“Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and even from these dead doubts she fathers her most vital hope” - Herman Melville, Moby Dick.
‘That isn’t right’ Exclaims the adult Franklin Richards, his jumpsuit in tatters as he hovers over Manhattan, gazing at X-Factor’s home and headquarters, Ship. ‘This Ship…in New York City…it doesn’t belong…’ Franklin declares as he approaches the sprawling Ship.
Where, inside, the heroic mutants known as X-Factor are engaged in a game of sport. ‘All right, guys! Here they come, cool, heavy and hard!’ Bobby “Iceman” Drake threatens. ‘Shot from the hands of the ice-making wonder himself!’ Bobby adds as he rides an ice-sled and fires large snowballs towards his teammates, while baby Nathan Christopher Summers hovers in a force field alongside Bobby. The rest of X-Factor are all wearing large shields on their hands as they attempt to deflect the snowballs. Beast a.k.a. Hank McCoy explains this to Scott “Cyclops” Summers as X-Factor’s leader is seen catching the balls.
Suddenly, ‘Cut it out, Jean!’ Scott shouts at Marvel Girl a.k.a. Jean Grey, as she hovers nearby in a telekinetic field. ‘Cut what out?’ Jean asks. Scott tells her that she is using her telekinetic powers to put a spin on the balls, to make them come too fast. ‘If I deflect them the next guy down the line - or maybe my son - could get hurt!’ Scott declares, annoyed. He shouts ‘I said - cut it out!’ as he hurls a snowball up at Jean, hard and fast. This upsets Jean, for although she easily blocks the attack with her force field, she asks Scott how he can think that. ‘How can you think I’d do anything to harm the baby? Or any of you?’ Jean declares that she can control her power now and reminds Scott that he was the one who insisted they bring Christopher to this practice session. ‘And how could we object? We know he’ll be okay. Nothing can penetrate his deflection field to harm him’ Jean exclaims. Jean reminds Scott that he said they would use the game to hone their powers in a way that was fun and competitive, and maybe a little dangerous.
‘C’mon Scott, play the game - as long as it is a game - and not a tea party!’ Jean shouts as she releases a telekinetic surge, sending Scott, and several snowballs, careening backwards. ‘Game - ha! Whatever’s going on here, it’s more like all out war!’ the Beast muses as he swings around on bars, while deflecting the snowballs. Hank decides that Scott was out of line snapping at Jean the way he did, using his son to get at her. But equally, Beast knows that Jean is deliberately baiting Scott, not behaving anything like usual understanding self. Hank decides that this fight is not about the baby, or Jean’s use of her powers, or Scott’s sportsmanship, but about autonomy, and control.
Warren “Archangel” Worthington III flies near Hank, who tells himself that Scott is hurt because Jean has refused to marry him, while Jean is angry that Scott is pressuring her, that he refuses to back off and does not understand. ‘Her head is filled with memories that aren’t even hers - memories belonging to the Phoenix - to Madelyne - memories that compel her into Scott’s arms…and she’s fighting for the right to shape her own life with every ounce of her red-head’s stubbornness!’ Hank thinks to himself. But Hank knows that Scott and Jean’s hurt and anger are out in the open and their conflict could tear X-Factor apart. Suddenly, ‘Oh my stars and garters! That bar is…dissolving!’ Hank exclaims.
Indeed, the bar the Beast swung onto fades away - as does Ship in its entirety, and X-Factor, along with several chunks of ice, begin to plummet to the ground below. ‘What happened to the Ship?’ Hank calls out, while Bobby tells everyone to watch out for the falling ice. ‘Least of our worries, Iceman. I’ve got them!’ Scott announces as he releases an optic blast, which destroys the ice shards, before calling out to Jean, telling her to grab everyone. ‘Already done!’ Jean exclaims as she extends her telekinetic field around Scott, Bobby and Hank. But when she tries to latch onto Christopher, his simply pops out of Jean’s force field. ‘No! The baby’s field repelled mine! I couldn’t hold him!’ Jean gasps. ‘Archangel -!’ Scott shouts.
‘I’m on my way!’ Warren replies as he soars downwards, to where Christopher is plummeting. Warren realizes that the baby is nearly a second ahead of him, so he flies faster than he has ever flown before, while praying that he is not too late - ‘Got him!’ Warren announces, just inches before they would have both crashed into the ground. Jean lowers everyone to the ground, while Warren hands Christopher to Cyclops, ‘Thank you, Archangel. If anything had happened to him…’ Scott exclaims, while Jean points out that Christopher is laughing, that he thought it was fun. ‘Such faith our children have in us. He knew we’d catch him, Scott. I don’t think he was afraid’ Warren tells his friend.
Cyclops hugs his son, while Jean points out that they will have to start training him to control his power, intentionally, not just instinctively. ‘Something like this could happen again…’ Jean begins. Hank tells Bobby that seconds ago Scott and Jean were at each other’s throat, and now they are thinking and acting like members of a team. ‘About bloody time’ Bobby mutters. ‘As terrible a disaster as this might be, at least it’s reassured me that instinct and training count for something’ Hank remarks, adding that there is hope for the team’s survival yet. But Bobby tells his friend not to bust out the champagne yet, reminding him that someone has stolen Ship!
Franklin hovers over the city, he had been watching X-Factor’s plight. With Ship gone, he shouts ‘There. That’s better!’ He frowns, his eyes glowing red.
