The Hellfire Club – New York City. Several months ago…:
As she sits in booth at a strip club watching women dance, Selene ponders the purpose of the world. She believes all of its people exist only to serve and sustain her; their sole reason for being is to give their very lives to her. However, time and time again, these sheep—these pathetic cattle—fail her. She rolls her eyes at the memory of those who let her down. Sebastian Shaw and his Hellfire Club once promised her power and worshippers. He, Emma Frost and the rest of the Inner Circle swore they would provide her what she needed.
A scantily clad cocktail waitress interrupts Selene’s train of thought. Is she going to order something or not? Annoyed by the intrusion, Selene slides her fingers under the waitress’s chin and, with a mere gesture, begins draining her life force. The flesh sloughs off the waitress’s face as her eyes roll back in her head. Selene doubts she’ll be ordering anything.
Her mind returns to her disappointment in the Hellfire Club, whose members betrayed her. Like so many before them, they failed to deliver to Selene what they promised. Shaw further disappointed her by turning the club into something cheap and tawdry. Frost, however, was worse. She had children willing to kill for her—to die for her—but she lost her nerve to use them. Pathetic, Selene sneers.
As Selene continues deliberating on Emma Frost’s mistakes, she marches out of the Hellfire Club, now with a black cloak draped over her dark corset and boots. Despite her being a weak and pathetic coward, Selene did find wisdom in Frost’s initial actions; after all, her child army provided her with worshippers. Fortunately for Selene, she found one who had fallen from Frost’s brood—a boy just barely of age who was ripe with power. This boy was special, Selene thinks as she remembers their first encounter.
She recalls seeing him on a bench in the park, sitting by himself and clearly forlorn. Selene sensed something special within him; she perceived dark energy emanating from his body. There was death within him. Deciding to approach the boy, she disguised herself as a frail, old woman and asked if she could have a seat, claiming she was very tired.
Kevin Ford obliged. Dubbed “Wither” by the X-Men, Kevin had a unique gift, which his name evoked. However, the same people who gave him that name also implored him to suppress that gift. Still, Kevin longed to find someone who could understand the hunger deep inside of him—someone who would embrace his overwhelming need to kill.
As the disguised Selene walked with Wither, she listened to his story. Kevin explained how his father became his first victim, and that the sensation of withering him scared him—but he couldn’t stop. The X-Men—specifically Emma Frost—had found Wither shortly thereafter, and had taught him his unique gift was wrong. Regardless, Wither tried to be one of them, a wolf among the sheep. He had even fallen in love with one of his fellow students. The hunger, however, had remained. Worse, the girl Wither loved fell victim to it. Wither’s friends had driven him out of the school—and to Selene.
Selene believes she showed Wither the truth about himself. Recalling the night Wither drained the life from the police who attacked her, she believes she reminded Wither of what he always knew: that he was a natural born killer. He deserved to be loved for what he was, Selene thinks, fondly remembering their first kiss.
One month later…
A nude Wither stands on the balcony and stares out over the darkened city skyline. Selene calls to him, asking what thoughts consume him so. Only her, Wither says to his goddess. Of course, she says. Back inside the flat, she turns over in bed to face him. Deducing that he’s thinking about Laurie Collins again, Selene admits she is vaguely insulted. Wither continues looking out over the city. Two bite marks adorn the right side of his neck. He recalls how he once hurt her. The memory of her arm shriveling at his touch sears his brain. Selene merely smiles. She tells him to come; she knows exactly what he needs.
The two lovers get dressed and head out into the city. As they search for the night’s prey, Selene muses that she could use sorcery to make Wither forget. She doesn’t want that, though. She wants him to embrace what he is. She wants him to understand that Frost and her X-Men are to blame for his suffering, for casting him out and for suppressing his greatness.
They choose a pair of jubilant lovers finishing up a romantic, outdoor dinner. Selene and Wither follow them into a dark alley. It is Selene who makes the first move. With a wave of her hands, she entangles them in mystical bindings. The attractive young couple screams; they beg to be let go. Ignoring their pleas, Selene presents this gift to Wither and urges him to satiate his hunger pains.
