As morning breaks, Gambit stirs in his bed, situated in his room in the corporate office of Serval Industries, and thinks how it’s hard to believe he’s still there. But, he’s needed there, he tells himself as one of his cats nuzzles his neck, even if Lorna doesn’t understand that. He’s sure there’s something going on, and she needs him to figure out what that might b…
Suddenly, Gambit’s state moves from half-asleep to alert and aware as he spies someone else in the room. He exclaims “the hell?!” in shock. Good morning, Gambit, Danger tells him. That is the proper response, is it not? Good morning? Or would he prefer “the hell?” Asked what she’s doing there, Danger bluntly replies talking to him. Is that a trick question? Rising from his bed, Gambit clarifies that he means why is she in his bedroom. She needs to be somewhere, she points out. Why not there? Because it’s his bedroom, he rejoins. And he’s naked!
Tilting her head slightly, Danger replies that she’s explicitly aware of how the human body is assembled and all its parts. Clothing or nudity makes no difference to her. Told it makes a difference to him, Danger asks Gambit why? It just does, he tells her. Not an answer, she tells him. Answers are important. Asked why they are, Danger says that that’s a good question. When Nil took over her body, deprived her of her free will, he did… something… to her mind to make her compliant. His kiss provided direct organic counterprogramming which reset her basic parameters. But she senses there are still parts of her missing. She needs further interaction to reestablish them. As he puts on his robe, Gambit asks how much further are they talking? She is uncertain, Danger admits, and she was looking to him for guidance.
Elsewhere, in his spacious bedroom, Serval Industries CEO Harrison Snow is asked what his morning is looking like. Already dressed in his suit, Snow puts the finishing touches on his tie, while standing before a full length mirror. Meeting with Lemar Smaug, he replies. The top, up-and-coming computer mind in the country. She knows him, his female companion replies from her position on their bed. Knows of him, she then corrects. Didn’t he come out of nowhere about six months ago? He did indeed, Snow confirms, still working on this tie. As did his corporation, Techno Inc, but he’s already making great strides. Asked if he’s going to try to buy him out, Snow smiles that she knows him so well.
Turning back to the bed on which his naked companion still lies, half-draped by the sheets, Snow suggests, by the way, that she be out of there by 8:30 am. Asked why, Snow informs her that his wife is due back from her business trip by then. Wouldn’t want a scene. No, of course not, Linda Kwan replies. Returning to the bed for a moment, Snow kisses Linda on the forehead and tells her he’ll see her in the office. Sure, Harrison, sure, she replies. A moment later, Linda Kwan is in the bedroom, very much alone.
At the X-Factor group area in Serval corporate HQ, Polaris is at the stove, cooking some eggs (and using her magnetic powers to work the spatula) when Quicksilver announces something he’s found something interesting in a book he is reading. Asked what it is, Quicksilver asks his half-sister if she knows who Cerebus is, yes? Three-headed dog that guards the gates to Greek hell, she replies, sure. Well, according to his, he continues, the name comes from the Greek world “Kerberos.” When Polaris presses for the significance, Quicksilver smiles that it means “spot.” Looking up at his sister, she clarifies that that means Hades named his big guard dog “Spot.” Without reaction, Polaris magnetically moves the frying pan from the stove to the table and then magnetically works the spatula to scrape the finished eggs onto Quicksilver’s plate. Well, he found that funny, he smiles. Sitting down across the table from him, Polaris remarks that she doesn’t find anything having to do with hell especially funny. If that’s all the same to him.
Danger is in my bedroom, Gambit suddenly announces into the tense situation. They’re adventurers, Quicksilver points out. Danger is everywhere. No, he means the Danger, Gambit clarifies. Their latest member. Pointing to him with his fork, Quicksilver opines that they really need to give her a better name. Asked if he’s being difficult on purpose, Quicksilver smiles inquisitively what other reason is there to be difficult? Thanks, Gambit scowls. No problem, Quicksilver rejoins.
Less interested in whimsy, Polaris asks why Danger is in his bedroom, to which Gambit replies that he doesn’t know. He’s not sure she does either. When Polaris voices that that’s maddeningly unhelpful, Gambit replies that she’s acting strange, is all. A thought occurring to her, Polaris asks if he doesn’t think she’s interested in him… he knows… Asked what, Polaris replies sexually. He thinks she honestly doesn’t know what she wants, Gambit replies. Does he want her? Quicksilver interjects. Incredulous, Gambit asks if he’s insane. She’s a machine! Well, that’s a step-up from a blow-up doll now, isn’t it? he counters. Asked if anyone asked him, Quicksilver smiles that he just felt the need to contribute. Taking a swig from his freshly-poured cup of coffee, Gambit can’t help but silently grumble terrific.
Good morning, X-Factor, Harrison Snow announces himself. How are things? Fine, Mr. Snow, Polaris replies. He just cannot get her to call him Harrison, can he? Snow then asks. More comfortable with the “Mr.” right now, she admits. As she wishes, he tells her. And how is their newest member? Told by Gambit that she’s in his bedroom, Snow asks if he wants to know why. To this, Gambit rejoins that he’s not sure even he wants ta know why. All right, Snow smiles, they’ll leave it there.
