San Francisco, specifically the Golden Gate Bridge, where Theresa Rourke a.k.a. Siryn, leader of the teenage mutant heroes known as X-Force, thinks to herself that people travel from all over to stand on the Golden Gate Bridge and take in one of the most beautiful breathtaking views on the planet. To the south is the city of San Francisco itself, while to the north, the Marin Headlands, where you can watch the sun rise over the Oakland Hills or watch it set over the Pacific. ‘I can’t think of a better place to say goodbye to a world full of troubles’ Siryn tells herself as she climbs over the railings on the Golden Gate Bridge.
‘Oh, my dear Lord, that girl’s climbing over the railing!’ someone shouts. ‘She’s going to jump!’ another exclaims. ‘Somebody stop her!’ someone else calls out, but it’s too late. However, Siryn doesn’t jump or leap off the railing, she simply steps. The worst moment is the first fraction of a second when Theresa realizes there is a huge expanse of nothing beneath her feet. In that instant she understands how the coyote feels in the cartoon - suspended in midair, holding up a sign that says “oops”. It is a seven hundred and forty-six foot drop into the water below her - and she has nowhere to go but down, while various onlookers stare in shock.
There was a time when Siryn leapt off buildings without a second thought - secure in the knowledge that she could ride the wind and soar with the eagles. Now though, Siryn is just dead weight - falling - and falling - until she reaches the inevitable conclusion - landing with a mighty splash on the water, before the waves role in.
‘Excuse me, miss. You shouldn’t lean over the railing like that. The winds are pretty strong today, and I’d hate to see you get knocked over the side. You probably noticed it’s a long way down’ Siryn turns to the ranger, she notices that he has pitched his voice soft and low, trying to be reassuring and caring in a hotline kind of way. Theresa is sure the ranger has pegged her as a potential jumper, and is following park service procedure. Truth is, Siryn bets everyone who stands here thinks about what it would be like to take the plunge. From under her hooded coat, Theresa gives the ranger a half smile to make him believe that she is all right. She would tell him she is depressed, not suicidal, but she can’t - she cannot speak anymore since a psychopath sliced her throat open, shredding her larynx and severing her vocal cords. ‘And what’s a siren without her song? Lost’ Siryn tells herself.
Meanwhile, the home of X-Force, where most of the rest of the team are gathered in the living room watching the news, where a reporter, Serena Ruiz, announces that last week’s state-wide outages are being attributed to a mutant terrorist group’s attempt to restart the reactor at the Summerfield Canyon nuclear power facility. She adds that, in related news, at a press conference today, Nevada Senator Owen Danville announced that he will head a new Government task force on domestic mutant activity. ‘Given the recent UN decision ceding sovereignty of Genosha to Magneto, it’s clear that the mutant population in this country poses the greatest threat to national security since the Soviet Union. We must determined to whom that small but unquestionably dangerous minority pledges their allegiance’ the Senator declares.
‘Can you believe that?’ Tabitha “Meltdown” Smith exclaims as she throws one of her pink bunny slippers at the television. ‘The Senator knows that we stopped the Armageddon Man from destroying the West Coast. He was there!’ Tabitha exclaims, wondering how he can go on national television and make it sound like every mutant is Magneto’s stooge. Domino remarks that the Senator is a politician, and that they aren’t concerned with the truth, all the care about is getting a sound-bite on the evening news. Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta tells his friends to face it: ‘We’re never going to be handed the key to the city’.
Danielle Moonstar tells Bobby that they know, but what makes it so infuriating is that they get no credit for their actions and sacrifices. ‘Nobody knows that Theresa got her throat cut saving the world’ James Proudstar, Siryn’s best friend, remarks, looking away from his teammates. Meltdown asks James where Theresa is, as she hasn’t seen her all day. James announces that he took her to the throat specialist this morning, but the prognosis was not good, as apparently Feral’s claws did a lot of damage to her voice box, and the doctor said that while her larynx will heal, the scar tissue will probably be so widespread that she may never regain the use of her voice. James announces that Siryn took the news pretty hard and while he offered to keep her company, she made it clear she wanted to be alone.
