X-Factor is trapped in the middle: On the one side, the population of Ex-Mutant Town is in danger of boiling over as the X-Cell, apparently re-empowered by Pietro, endeavor to rally the rank and file against X-Factor. On the other side, the government, ready to move in with everything from armies to Sentinels. Will Madrox decide to tell the truth behind M-Day...and will anyone believe him?
Leaning against the wall, the pain of the Blob’s sucker punch to his crotch begins to subside for Rictor. Calling the Blob a pendejo, Rictor explains to Madrox that he is so going down for… Returned to his senses enough, he sees partner cradling his dupe.
Madrox explains that Fatale poisoned him. When Rictor asks if he can absorb him, Madrox replies that he could, normally. He’d have this dupe make more dupes. It’d diffuse the poison and he could absorb the lot of them with no danger. However, the problem is that his dupes are way too unpredictable these days to do that. And the other problem is that this guy doesn’t want to cooperate! Glancing up at his progenitor, the dupe replies that, to know what lies beyond… would be to know the true enlightenment. He does not seek death… but if it seeks him… he is not afraid.
Now fully recovered, Rictor pleads with Madrox to get off the dime. If he’s a goner, then he’s a goner. He doesn’t want to sound harsh, but he should say his good-byes and let them go. Finally moved to action, Madrox replies he’s right. Grabbing the dupe’s hand he begins the absorption process… which immediately goes awry. A moment later, the one Jamie Madrox lies prone on the ground of the alley, with the growing ever more anxious Rictor beginning to panic.
As Guido watches on, the lupine form of Wolfsbane sniffs the alley where she had earlier inadvertently helped a terrorist, one Elijah Cross, escape custody of two FBI agents. As she continues, Guido asks if she’s gotten anything yet. When she does not answer, he begins to ask again, only to have her snap at him. Telling him she heard him, she adds that she also hears him breathing. She hears his heart speeding up! She can practically hear the blood rushing in his veins. “Ye think I canna hear your bloody words? Do ye?” Replying defensively “yeah,” he then adds that, FYI, he woulda been fine with a simple “not yet,” okay?
Already having returned to the task of tracking, Wolfsbane snaps back that if Guido can do a better job of picking up Cross’ scent… To this, Guido explains that it’s not that, it’s… she just so different when she’s like this. Beyond the whole fur, fangs and claw thing, he means. Every time she’s like this, he get’s worried that she’ll… he doesn’t know… Prefer it? Wolfsbane asks back. Decide to stay like this? Emphatically, Guido replies with a No! but then quickly amends it. Not exact it, it’s more like… Yeah, okay, he finally admits. That’s exactly it. Still scouring the alley floor, the lupine Rahne replies that, if it’s any consolation, she worries about it too. Guido begins to remarks that this is not exactly a consolation when Rahne snarls through lupine fangs, “Got it! Let’s go!!”
Side by side, Siryn and Monet stand a few feet away from Marrow, who is flanked by Fred J. Dukes – the former Blob – and the ex-mutant once called Fatale. Trying to appeal to reason, especially as Marrow has a steel knife ready to throw with deadly accuracy, Siryn suggests that she stand down – all of them. Put the pig-sticker away, before she blasts them into next week from over here. They have no powers and they have no chance. Of course, Monet adds, even if they had powers, they’d still easily kick their… Yelling out her name, Siryn tells Monet that she’s not helping. To this, Monet asks back what gave her the impression she was trying to?
Returning her attention to the three members of X-Cell, Monet tells them to come along. There’s some nice people from the government who want to talk with them. Mocking this, the former Blob asks if that’s how it is. Fine. He’ll talk to them in a language they can understand. Moving his hands around his head, the Blob says, Woo woo woo woo! Nyu nyuk nyuk!” When the confused Monet asks what in the hell he is doing, Siryn explains that she thinks he’s implying they’re Stooges. To this, Monet asks if she’s sure. It seems to her he’s having a breakdown of some sort.
