Temporary Air Force encampment in the Adirondacks, two hours later…
While a Sentinel uses his eye-lasers to ongoing guard the X-Men’s jet, Beast and Shadowcat have a private meeting with Commander Stack. Stack tells Kitty that what he’s telling her is that Wolverine was found at the most suspicious shuttle crash he has ever seen. So, until he is getting some satisfactory answers, Stack won’t allow Wolverine to go anywhere. Kitty understands that, but is certain they could figure out what happened there if Logan was allowed to talk to them. Stack refuses that, believing Kitty and Bigfoot, referring to Beast, will tell Wolverine what to say.
Kitty calls Stack a racist, but Hank holds her back, as he has met smaller minds than Stack. He believes that the commander might not have been informed that Logan is a Canadian citizen, thus he is not under the preview of the United States military. Stack asks Beast if he ever heard of something called the Patriot Act. Kitty refuses to believe that Stack is claiming that Wolverine is a terrorist. Stack has no idea what the mutants are. All he knows is that he’s got three dead astronauts and a shuttle that crashed nowhere near Houston. Oh, and he also has Wolverine as a prisoner. Kitty thinks this is ridiculous and believes it’s time for Plan B.
Suddenly, Stack completely changes his demeanor, as well as his mind. He apologizes to Kitty for the misunderstandings, then walks out of his tent and has the security guard release Wolverine. The guard is confused about it but does as ordered. While Hank and Kitty return to the Blackbird with Wolverine, Stack asks the guard if he searched the X-Men’s jet, wanting a confirmation that nobody else was with them. The soldier has and even had the Sentinel scan it out. Stack wants to know if either Hank or Kitty have telepathic powers. The soldier denies that as there isn’t any information about that on the Sentinel files. Stack finds that suspicious as it almost felt like it, and returns to his tent alone.
Wolverine thinks it’s about time somebody came for him, as he almost thought he had to extract himself out. Hank jokes that a bloody escape really is the best idea under the current circumstances. Logan jokes that he behaved, as he even let the soldiers handcuff him. But he does want to know what Kitty told him to get him released. Kitty didn’t tell Stack anything, at least not something that helped. Once on the plane, Logan notices Emma sitting around, realizing what happened. As they fly away, Logan mentions that, now he knows they made the soldiers think they haven’t met the X-Men, he warns that the Sentinel has been scanning the whole time and must have spotted the mutant energy on board.
Emma corrects that the Sentinel scanned just once, right after Hank and Kitty deplaned. Conveniently for Emma, these new Sentinels are armed by ordinary men whose minds she can easily take over. Logan can buy that, but wants to know how her telepathy got passed the shielding. Emma just sent her thoughts through the laser waves of the Sentinel’s own scanning devices, which is apparently a bit of a flaw in the design. That should come quite in handy. Kitty is surprised Emma mind-jumped their scanners and tells Emma she’s really scary sometimes. Emma knows that, but what she doesn’t know, and can’t seem to find out by searching through Logan’s mind, is what happened out there and where Scott and Rachel are. Logan has been wondering the exact same thing.
elsewhere, at an unknown location…
Cyclops and Marvel Girl wake up, though they are chained against panels. Scott asks Rachel if she knows where they are. Rachel, almost breathless, doesn’t know, and was hoping Scott could tell her that. Scott asks Rachel if she can use her powers to blast them free, because he can’t seem to use his. Rachel can’t use her powers either and wonders what’s wrong with her. Scott remembers that the guy who took them out said something about the electric current in Rachel’s brain.
