First story :
Jean Grey and Rogue are making their way through a New York crowd. Jean addresses Rogue on how uncomfortable she feels and assures her that there aren’t any supervillains nearby. They can relax and their missions it to shop ‘til they drop. Rogue thanks her for taking her out but thinks this is a mistake. She can’t forget that to these people she is a freak… a monster.
Jean urges her to stop thinking like that. Their powers might set them apart, but they are still human. If people fear them, that is their failing, not the X-Men’s. Rogue has to constantly cover herself from head to toe to protect herself and Jean isn’t much better. She has to constantly maintain a telepathic cocoon to shield herself from their mental chaos. Even the slightest lapse of concentration - Jean never finishes her sentence, as suddenly she starts to scream in pain. Trying to pull herself together, she tells Rogue that she sensed something evil in the crowd.
The people close in on the two young women, some out of curiosity, others because they are trying to help. Rogue is inadvertently touched by somebody and that moment the evil is upon her. She pushes the people away with her super strength. She scans the crowd, seeing their fear and loathing, their conviction that she is a monster. And, in a way she can’t explain, Rogue knows they are right.
Rogue flies upward and reels, as reality is replaced by images of horror: images of mocking children, a crucified Jesus, tortured animals, blood on framed snapshots, a corpse and Rogue feels herself overpowered by rage, seeing fear and loathing in a new light… something to be used …exploited. If she is a monster, then humanity will pay for the privilege of her existence. Yet part of her hesitates, repulsed by what possessed her.
She shoves away a police car, hearing the screams around her, answered by voices of depravity inside her. Sounds that excite and horrify her. It is now a part of her. She can hear, taste and smell it. Looking up at an apartment block, she ignores the cops’ threats and flies upwards crashing into one apartment, where she finds an obese naked man holding a knife and a camera. Next to him is an assortment of knives and, before him, tied to the bed, is a frightened naked child.
Furiously she attacks and beats the man, until finding she can’t move. Jean holds her back telling her it’s over. Later an ambulance has been called and the madness has passed. Jean telepathically mindwiped everyone nearby to their presence. Fortunately, Rogue only had the slightest contact with the evil Jean sensed. But, despite the overwhelming nature of what she absorbed, it was Rogue, the good decent person inside, that ultimately directed her actions. She rescued the child and the madman will never harm anyone else. No, Rogue disagrees, it isn’t over. Jean must know this wasn’t the same person that touched both of them on the street. That kind of evil has many forms and faces. The monsters are still out there.
Second story :
Cyclops walks the streets of New York, recalling how Storm once won the leadership of the X-Men from him in a fight. She wont quite easily by turning his greatest strength into his greatest weakness. What bothered him most about that day was not losing control of the X-Men, but control over himself. He couldn’t even function, until she returned his “pacifier,” his visor.
He passes a street gang, who discuss shoplifting and then a woman that passed them by. One of them is unimpressed by her looks and one of the others calls him blind. A third says, if they want to see blind, they should look at the dude coming up. They mean Scott walking the streets with a gift-wrapped old-fashioned stylish cane, meant as a gift to Nightcrawler, as well as other Christmas gifts. Noticing his odd, red glasses, the second man announces that he couldn’t see out of those shades even if he had eyeballs. Blind people do have eyes, the third guy protests. They are just all white and stuff. No, yet another one says. Their eyeballs are all black, save for the color part. They look like eightballs.
Still musing about mutant traits, Scott passes them by, as yet another claims that their eyes are normal but go off into crazy direction. He sees he has to school the others, one of them sighs and tosses a huge snowball at Scott’s head. It hits him in the back and not only does he drop his gifts but also loses his glasses.
The gangster comes up to him, telling him he has him to open his eyes for a second. Scott scrambles around with closed eyes, until his fingers touch his glasses. That moment, the gangster pulls his head back and threatens him with a knife. They just want to see what he has. Don’t, Scott warns him and opens his eyes a tiny fraction. Enough for the man to be pushed violently away. Now the men are angry and get ready to teach him a lesson. Scott knows he could finish this fight with a glance, but he would probably kill them. This fight requires subtlety and his raw power is not a thing of subtlety.
He concentrates on his surroundings. After Storm’s challenge, he stopped being the teacher and became the student. Kurt taught him ways to be as intangible as smoke. He scoops up some snow and throws it in the men’s faces. One of Bobby’s tricks. Half-step left and two steps forward, he tells himself. Warren taught him to relax and be light as a feather. One of the gangsters lunges at him from behind and Scott tosses him away with a judo move. Peter showed him that, at times, you need to come down like an iron curtain. Jump, roll four steps left and three steps right, he reminds himself. He lashes out at his attackers with hands and feet, something Hank taught him. He grabs two men, who end up entangling each other. Turn 160 degrees, three steps forward.
