A woman sits in front of a series of computer monitors. On them are images of various mutants, such as Cyclops, Archangel and Colossus. She lists of ocular vision, icthyoid and avian morphologies and the extrusion of organized metal structures. Yet people still call it the “next stage in evolution.” Darwin would #%*&$. Behind the woman, David walks with Matteo and Dr. Marcus Glove. Marcus introduces David to Dr. Nina Ambrose and says she tells it like it is. Nina gets up and shakes David’s hand, whilst still bemoaning mutants. She can barely believe that the human genetic code can have a latent gene for vehicle designing, just waiting for the right mutation to open it up. She also scoffs at the likes of demon summing and computer hacking abilities.
David glances over at Marcus, who is still in his wheelchair watching the two. He thinks to himself that Marcus knows he is reading Nina’s mind, checking for hidden truths. Nina continues and says there are no sudden improvements in real evolution. There aren’t any neat lines between this species and that. The only things that cause dramatic change come from outside the system. Frankly, they have no idea if mutants are a product of magic, Celestial deities or a great damn fiery bird. She’ll tell him this though, it’s not nature. Humans are being outcompeted by an artificial species.
Marcus says that they aren’t the first to try fixing it though. Nina says that Dr. Kavita Rao’s “Hope” serum was as painless as it was effective. She tells David that theirs is the cruder solution but Dr. Rao refuses to help them. David recalls that she was being manipulated by an alien warlord at the time and then asks her if they have one lurking somewhere. Nina tells him not to be obtuse and says that the whole idea is to keep humanity free from outside meddling, not to encourage it.
Marcus asks David what’s on his mind and David says they seem like decent people. Plus, if he is to avoid the future he has seen, he will need that pill, come what may. But he needs to be sure this cure is what it seems. He needs to be certain there aren’t any aliens or evil masterminds looking to steal his powers and use them against the world. Marcus says that nobody is forcing anything and David is welcome to poke and prod as much as he likes. David says he will because, if there is one thing he has learned from running around with his dad’s technicolored goon squad, is that there is always a “big bad.”
With that, he walks outside into a courtyard to see a bunch of mutants sat in deck chairs. They are all wearing hospital gowns and are slumped down in the chairs with a look of blissfulness on their faces. One of the mutants is being read an A-B-C child’s book to him and the other is being given a drink through a straw.
(The Jean Grey School For Higher Learning)
The senior X-Men are sat around a conference table having a meeting. Next on the agenda is the Legion situation. Beast says that he is undeniably still active, as Abigail told him that SWORD had a run in with him. Rachel adds that she hasn’t had any lucking tracking him, however screwed his powers are. He has telepathy so Cerebra can’t see him unless he wants it to. Wolverine says the kid is too broken to stay hidden for long. Give it a month and he will either show up needing help or needing his ass kicked. Either way, they will drag him home and put him under, and either way he isn’t their problem till then.
Outside the door, Blindfold is listening in. She runs off, muttering to herself that David is going to break himself. She runs into Doop, who speaks to her in his alien language. She tells him she doesn’t understand him and never did. He sounds like squiggly symbols to her. She runs off, saying that she has to find some help.
Back at the Institute for Bio-Social Studies, David is now watching someone on a TV screen. A man with long pale purple hair nervously introduces himself as Clement Wilson. He says for a while he ran with the Nasty Boys and was known as Ruckus, which seems kind of stupid, now that he is saying it out loud. He tells the camera he absorbs and releases vibrational energy. A voice off-camera asks for a demonstration and so he obliges. His eyes turn completely white and the screen starts to shake. He stops and says he doesn’t like to do that. He has hurt people before, on purpose and otherwise. He is ashamed of what he did and he is ashamed of the violence others like him cause. He is a mutant but he doesn’t want to be. Today the Darwin’s Martyr’s are helping him do the right thing.
Ruckus’ broadcast is playing on monitors in a TV production room. David and Marcus are in the room looking through a window into an adjacent room. Ruckus is in the next room with Matteo filming him. David comments to Marcus that they are filming the procedure. Marcus tells him it’s part propaganda and part indemnity. The world is watching so they have to show that Clement, same as David, is going in voluntarily. David tells Marcus he’s covering his ass but Marcus replies that he is reassuring folk; David must understand that. He continues and says that David can’t tell him he hasn’t been fishing around in Clement’s mind to check if he is being coerced. He asks David if he has found his “big bad” yet but David replies he hasn’t. David stares at Ruckus and tells Marcus there isn’t any tampering or duress and he knows what he is doing.
Inside the other room, Matteo tells Clement to go whenever he is ready and the world thanks him. Clement pops a pill into his mouth and immediately winces in pain. He then falls to his knees, clutches his head and lets out an almighty scream. A few seconds later, Matteo asks Clement if he is okay, as the mutant lies curled up on the floor. With a smile and a dazed look in his eyes, he says he feels happy. Matteo helps him to his feet and asks if he is happy enough to shout about it. Still with a manic grin and dazed expression, he says he is and then he starts laughing because he peed. As he starts dribbling, Matteo and a nurse lead him out of the room to go play with the others.