At first, Wither refuses, claiming he can’t do it. Selene glares at him; yes he can, she says. Sheepishly approaching the couple, Wither looks them in their frightened eyes. They beg for mercy, claiming they will give him whatever they want. In Wither’s mind, however, their faces and forms shift into those of Wallflower and Elixir, his former peers from Xavier’s Institute. “Why did you hurt me, Kevin?” Laurie asks. The guilt-ridden Wither nearly breaks down at the site of her. However, Elixir leans over and plants a passionate kiss on her lips. He tells Wither not to worry; he fixed what Kevin did to her. He is now able to make Laurie happy in ways Kevin never could.
Enraged, Wither reaches out, grabs ‘Elixir’ by the throat and begins destroying his flesh. Elixir manages to speak Kevin’s first name before his flesh and teeth decompose. “You had this coming, Foley. You’ve always had this coming!” Wither says as Josh Foley’s face disintegrates.
Suddenly, Elixir’s face morphs back into that of the innocent lover. Wither realizes what he has just done and backs away. The dead man’s girlfriend, meanwhile, screams as her boyfriend dies—and then, it happens. Wither’s face changes from one of disgust to stern acceptance. He now sees the truth. Although he killed the man because he saw someone he hated, he sees the girl for what she is. Wither has no special hate for her, no cross to bear—but he kills her anyway. He gently presses his fingers to her cheek and reduces her to ash. He now understands this is who he is, and who he was always meant to be. Selene, smiling approvingly, declares that this is why she put him at her side.
“Thank you, my queen,” Wither says as the woman’s ashes drift out of his hand. Selene accepts his thanks and offers him a welcome in response. She orders him to come with her; now they must see who else they can help. After all, Selene’s circle must grow.
Many moons ago…
According to Selene, history is not written by those worthy of being remembered, as they are too busy making history to stop and share their tale with the inert masses of the world. In most cases—be it hero or villain—they don’t have the chance to tell their tale or hand off their reins of power to the next in line, as they have long since lost their lives in the endless pursuit of shaping the world.
Such is the case with Clarice Ferguson, a young mutant who lost her life long ago. Selene recalls what she knows of her tale. Tears streamed down the young mutant’s face as she realized what she had to do. Her friend Paige Guthrie urged her to reconsider, claiming that Clarice didn’t have the power to defeat their foe, the Phalanx entity Harvest. Clarice knew this wasn’t true, and claimed Paige knew it too. With that, she said goodbye.
Emma Frost had to restrain Paige as she tried to reach for her friend. Similarly, Banshee saw what Clarice intended to do and likewise begged her to reconsider, even as he grappled with Harvest. It was to no avail; Clarice reached out, touched her hand to Harvest’s face and activated her mutant powers. BLINK!Although she succeeded in fragmenting the creature and teleporting it away, she got caught in her own teleportation effect and began to disappear, piece by piece. Banshee desperately reached for her and begged her to hang on. His grip loosened, however, and Clarice vanished into the void. Her last words lingered in the ether. “I-I can’t feel anything,” she said as she disappeared from the realm of the living.
Nothing, however, is absolute.
A large freighter drifts over the ocean beneath a blanket of fog. Its passenger, Selene, orders it to stop. When Wither asks why, Selene claims she can feel her; she’s here. Not all stories worth being told have the expected beginning, middle and end, Selene states. Some stories, like my own, will never end—while others have yet to begin. She reaches out and holds her hand over a dimensional ripple. As she gently inserts her hand into the disturbance, she ponders that sometimes, those lives once thought lost to the world can be found once again. Selene suddenly withdraws her hand with a jerk. With it comes the screaming form of Clarice Ferguson, tethered to Selene by an ephemeral band of energy.
Clarice, her face crisscrossed by deep cuts, falls to the deck of the freighter. Her screaming continues unabated. “Ohnonononoohgodithurtsithurts it hurts!” she cries as her fragmented body attempts to heal itself. Selene reaches out to her and asks her to quiet down; she’s here to make her pain go away. With a mere touch, Clarice’s body reintegrates. The bloody lines disappear, leaving no scars or evidence other than smatterings on the floor. Clarice stares at her hand. She doesn’t understand; what just happened?
Crouching down, Selene tells her everything is going to be all right, now that she’s found her. Wide-eyed, Clarice stares at her savior; she recalls a monster, but she thinks she killed it. If that’s the case, then she did well, Selene says. When Clarice admits she doesn’t understand what happened, Selene, with a soft smile on her face, assures her all that matters is her safety.