Somewhere on Earth, at a nexus where the here-and-now and the future meet…the enigmatic Ahab stands in a control room. ‘That Richards lad has faced Hounds, Fliers, Sentinels…destroyed all with a wave of his hand. He had no powers in the future when I first ran him to ground’ Ahab thinks to himself. He believes that should have been the end of Franklin, and yet it is not. ‘He should not exist. He should have died in the future. And yet - he is here’ Ahab tells himself, deciding that Franklin’s ability to shift reality is miraculous. ‘But I will destroy him’ Ahab tells himself, for if he does not, Franklin’s presence here in the past may alter the course of history. ‘And that cannot be allowed’.
Ahab opens his time portal and brings his minions back in time to this mutant-infested era. ‘They will lead my to Franklin Richards. Again he will fall - to Ahab, Master of the Hounds. The portal opens, and Ahab’s Hound minions enter the complex. ‘After him, my Hounds! Find him! Lead me to Richards, that I might destroy him!’ Ahab booms. Suddenly though, ‘Never!’ one of the Hounds calls out. ‘What?’ Ahab gasps. ‘He is the hope of my kind. I will not aid in his destruction!’ the Hound exclaims. Ahab realizes that the Hound’s mutant ability gives him the power to partly resist the mental transformation that his harpoon brings. ‘Nevertheless - we shall try again!’ Ahab decides as he throws his energy harpoon at the Hound, who is restrained by several others. But the Hound resists: ‘It’s useless, you stinking traitor! Try as much as you like! I’ll never become a Hound…never track down my fellow mutants…or serve you…or your Sentinel masters!’ the Hound declares. Ahab stands over the Hound, ‘Then, mutant scum…you will die!’ Ahab announces as he shoves his jagged harpoon into the Hound, splattering blood.
Elsewhere, in the borough of Manhattan, a Fantast-Car containing Ben Grimm and Sharon “She-Thing” Ventura soars across the sky, while Johnny Storm a.k.a. the Human Torch flies alongside them, and Forge flies behind them in a sky-cycle. Sharon, the former Ms Marvel, remarks that it seems impossible that at some future date, their gentle little Franklin will become the brute who smashed Four Freedoms Plaza. ‘Impossible or not, babe, it’s what his big brain dad seems ta think’ Ben, the former Thing, replies. Forge announces that he and Banshee encountered the same immensely powerful being, who indicated to them that he was Franklin Richards, which is why he was searching for the Fantastic Four. Johnny points out that whoever he is, he has Reed and Sue plenty worried, and supposes that they must be in Westchester now with Banshee and little Franklin.
The Human Torch declares that he hopes the others are having more luck tracking Franklin then they, before asking Sharon if the scanner is showing anything. ‘No…’ Sharon begins, before announcing ‘Yes! A residual energy reading - the kind that surrounds our building!’ she declares, telling the others that it is on the shore of Lower Manhattan. ‘Nuts! Would ya look at that?’ Ben exclaims as they reach their destination. ‘At what, Ben?’ Johnny asks. ‘You got eyes, don’t ya, junior? Where’s that giant pin-ball machine X-Factor calls their Ship?’ Ben asks, while the heroes hover over the empty space where Ship used to stand. They descend, as the Human Torch sees X-Factor below: ‘Beats me! But there’s X-Factor. At least they seem to be in one piece’ Johnny remarks, before calling out ‘Hey, what happened to you guys?’
Soon, the heroes gather together, with Scott concluding his explanation of what happened to X-Factor: ‘We were on an upper floor and suddenly we were falling. Our Ship was simply…gone. But it’s good to see you, Ben’. Ben shakes Scott’s hand, and introduces She-Thing, as he doesn’t think they have met before. Hank and Sharon shake hands, and Sharon remarks that she supposes her presence makes them the Fantastic Five. Forge and Jean clasp hands and Forge tells her that it is good to see her again, though he would have hoped for pleasanter circumstances. ‘Yo - ice and fire!’ Bobby exclaims. ‘The unbeatable combo!’ Johnny declares as Iceman and the Human Torch grip each others hand, creating steam.
Ben tells Cyclops that it was the strangest thing - they got home and Four Freedoms Plaza had switched back to being the old Baxter Building, and inside they faced themselves, the Fantastic Four from years ago, and a bozo who seemed to be Reed’s son, Franklin, from years in the future. Christopher reaches out and touches She-Thing, who exclaims ‘Not scared of my rock-face one little bit, is he?’ and asks Hank if she can hold him. Hank replies ‘Of course’ and tells Sharon that if Christopher did not like her his force field would be up and she would not be able to touch him.
‘So you’re another little pumpkin with powers…’ Sharon remarks to Christopher as Cyclops hands his son to her, while Scott asks Ben if they are going to track Franklin. ‘You called, it Cyke…though what we’re gonna do with him if we catch him…and he’s got the whole FF licked in the power department’ Ben replies, so Scott offers to help. Ben replies that he was hoping Scott would make the offer, before Cyclops motions to Forge, who is still standing with Jean. ‘He hasn’t joined the Fantastic Four, too, has he? What’s he doing here?’ Ben explains that Forge had a run-in with Franklin himself, and remarks that Forge is an inventor like Reed. Scott replies that he knows, as a while back, one of Forge’s inventions robbed one of Scott’s teammates of her powers. Ben tells Scott to give Forge a chance, as he is an X-Man and they need him. ‘He’s thrown together an extra energy scanner based on Reed’s design!’ Ben explains. Cyclops remarks that this is good, and points out that they can cover more ground split up, but tells everyone to stay in touch.