Suddenly, the television goes on the fritz, ‘Hey’s what’s with the TV?’ someone calls out, while someone else remarks that static like that can only mean one thing - Jesse Bedlam is in the house. ‘Somebody call my name?’ Jesse “Bedlam” Aaronson asks as he stands in the kitchen, holding a few bags of groceries. Someone tells Jesse that he is interfering with their reception again, to which Jesse tells his teammates that he is sorry, he got distracted, and when he does, he loses control of the bio-electrical field that he generates. ‘Let me tell you, it’s a drag to have a power that’s always on’ Jesse tells his teammates as they all gather around the kitchen, with Bobby remarking that he was getting sick of the news anyway, while Domino asks Jesse if he is cooking again.
Bedlam replies that he thought he would grill some tuna up on the roof later, as he found a lemon aioli recipe he wants to try out. Proudstar tells Jesse that he doesn’t have to cook every night, to which Tabitha tells James to shut up, as they haven’t eaten this well since they were living in the Mansion and the Beast was doing the cooking. Aaronson tells his teammates that he doesn’t mind, reminding them that they have him a second chance after he stood by and let his brother and the Hellions turn them into techno-organic zombie slaves. ‘I’m just trying to pull my own weight around here’ he adds, while Proudstar tells Dani that it is too bad Cannonball is back in Kentucky visiting his mother, as he would be surprised at the change in Jesse.
Meltdown exclaims ‘Who knew such an annoying guy could be such an amazing cook?’ while Danielle asks Jesse if there are any more groceries in the car. Jesse replies that there is, but he met some old guy outside who is bringing them in. ‘He says he’s Theresa’s pop’ Jesse adds, when someone exclaims ‘He wasn’t lying. That’s Sean Cassidy, the Banshee!’. Sean smiles as he enters the kitchen, ‘Hello kids. Where do I put these?’ he asks, before James takes them from the former X-Man, who thanks James for calling him. He explains that when he got the message he took the next plane out of Logan International. James tells Banshee that he is glad he came, adding that he understands a lot has changed at the Massachusetts Academy since it began accepting non-mutant students.
‘Do you know everybody here?’ James asks. Sean looks around, ‘Aye, how could I forget a rogues gallery such as this one. Although Bobby, Tabitha and Danielle have grown since I first met them back when they were New Mutants’ Banshee exclaims. ‘Aren’t you forgetting someone, Sean?’ Domino asks. Banshee turns to her, and calling her Beatrice, tells her that she is as impatient as ever, but he is pleased to see she is keeping better company than when they first met. ‘I was just a naïve little girl then. I didn’t know any better’ Domino replies, to which Sean tells her that she was lots of things, but naïve was never one of them. ‘As I recall, ye put the fear of God in half the mercenaries in Madripoor’ Sean exclaims.
Banshee tells everyone that he would love to reminisce all night, but he did come to see how his daughter is holding up, and asks if she is around. As James and Jesse put away the groceries, James announces that she has been out all day, and that he is getting worried about her. He adds that he thought he would go check out some of her usual haunts, and tells Banshee that he is welcome to come.
Meanwhile, on Irving Street and 9th Avenue, after heading south through the Presidio and then through the park hoping the walk would clear her head, Siryn is now sitting in a café. The walk didn’t clear her head and she still feels lousy. Sipping a hot drink, Siryn decides that she cannot go back to the warehouse, for although everyone means well, and she knows the genuinely care, she is feeling sorry enough for herself as it is, and doesn’t need anyone else’s pity. Siryn’s mind wanders back to how everything has changed so much from the day Cable asked her to join X-Force - Shatterstar was still with the team, James was still Warpath, Tabitha was still Boomer and Sam insisted on wearing those silly aviator goggles. Siryn recalls that everyone was angrier then, everyone had a chip on her shoulder, and she knew she would have to prove herself to them.
