He was born Warren Worthington III - heir to one of the world’s largest private fortunes. Sometime during puberty - shortly after his thirteenth birthday - huge feathered wings grew from his back. After a brief career as a Long Island super hero, he did what any confused adolescent mutant would do - he joined the X-Men. Over the years he has lost all of his family, most of his fortune and his original wings. The only thing which hasn’t changed about him - even after his transformation into the shadow-hued, wild-eyed creature of the night known as the Archangel - is that Warren Worthington III is one heck of a date.
‘Madam? Your chariot awaits’ Warren smiles as he stands by a limo, bunch of red roses in one hand, dressed in a beige suit. ‘Warren, you…you’re -’ Detective Charlotte Jones exclaims, shocked. ‘-late? My apologies, Charlotte’ Warren tells her. ‘I was gonna say you’re white!’ Charlotte declares. Warren tells Charlotte that there she goes again, using that police training. ‘No wonder you passed your detective’s exam - nothing gets by you, Sergeant Jones!’ Warren exclaims. ‘If you’re through -?’ Charlotte asks.
‘Mmhmm?’ Warren replies as Charlottes takes a seat in the limo, telling Warren that she thought they were going to the One World Harmony concert in the park, and asks if he is a little over-dressed. ‘I don’t think so, no’ Warren replies. ‘But if you do…’ his voice trails off as he kisses a surprised Charlotte. ‘I’m sure I can arrange something’ Warren tells her, before the window separating them from the chauffeur slides up. ‘To the park, James’ Warren tells him. ‘Very good, Sir’ James replies. ‘You can say that again, James’ Warren declares.
Meanwhile, at Central Park in New York City, a massive crowd has gathered in front of a stage. Two unique individuals stand on the edge of the crowd - the enigmatic Bishop, newest member of the X-Men, and the fiery Rogue, in a red, white and yellow costume, she leans against a tree. ‘This scenario is unacceptable. There must be seventy-five thousand people here!’ Bishop exclaims. ‘What’s wrong, Shugah - they don’t hold free rock concerts in the future?’ Rogue asks. Bishop tells Rogue that is not what he is complaining about and that she knows it. ‘How are we supposed to maintain any security parameter around the Professor under these conditions?’ he asks. Rogue tells Bishop to believe it or not, but the X-Men managed to function as the mutant team supreme long before he stumbled into camp to tell them how it is done. ‘Why do I get the impression you’re still angry about that blueberry pie incident?’ Bishop asks. ‘Please. Ah’m above that sort of thing. I don’t even know what ya going on about’ Rogue tells him, before muttering that it was actually Boysenberry.
Backstage, inter-stellar rock star Lila Cheney tells Professor Charles Xavier that she is up next, and asks him if he is sure the masses are ready for this. ‘Ready to listen to the call for brotherhood, for peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants? Not at all, Lila’ Xavier replies, remarking that if mankind waited for the “right time” to address the winds of change, it is unlikely they would ever have crawled from the primordial ooze.
Twenty yards below the stage however two terrorists are setting a bomb. ‘They’ll be raking Charles Xavier’s mutant-loving bones off the great lawn for a month!’ one of them exclaims. ‘Not to mention those of Lila Cheney’s make-up woman - who tipped us off to the Professor’s unscheduled appearance’ the other points out. ‘Every cause has to have its martyrs’ the first points out, adding that they will mourn her at next weeks meeting of the Friends of Humanity. Suddenly, a third person appears - and uses a weapon to disintegrate the two members of the Friends of Humanity. ‘Sorry, “friends” - I’ve got first dibs on Professor X!’ exclaims Nathan Summers a.k.a. Cable! Standing on the bones of the terrorists, he declares that if it means anything, he mat take a little longer, but that Xavier will be just as dead!
Meanwhile, in Salem Center, Westchester, in the diner known to the townies as Harry’s Hideaway, sits Scott “Cyclops” Summers, one of the X-Men who, as a student of Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, dubbed it the “Danger Pub”. Scott sits in a booth on his own and thinks to himself that he hopes he is making the right decision. ‘Logan assures me that with Mariko’s death the last thing he needs is a forced leave of absence from the X-Men’. Scott can sympathize with Wolverine, and remembers how devastated he was when he thought he had lost Jean. ‘The difference being, I never had a support group outside the team’ Scott tells himself, looking at a poster advertising “Point Special Brew”, with a scantily clad woman reclining on some rocks.
