Happy Valentines Day, Poughkeepsie! The Sheriff is on his mobile phone, flanked by a large contingent of police outside of a cemetery. Everyone is staring at the bodies of two of their colleagues who are now dead, their bodies hanging through a fence. The sheriff shouts down his phone, declaring that they have already wasted twelve hours and two men too many by investigating this aberration on their own. He doesn’t care what it takes now - he wants Washington to lend their super-powered muscle, and now. ‘Let me fill out the short form, Mister…I want X-Factor!’
Guardian! Sasquatch! Northstar! Aurora! Weapon Omega! They are…X-Factor! Well, dressed in spare X-Factor costumes anyway. They are actually Alpha Flight, Canada’s premiere super heroes, come to Washington as part of their World Tour. Heather McNeil Hudson a.k.a. Guardian examines the costume she is in and supposes that it isn’t too embarrassing. Weapon Omega reminds his leader that airports lose luggage all the time, and that he is sure no on intentionally sabotaged the first leg of their World Tour.
Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier declares that it is beside the point, and exclaims that if they had flown their own jet instead of Department H’s diplomatic charter plane…his voice trails off, interrupted by that of his twin sister Aurora, who asks her brother why there is all this fuss and bother. ‘Leathers, zippers and straps. Yum. What more could one ask for in a costume?’ Doctor Walter Langkowski, in his furry alter-ego of Sasquatch announces that he misses his shape-shifting uniform that grows and shrinks as he does, but he will have to make do with this one, or run the risk of offending their host country by prancing about in the buff.
X-Factor’s pulchritudinous Polaris a.k.a. Lorna Dane smiles, and thinking of the handsome doctor naked she tells him that this is Washington D.C., so there isn’t much that is likely to offend them. ‘Lorna, please. At least a modicum of decorum!’ scolds X-Factor’s leader Alex “Havok” Summers, before turning to Alpha Flight and announcing that he will make formal introductions, motioning to the Mistress of Magnetism Polaris, he points out that most of them have met Wolfsbane, Rahne Sinclair waves back, ‘And then we have Strong Guy and the Multiple Man whose names say it all’. Guido Carosella whispers that he will show Aurora around, but Jamie Madrox replies ‘Over my dead bodies!’
Aurora goes up to Madrox and asks him to tell her why they really call him “The Multiple Man”. Jamie smiles and replies that it is a long story, to which Guido whispers ‘None of which is true’. Suddenly, X-Factor’s government liaison Doctor Valerie Cooper enters the room, Havok introduces the senior member of the National Security Council as Valerie informs the heroes that they have been forced to postpone tonight’s black tie dinner for visiting dignities because they are needed in Poughkeepsie - of all places.
At that moment in Poughkeepsie, in the graveyard, a man is dressed in a tuxedo, and held in place by several members of the living dead - a.k.a. zombies, he says to the mysterious woman wearing a wedding dress and hidden in the darkness ‘Please…whatever you are…this is madness!’ ‘What - seeing the bride before the wedding?’ comes the raspy-voiced reply, the mysterious woman admits that it is rather untraditional, and putting her hands to the man’s face she announces that she has found in recent weeks that these things never come off the way you plan them….
Inside X-Factor’s helicopter, Jean-Paul tells Havok that he meant no offence, and explains that he was asking how he reconciles his determination to have mutants treated equally with his role as a government lap dog. ‘Not a real big fan of tact, are you, Northstar?’ Alex mutters. Jean-Paul explains that one reason for this World Tour is to examine how other countries deal with their super-powered populace. ‘And how we, in turn, feel about our governments?’ asks Alex, before telling Northstar that it is like this: ‘If you want to enter a room, you can either bang your head against a brick wall, or try the front door’ and explains that the United States government invited them inside under the umbrella of X-Factor for whatever its reason. He concludes by adding that if they are going to alleviate the fears about mutants or super-powered people in general, they have got to be given the chance to do that from within.
