Mutant Town – Just After M-Day:
Agents of the Office of National Emergency (O*N*E) pay a visit to one of the surviving mutants of Mutant Town, John Arthur Zander AKA Jazz. John answers the door and asks if they are cops.The two men reply that they represent the Office of National Emergency and have come to confirm that he’s received information on the application process to be admitted to the mutant relocation center at Xavier’s Estate in Westchester County. Jazz asks them if they can really picture him hanging with the X-Men. He tells them he’s also not a mutant anymore. One of the officials shows him a handheld computer with his picture on it, only his skin in the photo is blue. Jazz tells them that he reverted on M-Day and is now just another white boy. The agent assures him that they’ll see that his records are updated.
They give him a pamphlet on free counseling for former mutants and as he reaches for it, they see a hint of blue skin that was previously concealed by long sleeves. His arms are also riddled with track marks. The officers realize that his skin is covered by theatrical make-up and forcibly enter his apartment.
Jazz protests and says he hasn’t done anything wrong. They note his obvious drug use and quickly uncover an ample supply of drugs in the apartment. Jazz tells them that he knows his rights and without a warrant that’s tainted evidence. The agent puts his arm around Jazz and “clarifies” that they were invited in and the drugs were in plain sight. He asks Jazz if he has any powers and Jazz replies no. The officer notes that he’s no threat to national security but he is a mutant and a junkie and no one would miss him. He suggests that they throw Jazz out the window and save themselves some paperwork. The agent gives Jazz two choices: Xavier’s or jail. The officers make it clear that since M-Day mutants have no chance in mainstream correctional facilities without a group to back them up and provide protection. The agents leave Jazz with a choice to make and toss him his remaining drugs as they go. The scene makes it abundantly clear just how “voluntary” the choice to reside at the relocation center is for most mutants.
The Xavier Institute – The Present:
Jazz finishes telling his story to his tent-mate Johnny D, a mysterious young mutant with a sentient, tentacled creature growing from his chest. Jazz is about to shoot up and asks if Johnny is cool with it. Johnny says that it’s his choice but he’s particular about what he puts into his body. Jazz gets his fix and asks when they’re going to get to leave the estate and stretch their legs. Johnny tells him that there’s a meeting regarding that later in the day. Jazz lays down to rest and asks Johnny to wake him for the meeting. Once Jazz is asleep, Johnny picks up his syringe.
Later that day, Valerie Cooper introduces herself to “The 198” and discusses their overall aim and immediate goals for the facility. She notes their efforts to build more permanent lodging for those at the camp and Erg immediately asks how long they’re expecting to keep them all there. Val replies that she can’t really answer that until they’ve had time to assess the current situation more fully but that she thinks everyone can agree that better accommodations are needed. Several mutants in the crowd call out some requests but Erg interrupts them and says that they can make this prison as comfortable as they like but the real question is when do they get to leave the grounds as requested.
Dr. Cooper tells the gathered crowd that O*N*E cannot yet guarantee their safety beyond the school grounds without accompaniment and that their safety is her top priority. She introduces a temporary solution: customized cell phones with a direct line to O*N*E personnel. She notes that they are arranging group outings to nearby Salem Center where they will be free to visit without supervision for short periods. The cell phone will call for help should they need it. She adds that if the cell phone is lost or disabled, that O*N*E will still be able to locate them via electronic tags. Shadowcat is surprised to hear this and her concern is apparent. Val explains that the tags are sub-dermal tracking devices implanted through a simple, painless procedure.
Erg reacts angrily to the notion of them being tagged like dogs and Cooper responds that this is purely voluntary and that only those wishing to leave the estate will be required to be tagged. She tries to continue her argument that this is for their own good and Erg breaks in once more and asks when exactly he signed away his civil rights. He notes that he came there to escape a murderous group of humans and never agreed to any of this.
Cyclops jumps in and tries to assure everyone that their current legal status is being considered and protected. Toad chimes in and asks if the X-Men are going to have to be tagged as well. Beast quietly agrees that this is a good question. Out of nowhere, flames erupt from the ground and scorch the stage and podium where Cooper was speaking. She demands to know who’s responsible and turns an accusing eye towards Fever Pitch. Bishop tells her to drop it as Emma Frost tries to clear the area. The grounds are covered with flames as Emma sarcastically compliments Val on how that went over. Cooper merely responds that they’ll see for sure tomorrow when tagging begins.