‘All my friends are X-Men…all my loves are…are…’ Scott thinks to himself as he imagines his teammate Psylocke in place of the woman in the poster, and smiles. Suddenly, Jean Grey emerges from the rest room, ‘Hey, handsome - your heart can start beating again…I’m back…’ Jean calls out, but gets no response. ‘Hello - Earth to Scott Summers…you’re…you’re…’ she exclaims, before clutching her head, and telepathically shouts at Scott: ‘You’re thinking about HER again?!’ Scott replies ‘”Her”? I’m thinking of you, Jean. I’m always thinking of you!’ But Jean tells Scott not to lie to a telepath. ‘It’s demeaning’ she declares.
Across the road in a grocery store, Bobby “Iceman” Drake and Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin are putting food into their shopping cart, and Bobby tells Piotr that Opal sad she “needs time alone to think things through”. ‘Ouch’ Bobby mutters. ‘”Ouch”?’ Colossus asks. Bobby tells Piotr that “Needs time alone to think things though” is womanese for “We’re broken up and I don’t want to tell you”. ‘I see. There’s no chance she’s being sincere?’ Colossus asks. Bobby replies that he hadn’t though of that, to which Piotr tells him he should. ‘Meanwhile, read me the name of those pork rinds Logan asked us to buy’.
‘My love life is coming apart at the seams - and I’m shopping for pork rinds?’ the handsome young X-Man mutters, while Colossus takes the shopping list from Bobby and tells him that life is unfair that way. ‘He would know’ Bobby thinks to himself, before telling Piotr that the two of them do not have a lot of history between them. ‘But if -’ Bobby begins, but Colossus cuts him off: ‘- but if I’d like to pour my heart out about my brother’s suicide, you’ll listen? Thank you, no. My grief - my shame, tovarish…is a private matter’.
Back at the concert, the crowd goes wild for Lila, shouting out her name. On the outskirts of the crowd, another pair of X-Men are keeping a watchful eye over things. ‘You ask me, chere - ain’t nobody good enough for my Stormy, no how! I’m thinking y’better of without Forge’ Remy “Gambit” LeBeau tells Ororo Munro a.k.a. Storm, offering her his trenchcoat as the wind picks up around them. ‘How exactly did you hear about my recent estrangement?’ Storm asks, arms folded defensively. Gambit replies that he heard through Jubilee. ‘Li’l waif must have her ear t’the door of every room in de Mansion’ Remy remarks, telling Storm that with something as important as that, one would expect to hear it straight from the friend.
‘We have barely spoken since you joined the Blue Team, Gambit. You have been less than supportive of Bishop’s membership in the X-Men - and you never mentioned you had a wife, Bella Donna…before or after her death’ Storm points out, pushing Remy’s coat away, she tells him that perhaps he uses the word “friend” too freely. ‘Ah, Stormy - you wound me’ Gambit exclaims. ‘I may if you keep calling me -’ Storm begins, before Gambit grabs her, and begins to dance with her. ‘Death threats and dancing? Tres chic, eh?’ he remarks. Storm points out that this is rock music, and asks why they are waltzing, to which Gambit replies that the waltz is the only dance step he knows. They both smile.
Elsewhere, specifically the Grand Wyatt Hotel in Manhattan, the temporary residence of X-Factor’s Guido Carosella a.k.a. Strong Guy, and teammates James Madrox a.k.a. Multiple Man and Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff. ‘Hey, hey - down in front! And stop tracking mud all over the carpet!’ Strong Guy exclaims to the conga-line of Madrox dupes that dance past the large television. ‘That’s telling me!’ the “prime” Madrox exclaims, reclining on the sofa, while Quicksilver folds his arms and sighs. Guido tells Madrox that the US Government is footing the bill for their stay here in New York, and that Val Cooper will have a cow if Madrox goes messing up these palatial digs. The dupes to Guido to lighten up, and asks ‘When was the last time Lila Cheney performed live? In this dimension, I mean’. Madrox prime tells Guido that it could be he is a tad sensitive about Lila not asking him back to be her bodyguard.
