Following a massive explosion at one of Susan Hatchi’s plants in Georgia, the X-Men are trapped underground with Cecelia Reyes, who is using her force field to protect them from being crushed. Her friends manage to joke and banter back and forth, but this only serves to distract her from keeping the force field intact. She resorts to shouting at them to shut up. She asks if any of them are hurt and why Gambit isn’t saying anything. Northstar informs her that he’s right beneath her. Can she feel him breathing? Iceman uses a thin ice tendril to brush against his ear which prompts him to wake up. Remy asks Cecelia if she’s keeping them alive. She strains as she attempts to respond, but informs him that she doesn’t know how much longer she can do this.
Northstar tells her she’s doing a crappy job right now. He can’t breathe. “Ta gueule,” replies Remy, but Northstar tells him not to tell him to keep his mouth shut. Warbird warns them to stay silent. The healer is keeping them alive. They should be grateful. She asks Iceman if he can excavate them with his power. Bobby replies that he might be able to but he doesn’t know what effect it would have on Cecelia’s force field. Remy tells Cecelia that she saves lives every day. Every day someone comes to her bleeding and broken and she makes miracles with her brain and bare hands. This is nothing. He moves his lips to her ear and whispers, “Brave, stubborn, Cecelia Reyes. You are not going to let us die.”
The words are enough and Cecilia tells herself that they are not going to die in this hellhole like a bunch of animals. She’s survived too much. She concentrates hard and pushes her force field upwards. Slowly it moves the earth out of the way until finally breaks through to the surface. Iceman creates an ice slide and the team exits the hole, breathing fresh air again.
Bobby cradles Karma and realizes that she’s waking up. She is confused and doesn’t seem to know where she is. Gambit holds Cecelia who is exhausted after her efforts. He tells her she did it. She saved them. Cecelia replies that didn’t do enough. She looks around at the devastation and says she couldn’t protect those other people in the room. “Not your fault,” Remy assures her. Cecelia isn’t sure that she believes that. She’s spent her entire life wishing she wasn’t a mutant. What if she’d spent that time learning how to use her power? Maybe she could have helped them. Remy tells her they can’t live in a world of what-if’s.
Seemingly from nowhere, two grenades are tossed at them. Northstar quickly responds and managed to toss them clear but he and the others are shaken by the explosion. As the dust settles, Susan Hatchi appears wearing a face mask with two soldiers by her side. She finds the X-Men on their knees adorable. She doesn’t know whether to celebrate or to start ripping off their faces. Maybe she’ll start with Shan. Bobby coughs and warns her to leave Karma alone. Susan walks over to her and bends down. Shan throws up on her boots and smiles. “Oops,” she says. Susan tells her that it’s lucky she inherited some mercy from her mother. If she had done that to their uncle’s boots she thinks he might have shot her. “Uncle,” gasps Bobby. “Wait, what… you’re related?”
Sisters, says Susan. Correcting her, Karma says half-sisters and she should leave her friends out of this. Susan asks her to say please and Karma does. “Say… pretty please,” asks Susan. Karma pauses but says it, much to Susan’s amusement. She asks Karma if she would do anything for them. If she asked Karma to bark like a fog, she would bark. If she asked her to jump back into the hole, she’d jump of her own free will. “They’re not even your family!” she adds, saying that she owns them now. She owns their bodies. She might as well own their souls. “Like hell,” replies Northstar.
Susan Hatchi presses a button on a small remote control which causes Jean-Paul to scream in pain. His eyes begin to bleed and he realizes that he cannot see. He’s blind. Susan turns to the others and informs them that each of them has been infected with her nano-worms. They inhaled millions of them and by now they are in every part of their bodies. If she wanted to, she could paralyze them. If she wanted to she could cut off the oxygen to their brains. All she has to do is push a button. She could return Northstar’s sight. Northstar tells her to do it. He’ll even beg. Susan replies that she’ll save begging for dessert. She wants something else instead. She wants Madripoor! The X-Men look at her. “Huh?” says Iceman.
Susan explains that they are going to take over the island for her. If they don’t, she will kill them; and if that isn’t incentive enough, she will infect all of New York City with this technology… every man, woman and child. And she will blow them up. She won’t lose any sleep over that. A demonstration like that will make her billions on the black market. Some might even call her a hero.
Gambit asks what’s stopping her. Susan replies that she isn’t ready to be called a terrorist just yet. “That’s our job, right?” replies Cecelia. Susan tells her that bitterness isn’t a cute look on her. She wants the island as a demonstration to the world that she has a weapon powerful enough to control the X-Men; a weapon that can bring them to their knees. What do they think that is worth? What do they think that is worth to a government that wants to control its people? What is that worth to an organization that wants to control a government?
Iceman warns her that the other X-Men will come and they will stop them. Susan replies that if they do they know what the consequences will be. They will do their job fast. She wants Madripoor in twenty-four hours. They shouldn’t even think about betraying her. She will be able to see through their eyes and hear every word they say. And… if any of them move more than one hundred feet apart, they will explode.
