The Iron Tongue of Midnight Hath Told Twelve; Lover to Bed; ‘tis Almost Fairy Time.
- Shakespeare: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
Three unseen psionic fairies hover in the snowy air, a few minutes before midnight, in Poughkeepsie, New York, where a high speed car chase is underway. Events set in motion this night will determine the survival of man and mutant kind….
Police cars chase a lone bus, their lights flashing, down an industrial part of town. Inside the bus, a desperate man called Jude Black, holds a gun to a young blonde woman’s head. Jude Black has links to several international terrorist organizations, and a price on his head worldwide, the last thing he needed tonight was to be spotted by some bus ticket agent with a passion for “America’s Most Wanted”. The young blonde woman with the gun to her head, although wide-eyed, is surprisingly unafraid as Jude Black holds her at the edge of the doorway. Compared to the life from which she is running, death seems a welcome diversion.
However, the bus driver, Ralph Norton, looks in his rear-vision mirror at the fast-approaching Police cars. Ralph’s wife has been begging him to take an early retirement from the Racing Dog Bus Company. Right now though, with a gun waving in his face, one of his passengers hanging from the bus, and a dozen Police cars in high pursuit, not to mention the rest of the passengers looking to him to be the hero, all Ralph Norton can think about is what happened to the bus driver in that Sandra Bullock movie.
The young woman begins to cry as she clings to the doorframe of the bus, passengers watch on in horror, and Ralph Norton wishes that he had listened to his wife for a change. Through all the hysteria and death threats from Jude Black, a teenager called Brian Young could not care less about what is going on. As he sits at the back of the bus, he is happy that he has got what he has always wanted: out! Out of the stinking town where he grew up, out of the house where the man who raised him lives, out of the reach of anyone over the age of sixteen. But mostly, out of this bus. He sticks his head out of one of the bus windows, unaware that three psionic fairies have just darted past him. Unfortunately for Brian, as Mick Jagger has said over and over again….”you can’t always get what you want”.
Jude Black suddenly sees an opportunity - a train line ahead, with a locomotive speeding along it. Jude forces his weapon against Ralph’s head, forcing him to speed the bus up, despite the fast-approaching train. Jude knows it is going to be close. But he is willing to take that chance to escape the Police.
At the stroke of midnight, the Empire Express heading from Albany to New York collides with the Racing Dog Express, and both are thrown down a bridge. Later reports will cite this as the worst accident of its kind in New York State history. But, it was a night of miracles really. The train was empty, and the crew inside it survived. Ralph Norton, battered and bruised, would live to be nagged by his wife into an early retirement. Most of Norton’s passengers survived also, although they could not, or would not, tell anyone how. Later, some would confess to their Priest or Rabbi that they believed they were protected by angels…others simply called them fairies.
Judge Black, his female hostage and Brian Young were not so lucky however. They were thrown from the bus, away from any protecting forces. They died instantly. Then, the greatest miracle of all occurred. Three psionically created fairies, who had flown across time and space to burrow in the corpses of the fallen…and then they wake! ‘Huuh!’ gasps “Brian”. “We did it! We’re here! Archer! Greystone!’ exclaims Fixx, who has emerged in the body of the mysterious woman. “Jude Black” stands up and tells the others that they have got to get away from here. ‘They’ll be looking for us’. The trio make their way from the site of the wreckage, with Fixx looking around, ‘We’re really here!’ she exclaims, pleased.
Elsewhere, the holographic girl called Shard walks along a seemingly deserted road. ‘What am I doing here?’ she wonders, reminding herself that she has been drifting all over the States since her “near death” experience. ‘How many times can one person die?’ Shard wonders before recalling that she first dies in the future, the future in which she was born, in the line of duty as one of the Xavier’s Security Forces, then she is reborn as a holographic matrix projection from her brother, Bishop’s wrist-rig. ‘And just as I’m starting to pull my act together, starting to feel like a real live girl, Sabretooth slices and dices, and surprise, I die again!’.
Shard notices a car slowly pull up alongside her, and she holds her thumb out, indicating she wants a ride. ‘At least death is what it felt like, being buried inside Polaris’s unconscious body’ Shard thinks to herself, deciding that the only good to come of it was the resurfacing of her memories of the X.S.E. traitors and how they wanted to use her to change the past. The car drives on past Shard, she doesn’t get a ride. ‘Those memories were enough to get my tail out of X-Factor and into the world, but…now what?’ Shard wonders.