Clarice stands up and clutches the ship’s rail. She asks Selene who she is and how she knows her name. After introducing herself, Selene claims she’s been seeking Clarice for a very long time. When Clarice asks how, Selene tells her she could hear her screams. Her agony echoed out from the realm between life and death and called out to her—but she was not the only one who heard her cries. Clarice asks what she means. “Emma Frost,” Selene answers. “She and her X-Men, the ones that left you behind. The ones that took your friends.” Clarice does remember a woman who was holding back Paige. Selene informs her that Frost is not only a mind-witch, but that she heard Clarice’s screams too. However, Frost said Clarice was too dangerous to save, leaving Selene to take it upon herself to rescue her from her unending torment.
Clarice tears up at this. Selene continues, telling Clarice she knows her pain runs deeper than flesh; she can feel it. She knows that Clarice looks over her life and believes she’s only caused pain to those she knows and loves. However, it’s not her fault; she was the one who was hurt. She was the one left behind to suffer. Selene is here to tell her she need not suffer any longer; the time has come to end her cycle of pain and betrayal. When Clarice asks how, Selene claims she can help her. She can teach her, just like she taught Kevin—but only if Clarice lets her.
Although she listens to this with her arms folded and doubt written across her face, Clarice looks to Selene, reaches out and willingly takes her hand. “Thank you, Clarice,” Selene says, grinning.
New Orleans. Several weeks later…
A man in a plaid shirt parks his truck outside his bayou mansion and walks up to the doorstep. He opens the door to the darkened mansion. To his surprise, a voice calls out to him from the darkness, telling him he has a beautiful home. Shocked, the man asks who is there. The same voice responds by telling him she desires this home.
A figure emerges from the shadows. Long, black hair drapes over the sides of her face, framing her cold, dead eyes. The frightened man tells her he doesn’t know who she is, but that she’d better get the hell out of his house before he hurts her. “I don’t think that will be necessary,” Selene says, “—do you, Clarice?” The pink-skinned Clarice emerges next to her master. Agreeing his threat was not necessary, she approaches the man and puts her hand to his neck. BLINK! Her power rips his body asunder, shattering it into geometric segments she shunts into the ether. Only smatterings of blood remain.
Hero. Villain. Both roles are given equal importance in human history, as they shape the mortal world that surrounds us, Selene thinks. But in the end, neither truly matter—as they are both simply pawns in a larger game. Selene congratulates her new protégé. No one will ever hurt her again, Selene tells her. Clarice takes comfort in this, smiling at what she just accomplished.
In the lush, green jungles of Sri Lanka, he waits. He hunts. He feeds. But mostly, Selene thinks, he waits. He waits to kill again.
The eyes of a butchered buck stare vacantly into the void while the life drains out of its neck. A blade continues ripping through its neck.
Elsewhere, a little girl in a simple white dress traverses the verdant landscape. Barefoot, she watches her steps carefully as she treads over the scattered bones of many slain animals.
This is what he knows, Selene tells herself. Even as a child, he knew his purpose. He saw the life within people, and wanted to take it away from them. To leave their bodies bloody, broken and drained.
The girl passes a tree that almost seems to sweat blood. As she passes, she runs her fingers through the thick, red stream oozing down its bark. Higher up in the tree, a dead man hangs, his stomach impaled by one of the tree’s thick branches. His tongue hangs out of his bloated face while his lifeless eyes look off into the distance.
The girl approaches a cabin buried deep within the woods. The sun hits her back as she nudges open the door and enters what appears to be a torture chamber. As she steps around the various hooks, traps and bones, the bloody floor stains her bare feet. So he waits, Selene muses. He waits to kill. And he knows. He knows he never has to wait long. The girl navigates her way through hanging slabs of meet. In a foreign tongue, she calls out to see if anyone is there.
“I am here,” a voice answers back. The girl turns around and beholds a tall man in a crimson robe that covers the majority of his face, save for his eyes. In one hand, he holds a crackling whip, and in the other, a bloodied hunting knife. “Now… why are you here?” Suvik Senyaka asks her. The girl begins offering an excuse about having lost her father, but Senyaka, interrupting, tells her not to insult him. He can feel what she is; he smells it on her. The girl glares at him angrily.
