It seems it is finally time to lay our cards on the table and see who has the better bluff.
The Upper East Side, Manhattan, Emma Frost stands on a rooftop and peers through some binoculars in the middle of the night, watching as Havok, Dazzler, the Beast and Colossus battle several Sentinels. The Vanisher stands at Emma's side, holding a tray with a martini glass on it. Emma takes the martini and tells the Vanisher that she remembers when New York actually felt interesting. 'Everything feels so been done' Emma adds. The Vanisher asks her if they should do something, to which Emma remarks 'The X-Men and their squabbles... could anything be more pedestrian, darling?' She tells the Vanisher that this isn't what the Hellfire Club does – the X-Men handle the unwashed masses and their boring racism. 'And we are no longer X-Men'. 'And if they don't handle it?' the Vanisher enquires. 'Then we go to war... our way' Emma responds.
The Hellfire Club, where Emma Frost sits at the head of a table, martini glass in hand. Vanisher stands to her side, as several well-dressed civilians are seated around gthe table. Emma tells her guests that with a donation to her new school, there is a chance to make a real impact on the lives of the next generation of mutant children – and she knows how much they will love having their names on buildings. The rich civilians laugh, before suddenly, 'Emma Frost' a voice calls out, and Emma turns to see shadowy figures standing at the back of the room. 'What is the meaning of this?' Emma snaps as she walks towards the new arrivals. 'Oh my God!' one of the civilians calls out. 'Who are they?' another asks. The new arrivals are none other than Karma, Moonstar and Strong Guy, three of the Corporate New Mutants who have been infected with the Transmode Virus. 'By the authority granted us by the Office of National Emergency, you are under arrest for crimes against the state' Karma frowns.
Emma bursts into laughter: 'Oh, this is a joke! Robotic versions of the least interesting among my former teammates. How wonderfully bizarre' she remarks, before asking 'Who sent you?' Moonstar suggests Emma stand down at once, otherwise they will use force. 'The joke's gone on long enough now, whoever you are' Emma snaps. She then starts to warn them: 'Try to touch me and I will make sure you spend the rest of the night thinking you're...' but her voice trails off when a quick psi-scan of the intruders tells her that they are actually her former teammates. 'Dear God, Dani! What happened to you?' Emma asks, shocked, before Strong Guy slams her into a wall. He leans into Emma and utters 'Selves are not in control. Help us. Please help us'.
Emma breaks free of Strong Guy's hold by turning to her diamond form and addressing Strong Guy as Mr Carosella, she tells him that she doesn't know what has happened to he and his friends, but that they have made a horrific miscalculation here tonight. She then slams a fist into Strong Guy, knocking him backwards. Moonstar's body suddenly appears merged with some Sentinel-tech, and she leaps towards Emma, 'Bloody hell...' Emma utters, genuinely concerned, she asks Dani what they have done to her. 'Moonlock is a weapon. Built for containment of all genetic deviations deemed dangerous. All mutants must be contained' the transformed Dani Moonstar responds from under the Sentinel tech. Emma tells the Vanisher to get them out of here, before using her diamond form to shield Vanisher when Moonlock opens fire, energy blasts surging from the Sentinel form, striking down some of Emma's guests.
At an undisclosed location shortly after, Emma is being held in a relatively empty cell, wearing an orange jumpsuit with a power-inhibitor around her neck. Suddenly, General Callahan enters the cell, and calls out to some soldiers, 'Can we get these lights dimmed?' he asks, before addressing Emma Frost, remarking that he was hoping they would get the chance to meet face-to-face. He introduces himself as General Robert Callahan, the director of the Office of National Emergency. 'I know who you are' Emma responds. 'Good. Then I assume you also know what I want and what I am willing to do to get it' Callahan replies. Callahan tells Emma that, luckily for her, he likes her. He explains that he came out here to make an offer – as he wants her to help him deal with the mutant problem once and for all. He assures her that if she does that, then the power inhibitors, neural dampeners and psychic feedback machines go away. 'Go $#%& yourself, you pathetic, diseased, little %#&$ of a man. I'd diev before I'd help you' Emma retorts. 'We'll see...' Callahan remarks, before instructing the soldiers to get the lights back up by 200 percent – as this one needs to cook a little more.
