Greenwich, Connecticut, where a shirtless Akihiro a.k.a. Daken stands in a large pit, several bones scattered throughout. 'This is Akihiro, out in the sticks...I'm lighting a memory flare. I'm not telepath, but any novice could catch this thought chain in my head like it's on fire' he thinks to himself. He frowns as he recalls that he got tipped off to a potter's field near an outlet for the Morlock's Alley. He has been digging for hours, and now here he is, stranded in suburbia, staring at mutant bones. He grits his teeth as he tells himself that whoever put these mutants in the ground is still out there, so when it comes to proof of death, there is about to be plenty. Suddenly, there is a rumbling, and Daken looks puzzled. He pops his claws, and a moment later is blasted with a powerful surge of flame that ripples across his body.
The ground around Daken washes up over him and engulfs him, trapping him in a strange tar-like substance, his claws pop out from the substance. 'It – it's Akihiro! Is anyone in range?' he projects his thoughts. 'Psylocke? Prestige? Xavier? If you can hear this – follow the memory flare! It was a trap! Bad intel! But you... you can still... find whoever burned...' his thoughts begin to subside, as the substance around him sizzles. He is unconscious, his face can be seen, burned from the flames. 'Beautiful. Trauma that would kill a rhinoceros. But he's still alive...and suffering. Prepare the Theater' a voice calls out.
Hellfire Bay, Krakoa, where Captain Kate Pryde, the Red Queen of the Hellfire Trading Company, and Lucas Bishop, the Hellfire Trading Company's Red Bishop, stand on a dock and look at the damaged Marauder ship docked nearby. 'Toast?' Kate asks. Bishop reminds her that a toast usually comes with a victory, but the Marauder is totaled. 'Well, we’re not' Kate points out. 'Ask my knees' Bishop jokes. 'What are you talking about? You're still what, negative fifteen years old?' she remarks. 'That's not how time travel works' Bishop replies, to which Kate tells him that this boat would not float without wisdom like that. Kate holds a bottle of whiskey, and she and Bishop hold a glass each as Bishop declares that they don't have a boat, and the Hellfire Trading Company is held together by blackmail. 'You're sure this is the time for change?' Bishop asks. Kate pours whiskey onto the dock and replies 'Sure? You know where the past goes, Bishop... down below' before they both drink their glasses of whiskey.
'We'll still need a new boat' Bishop points out. 'We'll need a new mission. Or rather, to serve both sides of our current one' Kate adds as they walk along the dock. She reminds Bishop that the Marauders were supposed to get Krakoan medicine where it is needed, and rescue mutants who can't reach Krakoa. 'We've been couriers long enough' Kate decides. Bishop tells her that is a grand oversimplification, but Kate informs him that she is meeting with Emma and Shaw, and that Hellfire Trading will be handled, but that she wants to be hands on – mutant rescue – and they will need some new faces. Bishop offers to draw up the most qualified candidates, but Kate reminds him that he is Captain Commander of Krakoa, and that he has plenty to worry about, so she offers to handle the boat and the crew. 'But you've got to swear – no complaints about my choices' Kate adds. '... who am I to argue with the Captain of the Marauder?' Bishop smiles. 'Smart. And I already know my first stop' Kate replies.
Elsewhere on Krakoa: Kwannon a.k.a. Psylocke hides in an area covered by dense forest. '... you think I don't know you're there?' Kwannon calls out, tears streaming down her face. 'My thoughts must really be screaming' a voice replies. 'That, and you drag your feet... when you’re not walking on air' Kwannon points out. 'You've been hiding down here like some outcast. Why?' the new arrival asks. Kwannon explains that she did terrible things to get her daughter back, and lost her anyway. 'What else would you call me?' she asks. Kate steps out of the shadows and smiles, as she replies 'Someone who'd like to make sure no one else ever has to go through that. I've got a home on my boat, Psylocke. And I never want to lose anyone again... how about you?' Kate asks, extending a hand, as Kwannon looks on, wide-eyed.