Shard decides that this is getting ridiculous and tells herself that she is done walking. ‘I want to make some real time down to Westchester. I need to talk to Bishop. I need to let him know about the traitors!’ Shard decides, adding that she needs to find out if Bishop knows what happened to them after she died in the future. A truck speeds along the road, and for some reason doesn’t see Shard. ‘STOP!’ she calls out, but the large truck just passes through her and keeps on driving. ‘Sonnuva Exhume!’ she shouts, before suddenly keeling to the ground, clutching her head, overcome with pain, a wide-eyed Shard whispers ‘They’re here…!’.
While Shard contemplates that which the future brings, the handsome Alex “Havok” Summers contemplates the remnants of his recent past, walking through Rockerfeller Center, he recalls that the last time he was here was with Lorna. ‘That’s before Random kidnapped me, McCoy brainwashed me and I tried to kill her’. Alex remembers that he and Lorna went skating here, and talked about their future together. ‘Then I went off and tried to save the world by myself’ Alex remarks, declaring that he had to get in close to McCoy and form the Brotherhood so that McCoy would no longer believe he was working on the side of the Angels. ‘All so I could uncover McCoy’s hidden agenda’.
Alex tells himself that almost everyone thinks he has gone over the edge. ‘And who’s to say I haven’t?’ Alex wonders, admitting that once everyone learned about the connection between Xavier and Onslaught, he stopped trusting everybody. ‘If I couldn’t trust Professor X, the man who taught me to follow his dream of mutants and humans living in harmony together…then who could I trust?’ Alex asks himself, when, suddenly, two horrific creatures appear on the oversized Christmas tree in the middle of the Rockerfeller Center, and a voice shouts ‘Alex! Help me!’
Havok sees that it is Ever, and races towards him, while civilians begin to make their getaway, ‘Eek! Mutant monsters!’ someone screams. ‘Run!’ someone else shouts. ‘Call the Police!’ someone suggests, while Alex thinks to himself that this must be McCoy’s doing. Alex suspects that the Dark Beast has discovered what he and Ever were up to. ‘I told Ever that the subterfuge couldn’t last!’ Alex tells himself, admitting that McCoy may be many things, but he is not stupid. Alex remarks that he wanted to free those people the Dark Beast is holding in his body tanks as soon as they discovered its location. ‘Now that we’ve been discovered it may be too late for them…for us…but…not for that little girl!’ Alex thinks to himself as he sees one of the creatures loom over a little girl, who is screaming for her Mommy.
‘Don’t worry, honey, I’ve got you!’ Alex tells the girl as he picks her up makes a quick getaway with her. The girl asks ‘Who are you?’ to which Alex introduces himself and assure her that he is a friend while he begins to unleash his power. ‘Are you a mutant?’ the girl asks. ‘Yes. I am. Which is why I can do…this!’ Alex exclaims as he falls to the ground and unleashes his powerful energy blasts at the creature who is about to jump down on them. ‘Mutie! Help!’ the girl then shouts as she leaps from Havok’s arms and runs away. ‘Why does it always have to be like this?’ Alex mumbles, while Ever whispers something about the body tanks: ‘It’s not what we thought. You’ve got to…’ he begins, before passing out. Havok picks Ever up and tells him to rest easy. ‘I know what must be done. I’ll get you to safety and then…I will deal with McCoy once and for all!’
At that moment, Senator Ralph Brickman came to New York to spend a getaway weekend with his wife, Mallory, but Brickman, who recently ran as Vice President on the Graydon Creed campaign, couldn’t refuse an offer to meet with a New York based political group to discuss his political future. And, while the endless politicking goes on, Mallory, playing the good spouse, is left to amuse herself. Which is more difficult than the Senator will ever know. ‘A phone call for you, Mrs Brickman’ a butler announces as he brings a phone to Mallory, informing her that the caller claims to be an old acquaintance. ‘Really?’ Mallory asks.
At a phone booth somewhere, a person inside the phone booth exclaims ‘Mallory Brickman?’ to which Mallory replies ‘Yes. And this is…?’ ‘Never mind that. We know who you are, Mystique. If you do not want us to blow your cover, meet us at the Clock in Grand Central Terminal in one hour’ the mysterious caller orders. Mallory - Mystique - frowns and replies ‘I’ll be there’.
