In a crystal palace somewhere in Antarctica, there is a small jungle with wild animals in it. Watching a hawk killing and eating a small monkey, Kristal Van Helden recites her view on evolution. While some might think that mutants are the superior race and one day will inherit the Earth, she thinks they are wrong. Natural selection recognizes only two species - winners and losers - it makes no difference between human and mutant. Turning to Emma Frost, her prisoner, who is guarded by several armed men, Kristal tells her that Emma is both a freak and a loser, since she is incapable of harming her or any of her genetically engineered pets. Winning defines the genuinely superior being, just as true breeding takes precedence over the caprices of genetic mutation. She furthers taunts Emma, saying that the freaks and losers will only inherit the Earth when the winners are done with it. As off now, Emma is disinherited and is now Kristal‘s property, a permanent fixture in the Crystal Palace.
Now it’s Emma’s turn to make some snappy remarks, starting with her mocking the name Crystal Palace, as it sounds like that garish greenhouse the Victorians built to exhibit the plunder of their rotten empire. Emma goes on that it is rather déclassé, though on second thought, Van Helden practically reeks of the bourgeois pretensions of the nouveau riche, so it fits. Kristal, rather unimpressed, tells Emma that she can mock it all the way she wants, but the place incorporates state of the art psychotronic technology and that the crystalline structure of the industrial diamonds employed in it’s construction resonate with psionic energy, thus generating a dampening field that effectively disables both of Emma’s powers. However, finding an unfamiliar pornographic image in her head, Kristal realizes that she retained a feeble residue of her telepathy. She thinks it amusing, but warns Emma not to go too far. Otherwise, she would be forced to have her arms and legs amputated. Emma shows no fear and reveals that, from what little she can read of the other woman’s thoughts, she knew she would be willing to go that far and further.
Placing her hand on a special panel, Kristal opens a door to a lab complex. The guards lead Emma inside, where she is placed on an examination table with several scientists already waiting to run their tests. Van Helden tells Emma that, without her ability to switch to diamond form, she is as vulnerable as an oyster pried from its shell and her armor of upper-class pretension hardly will protect her naked flesh. “Pretension ?“ Emma claims to have no idea what the other woman is talking about. Van Helden tells her that she knows Emma is phony, she is no real aristocrat and not even English, as she claimed. She herself, on the other hand, stems from the Van Helden Dynasty that was established in South Africa in the 19th century and she was raised by her father to be the head of his business. His Ice Princess, he used to call her. Diamonds were their lives and Kristal’s birthright and, if not for those "ungrateful Kafirs" and their "nonsense about human rights abuses,“ they would still be owning the mines and her father would not have died of the strain of fleeing the country. On the operating table, Emma shows no pity, but instead brings up the term “Electra complex“.
While Emma is strapped to the operation table and prodded with needles and other lab equipment, Kristal Van Helden continues her story. Fortunately, her father had the foresight to diversify the business. A lucrative sideline trading exotic weaponry is all that remains of the family fortune. However, she soon found out that there are vast sums to be made with the right products. Also, she accepts only diamonds as any real currency and Kristal engages in any enterprise that increase her supply of the jewels. Emma Frost holds the key to ultimate fruitation in both endeavors. Calmly listening to all of this, Emma asks if her strange plans involve her being tortured to death in some fiendish sub-Bond villain method. Kristal tells her of course not, that would mean killing the goose that lays golden eggs. She allows Emma to live on for two reasons. For one, her mutant DNA will be used to produce suits of impenetrable exoplasmic armor that she can sell for a fortune and, second, Emma will be used to cultivate an infinite supply of diamonds. To her, Emma is a livestock now; a resource to be used and exploited. Still keeping her countenance, Emma says that beneath her obvious insanity, Van Helden is nothing more than spoiled Daddy’s girl with a Tiffany’s store card. Kristal, holding a sharp lab instrument in Emma’s face, returns the compliment, “And you, Miss Frost, are no better than a freakish, white Kafir!“
(an unknown amount of time later)
In her jungle, standing next to her pet tiger, Kristal asks Dr. Klein for a progress report. The scientist says that the production of the exoplasmic armor is on schedule. The designated hosts successfully metabolized the hybrid DNA grafts cultured from Frost’s bone marrow and they are already using lasers to remove the epidermal diamond constructs from the host bodies to build the armors from them. Once the nanotech interface operating systems are installed, the suits will be fully functional. However, there is a problem with using Emma to culture diamonds in the quantity Kristal required. As Emma’s crystal transformation power is genetic, it needs a living medium to manifest successfully and human hosts just aren’t up to it. They need a viable and sustaining matrix of living tissue to proceed. Kristal looks at her jungle and has an idea.
