- And being a mutant is bad! With my power... I once did something terrible. The park... it is nothing compared to what I did!
- -- Rictor
Appearing in "Children's Crusade"
- Wolves, a Central Park gang
Synopsis for "Children's Crusade"
Continued from last issue....
As X-Factor is returning from their battle against the Horsemen of Apocalypse, their charges prepare a meal for them for when they arrive. During the preparations Rictor and Rusty have an argument about what Iceman told the public when they were saving Rictor on a previous mission, "know mutants by their deeds". Rictor points out that it's wrong for their teachers to pose as X-Factor, mutant hunters, and also bad to pose as the X-Terminators -- both claim to be doing good, however they also create bad: X-Factor boosting anti-mutant hysteria, and the X-Terminators leaving nothing but collateral damage behind. He points out to the battle in Central Park which has left the area covered with ice that will cause untold damage to the area once all the ice thaws. This causes Rictor's powers to flare out of control and make the whole room shake -- fearing that he may repeat what he had done in Mexico, Rictor runs out of the room after Leech negates his powers.
When X-Factor returns to the base through the Morlock tunnnels, they find that Iceman has frozen himself into a solid block of ice again. After Rusty thaws him out, they sit him down to watch the news and after watching the report, Iceman begins to doubt their ability to do good. When they notice that he can't stop shivering they take him to the infirmary where X-Factor are already dealing with Beast, who was infected with some illness by Pestilence during their battle with the Horsemen. When the children get under foot, Cyclops orders them out of the room except for Leech, who can stay to keep Bobby's powers from icing up out of control.
Outside of the infirmary, Rusty gets the idea to use his powers to thaw out Central Park in order to minimize the damage, despite the danger of anti-mutant mobs and the fact that he is still wanted by the government. When Rictor tries to talk him out of it, warning him that his powers could go out of control, Rusty calls Rictor a coward. This causes the two boys to come to blows until they are broken up by Marvel Girl who orders the youths to go to bed. That night, Rictor lays awake, having considered that Rusty is correct for calling him a coward, but he has been afraid to use his powers since a terrible incident in Mexico when his powers went out of control. Artie wakes up in the middle of the night and goes looking for Rusty, but does not find him anywhere.
Rusty is already in Central Park where he is already taken aback by the enormity of the task ahead of him. Upon trying to thaw out a tree, snow falls on him, making him realize the task at hand is not going to be as easy as he originally thought. His activities are noticed by a street gang known as the Wolves who attempt to investigate. However, when one of them fires his gun into the air, it causes an avalanche of snow and ice from the trees covering Rusty and knocking him out. Back at the X-Factor Compound, Artie's powers pick up the danger that Rusty is in and wakes up Skids and Rictor. Rictor is reluctant to go until he learns that they are going to Central Park, a place that even in Mexico was legendary for being a bad place to go at night.
Using the Morlock Tunnels to get to a subway station, they ride a train and are disgusted by the most recent (and most blatantly anti-mutant) X-Factor advertisements and go about the subway cars destroying them. They are spotted by a transit cop and manage to escape the train in the nick of time. They arrive at Central Park just as Rusty is discovered by the Wolves. Rusty scares them back with his flame powers, but when they try to shoot him Skids gets in the way with her forcefields, and Rictor scares them off with an small earthquake. They all agree to help Rusty fix Central Park, but when Rusty overuses his powers, he catches the grass under the snow on fire. However Rictor comes up with a solution, focusing his power on a single tree, he causes enough snow and ice to fall on the flames to smother it. Thanking Rictor for his help, Rusty learns that his fellow student's powers once wiped out an entire Mexican town. Rusty points out that he himself was responsible for hurting a woman with his powers, and tells him it was an accident, and he should continue to strive to learn to control his powers.
The mutants then come up with a means of cleaning up Central Park: Rictor plans to go from tree to tree, using his powers to shake off the majority of ice and snow (safely shielded by Skids' force field) and Rusty would use his powers to melt the snow. However, as they start Rictor comes up with an idea how they can get the message out that mutants are not bad. The next morning, Artie wakes up the kids and takes them into the infirmary where X-Factor is preparing for another mission. Before they go, they turn on the TV for Bobby to see the morning news. When a report about the mysterious clean-up operation carried out by mutants comes on the air, Bobby is touched to see that there is a message left behind in ice reading "By their deeds you shall know them. Mutants were here."
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