Wolverine! Cyclops! Beast! The White Queen! Iceman! Nightcrawler! Cannonball!…they are the Uncanny X-Men! Now living in a world where they will be No More Mutants….
‘The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away,’a priest quotes at a funeral where the seven members of the X-Men are currently seated alongside other mourners, and some of their own associates. The priest continues with the service, remarking that many people see a paradox in that. A tension. A conflict. ‘But there is no conflict. What it means is that there is a plan. That whatever happens, happens by God’s will’. The priest exclaims that whether it strikes them as good or bad, whether it brings them grief or joy, it has its season - it has its purpose.
The priest continues, declaring that, one day, they will see that purpose, as the bible promises them that, but in the meantime, their consolation is that it has to be there. ‘That the pain - all pain - has a point’. Professor Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men watches and listens intently, while the former X-Man known as Bishop stands at the rear of the church as if on guard. Two current students at the Xavier Institute are also present, Mercury and X-23, who is looking rather bored, and uses one of her claws to carve something into the back of a seat. Three members of the mutant investigation group, X-Factor - Multiple Man, Wolfsbane and Rictor - are also present.
‘For now, we see as through a glass darkly. But then we will see clearly. Now we know only pieces of the whole - but then we will know all, just as ourselves will be known’ the priest exclaims in conclusion, before asking the bearers to please step forward.
Shortly, the priest and Professor X lead the way, followed by the bearers carrying the coffin, then the X-Men and the other mourners. Mercury turns to X-23 and remarks that she wonders if this kid’s life would have worked out different if he has gone to school somewhere else. ‘You mean like Xavier’s?’ X-23 asks. ‘Yeah. Probably not, right?’ Mercury frowns, before adding ‘I mean, look how many funerals we’ve been to. And we’re not even sophomores!’
The coffin is laid down and the priest announces that there will be three minutes of silent prayer. Professor X uses this opportunity to read the minds of the various mourners:
‘Wish I understood what it meant…’
‘Never see him again or…’
‘Stupid even to be arguing about that if…’
‘Is this grief? I don’t even know. It’s more like…’
‘Or birdsong going on as though nobody even cares if he…’
‘Were me I’d be watching both gates and I’d probably put someone up on the…’
‘Brachium and the ante-brachial flexors and extensors and the hand and the wrist and the…’
‘Er hat den knaben wohl in den arm, er fasst ihn sicher…’
‘Were we thinking of? What did we tell ourselves we were doing?’
‘We walked like Gods. So arrogant. So splendid. So careless. And look at what we’ve come to…’ Emma Frost a.k.a. the glamorous White Queen thinks, before turning to Xavier and smirking, ‘Yes, I know you’re listening, Charles. And yes, I mean you too!’ Emma tells Charles that he thought he could write the future, that he thought he had the magic formula, the secret recipe right from the beginning when it was just Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman and Angel. ‘But the future doesn’t have a formula. It doesn’t have a script. It’s all ad lib’ Emma remarks, referring to the destruction caused by the Sentinels. She tells Charles that it is all desperate improvisation in front of a dying audience in a room where the ceiling is about to fall in. ‘I can’t help feeling that we got what we deserved’ Emma concludes.
Wolverine a.k.a. Logan looks down at the coffin - and suddenly, sees his long-dead wife, Mariko. Then, his beloved Jean Grey, screaming in agony. Finally, his mortal enemy, Sabretooth, glaring up at him, smirking. Wolverine unsheathes his adamantium claws, which his friend Nightcrawler sees and alerts him to. Vaguely, Logan apologizes, admitting that he was miles away. Indeed, as his thoughts carry him to a place where he is surrounded by the grave markers of those he loves the most - Storm, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Kitty Pryde, Beast…everyone.
One of the mourners, an elderly man, thinks to himself ‘…forcing a vote at the psychological moment, if Da Costa stays in line. And if he doesn’t, perhaps it’s time for another coup. In any event, time to shake things up and see who’s really - Is there no more privacy…?’ the man thinks as he turns to Xavier and scowls. Xavier stares back, no longer able to read the elderly man’s thoughts.