An instant later, Marvel Girl, Beast and Forge are in the sky-cycle, with the Human Torch flying alongside them, and Cyclops, Iceman, She-Thing, Ben and baby Christopher depart in the Fantasti-car, with Archangel soaring under them. ‘Anything yet?’ Forge calls out to Hank, who holds the scanner up and replies ‘Nothing. Are you sure this thing’s working?’ Forge replies that it should be, and tells Hank to jiggle the connection on the back a little, explaining that it is put together with high-tech versions of string and baling wire, but that it should still do the trick. An instant later, the tracker beeps, and Hank announces that there is an energy reading straight ahead.
Hank examines the readings and declares that something else is coming from behind them - something off the scale. Suddenly, ‘What the heck?’ Johnny exclaims as the energy from behind races onwards, knocking him aside. Hank realizes what the energy is, and thinks to himself that there is only one being on Earth who could create that kind of energy reading. He decides that this is a disaster, and wonders what she is doing here. Forge announces that he has a visual confirmation on Franklin Richards, who has materialized dead ahead. ‘That energy field’s headed for him on a collision course!’ Forge exclaims as they follow the energy as quick as they can - and an instant later, over Liberty Island, the energy collides with Franklin Richards in spectacular display.
She is the irresistible force. He is the unmovable object. Their union ignites the sky. Their past has shredded her soul and she has ripped the memories from her mind. Her heart is a mine-field. He offers release - and for a single, human moment, she glories in it. But only for a moment…. ‘What…are you?’ Rachel “Phoenix” Summers of Excalibur asks as she huddles herself, hovering near Franklin. ‘“What”? - not who?’ Franklin replies. And then, the we becomes I. His love suffocates. His need is overwhelming. He offers not release - but oblivion. The Hound tattoos appear on Rachel’s face, and she is angry. ‘No!’ she shouts as she blasts Franklin with a surge of energy. She tells him to get away from her. ’I felt it, all the way in England. Did you think I wouldn’t know?’ she asks.
Franklin continues to hover in the air, his jumpsuit in tatters, Rachel flies near to him and shouts ‘You’ve been siphoning off my energy!’ But Franklin tells her to stop it, and exclaims ‘You’re not supposed to have that kind of ability!’ as he turns around and blasts energy towards Rachel. ‘You shouldn’t be able to do that!’ he declares as the Phoenix Force manifests around Rachel. Rachel replies that she doesn’t know who he is, or how he knows who she is, or why he thinks she can’t do what she can. ‘But I know this! I’m the Phoenix! And my power speaks for itself!’ she shouts.
The Human Torch declares that he doesn’t know what is going on here, but Franklin is his nephew, so if anyone is going to stop Franklin, it should be him. Johnny flies towards Franklin as the mutants in the Fantasti-car follow him. The Beast sees Rachel, a girl who in all probability is Scott and Jean’s daughter from a future timeline. Hank recalls that Scott always seemed unaware of what Rachel might be to him, even when both were on the X-Men together. Hank reminds himself that Rachel’s memory was scrambled, and wonders how much of her past she remembers, not to mention why she is here right now. ‘Torch - no!’ Hank calls out, instructing Jean to grab him. Marvel Girl flies after Johnny, throwing a telekinetic field around him.
‘What’s your problem, Beast You know that bimbo?’ Johnny calls out as he Jean hover in the air. ‘Look at her…just look!’ Jean gasps, wide-eyed. ‘It’s…the Phoenix effect…isn’t it?’ Jean remarks, before asking Hank who she is and what is going on, as Rachel continues to attack Franklin with the energy of the Phoenix Force. ‘Oh, boy, what do I say now?’ Hank wonders, knowing that Jean is already feeling trapped, so what will she do when confronted with Rachel? Forge tells Hank to forget about the others, alerting him to the fact they have problems of their own: ‘Incoming bogeys at one o’clock!’ Forge calls out, as the missiles lock onto the sky-cycle. ‘Multiple mutant protectors! Destroy them!’ comes the order. ‘Destroy the Richards mutant!’ another remarks.
Hank is grabbed by one of the missiles which latches onto him. ‘Of all the times, sorry, chum, but he’s our little problem!’ Hank exclaims, while the grip of the missile on Hank’s shoulder is almost unbelievable, while Hank is forced off the sky-cycle and into the air. However, the Beast’s grip is impressive as well. ‘Here’s look at you, too, ugly!’ he tells the missile as he frees himself from it, but continues to fall. ‘Jean! We have a little emergency here!’ Hank calls out to his friend, but sees that Jean is not listening, Hank supposes that seeing Rachel has got Jean really spooked. ‘Hey - JEAN!’ Hank shouts. ‘What -? Good Lord! Hank!’ Jean exclaims as she quickly grabs the Beast with her telekinesis. ‘It’s about time!’ Hank exclaims as Jean lowers him to the vehicle.
Hank continues to grab the missiles, ‘Heads up, friends…there’re more where they came from!’ Hank announces., while Forge asks ‘What are these things? Where are they coming from?’ The Human Torch blasts the missiles with bolts of fire, and remarks that judging from their chatter, they are after Franklin, but will kill anyone who gets in their way. Jean attacks the missiles with telekinesis, exclaiming that whoever is after Franklin does not know what they are up against, as Franklin could destroy these devices with only a thought. Johnny points out that Franklin is pre-occupied, and doesn’t think Franklin knows they are even here.