At the Green Lagoon, Heather Tucker a.k.a. Tempo sits at a table with the mutant called Bouncer. Heather rests her head against her hand as Bouncher tells her that she doesn't know how to start this, but that they need to talk. 'It's like, Tempo, or Heather. I mean, that's just it – we've -' she begins, when suddenly, Tempo begins tapping her fingers on the table, literally fast-forwarding through what Bouncer has to say to her: 'been together for three months and I don't even know your chosen name. Plus, you were sort of a terrorist – I mean, sure, you betrayed them and it's been cool since then I threw people through doors for a living, but that was more of a hobby, not a belief system. Do you even have hobbies? Three months and I don't know anything about you. For a chronokinetic, it feels like you're doing everything you can to keep us in slow motion. I could see us working, Tempo. But you've been pumping the brakes for so long, it feels like we'll never get up to speed. I want to say it's me, not you, but I'm sorry, this time... you're the one who's -' and just then, Tempo taps her fingers again, slowing time back down. 'Hey, it's all good, Bouncer. Why waste each other's time?' Tempo remarks, looking away. 'Really? You're fine with this? Wait... did you just fast-forward through our breakup?' Bouncer asks. Tempo suddenly smiles as Bishop appears in the Green Lagoon. 'Heard you gave Pryde a “maybe.” Times change. The Marauders are now a yes or no question' Bishop tells Tempo, asking her how long she is going to wait.
Shortly, night has fallen across Krakoa, and at the Boneyard, home of X-Factor Investigations, Kate and Kwannon are in Daken's quarters. Kate reports that Aurora is off-site, and that the rest of X-Factor haven't seen Daken in days. 'But your thoughtline says this is where Ahikiro was last?' Kate asks. Kwannon tells her that this is where Daken's psychic residue is still strongest. Kwannon notes that this place is spotless, and remarks that Laura was right – Daken has been living with discipline. 'Right up until disappearing' Kate points out as she looks out the window. Kwannon tells Kate that there is anger here, and urgency, hanging around the window like black mold. She looks at a photo of Daken with his sisters – Laura and Gabby – and decides that Daken was happy in this space, or trying to be. 'Scout. Wolverine. His thick-necked father...at least someone's found family...' her voice trails off. 'On my boat, we're family' Kate tells Kwannon, putting a hand on her shoulder, adding that she wanted Akihro for this gamily, and if he is missing, that makes him their first mission. 'But he's the son of a stubborn Canadian. He won't take a rescue from just anybody' Kate acknowledges.
Meanwhile, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada: A machine gun fires several bullets into the air, courtesy of a bearded man wearing a red baseball cap, who holds a woman be her neck. 'Ya muties think you can go wherever you want? NOT IN MY TOWN!' he shouts, when suddenly, Jeanne-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora, one of Canada's greatest super heroes, appears behind the man. She places her hands either side of his head as she tells him that his town was at the top of her feed. 'Taking a mutant hostage? Really? I was only half a planet away' she frowns. 'Wait! Don't -' the man protests, before Aurora utters 'Speed of light' as she releases a brilliant burst of light around the man's face, blinding him. The man drops his gun and releases his grip on his hostage, a woman with scars across her face and short red hair. Aurora knows the woman and hugs her. Aurora calls her Stitch and tells her that she is sorry. 'We all deserve safety after surviving Department H. But you won't find it here' Aurora remarks. 'The findings not done, Aurora... Daken's missing. The Marauders caught the rundown' Bishop calls out as he and Tempo appear nearby. Aurora glances over as Bishop tells Aurora that he thought she would like to take point. 'Well, if you're talking to all his lovers... don't stop with me' Aurora smiles.