The priest declares that they will no commit their brother and son to the Earth, where he will sojourn for a time, until God wakes him and calls him to the life eternal. As the coffin is lowered into the grave, flowers are tossed on it, and the priest finishes off with ‘May he rest in peace’. The deceased’s parents toss some dirt onto the coffin, then gather with the rest of their family and other mourners. Scott “Cyclops” Summers approaches Mr. And Mrs. Landru and introduces himself, adding that they talked on the phone. Scott tells the Landru’s that he wanted to thank them for allowing so many of his friends and colleagues here today. ‘We didn’t know your son, but we wanted to pay our respects all the same’ Scott explains.
Mrs. Landru tells Scott that there is no need to thank them, when suddenly her husband interrupts, ‘Pay your respects to what?’ he asks crossly. ‘I’m sorry?’ Scott asks, not sure what Mr. Landru is inferring. Mr. Landru declares that his son wasn’t a number. Mrs. Landru tries to shush her husband, but it doesn’t work. ‘He was one of your one-hundred-and-ninety something, but he wasn’t a number, he was a boy!’ Emma steps forward and tells Mr. Landru that the X-Men couldn’t agree more, and that she thinks most of them are here because recent events have brought home to them how much each life matters.
‘Yeah, but you still mean each mutant life, don’t you!’ Mr. Landru exclaims. ‘That’s what you’re paying your respects to. A name crossed off your list. You’re just here to mourn your own hard times!’ Emma folds her arms across and telepathically tells her lover Scott that she could give Landru a migraine or mild incontinence, as she’s sure that would have a calming effect. Scott’s thoughts ask Emma if she is joking. ‘Please tell me you’re joking!’ Emma smirks and reminds Scott that she walked out of a mass grave on Genosha, and buried her beloved students, the Hellions, so she doesn’t need a lecture on the mechanics of grief.
Scott puts an arm around Emma before turning to Mr. Landru and telling him that there are many groups who honor their fallen, which is what they want to do here today. ‘To mark your son’s passing, not to count him off on a list’. Landru asks Scott if he has ever lost someone he has cared about, to which Scott replies that he has. ‘Then you’ll know how private and isolating grief is. And how little honor weighs against it!’ Mr. Landru points out. Scott replies that he believes grief has its own tides and seasons, and assures him that he will not intrude on his grief any further.
Nearby, Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair and Julio Richter, the de-powered mutant known as Rictor are walking through the cemetery, and Rahne exclaims that of course there is a plan. ‘God sees the sparrow fall in the market place. He’s watching all of us, all the time!’ she exclaims. Rictor asks Rahne who she is trying to convince. ‘Me, or you?’ to which Rahne replies that her faith is not shaken by this, by any of it. ‘It isn’t?’ Rictor asks. ‘No. It isn’t’. Rahne replies assertively, before asking Julio about himself. ‘I don’t know. What about me?’ Julio asks.
Rahne asks her long time friend if staring into one more mutant grave makes him afraid for the future. ‘Are you serious? The kid died whole with his powers intact. Knowing who and what he was. I’d say he was one of the lucky ones!’
Bobby “Iceman” Drake and Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie are together when Bishop approaches them. Bobby asks bishop if he is still on duty, to which Bishop replies that he is making one final sweep, pointing out that ten percent of the world’s mutants are here. ‘Better to be safe than sorry’ he adds, before informing his former teammates that it is real quiet, that there are no Purifiers, no Sapiens League, and no provisional pro-Sentinel army, so he is going to pay his respects and head out. Suddenly, Cannonball asks Bishop why he didn’t warn them. Bishop is confused by Sam’s comment, to which Sam asks Bishop why he didn’t tell them what was coming, ‘Something as big as this - I guess they’d still be talking about it in your time, right?’ he suggests.
