This is the site of Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, secretly founded by the telepath Charles Xavier for the training and education of mutants, that branch of humanity born with an anomaly in their genetic structure that gives them super human powers. The school was recently destroyed, and its mutant residents are now, supposedly, scattered to the four corners of the Earth. And yet, floating over the rubble, a mysterious mutant has arrived - a traveler out of time - a voyager with a purpose…. ‘Rubble! It’s all rubble now!’ the adult Franklin Richards gasps. Franklin recalls that he was happy here, that he learned so much. But such destruction - ‘It’ doesn’t have to be like this. It isn’t right’ he exclaims.
Franklin Richards has always had power aplenty, but for years it had been stifled, locked away - only now it is released. He looks at the here-and-now and remembers his adolescence - when mutants were hounded but not yet hunted to extinction. Those bad times came later. Back then he had the headlong optimism of youth. He believed that he would live forever, And, as memory overtakes this lonely young man, reality answers the pattern in his mind’s eye, and the school is restored - not as it was - but as it will be. Now, standing before the adult Franklin, the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. Anti-mutant graffiti lines the concrete fence which now sports a laser around the top of it. Turrets are attached to parts of the institute itself for defense, while the buildings look like they have sustained damage from battle.
Franklin walks up to the door, ‘There’ he decides, and in an instant, his jumpsuit is replaced by the present-day standard blue and gold X-Men uniform. ‘That’s better’ he remarks. But as he opens the front door, his costume changes once more - still blue and gold, but armed with all sorts of pouches and a utility belt - quite futuristic….
Elsewhere, from his secret complex at a nexus where the present and the future meet - Ahab, master of the Hounds, a mutant hunter sent from the future, surveys a projection map of lower New York state, as it was before the Sentinel robots wrested control of the United States from humanity, and brutally crushed all mutant resistance. He is the guardian, placed there by the master Sentinel, to prevent any mutant time travelers from escaping into the past. ‘Again, he has appeared. Little Franklin Richards…little no longer. This time he is in Westchester…at the late Professor Xavier’s mutant school house!” Ahab muses as he examines the map.
Ahab turns to a muscular Hound, armed with weapons, and several missile drones, and declares ‘How is he doing it? When I ran him to ground, he had no powers to set him aside from normal humanity. Only a vast unrealized potential…certainly he was no time traveler, and my masters were certain they had killed him. And yet he is alive…with all his enormous potential fulfilled!’ Ahab shouts. ‘Why here? Why now? What has happened to release his power…now he’s too dangerous to be allowed to live!’ Ahab exclaims, ordering his Hound to go after Franklin, to take the scouts and go to Westchester, to Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. ‘Hunt down young Franklin Richards…and destroy him!’
At that moment, in the sub-sub-basement of Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, is the Danger Room, where the students of this strange academy, the New Mutants, hone their more-than-human powers in mock battles against creatures seemingly from another world. ‘Self is zapped. Robot has drained Self’s life-force. He must shrink to conserve energy’ the mutant alien Warlock exclaims, adding that it works for friend-Mario. Rictor turns to his teammate, who shrinks down and asks ’Mario…as in Brothers? That’s Nintendo, Warlock. You’re talking about a stupid game!’, to which Warlock reminds Rictor that he himself has said that the Danger Room is merely a stupid game.
‘If it is, Warlock, nobody’s told this robot…and he’s gunning for your butt!’ Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta exclaims as he uses his strength to stop a round projectile from one of the robots they are battling. Sunspot calls out that it is stronger than it looks and is giving him some trouble. ‘That’s my cue. One time-bomb coming up’ Tabitha “Boom-Boom” Smith shouts as she throws a plasma blast at the projectile Sunspot is struggling against, causing it to shatter. But suddenly, Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair alerts Boom-Boom to the steam-roller which is fast approaching her. Rictor gets Wolfsbane out of the way, and stands alongside Boom-Boom as he uses his vibra-power to stop the steam-roller - only it crashes into the robot behind it, and they both begin to topple towards Rictor and Boom-Boom. ‘I have you!’ Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie exclaims as he blasts down, destroying the two robots as he collects his teammates and pulls them to safety, adding that it looks like that was the last of them.
The New Mutants gather together ‘Dig it, guys! We trashed every mechanical monster in sight!’ Sunspot announces, smiling, while Boom-Boom points out that everything is fading. She remarks that she doesn’t think she will ever get used to the way the environments are so real when they are involved in them, and then, just evaporate when the exercise is over. Wolfsbane explains to Boom-Boom that the Danger Room is built with alien technology. Rahne adds that it is almost like witchcraft, so it doesn’t bear thinking about too closely. Sunspot calls out to the control room: ‘You, Cable! Are we New Mutants the best…or what?’ he asks.
Cable replies that they succeeded admirably, but that borrowing from Warlock the language of Nintendo, ‘…that was only level one of the “first world”!’ Cable replies, telling his charges that although it worked out this time, Rictor might want to consider his surroundings before using his newly augmented power so forcefully. ‘Care to give level two a try?’ Cable asks. Rictor shakes a fist at Cable and boasts that they can take anything he and this overgrown playroom can throw at them, one-legged with their hands tied behind their backs. ‘No way’ Boom-Boom mutters, to which Cannonball tells Rictor that Cable is not out to get them, it is just practice, nothing personal. ‘It is with me’ Rictor thinks to himself.
But before tensions can rise any further, a blinding flash of light and stench of brimstone fills the room and suddenly, six mysterious strangers appear - one of whom is the adult Franklin Richards, still in a futuristic X-Men outfit, as are the others. ‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’ a large dark-skinned man with some sort of staff asks. A blue-skinned woman with long dark hair exclaims ‘Look at them! Some look like the New Mutants from the old photos…but the costumes are wrong…and some of them are dead’. A man armed with a sword and riding some sort of robotic steed calls his teammate Blue and tells her that they must be ghosts or shape shifters assuming their predecessors’ likeness. ‘Whatever they are, they don’t belong!’ Franklin declares.