Half an hour later at the Grand Central Terminal, ‘Of all the people on that bus you had to choose from…you had to put me into a kid. What were you thinking, Fixx?’ Greystone asks from inside the body of Brian Young as he looks at his reflection in the glass of the large clock. Fixx replies that she was thinking they needed bodies on the verge of death, but capable of sustaining life. ‘These were the only three that fit the bill. Would you rather have wound up as Jane Doe?’ she asks Greystone. ‘No, but -’ Greystone begins to protest, before Fixx orders him to get down from the clock as he is causing a scene, adding that they are going to need all eyes on the crowd if they are going to see Mystique coming.
Greystone gets down and asks Fixx if she really thinks Raven Darkholme herself will show up. ‘He said she would. He was right about her location’ Fixx replies, before asking Greystone if he can access all the memories of his host body. ‘Yeah…and it’s a little embarrassing…why do you ask?’ Greystone replies. ‘Just curious’ Fixx replies, before Archer, or rather, Jude Black, tells his teammates to start going by the names attached to these bodies. ‘It might help us feel like we belong’ he adds, addressing them as Young and Doe. ‘Yes, Sir, Mister Black, Sir!’ Greystone replies, before asking if either of them have any idea what Mystique is going to look like. ‘No. but I hope we find each other soon. Time is running out’ Archer replies.
Suddenly, a Police Officer approaches Jude and Jane, ‘You folks really shouldn’t let your son climb all over public property. I could write you up, you know’ he tells them, motioning to Brian who is still sitting on the clock. ‘My parents? What are you, nuts? They’re not my parents!’ Brian exclaims as he leaps off the clock. ‘Is that so?’ frowns the Officer, before asking to see some identification from all of them. ‘Sorry, Officer, we can’t do that’ Jude replies, to which the Officer suggests that if they want to play it that way, then they can go for a walk to the precinct. ‘Of course, Officer’ Jude replies.
A few minutes later, the Police Officer has led the trio out into an alley way and tells them to keep moving to the left, adding that it would be easier if they could tell him who they are and where they come from. ‘Come on, lady, give me something!’ the Officer asks Jane. But Jane replies that she has no idea. ‘Name, background, nothing. It’s all a blank!’. ‘Really?’ Jude whispers. ‘I’ve regained full knowledge of my host’s body. And it’s not pretty. You have nothing?’ he asks Jane. ‘Not a thing. It’s as if a whole bunch is missing. You want to talk about weird -’ Jane replies, when the Police Officer interrupts, ‘ENOUGH!’ he shouts.
Jude declares that Jane is right, this has gone far enough and they are on a time constraint. ‘Greystone…disarm Mystique now!’ Archer orders. ‘I thought…you’d never ask! Greystone exclaims as he drops his Brian Young guise and shifts into his over-sized form, grinning down at the Police Officer, he calls the Officer Mystique and takes the gun away. ‘How could you know!?’ the Police Officer - Mystique - asks. Greystone replies that they are trained law enforcement officers. ‘If we couldn’t scan a mutant metamorph…we might as well turn in our badges! Oops. I guess we did when we turned traitor and journeyed back into the past!’ Greystone exclaims.
Mystique drops her disguise, shifting to her default form as she asks ‘Who are you people and what are you talking about? How did you know to find me?’ she asks. Archer and Fixx drop their disguises as Fixx exclaims ‘Obviously someone did. And he told us exactly where to find you on this day!’. ‘He banded us together, recruited us from within the ranks of the X.S.E. he sent us to you for help!’ Archer declares. ‘Who is this “he”?’ Mystique asks. ‘A friend of yours’ Archer replies. ‘I don’t have any friends!’ Mystique exclaims. ‘At least none living’ she mutters, referring to the late, beloved Destiny.
‘What is it I’m supposed to help you with?’ Mystique asks. ‘With saving the world from its own future. The future in which we were born!’ Fixx exclaims. Mystique tells the X.U.E. that they are obviously looking for the wrong woman. ‘I don’t listen to people who speak in riddles and…I’m not into fairy tales!’ she exclaims. ‘Maybe I can make a believer out of you!’ Fixx sends countless psionic fairies to dart around Mystique, Raven exclaims ‘You people are beginning to irritate me!’. Raven remarks that she must be getting soft, for in the past, she would have put three bullets in their heads and then thought about finding out who they are. ‘Fortunately, it’s not too late to remedy that minor oversight!’ Raven decides.
