Violent conflict has been a fact of life in Narobia for over a quarter century. That ended yesterday. With just one-fifth of the power of the Phoenix, Cyclops disarmed all rebels, warlords and the government’s military forces. When the X-Men outlaw war, no one messes about. Indeed, Scott “Cyclops” Summers appeared over the war-torn nation in spectacular cosmic fury, taking the trouble-makers down with relative ease.
Meanwhile, Joanna “Frenzy” Cargill of the Westchester-based X-Men is on the ramp of a jet, in radio contact with the Stepford Cuckoos - Celeste, Phoebe and Irma. ‘I’ve been in a few war zones in my day. Let me guess: Summers didn’t get all the guns’ Frenzy remarks. A telepathic response from one of the girls points out that the Phoenix Five are godlike, but not omnipotent, so some weapons did indeed survive. ‘So, in the power vacuum left by the warlords, a few ambitious, armed wan naves see their chance to be boss’ Frenzy mutters, before announcing that she will take them out, adding that there is always going to be someone else with the same idea. ‘Not to mention sectarian violence and banditry. The locals have been at war for decades; many don’t know anything else’ one of the Cuckoos replies.
Inside a facility, the Cuckoos are with James “Warpath” Proudstar and they are keeping watch over a prisoner. ‘That’s our job. As soon as we’ve dismantled Iran’s nuclear program, we’ll be dropping in for a mass memory rewrite, replacing the bad with happy, shiny thoughts’ one of the girls explains, adding that until then, Frenzy is to keep the people will guns from killing each other for, six hours. ‘We’ll leave the specifics with you’ she adds. As Frenzy leaps from the jet, without a parachute, of course, she radios back ‘Wait, you’ve got my babysitting humans? I thought there was a target! I thought this was a combat mission! I don’t even like humans!’ Joanna adds. The Cuckoos reply that they know, which is why they were a bit vague on the details until after she jumped out of the plane.
As she drops towards the densely covered ground below, Frenzy tells the Cuckoos to read her mind so they can see what she is imagining doing to them. ‘Oh, stop. Aren’t you the one who shaved her head as some awful fashion statement? About wanting to be heroic?’ one of the girls points out. ‘For mutants’ Frenzy replies, adding that this is supposed to be the dawn of a new era for them, so why are they even bothering with humans when mutants have their own problems? ‘But we don’t. Not anymore’ one of the Cuckoos points out, and an instant later, Frenzy lands with an earth-shattering crash into the ground. Joanna emerges from the broken earth, and tells the Cuckoos not to expect her to preach peace and brotherhood to flatscans, as it is not in her vocabulary. ‘Even if I did speak their language’ she mutters.
‘You do. I’ve just implanted several regional dialects in your brain’ one of the girls tells her. ‘I’ll implant a brick in yours!’ comes Frenzy’s swift reply. ‘Really, Frenzy. You’re spoiling world peace for everyone’ one of the Cuckoos tells her. ‘Six hours. One second longer and I’ll walk out of this hellhole’ Frenzy announces, while some of the locals start to gather around her.
‘Pathetic’ Frenzy mutters as she examines her surroundings, when suddenly, she spins around as a voice shouts ‘Monster!’, and she sees a brutish man push a young girl to the ground. ‘Useless, willful brat!’ the man snarls. ‘You will obey me!’ he shouts, and Frenzy suddenly remembers being in a similar situation herself, as a girl, crying on the floor as a man loomed over her, hand raised, shouting ‘I warn you every time! But you just won’t listen!’
The young woman tries to get up, but the man grabs her by his wrists. ‘Apologize. Admit you were wrong and I will be forgiving’ the man declares. The girl responds by spitting in the man’s face. ‘You have the devil in you!’ the man shouts as he throws the girl to the ground, vowing to beat the devil out of her. He raises a fist, when suddenly, Frenzy comes up behind him and grabs him. ‘How dare you?’ the man declares, turning back to Frenzy. ‘Funny, that’s what I was about to say’ Frenzy replies. The man pulls back, ‘You speak our language, but I can tell you are American. You interfere with matters you know nothing about. This is my wife. She has been disobedient. It is my duty - my right - to discipline her’ the man announces.
