‘My eye! What’s happening to my eye!? What’s happening to me?!’ is the anxious cry from young Douglas Ramsey a.k.a. Cypher of the New Mutants. Stepping out of the shower, he wraps a towel around himself then stumbles into his room, ‘No, no, no, no!’ he exclaims, declaring that it cannot be true, that it isn’t fair and so he will not believe it. The young mutants’ anguished cries resound through the resident wing of the Xavier School for Higher Learning, and Doug’s teammates in the New Mutants come running from their rooms.
‘Who yelled?’ asks Illyana “Magik” Rasputin, still in her standard uniform, while the others are all dressed up. Danielle Moonstar a.k.a. Mirage replies that it sounded like Doug, while Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie remarks that he has never heard anybody sound so scared, so they better check this out. Mirage tells her teammates to stay loose but be alert in case there is trouble. Cannonball blasts over to his friend, asking him if he is all right. Doug covers his face as he stands awkwardly and replies that he doesn’t know, that it is probably nothing, just a nightmare.
Sam asks if there is anything he can do, and places a hand on Doug’s shoulder, when suddenly - ‘Your hands!’ Doug exclaims as Sam begins to change, his entire body transmoded into techno-organic circuitry. The girls all stand in shock at what has happened to a now motionless Cannonball, and it begins to happen to Doug as well. Doug exclaims that what he saw, he wasn’t dreaming it or imagining it. ‘Lord have mercy!’ gasps young Rahne Sinclair a.k.a. the shy Wolfsbane, while Vietnamese Xian Coy Mahn - better known as Karma, declares in her frequently spoken French that this is impossible.
‘I’m infected with the Technarch Transmode Virus! I’m becoming just like Warlock!’ Cypher exclaims. Rahne examines Sam and declares that all of the light and life energy has gone from him. ‘Spaleen, you’ve killed him!’ the young Scots girl exclaims as she transforms into her lupine form. Doug, also being transformed, replies that he didn’t mean too, before grabbing Xian who is about to use her psionic powers on him, and tells her that he will not let her possess him. But Xian also succumbs to the Transmode Virus, as does Wolfsbane when she, shockingly, is also grabbed by her dear friend. ‘Murderer!’ exclaims Amara Aquilla also known as Magma, appropriately as she unleashes a scorching blast of molten lava, aiming for Cypher, but instead Cypher grabs her, then Magik who tries to attack him with her Soulsword, to no avail.
Danielle knows she is the only one left now, and asks Doug how he could get like this. Knowing she must confront him with a spirit form of his deepest terror - but it doesn’t work, and Mirage realizes that is because Doug’s worst nightmare is what is going on right now and taking his place! ‘What have I done? Heaven-Maker forgive me-self - what has self done?!’ Doug exclaims as he transforms Dani also.
The transformed Cypher leaps out of a window, shattering the glass as he exclaims that they were self’s best friends, now he has drained their life glows without hesitation or mercy! ’Self murdered them all!’ Taking flight, the transformed Douglas sees Magma’s lava blast set the building alight - the school is now burning, and he wonders if the flames should not consume “self” also. ’They won’t!’ exclaims a voice as Cypher is confronted by none other than Warlock. ’Warlock! Self thought you were self’s best friend!’ Doug exclaims, to which Warlock replies that he still is.
‘Look what you’ve done to self!’ Cypher exclaims, pointing out his transformed image, but Warlock simply reminds Cypher that he has been previously warned. ’Self thought self-friend-Warlock would protect self!’ Cypher declares, to which Warlock replies that he tried, but that it is now too late. ’Insufficient data to generate comprehension!’ is all Doug replies. Warlock reveals to Doug that he is now the Magus, therefore Doug has become his heir, the Warlock. ‘Under the laws of the Technarchy…’ Magus begins ‘…Warlock must ever battle Magus…for his right to life. For you to win - and live - you must slay me. And for me to survive…’…
…’…I have to die…No, Warlock! Please! We’re friends!’ mumbles Cypher slumped over the toilet in the bathroom. ‘It isn’t fair!’ he exclaims, before suddenly discovering that his voice is normal. Tears rolling from his eyes, the young New Mutant looks at his hands and realizes that he is still human. Looking in the mirror, he sees that all over he is still human. ‘Thank Heaven! I’m not a Warlock! I’m plain, old, ordinary…myself!’ Smiling, Doug remarks that he has never looked so good, and realizes that what went on before wasn’t real, it was only a dream. Or was it…. For within his body, too small to be seen, is a tiny part that is techno-organic.
