Officially, this neighborhood is designated as New York’s 11th Precinct. Some people have other names for it. A cab driver drops Bishop off in a dark side street and takes the cash. He asks if it’s his first time in Mutant Town, to which Bishop replies that it is. As he exits the cab, the driver tells him to take care; “The freaks come out at night, if y’know what I mean.”
The moonlight make the place look almost clean. Bishop strolls across the road, watched by three men in the shadows. When he was a kid, he had this habit, whereby, whenever there was a full moon and a clear sky, he would head to the rooftops. The moon looked pretty much the same then, the best part of a hundred years in the future. He actually feels himself feeling a little nostalgic for that future, as he leaps from roof to roof. In that future, at the end of the twenty-first century, he grew up to be a cop. Now, he is trapped here in the past and they want him to be a cop again, to protect people whose fates played out long before he was even born.
Crime is soaring in District X. This whole section of New York is populated by mutants; some with volatile power, some that are just freaks. The regular police are losing control. He edges his way to a window, his back hugging the wall. He has been told that ninety percent of the crime here is down to two gang bosses; Daniel ‘Shaky’ Kaufman, and ‘Filthy’ Frankie Zapruder. Bishop leans towards the window to listen in on the conversation going on inside.
Zapruder is a stocky, middle-aged man and is guarded closely by two bodyguards. He is on the phone to his girlfriend, Zelda, asking her if she’s on her way. He’s kept his schedule open tonight so, tonight, it’s just them and the moonlight. He wasn’t too hard for Bishop to find, as a large neon sign lights up the roof with the name Frankie’s written large and an arrow pointing downwards. Bishop’s assignment is to assess the growth of gang-related crime and the potential threat to the social stability of the area, and deal with it. That’s if he takesthe assignment. Frankie is just a two-bit gangster. Lately, he’s gotten used to fighting bigger battles with the X-Men; saving the planet, that kind of thing. One city precinct hardly seems worth the effort.
A voice behind him says, “hi.” Bishop turns to see a guy in a short leather jacket facing him. He says he hasn’t seen Bishop before and Bishop replies that he just got here, asking if the guy works for Frankie. He says that he is doing some small jobs for him, but Frankie says that, if he does good, he’ll fast-track him to the big-time. He smiles and says Frankie is a good man. He offers his hand and asks what the strangers name is. Bishop tells him and shakes his hand, which is that of a mutant. He then opens his arms out wide, revealing flaps of skin joining his arms to his torso. He smiles and says that some people don’t like to shake his hand. Back home, he wears gloves and hides his skin with a big coat. Back home, they call him snake boy, lizard boy; sometimes freak. Here in the U.S.A., they call him by his name; Dzemal.
Bishop asks Dzemal where home is. He is from Mostar in Bosnia. He came here with his father, who is a professor of philosophy. He’s a big thinker, but what he thinks is not popular in Bosnia. He doesn’t speak English so good, so here he is driving a taxi. Bishop says he knows how tough it can be. Dzemal asks where he is from and Bishop replies that he was born in the U.S.A. Dzemal says he doesn’t think he knows what it is like to lose everything; friends, home, family. Bishop offers no response but, inside, he knows exactly how it feels. Dzemal continues to mention that Frankie has been good to him. They are his family now.
Their conversation is suddenly interrupted by Frankie Zapruder’s bodyguards, two more mutants, who find the men on their roof. One asks Dzemal who his friend is and he replies that it’s Bishop, but they don’t know him? He aims his pistol at Bishop and tells him to lift his hands. He pats Bishop down and discovers a weapon. His partner asks Bishop if he’s a cop, but the other guy says that it ain’t a cop’s shooter. Flanking Bishop, they ask him who he is and if he’s with Shaky’s mob. Bishop prevaricates and replies that they were right the first time; he is a cop. They know he ain’t no cop and one of the bodyguards orders Dzemal to go fetch Frankie.
Soon, Bishop smells Frankie before he hears him. “Now I know why they call you Filthy Frankie,” he says, wholly aware of the rise this will get from Frankie. Frankie explodes, asking Bishop if he’s tired of living. “Is that why you’re here on my roof? You thinking of jumping?” He stands directly behind Bishop, fists clenched, and says the name is Mister Zapruder. His friends call him Frankie. His girlfriend calls him honey. Nobody calls him that other thing! Bishop remains unshaken and replies that he smells just like he died and they forgot to bury him. Incensed, Frankie yells at him, saying that’s it; he’s just committed suicide! The smell gets worse and Bishop figures that this must be his mutation. Olfactory production triggered by emotions? Real useful.