David watches the nurse take him away and Marcus tells him that Ruckus will be looked after. He will remain in a state of childlike simplicity and joy. But he’ll never have an original thought, be somebody again or use his powers. He then asks David if he is sure he’s up for it. David thinks about the future he saw and what he would become and he tells Marcus it’s worth it.
Back at the school, Blindfold nervously asks someone for help. She says she doesn’t know who else to turn to and that they owe David for restoring his powers. Chamber asks her if she means how the little git accidentally returned his perpetually-exploding horror face after several years of relative normality. He sarcastically says his debt to the pointy haired #&*$% is mighty. He then tells her to piss off as he has a class to teach. He walks off but Blindfold follows him. She reminds him that he is descended from Apocalypse and so he knows what it’s like to live in the shadow of an ancestor. Chamber cuts her off and says that Mr. Whippy hair had a bonafide hero for a dad and then asks if he is supposed to cry a river for him. Getting annoyed, she reminds him that he would have killed the two kids in Tokyo if it hadn’t been for David. Chamber stops in his tracks as Blindfold continues and says he knows what it’s like to be frightened of himself.
Back at the IBSS, Marcus is still taking David on a tour of the facility. They finally arrive at the heart of the operation and Marcus says it’s the last chance to find the villainous mastermind. Matteo opens a door and they enter a room full of patients with prosthetics. They all turn to look at him as Marcus explains they are from all over the world and they are the innocent ones. They are the ones caught in the crossfire in the war between mutants and humans, mutants and aliens, and mutants and mutants. In fact, pretty much mutants and anyone you care to name. These are Darwin’s Martyrs.
As David looks at them, he knows that they know him. He doesn’t have to read their minds, Marcus told them he was coming. He thinks that they know who he is but then he corrects himself as they know whose son he is. Plus they know what he is. He didn’t need to listen to the introductions. One was crushed by a Krakoan boulder, another burned by Phoenix fire. It’s a blur, their details don’t matter, only their eyes and the vibrations of their mind. As he shakes each of their hands, he takes a small dip into their psyche to scroll through their memories and mysteries. With each one, he finds no tampering, tricks or secrets, just honesty, courage and decency. Just like Marcus and poor spaced out Clement “Ruckus” Wilson.
A little girl comes up to him and tells him she heard he was taking the pill. A French man comes up to him and congratulates him. David thinks to himself that there is no hate or anger here. They are just sensible people facing a difficult problem with dignity and positivity. As they gather around him, David starts to feel overwhelmed and intoxicated. Before he knows it, he tastes it like a fine wine. He has absorbed minds before, in the old, dark times. This isn’t like that; it’s just a small taste. Just a borrowed bite of confidence and calmness, things he has craved for so long. It shouldn’t hurt these people; they wouldn’t even notice. But they do. As David reaches out to them with his mind, something happens and everyone collapses on the floor.
At the school, Blindfold is in the gym having a sparring session with Frenzy. As a sweaty Blindfold punches at Frenzy, she says that David saved her from Luca and he probably saved all of them. As Frenzy yells for her to punch harder, she continues and reminds her of the reality David created, the one with the Force Warriors and Basilisk. It had a positive effect on Frenzy’s life and that has to be something. Frenzy doesn’t say anything except “harder” and so Blindfold pushes on. She tells her she knows she must be mad about Tokyo but if anyone understands fatherhood issues it’s her. Frenzy still yells for Blindfold to hit harder but the young girl clutches her gloved hand and says she thinks it’s broken. Frenzy swears and asks if she gets to kick the punk’s scrawny little butt when she is done saving it. Blindfold pauses for a moment and then tells her a bit.
At the IBSS, David is shocked at everyone around him dropping to the floor. They drop like flies, comatose and brain dead. It’s only now that the suspicion is coming in that they were never truly awake in the first place. Each has been robbed; sucked dry by his taster’s greed, of whatever diffuse thing was amongst them. A splintered mind of a puppeteer made of proud and cheerful xenophobia. The guiding hand was so dispersed that each tendril was hidden even from his sight. It is not pleased to be discovered as he has met it before.
Red energy begins to shoot out of the collapsed patients and swirl around David’s head. He screams in pain as they coalesce. It’s the demon from the dreamscape that attacked him and blasted Ruth from the psychosphere. But its voice chills him as it is as unmistakable as his own. A voice he’s heard throughout his entire life like a psychic imprint he would know anywhere. It’s him.
