Betsy Braddock was the kind of mutant who could never have nice things. Right now, in the middle of a busy nightclub, the mutant codenamed Psylocke holds her signature psi-knife to the ninja-teleporter Spiral and as drugged-up night clubbers look on, Betsy screams ‘Any of you #$%& freaks move, and I’ll execute your drug dealer!’ Spiral’s arms thrash about, trying to break free from her hated foe.
‘X-Force is dead. I killed it. We were out of control, Storm, so I put us down’ Betsy tells Ororo “Storm” Munroe who flies alongside the high-tech hovercraft that Betsy rides in outside of Los Angeles, California. Betsy and her previous associates had walked a dark path together. ‘Now Wolverine is running a prep school. Deadpool is probably hijacking taco trucks’ Betsy summarizes. ‘And what about… Fantomex?’ Storm asks. ‘Betsy, what happened with the two of you? Where have you been for the last six months? Last time anyone saw you, you were -’ Storm begins, while Betsy’s mind flashes back to kissing Fantomex. She tells Storm that she doesn’t want to talk about it. ‘And I don’t want to go back to that school’ she adds, recalling an encounter with Quentin Quire, who told her that if she can’t take the heat, to get out of his imagination, causing Betsy to call him a perverted little scrub. ‘You did not seem… happy there’ Storm points out.
At the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning in New York, Betsy sits in the office of Wolverine a.k.a. Logan, the headmaster of the school, and exclaims that she doesn’t believe this. ‘You’re kicking me out of school!’ Logan tells her that he isn’t kicking her out, but that he can’t have her assaulting students - that is his job. He reminds Betsy that this is the third time he has had to change her assignment. ‘You disappeared on us and then showed up a month ago without warning, you’ve been impossible to be around ever since’.
Betsy tells Logan that she doesn’t want to talk about it, and asks Logan if he is kicking her out or not. Logan informs Betsy that the school ain’t the place for her, as she is going stir crazy, so she needs to get out of here, see the world and mix it up.
Logan points out that there are a ton of loose ends out there, and one in particular he thought she might find interesting. ‘You’re giving me a mission?’ Betsy inquires. Logan reminds Betsy that he has to put X-Force a million miles behind him, that he is a respectable headmaster now and he can’t be “giving missions”. ‘I’m just a friend giving you some advice’ he adds. ‘So you’re kicking me out of school’ Betsy insists. Logan tells her to just get out of here and check her email.
Storm tells Elizabeth that she is concerned about her, that she has changed since X-Force. ‘I don’t want you to fall back into… destructive habits’ Storm tells her friend. ‘I told you. I’m done with that’ Betsy assures Storm, when suddenly, a voice calls out through the communications system on Betsy’s hovercraft, ‘This is SHIELD West Coast Command. You are flying unidentified and unregistered technology into Los Angeles airspace without proper permission from the Avengers. Identify yourself or prepare to be taken down immediately’ the SHIELD command center instructs. ‘The Avengers can go #$%& themselves’ comes Betsy’s response.
‘Well, if that’s how it’s going to be - I’ll bring in some cloud cover’ Storm sighs, and easily brings a blanket of cloud overhead. Betsy narrows her eyes and asks Ororo to be real with her - to admit that she is just here to baby-sit her, before pointing out that things haven’t been very stable for Storm, either. ‘There’s nothing to talk about’ Ororo replies, before noticing several drones approaching. ‘I’ll take care of them’ Ororo announces, while Betsy tells her that she is sorry. ‘Don’t be’ Storm replies.
As a child, Ororo Munroe was an orphan on the streets of Cairo. As an adult, she fell in love with the king of a small African nation, and she became a queen. Until the king ended the Queen’s marriage out of the blue. She is still working out her anger over the situation. ‘It’s over. End of story’ Ororo declares as she easily destroys the SHIELD drones with bolts of lightning. ‘Now tell me - what did you find in this email?’ she asks Betsy.
Betsy recalls the email, it was addressed to “Cutlery Kid”, and accompanied by images of a night club, its patrons, a vault, drugs, and a six-armed women in shadows. The email cursed “Cutlery Kid” for sending the writer there and noted that it was winter, but that there was no snow on the ground, but the writer was enjoying the local “wildlife”. The writer informs “Cutlery Kid” that he was right, there is something weird going on, a new cult, or a new drug, or mind control - or all of the above. The email stated that the drug was called TAO, and supposes it might be an acronym for “Together As One”, like you belong, a sense of unity. The email remarked that the bad news was that the drug makes on susceptible to some sort of hive mind mentality, not to mention that it makes you dance like a complete jackass. The email confirmed that the one in control of TAO, the one who calls the shots, was the one “Cutlery Kid” was afraid of, and suggested that back up be sent. The writer then apologized for missing Boxing Day debauchery at the cabin, and hopes that a beer and a turkey leg was saved for him. The email was signed off by “Saskatchewan Sweetie”.
