Muir Island, Scotland, inside one of Dr. Moira MacTaggert’s myriad of labs, the former X-Woman Lorna “Polaris” Dane, somewhat transformed from her usual appearance and wearing one of the standard x-uniforms, lays on a examination table, all sorts of instruments poking and prodding her, while the world famous Moira MacTaggert stands at the console, examining the results of the tests. Once upon a time, Lorna Dane desired no more out of life than what most other young girls dream of: a home, a family, someone to love and be loved by, to live happily ever after. Unfortunately, Lorna Dane is a mutant, born with the parahuman ability to manipulate magnetic forces. That is what brought her originally to the X-Men. A lot has happened since then - and Lorna is still trying to figure out whether for the better…or the worse.
Moira MacTaggert, dressed in a very unusual manner for her - a tight leather mini skirt, revealing tank top and long leather gloves - tells Polaris that she needn’t worry, as the laser works only look formidable, but are in fact quite harmless. ‘So why don’t we trade places - you step up here and I’ll watch!’ Lorna suggests. ‘Because I’m the Doctor -’ Moira, whose hair is even styled more glamorous than usual, replies. ‘Ha! “mad scientist” is more like it!’ Polaris exclaims, while Moira continues her sentence: ‘- and you’re the patient undergoing examination!’. Moira tells Lorna to be patient, assuring her that they are nearly through.
Moira announces that there is some good news though, declaring that there doesn’t seem to be a trace left of the “Malice” persona, anywhere in Lorna’s psyche. ‘So I’m really free of the Marauder’s possession?’ Lorna asks as she gets off the table. ‘As the proverbial bird’ Moira assures her, before Polaris asks what the bad news is. ‘You’ve lost your magnetic powers as well’ Moira confirms.
Moira and Polaris make their way out of the lab and into the fresh open space around the Research Center, as Moira explains to Lorna that the critical elements still exist, but only as a latent potential that may manifest itself in her descendants. Moira remarks that the active ability, from what she understands, must have been absorbed by the self-proclaimed Empress of the Savage Land, Zaladane. ‘Who also claims to be my long-lost sister - and isn’t that a royal crock!’ Lorna exclaims.
But Moira explains that Zaladane would have to be Lorna’s sister to pull off this power steal, there is no other way the genetic structure would be compatible. ‘Of course that means the process is probably reversible’ Moira assures Lorna. ‘I’m sure “sis” will be eager as pie to do that’ Lorna jokes, before telling Moira that she is more concerned about what has happened to her since then. ‘You’ve got me there, lass. I haven’t a clue!’ Moira admits, remarking that it is clear though that Lorna is absorbing energy, which is giving her increased size and strength, as well as invulnerability. ‘But what energy, and from where?’ Moira wonders, before informing Polaris that they are expecting some guests from the Mainland, and as soon as Banshee brings them over, she will set up the next test series. ‘Perhaps it’ll the way to some answers?’ Moira remarks.
Meanwhile, at Ullapool, just off the rugged west coast of Scotland, an excited voice calls out: ‘BANSHEE!’. It’s Amanda Sefton, who rushes over to Sean “Banshee” Cassidy and they embrace each other. ‘It’s been an age!’ exclaims Amanda, wearing a long purple coat. ‘Aye, Amanda, too long, and that’s a fact!’ Banshee agrees, while Amanda tells Sean that he is looking pretty good for an old pirate. ‘Not so bad yerself. The jet-setting life of a stewardess agrees with ye’ Sean tells Amanda, who replies ‘Please! I’m a “Senior In-Flight Passenger Service Relations Interface Manager”!’ Amanda grins. ‘Most impressive’ Sean tells Amanda.
Amanda motions to the woman clad in military uniform standing nearby, ‘Sean Cassidy, I’d like to introduce…Brigadier Alysande Stuart!’ Amanda exclaims. ‘Commanding Officer of Her Majesty’s Weird Happenings Organization!’ Banshee exclaims. ‘You guys know each other?’ Amanda asks, to which Banshee reveals that the two of them go way back. ‘Ye might say, Banshee was one of Sandy’s first “Weird Happenings”!’ Sean reveals. ‘Not to mention…one of the most annoying’ Alysande replies, dryly, before motioning to the speedboat. ‘Still have the boat, I see’ she remarks. ‘Ahh, Sandy…’ Sean begins. ‘”Brigadier”, if you please’ Sandy tells Sean, unimpressed.
