For as far as the eye can see, the streets are full of people - the air resounding with their cheers – as the triumphal procession makes its way across the senatorial plaza of the city of Nova Roma. The cause of the rejoicing is a 13-year-old werewolf acclaimed as the lineal descendant both of Julius Caesar (because of his red hair) and the sacred she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, legendary founders of Rome.
Twenty four hours ago, Rahne and her fellow New Mutants were in the arena, facing death or a life in slavery; today, being carried though the streets they are living gods. It’s a transition that takes some getting used to.
As they wave at the crowd, Sam admits he feels like an idiot. Would he rather be back in the arena, Dani reminds him. He’d rather be back home. Wouldn’t they all…
Leading the procession is the master of the city guard, Senator Marcus Domitius Gallio, who is currently being considered a hero. Already he plots to break the power of the senate and end the republic… becoming emperor. Fearing his plotting is his rival senator Lucius Antonius Aquilla, who stares angrily at the procession.
Sam notices the angry glares Gallio and Aquilla are exchanging. Roberto replies that it’s not their concern. He is still worried about his missing mother and fears she’s drowned. Noticing Dani’s worried look, he begins to wave to the crowd again, not wanting anyone to notice his fears. Dani worries but understands his pride. They are too similar in that regard.
Later, Gallio leads the kids to his palace. Rahne changes back to her human form, admitting the parade was very exciting. But they shouldn’t call her a goddess. But to his people that is precisely what she is, Gallio remarks. And perhaps the gods were being like them: mutants. He claps his hands. Enough of philosophy! Slaves enter bringing a sumptuous meal.
They are all slaves? Sam asks a young girl. Roberto bitterly remarks that his father was a slave when he was his age. It seems the beauty and luxury they enjoy has a price. Dani muses that they came very close to becoming slaves themselves. Gallio saved them, but he could just as easily change his mind.
After the feast is over, Dani thanks Gallio for his kindness. Sam remarks he spotted a gentleman who didn’t seem any to happy when they rode by. They needn’t concern themselves with his esteemed colleague Senator Aquilla, Gallio replies. He’ll deal with him later. Sam recognizes the name and realizes he’s talking about Amara’s father. They don’t get along? he asks. Hardly, Gallio replies curtly.
Taking a sip of wine, he continues that he is of the patrician class, born and bred nobility to uphold the ideal of Rome. Aquilla is Plebian. Now, many senators are commoners and they serve as honorably as any patrician. Not so Aquilla. He respects no law bur his own and desires nothing but power. To achieve it he will pay any price, make any sacrifice. It is rumored that his ultimate goal is to name himself emperor.
Sam notes that Gallio is really slick. He reminds his of the company rep reading management’s offers to his daddy and the other miners at contract time. Everything sounded great, till you took a closer look at it. He’s also treating them like kids. Dani’s playing along, being really polite and respectful. He decides to play dumb as well. Sam points out that Amara told them her father led the republican party.
And why should they believe anything she says, Rahne suddenly shouts agitated. She’s a liar and a sneak! The others are taken aback by her behavior and Dani recalls that she’s been on Amara’s case from the start.
Gallio calms Rahne in a patronizing manner, suggesting that Lady Amara is merely a loyal daughter before pointing out that she wasn’t by their side in the arena even though she’d been captured with them. She escaped but left them to their fate. Hardly the act of a friend. Rahne instantly agrees and insisting that the New Mutants stand by their friends, she offers the senator their help. Gallio appreciates the gesture and bids them good night.
With him gone, Roberto turns to his Sunspot form to get rid of the stifling armor. That done, he sinks into the pillows, exhausted. Sam angrily asks Rahne what that was about, offering their help to Gallio without consulting with the rest of them first. They are strangers here and don’t know good from bad. Her crazy hate for Amara makes her act without thinking. And maybe the fact that he likes Amara is mucking up his judgment, Rahne mocks. Besides who made him leader?
Roberto has enough of them bitching and leaves for a walk, figuring Dani will settle this. She’s been taking charge a lot lately. She’d make a better leader than he with his temper. A slave girl offers herself to him but he declines, wondering if his hurt shows so clearly. Or does he secretly enjoy feeling sorry for himself? So much has happened to him, so much of it bad. The day his mutant powers appeared, he became an outcast. His schoolmates deserted him, except for Juliana Sandoval. She stood by him no matter what and he loved her for it. To save his life, she sacrificed her own. And then last month in California, he tried to save Shan as they all fell into the ocean. But he was too slow, too late. As he was days ago in the river when their boat was wrecked. His love, his teammate, his mother, dead because of him.
Crying, he wishes his father was here. When they’re together they always talk like pals, not father and son. He’d know the answers. As he looks out of the window out on the plaza, he sees two women leading a middle-aged captured redheaded woman somewhere. Is she his mother? Confused, he runs downstairs, wanting to leave, but armed legionnaires hold him back. They tell him they have orders from Senator Gallio himself that the mutants are to stay in the palace for their own protection. Powering up, Sunspot threatens them to move aside, before calming himself. He shouldn’t threaten innocents for doing their duty. The woman is gone anyway. He powers down and apologizes to the relieved decurion.
Later that night, Dani slips out one of the palace’s side entrance, diverting the guards with illusions of pretty girls. Moments later, huge hands grab her from behind and snatch her.