The present-day New Mutants look concerned, and Boom-Boom calls out to Cable: ‘Hey, Cable, no fair! You should have warned us before initiating the next sequence!’, while Warlock gets Wolfsbane’s attention towards the blond boy that materialized in the room. ‘Do Self’s eyes deceive self…or is it -’ Warlock begins, while Rahne exclaims ‘It is, Lock! It’s Doug!’ and rushes over to him, ‘Doug, can it really be you? Alive…not really dead, at all?’ Rahne asks. ‘Good Lord, it is Doug!’ Sunspot exclaims, while Sam tells his best friend to chill out, reminding him that they saw Doug die, that it must be part of the program, and if so it is cruel and mean spirited. ‘What is this, Cable? Some kind of sick joke?’ Sam calls up to the control room. Cable replies that it is not a Danger Room scenario, ‘Whatever they are, they’re real!’ he warns them. Cable bangs a fist against the control room door as he tries to get down to aid his charges, but the door has been fused shut, despite the Danger Room’s safety systems. ‘Who could be powerful enough to have done this?’ Cable wonders.
Warlock smiles and exclaims that if Cable says that Self-Friend-Doug is real, then he is indeed alive. ‘I am alive, Warlock. But the name is Magus!’ comes the reply, as this strange version of Doug Ramsey displays his own techno-organic attributes. ‘Doug!’ Wolfsbane calls out. ‘Silence! You make me sick with your silly whimpering!’ Magus announces, smacking Wolfsbane to the ground. Rahne look horrified. ‘No! This canna be happening! Doug, why are you doing this? You loved me once…you were my friend!’
Rictor rushes over and picks Rahne up off the ground, telling her to snap out of it. ‘Whatever he is, he’s not the kid you knew!’ Rictor points out, while telling himself that he knew the team used to have a kid named Doug, and he knew he died, but he did not know Rahne was involved with him. Rahne drops out of Rictor’s arms, falling to the ground again, while Rictor tells himself that Rahne is so gentle and kind. ‘How can anyone who knows her…who loved her…ever try to hurt her?’ Suddenly, ‘Keep away from her, MONSTER!’ Rictor shouts as he unleashes his power on Magus, despite Wolfsbane’s plea not to. The vibrations emanating from Rictor’s clenched fists can topple buildings and shatter trees. The Magus is blown apart.
Rahne shifts into a wolfen form, and rushes over to the fallen Magus. Switching back to human, she crouches beside him, while Rictor tells her to get real, reminding her that he just tried to kill her. ‘I wasn’t able to protect you before, and now you can’t be the Magus. You can’t! Oh, Doug, please don’t die again!’ Rahne begs. Rictor is shocked and realizes that Rahne used to love Doug and has not gotten over him. ‘She blames herself for his death…now she’ll blame me. Except…that isn’t Doug. It can’t be’ Rictor thinks to himself, when suddenly, ‘Rictor! Behind you!’ Sunspot calls out, but too late, as the large dark-skinned man with the staff comes up behind Rictor and smashes it against the floor, knocking Rictor to the ground.
In an instant, Sunspot darts towards the enemy, ‘I don’t know who you are or where you come from, but the basic laws of physic still apply!’ Sunspot reasons as he punches the mysterious visitor. ‘The bigger you are…the harder you fall!’ Bobby declares as he smacks his foe over. Franklin turns to the red-haired girl with him and calls her Rachel as he tells her to use her telekinetic power to slam them against the wall. ‘HEY!’ Boom-Boom shouts as an instant later she and the other New Mutants are slammed into the wall.
‘Good girl! Hold them there!’ Franklin exclaims, but Rachel replies that they are heavy and she doesn’t know if she can. ‘Just do it’ Franklin orders, before turning to his teammate on the hovering device, addressing him as Blaze, he tells him that these intruders do not belong here, and asks him to take them out. ‘No way!’ Boom-Boom shouts. She remarks that the “Rachel kid” may have them at a disadvantage, but all she has to do is knock her out of commission - and that is exactly what Boom-Boom does as she throws a plasma time-bomb at her. Warlock thanks Boom-Boom, and with everyone free, they regroup, Blaze draws what seems to be a sword - which suddenly becomes a bow. However what he nocks is no ordinary arrow, but living energy.
‘No!’ Sam exclaims as he quickly begins blasting, making him invulnerable, the energy from Blaze ricochets against him, defecting the energy towards the control booth, which opens, and Cable is freed. ‘New Mutants! This way! Move!’ Cable shouts. Cannonball blasts upwards carrying Wolfsbane and Rictor, while Warlock transforms himself into a device that manages to bring Sunspot and Boom-Boom up with him. ‘Who are those jerks?’ Rictor asks, while Sunspot tells him that they don’t know, but they are going to find out. Boom-Boom tells Sam to be careful above, as there might be more of them.
But as the New Mutants burst into the control room, another surprise awaits. ‘What in Heaven -?’ an elderly red-haired man with a patch over his left eye asks. ‘This isn’t the way it was! The room’s filled with computers - real high tech stuff!’ one of the New Mutants exclaims as they notice their changed surroundings, before asking ‘And who’s the old geezer?’ when they see the mysterious man. The man looks equally shocked to see them: ‘Sam, lad! Berto! Rahne! What’re ye doing here - alive?’ he asks, before calling himself Sean. He remarks that they must be ghosts, the conjuring of an old man’s wistful dreams in these sorrowful days.
‘Sam, look at him. It canna be. But…Banshee -? Is that you?’ Rahne wonders. ’What’s happened to you, Sir?’ Sam asks, while Rictor asks his teammates if they know this guy, and suggest that maybe he can explain what is going on. ’Laddie, I’m as confused as -’ the older version of Banshee a.k.a. Sean Cassidy remarks, when suddenly, Franklin, Rachel, Blue, Magus, Blaze and the other member of the team teleport into the control booth. ‘There they are! Have they hurt you, Sir?’ Blue asks. ‘We’re here now, Banshee’ Franklin exclaims, while Magus asks if he shall kill these invaders for him.