Storm is now inside the hovercraft with Betsy, hovering along a street at ground level, and tells her friend that she is right, that she can’t keep her head straight since the annulment. ‘I’ve spent the last couple of years in a palace, and now I’m a headmistress. I believe in the school, but… that’s not the school I grew up in. Everyone walks on eggshells around me, and I -’ she cuts herself off mid-sentence, as Betsy controls the hovercraft straight off a bridge. ‘Betsy! Look out!’ Storm calls out, but Betsy tells her to relax, and points out that it is called a shortcut. ‘You trust me, Ororo, don’t you?’ Betsy asks as the hovercraft lands at a blocked-off street below. ‘Of course’ Storm smiles. ‘Then you’ll tell me everything that’s going on between you and Logan’ Betsy replies. ‘My lips are sealed’ Storm declares, before they pull up outside a nightclub. ‘Saved by the bar. We’re here’ Storm points out. ‘Whoever our contact is - he’s supposed to be just inside’ Betsy explains.
Inside the bar: Eugene Milton Judd a.k.a. Puck, formerly of Alpha Flight, recently spent some time in Hell - against his will. Since his return, he has been making up for lost time, currently he sits at the bar as three women stand around him. ‘Ladies, you make me feel like the luckiest dwarf in all of Los Angeles!’ Judd declares, before asking them if they want another round of cazadores. Referring to one of the women, Judd tells her that her pants are very becoming on her. ‘And if I was that close to your unmentionables, I’d be -’ he begins, before a voice calls out ‘Puck!’, Looking up, Judd sees Storm smiling at him, as she and a scowling Betsy make their way through the crowd of night clubbers towards the bar. Storm remarks that she should have known who the “Saskatchewan Sweetie” was, as some things never change.
Judd tells Ororo that she is as stunning as always, and remarks that being single agrees with her. He gives Ororo his condolences on her big break up, adding that he was real sorry to hear it. ‘S’why I swore off marriage after the fourth try’ he reveals. Storm calls Judd a “dear friend” and thanks him, adding that she shudders to imagine how he found out. ‘You gossip mongers can be ruthless -’ Storm begins. Judd grins and replies that he may be a scoundrel, but that he listens to NPR. The women who were with Judd grumble and turn away, while Judd takes Betsy by her hand, and kisses it, ‘And you - you must be the ravishing Betsy Braddock. May I call you Lizzie?’ Judd asks, before adding ‘I’ll be damned if you don’t got legs taller than I am’.
Storm smiles, while Betsy frowns, and replies ‘It’s Elizabeth’ and tells Judd that he must have mistaken her for a common bar floozy. ‘Not even for a second’ Judd replies. Betsy suggests Judd choose his words accordingly - and his thoughts, too. ‘Take a look, maybe you’ll see something you like’ Judd points out. ‘I’d rather lick this disgusting floor’ Betsy replies. Judd laughs and tells Betsy that she is going to be a great addition to his team. ‘Sorry, I don’t do teams anymore’ Betsy reveals. ‘Whatever you say’ Judd remarks, before telling Storm and Betsy that he has got something they will want to see, and asks if they are up for some dancing.
Betsy and Storm follow Judd down a flight of stairs as Judd reveals that this place is an old bank from the 1920s, but that it has been commandeered for debauchery. ‘She’s here three, four, five nights a week. Dancing and selling drugs until five AM’. Judd explains that the old bank vault is crucial, that she locks it up tight and won’t let anyone in, so it must be has stash. Walking further into the nightclub, across a catwalk, the trio look down at the dance floor, ‘There she is. Just like I told you. The Diva of Downtown Los Angeles… Spiral’ Judd reveals, and indeed, the six-armed Spiral dances gracefully on the dance floor, night clubbers surrounding her.