Indeed, the adult Franklin and Rachel Summers continue to attack each other. ‘Why are you doing this? You shouldn’t be this way!’ Franklin cries, while more of his jumpsuit is torn off. ‘And you…? You’re out of place and time!’ Rachel retorts, asking how he is doing this, how it is possible, ‘Who are you?’ she exclaims. Franklin asks her if he has changed so much, and why she doesn’t know him. ‘You came. You found me…now. Like before - when you led Ahab to me’ he tells Rachel. ‘You had no choice then. You were innocence betrayed. You should never have been a Hound!’ Franklin exclaims as he begins to cry. ‘But only my own sweet, gentle, Rachel…’
‘What has happened? I never meant it to be this way…I only wanted you to love me. It’s all so…changed…how can it have gone so wrong?’ Franklin asks, as tears stream down his cheeks, before suddenly, he unleashes a massive explosion of energy, there is a mighty THOOM! And Franklin vanishes. Rachel finds herself dazed and confused, sitting up on the edge of Liberty Island. ‘What the heck was that? Where’s Franklin? What did you do to him?’ Johnny calls out as he flies down to Rachel. ‘Franklin?’ she utters, while telling herself that she felt that she knew him. ‘I was so afraid. He says he loved me. Why can’t I remember?’ Rachel thinks to herself, before assuring the Human Torch that he is alive, as she can feel the constant drain of her energies - not to mention feel him tugging at her heart. Forge and the Beast fly towards Rachel in the sky-cycle, when suddenly, a voice calls out ‘Are you all right?’
Rachel looks up ‘I…’ she begins. ‘Oh no’ she thinks to herself, while Jean Grey drops down beside her. ‘I saw…the Phoenix effect…I saw everything. Who are you?’ Jean demands. Rachel thinks to herself ‘Why did she have to find me like this now? A fallen confused wreck. Hound marks ripped across my face…but it won’t matter. She’ll love me anyway. It’s more than memory. It’s in our blood’ Rachel looks up at Jean and states ‘Hello, mother. I hadn’t planned for us to meet like this...’.
Elsewhere in Manhattan, Cyclops, Iceman, Ben Grimm and She-Thing are continuing on their search for Franklin, when one of them announces that the scanner shows a sudden burst of energy, from atop the Chrysler Building. They look up and see the almost naked Franklin. ‘He’s just lying there’ someone points out. ‘He’s the very picture of abstract misery’ another remarks, before wondering if he is hurt. The Fantasti-car hovers alongside the ledge where Franklin lies, and Ben and Sharon get out of the car, with Ben announcing that Franklin does not appear to be hurt, and remarks that he wont be going anywhere this time, or doing harm to anybody. ‘Maybe we can talk to him. Get him to tell us what’s going on’ Ben suggests, while Sharon adds that they might be able to convince him to set things right.
‘Listen, kid. You wanna tell me and your Aunt Shary just what’s going on?’ Ben asks, extending a hand to Franklin. She-Thing tells Ben that she is no sure Franklin hears him, or even knows he is there. ‘It’s as if he’s on another plane of existence!’ Sharon exclaims, while Franklin rubs his head - suddenly though, a massive Sentinel appears, and blasts Franklin with energy. ‘A giant robot! Where the heck did he come from?’ Ben asks as he and She-Thing are knocked away from the ledge - but Sharon manages to grab hold of a piece of the architecture on the ledge, while Ben clings on to She-Thing’s leg. ‘He’s interested in Franklin, not us!’ Sharon exclaims. But Ben tells Sharon to look behind her, as there is another robot. Ben calls out to Cyclops, telling him they could use some help.
Cyclops pilots the Fantasti-car, while Iceman holds onto the baby, and Archangel soars nearby, alerting Cyclops to the Sentinels. Cyclops replies that he sees them, and points out that it is an advanced design which he has never seen before, however there just seems to be the two of them. Scott tells Warren to rescue Ben and Sharon, while he pilots the Fantasti-car towards the Sentinel that its after Franklin. ‘Quit jawin’ will ya and start saving while there’s something left ta save!’ Ben calls out as the Sentinel looms near him and Sharon - and suddenly grabs them both - until Archangel soars through, cutting the Sentinel’s hand off with his razor-sharp wings. ‘you have severed my arm, mutant. You will be terminated’ the Sentinel exclaims as he grabs Warren with its other hand, while the hand that captured Ben and She-Thing falls onto the ledge, setting them both free. ‘These piles of tin are faster than they look!’ Ben warns.
Iceman is on an ice-sled now and speeds towards the Sentinel hovering near Franklin, while Scott attacks it with an optic blast. ‘Danger! Optice blast has breached unit’s impenetrable armor!’ the Sentinel announces. ‘That’s my cue! Where there’s a crack - ol’ Bobby Drake can work wonders!’ Iceman boast as he begins to pour ice into the gap in the Sentinel’s neck. ‘Alert! Alert! This unit is being filled with ice!’ the Sentinel announces. It states that its internal environment is approaching absolute zero and it cannot sustain systems at this temperature, so it shuts down. ‘One down!’ Iceman calls out.