In the lab, Emma opens her eyes with awareness. She is alone and nobody is there to hinder her. Emma gets up and puts her coat on. She leaves the room and makes her way through the complex until she finds Van Helden in what used to be the jungle. Everything in it, plant and animal alike, is now made of organic diamond. Getting aware of Emma, Kristal calls her arrival unexpected, though is not bothered. Instead, she gloats about the creation of her Crystal Eden and that Daddy’s Ice Princess grew up to be the ultimate Ice Queen, which even must impress Emma. However, the telepath isn’t. Quite on the other hand, she says that if she had any aesthetic sense, she would realize how utterly vulgar such conspicuous displays of wealth are. Not amused by Emma’s statement, Kristal tells her prisoner to let go of her futile charade of defiance. She should accept that she is just another of Kristal’s possessions, just like the genetically engineered fauna and flora that have been implanted with her DNA. Emma’s is now part of a diamond-producing ecology and has no more power than the lowliest insect here.
Just as she says this, a diamond dragonfly passes Kristal’s face close enough to cut her across the cheek with it’s sharp wing. The self proclaimed Ice Queen is at disbelief; how can this be happening? Nothing can hurt her, the Crystal Eden is her creation, she made it. Emma smiles, “and who do you think put the idea in your head?“ Plucking a crystallized apple from a tree, Emma explains that the Crystal Palace’s psionic dampening field may have impaired her telepathy, she still managed to exploit Kristal’s greatest weakness - her insatiable greed for diamonds. Van Helden holds her head in pain, she feels Emma’s presence growing inside, as if razors are shedding her skin. She wonders how her prisoner can be doing this. Emma reminds her that the crystalline structure of diamond focuses energy but, as these diamonds were cultured from her own DNA, they are part of her and don’t just focus her energy - they amplify it. The more diamonds Kristal grew, the stronger Emma became, until she was strong enough to deactivate her defenses. Correcting Van Helden’s earlier statement, she is not part of some diamond producing ecology, all of this is an extension of her central nervous system.
To back up her claim, Emma calls up the diamond animals, who start attacking Van Helden’s staff, who, under Emma’s telepathic control, feel like five year old children in a petting zoo and do not realize the danger until it is too late. Suddenly, pieces of crystal start raining down. Van Helden, on her knees before Emma, asks what is happening and why everything is falling apart. Emma says that both Kristal’s plans and her cultured gems are fundamentally flawed as neither can handle the energy overload her boosted telepathy generates. It’s a chain reaction and once started, nothing can stop it. Emma excuses herself as she slips into something less vulnerable, her diamond form, and announces that it’s Kristalnacht, just as everything starts coming down around them.
Walking through the snowy wastelands of Antarctica, Emma thinks to herself that her diamond form may be impervious to the cold, but she’d have one hell of a walk home, that this if she hadn’t already read the minds of the geological research team stationed some twenty miles away. It’s funny what isolation and frustration can do to men’s libidos, Emma notes. As she approaches the research station, Emma finds that she has to agree with Kristal Van Helden in one point: Human or Mutant, evolution does recognize only two species: winner and loser. Among the ruins of her Crystal Palace, Kristal Van Helden’s body is impaled by a huge chunk of crystal.
Carrying a bag, Danielle Moonstar marches through the snow towards a ski lodge. She recalls that she is a graduate of Xavier’s Institute, a mutant and a super hero, but today she is just a woman on a date. Usually, she is not the ski lodge kind of person, she prefers nature in a more natural way, but she met Paul hiking and he invited her. Inside the cabin, there are several people Dani’s age, one of them being Paul, who welcomes her. They hesitate, but then hug, and Dani thinks to herself that it’s one of those early relationship moments. There was a time in her life when she would not have considered dating a white man, but at Xavier’s she was taught not to fear people who are different.
Suddenly, the door slams open and three robbers storm in with guns. Dani’s instincts kick in and she quickly gets Paul out of harm’s way. One of the robbers taunts the frightened teens saying that they think their money can buy them safety and that, because they are rich, they thought they would never know fear, but they were wrong. He then tells them of their plan, he wants their parents to pay a ransom for them. Cowering next to a chair, Paul wonders where security is; someone has to do something. Dani knows he is right, someone has to do something, and that someone is her. She gets up and looks the masked robbers right into the eyes. When one asks if she doesn’t know fear, she says she does and that she will show it to them.