But she never expected to find friends in the team - or someone who cared about her. Siryn recalls how she and James grew closer, behind the anger at his family’s death, she found a sensitive and passionate soul, who any girl would be crazy for, except when Siryn as when she saw him falling for her, she pushed him away, afraid that if she let him get closer, he would see through her façade and learn who messed up she really was.
Siryn looks around the café and thinks to herself that when she was younger she thought a normal life was the last thing she wanted, for school was too much work, she hungered to be free of the responsibility, and yet, somehow, she never chose the easy path, remembering how Cable informed her that Cannonball was joining the X-Men, and Cable asked her to take Cannonball’s place as deputy leader of X-Force, explaining to her that she would have to work twice as hard as the others because she is the one they will be depending on. ‘I am honored’ is what Siryn told Cable.
Siryn looks around and sees two people embrace: ‘Hannah, sweetie! When did you get back into town? I thought you moved to NYC?’ one asks. Hannah replies that it didn’t work out and that it is great to be back, as she has run into all her old friends today. Siryn then wonders if she worked harder at being a leader than she did at being a friend, for it was easier to have other people depend on her than to let herself depend on them. ‘And I liked the action’ she tells herself, thinking that Theresa Rourke was a scared little girl full of insecurities and nueroses, but as Siryn, she could shatter concrete and meet the Juggernaut head on. ‘In uniform, nothing frightened me’. Siryn covers her face, wondering what she is supposed to do without her voice. ‘What good am I to anyone?’ she asks herself.
‘Hi, how’s everybody doing tonight?’ someone asks as they take the microphone on the nearby stage. ‘Get off the stage, loser!’ someone calls out. ‘Love you too, Mom’ the person on the stage replies, before telling everyone in the café that, as they know, Monday is acoustic night at Killer Coffee, and asks them all to put their hands together for Eurydice. ‘Great. That’s all I need. Coffee house folk music’ Siryn tells herself, as Eurydice thanks everyone for coming. ‘And for those of you who just came in for a cup of joe thanks for staying’ she adds, before introducing herself as Eurydice and telling everyone that if they like what they hear, she has got CD’s for sale after her set. ‘I’d like to start out with an old one by Van Morrison’ she announces as she launches into song. Siryn watches, thinking that Eurydice has a voice like a vagabond angel, knowing and joyous at the same time. It’s so beautiful that it cuts Siryn like a knife. Theresa used to be able to sing like that, and unable to bear listening further, she rushes out of the café.
Meanwhile, on Van Ness Avenue and California Street, ‘Oh, man, look at the pinstripes out that suit. That’s got to be vintage 1940’s. I gotta try it on!’ Sunspot exclaims as he and Meltdown pass a shop window. Tabitha tells Bobby that they are looking for Theresa, and that she is not the shop-till-you-drop kind of girl, but the two of them found a bunch of cool clothes here when they first moved to the city. Bobby tells Tabitha that this is pointless, for if Siryn wanted to be found, she would have called, or in her case left a note. ‘Anyway, she’s a big girl. If she wants to deal with her injury in solitude, we should let her’ he exclaims. ‘Earth to Bobby. She got her throat sliced open in battle. She’s still in shock. Anyone with half an ounce of empathy would know she shouldn’t be alone right now’ Tabitha snaps back.
‘Are you saying I don’t have any empathy? That’s harsh!’ Sunspot exclaims, to which Meltdown pulls away from him, telling him to forget she said anything, as she doesn’t want another fight. ‘What do you want from me, Tabitha? I certainly don’t know anymore’ Sunspot exclaims, to which Meltdown points out that they are grinding gears trying to be a couple, and suggests they end if now before they completely destroy their friendship. ‘You’re breaking up with me? Are you seeing someone else?’ Sunspot asks. ‘How can you even ask me that? You really don’t get it, do you?’ Tabitha exclaims, before telling Bobby that she will see him back at the warehouse as she storms away from him.