Standing before David is the red demon creature that attacked him in the psychosphere a while back. Energy explodes out from the top if its head towards David’s. On top of the demon’s head, amongst the bright red energy, is a grim visage of Xavier. This new Xavier asks David if he recognizes his own father. Completely shocked at what is happening David crouches down and turns away. He can barely talk as he clutches his head. He says it’s not possible as there is a thing in his head and there can’t be two of him. The demon reaches out a claw towards David and calls the gold-skinned Xavier an echo and abomination. It has blinded him from the truth. David calls him a monster but the demon asks if David wants proof.
He tells David to see what he has seen and with that he shows him a series of visions. He sees his mother, blushing after the encounter that created him. Drunken clinches and a tongue like stale smoke. He then shows David an image of himself locked in a padded cell. This was the first year Xavier found him and he was tormented and broken. He tried so hard to impress Xavier and to make him notice and be proud of his son. But David failed over and over again. The demon-Xavier says all he ever wanted was a son and heir to bear his legacy. Instead, he spawned a devil. A weak, craven, failed liability.
The demon stops his visions and tells David he collected the various people around him from vegetative wards around the country. David spent all day testing minds that they don’t even have. He mocks David and says he must have thought “no man can conceal an ulterior motive from me.” The demon tells David that a dead man could. Why does he think he was attacked in the psychosphere? To toughen him up and test his mettle. He always hoped that David would exceed him one day, yet that was another disappointment.
As David continues to crouch on the floor, holding his head, the demon-Xavier stands over him. He taunts David and says that now he wants to flee from his powers and shrink away from his responsibility. He didn’t think he could be shamed anymore. On the floor, David repeats that he is sorry over and over.
The demon points at David and says they won’t have any more of the procedure nonsense. No more giving up and surrendering his gifts. He orders his son to leave the institute and to leave his people alone like a good boy. Make him proud at last. With tears in his eyes and his hands over his face, David continues to repeat that he is sorry. He then gathers his thoughts for a few seconds and tells the demon that his father is dead. Whatever trick this is, whatever sick bastard is using his voice, his soul, he is dead. David reiterates his previous motto that he rules himself. He says he wants the pill and when he looks up the demon is gone. All the people on the floor sit upright; their eyes glowing bright red.
At the school, Karasu Tengo opens the door to her room and yells that she knows what Blindfold wants. She pecked it from her brain before she even thought it. The answer is no, she hates him and she won’t help him. He killed her brother. Blindfold tells her she knows that’s not what happened. It was her brother Luca that killed Sojobo. All David did was try and help. He’s a good guy and he spent his entire life trying to live up to his father, like her. With Karasu’s psychic raven power flashing around her she tells Blindfold no. The day David entered her life was the day it ended. The next time she sees him will be the day his ends. She slams the door in Blindfold’s face before she can finish what she is saying.
A voice calls her from behind and Blindfold turns to see Pixie. She tells Ruth that she is crap at the secret plotting thing. She asks her to tell her the truth as to whether the floppy-haired prat is worth it all. Blindfold quietly says that she loves him. Pixie lets out a sigh and reluctantly tells Blindfold they had better get at it then. Blindfold is surprised and pleased that Pixie wants to help save David. They get to go on an actual secret group operation superhero rescue. Chamber says that if she dares say team up he will puke and that’s no minor thing. He nearly burnt down London because of a dodgy vindaloo. Frenzy tells her she just wants to hit *%&$#. Pixie says that on a related note David shot her with a psychic harpoon so nobody gets to hurt him till she does.
Back at the IBSS, David looks around and asks where his dad is. Marcus says that he is impressed and tells him that when he first came there is thought David was playing a trick on him. The son of Charles Xavier giving up his gifts was an unrivaled propaganda opportunity. He assumed David came to infiltrate them and to destroy everything he had built up. Or at least to try anyway. Now that he has met David he thinks he would have crushed him regardless but now it won’t come to that. Marcus leans forward and tells David that he spent all day testing him just as he was testing them. He has given him a thousand reasons to rise against him or to run away. But he wants the pill and only the pill. Even the shade of his father could not dissuade him, so he finally believes David is telling the truth.
David is speechless and so Marcus tells him it’s time for the de-masking. One must abide by the classics. He imagines this must be terribly disappointing for him. As Marcus says that, he trails away and falls unconscious. Matteo, the man who has been wheeling Marcus around the entire time, says he has to understand there always is a “big bad.” He just has to learn to look in the right places. As he says that he starts to rip the skin off his face. David pinches the bridge of his nose and says that Matteo has to understand it doesn’t matter. He figures that some other idiot will swing by for a punch up once he gets around to revealing his master plan. Good luck to them but it won’t be him. He is responsible to a future more revolting that he can ever imagine. Billions will die and he will be no more in charge than he is right now. David says he must be neutralized and he doesn’t care who does it. David says that they won’t steal his power or use it to make sure the future is going to happen. The procedure really does work. Beyond that, whatever convoluted plans they are laying are worth #%*&.
Standing before David is the Red Skull. David seems unimpressed that he stole his dad’s brain. He still wants the pill.