Banshee helps Amanda into the speedboat, while asking Alysande if anyone has ever told her how lovely her eyes flash when they are angry. ‘This is some piece of work, Sean!’ Amanda exclaims, admiring the boat, and taking the front passenger seat. Banshee replies that not another boat in these parts can match this one. ‘As the…Brigadier…knows full well’, Sean adds. Brigadier Stuart sits behind Sean’s pilot seat and tells him not to push his luck, as the arrest warrant is still good. ‘Throw a charming sort like me in the royal slammer?’ Sean asks. ‘Gladly. And throw away the key’ Alysande replies. ‘Tschaa, Sandy - perish the thought -’ Sean begins, when suddenly a bullet is fired - right into Sean’s chest. Blood splatters everywhere, and Sean falls overboard, into the water.
‘He’s been shot!’ Amanda gasps as she dives into the water after Sean, without hesitation. The Brigadier sees someone up on the headland and exclaims that it was a sniper. Before she hit’s the water, Amanda tells Alysande to mind the boat while she rescues Sean. ‘Wait!’ Alysande exclaims, but it’s too late. ‘A wasted effort, Amanda’ the Brigadier thinks to herself. ‘Heavy caliber bullet, full in the chest, he’s as good as dead’, but Alysande doesn’t fault Amanda for trying, and as she crouches in the boat, she reaches for the radio transmitter, calling mayday to any station, exclaiming that she is under attack just outside of Ullapool harbor.
Up on the hills, Reese, Macon and Cole are watching Alysande, and see her radioing for help. Cole announces that he has a clear shot of the Brigadier, and asks Reese if he should take it. ‘Less loose ends the better’ Reese replies. ‘Music to my ears’ Cole replies as he looks at Alysande through the target on his rifle. ‘Say g’night, sweetheart. Your party’s over!’. BLAM! Alysande screams, not because the bullet races towards her, but because someone - or something - reaches up to the boat and pulls her into the water, moments before Banshee’s speedboat is blown to smithereens.
Gathering herself as she is pulled downwards in the water, the Brigadier sees that she is being pulled downwards by a mer-creature, and realizes that it is Amanda. ‘Of course, what am I thinking, she’s a sorceress…she probably pulls stunts like this all the time!’ Alysande mutters to herself that this is splendid for Amanda, less so for herself who cannot breathe underwater. Suddenly though, some of Alysande’s clothing is torn as Amanda uses her powers to transform the Brigadier into a mer-creature like herself. Speaking underwater, Amanda tells Alysande to relax and let her body cope with its new reality. ‘You’ll be fine’ Amanda assures her new companion.
Alysande remarks that this is strange, as she doesn’t feel any different, as though all this is perfectly normal. Amanda explains that is thanks to the spell, and points out that the ocean is now her natural environment, ‘Why shouldn’t you feel at home?’. Alysande declares that this is wonderful, ‘For us, not Banshee’ Amanda remarks, before they see him, floating a few meters away from them, and as they swim over to fetch him, the Brigadier exclaims that this is fantastic, remarking that she doesn’t so much see with her eyes, but with a kind of sonar.
The Brigadier holds onto Banshee and looking at his wound, remarks that he is in a bad way. ‘Even if we get him ashore, how can we possibly reach a hospital in time?’ she asks. ‘That’s the least of our problems, Brigadier’ Amanda replies. ‘You forget another aspect of my powers…is the ability to teleport!’. Indeed, and with that, Amanda opens up the reality of time and space, and teleports herself, Banshee and the Brigadier…
…right to Muir Island. They arrive in a laboratory, with Amanda remarking that if anyone can save Banshee, it’s Moira MacTaggert. ‘We’ve changed again!’ Alysande exclaims, back in her human form, her uniform somewhat in tatters though, while Amanda conjures up her tunic and thigh-high boots that she often wears when working with the X-Men, though they are now a striking purple color. Amanda points out that they have no use for flippers and tails on dry land. As the Brigadier places Sean on a medical table, she exclaims ‘The transformation - Amanda, I know this isn’t the time…but might we…someday…again?’ she asks.