Flying outside the helicopter are Guardian and Polaris. Lorna asks if Alpha Flight, unlike X-Factor isn’t really a government agency. Heather explains that they were originally agents of the government, but that budget cuts forced them to go solo, and while Alpha currently accepts financing and technical support in the form of Department H, Alpha Flight works in conjunction with the government, not for them. Lorna smiles and tells Heather that she has one last question before they touch down, and asks Heather why she wore her electromagnetic suit but not her uniform en route from Canada. Heather replies that Alpha Flight’s Chief Administrator, Windshear, convinced her that it would be rude to show up in costume since no one else was wearing one. ‘As to the suit…can you keep a secret?’ ‘Most of the time,’ Lorna replies. ‘I have an irrational fear of flying. In a plane’.
‘I ask for X-Factor and they send me the entire Mutant Tabernacle Choir!’ exclaims the Poughkeepsie Sheriff as X-Factor and Alpha Flight land at the cemetery. ‘Who’s in charge of this genetic stew?’ he bellows. ‘I am!’ Heather and Havok reply in unison. Alex looks at Heather crossly and grunts. Heather blushes and apologizes. As the sheriff spreads out a map, Alex asks what they can do to help. ‘That depends. Any of you particularly good at staving off the apocalypse?’ the sheriff mutters. ‘Pardon?’ asks Heather.
The sheriff explains that about three weeks ago some rather strange things started happening in the city, beginning with a series of break-ins, at florists, music supply stores, caterers and a dress shop - not your regular targets. The sheriff continues, claiming that it was a mystery, but nothing that the local police couldn’t handle. He continues, revealing that this morning, almost half of the city awoke to find the other half gone. Nearly three hundred men, women and children all vanished, and tracks of mud left on their front stoops indicate that they were dragged away in the middle of the night - dragged here, to this cemetery, kicking and screaming.
The sheriff exclaims that those actions constitute as kidnapping, which is why they are all here. He informs Alpha Flight and X-Factor that all his attempts to investigate this have been met with “opposition”, as there is somebody, or something, that doesn’t want them in there. ‘I’m too old to believe in ghosts. My guess is that it is a mutant’.
‘Which is why you called X-Factor’ Havok surmises, before asking his teammates and Alpha Flight for any theories. Madrox smiles and exclaims that his theory might sound a little crazy, but ‘Flowers, food, a band and three-hundred member congregation? It sounds to me like someone is throwing a majorly sick wedding’. Hands on their hips or folded across their chests, everyone in X-Factor and Alpha Flight look at Madrox with disapproval on their faces. Madrox looks forlorn and mumbles ‘Then again, maybe not. It’s probably just someone trying to take over the world!’ he remarks.
X-Factor, followed by Alpha Flight, make their way through the cemetery as Havok reminds Alpha Flight that they are only here to observe. ‘Fine’ replies Heather. ‘Fine’ repeats Havok. ‘Good’ Heather remarks. ‘Good’ agrees Alex. Weapon Omega and Wolfsbane are leading the way, and Kyle interrupts the leaders, claiming he doesn’t want to disrupt and open and honest exchange of leadership roles, but…Wolfsbane finishes the sentence off for him, revealing that they are both picking up a foul stench from “yonder ridge”.
The heroes see two figures standing on the ridge, so Havok asks them who they are, but there is no response. Aurora points out that since Alpha Flight are only here to observe, that no one will object if she facilitates the matter with a burst of light. ‘Much appreciated, Aurora’ Alex replies as everyone stares at the two figures, or rather, corpses, one with “Bride?” the other with “Groom?” tapped to their decayed bodies. ‘YES!’ shouts Madrox upon seeing that his theory was correct.
Havok tells Jamie to shut up, and points out that now they know what they are up against…his mutant power starts to glow, but Guardian calls him off, reminding him that these animated corpses are somebody else’s loved ones. ‘Told ya so! Told ya so!’ Jamie laughs, to which both Havok and Guardian tell him to shut up this time. Heather announces that she has had more than a little experience with returning from the dead, and upon examining the zombies informs everyone that they appear harmless enough, so she suggests they do not fight them and get escorted into the cemetery.