Rachel is confused, as the last thing she saw was Jean. Scott explains to her that she didn’t se the real Jean: that was just bait. And he thinks the man who set that trap took them down like they are first-year students. He even took out Wolverine. Rachel mentions there’s something else: Scott isn’t wearing his visor! Scott opens both his eyes wide, startled, as he wasn’t even realizing that!
later, at the Xavier Institute’s Cerebra chamber…
Beast, Kitty, Emma and Havok are trying to improve the machine. Hank believes that it’s a patch job at best, but Cerebra is now reconfigured to avoid most of the damage circuitry on this end. Even if it works, Hank can’t say what the range will be. Kitty is ready and only needs to connect the last logic chip to the board. She tells Emma to give it a shot. Emma, wearing the Cerebra helmet, didn’t hear what Kitty said and asks Alex what it was. He angrily responds that Emma had to move on because they are wasting time there.
Emma tells Alex that if she can stay calm under this situation, he can too. Alex thinks it’s only natural that Emma can remain calm, because she is the ice queen. Emma tells Alex to watch it, as she bites. She puts the helmet back on and warns Hank that she isn’t reading anything. Hank wants to give it another shot, but Havok loses his patience and blasts Kitty’s control panel apart with his powers! Kitty wants to know what Alex’ problem is.
Alex shouts that his brother is missing and it looks like all they are doing to solve the problem is sit on their hands. They should be out their looking for their missing teammates instead. Beast doesn’t think there is any point to that for as long as they don’t know where Scott and Rachel are. He explains that Cerebra needs a full overhaul, yet Kitty and he are trying to get her up and running on a shoestring and prayer. And Alex is only making their work more difficult by blasting it into smithereens. Hank tells him to get out.
Havok understands and leaves, wondering why he did it because he could have hurt Kitty. Suddenly, he hears a voice, asking for someone to stop, as Alex will see them. Alex doesn’t want to go through this again. Alex turns around, and sees an image of Polaris complimenting Bobby on how bad he is, and grabbing her into his arms. Bobby tells Lorna that she makes him bad, joking that before he met her he was the most straight arrow at this school. Lorna agrees to give Bobby just one kiss but doesn’t want Alex to find out. They kiss. Bobby thinks Alex doesn’t appreciate Lorna and wonders if she can sneak into his room when the lights go out. Lorna smiles that she’ll see what she can do about that.
The hallucination stops. Kurt walks up to Alex, asking if everything is alright. Alex angrily shouts at Kurt to leave him alone and takes off, upsetting Kurt a bit.
at an unknown location…
Rachel tries to say something to Scott, but has the hardest time to do it. She still can’t use her powers, but is picking up some residual psychic readings. Scott believes that means Rachel can read their captor’s thoughts and wants to know if he’s nearby. Rachel didn’t mean it like that. It’s this place she’s talking about. She can pick up the Professor’s thought patterns here, but it’s like a shadow. She suspects that the Professor was in this place, but that it was a long time ago.
Scott wants to know more, like what the Professor was thinking at the time. Rachel corrects that it isn’t like that. It’s more like a mental footprint. There are no actual thoughts, just impressions. Scott doesn’t understand. Rachel doesn’t think it makes any sense, as the impressions are like a jumble of pride and fear and theory. All she knows for sure is that the Professor used this place for something. Scott refuses to believe that’s true. He has been with the Professor longer than anyone else and even he doesn’t know where they are.
The mysterious villain shows up and corrects Scott that he does know where they are; he just doesn’t realize from down here. The villain has seen Scott upstairs, him and his friends and mentions that he was just watching them. Scott shouts that the villain is insane. The man thinks that might be true, thinking he couldn’t be otherwise right now. But, he can promise Scott one thing: he won’t lie to him. That’s fine by Scott. He wants to know who their enemy is and what he wants, and why their powers are gone.
