(In Douglock’s dream)
A cemetery in Salem Center, Westchester, New York. Near the home of the Uncanny X-Men, the members of Excalibur stand before the grave of the deceased New Mutant Doug Ramsey. Kitty Pryde exclaims that there is something so sad about Westchester in the fall - yet romantic at the same time. Piotr Rasputin agrees, and adds that it is a time for rejoicing. Kitty looks at the grave of her deceased friend and tells Doug that they are all glad to have him back.
To the side of Britain’s greatest super hero team, the techno-organic Douglock motions to the grave and asks everyone why they are talking to Cypher, as he is dead. He asks them if he cannot see that he is here now. Rahne Sinclair kneels by the grave of her close friend and tells him that he is looking ‘bonnie’. Douglock calls to Rahne and asks her why she cannot hear him, before walking up to Pete Wisdom and asking him to make them all listen.
Wisdom tells Douglock that he knows what his secret is, and that he knows Douglock doesn’t want the others to learn it, because they will lose interest in him. Wisdom lights a match against Douglock to ignite his cigarette. Kitty Pryde pays lots of attention to Doug, and calls to him, ‘come on slow poke!” But even Kitty cannot see the truth for what it is. Suddenly, a techno-organic being resembling Cypher - resembling Douglock - bursts out of the grave. ‘Hey guys. Let’s go into Salem Center and get a shake, huh?’ he asks nonchalantly. Douglock calls to Excalibur, telling them not to listen to Ramsey, ‘He’s not me! He’s not…’ Then he wakes up.
Every night, Douglock has electronic nightmares about that human boy - Doug Ramsey - who speaks wet, not metallic. Every night, the same. But he sees a little more in his machine brain, knows a little more in his machine heart. That when he wakes up, he is not who they want him to be, and that his little secret will tear him apart - if it doesn’t tear his friends apart first. ‘I am…Douglock. Yes,’ declares Douglock sitting up in his bed.
Outside, standing alongside the shoreline of Muir Island, a small island off the coast of North Scotland, it is home to the super group known as Excalibur. A storm currently rages on, most of Excalibur shelter from it inside, but not Colossus. The powerful Russian mutant, in his metal form stands in the rain, as a recent addition to Excalibur, he has begun to ponder his role, not only within Excalibur, but the world as well. Colossus thinks that it is ironic how he can turn into organic steel to protect him from elements that would erode a mountain into dust, yet he cannot shield himself from doubts.
Piotr remembers back to when Professor Xavier first approached him to follow his dream, telling him that his powers were really a gift, yet all they ever seem to do is take him from that which he desires - stability, a family and a home. Something he can believe in. He recalls how his powers have taken him far from his mother Russia and his family, to this strange Western world, then the X-Men with his dear Katya and Kurt, to Magneto’s Acolytes and their fanatic cause. He finds himself now on Excalibur, reunited with Kitty and Kurt, but once more serving some elusive dream.
Colossus reminds himself how at one point all he wanted was someplace to belong, to know he was doing something. He wonders if perhaps the time has come for him to stop putting his destiny in the hands of others. Colossus frowns as he tells himself there was one man he thought he knew his heart and followed it rightly - Professor Charles Xavier - but now even he has fallen by his ideals, twisted by his passion. Colossus remembers how he believed, once he joined the X-Men and embraced the Professor’s dream, that they would build a new future, where all men would live in peace, but sadly he declares that he has buried the heroes of this future too many times.
Colossus “asks” the Professor if it was worth everything - to follow this dream no matter where, facing the endless expanse of sea, unstopping torrent, Colossus believes a man’s resolve is a castle of sand, not a fortress of steel.
Inside the famous Muir Island research Center, in the residential wing, Kitty and Wisdom stare out a window, looking at Colossus as he stands in the rain, Kitty admits to Wisdom that although it has been so long since she and Piotr were close, and that she doesn’t miss it, exactly, but that it tears her up to see Piotr out there. She wishes Colossus would say something to her, or anyone. She asks Wisdom what he thinks is going on in Colossus’ head. Wisdom tells his girlfriend not to worry, reminding her that Colossus is a Russian, he tells her that Russian’s love moping around. Wisdom asks Kitty if she has ever read “Crime and Punishment” by Dostojewski. He tells Kitty that he is ‘Your typical Russian down to a tee’.
