The New Mutants Cannonball, Sunspot, Magik and Warlock, as well as their former foe and current ally Selene, had learned that Nova Roma was conquered by the Red Skull and had come to rescue their abducted teammates Magma and Cypher. Instead, they find that a brainwashed Magma, a mysterious young man called Tiberius and a Red Skull lookalike (who they are unaware is actually Doug Ramsey) are ready to attack them.
Magma creates a mini volcano under their feet and effectively scatters her foes. Immediately, “Skull” Cypher and Tiberius press the attack. Doug claws Selene’s face and torso, actually managing to hurt her. Sunspot uses his super-strength to swat him away, aware of the absurdity of the situation; his fighting to save the life of a woman who not so long ago they considered one of their deadliest enemies.
When Tiberius attacks him with a sword, Sunspot dives and kicks the weapon out of his hands. Unimpressed, Tiberius strikes him with his fist.
Magma tries to bury Roberto under a ball of molten lava. Warlock attempts to physically restrain her but Doug attacks him from behind and beats him, announcing the weak have no place in the new order. On his order, Magma seemingly incinerates Warlock in a mini-volcano.
Sam is distracted when he sees what they have done to Warlock, then tries again to stay focused on battling Tiberius. He cannonballs the two of them against a wall, then asks how Illyana is. She’s still groggy. He orders her to pull herself together.
Selene too is still weak and distracted. The female Red Skull lookalike scientist sneaks behind her and injects her with the Skull serum. Selene drains the woman of her energy and kills her but finds the life force insufficient to fully counter the poison. She is still burning.
Amara gloats. Now Selene’s face can forever match the twisted evil of her soul! Having taken Sunspot prisoner, Doug reminds her that Selene’s face like his will match the visage of their master. Tiberius announces that Amara mean to no insult.
That moment, the real Red Skull arrives with his troops and asks what’s going on here. Sam bundles Illyana and Selene together, announcing they have to leave. Illyana teleports them away.
The Skull rages. He expected better of them! He did not expect casualties on his side, but, he calms down, that is the nature of war. His scientist will be replaced soon enough. The drug can perhaps be resisted but never for long. Selene’s fate is sealed! Sooner or later she will willingly, eagerly bow down before him. As will the mongrel, he refers to Sunspot. He will not permit him to share his visage but an appropriate place will be found for him to serve. Nothing in the world can save him or his friends…
In Limbo, Sam and Illyana discuss matters, while Selene sits some distance away, the left side of her face already Skull-like. Sam asks Illyana if they can help her somehow. Some spell or enchantment… Illyana points out that her transformation was being caused by science, not magic. Even if she had a spell that might work it wouldn’t have any effect outside Limbo. And, more importantly, why? Selene’s a villain, remember? They’d be doing Amara, and likely the world, a favor just by letting her die. That’s not their call, they are not killers, Sam insists. Illyana suggests he speak for himself. Some of them are actually old hands at this! Sam tries another tack: do they really stand a chance against the Skull without Selene?
Selene considers the pair transparent. The boy filled with defiant stubborn hope, the girl a total cynic. She has the more sense. Selene wonders if her beauty was just a deception. Has the Nazi stripped away her illusion, found a way to par her down to the quintessence of evil? Her entire left side begins to transform. Perhaps, she rages, she fought for Nova Roma simply to sustain a superior food source, perhaps for her they are little more than prey! But they are still hers! Flesh of her flesh, some of them, blood of her blood! She will not watch them become the Skull’s chattel. And especially not her granddaughter!
She announces she would like to go home. She will not go gently to her end. And she will not leave Amara to become a slave.
Back in Nova Roma, a training session of the Skull’s forces is held in the city forum. It’s his latest protégé, Doug Ramsey fighting a squad of the Skull’s own warriors. In the meantime, Tiberius and Amara serve the Skull food and wine. The Skull is quite taken with Doug’s performance, announcing the boy is earning the right to wear his face. He suggests Amara might get the same treatment if he considers her worthy.
In the arena, Doug almost slaughters his foes, not recalling anything of his former life. Impressed, the Skull gets up and claps. The boy has potential! But neither of them should feel denied. They both have potential… just in different areas. Amara is an exceptional creature, perfection in body with a truly breathtaking power… He is displeased when Amara doesn’t react. Her conditioning leaves something to be desired, he announces. When the Red Skull makes amorous advances she should respond in kind! Startled she gets up and kisses him. Tiberius watches them, fists clenched.
That moment, the battle comes to its end. The Skull salutes Doug. He lives to serve, the boy replies. As the Red Skull commands, he shall always obey. Sieg Heil!
They are unaware that they are being watched by the very much alive Warlock, who has come to his own conclusions, one of them being that the warrior in the arena is quite an asset for the Skull who should be deprived of that…
It is nighttime in Nova Roma. Illyana teleports herself, Sam and Selene, who is wearing a hooded cloak to hide her disfigurement into a street of the city. Sam recalls being here before. Selene pretty much ran things back then. Amara and her dad led the resistance. Selene scoffs she did then what she does now, fight as best as she can to keep her city and people safe. Even though there seems to be little left of her. Sam warns them to get to cover, a patrol is coming!
Selene leads them to a tavern. At first glance, everything seems normal and nobody seems to notice them. Actually, though, Sam realizes, every eye is on them. The people seem scared. The trio disappears into a backroom. Selene moans that the transformation is picking up speed. She can no longer resist is. She would prefer death. Fine by Illyana who manifests her Soulsword. Sam orders her to put it away. Has he got a better idea? she demands. This is way more merciful!
That moment, a man joins them and recognizes Selene. He kneels in front of her. Addressing him as Marius, Selene explains the flame of her life is near its end. He offers his life to save her. She thanks him and vows to prove worthy of that sacrifice. He replies, he is a soldier of Nova Roma. If he cannot fall in battle with their foes, let him give his life to restore the woman who is their people’s soul!
Selene kisses him, taking his life and singing his praises. As youth and health are restored, she promises he will be remembered and avenged.
Amara tried to kill Warlock by opening a volcano beneath him and then compressing rock around him. She seems to have succeeded. However he has survived and he now scans the Skull’s castle. Believing his best friend Doug Ramsey dead, he plans to even the score by killing the Skull’s latest protégé. Thing is, said protégé has trouble of his own. He feels a headache and suddenly horrifyingly begins to remember who he is. Seeing his visage in the mirror, he realizes he’s a monster. He remembers how the poison made him like the Skull. How a part of him was freed that loved it all. Somehow, he fought his way free. There is nothing he can do about his body but at least he has his mind back. But he cannot let the Skull know. Chances are, he is under constant surveillance.
Suddenly, he notices he is not alone anymore. Warlock appears, ready for battle. Angrily, he announces he serves the Red Skull, who terminated Doug Ramsey. For that, Warlock will terminate him!