The man smiles that Scott is the insane one now. He didn’t say anything about answering questions. Scott doesn’t see the point of all this then. The man explains that the point of any imprisonment is punishment. Scott and Rachel are there for theirs, and to witness someone else’s. The man wants Rachel to help him and that’s the only reason why she isn’t dead yet. The man leaves, hoping that Scott and Rachel don’t mind skipping breakfast, but he has some work left to do. However, before he leaves, the man mentions that Wolverine is dead. As the man is gone, Scott wonders that, if the villain thinks he killed Wolverine, he obviously doesn’t know the man. But, the man does seem to know him, so Cyclops wonders whom they are dealing with.
thirty thousand feet over Nova Scotia…
On a plane, Banshee contacts Kurt. He apologizes for being late, but he just barely managed to catch this flight. Anyway, Sean has a stopover in Montreal, before being right into a commuter flight towards Westchester. Kurt wants to know if it’s true Sean found anything concerning the Professor. Sean did, but has no idea what it means. Kurt notices that Sean sounds a little frazzled.
Sean corrects that’s just a friendly way of putting how he feels. These past few days, he feels like he has been chasing ghosts. Ghosts of all his regrets, all the things he has lost. Still, they led him somewhere. Kurt wants to know what it is Sean found out. Sean doesn’t think it’s anything good, and nothing he’d trust to any hands to deliver but his. Sean suggests he gives Kurt his flight details.
As Sean talks, he doesn’t realize that he is being eavesdropped by none other than same man who took out Cyclops and Marvel Girl.
later, outside the Xavier Institute…
Nightcrawler and Wolverine drive outside in Logan’s jeep. Logan wants to know what’s wrong with his friend, as Kurt looks like he’s expecting the Xavier Institute to go up in flames again any minute. Kurt isn’t afraid; it’s more like trepidation. Logan thinks Kurt must be worried about the others. Kurt admits that. He was thinking that his was an isolated incident, but now he’s started to wonder, because Havok and the others have been acting off the edge a little bit lately. And Sean said something about chasing ghosts.
Logan doesn’t understand. Kurt thinks that something strange is happening to some of them. Perhaps it’s something otherworldly. Kurt saw an old terror brought to life yesterday, and felt hopeless in the same way like back when he was a child. Logan believes that Kurt thinks the same thing is now happening to the others. Kurt does, though nobody has mentioned it. But even he didn’t know about it until now. It’s the things he saw what makes Kurt feel so ashamed.
Logan reveals to Kurt that they saw Jean before they got taken down. Kurt wonders if it’s all connected somehow and if Scott and Rachel have been taken by these… ghosts. Logan doesn’t know what he thinks right now, and can only hope Banshee has got some answers. They arrive at the airport.
Banshee’s plane is about to land at the Westchester airport in about five minutes. Sean gets up from his seat and tries to find his bags, worrying another passenger because the seat-belt sign is blinking, meaning everyone has to stay in their seats. Sean suggests they look the other way just this once.
Outside, Logan and Kurt notice that the pilots finally managed to let a plane arrive in time for once, joking that from now on luck might be on their side. Kurt can only hope that’s true.
A kid stares through a window, noticing another plane heading towards them! Sean panics because the jet will hit them!
Below, Kurt recognizes the jet as the Blackbird, wondering what it’s doing.
At the plane, Sean gets into uniform realizing he has to move to save these people, though knowing he doesn’t have much of a chance at succeeding. He just hopes he can let one last scream out. Banshee proudly flies outside of his plane, right towards the Blackbird but his powers don’t bring any damage to it. The plane heads towards him at full speed, worrying Sean. On that very moment, it explodes!
Kurt and Logan panic…
In Armando Munoz’ life, there were five days that meant more to him than all the others put together. The first day was the day his father left. He walked towards his crying mother, asking if she was okay. She just wanted to be left alone. Armando was only four years old, but they had known there was something wrong with him since he was a baby. His arms were too long, his eyes were funny and had no hair anywhere. Armando remembers his mother telling him that his father left because of him. His mother’s cruelty that day never left him, but loved her anyway. Her rejection may even made him love her even more.