Changing subjects, Snow remarks that he knows this is not their typical thing, but he’d like them in a meeting this morning. Asked by Polaris what kind of meeting. Snow replies pure business. Lemar Smaug is coming by, he continues. He wants to impress him with Serval’s assets and, frankly, they’re among his most impressive assets. Repeating the name “Smaug” inquisitively, Gambit asks if he means like the Tolkien dragon. Hopefully not just like, Snow says. They don’t have to do much. Swing by, say hello. Look heroic. They can look heroic, can’t they? To this, Polaris points out that they’re heroes, so…Good, then, Snow announces. 10:30 conference room A. Bring Danger, he then adds as he departs. Smaug’s a computer guy, so he’ll find her especially interesting.
With Snow gone, Quicksilver mocks that they’re now in business meetings to impress clients. Is she sure this is what she wants, he asks Lorna. If he wants to leave, Polaris replies, he can do so at any time.
Lemar Smaug? Havok asks, considering the name from his seat at the conference room in the Avengers Unity Squad HQ. Asked by Quicksilver if he’s heard of him, Havok replies that everyone’s heard of him. Real up and comer. Even Stark sees him as competition. Why would Serval be meeting with him? When Quicksilver suggests a buyout, Havok muses that it’s possible. He then asks if Quicksilver will be at the meeting, to which the speedster replies that he’s been asked to be. Well, be there and then get back to him to tell him what happened, Havok orders.
Considering this, Quicksilver asks Alex how much longer does he need him to do this? Until he’s satisfied that Lorna is safe. Why? Is this a problem for him? Quicksilver replies that it’s not, which satisfies Havok. Where do they think he is? he then asks. Told the bathroom, Havok begins to instruct him to head back, only to notice Quicksilver is already gone.
At the bathroom door of their living area, Polaris knocks on the door, informing Pietro that she has to brush her teeth too. Immediately, Pietro opens the door, holding his toothbrush and apologizes with a mouthful of toothpaste foam dripping from his lips. When she remarks that he usually doesn’t take that long, at anything, Pietro shrugs that even he has an off morning now and then. All hers though, he says, referring to the bathroom.
Entering the hallway, Quicksilver then greets Danger, who returns the courtesy. She notes that his pulse and heart rate are accelerated and infers that he’s been running. Since the space of the bathroom is confined, she continues, she assumes he was outside of the bathroom and then snuck back in. Where was he? Told nowhere and that she is mistaken, Danger replies “never.” Well, there’s a first time for everything, he tells her, as he continues on his way. Perhaps, she tells him as he leaves earshot. Perhaps not, she then adds.
At the front entrance of the building, Harrison Snow is pleased that his guest’s limousine has arrived on schedule. The limo soon comes to a stop and the door opens, after which Snow greets the man emerging from within as Mr. Smaug, he presumes. A suited, middle-aged man with a rather bushy van Dyke beard, Lemar Smaug finds himself surprised to have been met by the CEO himself and remarks that it seems a rather trivial job. He goes where he feels he’s needed, Snow replies, after which he officially welcomes Smaug to Serval Industries. Very impressive, Smaug muses. At least from the outside. To this, Snow promises that it gets better once they go in. It’s actually larger on the inside. To this, Snow feels the need to point out that it’s a Doctor Who reference, which Smaug admits a lack of understanding to the reference. Tugging slightly on his collar, Snow apologizes and offers to lead the way.
Elsewhere, Polaris thanks Linda for taking her and the group to the meeting room. She’s still learning her way around the place. Not a problem, Linda replies as the elevator comes to a stop. It’s right down this hallway, she motions. As the rest of the team disembarks, Danger stays behind and silently regarding Linda for a moment. Asked if there’s something wrong, Danger informs her that she has Harrison Snow’s DNA on her in a manner that could only have put it there if they two were intimate. But he is married, Danger then adds. That is contrary to social protocol, is it not? Shocked by Danger’s statement, Linda barely manages to voice that she’s wrong. She is? Danger asks. She seems to be doing that a lot this morning. Perhaps her internals need calibration. With that, Danger walks out of the elevator, following the rest of the team.
In the conference room, Lemar Smaug and Harrison Snow sit at opposite ends of the table, with a holographic projection of the world between them, showing dots for several points of interest on it. From his end, Smaug questions Snow’s meaning that he wants to buy him out. He wouldn’t put it quite that way, Snow informs him. “Acquire” him is better. Smaug would still be in charge. They would never consider separating his company from…
Actually, Smaug interrupts, he was thinking of buying Snow out. Smiling at the idea, Snow replies that he likes how Smaug thinks, but he’s afraid Serval isn’t for sale. Come on now, Mr. Snow, Smaug counters. Everything is for sale. It’s just a matter of finding the right price. To this, Snow replies that he has to admire his attitude, but he still doesn’t…
His words trail as she notes that new arrivals, whom he informs Smaug he’d like him to meet. X-Factor… Their company’s official team of super-adventurers. Polaris, Quicksilver, Gambit… This is Mr. Lemar Smaug. Asked by Smaug if they work for him, Snow proudly replies that they do indeed. Shaking his hand, Polaris tells “Mr. Smaug” that it’s a pleasure. Lemar, please, he tells her. He was not expecting to see any mutant super heroes there. Well, they tend to pop up when least expected, she informs him.
