Darkness has set over Utopia, the island nation home of the X-Men and nearly every other mutant on Earth. Scott “Cyclops” Summers continues to stare out of the window of a large meeting room, gazing into the darkness. ‘Been thinking about you a lot lately’ he tells himself, as if he was talking to whomever he has been thinking about. Scott tells himself that it is funny how he always seems to think of them when he has a big decision to make. ‘Times like this, I can never get you out of my mind’. Scott supposes it is because he has that same old question keeping him up at night. ‘If I can’t see, how am I supposed to lead?’ Scott glances back as Charles Xavier is walking away from him, and Scott “tells” the person he is thinking of that something bad is about to happen - perhaps the end of everything just as they have begun.
‘I’ve let me people to the brink of freedom - and then to the brink of destruction - in the blink of an eye. The end of the mutants. The end of Utopia. Sometimes I wonder if I’m seeing things as they really are. I wonder if these lenses of mine don’t give me a rose-colored version of reality’ Scott remarks. As Xavier regroups in the room where the senior X-Men and other senior mutants on Utopia are residing, Scott thinks that what he sees is mutants working together - his people as one people. He sees integration in the face of overwhelming diversity that it makes his heart swell with pride, that the sum has become greater than the parts. ‘We’ve gained control of our destiny by gaining control of our power. Everyone, I guess, but me’.
The X-Men and the others all look to Xavier, while Cyclops begins thinking about those in the next room. Charles Xavier, whom he thinks of as a father - a good man who bore the brunt of mutant kinds trauma over the last few years - an altruist without an ego. Magneto - a man who has found his way, and perhaps the most powerful of them all. Emma Frost, who is gifted and centered, and who has become a trusted adviser whom they can never afford to lose, while Angel is like a rock star with wings - always here, and always will be. Kitty and Storm are powerful mutants who possess the best qualities of their sex - compassion and concern in equal measure, strength of mind, body and character.
Scott’s thoughts about his colleagues continue: Namor, who is regal and distant, but a valuable ally. Doctor Nemesis, a creator, a savant, a willing aide to the cause. Colossus, by name and all that is his nature. Finally, Wolverine, the best measure of everything that Cyclops does. A good man, strong, abrasive and singular of intent - a leader of men. But Cyclops is supposed to lead them - supposed to show them the way, and he seeks their guidance. ‘The person I really want to ask is you’ he thinks to himself.
Xavier informs the others that Scott will be here any moment. ‘He wanted me to tell you he’s made his decision -’ Charles begins, to which Magneto interrupts, asking ‘And were you actually able to have him tell you what that decision is, Charles? Normally I wouldn’t push, but given the potential annihilation of our species, it seems apropos’. ‘Hold on for one second, please, gents’ Emma calls out, before announcing that it is getting stronger now - that it is bearing down on their position. ‘Knows we’re still here. We’re really beneath its concern. It doesn’t even see us as a threat’ Emma tells the others.
‘Then what are we waiting for? It knows we’re already beaten. We’ve got to move our people out -’ Angel begins, but Wolverine interrupts him, ‘No. We covered this. I ain’t about to jump ship without some kinda fight, even if you are’. Storm, ever the voice of reason, tells Wolverine to hold on, as no one said they were about to jump ship. ‘That’s what it sounded like to me’ Logan tells his friend, while Emma sarcastically suggests that they should all bicker like idiots until the end of the world shows up. ‘That’s be really helpful’. She tells the others that since they have the bickering covered, she will go and get Scott. ‘Ha ha! Well…that went well, I thought’ Magneto smiles.
Scott continues to look out into the darkness, ‘Someone’s going to die. No way around that now. Just a question of who. A question of when’ he thinks to himself. ‘I’m going to have led them here, only to find their haven lies right under the feet of a giant. And no one’s ever going to know. Because there won’t be anyone left to tell the story’. Emma enters the side room, and Scott looks at his long-time lover, while thinking that all of these people - these amazing creatures - are going to turn their gaze to him, their leader, and they are going to ask him what to do. ‘They’re going to want to see in my eyes that I believe in my decision, and that I believe in them. But my eyes don’t work that way. That’s what they don’t know…because I never tell them…how much it hurts’.
Flashback, years ago, narrated by Cyclops in the present:
‘There you go. Open wide. Just a little longer’ a doctor announces as he stares down at a young Scott Summers, shining a bright light in his eyes. ‘I wanna blink -’ Scott calls out, but his mother, Katherine Summers, tells him ‘Just another moment, Scotty. Then you can close them. You’re being a good boy’, before she asks the Doctor Odukoye if he says anything, reminding him that Scott said the headaches are getting worse. A short time later, Katherine and Scott sit before the doctor in his office, as Scott today, continues thinking to his mother: ‘You always said, loving your kid was a blessing and a curse, mom. I remember how you just about jumped our of your skin wanting to find out what he saw in those x-rays’.