Alpha Flight and X-Factor follow the zombie-ushers into the cemetery, with Jamie muttering under his breath ‘Oh, sure, when it was my idea, I was an idiot. Ms. Visiting Dignitary stumbles on it and she’s hailed as a genius. But do I get any credit? Nooooo…’ ‘SHUT UP, MADROX!’ everyone yells in unison.
Arriving by a small tomb in the cemetery, Alpha Flight and X-Factor see the three hundred missing citizens of Poughkeepsie, all seated, a band playing by the tomb and plenty of food-filled tables nearby. ‘Look - it’s the Avengers!’ someone mutters. ‘No, it’s those mutants, it’s X-Factor’ someone else remarks. ‘Help us please!’ The apparent groom tells the heroes that they have to help everyone, while Sasquatch whispers ‘Uh, if anybody has any tension-breaking quips, now would be a good time to whip them out!’
‘Can I help you?’ demands the bride as she approaches the heroes, telling them that if they are with the band then they are too late, though they are welcome to keep the deposit, but she had to replace them as she wasn’t sure that they would show up. Havok informs her that they are not with the band, while Heather exclaims ‘You can’t be serious, this is -’ she is cut off by the groom, who addresses the bride as Amy and tells her that they are with him, they are his guests.
Amy smiles and tells her groom, Malcolm, that it is sweet, adding that she knew he would come around. Amy hugs Heather, apologizing for being rude, and exclaiming that she has been under a tremendous strain lately. ‘Really? No offense, lady…but how difficult is it being dead?’ Madrox asks. ‘You don’t know the half of it!’ Amy exclaims, informing the heroes that it started last December on the eve of her wedding to Malcolm, and so she begins her story.
Amy explains that the rehearsal went fine, and afterwards they served roast duck to the Bride and Groom to be. But Malcolm was too nervous to eat, and Amy ended up spending the rest of the night retching - she had contracted food poisoning, and two hours later was pronounced dead. But even though her body had stopped, it was as if her brain was still working. ‘All during the autopsy my thoughts screamed at them to stop. I was still screaming three days later when they buried me’. Amy continues, revealing that every day she was in the ground, her scarred body decaying, she got angrier. ‘You’d be mad too if you could feel your body rotting away a little bit every day!’
Amy declares that her fiancé and her friends - everyone had abandoned her. ‘I was alone. And I hated it’. But then the strangest thing happened, as if all the anger in her mind had forced her body to move, she scratched her way through the dirt until finally she was free - but she was still alone. Wandering the grave yard, she may have been above the ground, but she was still lonely, and instead of a honeymoon in Aruba, she was left at this graveyard in Poughkeepsie.
Amy explains that it was then that she started thinking - if her mind could control her dead body, maybe she could control other dead bodies. ‘I know it sounds disgusting, but when you’re dead and lonely and angry you’ll try anything’. So indeed, Amy forced the dead to rise. She tells everyone that she can only animate the dead, they cannot talk to her - they can’t love her. ‘There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be loved. Is there?’ she asks. Turning to Malcolm she answers her own question, ‘Of course not!’ and reveals that is why she rescheduled the wedding, and though it took a few weeks to prepare, she wanted everything to be perfect - this time.
Havok turns to Sasquatch and asks him if it is possible for a mutant’s power to kick in after death. Walter replies that in theory it is, before reminding everyone that most genetic alterations occur as a result of physiological changes like puberty, ‘But death is certainly the ultimate physiological change!’ ‘The poor woman, to be conscious during her own autopsy’ remarks Jean-Paul, to which Lorna points out there is little wonder that her mind has snapped.