Bishop replies that it is not that easy, to which Sam asks ‘How come?’ Bishop informs him that his time had its own crises, its own tragedies. Bishop reveals that a lot of the records from the here and now had been destroyed or survived only as legends, and asks his old teammates if they think he would have held back on them if he had known this was coming. Sam asks Bishop what the people of his time did remember, what they said about all of this, to which Bishop replies that they said nothing that made sense, only hints, fragments and fairy tales. ‘We talked about the windowing, the time of the edge’.
Cannonball points out that there were enough mutants in Bishop’s future to fill in all those camps, ‘So what happened?’ he asks. Bishop suggests that perhaps his future is on a different timeline than this one. ‘Maybe it’s not!’ Sam snaps. ‘Sure. Maybe it’s not’ Bishop agrees, frowning.
Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner informs Mercury and X-23 that the limousine will be heading back to the Academy in a few minutes, before Mercury asks Nightcrawler if she can talk to him about something. ‘Of course’ Kurt replies, to which Mercury asks why everyone is being so vague about how this boy died, and asks if it was a hate crime or something. Kurt replies that he believes the boy was run down on a busy intersection. ‘It was a very mundane and ordinary death’. Mercury declares that she wishes the boy were alive again - so she could punch him in the face.
Nightcrawler is shocked by Mercury’s comment, but allows her to continue: ‘I mean it! Look at this. This is all we are now. Like, I dunno, like a few dazed refugees staggering around after an earthquake or something!’ Mercury begins crying and exclaims that the boy should have looked both ways, should have waited for the “walk” sign. ‘He didn’t have any business walking under a stupid truck! Not when we’re an endangered species!’
Outside the chapel grounds, the old man approaches his car, where his aides are waiting for him. The driver asks the old man if he wishes to go to the club, but the man replies that he wants to go to the bank first, and asks his driver to call Meterlinck and Paley and get them to meet him there immediately. Suddenly, ‘Sebastian!’ exclaims Professor X as he approaches the old man and declares that he hates to think that his presence here under the mantle of an image inducer had any threatening implications. The elderly man replies that he came alone, ‘I presume that’s not lost on you’, before tapping a button on his shirt sleeve, and his disguise fades, revealing, indeed, Sebastian Shaw, the former Black King of the Hellfire Club.
Shaw boasts that a man in his position can start a rumor just by making eye contact with someone, explaining that’s why he remains anonymous wherever he can. Xavier asks Shaw if he knew the boy from somewhere and if he tried to recruit him, to which Shaw replies ‘That’s your modus operandi, Charles. Not mine’. Shaw then informs Xavier that he did not know the Landru boy, but that, like Charles, he felt the boy’s death deserved to be marked in some way, adding that some things, if they are not done through proxies, are not done at all. Xavier asks Shaw if that is the case then why he activated a psi-shield when he saw him watching.
‘Because my thoughts are my own’ Shaw replies as he thugs approach Xavier. ‘Not you, nor anyone else has the right to sift through them’. The thugs lunge at Xavier with a stun gun, only to fall to the ground thanks to a mental suggestion from the world’s foremost telepath. Charles then tells Shaw that he is sorry, but finds it hard to believe that he would ever stray so far form type. ‘Particularly when your hirelings revert so readily!’ Shaw narrows his eyes at Charles and tells him to believe it or not if he wishes, and to turn this into a fight if he feels he needs, ‘All of our encounters seem to conform to that pattern in the end’ Shaw remarks.
Xavier shakes a fist at Shaw and reminds the former Black King that he has plotted against the X-Men not once, but many times. Shaw admit that he did, and points out that Xavier, in turn, waged war on him. ‘Because even as a mutant safe house, the Hellfire Club threatened your empire-building’ Shaw exclaims, before telling Xavier to face it. ‘Were were supposed to be the clever ones. The visionaries. You. Me. Eric. And all we’ve ever done is to fight each other until our knuckles bled’. Xavier stands silent as Shaw gets into the back of his limousine. ‘Give my regards to Emma’ he smirks, before being driven away.