Meanwhile, in Manhattan, specifically Central Park. A limousine pulls up beside a taxi, and the man inside the limo introduces himself as Van Ostamgen, and asks the person in the taxi if they have the merchandise. ‘You have the money?’ the man in the taxi replies. ‘A million dollars - for the original “Selene” statue!’ Van Ostamgen declares. The two men exchange parcels, with Van Ostamgen thinking to himself that the other is a fool, for the work is priceless and he would have paid ten times a million to possess it. ‘Satisfied?’ the man in the taxi asks as Van Ostamgen examines the statue. ‘Eminently’ Van Ostamgen replies, while thinking to himself that it is his key to admission to the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club - and possibly, if he dare aim so high - the Lords Cardinal!
The taxi, driven by a green-haired woman in pink speeds off, and the man, Keniuchio remarks that this is not bad for a night’s work. The green-haired woman replies that it was an ideal caper - no muss, no fuss, no risk and no complication. ‘They should all be so easy!’ she exclaims, before telling Keniuchio that they should return home and celebrate.
Suddenly, nearby, a flash of light heralds the arrival of the New Mutants, shepherded by their headmaster, Magneto, courtesy of one of Magik’s Stepping Disks. All of the New Mutants are decked out in fancy outfits showing off something about their country of origin or nationality. ‘Great, Illyana! We’re wearing our best outfits and you dump us in the middle of a snowfield!’ Danielle exclaims, to which Magik tells the New Mutant’s co-leader to relax, as she did it intentionally to reduce the risk of them being seen. Magneto, headmaster of the Xavier School for the Gifted tells his wards to be quiet and stop bickering, adding that for tonight’s gala they are all to be on their best behavior.
Magneto turns to Magma and asks her to melt them a pathway of dry ground that will take them to the street without having to trudge through snow. Cannonball asks Magneto if he is sure that this is right for them, to which Magneto reminds Cannonball that the New Mutants have been grounded - restricted to the school - for weeks, so he thought that they would enjoy this excursion - especially to a party. Rahne begs Magneto’s pardon, before motioning to the grand building in front of them and remarking that the party is being held at the Hellfire Club. Magma reminds Magneto that the Hellfire Club have been sworn foes of Xavier’s School for a long time.
Magneto points out that things have changed since he joined the Lords Cardinal as the White King, to which Magik asks if that revelation is supposed to fill them with confidence. Wolfsbane thinks to herself that although it is not charitable, she cannot stop thinking that it was not so long ago when Magneto himself was a villain. Cannonball thinks that Magneto told them he had reformed, but wonders how they would know if he was reverting to type. Magik thinks to herself that Magneto should be careful, as trust is a fragile thing - too easily lost, before noticing that Douglas is holding back and looking rather skittish.
Illyana goes over to her friend and asks him if he is okay. Douglas replies that he supposes it is just nerves, as it is rather weird making nice with people who have tried to enslave and kill you. Calling Doug “Blondie”, Magik locks an arm around his and tells him that if there is trouble, she will make doubly sure to protect him. Doug pulls away, telling Magik that he doesn’t want her protection, that he doesn’t need it as he can take care of himself. Suddenly though, Doug steps off the curb and onto the road - right in front of a taxi! ‘I’m going to be hit!’ he thinks as the cab screeches along, when suddenly, a blinding light signals the arrival of a Stepping Disk, and Magik pulls her friend to safety.