Wisdom jokes that he hopes Colossus doesn’t rust out there, as he thinks the cupboard has run out of steel-wool pads - Wisdom notices Kitty has turned away from him and tells her not to give him the ice queen act, as it was just a joke. Kitty tells Wisdom that this is anything but a joke to her, and as she phases through him to leave the room, Kitty tells Wisdom that if he knew the meaning of friendship, then he would understand that, ‘you bitter sod!’.
Wisdom tells Kitty that it is not fair using that word on him, as he taught it to her, ‘as accurate as it might be notwithstanding’ he mumbles. Kitty tells Pete that she doesn’t know if he can see this, or if he even cares, but that Excalibur is the closest thing to a family she has, she needs it - him, Piotr, Kurt, everyone. Kitty declares that she has lost too many things in this world because of the dumb mutation in her genes, and sometimes it feels like there is a storm coming that will tear Excalibur apart. She asks Wisdom if he saw the files Professor Xavier has on them, she cannot believe that the man who was like a father to her would have files like that.
Kitty suddenly wonders why she is telling Wisdom all this, but before Pete can reply, Douglock enters the room, carrying a tray with some food on it, he declares that it is telly time. ‘You call it “telly” in England, don’t you, Mr. Wisdom?’ Douglock exclaims that Rahne was telling him about this cool show called “Doctor Who”, before offering his tray of food, asking if they want some, he reveals that it is peanut butter, that he had the strangest urge for Peanut butter.
Wisdom calls Douglock ‘Tinker Toy’ and tells him that the “real people” are trying to have a nice quiet row here, ‘do you mind?’ he asks, hinting that he wants Douglock to leave. But Douglock misunderstands, and replies ‘Not at all, I have three minutes, thirty-six seconds until the show’. As Douglock sits down on a sofa, Wisdom tells him that he is going to lay down some ground rules, while Kitty turns back to the window: ‘Piotr…’.
Far beneath Muir Island, in the lab of the Research Centre’s owner, Doctor Moira MacTaggert. The good Doctor sits at a large computer console and thinks that it is strange how Hank McCoy is not on line, as he is usually up at the moment, even though it is the middle of the night in the States. Moira figures the Beast is extra tired, as the two of them have been burning the candle at both ends trying to find a cure for the Legacy Virus. Moira exclaims that it is a race against the clock, especially for her, the first non-mutant victim of the Legacy Virus.
Moira reminds herself that she became a Doctor to help people, and that Excalibur work with her to help people too, but that sometimes they cause more trouble than they solve. Moira thinks about Charles Xavier, who said they would help mankind, whether they wanted it or not, which is what he said to her when he first concocted his plan to create the X-Men. ‘Well, we all gave our lives to you - goodness knows more than that with many of us. Charles, we had faith in you. But you didn’t have faith in us, or yourself’ Moira thinks to herself.
Suddenly, Nightcrawler teleports into and greets Moira in his native German. Moira yells at Kurt, telling him that he should not be teleporting in here like some no good villain, adding that he scared her out of her wits. Kurt tells Moira that he hadn’t seen her in a while and wanted to make sure she was okay, reminding her that the last couple of days have been a wringer for them all. Moira declares that she is fine, just busy, trying to keep busy - to forget. Moira informs Kurt that she has to email the recent Legacy data to Hank.
Kurt is surprised, and asks ‘just the data? I thought we had to deal with -’ Moira cuts him off, finishing his sentence - ‘Xavier’s protocols?’ Moira is unsure, but Kurt reminds Moira that the files they discovered hidden in the Professor’s secret vault explain how to destroy each and every one of them. Kurt declares that every X-Man must have a say on what is done with them. Kurt snaps that he is team leader, and that this is not a suggestion. ‘Very well, Nightcrawler’ replies Moira.
Back in the rec room, Wisdom leans over Douglock, telling him that he can trust him with his secret. Douglock just keeps reading his paper and tells Wisdom that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Wisdom smiles and tells Douglock that they will get this straight: ‘Doug Ramsey, useless kid with a useless power’, makes friends with an alien named Warlock. Wisdom mocks that this alien happens to be the only benevolent member of a techno-organic race, but both Doug and Warlock die.