Continuing, Senyaka tells her if she wishes for him to kill for her, he will. She need not trick or convince him; he will do it. He has done so for Magneto, Exodus and Sinister. But this girl, he says—she is different. He can smell the death on her, and he likes it.
Ending the charade, the girl drops the illusion and transforms into Selene. Senyaka lowers his head as he beholds her powerful presence. “My queen,” he asks, “who would you like me to kill?”
Selene gives him an icy glare and answers with a single word: everyone.
The Ivy. Beverly Hills, California. Circa the mutant migration to San Francisco…
According to Selene, there are precious few who have glimpsed their true potential—experienced a moment that defines who they are meant to be. For some, she says, that knowledge creates great feat and the need to deny the truth. They try to act normal and blend in with the weak, hoping and believing that if they play the part of humans long enough, perhaps they can become humans once again. Destiny, however, will neither be ignored nor forgotten. The faces of those killed—those who must give their lives to ensure the chosen find their destined path—will pursue them until their journey is completed.
Like most great beings, Lois London was born through lesser creatures. It is the way of evolution, Selene believes. Sadly, those who play a role in the birth of greatness often fear and envy their offspring.
The waiter catches Lois London unawares—shocks her, even. She isn’t yet ready to order. To Lois’s horror, when the waiter asks if she needs more time, she sees instead the figure of the homeless man she accidentally killed all those years ago. She hears the vagrant asking why she killed him. Terrified, Lois’s eyes grow wide and she begins muttering an excuse for her crime.
Her father, Nick Brown, reaches over and asks if everything is okay. Is there something she needs? Money? Anything? Gathering her senses, Lois claims everything is fine. She furrows her brow, presses her fingers to her forehead and narrows her eyes, as if suffering from a headache. She insists she’s fine.
Selene ponders about how creatures who give birth to greatness often disguise their contempt of their superior offspring as compassion in a vain attempt to possess what was never meant to be theirs. The weak can control the extraordinary when love is used as a weapon, Selene states. Love is the one need shared by both mortal and immortal alike.
Back at the lunch table, Mr. Brown pleads with his daughter to just talk to him. What is she going through? Whatever it is, he believes he can help. After all, he is just so grateful she stayed with him after everything he forced her and her mother to endure. Reaching over to take her hand, he says he hopes one day she can forgive him.
In the end, Selene declares, truth will not be sacrificed to emotion—or evaded.
Lois gets up from the table and slings her bag over her shoulder. She isn’t very hungry, she says. She asks the waiter if he can validate her parking and leaves.
The Plaza Apartments. Los Angeles, California…
Selene does not blame Mortis for her struggle. After all, she was born into a broken home consumed by petty, mortal strife. Selene, on the other hand, was worshipped from birth by an ancient people who made every sacrifice to ensure her survival. Whereas Selene has only ever known an existence of enormous purpose and meaning, Lois has been taught to despise her unique gifts and forced to remain in the shadow of her lesser sibling, Dazzler. A fair-haired child of light, Dazzler was accepted by all because she posed no threat to anyone. In time, Selene believes, all things change.
As the sun sets over Los Angeles, Lois changes into her night clothes and watches TV by herself in her apartment. As she flips through channels, she stumbles upon a breaking news story coming out of San Francisco: the mutant outlaws known as the X-Men have declared the city their new home. The news reporter—interviewing Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Dazzler—states that mutants from all over the world are flocking to the city by the bay, creating a mutant subculture in an already diverse town. The presence of one particular mutant on the screen catches Lois’s attention. “Alison,” she mutters as she glimpses her sister’s beaming face. “So beautiful… ‘like an angel’, daddy always said. God, I hate you.”
Sorenson and Brown, Attorneys at Law. Century City, Los Angeles…
Lois takes the elevator to her father’s office. As the doors slide open, she nervously brushes her hair back behind her ear and peers inside the lobby. She came as fast as she could, she tells Claudia, the secretary. Claudia apologizes, but she had no idea who else to call or what else to do. It’s okay, Lois tells her. She opens the door to her father’s office. Claudia begs her to be careful.
