A young woman named Nerimani is on the run. She ducks down an alley, wondering how they found her. She can’t understand why they couldn’t just forget about her. Worst of all she believes she’s just doomed this entire world and its people.
Nerimani is not alone, however. A blonde woman wielding a staff is bringing up the rear. This woman, Sharen, stops and turns, deciding it’s time to fight. She tells Nerimani to keep running while she holds them off, adding that help is on the way. Nerimani does as told, but warns Sharen she doesn’t know what she’s up against saying they’ll be dead before her friends show up.
Sharen, facing the giant rock-like Shell, tells Nerimani to have a little faith as the Daughters of the Dragon don’t like to lose. Shell makes his move, lunging at the Daughter. Sharen uses her staff to puncture his abdomen. When Shell lurches forward, Sharen punches him in the side of his face, snapping off a piece of his cheek.
The Skrull warrior, Flaw, takes advantage of the situation and comes at Sharen from behind, putting her in a choke hold. Flaw compliments her fighting skills and strength, but tells her it’s not enough to save her. Sharen brings her heel back up into Flaw’s crotch and says, “Wanna bet?” Then she grabs his arms and flips him over her back and slams him into the ground.
Sharen’s pretty proud of herself, but once again is grabbed from behind by the third member of the hunting party, the insectoid Offset. Offset proclaims herself the best and most deadly of the three and then lifts Sharen into the air, snapping her legs at the ankle. Offset opens her mandibles wide then feasts upon the young woman’s flesh. Nerimani watches, eyes wide as Sharen’s body is sucked dry.
Offset orders her recovered teammates to secure the princess, but warns them not to harm her for that is to be left for Empress Lilandra. Nerimani knows when the going’s good and takes off again. Not looking where she’s going she runs smack dab into Morph who offers his help.
Morph places his thumb in his mouth and blows, bulking up his mass. He takes the fight to Flaw, punching him and sending him flying. Flaw gets right back up and takes a swing at Morph, but the metamorph stretches his neck and dodges the attack. Flaw continues punching, first landing one fist in Morph’s chest and then the other. Much to his surprise, both hands are stuck inside Morph’s body. Morph sends out three mini-arms that treat Flaw’s head like a punching bag. Morph finishes the fight with an uppercut that sends Flaw careening across the ground, creating a ditch with his body’s drag.
Satisfied, Morph returns to normal size. Nerimani rushes over, pleased with her savior’s performance. Rogue drops by having watched the fight and tells Morph he’s positively demented. Morph jokes she makes it sound like a bad thing. Rogue doesn’t respond, instead noticing Flaw slowly getting back on his feet. She takes to the air and dive-bombs him, plowing him back into the ground.
Gambit, meanwhile, faces off against Shell. He leaps over the Shi’Ar warrior’s head and feints an attack. Shell laughs at his miss, but that was Gambit’s intention, to distract Shell. Mystiq comes in from the side and gets in a good punch to the jaw. Gambit then secures Shell in a TK cage, pompously asking who’s next.
Nerimani seems a bit bewildered at all this and asks Morph who they are for she’s never seen such powers displayed on this world. Offset is making the same observation. She realizes the risk is too great and makes ready her escape so she can warn the Empress. All that’s standing in her way is Psylocke who tells her the only place she’s going is hell.
The two engage in hand to hand. Offset goes on the offense and throws punch after punch after punch. Psylocke deflects and dodges everything thrown at her. Offset decides to ditch her arms and use her fangs. She lunges at Psylocke, but the erstwhile X-Man throws up a TK shield and Offset hits it head on.
Psylocke manifests her TK sword and approaches the fallen commando. She tells Offset it won’t actually cut her, but the pain is excruciating. With that she slices her from shoulder to hip. Offset is out for the count and thrown in with the other pair inside Gambit’s TK prison cube.
Mystiq, ever observant, gets a sense from Psylocke’s body language that she’s dealt with these creatures before. Psylocke admits that back in her home dimension the Shi’Ar Death Commandos annihilated the family of a very dear friend, family that included men, women and children. She stares down at the desiccated body of Sharen and says some things can never be forgiven, nor should they ever be.
Psylocke asks Nerimani why they were after her. Nerimani plays the part of clueless, damsel in distress. Tears begin streaming down her face and she asks to be allowed to go home. Morph tells her she can’t do this, she can’t let her friend have died for nothing.
Nerimani looks up at Morph, her expression more forthcoming as if she’s changed her mind, but before she can say anything the Lords of Iron and the Daughters of the Dragon show up. Sharen’s reinforcements are a little too late, but that doesn’t stop their leader from proclaiming the Exiles are under arrest.
London, Republic of Britannia, Sons of Iron headquarters
That evening, at one of the scattered islands across the world, the Exiles find themselves at the headquarters of the Sons of Iron, an enormous building set in the city. Psylocke leads a briefing on the Shi’Ar Death Commandos to those in attendance, explaining the three they captured today are the first wave. Psylocke further explains the power they witnessed today is but a fraction of what the Shi’Ar actually possesses.
Misty and Colleen whisper to each other during the brief, Misty not believing the Shi’Ar could have such power. Colleen asks Misty how they do it then. Misty guesses they have better bionics and tech available. Nerimani puts an end to the debate with her assurance to the group that Psylocke is not exaggerating. She warns they will be facing a group of warriors not used to losing.