Wisdom points out the obvious - that one day Douglock shows up, claiming not to be either of them, except he has Doug Ramsey’s face. Wisdom tells Douglock - calling him “Dougie” - that he doesn’t know what game he is playing, but knows he is playing one. Kitty turns her attention from Colossus outside in the storm, to Wisdom and tells him to stop torturing Douglock. She exclaims that Doug Ramsey is one of the best friends she ever had, before telling Wisdom that if he has a problem with her, then take it up with her, not with Piotr, or Douglock, not with any of her friends - which she used to think he was one of too.
‘Not more of this “friendship” rubbish, scoffs Wisdom, before pointing at Douglock and asking Kitty if she really thinks her friend’s alive and well in there, asking her why he keeps torturing her this way. Wisdom then turns back to Douglock and declares that he knows Douglas Ramsey is not really inside him, it is just that everyone keeps telling him he is, that is the reason Douglock looks the way he does. He asks Douglock what harm there is in confessing.
Douglock sits up in his chair explains that he can be whatever people want him to be. Transforming into Nightcrawler, Douglock tells Wisdom that he could order him to shut up, before transforming into Kitty, so that he can caress him through the night and tell him everything will be all right. ‘Or I could be you, Wisdom!’ shouts Douglock as he declares he could become the thing that Wisdom runs from, the secret he covers up with bitterness.
‘You’re nothing like you’re supposed to be! Why won’t you all let me be myself!’ screams Douglock as he races for the large window and smashes through it. Pete declares the Douglock has flipped, while Kitty calls to him. But Douglock lands amongst the broken glass - right in front of Colossus, who warns Douglock that this storm is fierce and a misplaced step could send him to into oblivion, swept away in the waves.
‘Look what you’ve done!’ snaps Kitty as she turns to Wisdom. Wisdom points out that Kitty’s “old friend” saved the day, and claims that all he did was set off a bomb, which he thinks is better now than when they least expect it. Wisdom tells Kitty that Douglock is trouble, and that they better figure him out quick. ‘The last thing I would do is trust you’ exclaims Kitty as she phases through Wisdom and in her intangible form floats down to the ground, but Wisdom calls after her, telling her that she can run away from him, but that they still have Douglock’s secrets to deal with.
Kitty approaches Colossus and asks him if Douglock is okay. Piotr replies that he is, but that the storm has disorientated him, adding that the Atlantic storm makes some people melancholy, he knows this. Kitty puts her hands on Douglock and apologizes for what Pete said, adding that he didn’t mean them. But Douglock declares that Wisdom did mean them, that he is the only one brave enough to say that they all think he is their dead friend resurrected. Doug declares that he doesn’t know how to make them believe it, but he isn’t. ‘Then what are you? Tell us!’ says Kitty, but Douglock covers his face and replies ‘I am what - who I am. Isn’t that enough?’
Minutes later, Moira looks at the now broken window as she tells Kitty, Kurt, Colossus and Wisdom that she doesn’t approve of this, for after the incident with Onslaught, and Xavier now missing, not to mention what she and Wisdom went through some days ago, being threatened by the U.S. government, all the reports she is getting are that the States are not safe for any mutants, what with all the public hysteria. Moira states that taking the Midnight Runner on a jaunt to the States to find the secret of Douglock’s past is foolish.
Nightcrawler states that he thinks Wisdom has a point, that Douglock is a mystery, and until they can get some handle on his past, for the good of the team, this must be done. Moira doesn’t see how sending half of the team across the globe is going to solve this, as Colossus tells Kitty he wishes he was going with her, as he has a bad feeling about this. Kitty reminds Piotr that she has always trusted him to land on his own feet, and she knows he trusts her. She tells him not to worry, and reminds him that Doug was her best friend, so this is personal, and anyway, she has someone else to help her, someone who knew Doug a lot better than he did. On cue, Wolfsbane enters the room, yawning that this had better be a good reason for waking her in the middle of the night.
As the Midnight Runner leaves the stormy Muir Island, Moira mutters to herself that no harm better come to Rahne, as she is her guardian. Moira wonders if she has too much to worry about, too little faith. Moira modems the information to the Beast and decides to go to sleep, to try and forget about Charles, the Virus, monsters and bigots, and hope that Hank can tell them how to dispose of the hideous “protocols”.