‘Madrox - Shaddup!’ Guido exclaims, thumping his friend on the head. ‘Uh…sure…I’m shutting up…see - I’m shut’ Madrox mumbles, as his dupes vanish. ‘Finally. Now we might actually get to enjoy this pay-per-view concert’ Pietro mutters. ‘Or not’ Guido declares as he lifts the large television up and carries it out of the room. Madrox is still rubbing his head, and asks Quicksilver if he did something wrong. ‘You exist, Madrox’ Quicksilver replies. ‘Is that any reason to -’ Madrox begins, unable to finish as Pietro exclaims ‘Yes’ and speeds away.
Back at Harry’s Hideaway, Scott and Jean argue telepathically, with Scott telling Jean that he has nothing to apologize for. ‘How can you say that?’ Jean replies, asking if this ability to drool whenever Psylocke enters a room is some new mutant power of his. The telepathic conversation stops, and Scott declares ‘She’s a woman, Jean - an exceptionally gorgeous and sexy one at that. I’m a man…who’s been in love with you from the moment we met!’ He asks Jean if after all they have been through she is willing to let jealousy jeopardize what they have. ‘Of course now - it’s just after what happened with Ororo and Forge…I’m just so afraid the same thing will come between us’ Jean replies, unaware that someone is watching them through a high window. ‘”Afraid?” Afraid is good’ they remark.
Scott tells Jean that, unlike Forge, he has everything he needs - everything he has ever needed - right here in his arms, and they kiss, when, suddenly - crashing through the window comes Caliban! ‘Awww - true love - I hate true love!’ he snarls to his former allies. ‘Jean - look out!’ Scott shouts. ‘Good Lord! Caliban?’ Jean exclaims.
In Central Park, ‘Thank you, New York!’ shouts Lila, before exclaiming that they don’t need here to tell them that this concert and this entire city is about celebrating diversity. ‘Race, creed, religion…it’s all one world!’ she declares. ‘In the spirit of that unity - of brotherhood and harmony - I’m proud to introduce a very dear friend of mine…Dr Charles Xavier! The world’s foremost expert on the world’s most feared and hated minority…’ Lila exclaims, motioning to Xavier, who wheels himself onto the stage.
‘MUTANTS!’ one of the people in the crowd exclaims. ‘That Lila - always pushing the envelope!’ someone else remarks. ‘Give ‘im a chance!’ another shouts. ‘Let him speak!’. ‘You believe this? Shoot the mutant-loving gimp and the chair he rode in on!’ a man in a trench coat who stands near a brick wall remarks to a man standing nearby. The other man’s left eye glows yellow, and exclaims ‘Shush’ as he slams the other man back into the wall. ‘It’s rare that a man has the opportunity to deliver his own eulogy’ Cable declares.
Back in Salem Center, Colossus and Iceman are wheeling their carts full of groceries out of the store, when they notice people running from Harry’s Hideaway. ‘Either Harry’s ran out of beer…’ Bobby begins he shifts to his ice form, while Piotr turns to his steel form, continuing Bobby’s sentence: ‘…or Jean and Scott need the power of Colossus and Iceman’ he exclaims, running towards the Hideaway. ‘Who knows, Big C - this could be the start of a trend? The day may come that the X-Men are ambushed somewhere other than the campus!’ Bobby exclaims, making his way over to the Hideaway on an ice-sled.
‘We should live so long -’ Colossus replies, before he and Bobby are knocked backwards by a blast of energy. ‘Rest assured, X-Men…Famine and War will see that you don’t!’ declares Famine, riding on her robotic steed. ‘In the name of evolution…we claim your worthless lives on behalf of our lord and master!’ War booms. ‘For you and your ilk are the weak - plagued by the conscience and concern for the vermin that it humanity! Know then, that your actions dictate you were born only to perish under the hoofs of the Horsemen of Apocalypse!’