The X-Men head to Madripoor and think about how they are going to achieve this. Gambit tells Karma that Susan doesn’t really care about Madripoor. Karma agrees. She just wants them to play her crazy games and play by her crazy rules. It doesn’t make sense but then it doesn’t have to. She’s like their father that way. Remy asks how well she knows her. Karma replies that she doesn’t. They only met once when they were children in Vietnam. Their father had two families. Her mother didn’t know until the other woman came looking for him and brought his daughter along. Remy guesses Susan Hatchi isn’t her real name. Karma tells him she was called D’ao. She was mean, even back then. She tried to stab her mother and then her, just for existing. She’s not sure she can blame her, though. She grew up different from them. They had their father more than she did. They had his protection and she had none at all. She never saw her again after that night. She never even thought about her. She had bigger problems.
Iceman says she’s sure as hell a problem now. Remy asks if she believes that Susan can see through their eyes and hear everything they say. “Or that we’ll freakin’ explode if they separate?” adds Bobby. Karma replies yes. She believes her. Warbird asks how they know what she will not betray them. Karma tells her she doesn’t. She was nothing but a puppet once she decided to control her. Remy reckons there’s no time to worry about that. They have job to do. He lets go of a card which drifts downwards towards the wharf.
(Madripoor, the Wharf)
A soldier asks Tyger Tiger what their orders are. Tyger says she wants all the gunrunners taken alive. They will find out who is supplying them and they’ll be one step closer to taking back the city. Remy’s card then drifts across her and she grabs it. She looks at the card which has a burnt hole in the middle and, looking upwards, tells her soldiers that something’s come up. They can call her with a report as soon as they’ve made an arrest. They can handle the raid without her. There is someone she needs to find.
A water plane lands near the coast of Madripoor and Logan, in his Patch identity, steps off and onto the jetty. He reports to Kitty Pryde by radio that he’s just landed and finding the X-Men shouldn’t be too difficult. Figuring out why the hell they are in Madripoor - that’s the real question. It’s a good thing they can track the Blackbird. He asks if there’s any word from Beast on how they can remote-disable the tech that was inside him. He then asks Kitty to hold that thought as a familiar bluebird lands on his shoulder. “I think I have a lead.”
Remy leads the team to a steel factory, which glows orange from the molten metal. They discuss the situation and Northstar concludes that if they’re going to have to do this, they should bomb Madripoor and terrify its people so much they give up without a fight. Cecelia thinks he’s nuts, but he replies that he wants to see Kyle again. He wants to live. Bobby says he knows that Jean-Paul is bummed about losing his sight, but Northstar interrupts him and says it was hell. But, Kyle comes first.
Tyger Tiger then arrives and Remy says he’s glad she found them. She replies that he wasn’t subtle. She asks what he and the X-Men are doing sneaking around her city. “And,” she adds. “Why did I just get a call from Wol…” Remy shuts her up by kissing her. She tells him that he’s sexy and smart and stupendous in a fight, but if he ever tries to shut her up with a kiss again she’ll put her foot so far up his ass her toes with be in his teeth. He smiles and tells her that when this is over, she’ll probably want to do more than that. “We’re here to take over your city.”
After a brief explanation, Cecelia says it’s ridiculous. They’re not doing this. Iceman agrees. They are the good guys and it doesn’t matter who puts a gun to your head. Northstar asks what about New York? What about any other city Hatchi decides to target? Warbird agrees. This is for the greater good. Bobby says absolutely not. They give in now, it won’t stop. Northstar replies that, if they won’t act, he will. He can wrap up Madripoor in a heartbeat. Bobby warns him that he won’t let them but Northstar tells him not to get in his way. “You already tried to kill me once,” replies Bobby. Northstar points out that it was to save Kyle and he’ll do it again. Bobby asks if he’s willing to kill a bunch of people to save his sight. How about a bunch of innocent people? “You’re a coward, Jean-Paul.” Northstar snarls back at him and says he’s just pissed that he handed him his ass and didn’t even break a sweat. He tells Bobby that he’s nobody. He’s no fighter. He’s no strategist. All he’s good for in situations like this s making ice sculptures. “You can’t even get a girlfriend,” he adds.
Bobby reaches out at him angrily and extends several icy tendrils to pull Jean-Paul towards him. Cecelia calls out to them to stop this but Warbird asks her to let them fight. They need this for their friendship. Iceman tells Jean-Paul that he isn’t going to let him hurt anyone. Northstar replies that it’s his decision to live with so he can get the hell off him. Iceman lunges forwards as Northstar removes the tendrils and he falls through a thin fence and falls towards a vat of molten metal. “No!” screams Northstar as he watches Bobby fall, splashing into the vat below. “Bobby?” asks Northstar, visibly shocked. “Oh my God,” exclaims Cecelia. “You killed him.”