Elsewhere, at a nightclub, partygoers are dancing. Among them are two mutants from Krakoa – Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman and Christian Frost, the White Bishop of the Hellfire Trading Company. 'A slow dance?' Bobby asks, wearing a blue suit, as he and Christian, in a white suit, dance closely. What? You were hoping for a cot under the bleachers?' Christian replies. But Bobby tells Christian that it is nice, and that he didn't have a prom – just a danger room. 'But if you do want to get dangerous...' Bobby's voice trails off, as Christian asks 'In front of a punch bowl? Bobby, what kind of man do you think I am?' He then tells Bobby 'No, right now...' his voice trailing off, as Christian begins to hallucinate and see his father's face in the tiles that they dance on. 'You call yourself a Frost? You're not my son. Not you. Your kind has no place bearing my -' Winston Frost can be heard saying, before Winston treads his feet firmly down on the tiles. '...everything's where it belongs' Christian concludes.
Nearby watching them is Carl Valentino a.k.a. Somnus, who leans against a wall near the punch bowl. 'Enjoy the moment, you too. You've earned it' Somnus remarks, smirking as he watches Bobby and Christian dance. Suddenly, someone calls out to him.
Reality changes – Somnus, Bobby and Christian aren't at a nightclub. They're really in the Broken Baths. Bobby and Christian hold their hands up to mimic the moves they are making in the dreamscape Somnus has placed them in. 'Sorry, ladies... I was a revenge fantasy away. Still getting used to this new life on Krakoa' he tells Aurora and Kate as they appear near the large hot pool where the three men are sitting. Somnus is sitting away from Bobby and Christian, as Kate tells him that it looks like he is keeping busy enough, and asks him if Bobby and Christian will be okay with him out of the dream. Aurora smiles, while Somnus replies 'Let them sleep. They're just enjoying a little poetic justice before Ibizia'. He then climbs out of the hot tub, his toned body covered only by a pair of skimpy white briefs. 'Towel?' Kate asks. 'I hear they're a human convention' Somnus remarks as he stands in front of the women, hands on his hips. 'A lifetime with Aki...and neither of you ever found a shirt' Aurora remarks. Kate covers her eyes as she informs Somnus that is why they are here. She reminds him that he lived a life with Daken in one night, and so dream or nnot, he knows Akihiro better than anyone, and can help them find him. Somnus smiles as he runs a hand through his hair: 'See the world with new eyes and rescue someone I love? When do we start?'
Meantime, in South Salem, New York, behind the steel bars of a gated community, where people have gathered in front of a wooden stage with a large wooden X on it. Tied to the X by his neck is Daken. The people wave rakes and other tools in the air, and throw bottles and spades towards Daken. A strange voice echoes around them: 'Do you feel it in the air, my friend? Charles Xavier abandoned his school for a fantasy island. So here is where we act in hs cast-off-home, together... as man and mutant'. 'Elitist coward!' cries out a man with red hair, who wears dark chaps over green trousers, and a harness over his bare chest. 'You're just as bad as we used to be!' another man calls out. 'Unity's a hard sell for someone in a stockade!' Daken calls out to those gathered around him, when suddenly, someone puts a large hand over Daken's mouth, and burns it with a familiar flaming energy, while in a strange voice uttering 'A canvas does not speak. It exists only to have its art revealed... by BRIMSTONE LOVE and the THEATER OF PAIN'.
The crowd all begin to chant “LOVE LOVE LOVE” repeatedly, while the man called Brimstone Love stands on the stage, towering over them. He has red skin with two large horns protruding from the sides of his head. He wears scale-like dark purple armor, with a long red cape trailing behind him. Daken has recovered from the latest fire assault: 'A few burns won't keep me from your throat, you -' he begins, before Brimstone Love hits him hard across the face, telling him that a canvas does not speak. Brimstone Love grins as he reveals that once upon a time he feared being a mutant, and awaited Charles Xavier's promise of man and mutant living together. 'I believed in his dream. And like so many...I watched in shock as he built an island where mutants were gods and humans weren't invited'. Brimstone Love tells his followers that Krakoa is an abandonment of Xavier's promise, and but that in betraying their faith, Xavier has united those who believe in real equality. The followers of the Theater of Pain hang on Brimstone Love's every word, as he tells them that here, they stand, united in their insult, and their rage. 'You see the old man here? I didn't raise the damn island!' Daken calls out. 'No. But yours is the ever-living flesh upon which we'll express ourselves... through pain'.