Back on the ledge, ‘Go, Shary! Now!’ Ben calls out, as She-Thing leaps onto the other Sentinel’s remaining hand. ‘He’s one handed, now. He’s gotta release Archangel to swat at ya…’ Ben points out, and Sharon climbs into the Sentinel’s shoulder, beginning to use her incredible strength to lift the Sentinel’s head off its shoulders. ‘What are you doing creature?’ the Sentinel asks, after setting Archangel free. ‘What -?’ the Sentinel exclaims, but it’s too late, as Sharon rips the robot’s head off! As it falls backwards, Archangel swoops down to pick Sharon up, while some sort of warp appears, and sucks the remains of the Sentinel into it.
Archangel drops Sharon and Ben back into the Fantasti-car, while Iceman slides along side them, announcing that his Sentinel disappeared as well. ‘What now? What about Franklin?’ She-Thing asks. Warren sees that the adult Franklin is getting to his feet, unscathed by the Sentinel’s attack. ‘Unscathed and utterly oblivious!’ Scott declares, pointing out that Franklin didn’t seem to notice the Sentinels were there, despite taking a direct hit. Scott then calls out to Franklin, telling him that he has to listen to them. But there is no response, no recognition, only a blinding, searing flash of light, and at its center, Franklin Richards vanishes.
‘He’s gone - but where?’ Bobby asks. Sharon tells him that it doesn’t matter, as they will still find him. Suddenly, the communicator sounds, and Hank appears on a small monitor, informing Cyclops that Rachel has arrived and is here with Jean. ‘Hurry! I’m afraid there’s going to be trouble…!’ Hank declares.
Ahab watches the heroes, ‘As I suspected, a Sentinel’s attack cannot destroy him. I shall have to do it3 myself!’ Ahab exclaims, before deciding that first he must slaughter Franklin’s protectors!
Back on Liberty Island, ‘You can’t be my daughter…!’ Jean exclaims. Rachel puts a hand to her face and remarks that it must be the Hound marks. ‘You know what they mean. You hate me for them!’ Rachel exclaims. ‘Hate you? How could I hate? I don’t know you!’ Jean replies, before declaring that it is impossible for Rachel to be her daughter, as they are the same age. ‘It’s the future! I’m your daughter from the future!’ Rachel explains. ‘NO!’ Jean shouts, before collapsing to her knees, and covering her hands with her face. ‘You can’t be! You can’t!’ Jean exclaims. But Rachel shouts ‘I am! Why won’t you believe me?’ as Cyclops and the others gather around. Scott rushes over to them, asking Jean what is wrong, and asking Rachel what is happening here.
With Christopher in his arms, Scott goes over to Jean, and they embrace, while Rachel looks on in agony. ‘Look at you…the three of you…together…a family. My family’ she exclaims, before informing them that she is from the future. ‘And in that future you marry and have a baby. A girl…me. In my world, Christopher doesn’t exist and yet, he’s here. And you love him more than me!’ Rachel shouts. Scott turns to Rachel and asks her if she is saying that she is their daughter. ‘I didn’t know. Why didn’t you tell me?’ Scott calls out. Rachel has turned away, she is crying. ‘Dad, I -’ Rachel begins, before an energy harpoon is shoved through her, and she keels over, as Ahab, flanked by dozens of Hounds, appears. ‘So you, too, have escaped your proper time…and place! You…my pride…my greatest warrior!’ Ahab booms.
Ahab kneels beside Rachel and pulls her by her hair, telling her that she cannot escape her destiny, despite how she would deny it. Energy seethes around Rachel, as Ahab exclaims ‘My harpoon reminds you…of who you are…and what you truly are!’ With that, Ahab throws Rachel to the ground, and when she rises, she has transformed into a viscous and deadly Hound! Rachel clings to Ahab, wrapping her arms around his artificial leg, while the other Hounds gather around them. ‘A killer of her own kind. A Hound…nothing more!’ Ahab exclaims. X-Factor and the other heroes look on in shock: ‘Scott, who is that creature? Good Lord, what’s he done to Rachel? Jean asks. Cyclops replies that he doesn’t know, but that they have to stop him. Ahab turns to his Hounds and tells them to greet their long-lost pack leader. ‘Welcome her back into the fold!’ he exclaims as the Hounds gather around Rachel and begin tearing at her, despite her pleading with them to get away from her. ‘You’re wrong! Twisted! You disgust me!’ she exclaims.
The Phoenix symbol appears in her eyes, and she shouts ‘I am not one of you! I am Hound no longer…I am Phoenix - and you carrion eaters are my prey!’ And with that, Rachel releases powerful energy, which tears through the Hounds, destroying all of them, while she is reverted back to normal. The other heroes rush towards her, as Jean calls out ‘Rachel? What did you do to them?’ Rachel gets up off the ground ‘What did I do? Not what did he do to me?’ she exclaims, turning her back on Scott and Jean, Rachel takes to the sky, ‘You don’t understand!’ she shouts, while Jean calls out to her, while telling Scott that she did not mean to hurt Rachel. ‘but I’d never seen such power…such anger…I was…afraid’ Jean explains.
Ahab tells Marvel Girl that her concern is misplaced. Everyone turns to the villain, who announces that it is Ahab and those who sever him that they must fear. ‘In a future time, I helped eradicate your race. Now…to save my timeline from oblivion…you will die!’ Ahab booms, as another portal opens, creating a warp in the very fabric of Space-Time, dozens of Hounds appear on Liberty Island. X-Factor, the Fantastic Four and Forge all engage the Hounds in battle. Suddenly, ‘Jean, look!’ Cyclops exclaims, demonstrating his optic blasts, Scott points out that there is a single slit in the sky where his power disappears.