‘My pleasure’ Amanda replies, before motioning the door, and acknowledging the arrival of Moira. Amanda explains to Alysande that the two Indians with Moira are Deputy Security Chief Tom Corsi, and Head Nurse Sharon Friedlander. ‘The big one can’t be She-Hulk, can she?’ Amanda asks, looking at Polaris. ‘SEAN!?’ gasps Moira, terrified for her lover. The Brigadier informs Moira that Sean has been shot, only one bullet, but she fears it has done damage.
Moira places a stethoscope on Sean’s chest, while Tom and Sharon get some medical equipment ready. Alysande stands behind Moira, while Amanda and Lorna stand on the other side of Sean. ‘Who did it?’ Tom asks, while Lorna and Amanda look at each other: ‘Do I know her? Nightcrawler’s old girlfriend?’ Polaris thinks to herself, ‘Lorna Dane? But isn’t she a villain?’ Amanda asks herself. Moira asks Sharon to set up a whole blood IV, and to alert the Morlock Healer, explaining that they are going to need him. The Brigadier announces that it was a sniper, but that she has no idea who, or why, or even their true target. ‘Someone out to settle an old score with Banshee as an ex-Interpol Agent, or retired X-Man. Or a terrorist after me as a senior British Army Officer. Too many possibilities!’ Alysande exclaims.
A stern-faced Moira begins cutting Sean’s shirt off and declares that it is best to assume the worst, and that it is a prelude to a hostile move against Muir Island itself, and the community here. ‘Lorna, get this whole lot into standard uniforms!’ Moira orders. ‘Is that necessary?’ Amanda, somewhat taken aback and annoyed, asks. ‘I don’t give orders, Ms. Sefton, for the sheer joy of hearing myself talk!’ Moira snaps, before explaining that the standard X-uniforms are more than just decorative costumes. ‘They’re environmental suits that’ll protect you from all manner of weather extremes. But more importantly, they’re body armor as well!’
Tom remarks that the armor is fine quality, explaining that it is flexible as cloth, but capable of stopping solid shells and energy weapons, within limits of course. Polaris tells Amanda, Tom, Sharon and Alysande that she will show them to the locker room, but Amanda remarks that there is no need, as her sorcery can “magic” up the uniforms in the blink of an eye. Amanda’s powerful magic fills the air around the, and their regular clothes, and Amanda’s costume, are replaced by another uniform - however the wrong one - Amanda, Tom, Sharon and Alysande stand in revealing leather outfits.
‘Oh my, oh my, oh my! This isn’t what I wanted at all!’ Amanda gasps. ‘Do tell’ Polaris remarks as she looks at her four companions, while Sharon blushes and covers her chest with her hands. Moira begins shouting, asking Amanda what she thinks she’s playing at. ‘I’ve no time for this nonsense. I’m trying to save me man’s life! Now do as your told - stop acting like babies - and get CHANGED!’ Moira orders.
In a short while, Polaris has joined Amanda, Alysande and Tom in the locker room. ‘She’s certainly in a good mood’ Lorna remarks as she adjusts her standard X-uniform. Alysande remarks that it is a small wonder considering the circumstances, as she adds several weapons to herself after putting the X-uniform on. Amanda, not changed from the thigh-high boots, leather mini-skirt and revealing halter top that she accidentally cast upon herself, wonders why her spell went so wrong, as it was a basic one. ‘Like on the freighter’ Lorna thinks to herself. ‘Things were fine when we left port, but as the voyage went on, the crew seemed to go crazy. As though they’d been possessed by something…evil’.
Tom tells Amanda that accidents happen, and wonders if Callisto is somehow tied into this, informing the others that Moira sent Callisto on a special job in the States, but that they haven’t heard from her since.