‘Fine’ Bobby mutters as he watches Tabitha leave. ‘Fine. Whatever’ he shouts, unaware that he is being watched by two men in suits, one of whom remarks that it looks like DaCosta has hit some turbulence with his lady friend. ‘C’mon, remember how you were at his age. Young, dumb and -’ one of the men tells the other, who replies that nothing changed when it comes to women, before asking if they are going to pick up the girl. ‘No, we don’t have jurisdiction. It’s the kid we want. Let’s go’ the first replies, before they approach Sunspot, ‘Roberto DaCosta?’ one of them asks. ‘I don’t have any change’ Bobby calls back, ‘Funny’ one of the men remarks, introducing himself as Agent Sanchez, and motions to his colleague, Agent Fulton, announcing that they are from the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Agent Sanchez remarks that Bobby is a Brazilian national in this country illegally. ‘You’re going to have to come with us’ he tells him. ‘Immigration? This is a joke’ Sunspot exclaims, asking the agents if they have any idea who they are missing with. ‘Do you know what I could do to you?’ he asks, thinking of using his powers on them. ‘You don’t want to threaten us, Sir’ Agent Fulton warns Bobby, who declares that they aren’t worth it, and announces he will go freely, confident his lawyers will have him out in a couple of hours. ‘Too bad Tab isn’t here to see my remarkable display of restraint’ Bobby tells himself.
Meanwhile, at Fort Funston, Danielle and James stand with Banshee, while James announces that he and Theresa came out here a lot, as she said it reminded her of the Irish coastline, which is why he thought she might be here, as it is a good place to think. ‘Her mother always loved the ocean’ Banshee reveals. Dani remarks that it is hard for her to imagine what Theresa is going through. DanI adds that her powers have gone though a lot of changes in the last few years - from being able to create illusions, to tapping into some strange quantum energy as she does now, for even though the changes have been rough, the thought of losing her powers completely is far more frightening. Banshee reveals that hr lost his voice once, when he was first with the X-Men. ‘It was hard to swallow. It took me a few rough months, until I made peace with me loss’ Sean explains.
‘But your power returned eventually?’ James remarks, but Sean replies that he didn’t know that back then, and adds that he wouldn’t have survived without the support of Moira MacTaggert and the other X-Men. ‘I’m so glad Theresa has all of ye’ Sean exclaims. ‘She’s lucky she has you too’ DanI tells him, but Sean replies that he wishes that were true, however he doesn’t expect that he will be the one she turns too, ‘I’ve not exactly been there for her’ he reveals, as he launches into a brief history:
Illustrative flashbacks, narrated by Banshee
Sean reveals that he met Siryn’s mother shortly after he begun working as an undercover agent for Interpol. ‘I loved Maeve fiercely, but I loved the excitement of my job too, and spent far too much time on assignment, away from her’. Banshee remarks that he was too young to know then how precious every moment you have with your loved ones is, because you never know when they’ll be gone. ‘Maeve died on summer in an IRA bomb blast that took out a street in Dublin’ Sean reveals, adding that after her death, he threw himself into his work, playing the villain as part of his undercover role, which years later led him to take on the X-Men as foes. ‘They were younger than you are now then’.
Sean continues, revealing that what he didn’t know was that when he last saw Maeve, she was pregnant, and had given birth to a beautiful daughter while he was away, and somehow Theresa just an infant, survived the blast, and was found in the rubble by Sean’s cousin Tom - Black Tom - who hated Sean for taking Maeve from him, even though his love for her was never reciprocated. Black Tom then raised Siryn on his own in Cassidy Keep, letting both the young Theresa and Sean believe that Theresa was his own daughter, so the years went by and he never knew the girl he thought was Tom’s daughter was his own. And when the truth finally came out, as all secrets do, it was hard for both of them, so their relationship is built on unsteady ground. Sean explains that he thinks a lot of Siryn’s troubles stem from him not being there for her, and he thinks that contributed heavily to her drinking problem.
‘I can’t imagine what it would be like to discover that your real father never knew you existed for years’ James or Dani exclaims after listening to Banshee’s story, while the former X-Man looks on, deep in thought.