Ahab is looking very proud of himself, and decides that against these odds the mutants have no chance, but suddenly, Ahab sees more heroes arriving in the distance. ‘It will do them no good! They will fall… as they all fell before!’ Ahab decides. Indeed, descending upon Liberty Island and the horde of Hounds below - Sean “Banshee” Cassidy of the X-Men, Cable, mentor to the New Mutants, whose number includes Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta, Tabitha “Boom-Boom” Smith, Warlock and Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie. Susan Storm Richards a.k.a. the Invisible Woman and Reed Richards a.k.a. Mr Fantastic, both of the Fantastic Four, round out the group of heroes. Susan and Reed’s unconscious son, Franklin, in his present young form lies in his mother’s arms. Slowly, the balance of power begins to turn, with all the heroes battling the Hounds.
Ahab sees Franklin Richards, ‘The child as he belongs in this time and place! Unconscious…powerless…and therefore, in my power!’ Ahab tells himself, before throwing his harpoon towards the child, deciding that he will end his troubles with Franklin now and for all time. But Susan throws up an invisible force field, blocking the harpoon. ‘No! My son has suffered enough, monster! Do you hear me! Enough!’ Susan exclaims. The harpoon bounces off Susan’s force field, and Banshee swoops down, using his sonic scream to shatter the harpoon. Ahab announces that his psychic harpoons are not so easily destroyed, and creates another one with ease, while Reed stretches towards the villain, and with some sort of analyzer in his hand, Reed thinks to himself ‘Interesting! A time displacement field surrounds Ahab and his creatures!’
But before Reed can begin to discern Ahab’s secret, a telekinetic field tanks him out of the battle field - Jean lifts herself, Scott, Reed, Sue and Franklin up onto the top of the Statue of Liberty. ‘What are you doing? I was getting vital readings on Ahab!’ Reed exclaims. Scott apologizes to Reed, explaining that he noticed something during the battle that may help them. In his own force field, Christopher lands on the Statue of Liberty as well, and Jean asks Susan to look after him as well, while Sue holds Franklin in her arms. ‘Of course, Jean. But I can’t help but wonder if any of us will be safe…now. My son…Cyclops’s child…what sort of nightmare world awaits them?’ Susan asks.
‘I’m waiting, Cyclops’ Reed exclaims. Scott informs Reed that there is an area in the sky where his optic blast simply disappeared, as if it penetrated to somewhere else. ‘As I suspected. He’s using a tesseract pocket…a small dimensional anomaly out of Space / Time’ Reed replies, suggesting that is where Ahab has hidden his time displacement machineries. ‘If we take out this time pocket, we rid ourselves of him and his horde?’ Scott asks. ‘It’s possible!’ Reed begins. ‘To that end, I suggest…’ he begins.
And soon, Scott, Jean, Reed and Susan return to the battle. Scott unleashes a powerful optic blast over the Hounds, and he calls out to Archangel, asking him if he sees the time-pocket. ‘I’m on my way, Scott!’ Warren calls out, certain that he can maneuver himself through the portal. But as he does so, Warren wonders if he will be able to deal with what he finds on the other side. Ahab sees Archangel entering the portal: ‘You have discovered my treasure, mutant…but I am not fool enough to leave it unguarded!’ Ahab exclaims, throwing his weapon at Archangel, who falls out of the portal, and towards the hard ground below. ‘WARREN!’ Hank shouts as he leaps up to help his good friend, catching Warren before he smacks into the ground.
‘You’ve killed him!’ Hank exclaims with Warren in his arms, blood pouring from Warren’s mouth. Ahab lands nearby, so Hank lunges towards him: ‘You’ll pay for that, Ahab! I swear it!’ Hank shouts, and clashes with Ahab, grabbing his harpoon. ‘You’re proud of your weapon, aren’t you, Ahab? I’ll wrest if from you…and then we’ll see…what it feels like to suffer!’ Hank declares, while Ahab asks the Beast how he will hold the harpoon, as the power it contains sears your flesh and will destroy you. Iceman sees the Beast struggling against Ahab, and calls out to him, ‘I’m coming!’ he shouts, with the Human Torch at his side. But Mr Fantastic tells Iceman to wait, pointing out that the Beast’s direct assault has distracted Ahab, has brought them time, and the Human Torch begins to blast the time portal with nova intensity. Reed suspects that the portal is undoubtedly shielded, and believes that the intense cold which Iceman can generate may do the trick.
‘You got it, big-brain! But if anything happens to Hank…’ Iceman remarks as he stands on an ice-sled and joins Human Torch in the attack on the portal, ‘First things first, Drake, right now, let’s give ‘im the old one-two punch!’ Johnny exclaims. Fire and ice combined does indeed disable the portal, and the pocket is disrupted as Ahab’s base appears plain as day. Bobby tells Johnny to keep pouring it on. ‘Give it everything you’ve got’ Bobby shouts, while he calls out to Cyclops, ‘Now, Cyke, while it’s frozen and brittle - do it now!’ Ahab’s base is covered in ice, and at that moment, Hank manages to break Ahab’s harpoon. ‘My machineries! No! It cannot be! You mutants cannot defeat me…I am master of the Hounds!’ Ahab booms. Jean telekinetically moves herself and Scott into place. ‘It’s up to you’ Jean tells Cyclops, who, with intense concentration narrows his optic blast to a thin beam of irresistible force at Ahab’s base.