Suddenly the sliding door to the conference room opens, through which steps Danger. Gesturing to the new arrival, Polaris informs Smaug that this is their fourth member, Danger. Strictly speaking, she’s not human but that doesn’t mean… Interrupting, Danger bluntly announces that neither is Smaug. Both Snow and Smaug begin to reply that she’s mistaken, but Danger remains resolute. His biometric readings are completely wrong, she tells Smaug. He is not human. Not remotely. Seemingly insulted, Smaug declares this absurd and rises to his feet. He doesn’t have to stand there and endure this sort of…
Before anyone can react, Danger extends her left arm through Smaug’s abdomen, her fist erupting from the other side. She is tired of being told she’s wrong! she proclaims. While the human occupants of the room cringe in horror, the other members of X-Factor look on dumbfounded. Asked what she did, Danger replies what she had to. It is wearing a human epidermis, she says of Smaug, but it is not human.
Despite her metal arm extended through his body, Lemar Smaug grimaces through a face of rippled flesh. That was stupid, he tells her. Very stupid. With that, he punches Danger off of her feet. Immediately, what remains of Smaug’s body glows with blinding energy. In the middle of the maelstrom, Smaug tells Snow that he would have been useful to him. But no longer it seems. As the light subsides, a robotic entity stands the place of what was once a man. Very well, then, the technological entity proclaims. A more direct approach is called for. Recognizing the being, which begins to grow ever larger in size, Polaris announces to the group that it’s the Magus!!
Continuing to grow until the crashing through the ceiling, the voice of the Magus booms to Polaris. You recognize self. Self is flattered. And you will be dead! “You first,” Polaris replies gesturing at the technarch and magnetically hurling him out the window and out of their high rise building.
Helping one of his staff to his feet, Snow haltingly asks Polaris what that was. He’s the Magus, she tells him. The ruler of an outer-space race called the Technarchy. He’s very, very nasty. She then suggests that Snow get his people to safety and leave this to X-Factor. Nearby, Gambit helps Danger to her feet and asks if she’s okay. She will be when the trouble is past, Danger replies. Once back on her feet, Danger races to the hole to exit. Startled, Gambit yells at her to wait, only for Danger to retort that she doesn’t wait. She never waits. With that, Danger leaps from the building, only for the gargantuan hand of the Magus to slam her against the building. Should have waited, Danger muses.
Now standing as high as a high rise building, the Magus proclaims that she should have waited. Should not have revealed self’s disguise. There is far more going on than creature is able to realize. Suddenly, Danger seems to disappear in a flash of light. The Magus’ confusion quickly turns to panic as Danger seems to reform in a flash of light before him, her head dwarfing his already immense size. No! the Magus yells. Get off self! Desperate, the Magus begins to blast all around him, trying to destroy Danger, yelling for someone to stop her.
Appearing on the scene in a flash, Quicksilver announces that there’s no one to stop him. With his gravity-defying speed, he races up the Magus’ leg toward the Magus’ head, only to find his path blocked by another speeding technarch entity. Though the fall to the ground was far, Quicksilver recovers quickly enough to recognize the entity which knocked him to the ground.
“Warlock?!” Quicksilver proclaims. Stay down, Quicksilver, Warlock bluntly instructs him from his floating position a short distance away. Seeing the Magus disappear in a flash of light, the incredulous Quicksilver says that he’s working… with his father? With the Magus? But… he wants to kill him! He doesn’t understand… Unfortunately for Quicksilver, his words are cut off by Warlock, who telescopes his left arm until he punches the speedster in the mouth. Half a moment later, Warlock is gone, disappeared in a flash of light.
In short order, the rest of the team is on the ground, trying to help up Quicksilver, who bemoans that he should have been able to dodge that. Asked if he’s already, he tells Polaris that he’s fine. Magus… the Warlock… They’re gone, Gambit tells him. Where the hell did they go? And Warlock, Quicksilver muses aloud, he was working with the Magus. Impossible, Gambit tells him, the Magus hates him. The whole Technarchy is based on father-son conflict. He expected Warlock to kill him, not help him. They need answers, Polaris voices. And they’re not going to get them there. Asked where, Polaris replies from the person who knows Warlock better than anyone in the world… Doug Ramsey.
Somewhere else, in a house in the woods, Doug Ramsey sits on the edge of his bed, half-naked, his head in his hands. After a moment, he stirs, raising his head, his glowing eyes staring into the darkened room.