In Connecticut, Aurora, Somnus, Tempo, Kwannon and Bishop stand around an area of land which has no grass on it, while the rest of the field is covered in grass. They are near a large drain pipe which sticks out from a sloping hill. Kwannon confirms that Akihiro was here, and calling out to her. 'Got an assist, Tempo?' Bishop asks, before reporting that Captain Pryde is on her way once she secures their boat. 'I want a heading waiting for her' he declares. Bishop holds up his electronic pad and tells the others that he pulled Akihiro's case log, in which he noted that there was a mass grave here. Bishop points out that someone has filled it, and that Daken was tipped off to this by Carver, a Morlock, who fingered Mister Clean for this, but Daken suspects that was smoke, and now Carver is gone, too. 'I grew up in a neighborhood like this. Kids play here, on top of our bodies...' Somnus utters. Tempo crouches down beside Kwannon and they both touch the disturbed ground. Tempo uses her powers to tug the area back a few hours, and Kwannon tells her that it is working – she is getting clear psychic residue. 'I've almost... got it!' Kwannon exclaims, before giving Bishop the reading he wanted: 'Right in Xavier's old backyard!'
Back at the Theater of Pain, Daken is still trapped on the stockade. 'I fought for mutant rights my whole life! That island was like a knife to my heart, Krakoans need to feel that!' A man declares as he touches the bone fragment sticking out from hand of the man wearing the black harness. 'Your turn' he tells him. The man in the harness remarks that he never thought he would be spilling guts with a flatscan. 'Then again...never thought mutants'd turn into what they used to stand against'. He moves toward Daken, his blade pointing to Daken's face. Daken calls the mutant Carver, and tells him that he set him up. 'Your own kind, you -' Daken begins, before Carver skewers him with his blade. 'My kind?' Carver asks as he pulls the blood-covered blade away. 'Morlocks filled that mass grave – put there by the first ta call themselves Marauders. Arizona? Madripoor? I see that truth even if the others won't. Ya pay yer lip service, but yer paradise ain't really fer mutants like us'. Carver then snaps the blade that sticks out of his hand and offers it to the crowd. 'Who's next to the bar?' Carver asks.
'You see, Daken? Krakoa turned its back on us! Xavier gave up on his dream when it became too hard. Sold out coexistence...dealt boons like some tin-helmeted Santa Claus. For every human or mutant left behind after years of faith, I offer an outlet' Brimstone Love calls out as he stands among his followers. They reach out for Brimstone Love who continues: 'Validation. I still believe. And when a belief is so abused... it turns to anger'. Brimstone Love explains that the Theater of Pain welcomes those allies who Krakoa dismissed, who do not want an island of mutant supremacy. He turns to a wide-eyed young man who holds up a knife, and takes the knife, licking the blood from it. 'Did you think you could break our hearts... and not pay in blood?' Brimstone Love asks. 'My hands are bloody as hell and they let me in! You weren't rejected... but you don't really care. I smell everyone's fear. Their stress hormones. You aren't helping these people. I know conditioning when I see it' Daken calls out, looking at the humans and mutants among the crowd.
'I give only what they want' Brimstone Love responds, before he shoves the knife into Daken's neck. 'LOVE LOVE LOVE' the crowd chant, smiling as they watch the spectacle. Brimstone Love retracts the knife, pulling it upwards, a stream of blood spurting from Daken's neck. 'Pain! We are the price! We are the consequence! THEY BUILT UTOPIA WITH A VELVEY ROPE!' Brimstone Love shouts.