This results in a massive explosion, and Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman and the Human Torch are all thrown backwards. ‘NO!’ booms Ahab, while the Hounds inform him that the time warp has been destroyed, and without it they cannot remain in this era. ‘Fool of a mutant dog! You belabor the obvious!’ Ahab retorts, and an instant later, another brilliant explosion of energy occurs, as Ahab and his Hounds are shunted out of the present day.
The Invisible Woman, still holding onto Franklin, puts up a force field to cushion the fall of Scott, Jean, Bobby, Johnny and Reed, while she asks Reed if he and the others are all right. With everyone on the ground now, Reed replies that most of them are, but Iceman and Archangel have sustained massive injuries. Everyone gathers around, With Cyclops holding the injured Iceman in his arms, and Marvel Girl and the New mutants crouching beside the injured Archangel. The Human Torch explains that he melted the shrapnel of the ship as it came to him, and Scott points out that Jean protected him with her telekinesis, but Iceman was the closest, so he took the brunt of it.
Scott asks how Archangel is, and Jean points out that Warren has survived worse, and seems to be in shock. Cyclops lies Iceman down on a “bed” that Warlock creates with his alien body, and declares that he hopes that was the last of Ahab, because these two are down for the count. ‘Scott -’ Jean begins, while Scott holds Christopher in his arms and kisses him. ‘At least you’re safe’ Scott exclaims, while Jean tells Scott that they have to talk about Rachel, about what she said about them. Scott turns to Jean and tells her that it is a shock for him as well, that somehow she is his daughter from the future, and now that he knows it, he cannot believe he didn’t see this before. ‘Maybe she didn’t want you do know, and points out that with Rachel’s telepathic power she could have altered Scott’s perception of reality.
‘Jean. You know I love you’ Scott declares, before asking her if having a daughter like Rachel would be really so terrible. Jean turns away and replies that it is not Rachel, that she was lovely. ‘I was shocked…it’s just so much to accept, so very much…’ Jean begins, but suddenly, the adult Franklin materializes overhead. ‘I must admit it. You did quite well…for first level mutants’ he states. ‘Franklin?’ Scott gasps. ‘But what do any of you know of the future?’ Franklin asks, fire in his eyes. He drops down beside Cyclops, and informs Scott that the child he holds will have more power than all of them. ‘You accept him…you love him. Your little Nathan Christopher Summers…but it is Rachel whom I love. Rachel…who is special! Rachel who is your only child!’ Franklin shouts.
Franklin casts a beam of energy around Cyclops and Franklin and exclaims ‘Why can’t you see it? That child doesn’t belong here…! He was not supposed to be born!’ Cyclops looks shocked, and calls out for his son, as Franklin announces that he will take him away. Scott begins to cry, and shakes as the adult Franklin vanishes with his infant son. Scott is unable to utter any cry, he simply drops to his knees, then falls to the ground. ‘Scott…?’ Jean calls out as she rushes over to her unmoving lover….
Jean “Marvel Girl” Grey holds a bunch of pink flowers as she stands in a cemetery, her hair blowing in the wind, she looks down at a gravestone - a gravestone belonging to Jean Grey! Jean crouches at her grave and places the flowers against it. She stands up and continues to look at the gravestone, when suddenly a voice calls out ‘She was very young’. Jean spins around, ‘You…you knew her?’ Jean asks, surprised. An elderly woman replies ‘What? Oh…no’ I was just looking at the dates on the headstone. It’s tragic when one so young passes away’. Jean points out that it is tragic when anyone passes away. The elderly woman asks ‘So what were you, her sister?’ before excusing herself, claiming that she didn’t mean to pry. ‘Well, I did mean to. You want I should mind my own business, you just tell me’ the old woman exclaims.
Jean replies that it is all right, and asks the elderly woman if she wants an honest answer. ‘If you want to give one’ the elderly woman replies. Jean rubs her head and admits ‘I don’t know what I am to her’. Jean runs a hand through her hair, explaining ‘I feel like she’s a part of me. Not only that, but I feel like someone else is a part of me as well. And I feel as if I don’t know where they begin and I end…it’s all very complicated’ Jean exclaims. ‘As a simple question…’ the old woman remarks before turning around and walking down the path, coming to a stop at another gravestone, she stands there and looks at it, before sitting on a nearby park bench.
Jean watches the old woman, before walking over’ Umm…are you visiting a relative?’ Jean asks. The elderly woman motions to a gravestone and replies ‘My husband, Sam’. Jean looks at the grave and remarks ‘So you’re Mrs Scully’. ‘You’re quick, you know that, dear?’ Mrs Scully replies. ‘So I’ve been told’ Jean remarks, asking Mrs Scully if she misses her husband. ‘Only every day’ Mrs Scully replies, before smiling, and telling Jean that she did not mean to be rude about what she was saying before. ‘What was that all about?’ she asks. ‘Nothing really’ Jean lies, claiming that she was trying to say that she is having an identity crisis. ‘I don’t know who I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to act like’.