On the stage in Central Park, Xavier remains calm as his speech begins: ‘Freak. Flatscan. Deadened. Genjoke. Mutie. Words. Powerful words meant to distance…to demean…to destroy the heavens of self respect we each carry and nurture within us…just as surely as they seek to rend the centuries old tapestry we, as a race, have agreed to call civilization’ Xavier declares. The crowd points, shouts and listens, but he continues: ‘These words carry us away from the light and lead us marching, no - charging - into a darkness where prejudice and bigotry reign. Ugly, hateful words as weapons…and words that ultimately fail to achieve their intended purpose’.
Professor X announces that this concert is about embracing our uniqueness - the color of one’s skin, the choice of whom they love - the right for your neighbor to pursue their individual religious observance. ‘Isn’t it also about learning to respect the person born with a torso fin, cursed with an optic blast or blessed with the natural powers of telekinesis?’ Xavier asks. ‘Seeing past their differences, humans and mutants share a common unbreakable blond. No amount of words - of derision, distrust, or disinformation - can change the truth that each of us…man, woman, black, Hispanic, Jew, Asian, Native American, homosexual, mutant, everyone…underneath all the “words”…we are related. We are all family’.
With his speech finished, the crowd continues to shout: ‘No “family” I enwove got scales growing on their faces!’ one of them shouts. The crowd begin to throw cans and bottles at Xavier. ‘At least I can see the difference in skin color - mutants can hide anywhere!’ a racist shouts. ‘Save yer speech for the ASPCA concert’ another declares. ‘Grow some hair, ya mutie lover!’ another exclaims. Charlotte tells Warren that she is sorry. Archangel hangs his head and tells Charlotte not to be. ‘He had to try’ Warren tells her.
Suddenly, there is a gun shot - and Xavier is knocked backwards by the force of the shot, landing on his back, blood tricking from his nose and mouth. ‘Cha - CHARLES!’ a horrified Lila shouts. ‘Holy - someone shot Professor Xavier!’ someone in the crowd near the assassin exclaims. ‘Not just anyone, pal - the name is Cable - but the world will know me as the Man who Saved Tomorrow!’ he booms.
Back at Harry’s Hideaway, Cyclops unleashes an optic blast on Caliban, telling him that Apocalypse is dead. ‘I killed him myself!’ Scott adds, asking Caliban if it is time he got back to living his life. ‘Do not lie to me, Summers!’ Caliban shouts. Jean joins in on holding Caliban back with a telekinetic bolt, while Caliban exclaims that he is not the frightened and lonely “Caliban this” and “Caliban that” who used to nip at X-Factor’s heels. ‘I am about power, now!’ he boasts. ‘The power to draw strength from fear - fear, say, of commitment?’
Caliban lunges at Scott and Jean, declaring ‘Caliban has been alone for as long as Cal - for as long as I can remember! I can’t be afraid of losing something I never had!’ he declares. Jean telepathically informs Cyclops that Caliban is so emotionally charged that she can barely hold him in a telekinetic grip. Caliban pushes past Cyclops’ optic blast, and grabs Scott and Jean, pinning them to the floor. ‘Caliban, we were friends…’ Scott calls out. ‘HA!’ laughs Caliban, telling Cyclops that “Caliban” is a name Callisto created, meant to keep him in his place - firmly beneath her feet. Caliban points out that in all the time he spent with Cyclops and Jean as X-Factor, in the months he was part of their “family”, they never once asked him his real name.
‘But all that’s behind us now, because I no longer answer to “Caliban”!’ he booms, smashing a pillar, which brings down the enter Harry’s Hideaway around them. ‘I am the Fourth Horseman of Apocalypse! I am…DEATH!’ Caliban booms as they are engulfed by the rubble. ‘Jean!’ Cyclops shouts out.
Outside, ‘By the master!’ Famine shrieks, as a flash of energy surrounds her. ‘Famine? Autumn?’ War calls out as he flies on his steed nearby. ‘What have they done to you?’ he asks her. But Famine doesn’t answer. Instead, Iceman, on an ice-sled, deduces that Famine must have tried to use her emaciation power on Colossus, and because he doesn’t need food in his armored form, so Famine was forced to feed off herself - literally. ‘I swear on the ancient bones of Apocalypse - if you’ve hurt her…’ War booms.
