There was a story Lucas Bishop's grandmother once told him that he found frustrating. He had asked why the X-Men couldn't do anything to stop the Sentinels, the camps, or the miserable lives of mutants in the world. "But they did, Lucas," his grandmother had said. "I know you may find this hard to believe, but things could have been much worse."
She explained how, when she was much younger, the war between mutants and humans had gone on for so long it reached a fever pitch. Everyone was so tense that the tiniest incident could have sparked a full-scale war. Regrettably, there were people on both sides of the conflict who wanted to make this war a reality. She explained that the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants once plotted to kill a politician. Lucas asked why. His grandmother explained that this politician feared mutants and constantly tried to pass laws against them. From the sound of things, Lucas thought the man actually needed to die. "No, Lucas," his grandmother had said. "The X-Men don't kill just because they disagree with someone. And they fought for Kelly, and protected him, because they knew it was the right thing to do."
She asked Lucas to try to imagine the nightmare future that could have come to pass had Senator Kelly been assassinated by mutants. Thanks to the X-Men, however, people saw for the first time that not all mutants were a threat, and could live side-by-side with humans. If that's the case, Lucas asked, then why were they still in camps? His grandmother told him the future can be stubborn, but she had faith that this too would pass. She had hope for the future. Lucas didn't say this to his grandma, but he refused to believe her. The X-Men may have fought for the future—but he didn't think they fought hard enough.
Tunnels beneath Upstate New York...
Bishop remembers his grandmother's story while chasing Trevor Fitzroy through the bowels of an old tunnel system. According to some rumors, this area used to serve as a home of the X-Men. Fitzroy came there to obtain something—some kind of information about the past. Although Bishop comes as an officer of the X.S.E., he also comes for vengeance. He wants to make Fitzroy pay for what he did to Bishop's sister, Shard.
During a gunfight with Fitzroy and his cronies, Bishop charges up a burst of energy and directs it straight at Trevor's chest. It sends him crashing through one of the walls of the cave system. Bishop climbs through the hole in search of his target. Fitzroy, however, catches Bishop off-guard and grabs him from behind. He drains Bishop's mutant energy and uses it to open a portal. "Got to go," he says to Bishop, "... but say hi to your sister for me, okay?" Before Fitzroy can escape, however, Bishop regains himself and destroys Fitzroy's portal with an energy shot. He tells Fitzroy he will have the chance to say hi to Shard himself; he should have plenty of time for visitors once in the Pool.
With Fitzroy down, Bishop grabs him by the ankle and begins hauling him out of the caves. He hears something strange during his exit. The words "only we had known what she was capable of..." come from Fitzroy's pants pocket. Bishop turns his unconscious body over and pulls an ancient digital recorder from his pocket. "... supposed to save us, but instead..." the oddly familiar voice in the recorder says.
Bishop takes the recorder back to base and scrutinizes it. It isn't the voice itself he finds familiar, but the way its speaker speaks. She talks like an old-timer, like his grandmother. Her recording is a desperate warning. Bishop deciphers the words "traitor among us... false Hope... Cable wrong about this... massive casualties!" Incidentally, Bishop knows precisely whom the speaker is referring. He remembers his mother and other people in the camps talking about the red-haired monster that killed a million humans and caused all the misery mutants now face.
That was the day everything changed, Bishop later recalls. While sitting at his desk, Bishop's associates Malcolm and Randall enter and tell him they just received word of a massive riot in the Pool; rumor has it prisoners are disappearing into thin air. This can mean only one thing to Bishop: Fitzroy. Bishop, Malcolm and Randall head to the Pool immediately and arrive in the middle of a full-scale riot. A guard greets them and informs them all the high-powered mutants have vanished. Bishop scolds him for letting this happen; Fitzroy was supposed to be kept in complete isolation, away from all forms of life! He was, the guard insists! They have no idea what went wrong.
As soon as Bishop enters Fitzroy's former cell, he understands how the teleporter escaped. In the corner of the room lies the sapped corpse of a small rodent. "That dirty rat," Bishop says. Even a creature of that diminutive size gave Fitzroy enough energy to fuel his escape. Suddenly, Malcolm enters and tells Bishop he found something else he should see. He leads Bishop to a swirling vortex of energy, around which lay several drained human bodies. It seems Fitzroy teleported everyone out of there—almost everyone, that is. Without hesitation, Bishop starts toward the portal. Randall asks if he shouldn't wait; they have no idea where the portal leads. Yes they do, Bishop tells him; the portal leads to Fitzroy. He asks Malcom and Randall if they're coming too. They agree to go with him.