Dani uses her powers to project spirit illusions based on her opponents greatest fears. For one of the robbers it’s his wife and child blaming him for having failed them as they got evicted. The second gangsters is arachnophobic and the third can‘t overcome an inferiority complex caused by a mother, who was never satisfied with her child. The three robbers are all scared and put up no resistance when security finally arrives and detains them.
Paul walks over to Dani, at disbelief of what he just witnessed. She asks him to give her time to explain, though she would prefer to get changed first, but Paul declines. With guns he could deal, but this? Leaving the cabin the same way she came, Dani think to herself that, at Xavier’s, she was taught not to fear people that are different. Unfortunately, the rest of the world did not attend Xavier’s school.
Jean returns to the mansion from a shopping trip. Still carrying her bags, she calls out if anybody is home, but nobody answers. Jean wonders if they forgot, but cheers herself up by thinking about the new boots she bought herself today. However, passing the library, she finds evidence of a fight. Dozens of books are lying on the ground, furniture is turned over and the curtains have been torn down. Further investigating the scene, Jean finds a pool of water and footprints on the ceiling, clear signs of Iceman’s and Beast’s involvement. She deduces that someone must have attacked the mansion and her comrades have chased them out of the window. However, outside, she saw no signs of struggle, so she wonders where everybody is right now.
Suddenly, she is contacted by the Pprofessor, who tells her to come to the Danger Room immediately. Jean drops her bags and rushes through the house, as the telepathic voice sounded as if he was in great trouble. Jean hopes that Xavier isn’t hurt. Once she reaches the Danger Room, Jean finds it empty, but the door slams shut behind her and a program is activated. A set of missiles are launched at her, but Jean telekinetically stops them in mid-air. Next, a giant robot approaches her from behind with rotating saw blades instead of hands. Jean thinks fast and gets out of the way, while releasing the missiles from her mental hold. The two threats effectively dealt with other. Jean thinks that she needs to find the others, but another device is switched on. From beneath the ground, mechanical tentacles reach for her, but Jean easily deals with them by telekinetically knotting them together. Annoyed, Jean cries out to whoever her opponent is that they should release her friends.
Once more, Jean hears Xavier‘s voice inside her head, this time telling her that he is in the den. Jean again hurries to that location, trying to ask her mentor what became of the rest of the team, but the telepathic connection has broken off. Before opening the door, Jean rests a few seconds, trying to prepare herself for whatever might be waiting on the other side. Thinking of her friends, she opens the door and is greeted by a “Surprise !“
It’s the Professor, along with Bobby, Hank, Warren and Scott. They congratulate Jean on her birthday and apologize for the Danger Room ruse, but they hadn’t finished the party preparations yet as they didn't expect her to be home that early. Hank then presents his present, it‘s an X-shaped birthday cake, with a single candle in the middle. Jean thanks him and Bobby is eager to show his own present. It’s an ice sculpture, and Jean thanks him for the “most beautiful, uhh ... goose“ she has ever seen. Devastated, Bobby explains that it is supposed to be a swan. Warren comes next and opens a small box. Jean is startled by the pair of diamond earrings in it, saying that they are too much. Hank and Bobby tell Warren that he is a show-off, using his money to outmatch them.
Scott comes over and apologizes to Jean that he didn’t have much to spend and that he is not as creative as Hank or Bobby, but he still hopes she likes his present. The redhead opens the package, revealing a framed picture of the X-Men in their first costumes, standing in front of the mansion. Scott explains that it was taken on the day the team first received the costumes. Jean says she remembers. She was such a brat back then, whining all about fashion and style. She tells Scott that he is the best and kisses him on the cheek. The other boys get mad. They spent hours and lots of money for their presents, but it’s Scott who gets the kiss?
Finally, Xavier hands his present to Jean. He tells that Scott’s gift gave him an idea and asks Jean to try on the outfit in the box. The redhead leaves the room, promising she’ll be back in a minute, and tells the others to get the party started and to put on some music. Hank catches the hint and tells Scott that, obviously, Jean wants to dance with him. More than a minute later, Iceman is starting to get bored until Jean returns, wearing a revealing green mini-dress outfit with yellow mask, gloves, belt and boots. All the guys like the way she looks and are eager to get Jean a drink. Jean leans over to the professor and hugs him. She loves the colors of the new uniform and it perfectly matches with her new boots.