Frankie asks his men if he had any I.D. on him but the bodyguard replies no. He tells them to take Bishop to shed three, waste him and dump him in Kaufman’s turf. Dzemal says he can’t do that. Bishop’s done nothing bad. Frankie is insulted and orders them to kill Dzemal too. So much for family, thinks Bishop.
Frankie turns and calls Zelda on his mobile. He asks where she is and then tells her to make herself comfortable. He’s on his way down. His reception then begins to break up, as unseen, behind him, Bishop discreetly draws in electrical energy from the huge sign above him. One of the bodyguards tells him to move but Bishop suddenly begins to glow and electricity leaps all around his body. This distracts the guards. One thing that Bishop has in common with the people of District X is that he is a mutant too. He knows what it’s like to be alone in a strange land.
He reaches out one arm and envelops the nearest guard in a coil of energy. The other bodyguard wastes no time in shooting at Dzemal but fortunately the shot rings past his ears. Bishop takes him down with a burst of power but turns to see Dzemal disappearing over the edge of the roof. With his opponents down for the count, Bishop looks over the edge and sees no trace of a body. Suddenly, Dzemal appears above him, gliding towards Bishop, using the flaps under his arms to carry him. When he lands, he informs Bishop that, when the weather is right, he can glide on the warm air. Bishop apologizes for his new family but Dzemal replies that he thinks he has a place to hide. He doesn’t think Frankie will let him walk away from this. Bishop says coldly that he’ll deal with Frankie.
In Frankie’s apartment, Zelda awaits him, reclined on his king-size bed. He’s in the shower and she reminds him to use the deodorant. When he’s finished, he goes to her and says that, when he’s thinking about her, he smells as sweet as a garden full of roses. She places her arms around his neck, but a particularly unpleasant whiff turns her off. “Aaah, Frankie. Not again,” she says. She turns to see Bishop, half hidden in the shadows. The smell is ranker this time. Up on the roof, it was the pungent, animal smell of anger. This is the sharp, acrid reek of fear.
Bishop tells him that he has a message. Dzemal is making a career change. He will receive a generous severance package; a one-off cash deal from Frankie and then Dzemal will never hear from him again. Frankie, without his bodyguards to protect him, weakly says no way, but Bishop leans into his ear and tells him what will happen if he goes after the kid. It only takes two sentences and Bishop has a good imagination. So does Frankie and he quickly dives into his safe and offers Bishop piles of cash. The smell gets so bad that Bishop has to hold his breath and he tells Frankie to take another shower.
Bishop meets up with Dzemal underneath the now spent neon sign and gives him the money, telling him it’s a farewell present from his boss. He needn’t worry, as he won’t be hearing from him again. Dzemal says it’s too much and asks why he’s doing this for him. Bishop’s head drops a little. “What you said about losing everything… just do the right thing, okay?” Dzemal opens his arms and leaps off the roof, gliding into the darkness of Mutant Town.
His name is Bishop. He is a cop, and this is his precinct.
Jubilee is hanging out in a shopping mall with three fellow mallrats. The place is fairly quiet; probably a weekday and the girls are hanging out next to a fountain feature. Wearing her mandatory pink shades on her head and a Pow! T-shirt, Jubilee is trying to impress them by harking on about her time with the X-Men and being Wolverine’s sidekick. They don’t believe her, just like they didn’t believe her when she told them that she fought Magneto and saw Carson Daily at the Gap. Joe says he was way too fat to be Carson but Jubilee replies that the camera never lies. They head off to find a corndog and, after lending Joe a dollar, Jubilee is called over to a table by Mick, who is seated opposite a friend of his, Jacob.
Carrying a corndog and a drink, Jubilee asks them what they’re up to. He tells her that they’re skating. Aside from the food court, the mall ain’t too packed and most of the railing here is perfect. She enquires about the skate park down the street but Mick points out that, if she actually left there occasionally, she’d know that it’s raining. Scratch that, it’s pouring. She tells him he is so gonna get busted for skating in the mall. Mick stands, having finished his food. He says, let ‘em come. He is the scourge of rent-a-cops worldwide. There ain’t enough flashlights in the world to keep him from doing as he pleases. Jubilee mentions that some of them carry guns. Mick jokingly replies, “They’ll never take us alive. Speaking of which, we better get to it. Later.” Jacob grabs his board and they head off for some mischief. Joe mentions that Jubilee’s crushing on him and, as she rests her head on her palms, she admits. “Oh, maybe a little.”