Indeed, at Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, or rather what is left of it, in the dead of the night. The School was founded by Charles Xavier as a haven where mutants could be taught how to use their super powers - and where some were forged by Xavier into his X-Men, a team of heroes whose primary charge was to protect the world and its people from those mutants who would do harm. Now all that remains is ruins.
A lot has happened since the formation of the X-Men: Xavier himself is off past the far side of the Universe with the Starjammers, unable to return. The original X-Men have taken on a new name and mission, as X-Factor, while the survivors of the current X-Men now belong to the British team, Excalibur, while the X-Men themselves are believed dead by the world at large. That is why Callisto was sent back to the Mansion, to seal the underground complex, still intact, and keep its secrets from falling into the wrong hands. As far as that goes, the secrets are safe - but Callisto has found herself in trouble.
Forty miles south from Xavier’s Estate, a mile below Manhattan’s streets, in the huge vaulting tunnel complex the once Morlock leader long ago christened the “Alley”. Callisto is bound and tied up in the middle of a group of Morlocks. ‘Like the way we welcome you home?’ a cloaked Morlock asks. ‘Sure you do’ the Morlock exclaims as he pulls Callisto’s bound body towards him. ’You always were a twisted piece of work, Masque…I see that hasn’t changed!’ Callisto exclaims. The horrid, cloaked Morlock known only as Masque replies ’As without sweetie, so within - that’s my motto’, before asking Callisto if she wants to make something of it. ’And you sure as sin ain’t the boss of the Morlocks!’ Masque points out.
‘Lemme guess, that’s you, right?’ Callisto retorts. ‘Smart girl’ Masque replies, before Callisto asks him what this is made of. ‘Old time’s sake?’ she wonders, before telling Masque that he probably wishes that is what this is. ‘I want the access codes to the X-Men’s basement!’ Masque reveals. ‘I’ll just bet you do’ Callisto replies looking at Masque through her one eye. Masque replies that he is serious. ‘You give them to me, or I’ll make you wish you’d never been born!’ Masque warns Callisto. ‘When you’re done…better make sure I’m dead!’ Callisto, a true warrior snaps back, staring the deformed Masque down, and warning him that if she is not dead, then he most certainly will be.
Masque places his hands on Callisto’s face and begins to rearrange her flesh, ‘When I’m done, sweetie, you’ll be lucky to have a face to call your won. Flesh and blood are play-dough to me, to be shaped however I please!’ he boasts, suggesting that he be considered an artist who uses living canvases. ‘And where you’re concerned I’m of a mind…to create a masterpiece!’ Masque pulls his hands away, revealing Callisto’s deformed face….
Back at Muir Island, through an association with the Weird Happenings Organization, and its subordinate, the Resources Control Executive (RCX), Moira’s Research Center has, in recent months, become home to the para-normal, and in some cases not even marginally human, children known as Warpies. Also residing here are a few Morlocks who survived the massacre than turned their Alley into a charnel house, like Sunder, who is currently keeping watch over the Warpies, playing with them in a playroom, as is Xavier’s unstable son, David Haller a.k.a. Legion.
For them, this morning, it seems that history is about to repeat itself, as one of the walls to the playroom is suddenly blown open. One of the Warpies screams, while Sunder tells everyone to look out, as he picks up as many of the young children as he can. ‘Hiya, kiddies! I’m Skullbuster!’ exclaims the Reaver in his frightening voice as he enters through the gaping hole in the building, alongside Bonebreaker and Pretty Boy, who also introduce themselves while they fire their weapons at the innocents. ‘We’re the Reavers! And we’ve come to kill you!’ Bonebreaker laughs.
Sunder crouches over to shield some of the Warpies as the bullets fly straight towards his back - only to be saved by a telekinetic force field, which Legion throws up around Sunder and the Warpies. ‘Way to go!’ Sunder exclaims. ‘Hey!?’, ‘What gives?’, ‘No fair!’ the Reavers shout, while Sunder asks Legion to keep them covered as he guides the kids out into the corridor, telling them get down the hall as quickly as they can to the bunker. Legion stands his ground while the bullets bounce off his shield. Each of his three powers is controlled by a separate, completely individual entity. Unfortunately, not all of them are nice, and Legion drops the shield protecting Sunder.