The second important day was when Armando’s IQ tested off the charts. Even his mother, whose coldness had not changed in the four years since his father left, appeared to be thrilled. Armando remembers his mother being happy that he was like the smartest kid at his school. The principal believed that it was more than that. He told Armando he has the potential to be one of the smartest children in the country. He mentions they already had a dozen calls from private academies looking to fund his further education. His mother wanted to know if any of these schools were places where his son could stay, like live there. The principal mentioned some of the boarding schools might do that. Mrs. Munoz wanted to know if any of the schools would pay her to have her son.
Armando had never seen his mom smile like that. Like he was good for something. He couldn’t know it then, but that desire to see his mother smile was what made him do so well on the test in the first place. She enrolled him in the Baltimore Academy for Advanced Education an hour north of New York City, where he spent most of the next nine years, except for the occasional holiday visit home, which became more and more occasional as the years passed.
And while the teachers couldn’t have been more pleased to have a student like Armando attending their fine institution, the other students were another story. He was picked on and bullied for many years. And it was this bullying that brought about the third most important day of Armando’s life: the day he realized he could breathe under water if he wanted.
While bully Jeff stuck his head in a toilet, Armando discovered his powers. He was fifteen years old and these kids had been putting him through hell for six years. So it was understandable when Armando unconsciously turned the skin on his rock-hard hands and beat the bullies unconscious for a change. They never picked on him again, and neither did anyone else. But Armando didn’t understand exactly what had happened. Even as intelligent as he was, he was not immune to denial. So the fact that he was a mutant went unknown for another year.
Until the fourth day, the day he went home to visit and his mother burned down the house. Armando remembers coming from his bedroom, shouting at his mother where she was. She had fallen asleep smoking and her cigarette had rolled under the couch, smoldering for hours until the blaze took hold. Armando had no trouble seeing or breathing through the smoke, the heat of the fire had no effect on him and safely carried his mother outside.
The firemen were amazed at what they saw. The boy appeared to be fireproof, somehow. His skin was slick and wet, smooth. Armando remembers driving to the hospital along with his mom. That day changed everything. Word got around about his condition, and the senior scientist at Biltmore scheduled him for secret testing. It was soon clear that something was very different about Armando’s genetic make-up. The scientists concluded that Armando was in a constant state of evolution. If he was put in a pitch-black room he develops the ability to see in the dark with total clarity in moments. If the room was filled with gas his lungs learn to process it like air.
After a year of study, the scientist published a paper about Armando, who he codenamed Darwin, the Evolving Boy. And the paper’s conclusion was that Darwin was one of the most fascinating mutant subjects anyone had ever came across. Armando didn’t know what to think when he read he was a mutant. To see the word in print, knowing it was about him. It felt strange, but right.
He probably shouldn’t have been surprised at his mother’s response to the news. She denied that she had given birth to a mutant. Armando tried to explain it, but instead got a slap into his face.
The day he jumped off the roof of the Baltimore Academy was the fifth most important day. The day he learned that he didn’t even know how to kill himself. Without even trying when jumping, his legs grew lighter, his bones grew soft; he almost bounced when he hit the pavement. He almost laughed instead of crying when he realized he wasn’t even hurt. And strangely, he was glad to still be alive. Right as he’d jumped, he thought, “Wait. This isn’t the right thing to do.” Later that day, in the psychiatrist’s office, he read that most people who survive a suicide attempt have that same revelation.
The psychiatrist enters and is glad to meet Darwin, noticing he’s having problems with adjusting. Armando agrees that’s probably the case, but he doesn’t think any psychotropic drugs are going to help him with that. The psychiatrist agrees, but has an idea that will help Darwin. He explains that there is someone who has been trying to get the school’s permission to see Armando since the Darwin paper was published. Someone who works with kids like Armando.
Armando, thinking that he’ll be send to another poking scientist, refuses to go. The psychiatrist promises it isn’t anything like that and promises Armando that he is going to like the lady who wants to meet him. Besides, she’s already waiting for him in the other office, so it’s not like Armando has another choice but to go.
And that fifth day, that was the day when Armando truly became Darwin. It was the day a strange lady he had never met before came along to save his life.