Ignoring Monet, Marrow thrusts an accusatory finger at the pair and calls them Stooges. They bill themselves as the protectors of Mutant Town… but when the government says “jump” they say “how high?” Cross the street to Marrow, Siryn explains that she’s not knowing all the facts, and she’s not about to discuss them with her. Now grabbing the hand belonging to her accusatory finger, she tells Marrow to come along quietly before she gets…
With lightning speed, a blade appears from the wrist band of the arm Siryn had just grabbed. Muttering a quiet “Sorry, Terry,” Marrow swiftly impales it with a singular forward motion into the astonished Siryn’s shoulder, causing her to fall backwards on her rear. However, recovering quickly from both the surprise and pain, she tells Marrow that she doesn’t know from sorry. Still holding her wounded shoulder, Siryn begins to bring forth a sonic scream, but is quickly silenced by the mass of the Blob, belly-flopping on her. Though no longer possessing the mass he did before, enough is left to smother the scream.
Taking flight in anger, Monet calls to the three that they’re in it now! No, rejoins Fatale, producing an energy rifle. She is. The energy produces by the firearm knocks Monet backwards in mid-flight.
Nearby, the Blob tells the two to hurry up. He’s just a big fat guy now! He can’t feel her muzzled forev… The next moment, the Blob finds himself flying upwards at prodigious speed, propelled by the sonic scream of Siryn.
Some distance away, Rictor recognizes the Siryn’s sonic scream and says so to Madrox, who is still recovering from absorbing his poisoned dupe. Having returned to his feet, barely, Madrox tells Rictor that he’s okay. Absorbing the dupe brought the… the poison to half strength… That was enough… Asked by Rictor if he’s really sure, he replies not really, no. Rictor begins to protest their seeking out Siryn, but Madrox just instructs him to call her Gloria Gaynor. Receiving a “huh?” Madrox explains: He will survive.
Rictor’s next statement is a change of subjects greater than that for which Madrox prepared. “Incoming!” He has not time to consider Rictor’s meaning before the Blob lands squarely on him, producing several dupes with one impact. Immediately, Madrox states that something tells him this is Siryn’s work.
Elsewhere, a recovered Monet runs toward Fatale, who tries to fire her rifle against her oncoming foe. As she continues her approach, Monet tells Fatale that that broken arm of hers is going to have company. Unfortunately, one of the dodge blasts of Fatale ricochets against a building an impacts Rictor, having followed the sounds of the battle.
Unbeknownst of this, Monet asks reached Fatale and delivers a left hook across her chin. Can’t decide though, Monet continues, referring to her threat. Should it be another broken arm… or a broken jaw? She tells Fatale she should feel free to state her preferences. Though Fatale quickly falls, she is not alone, as Marrow launches herself at Monet, blades unsheathed from both of her wrist bands. However, Marrow does not reach her destination, as a sonic scream knocks her off her self-propelled trajectory and into the side of a building, which cracks from the impact.
Regarding Siryn, Monet tells her that she could have taken her. Last she looked, Theresa responds, they were still a team. She’s more of a one-woman team, Monet quips, in case she hasn’t… Monet’s words trail as she sees Theresa begin to collapse. Grabbing her, Monet notices she’s bleeding badly and suggests she may have severed an artery. Thanking God, Theresa remarks that red goes with her outfit.
As Monet begins to provide first aid to Theresa, neither woman see the prone Rictor some distance away, nor the figure that picks him up, who slumps him over their shoulder and then carries him away, down an alley.
Back at X-Factor Investigations HQ, Nicole is nursing a bowl of ice cream, while Layla sits on the counter some distance away. Nicole tells her host that she wanted to die. All her friends were gone. Her aunt and uncle who cared for her as long as she can remember… Interrupting, Layla points out that if Monet hadn’t done what she did…
She still does know why she’s there, Nicole replies. In the grand scheme of things, Layla explains, neither does she. She has no idea how much that pisses her off. As for why Monet took an interest in her… she had a sister named Nicole. Gave her guilty feelings or instant bonding or something like that.