Suddenly, there is a whirring noise, and a voice calls out 'Smell that, Marauders? Smells like bad faith!' It's Kate Pryde, who drops down from a saucer-like vessel that hovers above her. Bishop, Psylocke, Aurora, Somnus and Tempo also drop down from the vessel, while Kate tells Psylocke that she is coasting on wit here, and asks what they have got into. Kwannon reports that his name is Brimstone Love, but that he is opaque to telepathy, however he is on everyone else's minds. Kwannon explains that Brimstone Love is a primal geomancer, tough and charasmatic, and the only thing these people are thinking about more than him is his snake oil. Kwannon informs everyone telepathically that these people were human allies or closeted mutants, and Brimstone Love has convinced them that they were betrayed by Xavier – and Akihiro is not a person to them, just a symbol to be punished again and again. 'Like hell!' Kate exclaims, before telling her team to disperse, diffuse and de-escalate, while she frees Akihiro, and chats with the suburban Satan.
'This is Krakoa's best? The delivery girl?' Brimstone Love asks as Kate lands on his makeshift stage. 'That's Captain Pryde!' Kate responds 'Lead asskicker of grievance-baiting con men!' she adds. Brimstone Love frowns as he looks down at Kate and tells her that she speaks with the condescension of a Krakoan. 'Xavier's dream changed. Ours did not' Brimstone Love states as he looks down to his followers, while the other Marauders have placed themselves among the humans and mutants to calm them down. 'Krakoa is still part of the world' Kate points out. 'And what of its humans? Those who believed in mutant equality? What right did you have to shut them out?' Brimstone Love asks, while several angry humans can be seen yelling at Aurora and Tempo.
Flames suddenly erupt around Brimstone Love and the wooden stage is partially destroyed. 'Your new, exclusive paradise isa joke!' Brimstone Love shouts, while Kate phases her body so that some of broken stage passes through her body. 'One we refuse to abide!' Brimstone Love declares. 'We dedicated our lives to you! Now you punish us for how we were born?' a human waving a rake in the air shouts. 'A safe home for mutants... is not persecution for humans' Kwannon points out as she blocks the punch a human throws at her. 'Aikihro, are... you even alive in there? The pain would've sent your father berserk?' Kate calls out, wide-eyed as she looks through the rubble and finds Daken.
'This is vile! You know Krakoa's ot what you're saying!' Bishop calls out as he confronts Brimstone Love, blasting him with energy. 'Does it comfort you to lie? What these people feel is real... this brutality is honest!' Brimstone Love replies, while Kwannon keeps humans attacking her at bay by swiping her psi-knife towards them. 'Mutantkind is not a monolith' Brimstone Love points out as he directs energy towards Bishop.
'Just stop and listen! It isn't – it's not that absolute!' Somnus calls out as he tries to reason with some men. 'Mutants only. That's how it starts. Then it's just the ones with useful gifts. Then just tha pretties. Then tha ones with mutant parents. Before long we're -' Carver calls out, interrupted when Aurora puts her hands next to his head and blinds him with a flash of light. 'That's for Akihiro, Carver. Everyone else... consider my mood' Aurora exclaims, warning those gathering around her.
Daken bursts up through the rubble, landing in front of a wide-eyed Kate Pryde. 'Ak...Akihiro?' Kate calls out. Daken pops his claws and growls, his eyes red with rage.
'Do you not yet see? Dreams don't die without a fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-' Brimstone Love calls out, before Tempo touches him: 'Your fight's on pause' she tells him as she uses her control over time to literally pause him. Somnus, Kwannon, Bishop and Aurora continue to deal with the Theater of Pain followers, when suddenly, 'Love doesn't fight alone!' a man shouts as he leaps at Tempo and pushes her away from Brimstone Love, who is freed from Tempo's pause. Captain Kate phases up through the ground and appears in front of Brimstone Love, who asks her how she can live on that island – a nation of self-proclaimed gods, a society of mutant supremacy. 'We will never stop defying that' he tells her. 'Never might be sooner than you think' Kate replies. Brimstone Love suddenly looks concerned as he hears growling behind him – he starts to turn around, too late though, as Daken leaps at him, and slices off one of his horns in a rage-fuelled attack.
