Brazil: in the shantytown heights of Rocinha, one of the notorious favelas that frame the luxurious beachfront splendor of Rio de Janeiro’s famed Copacabana archeologist Nina da Costa runs for her life. No one notices or cares. It’s carnival season and there is chaos on the streets. Nina hopes in vain that she has shaken off her pursuers but knows better, really.
In the meantime, down along the Copacabana, her son Roberto has no idea of his mother’s plight, as he and his alien teammate Warlock, who has taken the shape of a handsome but somewhat stupid-looking blond hunk, are enjoying the carnival. Roberto admonishes Warlock not to stare at a half-naked dancer. He asks why it is wrong for him to stare when a significant subset of collateral lifeforms are staring at him!
Nina, in the meantime, is still followed by armed strong men. At least the crowd means they dare not open fire on her. She has an idea and snatches a cell phone away from a man. She then cuts sideways, doubles back along her own trail. She immediately calls her son and tells him she is in the Rocinha running for her life. A moment later, an armed man stands before her and she shouts they’ve found her.
Roberto tells Warlock to back track his mother’s signal and get her position. Nina tries to fight back, while Warlock tracks and locates her, announcing that she is in trouble. She can’t shake them! Nina calls over the phone.
Roberto orders Warlock to link with him. That’s the only way they can reach his mother in time. Warlock looks away, torn. Linking with another is dangerous and carries the risk of transmitting the transmode virus. He silently fears that he may already have infected Doug Ramsey. Doing the same to Roberto is inacceptable. But to refuse imperils his mother, so reluctantly the alien agrees.
He turns to his natural form, shaping himself around Roberto. Is this the way he does it with Doug? Sunspot asks. Warlock replies that this is not the case. This needs a different response. He turns into a kind of battle armor around Sunspot and explains that he integrated with Roberto’s natural biological abilities, which allows him to manifest Sunspot’s strength into propulsive force that he uses to take off as a living rocket.
Soon, they land in an alley to watch Nina being shot in the shoulder and fall down. The two boys attack angrily and against them the attackers don’t stand a chance. However, even as Sunspot deals with his adversary time is running out for Nina. Seeing that, Warlock immediately reaches out to their enemies and uses the transmode virus on them and drains them of their life force. Sunspot turns around, his foes finished, to see Warlock’s group is gone. However, he only has eyes for his mother. He shouts at Warlock who turns human again to call the police and an ambulance!
Roberto’s family belongs to the ruling elite so he gets the proper response. Like that, the villains are in custody and Nina is in the best of care, safe within the DaCosta mansion which itself is under the protection of the Batahao Especial dePronto (the quick deployment special battalion) of Brazil’s Forca Nacional de Seguranca Publica (the national force of public security). She’s under the best of care and her prognosis is good. Robert stays by his mother’s side till she awakes while Warlock waits outside, also standing guard. Finally, Nina wakes up and smiles at her son.
The next morning, they have breakfast on the veranda. Nina remarks she never thought she’d be so happy to see this view again. Roberto thought she was happily in the high Andes. What brought her home and who were those thugs? There’s trouble in Nova Roma, she begins. The city has been invaded, its people enslaved. Amara’s father went north to New York to seek aid from the X-Men. She came here. Their family is not without influence. She thought to ask the government for help. Unfortunately, it appears their adversary has been one step ahead of them.
When Roberto wonders how Aquilla got to New York and she here, she gives him a ring, explaining that the senator got it from his mother. They may present themselves as ancient Romans but Aquilla’s people often prove full of surprises. The ring allows its wearer to teleport to and from the city. Unfortunately, their pursuers were able to follow. These villains hold the city hostage, they have to be stopped! Roberto looks at Warlock who gives him a thumbs-up. They will! be he promises his mother.
In Nova Roma, Magma and Cypher find themselves in a dungeon and outfitted with power neutralizer collars. When visiting ancient Rome, don’t forget to take in its fabled dungeons, Doug jokes. He can still makes jokes? Amara asks accusingly. It’s that or start screaming, he replies. Does he know anything about this Red Skull person? she asks. His face gives him nightmares and he’s got a voice to match, Doug replies, but aside from that the name means nothing, though he supposes his allegiance to the Third Reich is a clue. He doesn’t recall any reference to him in the X-Men database.
What about that kid? he asks referring to another young man in with them, also wearing a collar and a Roman tunic. Anyone she knows? Not from Nova Roma, she replies. She doesn’t recognize his face. She knows everybody? Doug asks in disbelief. They live on a mountaintop, she reminds him. Their city isn’t that big and her father is first senator.
Unaware that the Skull is watching them, they discuss what to do. Doug points out the boy didn’t react to them speaking English, so they should try Latin. Amara introduces the two of them to the stranger, who replies his name is Tiberius. He adds he has been the Skull’s captive for as long as he can remember. Nothing of his life before is clear. The Red Skull seeks restoration of someone he calls his “Führer.”
But why come here? Amara wonders. The Skull does not confide in captives, Tiberius points out. He would assume there is something of value here. Perhaps to use it as a base.
Doug silently admits Tiberius’ story sounds legit. So why can’t he shake the feeling that something about him feels totally wrong? Doesn’t help that Amara seems to like him. Which is hardly surprising. Tiberius is very charming….
He addresses Tiberius. He said Senator Aquilla escaped. That is his understanding, the boy agrees. Which explains the first attack in Central Park to stop him, Cypher remarks. But when the second crew hit Hellfire they were specifically after Amara.
Armed guards suddenly surround them and a voice announces that this was an insightful observation. He is to be commended. The Skull comes walking in, accompanied by a woman also wearing a Nazi uniform and also being a replica of the Red Skull. The Skull continues that he had initially thought to terminate Doug as a superfluous loose end but now he sees that would have been quite premature; dare he say, even foolish! What can they do? Amara ask Doug. Nothing much, he reminds her, the inhibitor collars totally block access to their mutant powers. They’ll just have to tough it out…
The Red Skull grabs Doug by the neck, announcing he might be of use to him and the great cause he champions. He presses a button and Amara’s and Tiberius’ collars are activated as their brains are painfully reprogrammed. He mocks Doug’s defiant look, one he has often seen from Captain America.
In the meantime, the Red Skull lookalike woman injects something into the base of Doug’s head. Doug begins to scream as the Skull mocks that the process is unstoppable and irreversible. He should actually consider himself honored! Doug’s skin begins to burn and finally he turns into a Red Skull lookalike, like the woman, a great honor as far as the Red Skull is concerned. He drops Doug who tears off his shirt to reveal a red muscular body. The mind will follow, the Skull adds, when the process is complete they will be as one.
In a dark alley of Nova Roma, two groups arrive via teleportation: Sunspot and Warlock thanks to the ring Nina gave them and Magik, Cannonball and Selene thanks to Illyana’s teleportation. After some surprise, the mutants happily greet each other and exchange stories.
Selene, who peers out of the alley, orders them to keep their greeting for a better time. Whoever stole her granddaughter and challenged the Hellfire Club is not someone to be taken lightly.
What is Selene doing here? Roberto demands. Sam summarizes that Amara’s kidnapping makes things personal for her. They took hits as well: Rahne’s been hurt bad and Dani is looking out for her. They are short-staffed and had no choice but to trust her.
Illyana notes that this is the central plaza. Why is it empty? A moment later, a lava blast scatters them. They turn around to see their attackers, three young people decked out in leather Nazi uniforms: Magma, Tiberius and the unrecognizable “Red Skull” Cypher who shouts they should have stayed at home. By choosing to play heroes they have guaranteed their doom!