As a boy, Bishop would fantasize about time travel, mainly the chance to go back and get things right. Experiencing it now, he discovers it is nothing like he'd fantasized. It's grueling and painful. Bishop almost thinks he can feel time trying to push him back, telling him in its way that he doesn't belong anywhere else. However, Bishop trusts he and his allies will belong where they end up. Later in his life, he will come to realize they arrived where they did for a reason.
New York City. Early 1990's.
Malcolm, Randall and Bishop spill out of Fitzroy's portal onto the streets of Manhattan, feeling confused and sick. Nearby, some of the escaped prisoners from the Pool hijack a van filled with children. Bishop tells his men they don't have time to feel nauseous; they have to stop this mayhem immediately. Bishop has no idea where they are, or even if it's in the United States. At the moment, he doesn't care All he cares about is taking out Fitzroy for good.
Bishop brushes aside a panicked civilian and opens fire on Fitzroy's cronies. He grabs the first fugitive he incapacitates and throws him back toward Fitzroy's portal, intending to send him back to the future. Instead, the man hits the portal, which suddenly seems solid, and bounces back to the ground. He laughs at Bishop's ignorance. Didn't he know? Fitzroy's portal is a one-way trip. Bishop's heart sinks as he realizes they have followed Fitzroy into a blind alley, surrounded by the very mutants they had helped imprison. Fitzroy's men suddenly open fire on Malcolm and Randall, killing them both in cold blood. No, that wasn't right, Bishop later tells himself. I did this. I'd gotten them killed. They were dead because of me...
Enraged, Bishop unleashes a full-scale energy blast at the convicts who killed his men. He hears a voice from behind commanding him to stop what he is doing. Upon hearing this voice, Bishop suddenly realizes exactly where he landed. The X-Men—his heroes—are here. Storm asks who he is, but Bishop is so stunned he can barely eke out a response. He stands in awe of the ones of whom his grandmother always spoke. Unfortunately, he doesn't have time to talk with them, as he still needs to capture Fitzroy.
Cyclops refuses to let him leave. He tells Storm to go after the others while he deals with Bishop, firing an optic blast at his feet. Bishop takes offense at his presumptuousness and counterattacks. He absorbs and rechannels Cyclops's optic blast, sending it back at him in full force. The impact knocks the visor off of Cyclops's head. At this point, Iceman intervenes and encases Bishop in a block of ice.
Paralyzed inside the ice—but still able to hear—Bishop listens to the X-Men try to figure out his identity. If these are truly the X-Men, he wonders why they are worrying about him instead of chasing after Fitzroy and his army. Either way, he can do nothing but listen as they discuss what to do with him. Cyclops volunteers to bring him back to the professor. Storm, meanwhile, notices how similar his uniform looks to the X-Men's, but wonders why he carries a gun.
The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. Westchester, New York.
Bishop wakes up in an unfamiliar room. He recalls how some people talk about waking up with a feeling of relief that what they just experienced was a bad dream. Bishop has never felt that. Instead, he usually wakes up and realizes he is back in his own waking nightmare. He often longs to return to his dreams. Now, the feeling is worse than ever; he is stuck in the past, more alone than he has ever been. Everyone he'd ever loved is gone. He pulls out the portable holographic projector containing the essence of his sister, Shard. Her living form is so close, but so distant.
“Nothing is ever truly gone, Lucas,” a voice says within his head. There, in Bishop's darkest moment, he meets Charles Xavier, the man whom he will come to love as a father. Xavier leads the X-Men, the team of mutant heroes from Lucas remembers from the stories of his youth. These mutants always did the right thing, no matter what, he remembers—even in a world that wanted them dead.
Bishop is honored to hear that Professor X wants him to join the X-Men. However, he doesn't know what to think, or how to even answer him. He meets Storm, Cyclops, Wolverine, Iceman, Colossus and Gambit. Some of these X-Men look nothing like he had imagined. Others, particularly Gambit, look painfully familiar.
