‘Neat trick’. Mystique a.k.a. Raven Darkholme tells Bobby “Iceman” Drake as she holds a shotgun to his chest. ‘Not that hard’ Bobby replies, standing by a blazing truck in nothing but his boxer shorts. ‘No? I can feel the heat from here. Why aren’t you burning?’ Raven asks. Bobby replies that fire is an exchange of energy, and that cooling the air creates convection currents, making the heat flow along the gradients he chooses. Turning his body to ice, he exclaims ‘Trust me. Where I’m standing - it’s frosty cool’. ‘So? Now?’ Raven asks, staring her one-time lover in the eyes.
Bobby tells Raven that she either drops the gun, or uses it. ‘I don’t see any other options, do you?’ he remarks. ‘No’ Raven replies, slowly pulling the trigger back. Bobby just stares at her - Raven’s hollow yellow eyes stare back, before there is a click. Bobby smirks, ‘Dense ice in the breach plays hell with a precision-built modern firearm, doesn’t it?’ he asks. ‘Sometimes’ Raven replies, before smacking Bobby over the head with it, declaring that it still works well enough for her, before kicking Bobby in the stomach and knocking him over. Raven elbows Bobby in the face, ‘Cat got your tongue, Robert?’ she asks the handsome X-Man. ‘Or do you just have a glass jaw?’ Raven asks as she punches Bobby’s jaw.
Bobby keels over, and remarks that he would have worried about this stuff once - the cracks, the structural damage, ‘But these days we both know - I can laugh it off. So what’s the point of all this?’ he asks Mystique. Bobby casts forth some ice, surrounding Mystique, he uses the ice to trap her, remarking that he thought he could reason with her, but that he should have known better, and just gone straight to plan B. Bobby picks up the shot gun and asks Mystique what it is going to be. ‘Surrender or hypothermia?’. ‘Neither. Enjoy the respite. It won’t last long’ Raven snaps back.
‘Then what? You want to keep on coming at me until I put you down? You want to force me to kill you?’ Bobby asks. Mystique replies that would be interesting, but that she knows her limits and is aiming lower. ‘At what? What do you want from me?’ Bobby asks, frustrated, throwing his arms in the air. ‘”Kill or cure”, I said, remember?’ Mystique remarks, before asking Bobby if he thinks he is cured yet. ‘Of what? Are you insane? Cured of what?’ Bobby snaps. ‘Of double vision. Weakness. Uncertainty’ Raven replies. ‘ENOUGH!’ Bobby shouts as he freezes the shot gun then snaps it with ease.
‘I let you get close to me once. Touch me. I wish to God I hadn’t!’ Bobby exclaims. ‘So do I. It’s hard to pretend that touch didn’t happen. But I’m working on it’ Raven replies. Suddenly, a voice shouts ‘Hey! Mutie!’ Bobby turns around and sees the angry truck driver running towards him with a crow bar. ‘You totalled my truck!’ the truckie shouts. Bobby assures the truck driver that he will be compensated, and tells him to stay away from here. ‘Compensated? You’ll be eating through a straw!’ the truckie snaps back. ‘Sorry, pal’ Bobby remarks as he freezes the truckie’s crow bar, ‘I don’t have time to be gentle’ Bobby declares, turning his back from Mystique as he tells the truck driver that the X-Men are based in San Francisco. ‘You can find them online’ Bobby tells him, explaining that they will reimburse him for his loss.
Suddenly, the truck driver goes wide-eyed, ‘Where’d the kid come from? Why’s she all blue?’ he exclaims, pointing behind Bobby, who quickly spins around, ‘Oh great’ Bobby mumbles, while Mystique, appearing as a child, tells Bobby that it was a good trap, for anyone with a fixed size and body mass, that is. ‘Now - how small a piece can you grow back from?’ Raven asks as she tosses several grenades at Bobby, grinning wickedly. Bobby creates an ice-sled and with the truck driver in tow makes a hasty getaway, despite the truck drivers’ protests. They make it several yards, before one of the grenades blows up Bobby’s ice-sled, and he and the truckie fall to the ground. ‘San Francisco. That’s news to me’ Raven exclaims, emerging from the smoke in her child form. ‘But I’ll see you there. And we’ll lay this to rest!’ she announces, shifting back to her default form. ‘Yeah. That we will’ Bobby replies angrily….
Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, where Mercury a.k.a. Cessily Kincaid and X-23 a.k.a. Laura Kinney are out for a walk. Passing several other people, they stand at the end of a pier, looking out at the sunset, and Cessily sighs. They look into the water below the dock, and see their reflections, before Cessily looks at her own hand, and sees her reflection there also. X-23 calls out to Cessily, ‘I’m silent by nature. You’re not’ Laura tells her, remarking that there is something wrong. Cessily explains that she never thought she would see this ocean again, ‘I never wanted to’ she tells Laura, explaining that it reminds her of home, of her parents. ‘Your parents?’ Laura asks.
Cessily apologizes, and quickly walks away. Passing a newspaper stand, where a newspaper with the headline So Long Skrulls and a photo of several X-Men can be seen, Laura catches up to Cessily, asking her to stop. ‘What happened?’ X-23 asks. ‘What happened?’ Cessily replies. ‘Look at me. That’s what happened!’ she declares, before remarking that she doesn’t blame her parents. ‘One day I was their beloved daughter, who they raised and loved unconditionally…and the next…I’m not even human anymore. I’m a mutant. I’m nothing more than a…disfigured freak’. Cessily picks up some jewelery at one of the stalls, while Laura tells her that it is her parents’ problem, not hers. ‘They’re not made of metal!’ Cessily replies. ‘I am. And that definitely makes it my problem’.
Cessily picks up a container of putty, ‘I’m like this stuff…a blob of malleable goop’ she exclaims, opening the container of putty as she and Laura sit down at a table, exclaiming that it doesn’t matter, metal or clay, ‘We’re one and the same’. Cessily begins to play with the putty, ‘You fool yourself and think it’s like magic. You can change shape at will. There’s freedom in making yourself into anything you can imagine’ she remarks as she creates a butterfly out of the clay, before squashing it in her hand, ‘Until you realize that no matter what…you’re still a metal freak. You don’t have skin, you don’t have…you’re not a person. You’re not…human’.
Upset, Cessily tosses the putty onto the table, declaring that, in the end, you are just tossed aside, just like every useless object eventually is. She hangs her head, while Laura frowns and tells her that she hope she is ready for some therapy. ‘What are you talking about?’ Cessily asks, looking up, when, suddenly, a voice shouts ‘Well, well, well…looks like it’s our lucky day!’. Three men wearing Hellfire Cult masks approach the two girls, one of them slams a baseball bat down on the table in front of X-23, while another tries to hit Cessily from behind, but she shifts her form so that she is not injured, stretching her body out, while a third man holds up the newspaper with their photo on it, ‘Just like in the picture!’ he declares.
‘You guys picked the wrong day to piss me off!’ Cessily exclaims as she wraps her body, snake-like, around one of the Hellfire Cult members, who shouts ‘No! Let go’. Laura watches, tossing the putty up in the air and catching it, while Cessily moves on to the next Hellfire Cult member, who exclaims ‘What the…uggh! Get off me!’ as she slinks around him, eventually mummifying him as she wraps him in a cocoon. ‘That’s it! I’m outta here!’ the third member exclaims as he begins to run away. ‘You wanna lend me a hand, maybe?’ Cessily asks Laura, who is still causally tossing the putty up and down. ‘This is your fight’ Laura replies, before Cessily extends one of her arms, and punches the fleeing Hellfire Cult goon in the back of the head.