The over-sized Morlock screams as bullets rip into his back, sending him crashing into the corridor. ‘Why’d you drop your shield?’ Sunder asks, while the Warpies continue to run down the corridor. ‘Help! Help! Help! Help!’ one of them cries out. ‘Run! Run! Run!’ another exclaims. Bonebreaker drives himself, a literal mini tank, over to Sunder, who has gunshot energy billowing from his back. ‘Good question, big brute. But who am I to refuse such a gift?’ he asks. ‘So long, Sunder. It’s been real!’ Bonebreaker exclaims as he raises his weapon once more.
Suddenly though, Tom Corsi slides down the corridor, ‘Hang on, pal! We’ll pull you outta there!’ he calls out to Sunder, while thinking to himself ‘Yeah. Right. Sure’ as he blasts away at Bonebreaker with two guns. Tom thinks to himself that he spent eleven years as a cop, and never had to use his gun. ‘Now, I’m Willis, Gibson and Rambo all at once! Totally crazy!’ he tells himself. Bonebreaker acknowledges Corsi as he raises a bullet-proof shield to cover himself. ‘Don’t appear to me like you’re so lucky!’ Bonebreaker remarks. But Tom does have a shield, protected by the armor, he feels the impact of Bonebreaker’s bullets and realizes that he will have bullets tomorrow, provided he lives that long.
Tom’s bullets eventually knock the “wheel” of Bonebreaker’s tank backwards, as Polaris arrives on scene. ‘Nice shooting!’ she tells Tom while she swings a hook attached to a massive chain around her head, then latches the hook onto the front of Bonebreaker, remarking that Bonebreaker is immobilized without his wheel. ‘What’s this? She’s poking holes!’ Bonebreaker gasps. ‘Better it than you’ Pretty Boy points out as Bonebreaker’s human torso remains thus far unharmed. Pretty Boy tries to pull Bonebreaker’s human part from the tank, but struggles, as his latches are jammed and he cannot free Bonebreaker’s torso from its harness.
‘Gee, isn’t that too bad’ Polaris remarks sarcastically as she begins pulling on Bonebreaker’s tank, asking if she can lend a hand. ‘She’s pulling, Pretty Boy - who is she anyway, she isn’t on the briefing specs!’ Bonebreaker shouts, while pleasing with Pretty Boy to not let her get him. ‘I’m trying, Bone, but she’s a powerhouse!’ Pretty Boy replies, while Bonebreaker exclaims that he will gun her down, ‘Stupid suit won’t save her from a head shot!’ he remarks as he begins firing at Polaris, who doesn’t falter, though she flinches, she can’t help it. Lorna tells herself that she is no more used to her new invulnerability than she is to her super strength. ‘But I can’t deny it’s a total trip!’
Bonebreaker urges Pretty Boy to keep pulling, to which Pretty Boy replies ‘I am, you lump! Hard as I’m able!’ he exclaims. Suddenly though, Legion grins as he uses his telekinesis to snap the thick chain, which causes Legion to laugh. ‘HEY!’ shouts Lorna as she loses her hold and falls over, while Bonebreaker is knocked back into Pretty Boy, causing a loud crash. Skullbuster places his rifle to Legion’s head, ‘So tell me, kid…what’s so funny? Whose side you on, anyway?’ he asks, before Skullbuster is consumed in a small blaze of fire. ‘Kid’s not just a telekinetic - he’s a pyrotic, too! I’m burning!’ Skullbuster shouts as he fumbles about.
Tom goes over to Legion and asks him if he is okay, suggesting they catch up with the others. ‘Will they attack again? Will there be more fighting? Legion asks. Tom replies that he is afraid so, to which Legion grins ‘Good. I can’t wait. This is fun’.