Bishop cannot tell if this is reality, or a dream. Later, he asks Professor X if he can leave. Of course, Xavier tells him; the school certainly isn't a prison. He reiterates, however, that he would like Bishop to stay. Bishop needs time to think about it. Professor X encourages him to take all the time he needs.
The more time Bishop spends at the Xavier Institute, the more his past feels immaterial. He begins to think it even belongs to someone else. One day, Professor X informs Bishop he is not the school’s only time-traveler. Nathan Christopher Summers, the mutant known as Cable, later knocks on Bishop’s door and asks if he has a minute to talk. He trudges in and plops down on Bishop’s armchair. Cable tells him he knows how it feels, more than he might think. They aren’t like the rest of the X-Men, he says. The others have no idea how it feels to be perpetually displaced in time. Lucas Bishop’s eyes narrow at the comparison. “But you came here by choice. I didn’t have that luxury,” Bishop says. Cable understands, but thinks both he and Lucas are there for a reason. He doesn’t believe there are any accidents in history.
Bishop would remember Cable’s words much, much later.
In the meantime, he joins the X-Men, throwing himself into the role just as he had done with the X.S.E. They fight against some of his old foes like Fitzroy, and some of the X-Men’s ancient foes like Apocalypse. They fight throughout the timestream, and in the furthest reaches of space. In time, Bishop grows to love the X-Men as he had loved his own family. He comes to think that maybe his nightmare of a future had been prevented. Maybe his presence in this time changed everything and created a new, better future.
Then, M-Day strikes. Bishop suddenly remembers his grandmother’s ominous words: all over the world, most mutants lost their special gifts. There were no more mutant babies. Bishop realizes he has not changed a thing. This is the same future, the same one that would damn millions of mutants. The final sign soon arrives, putting that last nail in his coffin of suspicion.
While using Cerebro, Professor X detects a massive new mutant spike. “That… may have just been the rebirth of hope,” Xavier says. All the X-Men start talking about it with excitement—a feeling Bishop cannot share. He has seen a future none of the others have. They have no idea what this event truly entails, or what this child will grow up to do. Worse, Bishop cannot share what he knows with anyone, because he has no proof but his memories, and memories, unfortunately, are not proof. He realizes he must take care of this situation on his own.
Sometime later, he meets with Cyclops and Emma Frost and expresses his disappointment over not being asked to join the team sent to Antarctica to confront the Marauders and rescue the baby. If he had wanted to be on the team, he should have been there earlier, Cyclops tells him. Bishop says he was investigating other problems at the time. This, of course, is a lie. He was busy trying to pinpoint the baby’s location on his own.
Emma Frost interjects and tells Bishop he is misinformed. The Purifiers do not have the baby; an X-Man does. He realizes the situation is slipping out of his control. Everything he knows and loves will soon be taken away. This time, however, he can do something about it. At that moment, the O*N*E Sentinels come crashing through the roof of the X-Mansion in full attack mode. Bishop shoots an assaulting Sentinel in the face.
While the X-Men regroup after the battle with the Sentinels, Lucas recalls the words of the Witness: the Son of Askani got to her first. And he hid her away… until it was too late. Bishop knows who has the baby: Cable. He knew long before the X-Men ever did. He also realizes that Cable cannot yet jump into the timestream because his time-travel technology was broken—and he knows the one place he can go to have it repaired.
A calm washes over Bishop as he arrives at Forge’s Aerie in Dallas, Texas. He realizes he is not a mere mutant, but an agent of fate, born to perform a specific function. His life makes little sense otherwise. It doesn’t take much convincing on his part to talk himself into doing what he must. He knocks Forge unconscious and waits for Cable to arrive with the mutant baby, telling himself the act will only be a few seconds of horror, and nothing more. He urges himself to not think about what he will see—the blood, the tiny fragments of skull—after he completes the kill.
Finally, Cable arrives. He immediately rushes over to help the fallen Forge. Bishop emerges from behind and shoots Cable in the back, sending the infant in his arms flying through the air. Think about the million dead humans. The face of your mother. How your father used to hold you tightly to his chest, Bishop tells himself as he maneuvers across the floor.Just pull the trigger and the nightmare will finally be over. For everyone.
With his gun drawn, Bishop approaches the helpless, swaddled infant. His name is Lucas Bishop, he reminds himself. He is a child of the atom, raised in a future that no longer exists. He aims his handgun at the infant’s head. I was born for this, Bishop thinks… wasn’t I?