‘You already threatened us with death, War’ Colossus points out. ‘Think maybe he peaked too soon in the shallow epitaphs department?’ Iceman asks. ‘To be certain’ Colossus replies. Famine crashes to the ground and falls from her steed, while War lands beside Colossus, booming that once he has finished crushing their bones into powder, they will be begging him to allow them to die! ‘Life is a gift from on high, Horseman!’ Colossus shouts, smacking War in the face - hard. ‘It is not for men such as you or Mikhail - men whose thirst for power far exceeds their capacity for compassion to decide who should live and who should die!’. War asks ‘Who is Mikhail?’, but Famine tells him that it matters now, as their master calls.
Moments later, Colossus tells Iceman that there is no sign of Scott or Jean amongst the debris. ‘War and Famine were the means to distract us while our teammates were spirited away!’. ‘Is it me, Pete - or are we the only team in the world without a transporter beam?’ Bobby asks.
In Central Park, music has been replaced by mayhem. ‘Warren?’ Charlotte asks in shock, as Warren’s skin returns to its blue form - the image inducer has been turned off, and Warren releases his razor-sharp metal wings, ‘CABLE!’ he shouts as he takes to the air above the crowd and swoops down towards Cable. ‘We should have taken you down after you shanghaied your first New Mutant - but the Professor believed they’d come to their senses on their own!’ Archangel exclaims, before Cable blasts him with a weapon: ‘Not his first mistake, Archangel. Guarantee it’s his last’ Cable replies as the energy weapon strikes his wing. ‘Hurts - but they’ll heal - doing to have to do better than that…’ Archangel exclaims.
‘Trust me - I have!’ Cable exclaims as he unleashes another blast from his weapon. At that moment, Storm and Bishop arrive on stage. ‘CHARLES!’ Storm screams, before telling Bishop that he was correct. ‘We should never -’ she begins, while Charles contacts her telepathically - ‘”Never” what, child? Never hoped, never dared to…dream…’ Xavier remarks, before passing out. ‘Oh, God! Storm, Bishop - we’re losing him!’ Lila gasps. ‘You’ve already lost him. You just don’t realize it yet’ Cable tells Archangel. ‘Bodyslide by one’ he utters, teleporting away as Archangel’s wing-knives narrowly miss him. ‘NO!’ Warren screams. ‘Celebration bound’.
Meanwhile, in New Mexico, the temporary home for the renegade band of mutant youths called X-Force. While James “Warpath” Proudstar, Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta, Tabitha “Boom-Boom” Smith and Julio “Rictor” Richter gather around a small fire, Theresa “Siryn” Rourke and Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie attempt to program a television set. ’Sticking ye nose into my transistors is nae what I thought ye meant when ye offered me a hand with converting the comm board!’ Siryn tells Cannonball. Sam apologizes, explaining that he is so eager to see Lila’s face again. ‘”Ah’m just so eaguh…” Puh-leaze! I’m gagging here!’ Boom-Boom mutters.
In another time and place, they would have been the next generation of X-Men. Things didn’t work out that way. The monitor flickers on, ‘Here ye go, Sam’ Theresa exclaims, before telling everyone to gather around. ‘We’re getting the picture…but where’s the sound?’ Sam asks. Theresa tells him to give her a second, before horror spreads over everyone’s face as they see the events unfolding at Central Park. ‘Even without the words…I think we all get the basic idea!’ Boom-Boom exclaims, when suddenly the sound kicks in, and mutant affairs reporter Trish Tilby is reporting on the scene, announcing that medical frantically make their way through the panicked crowd, but it is impossible to determine his condition. ‘Again, this is Trish Tilby reporting from Central Park’ the sound kicks out momentarily, but returns: ‘- Noted geneticist and would-be mutant rights activist, Professor Xavier may or may not have survived an assassination attempt on his life by -’
The sound kicks out once more as the report shows a close up image of the gun-wielding Cable. The silence is deafening. Yet if they listened closely, these mutants, indeed every mutant on the face of the Earth, might hear the faint strands of music just beyond the horizon. The Executioner’s Song has begun….