Logan helped Scott to use his other senses to perceive his environment. So he’s aware of the large man running towards him. Every cell in Scott’s body begs him to open up with an optic blast. He resists. He steps back into his danger zone and makes it his own. His strength becomes his weakness. He doesn’t have to become a mutant weapon to resolve every threat, he thinks, as he uses a judo move to throw the man to the ground.
Scott takes all the steps he took before backwards, as the still-awake gang members look on in disbelief, gets back to the place where he dropped his glasses and presents, picks them and uses the cane to dial 911 on one the of the gangsters’ cell phones. With a smile, he walks away.
Third story :
150 miles east of Japan, a small island juts from the Pacific. Legend calls it the birthplace of the sun, the easternmost place on Earth. Once a sanctuary for Shinto monks, it now houses the nation’s wealthiest financier. In interviews, he calls the blessed island the true source of his wealth. He doesn’t lie.
The financier, Lord Yaru, lands with his helicopter accompanied by heavily armed guards.
Over an intercom screen, he addresses a young woman named Kiza, who sits in a sparsely decorated room… a cell rather. She sits at a desk, a book in front of her. She does not touch it, instead its pages are turned by an automatic device.
He asks if he may interrupt, but it isn’t truly a question so much as an order. Whatever he wishes, the girl replies without enthusiasm and Yaru points out that after all these years she still cannot disguise insolence. Does her existence make her unhappy? Should he send her away? No, she replies. A machine rolls into the room, carrying a metal slab. Kiza touches it and the slab turns to gold. With that accomplished, the machine rolls out again and Kiza gets back to her book.
Above the island floats Nate Grey, self-styled mutant shaman. This can’t be allowed to continue, he decides and telekinetically opens a hole in the ceiling to let himself into Kiza’s room. He tells her he has come to free her. Instead of being relieved, the girl panics and tells him not to let the world in. Her skin seems to catch fire. Nate apologizes and closes the hole. He didn’t know why she was in here. He’ll make it better now. He disperses the flames.
Is he death, she asks. For some, he replies. When he has no choice, but not for her. Then what good is he, she scoffs. He helps other mutants when he can, Nate explains. When she was five, she accidentally killed her brother, Kiza reveals. She turned him into gold. Then her skin began to burn in contact with oxygen. Her parents didn’t know what to do. Lord Yaru was able to help her. The air in this room is pure nitrogen.
And her powers make him rich, Nate points out. When was the last time she left this room? Eleven years ago, she replies, as she starts to cry. She can never leave. He can’t save her. But he can hep her for a little while, he tells her.
The guard sees them on the screen and notifies Yaru that somebody, impossibly, is in Kiza’s cell. Yaru orders him to rouse everyone and identify the intruder.
Within the cell, Nate tells Kiza that his powers can protect her from the air, if she’d like to leave. Is there anything she’d like to do? She’d like to see another sunrise, Kiza replies.
On the screen, the face of Lord Yaru appears and he addresses Nate with his name. He has heard of him, Yaru reveals and knows Nate is a telepath. His estate is laced with psionic inhibitors; he’s switched them on. Nate’s powers no longer function. He looks forward to studying him.
Black energy begins to swirl about Nate, as he announces that he is something more than a telepath and he has dismantled those inhibitors. The energy emanating from him destroys the entire building complex while leaving the people unharmed. With Kiza protected in a tekekinetic coccon floating behind him, Nate tells Yaru never to approach another mutant. They are leaving now.
Over the ocean, Nate and Kiza are watching the sunrise. Kiza tells him this is the first place the sun rises. Beyond here in both directions everything is west. Why isn’t she burning? Nate explains that he is filtering the air around her. He can’t do this long, though. His powers weren’t meant to be used that way. He knows people that can help her. Resigned, Kiza replies that there is no place that won’t be a prison. She wasn’t made for this world. No, she wasn’t, he agrees.
Kiza asks him if they can land somewhere, where she will never have to worry. Nate takes her to another island in front of a temple. He offers to take her to another world, where she can live safely. But she’d be alone, Kiza replies. She can’t bear that anymore. The sunrise really is more beautiful that she remembered. Crying and smiling, she remarks this is such a beautiful world. She thanks Nate and crosses her arms touching herself. A moment later, she turns to gold.
Two monks approach, startled by Nate. He tells them the statue is a gift to their temple and they should keep it forever facing the rising sun. And they are to guard it always. It is sacred.