Wolfsbane switches to her wolfen form as she prepares to go over to Magus, but Warlock warns her not to. ‘Self friend Doug must have caught Transmode Virus from Self…and transformed, till he is a horror like Self’s father!’ Warlock declares. Wolfsbane is in disbelief, and states that it must be some horrid joke. The older Banshee tells Magus to control himself, and declares that these “folks” must not be harmed. He informs Rahne that it is no joke, but the simple, tragic truth. ‘Poor Doug is not the same as in your time’ he remarks. Sean explains that he is dangerous and a bit mad, not to mention nigh-uncontrollable when the rage is upon him. ‘Like as not, lassie, he doesn’t remember ye at all’ Sean explains, while Franklin asks Banshee why he is protecting them. ‘They’re dangerous!’ he points out.
Suddenly, the adult Franklin splits himself into several beings. ‘That’s your mutant power? You’re a split personality? Doesn’t add much to your team when all of your duplicates are as big a jerk as the original!’ Rictor remarks, as the many Franklins begin attacking the New Mutants. ‘He’s duplicated himself all over the place at different ages…and he’s a lot stronger than he looks!’ Cannonball calls out, when suddenly, ‘New Mutants! For pity’s sake, stop this madness!’ Cable calls out. The older Banshee turns and exclaims ‘Eh-? Cable? What’re ye doing here man, I thought ye were in Madripoor!’ Cable tells Banshee to look again. ‘I’m not the Cable you think I am…I’m part of this little time-shift problem. As you probably realize now’.
Looking at various Fanklins in the room, Cable remarks that it is obvious they all need to work together as a team to sort this out. ‘Work what out…?’ one of the Franklins asks. ‘It’s our school!’ another exclaims. ‘You don’t belong here!’ a third tells the New Mutants. Wolfsbane announces that this does not make any sense ‘The way you act and talk and…split into other selves…it reminds me of…can it be…? You’re Franklin Richards, aren’t you’ Rahne realizes. ‘All these…people…are your dream-selves!’ ‘We’re no dreams…!’ one of the Franklins exclaim as they all merge back together. ‘We’re real. We’re me!’ ‘It’s you who are the dreams…the nightmares…’ Franklin shouts, while the older Banshee calls out to him, telling him that he has got to calm down.
‘Oh, snap! This is too much for me! What does he mean we don’t belong here? Why has everything changed?’ Boom-Boom demands. The older Banshee turns to Blue and asks her to teleport everyone upstairs. The young mutant does as asked, and everyone finds themselves in some sort of dormitory. ‘Hey - where are we? What is this?’ one of the New Mutants asks. ‘There shouldn’t be anything here…the school was destroyed!’ another exclaims, while Rictor remarks that this is not the X-Mansion, but some sort of barracks. ‘Nothing is changed, fools! All is as it should be, save your presence!’ Magus exclaims. Franklin agrees, and points out the window to a smog-covered landscape with nuclear power plants in the background. ‘Is that your world?’ Franklin asks. ‘Or is it mine? Now who is the dream self, and who the reality?’
Warlock calls out to his teammates, informing them that the future still has television. ‘Bigger…brighter than ever!’ he declares as he switches it on: ‘Jimmy Carter, one of the observers on last moth’s historic election in which strong man, Daniel Ortega was defeated, suggests that…’ is heard from the TV. ‘Self-friends - how is that what is shown on news in future…is what is happening on Earth right now?’ Warlock asks. Rictor exclaims that Warlock is right, and declares that this future garbage must be an illusion or trick. ‘Get yourselves some other chumps, bucko, ‘cause us New Mutants aren’t falling for it!’ Rictor declares. He adds that he thinks they are the illusions. ‘You and your buddies are the flesh and blood fragments of your own imaginations!’ he adds.
Franklin gasps, ‘No! You…you’re wrong! Banshee and the others are real…we are real. I know we are!’ Franklin exclaims, before turning to Banshee and telling him that he will make them go away forever. ‘We’ll be safe then’ he adds. But the older Banshee tells Franklin that he must do no such thing, as they are friends and he must not harm them. Rachel tells Franklin that Banshee is right. ‘You know how tour father would feel if you used your power like that. He might even make you leave here…go home…away from all of us’ she adds.
Suddenly, the older Banshee and the strange beings begin to vanish. ‘No! I won’t go! We’re happy here! You’re my real family! Please…stay with me…come back…!’ Franklin pleads - but they have all vanished, and he cowers in the rubble of the Institute, which resumes its true present-day state. Suddenly, Franklin gets to his feet, ‘Now see what you’ve done! Everything was right! I was home…with my friends…and you’ve driven them all away!’ he shouts, as he begins to glow. Rictor pulls Sam down to safety, ‘He’s glowing white hot! He’s gonna blow!’ Rictor warns.
After Franklin vanishes, the New Mutants look at the smouldering area left in his wake. ‘Wow! That was the strangest thing that ever happened to me. It’s as if we were talking to a ghost who wouldn’t accept dying’ Sunspot exclaims. Wolfsbane agrees, adding that it was as if they stumbled into someone else’s dream - or memory, where Doug was alive, and they were dead. ‘Rictor points out that the ground is still glowing where Franklin appeared. ‘Something very strange is going on here’ he declares.
Suddenly, from out of the sky, a hovercraft appears. At the helm of the Fantasti-car is Susan Storm Richards a.k.a. the Invisible Woman, while her husband Mr Fantastic a.k.a. Reed Richards monitors an energy tracking device of his own invention, as he holds his young son, Franklin in his arms. ‘We’ve lost him! The adult Franklin was here…seconds ago. But now…he’s gone!’ Reed announces.
