’s not even getting a telepathic read. He just have some sort of scrambler. Considering this, Cyclops notes that the timing of the Sentinel attack was very convenient. Right after they learned of Cable, Bishop was in the room. He had ties with the O*N*E, Guido adds. So, he would have had access to the Sentinels, Cyclops then connects. But could he do it? Cannonball asks. He’s an X-Man. And why would Cable run if… They don’t know, Cyclops replies. They’ll have to assume both are…
Cyclops’ words trail with the arrival of Jamie Madrox, who leans against Siryn. Cable, Bishop and rest of it can all go to hell, he reports. They need to go back and get Layla. When Cyclops replies that they’ll try, Jamie is incredulous, repeating his words heatedly. Screw his “try,” he nearly snarls. They’re going it, and they’re doing it right n…
Suddenly, Jamie loses consciousness, as a telepathic voice instructs him to get some rest. As Guido catches the collapsing Madrox and picks him up, Cyclops thanks Emma and then instructs everyone to saddle up. They’ve got to rescue a baby.
Elsewhere, the techno-surgery having been finished on his cybernetic arm, Cable sits on the floor of his craft, with Xavier at this side. Per Xavier’s request, he does his best to explain. The baby, he begins, is missing and he needs his help. He doesn’t know where the Marauders have… No, Xavier halts Cable. He’s to explain himself. The baby. The fact that he’s alive. turning the Sentinels on the mansion.
When Cable seems not to understand, Xavier demonstrates with a memory, telepathically shared. Cable reels as he sees two immense O*N*E Sentinels doing battle with the X-Men and demolishing the mansion they were assigned to protect. No more games, Xavier states sternly. Look at what he caused. Still taken aback, Cable only slowly comes to the realization of Xavier’s belief – that heunleashed the Sentinels on the school. Resolute, Xavier reminds Cable of his past record, reiterating that he’s got a lot to explain.
For starters, Xavier says, he’s supposed to be dead. Then they discover that he’s somehow come back to life… without contacting them, he might add… and kidnapped the first new mutant since M-Day. And if that weren’t enough, the pilots of the giant robots guarding the mansion suddenly infected with Nano-Sentinels, which he was recently in contact with.. obliterating their home and killing several of their compatriots. So, he concludes, Cable will have to excuse him a little doubt.
Clasping his hands to Xavier’s shoulders, Cable implores him to listen. They don’t have time for this. The only thing that is important is the survival of that baby. The only thing. He has seen the future, Cable explains. It’s darker than you can imagine. It nearly killed me. But without the baby…? He could explain how this baby saves everyone. Mutants. Humans. Everyone. He could explain how everything changes because of this child. But frankly, he tells Xavier, he could get past his psi-shields and look for himself. Should he have contacted all of them? Half of his former team was made up of Marauders… he couldn’t take the chance. They’re wasting too much time. He’s the only one who can keep that baby safe and Xavier knows it. They need to find that baby now.
Cable having finished, Xavier takes a moment to consider what he has heard. Finally speaking, he admits that he already has located her. They’re en route to Muir Island, but he fears what they may find there.
On Muir Island, Gambit cradles the crying infant girl in the crook of his arm. Playing with her lip, he tries to soothe the little girl, telling her that’s it’ll be over soon. Meantime… she should enjoy her moment of recognition. Leading the rest of group, Marauders all, as they walk through town, Gambit tells the infants to see how everyone has turned out to welcome her. She’s a very important person. Practically royalty.
Reaching their destination, a laboratory, Gambit finds the door already open, it’s occupant awaiting their arrival. With a wry smile, Mister Sinister gazes with red, iris & pupil-less eyes upon the infant. So this is the individual who has been giving them so many problems, he grins. A pleasure to meet her, he jokes. Now speaking to Gambit, he invites him and the girl inside, then instructing the rest of the team to go about their business. When Sunfire begins to object, stating that they’ve done what he needed them to do, Sinister cuts him off. If he thinks even for a moment that this is the end of it, he tells his underling, then he is a fool. He then instructs the whole team to prepare for the X-Men. They’re on their way.
Once within the lab, infant in his arms, Sinister notes that the baby has stopped crying. When Gambit asks him how he managed that – mind control? – Sinister begins to transform back to her true self, Mystique, replying negatively. She’s just always been good with children. Her metamorphosis complete, Mystique and ambit look upon the beaten, bloodied and lifeless body of the true Mister Sinister. It’s time for the next step, Mystique announces.
At the ruins of the Xavier Institute, Rockslide accompanies Dust to the graveyard, noting her task of putting more flowers on the graves. When he asks her what the point is, she replies that it’s something of an end unto itself. The dead should continue to be honored – their burial sites maintained. When Mercury then comes upon them and asks where they are going, Rockslide summarized as “busy-work,” earning a chastising comment from Dust. Well, that’s what it feels like, he defends.
As the continue, Dust tells Santo that he doesn’t have to come, however Rockslide replies that it’s not like he’s got anything better to do. Everyone else is running around, trying to save the future of their race, and they’re stuck there! They deserve a piece of the ac… tion…? Rockslide’s words trail, as he, Dust and Mercury gaze in wide-eyed astonishment at a hulking, albino dinosaur-like creature engorging itself upon the corpses it has dug up from the graveyard. The blood from the bodies has stained its maw red. Thinking back to his lamentation of inaction before having laid eyes on Predator X, Rockslide tells his teammates that he takes it back.
Having landed outside the laboratory’s complex on Muir Island, Wolverine asks Bishop if he’s sure they couldn’t have tracked them landing. Replying that he’s positive, Bishop adds that his ship’s stealth capacity can’t be pieced by any technology of this time. “Yes,” would have sufficed, Warpath quips to this mockingly.
Okay people, Wolverine announces to his X-Force team. They’re to stay tight and frosty. Two by two formation. As the group begins to fan out, Bishop announces that he’s scanner’s not picking up any life readings in the area. Perhaps they cleared out, he guesses. Maybe, Wolverine replies, sniffing the air. Or…
When Bishop presses, Wolverine reminds him that the problem is that the Marauders have people who get into your head… like Lady Mastermind, for instance. Make the area seem deserted… Make you think your gizmo detects nobody when it’s screaming alarms. As Bishop begins to realize what that might mean, Wolverine confirms, then unsheathing his claws and immediately plunges them into the air, which in fact is the abdomen of a horrorstruck Lady Mastermind. You
D almost think this was a trap, he quips. As the rest of the Marauders suddenly become visible, Wolverine yells to his X-Force that they know what to do.