Scott remembers that no one wanted to give his mother a list of the possibilities, not while the tests were ongoing, so she had to struggle with the list of hideous diseases that ran through her mind - migraines, aneurysms, cancer. Scott remembers staring at the big metal machine, a big dark tunnel, an x-ray machine for scanning the brain. ‘Okay, Scott, you’re going to lay back on the sheet and keep as still as you can’ a nurse tells him, asking him not to blink if he can help it, she adds that the machine will make a loud noise, and informs him that he will be in there for about twenty minutes. ‘Twenty minutes? He can’t say in there that long! He’s six!’ Katherine exclaims.
As Scott is placed on the table, he asks his mother if it is going to hurt, and whether she can stay with him. Katherine tells her son that it will not hurt, and that he has to lay back like the nurse says, while she holds his hand. ‘Don’t let go’ Scott tells his mother. Scott remembers his mother holding his hand as long as she could, but eventually she had to let go, and he disappeared into a tunnel of noise - craning his neck to see her as she saw him off. Scott recalls the “thump thump thump” of the MRI machine as he fell into the tunnel of darkness - him below, and his mother above, far away in the distance. And then, all of those magnetically charged lights - no one else could see the things he saw in that metal tunnel.
Emma stands in the doorway and waits for Scott, who strides towards her. He stands several feet in front of her, and there is nothing but silence, until Emma asks ‘So…how are you doing…?’
Flashback, years ago, narrated in the present by Cyclops:
Inside Christopher Summers’ small plane, young Scott and his younger brother Alex sit in the back, discussing what flavor milkshake they want, when suddenly, ‘Chris, did they say we were close to any other planes?’ Katherine asks her husband, gazing out the window. ‘What on Earth is that up there?’ she asks as she tries to make out the craft above them. They sky turns red, and Cyclops today still remembers everything that happened: lights in the distance, and a sudden shard of ruby red power lighting up the sky. The whole thing seeming like a dream he had once before.
As the small plane careens sideways, Christopher tells his wife that there is only one parachute, that she has to put it on Scotty who can hold on to Alex. But as Katherine moves towards her sons, she tells Chris that they cannot go by themselves, as they will not know what to do. ‘Just do it! There’s no time!’ Christopher exclaims. ‘No time’ Scott remembers. He recalls his mother saying that she loves him, and to hold on tight as she wiped his crying eyes, her own eyes dripping with tears as well, while realizing that he sometimes forgets what her face looks like. There were ruby red lights in the sky, like a dream Cyclops once had. ‘Boys - we love you. We love you both. Scott, hold on t o Alex. Hold him tight. No matter what happens, don’t let him go’ Katherine exclaims as she put Alex in Cyclops’ arms, and pushed them out of the plane.
‘Hold on tight. Don’t let go. That’s the last thing you said to me before you let me go. I remember falling into a tunnel. I still see those ruby red lights. You above, me below. You promised you’d hold my hand. And then I lost you in the distance’ Scott remembers, recalling how the parachute opened, and he looked up as his parents plane vanished. ‘Hold on tight. Don’t let go’ Scott thinks to himself. ‘Eventually, you always have to let go’ he decides, recalling how the parachute snapped off his back as they neared the ground - but there was still a decent distance to the ground - which he smacked into, hitting his head hard, as he cushioned his brother.
As Scott lay there on the ground, stunned and confused, he wonders how he could have known that moment would have such an impact. That once his power manifested, he would never be able to control them because of that concussion. All he could see was the brilliant blue sky. All he could think of was being up there, with his mother.
‘We’re out of time, boss man. You need to go do this now’ Emma tells Scott. ‘Now, huh? How did I know you were going to say that, Emma?’ Scott smiles. ‘You must be psychic’ Emma jokes, before telling Scott that the others need him. Scott looks out through the doors at them. ‘They need me. A man who doesn’t see things the way they do’ he thinks to himself. ‘Makes me wonder who is the fool: the blind man who leads? Or the fools who follow him?’
Colossus asks what they are waiting around for. ‘It’s like we’re playing some kind of game -’ he begins, to which the Sub-Mariner interrupts him, ‘We wait. He will tell us when it is time’ he exclaims. ‘Gotta be kidding me’ Wolverine mutters, before asking Namor ‘Who died and made you spiritual advisor. You’re here as a guest, not because you were born into it -’ Wolverine points out, to which Namor retorts ‘You would speak to a king of Atlantis that way, you arrogant little midget? I paved the way for utopian freedom!’ Doctor Nemesis tells Namor to take it easy, assuring him that Wolverine didn’t mean anything by it, but Logan shouts ‘Yeah? Well I do now, fish-for-brains! Why don’t you come over here and call me a midget!’, to which Namor exclaims ‘Because I said it over here!’