(a half hour later)
Jubilee and Joe are standing next to each other in a clothes shop and, as they check out the fashions, Joe asks if he knows. What, replies Jubilee, that she never buys anything in here? She was just asking if they have any cool belts. “Not the clerk, stupid,” says Joe, “Mick. Does he know you’re packing the ‘M’ gene? That you can fire fireworks out of your hands?” Jubilee says that he doesn’t. Who cares anyway? Mutants are cool these days. As long as you don’t have an extra head growing out of your shoulder, it’s no big deal. Everyone wants to be a mutant now. She asks if they’re ready to ditch this place and they leave the store, followed by the two others.
Joe says that if it’s cool to be a mutant, then why doesn’t she want to tell him? Jubilee says that she’s not even sure he likes her. It’s not a big deal. Joe says she’s kidding, right? Mick would be crazy not to like her. Jubilee thanks her for the compliment and says, for that, she doesn’t have to pay back the dollar; but she’s still full of it. The girls move on to an amusement arcade and Laci points out that they’re out of money. Not a problem, replies Jubilee and walks over to the counter. She points to a machine and tells the clerk that the machine ate her quarter. Without even bothering to check, the witless clerk hands over the change. Now that’s what she calls living off the land.
As she pumps the money straight into a game, a loud voice behind her says, “Stop!!” The girls head out of the arcade and see Mick and Jacob speeding through the mall, pursued on foot by a security guard. Jubilee’s face lights up, as her hero and his friend turn tricks on the mall furniture. As Mick glides past her, he tells her that it looks like she was right. “Just call me the voice of reason,” she replies. Suddenly, a couple of real cops show up and join the pursuit. Mick and Jacob are outta there and Jubilee calls for her friends to follow them. She wouldn’t miss this for the world.
The guys soon come to a Seers store, which unfortunately is in a dead end. The guards and cops are soon on them and, although one of them is evaded by Mick, another manages to grab Jacob. Seeing his friend being caught distracts Mick and he is thrown off his own board, landing with a thud on the tiled floor. Jubilee rushes over to help him but the security guard appears and says him that he’s not so brash now, is he? Jubilee reacts instinctively to defend Mick and unleashes an outburst of plasma from her palms. The guard is temporarily blinded and doubles up, so Jubilee uses his shoulder to leap across to the other security guard holding Jacob. She does the same to him and he relaxes his hold on the boy. Jubilee then steps on his board and heads straight for the first cop, landing a kick into his torso. He goes down, winded. Mick and Jacob opt to make a dash for it and Jubilee follows, shouting for them to wait for her.
(the Xavier Institute for Higher learning, later)
The rain is still pouring, as Jubilee receives a dressing down from Cyclops. Emma stands behind him, arms folded. He tells her that, if she’d been caught, she would be in jail right now for assaulting an officer. Things are bad enough without having to hear about random mutant attacks at the mall on the local news. Jubilee sits facing him, head bowed, knowing she’s done wrong. Scott continues to point out that she’s been a student at Xavier’s and a member of the X-Men for how long? Interfering with the local law is no way to make peace between mutants and humans. She could have undone what little progress they’ve made over the years. He asks what she was thinking.
Jubilee replies that she wasn’t thinking. She was just trying to protect her friend. She didn’t even realize what she was doing until after she’d done it. She promises Cyclops that it won’t happen again. Scott tells her to leave them; he and Emma have to discuss this. Jubilee departs, feeling she’s let him and herself down.
(two days later)
Jubilee is back at the mall, though today the weather is much nicer. She has hooked up with Laci and Joe, who asks if it’s such a good idea her being here. What if she gets recognized? Jubilee doesn’t think that the security guard got a good look at her, and it’s no big deal. She tells them that she had to sneak out to come here. The headmasters at her school were mad. She notices Mick and Jacob wandering across the yard and goes over to see them. “Hey, long time no see, Mick. Close call the other day, huh?” Mick offers her a glance that in no uncertain terms, shows he disapproves of her being a mutant. He blanks her and the two guys continue on their way. Joe asks, “What was it you were you saying about mutants?” Jubilee frowns, and guesses some people haven’t heard what’s cool these days.