Charles Xavier is at a hospital at the request of a friend named Dr. Marc Dale. He wants the professor to examine a girl. There is nothing physically wrong with her and so far she has been diagnose as autistic or catatonic, but Dale believes there is more to her. They are interrupted by a young woman approaching them, looking for Dr. Dale. The doctor tells her that she found him and asks how he can help her. The woman says that her arm hurts. She is a typist, which means it really is a problem. Marc Dale examines her wrist and concludes that it is nothing worse than carpal tunnel syndrome. He could easily help her, but first she would have to sign a prevent harassment suit. From the woman’s reaction, Dr. Dale can tell that whoever sent her to him failed to explain how his healing power works. He needs to make “physical“ contact and, for such a mild disease, a kiss should be enough. If it were a more malign matter, it would be necessary to make love. The woman does not believe him and angrily slaps him, before storming out.
Having witnessed the entire exchange, Xavier asks his friend if that happens a lot to him. Dale confirms it, but tells Xavier not to mind. Reaching the psychiatric ward, Xavier thinks that Dr. Dale is a good man and he calls him rarely, but always with good reason. Dale opens the door to the room where the girl, Tasha, is and tells Xavier he will give them some time alone. The professor wheels over to the dark-haired girl and introduces himself. Xavier thinks that he has seen cases like hers before, sometimes he was able to help, sometimes not, but whatever the case, it always feels good to enter the astral plane as he is never chair-ridden there. The professor reaches out to Tasha both physically and mentally.
(on the astral plane)
Many sheets of paper are falling down on a crowded place, lots of people are passing by, reading newspapers or talking to each other on their cell phones. None of them seems to recognize the girl that is sitting in between them, covering her head between her knees. Xavier, now one of the people in the crowd, knows that his guess was correct. Tasha is a telepath, though a passive one. She can only receive but not send. The professor calls out to Tasha and sits down next to her. Tasha mumbles “People. All the people... so many people... talking“. Xavier understands that, upon hitting puberty, the girl must have been confused by the many voices in her head, until it finally got so crowded that she completely withdrew. The professor advises Tasha not to listen to the other voices, to just concentrate on his and follow into his mind.
The two telepaths find themselves in a place that looks like an abandoned cathedral. Tasha is surprised that Xavier’s mind is so empty. He explains that it is as empty as he wants it to be as he controls his mind. He tells Tasha that she can learn this sort of control too. Xavier asks the young girl if there is anything she likes, anything that makes her happy. “Crystals,“ she answers. The professor says that they will do fine and suggests Tasha to build herself a crystal house. The girl doesn’t know how, but he encourages her to try and immediately the scenery changes into a warm place with crystal flowers and ornaments surrounding them. Tasha is happy and asks if she can stay in there forever, but the professor tells her no, as that would be no different than what she did before. He explains that this place will be her sanctuary, but she also needs to learn how to deal with people.
Tasha is shocked to hear this, “No! Not people! Not again! Never again!“. Xavier touches her by the shoulder, asking Tasha to let them in one by one, but she gives in to despair. She thinks there are too many of them and they all want in. A wall of the crystal place rips open and a crowd of people are marching towards the two telepaths. Tasha holds her head and screams in pain. The professor raises his hand, blocking out the thoughts of the approaching crowd. Xavier apologizes to Tasha, he was pushing it too fast. He wants her to try once more, this time with his guidance. Telling the girl to concentrate on his voice alone, he asks Tasha what it looks like in her mind. The girl thinks about it and is surprised by the answer she comes up with, “a note?“ The professor says that’s very good and that he would like one more note in, so that she could try to weave them together. Tasha is doing fine and Xavier lets in a third voice. She says that it’s becoming a melody and the professor agrees; that it is a very good way of looking at it. It’s a melody to which everybody contributes a note, a never ending symphony of life. The astral surroundings change again into street with several people walking by. Tasha no longer is afraid, instead she feels like humming along.
Back in the hospital room, Xavier and Tasha hold hands and smile at each other. The professor wheels out of the room, searching for his friend, Dr. Dale. He finds him kissing the woman who slapped him earlier on and excuses himself. A few seconds later, Dale has finished his “treatment“ and the woman leaves. Xavier wonders why she came back, but his friend says they all do once they are over the initial shock. In fact, he is even a little bit sorry that she had nothing more serious that would have required more of his treatment. Xavier and Marc Dale contemplate that it’s not easy being a healer, but at least they live vicariously through every life they mend. That’s reward enough.
Dr. Dale offers to call Xavier a cab, but he refuses. Jean will pick him up when she is done with her errands. In the meantime, he’ll just sit there and listen to some music. Xavier thinks that not only did he help Tasha, but she did help him as well with giving him a fresh pair of eyes and a chance to see the world anew.