The taxi slams into another car, and the driver gets out, ‘Where’d you learn to drive, lamo?’ Magik reminds Cypher that the New Mutants are a team who take care of each other. ‘Especially Doug - because without Warlock to be his muscles, he’s a helpless baby!’ Cypher exclaims about himself, then storming off. Illyana asks Doug if he really believes that, to which Cypher reminds Magik that his power is languages - he can translate anything - other than that, he is just an ordinary kid. He asks, realistically, how much use his power is in a fight, and explains that being here among the Hellfire Club only reminds him of how vulnerable he is.
Magneto approaches several well-dressed and important looking people - Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Selene and Tessa. Shaw declares that, as Black King and in the name of the Lords Cardinal, he welcomes Magneto the White King and his students to the gala. Dani motions over to Magneto and tells Sam that their teacher is making council with Sebastian Shaw who is the top dog in this kennel. Sam remarks that the question is has their teacher joined Shaw’s pack, or just running with them. ‘And if he has joined - what do we do about it?’ Dani asks.
Cypher motions up to the balcony, where another group of mutant-powered teenagers is standing. Xian and Rahne look up too and the see the White Queen’s students, the Hellions, also dressed elegantly. Illyana smirks and examines her surroundings, noting that some people here are truly evil, though most only play at it. She thinks that her arcane mentor, the demon lord Belasco would feel right at home here, as does she. Magma thinks to herself that these honorless curs delight in using people to gain their own selfish ends - while others such as they the New Mutants are most often their victims or prey. Glancing over at the sultry Black Queen, Amara thinks that none of these human predators is more cruel than she - Selene!.
‘Amara…you look as delectable as ever, my child!’ Selene smirks, to which Amara just glares back at her. A man remarks to Selene ’If looks could kill…’ Selene replies that Amara hates her. The man asks why, to which the powerful Selene mumbles ’A trifling matter. I killed her mother!’ Suddenly, Cannonball spits out his champagne, exclaiming that it is awful and tastes hot. Danielle remarks that the rest of the room feels quite hot all of a sudden also, and turns to Amara, realizing that Amara has activated her powers. Danielle goes over to Amara and asks her what she is playing at.
Magma replies that she merely wished to give Selene a true taste of Hellfire. ‘Not here, Amara! Not now!’ Dani exclaims. Magma reminds Mirage that there is death between Selene and herself, to which Mirage replies that she understands, but that she doesn’t care, for as war-chief of the New Mutants, she pledged their good behavior to Magneto and will not be forsworn. Mirage orders Magma to save her private vendetta for later.
Selene smirks and tells Magneto that his charges seem to be on a short fuse this evening. ‘I trust they won’t cause any unpleasantness’ she adds. Magneto replies that he is sure they will not, while thinking to himself that he should have never brought them here, though he thought it would take their minds off their missing teammates Sunspot and Warlock for a time - but the New Mutants seem to have lost all sense!
Near the dance floor, Doug stands by himself, until a red-haired girl wearing a green dress approaches him and greets him. When Doug doesn’t acknowledge her, she supposes that he might not remember her and introduces herself as Marie-Ange Colbert. ‘Tarot. One of the Hellions!’ Doug exclaims. Tarot tells Doug that the orchestra is playing a waltz and informs him that she hasn’t danced in ages. ‘Perhaps - forgive me for being so forward - would you share it with me?’
Doug asks Marie-Ange if the White Queen put her up to this - a ploy to sink some hooks deep into him. ‘How could you think such a thing?’ Tarot exclaims. ‘Easy, where you guys are concerned!’ Doug replies. Tarot exclaims that she was trying to be nice, ‘Because you seemed as lonely and out of place as I felt!’ Cypher exclaims that he is not, and poor Tarot turns and runs away crying as he calls after her ‘And even if I was, I don‘t need some Hellion tramp feeling sorry for me!’. Watching Tarot run away, Doug thinks to himself ‘Great move, creep. You made her cry! Why did I say those things?’