‘His wife? Was that your idea?’ Frenzy asks, turning to the girl, who quickly replies ‘No’. The man tells Frenzy that she is a stranger here, so he will be patient with her, and suggests she return to her aid ground, hand out some food, pat herself on the back for helping the poor Africans and go home, otherwise she will learn what happens here when women do not know their place. Frenzy smiles, and replies ‘Teach me. I dare you’. The man raises a machete and rushes towards Frenzy - he brings it down to strike her, but the machete breaks against Joanna’s powerful form. Frenzy grabs the man by his wrists and breaks them with ease. He has tears in his eyes as Frenzy grabs his face and angrily tells him to ‘Consider this your divorce’. He falls to the ground, and tries to get away, ‘You’re one of them! The abominations!’ he exclaims, before getting to his feet and running off, while calling back ‘You are achieving nothing, monster. You will see. We have power too. And we will be here long after you are gone!’
Frenzy turns to the girl and asks ‘He’s with the militia?’, to which the girl confirms that he is. ‘Good. Maybe I can actually accomplish something here’ Frenzy remarks as she makes her way into the woods, following the man - but the girl tells her to wait, and explains that their camp is deep in the bush, that she will never find it. ‘I’ve done my share of tracking, girl’ Frenzy replies, before the girl declares that she knows where it is, and will go with her. ‘You’d just get in the way!’ Frenzy replies. The girl turns away, dejected, and Frenzy’s mind recalls a time like earlier, when the brutish man told her that she was pathetic and good for nothing. ‘This world’s gonna grind you up, girl. Mark my words’ Joanna remembers him saying. She frowns, before announcing that it would go faster with a guide. ‘Let’s go, if you’re going’ Joanna tells the girl.
‘You are strong’ she exclaims as she follows Frenzy, and watches her lift a massive tree trunk that had fallen onto a dirt track, with one hand. ‘I’m also not big on small talk’ Frenzy replies her, but the girl ignores the comment and asks her ‘Who taught you to fight? Your father?’ Frenzy frowns, and remembers playing with a toy gun and soldier’s hat, only for her father to smack her hard across the face: ‘If you ever touch your brother’s toys again!’ he boomed. ‘Yeah,. Guess he did’ Frenzy tells the girl, while putting the tree upright. ‘He beat you’ the girl calls out. Frenzy scowls, before moving ahead and punching a large rock, shattering it, she announces that her father was a soldier, a good one, and that he already had a son to carry on his legacy. ‘They never planned to have me. I was an accident, born premature…sick a lot. Too weak to help around the house. Just another mouth to feed in hard times’.
‘Useless’ Frenzy mutters, while the girl asks her if her mother tried to stop her father, but Frenzy replies that her mama was a churchgoing woman, who used to say that the meek shall inherit the Earth. ‘Even as a kid I knew that was crap’ Frenzy remarks, while recalling something else her mama used to say, and remembering her tending to her wounds: ‘God never sends us more than we can bear’. Frenzy punches another large rock, shattering it into small stones, and declares that her mama was wrong about that, too, before her mind wanders back….
Two soldiers appear at the Cargill family home. Mr and Mrs Cargill, and Joanna stand on the porch, while one of the soldiers announces that the Secretary of the Army has asked him to express their deep regret that the Cargill’s son was killed in action…. Joanna found her father in an office, bottle of alcohol in one hand, while his other hand pushes papers and books of a desk in rage. In her brother’s room, Joanna looked at a photo of her brother in his military uniform, hugging her,. She picks up one of his army hats and puts it on. Looking in a full length mirror, she prepares to salute, when suddenly, a voice calls out ‘What the hell are you doing?’, and Joanna turns in shock, to see her father at the door.
Mr Cargill lumbers into the room, ‘D-Daddy, I -’ Joanna begins, but her father punches her hard in the face, ‘You have no right! He gave everything!’ Mr Cargill booms, before punching his daughter in her stomach. ‘I gave everything! Everything to my country1 And still they took my son!’ Mr Cargill exclaims. Joanna falls onto the bed, and her father mutters ‘Left me with nothing’, while Joanna tells her father that it hurts. ‘LESS THAN NOTHING!’ Mr Cargill booms. Tears streaming down her face, Joanna pleads with her father to stop, but he doesn’t listen, so she screams ‘STOP!’ and reaches upwards, punching her father - so hard that her fist goes through his chest, and he falls to the floor. Joanna looks at her blood-covered fist, then her mother calls out to her, but Joanna leaps through the window, and runs away.