Cyclops knows that his colleagues are getting restless, and they need him. ‘But why should it be me?’ he wonders, as his mind wanders back once again….
Illustrative flashback images, with Cyclops’ thoughts in the present:
‘I’m the one who lost his mother. Had the power to save you and didn’t know it. Lost you anyway’ Scott thinks to his mother as he recalls falling from the plane all those years ago. ‘I’m the one who lost his way. Discovered I was more than an orphan teenager with cluster headaches. Almost became a murderer the first time I turned on my powers’ Scott thinks, recalling that first time, blasting a hole though a wall, then holding his eyes shut tightly.
Scott remembers being accepted into a team of kids with amazing abilities and who could never control himself - never quite “got it”. Either because he knocked his head one time on the ground, or because he never had the discipline to succeed. ‘I’m the one who lost his first battle so convincingly and utterly’ Scott remembers. ‘Who closed his eyes to all possibilities. Who was accused of closing his eyes to the future’ he remembers. He remembers being the one who lost his nerve in the presence of a certain girl he once fell for - ‘Lost the girl. Been falling ever since’ Scott tells himself, recalling that certain girl’s death. ‘I’m the one who lost his way’ Scott thinks to his mother, before deciding that he found it again, when mutantkind was united.
‘Before I do this: damage assessment. How am I doing?’ Scott asks Emma. ‘May I?’ Emma asks, reaching for his temples. ‘Of course’ Scott tells his lover. ‘You’ve made your decision’ Emma announces. ‘Yes. How sure am I?’ Scott asks. Emma tells him that he has some concerns, which is natural. She points out that he would be crazy if he didn’t consider both sides. Emma tells Scott that he is thinking about something - a strong light, that there is a female presence, a sense of falling .’What’s that about?’ she asks. Scott tells her it is ancient history, to which Emma replies ‘Fine. Let’s stay in the present’, before she tells Scott that he truly believes he has weighed all of the available options, that he has moved quickly and resolutely and is prepared to accept fully responsibility for his decision.
‘You’re worried about losing more friends. And you’re torn about evacuating any of the children. All in all, about eighty to eighty-five percent. Close enough for rock an’ roll. Let’s go!’ Emma announces. Scott asks her if she is sure it is coming - really sure. ‘Let’s just say if you’d stayed much longer at that window, you would have been able to see it across the bay’ Emma replies. Scott tells her that they are doing the right thing, to which Emma points out ‘That remains to be seen’. Scott looks out the door to the others and asks Emma how the mood of the room is. ‘Pretty much as you’d expect. You’ll need to stroke Namor. Logan’s ready to rip someone’s head off. Warren’s trying to make the peace’ Emma explains, before turning to Scott and telling him that this is his big moment. ‘You ready for this?’ asks. ‘Yes’ Scott announces as he opens the door, and enters the other room.
The squabbling stops immediately, as everyone turns to look at Cyclops. There is silence for a time, until Cyclops announces ‘We stay. We’re going to defend Utopia’. ‘What took you so long?’ Wolverine asks as he approaches Cyclops. ‘I had a few hundred lived and the fate of a nation to consider’ Cyclops replies plainly. The others begins to gather around. ‘The fate of a nation. They need me to be their leader now more than ever. And I’m ready’ Scott tells himself, before announcing that they have to move quickly, as there is no time to lose. He tells Shadowcat that he wants her in charge of the youngest. ‘Keep them in reserve for now, but I want them ready if need be’ he adds. ‘You’re talking about children, Scott. They could get killed if I get this wrong!’ Kitty exclaims. ‘That’s why I expect you to get it right’ Scott tells Kitty.
‘That’s why I am a leader’ he thinks to his mother. ‘The blind man leading the blind, maybe…but a leader nonetheless’ He adds that he is a leader because he is prepared to take the fall, and because he is prepared to make the hard decision - such as the one his mother made that day she pushed he and Alex out into the sky with a single parachute between the two of them. ‘Because a leader knows, it’s not so hard to die for your people. It’s hard to order your people to die for you. And leading with certainty into an uncertain future doesn’t require sight. It requires vision’ As Wolverine, Emma, Magneto, Storm and the others leap into action, Cyclops stands his ground, ‘It requires holding on. And no matter what happens, never letting go’….