Elsewhere, the mutant precog Irene Adler, better known as “Destiny” sits, and gazes. ‘Time…’ she says. ‘…the frame and arbiter of our existence. For all save me, people’s perceptions confined to the experiences of their own lives. Short little mayfly flashes of light against the backdrop of infinity…past and present have reality…because we’ve lived through them. The future - that great unknown - remains but a dream…for all save me. I am Destiny!’ the aged mutant declares, which a constant ticking noise rings in the background.
Destiny walks through a crystalline existence, remarking that she has been blind since birth, yet her inner sight has served her as well as, if not better than, any eyes. Destiny believes that, if anything, her inner sight has grown keener with age and use, and yet, in all she can remember, she has never found herself in such a place as this, a room of purest crystal. Making her way through a large living area, Destiny comes to a garden, full of, well, crystals - and statues, ‘Raven!’ Irene gasps as she sees a statue of her beloved Raven “Mystique” Darkholme. Looking at the crystal statue, Irene remarks that Raven has never looked more lovely. ‘This is Raven as I know her, the spirit-soul within my dearest friend - full of strength and courage and passion - that I have loved from the moment we met’.
Looking around the “garden” Destiny sees that Raven is not alone - everywhere she turns there are statues, each exemplifying the noblest, finest aspects of the person they represent. ‘Possessing such beauty, they make my heart ache’ Irene remarks. The ticking noise continues as Irene realizes that everything around her is carved from crystal - birds, animals, insects, flowers all around her, even the distant mountains and the ground beneath her feet, all of it, frozen. ‘In a moment of sublime, absolute transcendent…perfection…’
Destiny sees a crystal moon overhead, glittering in the firmament beside a crystal sun. suddenly, Destiny finds herself the only one “overhead”, her form taking position in the “sky”, with the vast panoply of the Milkyway strewn before her. ‘All the stars that ever were…the beings that live on their attendant worlds…no more’. Destiny begins to weep, without known whether from grief at what has been lost…or joy at the incredible glory that remains.
With those tears, comes awareness - that her moment has come. Destiny turns to crystal, and the ticking noise becomes a “bong bong bong” noise. Glory envelops Destiny, and she hears a small part of her shriek a denial, calling on her to fight, and somehow save herself. A clock strikes twelve. It’s too late - Destiny shatters - and the incessant noise stops.
‘Irenie? You had a rough night…is anything the matter?’ Mystique asks as she enters the kitchen, where Destiny is sitting at the table, drinking some coffee. ‘Just…dreams’ Irene replies, to which Mystique, dressed in a pink dress suit, somewhat uncharacteristic for her, replies ‘For a precog, that’s nothing to sneer at’. Mystique wraps her arms around the blind woman and asks her if she sees anything to worry about. ‘To be honest…I’m not sure’ Irene replies, to which Mystique assures Destiny that, whatever comes, they will face it together, as always.
The phone rings, and Destiny reveals that it is Valerie Cooper, who has a mission for Freedom Force. Mystique exclaims ‘I declare, you’re utterly impossible to surprise!’ as she morphs into their “mistress”, Dr. Valerie Cooper, and answers the phone: ‘Good morning, Val! What’s the emergency?’
Back at Muir Island, Macon, Cole and Reese fly, courtesy of jetpacks, across the surrounding water, their weapons ready. Reese reports that the first team has already struck Muir Island and is taking major fire, ‘So watch yourselves!’ he warns Cole and Macon, one of whom points out that they already took out Banshee, ‘Who they got left that’s any real threat?’ he asks. ‘ME!’ announces Amanda Sefton, finally dressed in the standard x-uniform, as she literally walks on water, and casting a spell, the three Reavers find themselves falling into the water. ‘Air’s gone funny!’ one of them exclaims as he can no longer control his jet pack. ‘Stabilizers wont hold, rocket packs aren’t generating sufficient thrust to keep us airborne!’ another exclaims before the water engulfs him.