Nearby, James Madrox a.k.a. the Multiple Man and Dr. Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast walk past a set of tombs, and Jamie exclaims that he feels like there has got to be a solution that they are missing. ‘Like what?’ Henry asks. ‘Like something so obvious it’s more or less invisible’ the leader of X-Factor replies. The Beast asks Jamie if he thinks he should hire X-Factor to look in to the mystery of their imminent species meltdown. James replies that he isn’t joking, to which Hank replies ‘Neither am I. I’m just out of ideas’. The Beast raises his arms as he exclaims that he is staring at the incontrovertible fact of mutant extinction. ‘If there’s something I’m missing - well, I’m missing it’.
Jamie asks the Beast why no one is talking about repopulation, or breeding programs. ‘Isn’t that what they do when a species hit’s the rocks?’ But Hank replies that there isn’t enough of them left for that. ‘No?’ Jamie asks, before snapping his finger over and over again. ‘How about now?’ he asks, surrounded by a dozen duplicates of himself. The Beast replies that he appreciates Madrox’s dedication to the cause, and that he is sure Jamie is prepared to put his money where his…mouth is, but that it doesn’t work that way. ‘Why not?’ Madrox asks.
The Beast cleans his spectacles while explaining that whether there is one of him, or ten thousand, the genetic information is the same, and you cannot build a cathedral on the head of a pin so to speak. The Beast adds that when a species passes a certain point in its decline, it cannot be saved. ‘There isn’t enough genetic diversity left to re-create the template’. ‘So we just lie down and die?’ Madrox asks. The Beast replies that he is not recommending that, and that for his part, he intends to die standing up. ‘And singing the Marseillaise’.
Nearby again, Cyclops takes off his ruby quartz glasses, and looks into the sky, firing two beams of optic blasts into the air, and creating quite a spectacular display. ‘Relieve your feelings?’ Wolverine asks as he approaches Cyclops. ‘Not really’ Scott replies. Scott informs Logan that it was he who interviewed the Landru boy when he was first identified by Cerebra. Logan asks Scott what the boy was like, to which Scott replies that he doesn’t remember. Scott explains that it was the year before last. ‘Boom time’, they had three hundred potential students to get through, and he was living out of a suitcase for six weeks.
Scott reveals that the Landru boy turned down the offer to study at the Academy, as he wanted to go to school locally and live at home. ‘So I just forgot him and moved on to whoever was next on the list’. Wolverine replies that he knows he is wearing black, and asks Scott if he sees a dog collar around his neck. ‘No’ Scott replies. ‘Then why are you confessing to me?’ Logan asks. Scott remarks that he was five when he saw Pinocchio and that it made a big impact, and he still assumes that all the really short guys are somebody’s conscience. ‘Not me’ Logan replies. ‘Obviously’ Scott agrees.
The rain begins to beat down, and Logan remarks that the sick thing is, it takes a situation like this to make them look death in the face. ‘Really look at it - and that’s the only way you know what life is worth’. ‘You own life, or -?’ Scott asks. ‘Any life’ Logan replies, adding that with this kid, it is obvious, another grain of sand falls through into the bottom of the glass, you can sit here and watch it go. ‘But the truth is, we’re all fighting the same fight, against the same odds, all the time we’re alive. Easy to forget, but that’s what life is. Right there. That fight to be not dead just yet’.
Scott mutters that the fight is rigged. ‘Sure it is’ Logan agrees. ‘You know you’re going down. Only question is. How many rounds you last’. Scott points out that they don’t stop fighting. ‘Nope’ Logan agrees. Scott asks why that is. ‘Because we don’t know how…’. Logan replies, while up above, thunder booms, lightning crackles and the rain continues to beat down, until suddenly, the storm breaks, and a ray of light - of hope - shines through….