Archer tells Mystique that they have no time for her renowned temper or her quaint 20th Century combat style. ‘Quaint?’ Raven shouts, before Archer, annoyed, exclaims ‘Listen to me!’ and uses his powers to toss Mystique to the ground, before revealing that their leader said to tell her: “Now is the time foretold by your friend Irene Adler, Destiny. Heed the call, Mystique”. Raven understands, and stops protesting with the X.U.E. She stares at them, before asking them what they want. ‘Havok!’ Fixx reveals.
At that moment, in the tunnels once occupied by the mutant outcasts known as Morlocks, now the home of the terrorists who call themselves the Brotherhood of Mutants, and Havok is currently living up to his name, as he shouts out for McCoy, the Dark Beast, his power surging all around him. ‘It’s over! All the lies! All the mind games! They, and the Brotherhood, end tonight!’ Havok blasts into one of McCoy’s labs, unaware that someone is looking at him through the darkness, when he suddenly comes across….Aurora! ‘You? I had forgotten…’ Havok admits as he looks at one of Alpha Flight’s finest.
Alex urgently tells Aurora that she has to get out of here, she has to leave. ‘But the Brotherhood…they take care of me…they’re my friends!’ Aurora, wearing the standard red and white Alpha Flight costume, replies. Havok walks over the rubble and tells Aurora that, after tonight, the Brotherhood is no more. ‘It was all a lie!’ he exclaims, telling Aurora that if she stays, then she will be hurt, or worse, and he doesn’t want anything to happen to her. ‘You’re a good person. You just need some help…a doctor’ Alex remarks. ‘McCoy is a doctor -’ Aurora begins to say, until Alex interrupts, telling Aurora that McCoy is not a doctor, but a sick and twisted animal. ‘He doesn’t care about anyone. We’re all just one giant experiment to him. He’ll hurt you and throw you away!’ Alex warns Aurora.
Alex tells Aurora to go home, back to Canada and Alpha Flight. ‘Or go find Wild Child. Go to anyone who can help you. Just go!’ Alex urges. Aurora, somewhat surprised, thanks Alex, and kisses him on the lips before exclaiming ‘You were always nice to me’ and speeding off. Alex watches Aurora go, before calling out to McCoy once more, and unleashing a huge blast of power, sending the walls around him crumbling down. Resigned, Alex drops to the water-covered ground, when, suddenly, the dripping-wet form of the Dark Beast slinks up beside him. ‘What is it?’ McCoy asks, holding the mutated body of a human in his hands.
‘As even you can plainly see, Alex, I am otherwise occupied’ McCoy remarks, before declaring that, behind these walls, in the hidden chambers, rests the cumulation of thirty years’ manipulation of the human genome. ‘If you think I am going to allow you to flush my efforts down the sewer, literally, just as I am on the brink of a scientific breakthrough -’ McCoy exclaims, only for Alex to interrupt: ‘You’re going to stop me?’ he asks. ‘No, I am a man devoted to science’ McCoy replies, before Fatale appears behind him. ‘My walking genetic experience, was created by me, over and over again, for just such violent encounters!’ McCoy boasts.
Fatale leaps down in front of Havok, while Havok tells McCoy that the people in those tanks, the ones he has abducted off the streets for years, they are all going free tonight. Alex looks at Fatale and warns her to stay out of his way, ‘Or what, boy scout?’ the smarmy Fatale asks. Havok blasts her with a powerful surge of energy, knocking her to a pile of rubble. ‘Or that’ Alex exclaims, telling McCoy that it is over. ‘Oh, no ,dear boy. It has only begun!’ McCoy snarls. ‘Stand aside, I’m setting those people free now!’ Alex warns the Dark Beast.
Suddenly, ‘Sorry, Havok. We can’t let that happen!’ a voice exclaims. ‘Who the -?’ Alex shouts, spinning around, he sees Mystique - and the X.U.E. Raven grins at her former teammate, ‘Don’t ask how I got pulled into this. Just power down and back off’ Raven tells Alex. But Alex tells Raven that he is not going to do that. ‘Enough talk!’ shouts Greystone. ‘Let’s take him out. I don’t care about his rep in the history books. He’s only one man!’ Greystone exclaims. Suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘Yeah, but…for this op, he’s got some back up!’ Everyone turns to see a new arrival up on a platform: ‘Shard!?’ Havok gasps….