‘When did that suddenly become my fight?’ Cessily asks Laura, who is collecting the newspaper from one of the unconscious Hellfire Cult members. ‘Once I decided you needed to see the truth for yourself’ Laura tells her. ‘And what truth might that be?’ Cessily asks. ‘That silly putty can’t do what you just did’ Laura points out as she presses the putty against Cessily’s photo in the newspaper. ‘You’re more than just some blob of lifeless metal, Cessily. You are a person. And a hero’ Laura declares, removing the putty from the newspaper, now displaying Cessily’s face in it. ‘You just need to put your past behind you, forget about what people say and look at you who are now’ Laura tells her. Cessily holds the putty with her face on it in one hand, and holds her other hand out, reflecting her now-smiling face. ‘You just might like what you see’ Laura tells her.
‘This will probably not go well’ Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner thinks to himself as he goes head-to-head with a Danger Room construction of Apocalypse, one of the X-Men’s deadliest foes. ‘What am I even thinking?’ Kurt wonders, teleporting just in time before the Danger Room construction of Apocalypse punches him. Kurt tells himself that there are plenty of easier settings in here - like Sauron he remarks, before joking that he doubts anyone would program Sauron in. Kurt teleports onto the back of the computerized Apocalypse, telling himself that he may be outmatched, but that he has to try, before he is flipped to the ground. ‘Ugh…could we reset? Try that again?’ Kurt asks. ‘Certainly. Danger Room resetting…’ the Danger Room announces.
Teleporting over towards Apocalypse, Kurt thinks to himself that it hardly feels he has been of much use these days. ‘Certainly not in top form. And so easily distracted’ he remarks, caught off guard as the computerized Apocalypse extends its arm and punches Nightcrawler hard in the chest. ‘End scenario!’ Kurt shouts quickly, causing the Danger Room to freeze, before changing his mind, and telling the Danger Room to load the next scenario. The computerized Apocalypse shifts into Sabretooth, while Kurt asks the Danger Room where the last location was. ‘The previous simulation recreated the Japanese Tea Garden here in San Francisco’ the Danger Room announces. ‘Ah. I hear it’s lovely!’ Kurt remarks as he punches the computerized Sabretooth in the face, before teleporting up to a ledge.
Kurt remarks that he has been meaning to go to the Japanese Tea Garden, but admits that he would not do well with all that peace and quiet. He tussles with Sabretooth once again, and remarks that whenever he has time to think, he thinks about Kitty. An image of Shadowcat flashes into his mind, enabling the computerized Sabretooth to catch him off guard, kneeing him in the stomach. Kurt tells himself that this is exactly the problem. ‘You can’t stay focused. You’re not much of an asset’ he admits, before calling out to the Danger Room to end the scenario as the computerized Sabretooth prepares to tear him apart.
‘Do you wish to end training session?’ the Danger Room asks. Kurt hesitates, before replying ‘No’ as he rubs his head. The Danger Room asks him if he wishes to load the next sequence, to which Kurt replies ‘Surprise me’. Suddenly, a giant computerized version of Doctor Doom appears, and Kurt exclaims ‘Well done. I am surprised’ as he finds himself on the computerized Doom’s shoulder. He sticks his hand into the fake Dooms’ eye, telling himself that he needs to get himself together, and slides down the computerized Doom’s body, remarking that it is not as if the X-Men need him here. ‘Relevant expletive not found!’ the Danger Room exclaims.
Kurt teleports onto the computerized Dooms’ back, recalling that Pixie has already proven to be a stronger teleporter than himself, and with so few students here, his services are hardly required. The computerized Doom shakes Kurt off, causing Kurt to plummet towards a ground covered in fire, ‘End scenario!’ he shouts, and just in time as he lands on the Danger Room floor. ‘Who am I kidding? This is foolish!’ Kurt tells himself, remarking that he cannot keep merely distracting himself. ‘I am distracted enough’ he admits, adding that that his real problems cannot be solved with simple fisticuffs.
Nightcrawler teleports into the Danger Room control booth and programs something into the computer. An image appears in the Danger Room, it’s Kitty Pryde. ‘Hi’ she exclaims. ‘Hello’ Kurt smiles at the computerized version of his long-time friend, with a computerized Lockheed flying nearby. Kurt cries as he wraps his arms around the holographic Shadowcat, telling her that he is sorry he was not there for her, and that he misses her. ‘I miss you too, Elf’ comes the reply.