As the crowd disperses, Magma catches up to Outlaw and asks her if he’s watching her. Outlaw asks who and Amara tells her that she can feel Manuel’s eyes on her. Outlaw turns and sees Empath behind them and tells Amara that he’s definitely watching her. Magma turns fiercely on Empath and assumes her molten form. She accuses him of going into her mind and tells him that playing with her feelings is the equivalent of rape and that he is no better than a rapist. Manuel swears that he hasn’t influenced her emotions and Magma warns him to stay away from her. Outlaw pulls Amara away from the bewildered Empath and none of them notice that Johnny D is lurking in the background watching the whole scene unfold. Magma tells Outlaw that Empath is in her dreams and her head constantly. Outlaw starts to suggest there may be another reason for that and Amara warns her not to go there, that she hates Empath. Despite the ferocity of her feelings, Magma admits that her mind has been messed with so much she doesn’t know who she is anymore.
Elsewhere, Mr. M returns to his quarters where Lorelei is waiting for him. He mentions the amount of conflict around them and she tells him that he can’t help everyone and needs to relax. She takes off his coat and begins to massage his shoulders and he says she doesn’t need to do that. She says that pleasing men is all she knows and he says that she’s selling herself short. She replies that it’s something she’s really good at and she wants to stay with him tonight. He tries to protest but she insists that she wants to. He admits that he hasn’t been with anyone in a long time and hasn’t been able to physically. She says that he simply hasn’t met the right woman as she takes off her top. The two are soon in bed together.
Jazz returns to his tent where he sees a shirtless Johnny D kneeling in front of his cot. Sitting atop it is the tiny clone of Magma in her molten form. Jazz is shocked to see this and even more surprised when the clone notices him and smiles. He quickly disappears and Johnny looks that way as he leaves. He then reaches into a case filled with over a dozen hand-sized pods like the one that contained the miniature Magma. He takes one out and inside is a naked mini-clone of Jazz.
The next day, Jazz, Erg, Toad and others are in line to get their sub-dermal tags. Toad comments that he had Erg pegged as a “conscientious objector” and anticipated that he’d refused to be tagged. Erg says that he still is but that he needs to get out of here before he loses it completely. He notes that if they can put the tag in, then they can logically take it out as well. Inside, Sack gets the electronic tag inserted and as he exits, Erg asks to take a look at it through his translucent “skin”. He asks if it hurts and shrugs, telling Erg that his protoplasmic form doesn’t transmit pain.
Later that day, those mutants who accepted tags are taken to Salem Center for some supervised release time. From the moment they leave the vans, people are the streets are making snide comments. They are given three hours and encouraged to stay out of trouble. If anything untoward happens, they are ordered to inform O*N*E rather than try to resolve conflicts themselves. Colonel Reyes warns them to be on their best behavior or they won’t be allowed to return. As the group departs, he orders his agent Eugene to trail Erg’s group as he expects that they will be the source of trouble if any occurs.
Erg stops Jazz and asks where he’s going. Jazz says that he has some purchases to make. Erg gives him some cash and asks him to pick him up some blow and Jazz agrees, seeing an opportunity to become a dealer among the 198. He quickly finds a supplier on the streets of Salem Center.
Elsewhere, some teenagers begin to verbally mock Mammomax with jokes about being the Elephant Man from the classic film. He tells them that they’re hardly original and that he’s not the type to just walk on by. He grabs one of the boys by the shirt and threatens to spit his digestive acids on him.
Agent Eugene witnesses this and phones it in as an attack on a civilian. He orders O*N*E headquarters to take Mammomax down. At the Pentagon, his superior General Lazer confirms the order to subdue Mammomax. He calls up a computer profile on Mammomax and keys in the order to disable him.
In Salem Center, Mammomax suddenly collapses in pain. Erg and others some to his aid and asks him what happens and he explains the sudden shock of pain. Erg immediately knows that this is due to the tags they allowed to be implanted as “electronic trackers”. General Lazer orders Reyes to terminate the visit and return the mutants to the Xavier Estate.
Colonel Reyes does a headcount as the mutants board the van and asks if anyone has seen Jazz. Erg asks why he doesn’t just electroshock him and calls him a fascist. Reyes electronically locates Jazz and sends his men to retrieve him. Jazz is busy making a drug deal with a reluctant pusher. The dealer says he doesn’t do business wit muties and Jazz threatens to melt his brain if he doesn’t. The dealer quickly changes his tune and leads Jazz into an alley to seal the deal.
Armed O*N*E* soldiers are trailed by a Sentinel unit as they search for Jazz. Jazz assures the dealer that they’re going to do a lot of business together. Back at the camp, Johnny D places a tiny noose around the neck of Jazz’s mini-clone and strangles him. In Salem Center, the real Jazz is suddenly unable to breathe. The startled drug dealer flees and in minutes Jazz collapses from asphyxiation. As he falls, the O*N*E team, led by Colonel Reyes, finds him dead with a large bag of narcotics in his hand.