The girl continues to follow Frenzy, in silence, until she announces that when the soldiers came, they killed her father, and shot her mother, but didn’t kill her. ‘They gave me a machete. And they told me to kill her. Or they would kill me’. Frenzy turns in horror, and walks over to the girl. ‘They made you one of them’ Joanna remarks. ‘Until I turned thirteen. Then they gave me to my husband’ the girl explains, hanging her head. ‘He said I am a monster’ the girl tells Frenzy as she clings to her back, while Frenzy climbs up a vertical cliff-face. ‘He’s the monster’ Frenzy replies, while the girl points out that she has done many bad things. ‘You didn’t have a choice’ Frenzy assures her, as they climb onto flat ground, and look out over the beautiful landscape. ‘When you are grown up, you can do whatever you like?’ the girl asks.
‘Yeah’ Frenzy tells her, adding that most people don’t, as they keep doing what they always have, or find someone else to control them, something else. ‘I will be different’ the girl announces. ‘You just might be’ Frenzy replies, smiling. They continue on through the bush, and finally, Frenzy asks the girl what her name is. ‘Angelique’ the girl replies, before quietly announcing that they are getting close, when suddenly, ‘Oh!’ she gasps, as she sees her husband lying on the ground, blood drenched from a wound to his torso. Angelique starts crying, so Frenzy puts her arms around her. ‘He was a bad man. He was a bad man…’ Angelique utters, while Frenzy tells her to stay in the bushes, as she closes in on the militia village nearby.
Frenzy runs towards the men, who are gathered together, talking, doing nothing. They all begin firing their weapons at her, but she is fast, and the bullets that do strike her are useless. She reaches one man and smacks him in the face, hard. ‘Die, witch!’ another of the militia calls out, firing dozens of shots at close range, knocking Frenzy backwards, but she recovers, and grabs him by the throat. She holds him high into the air, she is angry - but Joanna glances at Angelique, who looks shocked. Frenzy’s anger turns to concern, and she drops the man to the ground, before turning and walking over to Angelique, ‘We’re done here’ Frenzy announces.
Two hours later, back at the village, locals have gathered around Frenzy and Angelique, while the Stepford Cuckoos have arrived. One of the girls announces to Angelique ‘Frenzy tells us you’ve been very brave. Don’t worry, dear, soon all the bad things that happened to you will fade away just like a dream’. But Frenzy tells the Cuckoos to hold on, and asks whether they can really pull this off - go into all their minds and take away specific memories. ‘If we combine our powers, within a limited radius, yes, why?’ one of the girls replies. ‘Because I don’t think you should’ Joanna announces. She points out that what these people have been through is terrible, and some of them have experienced things no human being can take. ‘Them, you should help’.
Frenzy continues, adding that it is probably a good idea to reduce the trauma, the post traumatic stress disorder, calm the body’s fight-or-flight response, the involuntary reactions. She tells the Cuckoos that as far as the unrepentant sociopaths go, the ones who like killing, for all she cares, the girls can shut their brains right off. Looking around at the villagers, Joanna tells the Cuckoos that if they erase these people’s memories, of what they have done and what was done to them, they are taking away part of who they are. ‘An extremely painful part’ one of the Cuckoos remarks. Frenzy tells her that pain is a survival mechanism, telling you what you shouldn’t do again. ‘Without that, they’re sitting ducks for the next warlord who comes along. And if you don’t think there’s gonna be one, you’re dreaming’.
‘Besides, some of ‘em…they’ve done things. Things they should carry with them’ Joanna declares. ‘We suppose we could do what you say’ one of the Cuckoos replies, but another suggests that they should consult Cyclops or Ms Frost first. ‘Screw them. They’re not gods. We can make our own decisions. So can they’ Frenzy replies, motioning to the villagers. Frenzy tells the Cuckoos to just do it, and that she will take the responsibility, before walking towards the jet stationed nearby. ‘You are leaving?’ Angelique calls out as she rushes over to Frenzy. ‘Yeah’ Joanna replies. ‘Things will be better now?’ the girl enquires. ‘That’s up to you’ Frenzy declares, putting a hand on Angelique’s shoulder, before turning, and continuing on towards the jet.