With the Midnight Runner gone, another ship approaches Muir Island. From inside someone announces that the other ship holds two mutant signatures, and one machine, which he supposes is Douglock. A masked woman carrying a bow addresses the man as Selby and asks him if has any luck cracking the tight beam satellite. Selby replies that it is impossible for any crypto=program to translate, even the Norad mainframes, before boasting that no one counted on a mutant with the ability to intuit binary language. And tells his leader that this is a snap. The masked woman asks if it is the Legacy data like the leak said it would be, Selby replies that it is, and that there is also some mention about “Xavier Protocols”, revealing to his leader that the Xavier Protocols are files on how to kill the X-Men, and believes that would be worth looking at while they are here. Selby adds that the rest of their team is ready in six minutes to attack.
Four minutes and counting: Wolfsbane asks Kitty how far they are, Kitty replies that they are just past Greenland, so they have a while to go, before commenting to Rahne that she sounds worried. Rahne motions to a red light and declares that she is, as she thought the red light means the anterior steering controls are turbulence locked. Kitty replies that it does, and tells Wolfsbane to sit back, boasting that she learned to fly on a black bird, so she could fly this corvette with orange soda in the tank and a busted wing.
Kitty exclaims that she is not going to let some storm stop them, reminding Rahne that they both thought Doug died for them, but now they might have been wrong. Kitty asks Rahne if she wants to get to the truth, to which Wolfsbane tells Kitty that the truth is Doug is dead, and suggests she finally accept it. ‘I cant!’ screams Kitty, declaring that there is something in Douglock, something that is Doug. Kitty mentions that he has been acting strange since their run in with the Hellfire Club, which Douglock exclaims ‘Different wouldn’t begin to describe it!’ as he enters the cockpit.
Douglock reminds his teammates that he was practically torn apart and reassembled from scratch, joking that if that wouldn’t change you, then he doesn’t know what would. Douglock adds that there is one thing he does know - that he didn’t turn into Doug Ramsey. ‘I swear’. Voices hushed, Douglock asks Rahne if she understands. Rahne asks Douglock to try and understand that this is something Kitty has to come to grips with on her own terms. ‘It is him. I know it!’ the determined Kitty thinks to herself.
Muir Island, two minutes and counting: the elemental faerie, Meggan, laughs as she flies up between the raindrops, carrying a large sheet of wood, she announces to her teammate and lover, Brian Braddock a.k.a. Captain Britain that the storm is stopping, reminding him that she told him things would clear up. Brian calls after Meggan, reminding her that they have got work to do, he asks her to hold up while he flies the hammer and nails up.
‘You do that, Captain Bloody Britanic’ mutters Wisdom as he watches Meggan and Brian out the window, before mumbling that love is grand when you are handsome and suave, all the pretty people say nicey-nice and live happily ever after. He wishes Kitty could see he is trying to help her before this obsession eats her up. Standing a few feet away from Wisdom, Colossus suggests that Wisdom may be named appropriately after all, though he is not certain he would have handled it in quite the same matter. Wisdom mutters that hindsight is 20/20, that he should have known Kitty would shoot the messenger. Wisdom asks Colossus if he cares for a cigarette, when suddenly there is a loud explosion. Colossus declares that it feels like a bomb went off and Wisdom suggests that he should turn metal, as something happened outside.
‘Fire’ exclaims Meggan as she and Brian are mending the window that Douglock smashed. Meggan supposes that the butane tanks must have burst and flies towards them, where by flying so fast and tight enough, she is able to use the resulting air vortex to put out the flames. Meggan tells Brian that with the flames out, they can deal with the problem, when suddenly, a grey-haired man approaches Meggan and exclaims that the problem is taken care of with a telekinetic pulse. He jokes that they are good at taking care of problems, as it is their specialty.
The grey-haired man introduces himself as Wildside, and as Meggan falls to the ground, the rest of the Mutant Liberation Front regroups with their teammate: Wildside! Fourarm! Selby…and Moonstar! As Brian rushes towards the terrorist faction, Michael “Fourarm” McCain declares that they have come for sensitive information, and tells Brian there is no need to get up on their account.