They are accompanied by the present-day Sean “Banshee” Cassidy, of the X-Men, who had an encounter with the time-traveler sometime earlier. ‘Look, darling, down below! The New Mutants and - who?’ Sue asks, referring to Cable. The Fantasti-car lands, and Reed introduces himself to Cable, explaining that they have come tracking a being with incredible power. ‘They call me Cable, Dr Richards. I lead the New Mutants now’ Cable replies, explaining that they had an altercation with a very powerful time traveler, who was angry and confused, and painted a disturbing portrait of the future. Looking at young Franklin, Cable informs Reed that one of the New Mutants recognized the time-traveler as Reed’s son!
The New Mutants rush over to Banshee. ‘Self-friend Banshee!’ Warlock exclaims. ‘How wonderful to see you!’ Rahne declares as she wraps her arms around Sean. ‘Young again’ Bobby adds. ‘And in one piece!’ Sam exclaims. ‘Will be me adventures as an X-Man that’s got ye concerned? Exciting they are, laddiebuck, but I remain sound - at least so far’ Sean replies, before remarking that it is interesting that Cable is in charge of them now. Sean turns to Reed and suggests he should be telling him what is going on. Reed agrees, and holding his son, informs Cable and the New Mutants that what they encountered is apparently an adult manifestation of hi son, Franklin, who has somehow come back in time.
Mr Fantastic explains that apparently the adult Franklin has but to think a thing and it becomes reality. ‘Such terrible power…so ill-directed’ Reed adds, before explaining that Forge and the rest of the Fantastic Four are continuing their search for Franklin elsewhere. ‘That creep from the future was really Reed Richards’ son? Who’d believe such a sweet kid would turn into a nut like that?’ Rictor wonders. Bobby thinks to himself that Rictor doesn’t understand, as during the New Mutants’ adventures, he had seen futures where he himself turn out to be evil as well, just like his father. ‘I hated it. And if it was hard on me, how much worse for a little child?’ Bobby wonders. Bobby looks at young Franklin and realizes that even if the boy is Reed Richards’ son, he might not understand that there are many possible futures - possibilities, even probabilities, that are subject to change. ‘That is the only thing that has kept me sane!’
Suddenly, the Invisible Woman announces that she is getting an energy reading from right above them. ‘Is it Franklin?’ Reed asks. But Susan replies that it is something else, something mechanical and that there are hundreds of them. ‘Good Lord! What are they?’ Cable gasps as a portal opens, and the Hound appears, accompanied by the missile drones. ‘Don’t ask me, big guy! I’ve never seen anything like them before’ Boom-Boom exclaims, while Warlock announces that he perceives they are hostile. ‘Assume aggressive stance. Self suggests that others follow Self’s example!’ he orders, while Reed wraps his son in his stretched form and announces that they are similar to the robots that attacked the Fantastic Four earlier, only there are many more of them.
‘Not all of them are robots, Dr Richards! Look - they have a human master!’ Sean points out as he motions to the Hound, who declares that the once-and-future mutant is no longer here, but there are others, his defenders. ‘The history books tell of them…and their futile war against my masters’ the Hound exclaims, before ordering his drones to destroy them. ‘As you serve our great master Ahab - death to them all!’ he shouts. The robot missiles swarm like mechanical hornets with stings that bring death - and Earth’s heroes react instantly. Banshee soars into the sky, propelled by the force of his sonic scream which shatters all in its path, while at a thought, explosive energy spheres appear from Boom-Boom’s hand, and she throws them at the drones.
Warlock has transformed himself into a large machine gun, and Boom-Boom tells him to take out the ones farthest off, while she deals to the ones close up. The Invisible Woman deflects some of the drones with her invisible force shield, while Mr Fantastic snares others in his elastic flesh, while still keeping his son safe. Susan tells Reed that these droids are too easily destroyed, that they are more of an annoyance or a distraction. ‘But why?’ she asks. ‘Fool you are, woman, that you should ask!’ the Hound declares as he swoops down and collects young Franklin. He explains that the trackers seek what they wish to find. ‘Like you, we have arrived too late to seize the adult…but now we have the child - your son! This Hound at last will bring his quarry home!’ the Hound declares.
Franklin calls out to his daddy, ‘Help me!’ he cries, while Rahne exclaims ‘No! He’s but a wee boy!’ before lunging at the Hound, telling him that what he does is evil, that he must release Franklin now. ‘Gene joke of a mutant - by my electric shock you will die!’ the Hound exclaims, releasing a blast which frees him from Rahne’s grasp, though Wolfsbane begins to fall to the ground. ‘Rahne! Franklin!’ shouts Rictor, who orders the Hound to drop Franklin, ‘NOW’ he booms as he releases a seismic shock up into the air, which slams into the Hound, who drops Franklin. Susan catches her son in an invisible force field, while thanking Rictor for saving her son.
Cannonball is blasting around, destroying the missiles with his blast-field and announces that he thinks he has the last of them, before asking Rictor if Rahne is okay. Rahne has reverted to her human form and Rictor goes over to her, telling Sam that he doesn’t know, he calls out to Rahne, when suddenly, the Hound grabs Rictor by the arm: ‘Hear me, mutant - and understand’ he begins. The Hound announces that the adult they hunt has become a being of destructive power and the seed of the adult is the child. ‘We have been sent back in time to stop him - any way we can - before he changed history beyond repair’ the Hound explains, before warning the heroes that they are fools to oppose his master, Ahab. ‘He was bred to stop your kind. You don’t know his power…to capture…and to transform…so that you are his alone and serve him body and soul’.