When Lois enters, she finds her father sitting at his desk, clearly drunk. “You. The monster,” he says to Lois. “Where’s Alison?!” Lois tries to pacify her father, but he will not have it. How dare she call him father! Does she know what it’s like to be the father to a killer? She has no idea how it feels always having to cover for her—having to live with what she’s done—and what she is. She killed a man! She kills everything she touches!
Attempting to interject, Lois reminds him she can’t control her touch. Nick tells her to shut up and slaps her across the face. Lois screams as she falls to the floor. The beating reminds her of an earlier time in her life, when she would watch helplessly as her father beat her mother.
Continuing his verbal abuse, Nick calls Lois a wicked, wretched creature and blames her for destroying his family. Lois takes umbrage at this; how could she have possibly destroyed the family when he had already ripped it apart? He destroyed everything, she shouts—everything! As if by reflex, Lois reaches up, touches her hand to her father’s chest and stops his heart. Nick Brown screams and falls to the floor with a deadening thud.
The eerie glow in Lois’s eyes is overshadowed only by the radiant aura emanating from her hand. She quickly realizes what she has done, to her horror. With his final words, Nick Brown tells his daughter her loves her. A moment later, he is gone.
Falling to her knees, Lois screams and holds the lifeless body of Nick Brown. She cannot believe what she has done. In a panic, she places her hands to her own head and tries to end her own life. She finds her powers do not affect her.
Suddenly, Claudia—now wearing a familiar black choker—calls out to Lois and enters the room. What happened? Lois says he attacked her then admits what she did. She killed him—she killed them all! He told her she was a killer and monster, she exclaims. Claudia, taking the worried girl by the arm, tells her they need to leave immediately. Smiling, she assures Lois she can help her, but only if she agrees to come. Claudia takes on last satisfied look at the body of Nick Brown and leads Lois out of the room.
Stunned, Lois repeats to herself what just happened: she killed her father. It’s not her fault, Claudia assures her. Ignoring her, Lois calls herself a monster. “My touch…what I did…”
“…is what you were born to do,” Claudia interjects. Lois looks over at her; her father loved her and was trying to help her. Claudia, however, doesn’t believe Nick was even fit to touch his daughter. “For what he did, he deserved nothing less than death. But I do not believe it was him you were scared of. No. He hurt you. He hurt your mother. You know this,” the blonde-haired woman says while her bright clothes slowly darken.
Bowing her head, Lois admits she was not only scared, but that she wanted to kill her father for what he did. Of course she did, Claudia says—and why wouldn’t she? “That is what you are,” Selene says. “Death.”
Lois remembers how her sister once said she would help her to keep from killing again. She was so scared. Claudia, finally revealed as Selene, asks if she is scared now. “No.” Selene asks her how it then feels to do what comes naturally. “…good,” Mortis says with a wicked grin on her face.
Later, over another dinner at The Ivy, Selene tells her new protégé that humans exist to serve and entertain them—to please, live or die at their whim. This is the life she will have now, she informs Mortis. For one final time, she asks Mortis why she exists.
Mortis lifts her wine glass and looks around the fancy, outdoor restaurant. The other patrons lie dead and slumped over their tables, their lifeless eyes casting final gazes over spilt wine and unfinished meals. Mortis smiles and answers Selene’s question about why she exists. “To kill,” she says.
Outside Rome. During the fall of the Empire…
Selene recalls how, in one moment of weakness, she was betrayed by a man once known as Eliphas. For that betrayal, she cursed him, making him into something less than human.
A grave digger in a Roman cemetery notices something strange as he places his spade into the ground. Before he has time to fully react, a decrepit hand shoots out of the grave and grabs his wrist. Moments later, the man is dead, his neck devoured by the monstrous Eli Bard.
I cursed him to walk the earth forever, Selene muses, but forever denying him the one thing he truly loved…
“SELENE!!” Eliphas screams once he satisfies his hunger. He looks toward the sky. His once-human eyes glow entirely yellow, while the bridge of what used to be his nose flattens out into his lipless mouth and blood-soaked fangs.
Eliphas was not always so pathetic, Selene recalls. Once a great warrior, his glories on the battlefield faded, threatening his position in society. Still, he had remained a nobleman in Rome, which granted him access to the entire city. He was beyond suspicion; his seduction was child’s play. But, for all is desire to see those he hated destroyed, one moment of conscience destroyed everything Selene had worked toward in Rome. Eliphas would soon learn what his conscience had cost him.