Standing nearby is none other than the malicious Hellion Empath, who smiles and thinks to himself that this is marvelous, for Tarot and Cypher are both miserable and he didn’t even have to lift a finger to help, as they did it all themselves. Suddenly, ‘Hiya, cutes!’ exclaims Illyana as she sweeps Manuel off his feet and asks him if they should dance, not that he has any say in the matter. Angrily, Illyana asks Empath if that little scene between Cypher and Tarot was his doing, to which Empath replies no, while thinking to himself ‘Curse the witch - my power has no effect on her and she knows it!’
Illyana tells Manuel that it is too bad, because if he had used his empathic powers to manipulate Doug and Marie-Ange, then she would feel honor-bound to retaliate. ‘No!’ Empath exclaims. Illyana asks Empath if he remembers the lovely time they had when she last teleported him to Limbo. Manuel is obviously frightened, but Illyana leans her head onto his chest and tells him to give her an excuse, the smallest excuse, and he is gone.
Watching Illyana and Empath are Danielle and Thunderbird a.k.a. James Proudstar, Thunderbird exclaims that Empath has gone as white as a corpse, and Mirage remarks that Illyana sure put the fear into him. James remarks that he should object, but Empath is the kind who needs strong reminders every so often on how to act. Danielle tells James that he is an honorable man - ’A true warrior-son of the Apache!’ and asks him how he can stay among the Hellions, especially as their leader. Thunderbird turns to Dani and tells her that she has got a lot of nerve shooting arrows at him considering her teacher is the new White King.
Mirage asks if adults want to act like fools, are they supposed to follow their example? ’We’re supposed to learn from their mistakes, Thunderbird, not repeat them!’ James reminds Danielle that this is a party, so they shouldn’t scrap, but Mirage reminds him that their two teams rub elbows and butt heads - so how can he not expect stars to fly. Danielle suggests that when they do, the two of them should be there to douse them before something starts that both teams will live to regret.
Nearby, Rahne thinks to herself that she doesn’t belong here and wants to go home. She wonders if anyone will notice if she slips away, when suddenly, ’Surprise!’ exclaims someone as they sneak up behind Rahne and clasp their hands over her eyes. Rahne pulls away, ’Catseye!’ she exclaims upon seeing Sharon Smith smiling before her. Rahne asks her counterpart why she scared her like that. ’Say hello, funny way, big-laugh, yes?’ the child-like Catseye replies. Catseye hugs Rahne and declares that she feels good to see her small red-furred friend, as it has been forever since their last romp.
Without hugging back, Wolfsbane agrees that it has been ages, and tells Sharon that she is glad to see her also. Catseye declares that “smooth skins” are boring and suggests they go and play by themselves. Rahne asks if they will get in trouble, to which Sharon replies they will only if they get caught. Wide-eyed, Rahne exclaims that she shouldn’t, when suddenly Sharon disappears and is replaced by what she believes is her true form - a large lavender cat, and she tells Rahne to be daring, be brave. ‘Be like Catseye, yes?’ Rahne declares that she will, and slipping out of her dress, she transforms to her lupine form.
Nearby, ‘Spirits!’ exclaims Mirage. Thunderbird asks her what is wrong, to which Dani declares that she just got a flash of Rahne’s thoughts, and explains that it only happens when she shifts into her wolf form. Danielle adds that Catseye is with Rahne, and tells Thunderbird to come along. They rush into another room and see two dresses lying on the floor. Danielle calls the girls “Mischief Incorporated” and remarks that who knows where they are or what they will do. She suggests to Thunderbird that the two of them should try to find their teammates before anyone else does. Thunderbird asks Dani if she cannot mind-link with Wolfsbane, to which Mirage explains that she cant so long they remain in the Club, as this place has built-in psionic baffles to inhibit any telepathic communication, so they will have to find them the old fashioned way!
Meanwhile, Cannonball and Magma are being challenged by Jetstream. The haughty Hellion tells Cannonball to ’face facts! Good as you are, I can outfly you!’ ’The heck you can!’ Sam replies angrily, while thinking to himself that he doesn’t like the way Jetstream is looking at Magma - or the way she is looking back! He thinks that he will never understand females, while Jetstream declares that there is only one way to be certain. ’Anytime, anyplace, pal!’ Sam replies, before wondering what he is saying, how could he let Jetstream sucker him into a duel? ’How could I be so pridefully dumb?’