Colleen steps forward and stands firm that Psylocke’s intel is accurate. The only question she has is how Nerimani seems to know so much. Nerimani finally admits the truth, that she’s one of them, or more specifically the rightful heir to the Shi’Ar throne.
Later on, Rogue is up on one of the higher levels of the building looking out over the beautiful city landscape. Colyn, one of the Sons of Iron, walks up on her from behind and remarks on the spectacular view. Rogue agrees, but when Colyn tries continuing the conversation Rogue says it’s hard to have a dialogue with someone whose features are concealed by armor. Rogue asks if he ever comes out for air, questioning if he has some sort of “secret identity” to protect. Colyn replies it’s a little bit of both.
“By my ancestors!” Rogue exclaims after Colyn removes his helmet, revealing his purple-hued saurian features. Colyn explains that his world has two dominant species, human and saurian and that they banded together ages ago when both sides were facing extinction.
Although the Daughters are mostly human, he continues, there are saurians among them, but because the Sons are all masked, no one can tell which race they come from and from that anonymity comes a measure of their collective strength. Together they have kept their world safe for a score of generations, he finishes. “Not too shabby, my friend.” Rogue replies.
Meanwhile, the interrogation of the Shi’Ar prisoners isn’t going well. Gambit asks where their telepath is when they need her. Mystiq doubts Sage would be much help given the evidence of the prisoners’ defensive conditioning. Mystiq wonders if they’re just stalling for time.
There’s no time to ponder that question as a bright ball of light suddenly envelops the center of the room. “What the devil?!” Mystiq exclaims as the flash grows bigger. A figure starts to materialize in front of them. Gambit recognizes the figure as Cat and Mystiq quickly cautions their new friends to not interfere for she’s one of them.
The Sons of Iron member present notes the transformation occurring with Cat. Gambit tells him it’s what she does and Mystiq further clarifies that she interfaces with an infinite collection of alternate identities until she finally synchs with one that feels right. Cat, now looking like Tigra, says that every time it happens she feels like she’s been run over by a truck. Gambit says she looks great. Cat thanks him and asks what she’s missed. Psylocke fills her in on the recent events and of her fear that Shi’Ar reinforcements may have already arrived.
Sure enough, six armored figures, including Lilandra are en route to their location.
Diana strikes at Sage, but the telepathic Exile leans back out of harm’s way. As Diana continues her ceaseless ranting on how she will be taking over Sage’s body, Sage reflects on the situation and how this “figment of her imagination” came to be.
Sage was once a member of a British superhero team called Excalibur and on her last mission she had to assume the false identity of Diana Fox, to infiltrate a clandestine assault force led by a man named Albion. The training regiment she underwent with Albion was unlike anything she ever experienced, honing both body and mind.
Later, as she was making her move against Albion, she was turned completely to his side. She had become Diana. Over time Sage was able to reestablish her persona, and defeat Diana for possession of her body. Little did Sage realize at the time it was just a battle in a grand war, and Diana was still lurking.
Sage tries reasoning with Diana, telling her too much is going on for them to continue fighting. Diana doesn’t care, kicking Sage in the face, the abdomen and then punching her in the mouth. She tells Sage to give up if things are so bad because she can’t be beaten and she won’t ever quit.
Sage catches her next kick and tells Diana they are much alike. She then locks her leg around Diana’s other leg and tries taking her to the ground. Diana breaks free and spins mid-air kicking Sage in the face for her troubles. All Sage can think about is how hard her head pounds when she’s fighting her alter ego.
Diana’s kick sends Sage backward. Sage contorts her body and handsprings on the ground, flipping backward and landing in a fighting stance in front of Diana. Diana tells Sage that to keep fighting her is pointless because she’ll always get back up and she can’t be killed or stopped. I solve problems, Sage replies, I’ll keep trying.
Sage grabs Diana by the shoulders, but Diana knocks her away. Sage silently wonders how she can evict a part of herself, but when she faces Diana again she asks her to think about what she’s doing. Diana asks Sage if her next statement will be to tell her that the energy they waste fighting each other leaves them both vulnerable to the multiple identities Roma implanted in her mind. Sage’s expression tells Diana she was dead-on in her guess and she questions Sage why she thinks she’s the best one to keep them under control.
Diana moves in to strike again, but this time Sage catches her punch. She then maneuvers around and gut punches her and then backhands her face. She tries for a third hit, but Diana ducks. Diana counters with another punch to the face, but Sage deflects the hit. She blocks yet another and comments on how they’re too evenly matched. To highlight the point, Sage punches Diana in the face at the same time as Diana scores a hit to her stomach.
Sage proclaims that neither of them can win. Diana tells her to give up then because she won’t. Sage, once again, tells her there’s more at stake. Diana says she knows what’s at stake. Sage asks why she wants to be part of the problem and not the solution. Diana says she’s a hero by choice, by character and what she did with Albion was intended to make the world a better place.
Sage smiles and points out that’s pretty much how she’s lived her life. Diana, for at least the third time, asks Sage to step aside and yield because she won’t give up. Sage probably doesn’t hear her because she notices over a dozen creatures slowly encircling them.