‘Not too shabby’ Amanda tells herself, remarking that perhaps things won’t be as bad as Moira feared. Amanda takes control of the waves, ensuring that they give the Reavers an especially rough ride ashore. Reese is the first to arrive on the beach, and radios to his teammates, ordering a three-way split. ‘Shoot, it’s only a girl!’ exclaims Macon as he regains control of his jet pack and sees Amanda. ‘Since when that ever matter?’ Cole asks. Amanda sees the Reavers fire up - and creates a mystical shield to protect herself from their bullets, except, as she crouches behind her shield while still walking on water, the bullets slowly begin to pass through her shield, though they don’t hit her.
‘Okay - you boys want to get nasty…I’ll oblige!’ Amanda exclaims as she casts energy towards one of the Reavers, capturing him in powerful bonds. The Reaver struggles under Amanda’s power, declaring that his sensors say there is nothing there, but his body is saying there is. Eventually though, the Reaver breaks free. ‘That shouldn’t be possible…unless - how could I have been such a fool?’ Amanda asks herself, concerned. Amanda remarks that, as cyborgs, the Reavers are a synthesis of man and machine, and while her magic has power over their flesh, it is useless against the cold iron of their artificial machines.
‘Show’s closed, girly!’ Macon tells Amanda, before asking Reese if the blonde one is who they saw with Banshee. ‘I thought we already got her?’ he adds, before telling Amanda to get to her knees with her hands clasped behind her head. ‘You even twitch funny, I’ll -’ he is interrupted as a myriad of bullets is shot into his form by Alysande, who is standing up on the cliff side, telling Amanda to get out of there while she keeps the Reavers’ heads down.
Cole calls out to Macon, who replies that he will live, examining the damage Alysande has done to him, while Cole announces that the dark-haired woman is the Brigadier. ‘Laying down fire like a real pro’ he adds. ‘A general that actually knows her business? Whoever’d’a thought?’ he exclaims, before telling the Brigadier that the trouble for her is that they know their stuff also, and he blasts the cliff-face that she is standing on. Alysande begins to slide down the cliff, plummeting towards the beach below.
‘Let her splat, bro? Your call’ Cole asks. Macon replies that he is a soft-hearted kinda guy, before Reese flies up and grabs Alysande before she hit’s the ground. ‘Soft-header’s more like it’ Reese remarks, before pointing out that thanks to their boss, Donald Pierce, they Macon doesn’t have a heart anymore - at least not a flesh-and-blood human one. Reese warns Alysande to be nice, or else they will try this again. ‘Or, maybe I’ll miss the catch - oops, what a mess!’
Macon mutters that he should never have showed Reese his tape of A Fish Called Wanda. ‘Figures he’s “Otto” incarnate’. Cole, who has since tied Amanda up and holds on to her, remarks that it is an improvement over Reese’s Rambo, for he has a sense of humor now. Cole announces that they will keep the women “as is” for interrogation, for if the Island has any more surprises in store for them, he doesn’t want to find out the hard way.
Meanwhile, at the Washington D.C. headquarters of Freedom Force, the United States Government’s enhanced power cover team, Mystique, the team leader narrows her eyes and declares a stern ‘NO!’. Motioning behind Dr. Valerie Cooper, to Forge, Raven exclaims that she will not lift a finger to help him, calling him “murdering swine”. The glamorous Valerie tells Mystique that, considering her own history, as head of the terrorist Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, she is hardly in a position to throw stones.
Forge declares that Moira MacTaggert’s Research Center is under attack. ‘What’s that to me? Let Xavier’s mutants take care of their own!’ Raven retorts. Valerie points out that this is a Heaven-sent opportunity for Freedom Force to establish some serious credibility among the mutant community, by going to the rescue of people who used to be their bitter foes. ‘You can’t afford to pass that up!’ Val declares.
Mystique asks if this has anything to do with wanting Forge back designing weapons for “Uncle Sam”, to which Val replies ‘Would it hurt to get on his good side, too?’. Mystique angrily replies that because of Forge, her foster daughter Rogue, not to mention all of Rogue’s fellow X-Men, were killed. ‘And you expect me to work with him?’. Valerie folds her arms across her front and replies ‘I expect you, Mystique, to do as you’re told’.