Changing subjects, Nicole remarks that the floor is so shiny. To this, Layla explains that it’s pretty new. They had to replace it after she caused the light fixture to fall and electrocute someone she’s didn’t like. Never even saw it coming. Nicole considers this for a moment and then lets go of the spoon and promptly leaves the room. As she does, Layla points out that she forgot her ice cream. To this, Nicole suggests that she eat it. “Okey doke,” Layla replies.
Having reached their destination, Wolfsbane and Guido find themselves outside a particular house. Remarking that she knew it, Rahne remarks that she knew Pietro would be mixed up in this somehow. He had a feeling too, Guido adds. Remember though… she can’t let him get his hands on her. Not even touch her. She remembers, Rahne replies. And they’ve got to… Down!!!
Unfortunately, Rahne’s warning comes too late, as metallic tendrils wrap themselves around Guido’s mass and begin to pull him up. Wolfsbane tries her best to hold him back but it is not enough, and Guido is pulls skyward. Reaching the roof, Guido sees a mutant whose featureless black skin is adorned by yellow armor, the same color as the tendrils. When Guido exclaims “Oh, it’s you!, the startled man asks if he knows him. Replying “Sure!” Guido states that he’s the guy who’s about t’get a whole big helpin’ of his foot up his butt!
Through a mouth filled with sharp teeth, the man introduces himself as Nils Styger. He is Abyss. Gudo begins to introduce himself as well, but is not given the chance. As Abyss uses his tendrils to toss Guido across the city skyline, he offers his most heartfelt apologies for not really giving a crap.
Down below Rahne sees Guido being tossed and yells that she will catch him. However, she quickly spots something out of the corner of her eye and mutter, “Oh you canna be serious.” The site in question is the former mutant called Reaper, carrying the unconscious form of Rictor. When she calls out to him by name, Reaper calls back to “Sinclair” that he’d stay back if she were her. Sadly for him, Rahne replies, he’s not her.
Tossing Rictor to the ground, and not gently so, Reaper asks Wolfsbane if she’s kidding. When she remarks that he hasn’t got a prayer, Reaper produces two immense blades from his metal arms, rejoining that she thinks she’s cornered the market on prayers, doesn’t she? Then called a “smug bible-thumper” by him, Rahne launches herself at Reaper, deftly avoiding his blades. Stick and stone, she quips. As she leaps over him and kicks him in the back, Rahne tells him he’s embarrassing himself and suggests he get out of her way. And stay out.
In another deft move, Wolfsbane then swipes her arm to here left, knocking aside a blade which had been hurled at her. Commended on her nice reflexes, Rahne ask who invited her? Emerging from an open window, Callisto hurls three more blades, asking Rahne that it’s good to have powers, isn’t it? Avoiding all three, Rahne replies that, aye, it is.
Another blade already at the ready, Callisto tells Rahne that she’s on the wrong side of this one. To this, Rahne says she wishes she were; she wishes to God it were so. They shouldn’t be enemies, she then adds. How are they t’survive as a race if they’re at each other’s throats? Considering this, Callisto rejoins that it’s nice to know she’s worried, considering she’s selling out members of her race to the very government that stripped them of their powers! Bearing her eyes on Callisto, Rahne counters that she’s on the wrong side of this.
Frustration suddenly gets the better of Rahne, who then angrily says that she knew they shouldn’t have kept the truth of this secret! Look what it’s led to! Asking Callisto to listen to her, she says that the fact of the matter behind M-Day is that… Wolfsbane words trail as a hand appears from nowhere, grasping her by the arm. As Rahne yells in pain, her arm beginning to smolder, at the other end of the hand is a resolute Pietro. A moment later, Rahne Sinclair has returned to her human form and is unconscious on the sidewalk.
When the agape Callisto asks what he did to her, Pietro explains, “what he could.” As he returns his glove to his hand, he instructs her to get out of there. To this, Reaper suggests that they could use her as a hostage of something. When Pietro vetoes this, Reaper replies that he’s not giving the orders here…
Interrupting, Pietro asks through gritted teeth if they want his help. If so, then yes… he is giving the orders. As such, he orders Reaper to get rid of her, however he needs to. It makes no difference to him. But, if he won’t attend to it, then he’ll dispose of her… perhaps permanently. Depends on his mood. It’s Reaper’s choice. Silently Reaper and Callisto look at each other, exchanging their thoughts through their eyes. They then turn their gaze down to the unconscious Rahne, lying between them.