Fourarm alerts Moonstar to Captain Britain’s approach, and boasts that he is going to snap his neck before he runs any more interference. Under her breath, Moonstar declares that she cannot let her “teammate” do that, and drawing an arrow she fires it at Fourarm, a psionic phase arrow should scramble Fourarm’s sense long enough. Moonstar hopes that the other MLF members didn’t see her through all this smoke. Wildside lunges into Brian, calling for someone to take him out. Moonstar declares that he is her, and fires a psionic arrow at him, wishing she could explain this to Brian, hoping that if they get out of this fiasco alive, then she can, as working undercover can be tough! Moonstar orders everyone to move on, deep and fast.
Back in Moira’s lab, she uses the com-system to contact Colossus and Wisdom, informing them that the power is cut off on the elevator, so she is trapped in the sub-lab. She asks them what is going on up there. Looking up at several security screens, Wisdom replies ‘just the normal’ revealing to Moira that unidentified storm troopers have taken the base, and that com-links off the island have been severed. He adds that Brian, Meggan and Kurt might be dead. ‘But don’t worry, I’m just going to have a nervous breakdown, then we’ll take care of it. Colossus tells Wisdom that this is no time for jokes, and that they must fight. ‘Just a sec’, Piotr, gotta find my shoes’.
Moira is annoyed that she is stuck down in the sub-lab, and attempts to use the security system against whoever the Island’s attacker’s are. But as she does so, Selby appears on the screen before her, informing Moira that they have disabled her network, but it will return to her control once they are done. He declares that they of the Mutant Liberation Front, in the interests of ‘liberating all mutants from the yoke of homo-inferior’ herby seize all of Moira’s research data on the Legacy Virus, ravaging their community.
Selby is about to say something about Moira’s progress on the Virus, when Moonstar grabs the camera from him and tells him to get the downloads finished, before informing Moira that she has been exposed in the press by ‘that maggot reporter Trish Tilby’, so too many people know about her. Moonstar declares that they of the mutant community can no longer trust the integrity of this facility anymore, so they are taking her research results on the Legacy Virus, adding that they will also be taking possession of files that they have just discovered the existence of - the Xavier Protocols.
Moonstar declares that neither this facility, nor Xavier’s mansion are safe enough to protect these protocols, adding that too many mutants are endangered by entrusting the files to Moira. Moira is shocked when Moonstar removes her mask and declares that she should know - ‘because I’m one of the ones how used to serve that traitor Charles Xavier!’ Moira cries ‘Dani! You were one of Xavier’s young pupils, his New Mutants! I can’t believe it! Has the world gone mad?’ Dani declares that it has, but that the MLF is here to take care of it, starting with Moira and this island of misguided government goons.
Westchester, Wolfsbane declares that it is strange being in the graveyard, as with all that has been going on with the Professor, she thought that the States weren’t there anymore. Kitty agrees, adding that it is uncomfortable, like they are trespassers in someone else’s dream, lots of memories…’Right, Doug?’ Rahne kneels down at Cypher’s grave, apologizing, for feeling like a grave robber. A cold wind starts up, Rahne exclaims that it is creepy. Douglock looks down at the grave, ‘Something in the Westchester fall, so sad and romantic at the same time’.
Kitty lunges at Douglock and asks him where he heard that. ‘No more lies! I want the truth! We buried you here, but now your back -’ Douglock interrupts, telling Kitty that he wishes he could help her see, that he is not the resurrection of her friend, that Doug Ramsey is still buried beneath them. Kitty pauses, before declaring that they will confirm it then. Rahne understands what Kitty is going to do, and tells her that she cannot do it, as it is consecrated ground. She tells Kitty that if they dig here, they will go to ‘you know where’ when they die.
Kitty ignores Rahne and tells Douglock that she knows he knows this place. Douglock replies that he has seen it before, but can promise that he has never been here before. ‘Yeah right!’ exclaims Kitty as she phases into the grave of Doug Ramsey, telling Rahne that she doesn’t want her getting in trouble with the priests, so she will just phase down and take a look at an empty coffin. ‘Och! What’s she going to find down there?’ wonders Rahne.
‘Hopefully the truth’ replies Douglock. Kitty is shocked when she phases into the coffin - to find the decomposed corpse of Doug Ramsey staring back at her.