The Hound warns the heroes that they will soon learn to their sorrow, just as he has learned. ‘Ahab will take whom he chooses…and you will die, for in my time you are already dead!’ the Hound declares. Susan hugs her son, who asks ‘What does it mean, we’re dead, Mommy? Did my grown-up self kill everybody?’ the boy asks. ‘Of course not, darling. He didn’t mean -’ Susan replies, to which Franklin asks why the Hound said his power is destructive and bad. ‘That’s what Daddy thinks, isn’t it?’ the boy exclaims. ‘That my power’s bad…and I’m bad, too!’ he declares.
‘Suddenly, ‘Dog of a Hound!’ a voice booms. ‘Everyone looks upwards, as Ahab has materialized and hovers above them. ‘You have revealed to much!’ the mysterious Ahab shouts as he throws his razor-sharp spear at the Hound. ‘Be silent now - and forever!’ Ahab declares. ‘Ahab - master - I have served you - Noooo!’ the Hound exclaims as the spear strikes him, energy pours from him, and he crumbles, while at the same time, Ahab vanishes as quickly as he came. Rictor notices this, and thinks to himself ‘I can’t believe I’m actually thinking this, but the poor Hound, he was only a captive - transformed somehow by that monster. I brought him down. He was dying, anyway, it’s my fault. Ahab…only finished the job. I thought he was the enemy, I hit him full blast’ Rictor tells himself that he should have realized, that he could have tried to save him, and now the Hound is dead.
Cable approaches Rictor, who pulls away, and exclaims ‘You don’t have to say it, Cable. It’s just like the Danger Room, isn’t it? I should have acted less impulsively!’ Rictor exclaims, declaring that if he had the poor guy would still be alive. Cable points out that he would still be Ahab’s slave as well, and little Franklin his captive. ‘You didn’t kill him, Rictor - remember that! His death was his master Ahab’s doing. But your attack freed him of his conditioning…if only for a moment. Because of you, he died free!’ Cable exclaims. Reed points out that to stop his Hound, Ahab revealed himself and displayed a small degree of power. ‘We know how is our enemy! We’ve got to find Ahab. Not only for the sake of my son…but to save the future itself!’ Rictor hangs his head and realizes that Cable was trying to make him feel better, but he thinks Cable is wrong, as he was involved, and to feel nothing about that makes him no better than Ahab.
Soon, Reed and Cable are examining all the missiles which have been gathered up. Reed remarks that they did them little damage, and points out that their real target seems to have been the Fantasti-car. Cable remarks that this is not his field, but that he thinks Franklin’s energy manipulations seem theoretically impossible. But Reed replies that they are real enough, and is what he always feared might happen. Franklin remembers that his father tried to block his power once, only now it is coming back, a little at a time. ‘I have a dream power now…and a dream-self power, too. And Daddy can’t stop them. I didn’t want him to stop them. But now I know…some day I’ll have lots of power and be bad and hurt people…and everything bad will be my fault!’ the boy tells himself.
At Ahab’s fortress, the enigmatic villain materializes, ‘Curse that Hound! The child is protected now! But the fugitive from my time is not! So it is the adult I must destroy!’ he tells himself. Ahab looks at a map and sees a burst of energy, just as he suspected, Franklin has appeared again, this time in Manhattan. Ahab tells himself that the Fantastic Four’s car has been damaged, which is excellent, so they cannot help the time traveler this time. ‘While his father struggles with repairs, I will send my army to destroy his son!’ Ahab booms.
However, Ahab has not counted on the genius that is Reed Richards, who informs everyone that they have another reading, this time Franklin is back in the city. Rahne announces that she is going to go with Reed, but the scientist points out that she is injured. Wolfsbane assures him it is merely a cracked rib or two, to which Cable orders Rahne to avoid direct combat where possible, as broken ribs have been known to puncture lungs. ‘Cable, is that wise?’ Reed asks. Cable replies that they can no sooner leave Rahne behind than Reed can young Franklin. ‘Your son’s…adult persona…or Ahab…could be back at any moment. No. Whatever danger we face we face together’ Cable exclaims, before Warlock shifts his form into a hovercraft to transport the New Mutants, while the others depart in the repaired Fantasti-car, speeding towards Manhattan - and their appointment with destiny.
At that moment, at the American Museum of Natural History, one of Manhattan’s most loved museums, where wondrous pieces of the far-flung world are brought close, in exhibits which promote learning, dreaming, understanding, and perhaps the best loved section of all houses the dinosaurs. ‘I’m the one who’s a fossil!’ the adult Franklin decides as he materializes. But not bones…no! No…not dead! Alive. Out of my time!’ he tells himself, before deciding that he must not think that way, that it is better to remember, to live again. ‘I was barely thirteen then’ he recalls, reminding himself that he was so happy here. The transformation is accomplished in a heartbeat. The thought is the deed, as Franklin creates his thirteen year-old self.
An instant later, Franklin calls out ‘Rachel…Rachel…where are you? You were hiding from me, weren’t you? I was worried!’ as a young Rachel Summers appears before him. Rachel replies that it was a just a game, and that he found her, that he always finds her. She tells Franklin that he doesn’t ever have to worry, as she will always be safe so long as he is around. ‘Mom says there’s a new skeleton here somewhere. A Para…Parasaf -’ Rachel begins, ‘Parasauropolophus! It’s right…behind you!’ Franklin teases, while his thirteen year old self taps Rachel on the shoulder, before vanishing .’What -?’ Rachel gasps, before smiling: ‘Oh, Scrapper! That’s how you find me so fast, isn’t it? You send your dream-selves out looking for me?’ she asks. ‘Maybe…or maybe I have powers you don’t even know about’ Franklin replies.
Overhead, the ceiling shatters, and a giant hand of a Sentinel reaches for the child-man called Franklin Richards. ‘Report to Ahab: We have found the quarry! Energy scans reveal massive mental manipulation consistent with the Franklin manifestation’ the Sentinel announces, boasting that Franklin will not escape, before remarking that it is strange, as Franklin does not seem to notice him. Indeed, down below, Rachel and Franklin continue to talk with each other. ‘Other powers, too? Darn, you got your powers when you were little and I’m already eight! I’ll probably never have powers’ Rachel sulks. Franklin tells Rachel that she will, as her Mom and Dad are mutants. ‘Most mutants don’t manifest their powers until their adolescence’ he reminds her.