Jean sits down on the bench next to Mrs Scully and continues, explaining that she feels like she has other people in her head, telling her way to do. ‘I don’t know what’s expected of me, or what I expect of myself’. Mrs Scully replies that she follows, and asks Jean if she thinks this makes her unique. ‘I don’t think anyone quite has the same problem’ Jean replies. But Mrs Scully replies that everyone does. ‘You think you’re the only one who isn’t sure who she is?’ she asks, before pulling up her sleeve, revealing a tattoo. ‘Do you know what this tattoo means?’ she asks. Jean looks surprised as she sees the numbers tattooed into Mrs Scully’s arm. ‘That you were…in a concentration camp’ Jean replies, before asking Mrs Scully if she is Jewish. ‘Because this isn’t a Jewish cemetery, and I thought…’.
Jean is interrupted by Mrs Scully, who frowns and tells Jean that Hitler killed lots more than just Jewish people, before revealing that, as it happens, she is Jewish. ‘Or was. Or am’ she adds. Mrs Scully tells Jean that she does not have to be young and pretty like her to have the same problems as she does. ‘You want to hear? Or maybe you got something better to do?’ Mrs Scully asks. ‘No. Nothing “better” at all’ Jean replies.
Flashback, narrated by Mrs Scully:
Mrs Scully reveals that they were one of the richer families in Berlin, and they thought that would protect them from the madness. She explains that her father was very progressive and made sure she and her sister were well educated in all things. She tells Jean that her favorite was dancing, that she loved to dance all dances, and the house would ring with her “one-and-two-and-one-and-two”. But Mrs Scully admits that her family was not safe - no one was, and just as it happened to their poorer neighbors, it happened to her family as well, and her family was split up - the Nazis liked to do that, it gave them a feeling of power - as if they didn’t have enough, and she could do nothing as her father was taken from her.
Jean listens intently as Mrs Scully reveals that when she was younger than Jean, she went from being beloved, pampered daughter, second of four, to prisoner. ’That was two identities right there’. Mrs Scully informs Jean that at the camp they cut her hair very short, like what is called “crew cuts”, and they took their clothes and made them stand naked for hours to dehumanize them, adding that the clothes they gave them were little more than rags.
Flashback, narrated by Mrs Scully:
She reveals that every day the Nazi soldiers would march people off to the “showers” - the showers no one ever came back from. And every single day, they would wonder if there would be a next day for them. However, one day, they got a new commandant, and he recognized her. As it happened, her father had known all the right people, or thought he had, and the commandant had seen her dance, in happier times. He then ordered her to dance right then, to make sure she was who he thought she was. Dancing, it was the first time she was alive in ages. The commandant watched her, never taking his eyes off her. He then took her from the barracks, cleaned her up, dressed her and fed her. She then watched others waste away, while she became fit and whole all under the care of the commandant.
She knew the commandant did not love her, or such nonsense, she was simply his “dancing Jewess”. “One-and-two-and-one-and-two”. She was a toy that he would trot out for visiting dignitaries. But at night, he would keep her around for…other things - for his sexual pleasure. In the camps you did anything to survive. Anything. So now she had more than two identities - survivor, and what the women would call her when they would pass her. Survivor and harlot.
Mrs Scully informs Jean that she has not spoken of this in years. ‘Maybe it’s because I have the feeling I’m going to be with my Sam soon…and someone should know this. And since we never had any children, Sam and me…’ Mrs Scully trails off. Jean asks her if she met Sam in the camps, but Mrs Scully reveals that they met several years later, as the camps were liberated eventually, as she is sure Jean knows, while her “toy master”, the commandant killed himself rather than face the allied soldiers. Mrs Scully reveals that once they were freed, she tried to find word of her family, to see if any had survived. ‘I couldn’t find any trace. All gone. All gone’ she reveals.
Flashback, narrated by Mrs Scully:
She left Germany and came to America, where she got a job in a bakery, which is where she met Sam, who bought so many loaves of bread from her that she thought he was feeding an army - but as it happens, he was just coming in to see her. Eventually, the two began seeing each other, socially, and Sam proposed to her, on his knees, like a gentleman. However, she was not sure what to do, as Sam was not Jewish, and her family had been very, very strict about such things. Only, her family was gone, and Sam was such a good man, and she was so alone. So she added another identity to her collection, namely wife - not mother though, as the Good Lord chose not to bless them. But she cooked and cleaned for Sam, and they were happy.
But years later, she received word that miracle of miracles, her mother’s sister, her aunt, had survived. Her aunt found her though immigration records, and she was thrilled beyond belief. She met her aunt who arrived in America. But her aunt was not what she had remembered. The loving, humorous woman she had known was gone. She brought this stern stranger home, and introduced her to Sam. The aunt exploded - how could she have married outside the faith. She was a traitor, insulting her family’s memory. The aunt left, and the young girl inside Mrs Scully cringed, but the woman she had become screamed back angry and hateful things, and the last thing her aunt said to her was “You’ve betrayed your heritage. You’ve forgotten who you are”.
Mrs Scully informs Jean that she never saw her aunt again. ‘I acquired many other identities after that, all identities that people expected of me. Or that I expected of myself’. Curious, Jean asks ‘And who are you? All these things you said are…how do you know what your core is? That’s what I need to know’. Jean asks Mrs Scully when she strips away all the identities she has acquired throughout her life, how does she know what the real is. Mrs Scully gets to her feet, and begins to dance. ‘One-and-two-and-one-and-two-and-’ she states, before reaching to Jean, who gets off the bench and joins her in dance. Mrs Scully tells Jean that some things, you never forget, and Jean watches as Mrs Scully walks off into the distance.