Making the trek back to his grave from his resting place, Eliphas walks up to the steps of the manor he once called home. He crashes through the heavy, wooden door, seemingly by way of inhuman strength. Inside, he finds an unfamiliar noble family. He asks who they are, and what they are doing in his house. Answering back to the intruder, the head of the family calls Eliphas mad, as their family has occupied this home for generations. Inconsolable, Eliphas demands to know where he can find his wife, Aurelia.
An elder woman in the house informs him that their Lady Aurelia lived over seven hundred years ago, much to Eli’s bewilderment. How could that be possible? He turns and examines a portrait on the mantle and instantly recognizes Aurelia’s smiling face. The infant in the portrait, he does not recognize. He asks for the child’s name. The elder woman informs Eliphas that Aurelia named the baby after his father, Mascius. They are their descendants, the woman explains.
Eliphas sneers. His face quickly transforms from one of a handsome man into the hideous, horrifying scowl of a blood-sucking demon. “You spawned from that whore?” he asks. The terrified family throws up their arms at the site of Eliphas’s face. As they begin begging for their gods to save them, Eliphas begins his slaughter, gleefully informing them they can join Aurelia in death.
Screams and flames emanate from inside the home as Eliphas puts an end to his former wife’s bloodline. He marches away from the burning palace, his back lit by flames, and his eyes by pure hatred.
It amused Selene to watch Eliphas drown his conscience in blood—to see him feed off of others in death as much as he did in life. She would not learn until much later, however, that in taking Eliphas’s life from him, she had made him a desperate man—and desperation makes a man dangerous.
Selene’s curse was meant to be cruel. As his love for his fellow humans wanes, the love Eliphas feels for Selene grew. Although he knows to seek out Selene means death, he can not help but try to please his goddess—and he is one of the few who knew what she truly desires. She remembers when she first spoke to him her request for every soul in Rome. She had plainly stated that she required only godhood. She had told Eliphas that if he were to help her achieve this, she would love him forever. He helped. He took her spirit blade and, using the blood from his own hand, painted five arcane sigils throughout Rome’s coliseum in preparation for the ultimate sacrifice.
Eliphas, meanwhile, realizes what he needs to do to regain Selene’s favor: reap souls.
Eliphas besets upon Rome a plague. He brings supernatural death to the city, already in decline, all to mask his search for what he needs. Rome’s treasures are great in number, though, and finding one lone object among them all—after having been lost for 700 years, no less—seems impossible. Eliphas, however, is a desperate man. He eventually finds the blade in one of Rome’s many chambers.
To reap so many souls required a spell—one that demanded flesh and blood. According to Selene, it needs blood of the servant and flesh of the master. To fulfill this task, Selene had crafted a dagger from the bones of her mother. It is for this sacred item that Eliphas searches. He believes if he can provide Selene with a sacrifice of enough souls to make her a god, then she might love him again. Eliphas eventually finds the souls she requires among the Purifiers—souls as decadent and corrupt as those Selene encountered in Rome.
However, he also finds something else—something not of this world. Upon discovering Magus, the prized possession the Purifiers had dug up from the bottom of the ocean, Eliphas—at this point calling himself Eli Bard—plunges his arm into the creature and harnesses its power for himself. He then travels to the Apache cemetery in New Mexico and, while attempting to resurrect its dead, encounters their protective totems. Eliphas loses the spirit blade while battling their bear totem. In bringing Selene what she wants, he loses sight of that which she needs.
Since the moment Eli betrayed me, my love for him was replaced by immortal hate, Selene thinks. Eliphas approaches her one day at her home in New Orleans. After pitting her devoted Inner Circle at him, however, Eli asks her to stop for just a moment. She misunderstands, he says. His companions, Caliban and Thunderbird, are not his offerings. Eli explains that, in life, the dead mutant Caliban could track any mutant on the planet. In death, he could find all those lost to the world. “It is those mutants—their powers—and their souls that I offer to you,” Eliphas states while bowing his head.
This gave Selene pause. She smiles and reconsiders her feelings for him; perhaps their journey together has not yet reached its end. Which begs the question, she concludes—once love has lost its bloom, can it be born again? We shall see.