‘That’s what Mom says, but you -’ Rachel begins, but she is interrupted by the Sentinel who unleashes a massive beam of energy at them - but neither are effected by it. ‘I’m a freak, Rach. Just as my Dad. He’s scared of me. He wishes my powers would just…go away’ Franklin exclaims. Several Hounds gather nearby: ‘Who is she? They both seem impervious to the Sentinel’s blast. If he shielding her - or she, him?’ one of them asks. Another explains that the girl is Franklin’s construct, that whoever she is, she acts as Franklin requires. ‘Forget her! It’s the boy who must be stopped!’ the Hound orders. Rachel tells Franklin to give her a break and exclaims that she knows about parents, informing him that sometimes she thinks her parents do not want her getting powers, either. ‘But, it’s just that it’s getting dangerous to be a mutant now, Frank. People are taught to be afraid of us…of what we can do!’
Suddenly, there is a roar of engines and into the dust and rubble speed the Fantasti-car and Warlock, with the New Mutants as his passengers. ‘Self-friend New Mutants, do you see what I see?’ Warlock exclaims as they stare at two Sentinels up ahead. Sunspot exclaims that they look like Sentinels, but of a kind that they have never seen before. Sunspot asks if they are also from the future, or if these Sentinels are the adult Franklin’s creations. ‘Who knows?’ Sunspot replies, pointing out that Franklin is just standing below, talking to a little red haired kid, like he doesn’t see the New Mutants, or the Sentinels.
The Sentinel warns its fellow Sentinels and Hounds that Franklin Richard’s self-styled protectors again attempt to intervene on his behalf. One of the Hounds reports that an identity scan confirms that all attackers are known to them and will be eliminated in time. One of the Sentinels reminds the other that time itself can be altered. ‘We must protect our future - and the Sentinel’s ascendancy. It is our prime directive!’ the Sentinel declares, remarking that the mutants know too much and must be eliminated now. The Sentinels begin attacking the New Mutants. Cable, Banshee. Mr Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. ‘D’ye hear that, Cable?’ Banshee calls out. Cable replies that he heard. ‘In their future, the Sentinels hold sway and mutants have been all be obliterated!’ he exclaims.
Reed points out that the Sentinels are afraid of Franklin, suggesting that something he might do or say will tip the balance in the heroes’ favor. ‘But what?’ Reed wonders. Sunspot exclaims that they will not find out till they stop and question them. ‘We’ve taken out Sentinels before!’ he boasts. ‘Maybe, Sunspot. But these are the new, improved variety!’ Tabitha exclaims. Suddenly, Rictor draws Boom-Boom’s attention to the Hounds. ‘More of those poor suckers, twisted by that monster Ahab!’ Rictor exclaims. Boom-Boom tells Rictor that the Hounds might not be themselves, but he needs to face facts: ‘They’re trying to kill us!’ Tabitha prepares to throw a time-bomb at one them, but Rictor tells her not to, as he can take the Hound out without blowing him over five counties.
Rictor releases a seismic shockwave, but this just angers the Hound. ‘Mutant scum! You miscalculate a Hound’s strength, and are weak in your misplaced and condescending mercy!’ he exclaims, declaring that their master Ahab is wiser, and has shown them the way to deal with all of mutant kind. Rictor clutches his head and cries out in pain as the Hound attacks him with an energy blast. ‘Rictor! No!’ Cable exclaims, before using one of his massive weapons to shoot the Hound. ‘Back devil-spawn! Die!’ Cable shouts.
Franklin is nearby with Rachel, still protected from the Sentinels, Rachel asks Franklin if when she gets big and has powers he will stay here with her and help her. ‘I…’ Franklin begins, when suddenly the Hound that Cable shot passes right through the both of them. ‘A Hound! It fell right through me…through us both…’ Franklin exclaims. ‘Help me…Frank…?’ Rachel asks, looking up at him. ‘Sentinels!’ Franklin shouts as he looks up and sees the New Mutants battling the Sentinels. ‘…help…me?’ Rachel utters. But with Franklin’s attention diverted, the Rachel construct fades quietly away.
‘My parents…the New Mutants…Hounds will track them down. Sentinels will destroy them!’ Franklin tells himself, before suddenly realizing that Rachel is gone. He calls out to her, asking her to come back, exclaiming that he needs her. ‘Need…it isn’t fair. I was happy. Why must I give up my dream…?’ Franklin asks himself, recalling that his father always said “don’t”, that his power is “dangerous”, his power is “bad”. ‘But, Father, don’t you see that they deserve to die?’ Franklin calls out, as he unleashes a massive wave of power that begin to tear through the Sentinels and Hounds. ‘What are trackers doing…here and now? Can’t you understand…it’s them…or us?’ Franklin asks everyone.
One of the Sentinels calls out to Ahab, alerting him to the fact they are being destroyed. ‘Sentinels…and Hounds? This isn’t your time! You should never have had a time!’ Franklin exclaims, calling them monsters, twisted mockeries of mutant flesh. ‘You should not have been!’ he declares, as the Hounds scream in agony. The young present day Franklin watches the events that transpire, ‘Mommy…those Hounds. He…he killed them! I…killed them!’ Franklin gasps. Susan assures her son that it is not him, that he is not responsible. ‘Can’t you feel it, Mommy…can’t you see?’ Franklin asks. ‘What they were before? How they were took and hurt and changed…till they didn’t know themselves anymore? He…I…my grown-up me knows…he can feel it, too’ the young Franklin exclaims.