Amy suddenly asks everyone to be seated so that they can begin, but everyone in Alpha Flight and X-Factor just stands their ground. ‘I said…if everyone will sit down…WE CAN START!’ she screams, before shouting ‘You live people MAKE ME SICK! Staring at me with you eyes full of life and pity…as if breathing makes you better than me! As if I’m somehow less of a person because I’m dead. Using her powers to raise the dead, Amy tells the heroes that their attitude might change after they join her in her current state.
Zombies begin to rise and Havok asks Heather if she remembers everything he said earlier about only “observing”. Heather replies that she does, and Alex tells her to disregard it. Overwhelmed by the zombies, Aurora exclaims that they are pulling her under. Weapon Omega points out that they have the numbers to do it, to which Jean-Paul remarks ‘Coupled with out natural aversion to wrestling with corpses’. Battling his way through the zombies, Strong Guy exclaims that they had better find a way to un-animate these “people”, and suggests that if they knock out Amy then the bridal party will follow suit.
Sasquatch explains that it could be next to impossible to render a corpse unconscious, because Amy’s power is obviously fuelled by her rage, and unfortunately they do not have the time to calm her down. Aurora that they might not have the time, but there is someone who does, and she calls out to Madrox. ‘Little busy just now. I’ll be right with you, Aurora’ Jamie replies. ‘The name is Jeanne-Marie, young man!’ Jeanne-Marie exclaims, informing Madrox that she requires immediate assistance in regards to reaching the “altar”.
Jamie asks Jeanne-Marie if anyone has ever told her she sounds like his Sunday School teacher Sister Mary Agnes. Jeanne-Marie thanks him for that comment as Madrox frees himself and approaches Jeanne-Marie, while telling Northstar that he needs him to belt him as many times as he can - at super speed. Jean-Paul turns his fists from the zombies to Madrox, admitting that he does not understand the reason for this, he will nonetheless comply. ‘You’re all heart’ Madrox tells Jean-Paul as he is repeatedly punched in the face, when suddenly, Jamie’s plan works.
As he and Jeanne-Marie are thrust towards the altar by dozens of Madrox dupes, Jamie mutters that his jaw should only hurt for about a month, before explaining that by using Northstar’s multiple punches, he was able to proliferate faster than the corpses could pull him under. Jeanne-Marie declares that team work has brought them valuable seconds, and adds that they should pray it is enough. Calling to Malcolm, who is also held in place by zombies, Jeanne-Marie is attacked by more zombies as she asks him if he was once prepared to marry Amy.
Malcolm replies that he was, but… his voice trails off as Jeanne-Marie tells him that there are no “buts” in the marriage vows, that love is not something that is interred with the body, for love - the kind which exists between man and wife - is eternal. Shocked, Malcolm asks Jeanne-Marie if she is saying he should go through with this. ‘I am saying you should do whatever your heart tells you to do’ Jeanne-Marie replies.
Standing on a gravestone, Amy watches the heroes face off against the living dead and tells them that soon they will all know what it is like to die - the cold, the stench, the loneliness. Suddenly, Malcolm puts a hand on Amy’s shoulder and tells her to let them go. ‘We don’t have time for this’ he tells her as he places his lips on hers, informing her that they have a date with the preacher. The zombies stop fighting Alpha Flight and X-Factor, and everyone turns and watches Amy and Malcolm walking down the altar.
Amy asks Malcolm if he is serious, to which he replies he is as serious as the day he proposed. Havok points out that the corpses are dropping, ‘It is as Walter theorized’ Jean-Paul adds. Jeanne-Marie announces that with Amy’s rage defused, her mutant power is similarly dissipating. Everyone gathers around the altar as Malcolm and Amy stand in front of the zombie-priest. ‘I, Malcolm Codsworth, take Amy Brewer…to be my wife. To love, honor and cherish - all the days of my life’. ‘And I, Amy Brewer, take Malcolm Codsworth…’ suddenly her voice begins to give way, and her body rapidly decays. ‘…to be my husband. To have and to hold…from this day forward, until…until…’. Amy’s body falls to the ground. ‘Until death to us part’ whispers Malcolm, holding his wife’s body in his arms.