Mystique walks over to Destiny, who has remained silent throughout this, standing some feet away in her cloak and mask, and Raven asks her if she did the right thing, by giving in. ‘You did the only thing you could, for the good of all’ Destiny replies. ‘Hardly a comforting thought…after all these months, how I still hate the man!’ Mystique exclaims. Forge tells Valerie that with the enhancements he has added to the Freedom Force jet, they can be at Muir Island in no time.
Destiny removes her blank mask, telling Raven that she should think more kindly towards Forge, ‘Considering how…intimately…your futures are intertwined’. Destiny reveals. ‘That’ll be the day!’ Mystique snaps back. ‘Perhaps’ Destiny replies, thinking to herself that the day will be far sooner than she dare suspect.
Back at Muir Island, Moira, now wearing one of the standard x-uniforms, but with thigh-high yellow boots and a sexier body-piece, stands with Sharon Friedlander, while the Morlock Healer stands over Banshee, in one of the labs. The Healer holds a hand to Sean’s chest and informs Moira that Banshee will live, and with rest, thrive. Moira orders the Healer to bring Sean back to consciousness, to which Sharon asks if that is wise. ‘It’s necessary’ Moira replies. Sean comes too, he looks at Moira and wearily asks if he is dreaming. ‘Ye look so…’ he begins, remarking on her appearance. ‘The Devil take my appearance, Sean!’ Moira replies before informing him that they are under attack and that his sonic scream is desperately needed.
‘Moira! You can’t! Sharon gasps, motioning to the now-healed wound in Sean’s chest, she points out that it was a mortal wound, and that even the Healer’s power has limits. ‘Push Sean before he’s ready and you’ll likely kill him!’ Sharon exclaims. Moira narrows her eyes as she looks at Sharon, annoyed, she replies that if they wait until then, from the sound of things outside, it will be them who will be dead. ‘Is that what you want?’ Moira asks Sharon, suspiciously.
Sean sits up, ‘Beg pardon, ladies…but don’t I have any say?’ he asks, holding his wound, he thinks to himself that Moira is so changed, inside as well as out. He looks at her and remarks to himself that it is as though all the wild, warrior - Highlander - parts of her nature have suddenly pushed to the fore, overwhelming her gentler side. Sean tells Moira that, if he can help, he will. ‘That’s my brave, bold, Banshee!’ Moira replies as she pushes Sean towards her, grabbing his hair as they kill. Sean declares that whatever needs doing, he will manage. ‘Or die trying’ he tells himself.
Elsewhere, Sunder is paying the Reavers back for their earlier assault. ‘Thought you killed me? Hah? You ain’t the first to try!’ he boasts, referring to the Marauders as he punches Skullbuster, admitting that his bullets knocked him down, but thanks to his armored suit, they didn’t do any damage. ‘Bet you won’t be able so say the same about my fists!’ Sunder exclaims as he continues to slam Skullbuster, before suddenly, he is shot in the back at close range, and falls to the ground. ‘That’s the trouble with armor…it’s the charm until somebody comes along with the gun designed to breach it!’ Pretty Boy boasts, holding the murder weapon.
Skullbuster, trapped under Sunder’s massive body, mutters ‘Congratulations’ before asking Pretty Boy to haul the lump off him, before his weight finishes what his bullets started. Bonebreaker rolls in, announcing that the Hellfire trio has a pair of prisoners. Pretty Boy points out that with this “croaker” referring to Sunder, and Banshee, that makes four captured or dead. Pretty Boy asks how many that leaves, to which Bonebreaker replies that there is the geeky kid, who seems to be playing both sides against the middle, the Indian cop, and “Ms. Muscles” with the green hair. ‘She-Hulk, maybe? Bone, we ready to take on the Avengers?’ Skullbuster asks.
‘Muties, Avengers, whatever, they’re only flesh and blood. Hit ‘em hard, Skully, hit ‘em right - we’ll drop ‘em stone cold dead!’ Pretty Boy shouts as he looks at Sunders motionless body. Bonebreaker tells his teammates to quit jabbering, and get back to the job….