Indeed, the adult Franklin sees images of the Hounds now, and in their former state. He realizes that they were people - ordinary mutants like the New Mutants, or like him, or Rachel. ‘Poor little Rachel…’ he exclaims ‘Twisted beings with innocent beginnings. As my sweet, my beautiful gentle Rachel’s beginnings were so innocent’. Franklin exclaims that Ahab stole their souls, like he stole Rachel’s, and wonders if he is any better. ‘I, who know what they have been…what they could be?’ Franklin tells himself. Franklin reminds himself that he came here searching for the innocence in himself, and instead has committed the ultimate betrayal - the destruction of the innocence he came here to find!
The adult Franklin approaches the young Franklin and exclaims that it cannot be this way. ‘You’re bad! You’re me! I’m bad!’ young Franklin shouts. Susan notes that the Sentinels and Hounds have all gone, but that the adult Franklin has thrown up some kind of barrier - he has, and no one can get to young Franklin. ‘Frank, son, you mustn’t hurt him. Listen to me’ Reed calls out. Adult Franklin grabs young Franklin by the shoulders and exclaims ‘Father says don’t…always don’t. Father, don’t you understand…even now…? You who knew it first? The evil I’ve done here…this horror I’ve wrought…?’ adult Franklin exclaims. He declares that he sees it now, through the child’s eyes, and he knows, it must never happen. ‘It must never have been this way!’ he exclaims, before calling out to his father, telling him that he was right all along. ‘My powers are bad!’ young Franklin exclaims. ‘Dangerous…evil…tainted’ the adult Franklin agrees.
Young Franklin tells adult Franklin to go on and take his powers, that he doesn’t want them. ‘I’ll never use my powers…again!’ he vows, before falling to the ground. ‘Franklin…son…what have you done?’ Reed calls out. ‘Worse…than you can imagine. What you wanted’ adult Franklin replies. ‘What you trained me to want. And it was my own horror…my impulsiveness that made me share in our undoing’ he announces grimly, before informing Reed that his son will never use their power in his future. ‘And all will come to pass as I’ve known it…and we will be destroyed!’ adult Franklin announces. Everyone looks on in horror, while Reed asks ‘You mean, Franklin’s powers could have saved us at some future juncture? And now they’ll never develop?’
‘But we saw you in the Danger Room…you led the New Mutants!’ Cannonball points out. Franklin replies that it was a dream, an illusion, a memory from a future that will never be. Reed begs Franklin to reverse what he has done. ‘Free the child…as I will do now, if I can’ Reed exclaims. ‘Would you…? Will you…?’ the adult Franklin asks. ‘Without his cooperation, without his belief in himself, I cannot change what we did together’ the adult Franklin explains. ‘The mind-locks were set, you see, by Franklin old and Franklin new. All our will has gone into setting them’ adult Franklin explains, announcing that young Franklin will never have powers now. ‘I never did have powers!’ he declares.
In the complex between time and space, the Hound master, Ahab, is observing what transpires in present time, and laughs.
The adult Franklin vanishes, ‘Franklin…our adult son is gone…and out baby!’ Sue declares as she and Reed hold up the motionless present day Franklin. Reed assures Susan that Franklin is breathing, that he is alive, but they cannot get him to wake up. Cable goes over to Rictor and asks him if he is all right. Blood tricking from his nose, Rictor thinks to himself ‘Hurt…by the Hound’s blast. Yeah. Something inside of me is broken by hurt, more, in my soul’. Sunspot calls out to his teammate, asking him if something is wrong. Rictor replies ‘It’s just that…I know, now, how the adult Franklin feels…angry…so angry. I use my powers without thinking and I nearly kill. And when I’m careful…Cable does my killing for me. Is it all pre-ordained, after all? Can anything be changed?’ he exclaims, before asking his teammates if any of them have noticed how much Cable looks like Ahab.
Sunspot tells his teammates that he cannot think like that, like the future is mapped out, because of something you think you might have seen. ‘You did your best. So did Cable. So don’t hammer yourself over it’ Bobby exclaims, adding that he knows how easy it is to do, and what a bummer that can be. Sunspot declares that in his opinion that was Franklin’s problem, and points out the current state that Franklin is in…..
In the dead of night, Douglas Ramsey a.k.a. Cypher sits in a cemetery - on his own gravestone! He looks lonely, lost, before a voice calls out to him. ‘Doug! Yo, Doug! You up for a game of cards? C’mon, Doug. Don’t be a stiff!’ someone calls out. Doug looks sideways, as the voice exclaims ‘C’mon, Doug. One hand. Old Maid, Blackjack, Gin, Rummy…anything to pass time’. Doug looks at the skinny man sitting on a nearby gravestone and calling him Teddy, he replies ‘Not now’. Teddy asks Doug what is the matter. ‘Don’t tell me being dead’s got you down?’ Teddy asks. ‘Well it does, okay?’ Doug retorts, announcing that no one thinks about him, no one comes to visit him - not anymore at any rate.
Doug exclaims that he never thought about death before it happened. ‘I figured I’d live forever, you know’ he declares, adding that the big problem is that somehow you never think about the fact that the world goes on without you. ‘World did fine before you were placed on it, Doug’ Teddy points out. ‘No reason it shouldn’t continue to spin long after you’re gone’ he remarks, while Doug just hangs his head. Another ghost appears, leaning against a gravestone, the elderly spirit agrees with Teddy, and tells Doug that thinking anything else is just plain ego. ‘People can’t keep thinking about the dead all the time. Isn’t right. They gotta think about living’ he exclaims. ‘Why, Winston? All I think about is living’ Doug replies.
Winston tells Doug that is not right either, remarking that it is okay when you first get here, but you should not keep that up, as the longer you mourn for yourself, the longer the living mourn for you. ‘I don’t get what you’re saying’ Doug replies. ‘You new kids know diddly. Look, when you die, you go into mourning for yourself. And that mourning affects the living, those close to you, and -’ Winston doesn’t finish his explanation as Teddy motions across the graveyard, ‘Hey, look. Someone’s getting a visitor. One of yours I think, Doug’ Teddy remarks. Doug looks across and sees Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair, wearing a long white dress and carrying a potted plant. Doug replies that she is one of “his” and that she is the only one who still comes to see him with any regularity.