Shortly, at Twenty Fourth and Mission, Siryn enters a liquor store, though she knows it is a bad idea. ‘I don’t know why I’m doing this’ she tells herself as she puts a bottle of alcohol on the counter. The clerk asks her if that is all for her, and remarks that she looks pretty young, so wants to see her driver’s license. Siryn hands over her license and thinks that she was never this nervous back when her ID was as fake as the wrestling matches on cable, while the store clerk tells her that she is legal, barely, but that means they can do business. ‘That’ll be eight fifty’ he tells her.
Siryn leaves the store, her hands shaking, her throat hurting like Hades, all she wants is something to calm her nerves, vowing not to let it get out of control this time, before her mind wanders back to when she started drinking in boarding school, acting out the hurt and anger she felt at being sent away by Black Tom, who felt having a teenage daughter would be a liability to his career as an international jewel thief. It wasn’t until her mutant power manifested that Black Tom realizes how valuable his adopted daughter could be, and together they stole from some of the finest houses in Europe. At first, Siryn loved the excitement and the danger. And felt closer to Tom than she ever had.
Siryn remembers one occasion where Tom told her to come down out of the sky, as they nicked a fortune and deserve to celebrate. He always drank after a successful heist, and insisted that Theresa join him, unaware that she had graduated to hard liquor during her time at Catholic school. ‘May ye get to Heaven before the Devil knows you’re dead’ Black Tom exclaimed as he and Theresa klinked their glasses together. In her heart, Siryn had doubts about the criminal life she was leading, but the drinking helped silence her conscience. ‘Ahhh, this is the life, ennit?’ Tom remarked, and Siryn knows now she was foolish enough to think that it was.
Meanwhile, on the corner of Kearny & Columbus, Domino enters a store with a photo of Siryn and a man tells her that she has come into the shop many times, and as he recalls she was interested in books on military strategy. ‘Well, a girl’s gotta be prepared for anything’ Domino remarks, before asking if she has been in today. The man replies that she hasn’t, as it has been a slow day and he would remember if she had. Domino thanks the man, before leaving, although the man calls out to her that he likes her tattoo. ‘It’s very striking in its simplicity’ he remarks. ‘That’s what I was going for’ Domino replies.
Walking along the street, Domino realizes a man in a suit is following her, and that it is the one she caught trailing her earlier this afternoon. ‘Looks like he’s making his play’ she tells herself as the man reaches out to put a hand on her arm, ‘Mrs Winters? Tamara Winters?’ he calls out. ‘You’ve mistaken me for someone else’ Domino remarks, turning around. ‘I know you go by a lot of different names’ the man tells her, asking if she would prefer he calls her Domino. Suddenly, Domino slams him up against a wall, ‘You’re awfully familiar for a guy I don’t know’ she exclaims, demanding to know who he is.
After recovering from the shock, the man introduces himself as Napoleon Sanders, a special crimes Detective out of Washington DC. ‘I’m going to reach into my pocket very slowly and pull out my identification’ he tells Domino, before holding it up in front of her. ‘You’re a long way from Washington, Detective. What do you want from me?’ Domino asks. The Detective reminds Domino that she took out three armed bank robbers in DC a couple of months ago, and then disappeared. ‘I don’t like loose ends. The bank manager said he knew you as Tamara Winter, but when I ran the background check - the only Tamara Winter I found was an eighty-seven year old retiree living in Florida’ the Detective exclaims.
Domino drops him to the ground as he reveals that he showed the robbery tape to an FBI agent who identified her Domino. ‘Look, I stopped a bunch of trigger-happy goons before they got some people hurt. Is that a crime?’ Domino asks. ‘Someone with a number of different names is usually hiding something. I got curious…’ Detective Sanders explains, but Domino tells him that she likes her privacy, and suggests he goes back to Washington. ‘Domino…’ the Detective begins. ‘Why are you looking at me like that -?’ Domino asks as she is engulfed by a blinding flash of light, and vanishes. ‘Dear Lord…’ Detective Sanders remarks.