Before anymore can be said about the upcoming duel, ’My lords and ladies! Your attention please!’ exclaims Van Ostamgen, holding up the Selene Statue. He declares that as a token of fealty and esteem to the Lords Cardinal, and in particular the Black Queen, he offers this priceless statue, crafted by the noted Roman sculptor, Gauis Lucullus Umber. Suddenly, Amara approaches Van Ostamgen and informs him that she fears he has been deceived, and reveals that the original has been in her family for generations! Amara declares that it is the representation of her grandmother, many times removed.
Van Ostamgen declares that this is nothing of the sort and tells Magma that he holds an image of the Moon Goddess, Selene, who bears the same name, and face as the revered Black Queen. Selene takes the statute and tells Amara and Van Ostamgen that, in a sense, they are both right - it is Selene and Amara’s ancestor. She exclaims that those women are one and the same, and declares ‘You see, child…our lives, heritage and destiny…are bound far more closely than ever you dreamed!’ Magma is shocked, ‘No, you lie! This cannot be!’ the horrified young woman declares. After examining the statue, Selene drops it by her feet and is shatters. ‘Lady Amara is correct. This is a forgery!’ she declares.
Elsewhere, in a drawing room turned casino. ‘You’re Doug!’ ‘And you’re Jenny Stavros!’ Cypher replies to the Hellion’s very own minx. Jenny is pleased that Cypher remembers who she is, and informs him that she prefers to be called Roulette. Cypher tells Roulette that he likes her dress. Roulette replies ‘My kinda outfit. My kinda place. My kinda people!’ Doug remarks that he wishes he felt the same, to which Jenny asks him if he is a geek or a player. ‘Me, I go for players!’ Jenny adds. Cypher is intrigued, and approaches the table, asking to be dealt in. One of the men addresses Cypher as “boy” and tells him that this is high-stakes poker. ‘I’m not a boy, mister!’ Doug replies. Jenny leans over him and tells him, ‘I’ll stake you, lover. Go for broke!’ she exclaims smiling.
Elsewhere, in catacombs far beneath the Hellfire Club, known only to Lords Cardinal and their subordinates in the Inner Circle. Alarms have roused the guards however. ‘Intruder alert!’ one of them exclaims. Another of the guards declares that they need to set scanners to full strength, as they have got to locate the intruders fast. ‘You sure about this trail?’ Thunderbird asks. ‘Aren’t you?’ Danielle replies, joking that she thought the Apache were real hotshot trackers. Suddenly, ‘FREEZE!’ shout the troop of guards as they surround Dani and Thunderbird, their weapons aimed to shoot.
After a brief and frantic explanation, one of the guards declares that they have scanned the entire complex and the two of them are the only trespassers. He informs them that this area is off-limits and tells them to make themselves scarce and not to come back. ‘Now what?’ asks Thunderbird as he and Mirage take their leave. ‘We look harder!’ Dani tells him.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Roulette hangs off Cypher’s chair, while Doug looks across the table, seeing that it is only he and the big guy left in the game. Doug thinks to himself that he is playing for a fortune and checks the cards that are on the table. Still calling Doug “boy” the large man remarks that he looks nervous, and suggests that he might be in over his head. The big guy tells Doug that he could always quit, before raising. ‘Match of fold’ he tells Cypher. Doug thinks to himself that his power helps him to “Read” body language the same as he doesn’t with written words or speech, and he thinks that his opponent is very certain he can beat him.
Doug calls, and the man lays out four nines on the table. ‘Read em and weep!’ he tells Doug. With Roulette holding onto him, Doug declares ‘Not tonight, thanks!’ and puts his card on the table. ‘What a guy! My hero!’ Roulette declares, kissing Doug on the lips, while Doug mumbles that he doesn’t believe it - he actually beat his opponent by himself with strategy and skill. ‘You sure did, lover - now it’s time to party!’ Jenny declares as she leads Doug away from the table.