'Brimstone...' Daken snarls as he lands on the other side of Brimstone Love, next to Kate and the others who have gathered nearby. Brimstone places his flaming hand to the side of his severed horn, sealing the wound. He frowns and asks 'You...you think we can be silenced?' He slams a hand onto the ground, which begins to crack. 'By something as instructive as pain?' Brimstone Love. Kate tells him that she knows he is done scapegoating Krakoa, but Brimstone Love tells her 'Please. There are so many of us... sold a dead dream, denied the new one. By swatting us down today...you've only fostered our family!' There is a rumbling, and the ground suddenly breaks up around him – and Brimstone Love begins to fall. The ground continues to break up, and Kate shouts 'Go! He's taking the whole neighborhood with him! Get them out! Get everyone out!'
Shortly, the heroes, and the members of the Theater of Pain stand on the edge of the massive hole that has formed in the ground. Aurora and Somnus help Daken to stand, while Kate tells the Theater of Pain to remember that Brimstone Love would have pulled them all down with him. 'But don't worry. We have sanctuary... and a spaceship'.
Later, back at Krakoa, specifically, Hellfire Bay, where the seven mutants stand on a dock and look at a sleek new ship. 'Sexy, isn't she?' Kate remarks, before telling her companions that the answer was right in front of her the whole time – steal from Emma. 'As of now, this isn't the Mercury...it's the New Marauder' Kate announces. 'Is... that a skull and crossbones on its face?' someone asks. 'It's an X. Morbidly' another suggests. 'A crew needs a symbol' Kate adds. 'Is this a crew?' one of the group asks. 'Once you all say yes, it is. We've got our boat. We're already pissing off the right people. All that's left is to make it official...to the new Marauders!' Kate calls out as she raises a glass of whiskey. Kwannon, Bishop, Daken, Aurora and Tempo do the same, while Somnus holds up the bottle.
'To gutting predators like Love. They're a lot more out there' Daken declares. 'To always going where needed, not where we're wanted' Kate adds. 'No point in a second chance if you're not going to live it, right?' Somnus smiles. Bishop points out that Brimstone Love weaponized people's worst fears about Krakoa, and that it was all too easy for him to pull it off. 'I've seen where that leads. That fear doesn't have to win...we just have to give people a better option' Bishop adds.
Shortly, Kate meets with Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw, the White Queen and Black King of the Hellfire Trading Company, respectively. 'So, we're agreed. Bishop and I will stay on, but with our day-to-day handled by a proxy. Someone who knows the job inside out. Who's past due to step up. Who's no stranger to Hellfire, or its flair for drama...from White Bishop to Red Monarch...Christian Frost' Kate announces. 'A dreadful choice, Pryde. And piteously biased' Shaw frowns. 'Do what thou wilt. And it's our spot to fill' Kate smiles. 'Quite so' Emma tells her, adding that Kate is free to fully engage her new Marauders. She then opens a small black box, and pulls from it a strange cube. Emma calls it a mysterium puzzle box and states that it is gifted with great mystique. 'Two billion years old and locked from the inside'. Kate takes the box and asks 'Two billion? We just created mysterium...' to which Emma reveals that the box is inscribed with Kate's name – in their Krakoan language. Kate puts her fingers into the box, and the box opens. 'But...how? That's my handwriting!' she utters, wide-eyed. 'Well then, Captain. It seems your next rescue...begins with a mystery' Emma utters, as Kate holds up a map which she pulls from the box – a map of an island, with the words “the first blood spilled” scrawled on it in red.