‘Hate the short haircut. What’s her name?’ Teddy asks. ‘Rahne’ Doug replies as Rahne stands in front of his graveyard. “Rain” Winston asks. ‘The names folks give their kids these days. She got a brother named Snow who sells cocaine?’ Winston jokes, while Doug tells them to knock it off. Teddy points out that Rahne does not have to come here to see Doug, that all that is here is a hunk of stone and some dirt. ‘Where she sees you is right here in the heart’ Teddy remarks, touching his chest. ‘He’s right’ Winston remarks as Rahne kneels at Doug’s grave and rests the potted flowers against the headstone. ‘Aw, you always agree with him’ Doug replies.
Rahne reaches out and touches the headstone, while Doug kneels down beside his former New Mutants teammate and exclaims ‘Rahne…I just want you to know…’ he begins, telling Rahne that he really loves her, and wished he had shown it more when he had the chance. ‘But I always loved you and I always will. I’ll always need you…’ Doug states, before Winston exclaims ‘Oh, spare me!’ Doug looks up at his fellow ghost and asks him what his problem is. Winston tells Doug that he cannot keep saying these things. ‘What we want and need has tremendous effect on the living like I was saying’ Winston remarks, explaining to Doug that he is putting this girl who he claims to love through too much, and points out that she is having real trouble putting Doug behind her. ‘Well, good’ Doug replies.
‘Not good. It’s not fair to her, Doug’ Teddy points out. Doug stares at Rahne and remarks that he cannot understand what she is saying, as he still has not got the knack of that. ‘Me, Mr language whiz’ Doug mutters, before asking Teddy and Winston if they can make out what Rahne is saying, as they have been dead longer than he has. Winston informs Doug that Rahne is talking about some guy she likes - Victor - or something like that. ‘Hey, Ted, get this. She’s asking Doug’s “permission” to pursue her interest in this Victor guy’ Winston announces. Cypher gets upset by this: ‘Oh, that’s just great! Blast it, Rahne! I love you! I died for you! And you just wanna toss me aside for some guy. Just because he’s -’ Doug stops himself, but Teddy finishes his sentence: ‘Alive?’
‘Why did I even care about you? Why - yeah! Alive! I can’t believe you would do this to me!’ Doug exclaims. Doug begins to cry, ‘Why did I…’ Doug utters, while Rahne is crying at the same time. Suddenly, ‘Idiot kids’ Winston remarks. ‘Do you mind, huh?’ Doug asks, looking up, but Winston points across the graveyard, ‘Not you. Them’ he remarks, where some punk kids are writing on headstones with paint. ‘No respect any more’ Winston remarks. ‘Come on you punks! Get outta here!’ Winston calls out, but of course the kids cannot hear him, and they come right up to him - and spray paint the gravestone he is standing in front of, the paint spraying right through him. ‘You keep away from my stone! Don’t you dare!’ Winston calls out. ‘Aw, man. This immaterial stuff really stinks sometimes’ Winston remarks, while the kids suddenly grab Rahne.
‘Hey! They’re hurting Rahne!’ Doug calls out as they throw her to the ground. ‘Get away from her!’ Doug calls out as he leaps up and punches one of the thugs - only his punch naturally goes straight through. ‘Winston! Tell me how to haunt them or something!’ Doug calls out. ‘That’s only in horror flicks, kid’ Winston replies, while at that moment, Rahne begins to shift into her wolfen form. ‘This is real life. Ain’t nothing we can do ‘cept watch it hap-’ Winston stops himself when he sees Rahne’s transformation. ‘Sweet Mary! She’s a werewolf!’ Winston gasps. Doug smirks, and tells Winston that is only in horror flicks. Rahne lunges at one of the boys, knocking him to the ground.
The boy looks frightened as the wolfen Rahne bears down upon him. ‘Rahne, no! Wait! Don’t kill him! Back off, Rahne! Let him go!’ Doug calls out. Oddly, the wolfen Rahne looks up at where Doug’s ghost stands. Doug looks puzzled, but an instant later, the boy is set free and rushes off. ‘She…she can see me’ Doug remarks. ‘No, but she knows you’re here. She senses you’ Teddy replies, explaining that animals, especially canines have always been good at that sort of thing. Doug drops to the ground, and Rahne’s canine form sniffs the area where his ghost form radiates. Doug tells Rahne that she must not stay in this form too long, otherwise she could get trapped this way.
Doug continues, ‘Just like…just like you can’t mourn me forever, or you’ll be trapped with that, too’ Doug remarks that Rahne always was so passionate, except she kept it bottled up, because she was taught that was bad, which made it that much fiercer when it came out. ‘Passionate about everything…including me’ Doug tells Rahne that he is sorry, that he didn’t mean to be selfish, and that he knows she cares about him and always will. ‘But I guess…I guess you’ve got to start caring about yourself more’. Rahne looks at Doug’s ghost, as he smiles and tells her to think of him now and again, even love him from a distance if it gives her a faint, pleasant ember in her heart. ‘But give the fire and flame of your heart to someone else. It’s okay. I want you to’.
Rahne continues to stare at Doug’s ghost, before she unleashes a massive howl, which is copied by other dogs in the area. ‘I…I heard that’ Doug remarks, and he and the wolfen Rahne almost seem to hug, with Doug thanking him. ‘And thank all your friends for me, too’ Doug adds, before telling her to go home to Victor, or whoever. Rahne turns and runs from the graveyard, with Doug waving to her. ‘So…Ted…I’m ready for that card game now’ Doug smiles. ‘That’s great, Doug. That’s really great to hear’ Teddy replies, before asking Doug if he happens to have a deck of cards on him.