Storm tells Betsy and Puck that this place is packed, so they need to stay out of sight until everyone leaves, then they can investigate. Betsy does not look happy. To say that she and the Diva had unfinished business would be an understatement. And Betsy never had much in the way of patience. She recalls her time being the captive of Spiral, who replaced her eyes. ‘No’ Betsy announces. She tells Ororo and Judd to find a way into the vault, and leaping off the catwalk down to the dance floor, armed with her sword, announces ‘I’ll take care of that #$%&’. Storm calls out to Betsy, ‘No!’ she exclaims, while Judd asks her to wait.
‘SPIRAL’ Betsy screams as she descends upon the Time-Witch and kicks her in the face. Spiral falls to the floor and Betsy holds her sword to her enemy’s face. ‘Psylocke?’ Spiral asks, confused, before leaping backwards, ‘Get away from me!’ she orders Betsy. Storm and Judd rush down a flight of stairs to the dance floor, ‘Why, Betsy, why -’ Storm begins, while Judd suggests that they might as well take advantage of the situation. ‘I want my vengeance!’ Psylocke calls out as her sword clangs against Spiral’s. ‘Leave me alone!’ Spiral exclaims, thrusting her sword forward, Betsy narrowly dodges it, then punches Spiral in the face, ‘Never’ Betsy declares, leaping into the air, raising her sword, the shurayuki, which was forged in Japan a thousand years ago and given to her by an old friend. Spiral dodges the sword, which comes narrowly close to her face once more. The shurayuki has thirsted for Spiral’s blood for some time.
At that moment Puck calls out ‘This is it!’ as he leads Storm towards the vault, asking her if she has picked up any super-strength. Back on the dance floor, Spiral manages to kick Betsy in the face. Storm tells Puck that she could pick the lock, but points out that they don’t have time, so she uses her mutant power to freeze it from the inside, and it breaks off. Betsy grabs Spiral by the face and forces her to the ground, then remarks ‘You need these arms to teleport, right, Spiral? I’ll slice them off so you’ll never need them again’ Betsy threatens, as the night clubbers start to gather around them. Spiral calls Betsy a fool, and warns her that they will never let her take her. ‘They love me, Elizabeth’ she reveals. And, in the vault, Storm and Puck find a girl sitting on a mattress, who backs up to the wall, and asks ‘Who are you? Stay away from me!’
Back on the dance floor, Betsy holds her signature psi-knife to the ninja-teleporter Spiral and as drugged-up night clubbers look on, Betsy screams ‘Any of you #$%& freaks move, and I’ll execute your drug dealer!’, as Spiral’s arms thrash about, trying to break free from her hated foe. Suddenly, ‘She’s one of us!’ a night clubber calls out. In the vault, Storm tells the girl that she is here to help, and introduces herself, before asking the girl what her name is. Judd warns Storm to be careful, and as Storm reaches out for the girl, the young girl screams, ‘What’s she doing to Spiral? Noooo!’, before telepathically calling out ‘Stop her’. The girl’s thoughts resonate across the dance floor, as the night clubbers move in, ‘Stop her!’ ‘Stop her!’ they chant as they grab at Psylocke, while Spiral escapes. ‘I’ll hurt you if I have to - oh #$%&’ Betsy utters as she looks up and sees one of the night clubbers has picked up her sword, and is ready to strike her with it.
Meanwhile, at Union Station, Downtown Los Angeles, a blue energy sphere appears, and a figure can be seen inside it. He lands on some train tracks, and looks up at his surroundings. ‘Finally. I made it. I’m back’ he utters, before dropping to his knees, and raising his arms, shouts ‘I’M BAAACK!’ His name is Lucas Bishop and he once betrayed his friends and was abandoned thousands of years in the future. It was not a forgiving place. He has not been the same since.
And, in Paris, France, two figures in white and black costumes leap across rooftops. Fantomex was one thief with three brains. Six months ago, the brains got split into Fantomex, Cluster and their evil triplet. The new arrangement has proven disruptive. ‘ARRETEZ! Vous deux!’ someone in one of the houses shouts at them, while the female, Cluster, starts shooting back, then informs Fantomex that she got them both. ‘Excellent work my dear Cluster’ Fantomex replies, and reports that he thinks they are clear of the police. They slide down the side of a rooftop and land on the street below, ‘Victory is ours’ Fantomex boasts as they run along, and Cluster asks ‘So, tell me - do I make an okay thief?’ They come to a stop, surrounded by crimson-leaf trees, and Fantomex tells Cluster that she is better than “okay”. ‘You’re perfect’ he tells her, and lifting up the lower part of their masks, they kiss….