BIOGRAPHY - Page 2
As time passed, Neal and Betsy grew closer to one another. Their time together, however, ended up short, just like Neal’s relationship with Karima. A couple of weeks after leaving the mansion, Storm’s team of X-Men started their quest for the diaries in Valencia, Spain, where they were attacked and kidnapped by the Guardia Civil, Spain’s National Police. The Spanish authorities were not the only ones hunting them, as at the same time the mysterious man known as Vargas, also on the trail of Destiny’s diaries, came after the mutants too. In direct conflict, he managed to outfight Psylocke and stabbed her with his sword, leaving her dead body and a message scrawled in her blood for the X-Men to find.
The loss of Betsy seemed to be the hardest for Neal, even to the point where he refused to allow the Guardia Civil, who realized their mistake in attacking the X-Men, from bagging her body and taking it away. Neal had a crisis of faith, both at being an X-Man and being a mutant. It was Bishop who snapped some sense into the heartbroken man, reminding him that Storm chose them for her team specifically because they all had all dealt with losses in their lives before, and that Neal could either rise to the challenge or succumb to grief. Bishop, though, did admit that he would have liked to spend more time with Betsy, considering that no tales of her grandeur survived to his future timeline. When asking why it mattered so much who made it into Bishop‘s history books, Neal was rather stunned to learn that he apparently had some great things ahead in his life, for records of him did indeed survived to Bishop’s future. [X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #1-3]
Thunderbird’s arrogance, naïve nature and discontent with some of the expectations of being an X-Man continued to grow, leading to another confrontation with Bishop, who reminded Neal that no one forced him to wear the uniform and that he could walk away at any time. So long as he stayed, though, he should make sure he honored those who walked before him. Thunderbird got the message loud and clear, and also took on Bishop as his new mentor, soon showing a significant improvement in the use of his powers. [X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #4]
Several weeks later, the X-Treme X-Men interrupted their quest for the diaries when they were alerted to Gambit having been framed for the murder of an Australian crimelord. While investigating, the team learned that the man died protecting the identities of his two children, who had no idea that he was their father. Thunderbird and Storm went undercover to meet and protect Heather and Davis Cameron, the unknowing heirs to the crime syndicate. The two quickly inserted themselves in the Cameron’s lives, and Heather took an interest in Neal, who was still grieving over Betsy’s death. However, when asked by Heather whether he loved Betsy or not, Neal seemed unsure of the answer and replied that he only knew he missed her greatly. The team’s suspicions proved correct, as assassins tried to kill the siblings. Neal and Storm exposed themselves as X-Men, but Heather also revealed she was a mutant herself, calling herself Lifeguard, who could adapt her body to whatever situation she was in. Eventually, the X-Men uncovered Sebastian Shaw and Lady Mastermind to be the villains behind the plot and, after they were defeated, Heather and Davis spent some time with the X-Men in the days that followed.[X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #5-9]
Around that time, Neal accompanied Storm to the ruins of Genosha, where they met with a group of visiting X-Men and X-Corporation members, Professor Xavier being among them. The trip provided a chance for Neal to get to know the X-Men’s founder a bit better. [New X-Men (1st series) #132]
Shortly after he and Storm arrived back in Australia, the X-Men found themselves under attack again. The inter-dimensional warlord known as Khan had his servant, Shaitan, capture Gambit, as he possessed several gems that Khan needed. Trying to rescue him, Lifeguard was captured as well, just as Shaitan was transported away. Having no other means to follow the villain, Sage suggested to jumpstart Davis Cameron’s latent teleportation powers, but Neal protested, him still carrying the memories of how his life was forever changed because of his mutant powers being triggered by Bastion. However, desperately wanting to save his sister, Davis agreed to the irreversible process. Only later, during the X-Men’s shear endless battles with Khan’s invading army, did Davis realize that he made a mistake in not listening to Neal’s warning, because he was unprepared for the dangers and sacrifices that came along with the hero job, and he could never go back to being a normal human being. [X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #10-12]
In order to take the battle to Khan, some of the X-Men, including Thunderbird and Lifeguard, infiltrated his orbital station. The experience of being in space triggered Heather’s dormant genetic make-up, and she permanently transformed into a golden-skinned human/bird hybrid creature. Her having had no idea of her mother being a Shi’ar alien, Lifeguard was caught totally unaware by the transformation. Neal tried to comfort her as well as possible, but they soon realized that the changes were more than skin-deep, as Heather became a true predator, viewing the people around her as prey. [X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #13-16]
Eventually, Storm’s team of X-Men emerged victorious but, when they returned to Earth, Davis Cameron did not even recognize his sister. When he learned the truth, he back away from her in horror and, fearing that he would also transform, Davis entirely quit the team. Still, Heather wanted to sort things out with him and decided to try tracking him down and without second though Neal volunteered to aid her in her journey. [X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #17-19]
It is unknown whether Neal and Heather found Davis and, if so, how their meeting went. Several weeks later, though, the pair joined the X-Corporation, an extension to the X-Men with various offices all over the globe. Apparently, they were stationed in Singapore, with Neal as head of the branch. Before long, however, the building was attacked by terrorists, leading to an astral visit of Xavier, who had recently secluded himself on Genosha. With Xavier’s aid, Neal found Lifeguard trapped under some rubble and brought her to safety. [Excalibur (3rd series) #5]
When X-Corporation closed down, apparently Thunderbird and Lifeguard continued on the search for Slipstream. It is unknown whether Thunderbird is aware that Karima’s Sentinel programming was erased, nor how he feels about Psylocke since her resurrection. When M-Day struck, the Office of National Emergency identified Neal as retaining his powers. [The 198 Files] When the X-Men set up home in San Francisco, Neal joined them during a festive celebration. [Marvel Digital Holiday Special 2008] His current whereabouts, however, remain unknown.