On the corner of Guerro and 16th, Siryn sits in a bus stop. ‘One drink. Just for tonight’ she tells herself. ‘Just to ease the pain. So I don’t have to think anymore. Just to make the hurt go away’ she tells herself as she puts her hand to the bottle lid.
Back at X-Force’s warehouse, James, Dani, Tabitha, Jesse and Sean stand on the roof, with Jesse tending to a barbeque, he asks if they didn’t find Theresa. ‘No luck. I hope she’s all right’ James replies. Danielle tells Sean that she is sorry they couldn’t find Theresa for him, but Sean replies that he has a couple of days before he has to be back at the Academy, and asks them to call him at his hotel when Siryn gets back. ‘I’m telling you, Jimmy, you go through something like that, you just need time alone’ Jesse tells James, who remarks that Jesse doesn’t know Theresa very well. ‘Theresa’s never been good at being alone’ he remarks.
‘And tell her that I love her’ Banshee exclaims, before leaping off the warehouse roof and flying off into the night. Tabitha remarks that she wishes her father was that cool, before asking her friends if she told them that her father has joined that nutty Triune movement. ‘Can’t see a guy like Sean Cassidy getting into some flaky new age cult like that’ Tabitha adds as she watches Sean fly away. James tells Dani that he cannot shake a feeling that Theresa is in trouble, to which Dani tells him that if she is, they have to trust she will be able to get out of it.
Jesse tells the others that their midnight barbeque feast is officially ready to begin. ‘We know Theresa’s out, but what about Bobby and Dom? Don’t tell me they’ve bailed on dinner, too’ Jesse remarks. Meltdown replies that she isn’t sure about Domino, but that Bobby is not coming back for a while. ‘I kinda…um…broke up with him earlier. I don’t think he took it too well’ Tabitha announces.
Meanwhile, on Market and Van Ness, ‘What am I doing here?’ Theresa wonders as she enters a building and walks up a spiral staircase. ‘I can’t tell anybody what I’m going through. And I don’t expect anyone to understand’ she thinks to herself, before opening the door to a room, ‘No, that’s not true. I don’t have any place to turn. If I don’t reach out tonight…I might as well have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge’. Standing at the back of a group of people, Siryn watches as one of the exclaims ‘Hi, glad you all could make it for this after hours gathering. My name’s Gavin, and I’m an alcoholic…’. Siryn watches, ‘My name’s Theresa…’ she thinks to herself.
Later, everyone is asleep when Theresa finally comes back to the warehouse. Everyone except James that is. Theresa is certain he woke up the moment she put her key in the front door lock. ‘Theresa?’ James calls out as Siryn enters his bedroom. James sits up in bed while Siryn stands before him, ‘Hey, I was worried about you. Everybody was’ James exclaims, adding that everybody was worried about her, and informing her that her Dad was here too. ‘Are you okay?’ he asks. Theresa has so much to say to James, but with no way to say it, she hands him a letter that she had hastily scrawled. It’s the best she can give him.
I almost made a fatal mistake this evening.
Almost being the operative word.
When I started drinking it was because I felt alone and unloved…and the alcohol filled that void in my life.
But I’m stronger because of that. I need some time to figure out what I’m going to do now that my voice is gone.
I have a distant aunt who has a ranch out in the high desert. She told me to look her up when I got settled, which is what I think I’m going to do.
I’ll write you when I get there.
Tonight, I was lost in a fog of despair, dangerously close to throwing two years of sobriety away…but then in a moment of clarity, I remembered that I have friends who love me, and who I know will stand by me.
Don’t worry about me. I’m going to get through this. I love you all.
Siryn stands at Proudstar’s side as he reads the letter closely. ‘I wish you’d reconsider. At least wait until the morning’ James tells Theresa as he walks her outside. They embrace as a cab pulls up. Siryn looks back at her best friend, before the cab drives off in the dead of the night, and James hangs his head as his best friend leaves….