A few moments later, after they have tossed her down a manhole and into the sewers below, Reaper remarks that that’s strange. When Callisto asks what he means, he shows her a piece of paper that fell out of her pocket. It said she should go climb down a manhole at the intersection of Bachman and 5th. To this, Callisto states that the address is wrong, but close enough for Jazz.
Nearby, Pietro finishes the job of dragging the unconscious Rictor into his building. Speaking to him, Peitro tells him that, once he’s conscious, he’ll explain how he fits into all this. He thinks he’ll find it very exciting.
Back at X-Factor, Theresa yells at Madrox that it hurts. Topless, she sits on a stool at the counter, covering herself with a towel while Jamie Madrox tries to sew her shoulder wound shut. When she reiterates the pain, he reminds her that if she’d given time for the Novocaine to kick in… they don’t have time! Theresa rejoins. They got away because of her. Not all of them, Madrox counters. Sitting nearby on the floor, his arms bound behind his back, the Blob yells that he’s not telling them Jack!
Angry herself, Monet counters that she’s hoping he won’t. Praying that he won’t. Because when he doesn’t, Madrox is going to turn her loose on his mind. Won’t he, she asks. Replying that he’ll have no choice but to, Monet asks the Blob if he hears that? No choice.
Now moving in closer, towering over the wide-eyed Blob, she adds that she’s going to pull the information from his mind, but she doesn’t have time to delicately plumb his depths. So it’s be more like strip-mining. She’ll go through his brain and just mentally rip out everything that looks interesting. Scorched earth. There will be ruins in his skull… unless he tells her the X-Cell’s location, where they got the weapons… everything she wants to know.
Nearby, Nicole looks on in horror and haltingly asks Layla if it is always like this around here. Actually, Layla replies sleepily, this is a slow day.
Elsewhere, Rictor returns to the land of the consciousness, finding himself reclined on a couch and being offered a glass of water by Pietro. Sitting on a chair just in front of the couch, Peitro answers Rictors next question of where he is, by pointing out that he should know. He’s been there often enough. Now recognizing it as Pietro’s clinic, he’s told “right the first time.”
Rictor next asks how he got there, to which Pietro replies that he found him unconscious. He should know he’s always watching out for him. Actually, he adds, his timing couldn’t be better. Beginning to rise, Rictor says that he can’t stand around and chat. There’s some guys he has to… Interrupting, Pietro tells Rictor that he can’t leave yet. Eyeing his host suspiciously, he asks for his meaning. Is he a prisoner there? Telling Rictor not to be absurd, he motion to the door, informing him that he could walk right out that door and he would do nothing to stop him.
From out in the hall, Marrow, Reaper, Callisto, Abyss and Elijah Cross – all ready for violence – hear Rictor ask for confirmation. Nothing? He’s do nothing to stop him? “Me? Nothing,” Pietro responds. His word of honor.
However, before he goes, he continues, he thinks he should know something: He’s had an epiphany. Stopped a short distance from the door, Rictor congratulates him. He hopes it was a boy. Ignoring his quip, Pietro tells Rictor that they can save them. All of them. Eyeing back suspiciously once again, Rictor asks all of what them?
The disenfranchised, Pietro explains. The disinherited. The former mutants. Fate brought the two of them together for a purpose. God has shown him the way to help them all. Considering this, Rictor recalls their previous conversation. He thought he said the ones he couldn’t help weren’t worthy. True, Pietro replies. They weren’t… but they could be. They can be purified… through him. “Me?” Rictor asks.
Evolution, Peitro explains, stems from nature. He has a connection to nature, to Mother Earth herself. Had, Rictor reminds him. Have, Pietro responds. Powers or no, he continues, it resides within him still. And, with his help, that connection can be used for salvation. Thanks to him… as a race… they can survive.
Considering this, Rictor’s hand lingers on the doorknob to the outside. Finally, he removes it. “Survive, huh. Tell me more.”