Shortly later, on the Club’s residential floor, a maid enters one of the room, thinking to herself that she never imagined anyone could go through so much champagne so fast, when suddenly, she drops her tray when a purple cat and reddish-brown dog rush past her. Wolfsbane tells the maid not to fret, and that they meant no harm, as they were just playing. As the maid begins to run down the hall, Catseye follows her ‘Catseye and maidy-lady play some runaway-chase ourselves, yes?’ Rahne tells Sharon not to frighten the maid so much, as the woman begins to scream for help. Rahne suddenly picks up a familiar sent to the room nearby and decides to take a peak to make sure everything is all right - when she screams upon seeing what is going on in the room.
Downstairs, Mirage screams as she feels the cry from Rahne in her mind. Illyana and James turn to Dani, who senses that the Hellions are involved in what is going on upstairs, so she wonders what Rahne has found. Thunderbird grabs Mirage so that she won’t fall over, and tells her to relax. But Danielle tells Thunderbird to leave her, as she can take care of herself. Danielle turns to Illyana and tells her to gather the rest of the team and meet her on the top floor.
A minute later, Illyana and the rest of the New Mutants teleport into a room, while Mirage and Wolfsbane enter through the door. ‘Nobody moves!’ Mirage exclaims, only to go silent when she sees what the whole cause of this commotion is - Cypher lying on a bed with Roulette. ‘Hiya, Chief!’ Doug exclaims, obviously drunk. Doug asks Mirage if she has come to crash his party, and tells her that it is no problem, as there is plenty of bubbly to go around - and around - and around.
Cypher exclaims that he is feeling no shame is all, ‘Less pain!’ Danielle grabs him by his shirt and angrily asks him if he wants to put that observation to the test. Pulling him off the bed she asks him if he has gone completely nuts, when Thunderbird, Tarot, Empath and Jetstream arrive. James tells Mirage to lighten up, as Cypher is obviously just having a good time, ‘Where’s the harm in that?’ Mirage exclaims that Magneto may have drafted them into this stupid club, but that doesn’t mean they have to act like they belong to it, ‘We’re better than that!’ ‘And we’re not?’ asks Thunderbird.
Danielle motions to Roulette and declares that she would bet this is all her fault. ‘Looks pretty mutual to me!’ Thunderbird declares. Mirage doesn’t agree, pointing out that firstly Catseye lures Wolfsbane away, then Roulette - “the bimbo” - goes for Cypher. Thunderbird tells Mirage to watch her mouth, as nobody forced anyone to do anything. ‘My guys may have invited yours to play, but yours accepted willingly!’ Cypher realizes that Mirage and Thunderbird are yelling about he and Roulette and supposes that the party is over. ‘Of all the lousy luck’ he thinks, before realizing that Roulette’s power is to manipulate luck, making it good or bad.
‘Of all the lousy!’ Doug exclaims as he slaps Roulette, declaring that it wasn’t his own skill that won downstairs, but Roulette rigged the game with her cheating powers! Mirage is shocked by Doug’s brutality, but before she can do anything about it, Thunderbird grabs him and lifts him off the ground, ordering him to apologize ‘Real fast and I mean it - while you still got your teeth!’ Mirage tells James to get his hands off Cypher, declaring that if anyone disciplines him it will be her.
Cannonball thinks to himself that this is getting out of hand so he should do something quick to chill them all out. Sam calls out to Mirage and Thunderbird and suggests to them that they use all this tension here to find out whoever swindled Van Ostamgen. Jetstream exclaims that working things out between the two teams as a contest is a splendid idea. Karma asks what will happen if Magneto finds out about this. She reminds her fellow New Mutants that they have promised to behave, yet once more they are going to break their word to him.
Empath announces that the Hellions promised the same thing to the White Queen, except that the Hellions do not use their headmistress as an excuse for cowardice. ‘Who you calling gutless, Empath? we’ll face you clowns anytime, anywhere!’ Doug exclaims, ‘And we’ll whip your butts!’ Thunderbird declares that it is settled then. ‘New Mutants versus Hellions…may the best team win!’