Later still, a dejected Rahne looks outside the window. Does she plan to sit there all night, Roberto asks. Dani should have returned hours ago. Rahne fears something happened to her. Roberto calms her that Dani can take care of herself. Rahne admits that she’s ashamed. She said such hateful things to Sam. And she blasphemed, no matter how neatly senator Gallio tried to explain it away. She wonders why God hasn’t already struck her dead to burn in hell forever. She is so afraid.
Roberto assures her that what those Romans believe is their business. God can see into her heart and soul. If her beliefs aren’t shaken, she’s nothing to fear. But they are, she admits under tears. She likes being a wolf more than being a girl.
As he wonders what to say, there’s movement behind the drapes and moments later a shot is fired, hitting Roberto in the shoulder. He falls backwards outside the window.
Sam wakes up from the noise, sees the falling Bobby and instantly cannonballs through the outside wall to catch him while Rahne turns into wolf form to attack the would-be-killer. Guards come in along with Gallio, who remarks that their guests seem to have the situation well in hand. Sam asks them for a doctor for Sunspot. Bobby care. He recognizes the assassin. It’s Castro, the man who wrecked their boat. Because of him, Roberto’s mother may be dead!
When Gallio asks Castro who sent him, Castro spits in his face and refuses to talk. Gallio wipes of the spit and suggests he leave him alone with Roberto. He’s sure he’d enjoy that. Afraid, Castro caves in, admitting that he was sent by Senator Lucious Aquilla. Gallio orders his centurion to Aquilla’s house to arrest him.
Elsewhere, Dani awakes lying in a cave. Still woozy, she recalls she was grabbed, drugged. She gets a good look at herself; she’s dressed – barely – in some skimpy ceremonial garb, as are the two girls next to her, one of whom is Amara. Both of them are still under the drug’s influence. Why are they here? Dani asks. To be sacrificed, comes a man’s answer as he orders the others to watch her. At the slightest move, kill her.
The three girls are led away and Dani finds that she is still too woozy to use her powers. They reach a large cave. In its center is a lava pit, surrounded by worshippers. The man tells them this is the sanctuary of the Cult of Fire, where for the glory of their gods the girls will be consigned to the eternal flame.
On the platform above the fire pit, suddenly a beautiful darkhaired woman materializes. She is Selene, daughter of the moon, mistress of the fire. She orders the children to give themselves to her. Dani feels a tug in her mind, realizing that Selene has psychic powers like Professor Xavier. Her training is helping her resist. But the others don’t stand a chance. The third girl walks up the platform clearly against her will.
Dani tries to act, to summon her powers, but finds it isn’t working. She realizes that somehow Selene is blocking her. Selene greedily stares at the frightened girl and throws her into the lava pit. With her death, Selene gains her life energies. She is after all a goddess, she announces, who has walked the Earth since before the dawn of history. She takes a long hard look at Amara and Dani. Which of them will be the next?
Meanwhile, the Aquilla estate is under attack by Gallio’s men, as well as Sunspot and Cannonball. Gallio asks Rahne to stay back, as the people consider her the living heart of their city. Sam, however, has doubts. He finds Castro’s popping up and putting the blame on Aquilla awfully convenient. He drags Sunspot up into the air, telling him they need to talk without Gallio overhearing. He doesn’t trust Gallio. They can’t stop Aquilla being arrested, but they can make sure he doesn’t get killed “accidentally” in the fight. He deserves a fair trial. Bobby agrees.
Gallio’s men storm Aquilla’s chamber. The senator goads them on, proving quite adept with his sword while the centurion makes no secret about Gallio wanting Aquilla dead. That moment, Sunspot and Cannonball break through the wall. Sam heads the centurion off. Aquilla and his soldiers are beaten, he reminds him. There is no need for bloodshed. The centurion has no choice but to give in.
Disappointed to seem him alive? Aquilla asks Gallio, who replies in Latin. Not really, he remarks. Aquilla will be dead soon enough once the senate condemns him for high treason. The evidence is overwhelming. Lies and forgeries, Aquilla shouts. Gallio would betray them to the outside world and see Rome destroyed to further how own ambition. Even if that were so, Gallio laughs, there is nothing Aquilla can do to stop him. He orders his men to take him away before thanking the mutants in English. He is unaware of the fact that Roberto speaks Latin and understood their conversation.
Elsewhere, Selene is about to sacrifice the entranced Amara, remarking that she always knew she’d take her one day as she did her mother. When Amara perishes at her hand, so will her father at the hands of Selene’s husband. The republic will be no more.
Furious, Dani tries to break free and creates a psychic image of a monstrous Selene to divert her captors. She runs up to Selene, hoping to stop her with a spirit form. Selene boasts she is proof against her mindtricks and grabs her by the throat. She sensed they were kin, now she is certain. Dani and her companions have shown her she is not alone as she thought. She draws Dani’s blood as she announces that they will all serve her as she leaves her exile. Through her blood, she tries to control Dani.
That moment, Amara breaks free and tries to attack. Selene swats her aside and Amara falls into the lava. Then, suddenly, there are massive earthquakes and in Selene’s cave Amara, now in a fiery form, appears upon a column of lava, swearing vengeance.