Emma is looking more worse for wear, her hair is unkempt and her face is dirty as she sits on the bed in the sparse cell, the lights continuing to bare down on her. 'Turns out you can tarnish a diamong. It just takes some time...' Callahan remarks as he enters the cell. He tells Emma that he is just teasing, and that she looks almost as lovely as ever. 'The things you and I could get up to if you were human...' he suggests, before asking Emma what she ca do for him. Emma remains silent. 'Nothing? So be it' Callahan declares. He starts to tell the soldiers to turn the machines back up, before Emma utters 'Serum'. 'What was that?' Callahan asks, turning back to Emma, who informs him that Hank McCoy has a serum that cures mutations. 'The cure?' Callahan replies, asking Emma if she thinks so little of him, as he knows that all traces were destroyed years ago, and even they weren't, he is not exactly in a position to walk into the X-Men's little house and take it.
'If that's the best you can -' Callahan starts to say, but Emma tells him that she can get someone to take it for him. Callahan tells Emma that he was under the impression she was persona non grata with the X-Men these days. Emma confirms gthat she is, but that she can be very persuasive, if he would let her show him. Callahan warns Emma that his men have psi shields, power dampeners and enough explosives in that collar to turn her shiny little head into dust – so she shouldn't try to be clever here. Callahan than orders the soldier to lower all power dampeners for Miss Frost – carefully. 'I'm sorry, Anole' Emma utters.
Later, Emma gasps as she wakes up in a bed. Sun shines through the window, and there is no collar around her neck. Her face has been washed, and her hair is relatively tidy. 'Ah, good. You're awake' Callahan declares sas he strides into the room with two O*N*E soldiers. 'What did you do to me?' Emma demands. 'What did -? You passed out, Emma. Gave us quite a scare, actually. Even a body such as yours has limits, it seems' Callahan responds, before he sits on the edge of the bed and tells Emma that he is sorry he has not been by to update her recently, but that her little green friend brought the serum to his people, and it is truly years ahead of anything they had. Callahan is wearing some strange devie around his bald head as he reports to Emma that his scientists tell him they can turn it into a vaccine that will destroy the x-gene in children before they ever show any hint of mutation. 'Think of all the needless suffering we can prevent. And thanks to you, we can also disable the powers of fully formed mutants' Callahan announces.
Callahan tells the frowning Emma not to worry, as she still has her powers – for now. He then informs Emma that is where the good news ends for her, as they placed a device in her head, an insurance policy – and if she tries anything at al, there will be no more reading minds or sparkly skin ever again. 'If your hope now is that Dr McCoy could stop or reverse this... he's dead. They're all dead. Bad news for your kind. Good news for humanity' Callahan reveals. 'Why do you think i'd ever believe a word that comes out of your sniveling little -' Emma starts to say, so Callahan throws a newspaper at Emma, the headline reads “No More X-Men”. Callahan taps the strange contraption on his head and tells Emma that between his little gene bomb in her skull, and this device to keep her out of his head, he has decided he no longer needs to keep her on such a short leash, and that she is free to leave and take her teleporter with her – now she can search for her dead friends, if she doesn't believe him. 'Oh, and Emma? We'll be in touch' Callahan adds.
Later: 'How would you like to pay for all this, miss? Your total is 9,800 dollars' the woman behind the counter of a designer fashion store asks the mutant called Marrow. 'Oh, right. Frost?' Marrow calls out. Emma, wearing a black outfit, appears at the counter and addressing the woman behind the counter as Meredith, tells her that the girl is with her, and to put it all on her account. 'Oh, Miss Frost... I didn't... I'm afraid that your account has been... there is a slight credit problem' Meredith announces. 'You've made a mistake. We will be walking out now with our clothes. And next time I come in you will remove your boorish self from my sight, correct?' Emma declares. 'Of course, Miss Frost. Have a lovely day' Meredith smiles.
Outside the store, Emma and Marrow walk side-by-side, with Emma calling Marrow by her true name, Sarah, and telling her that if she is going to be a noble in the Hellfire Club, then it is of the utmost that she looks the part. She suggests they see how the others did with their shopping – and Marrow drops her shopping bags as they walk onto a street and see Vanisher and Josh Foley a.k.a. Elixir, surrounded by Callahan and several O*N*E soldiers. Callahan tells Emma that he wished she had come when he called for her. 'Did you think having to do this wouldn't bother me?' he asks. 'Say the word, Frost, and -' Vanisher calls out, but Emma tells him and Elixir to stand down, and that she will handle this.
Emma tells Callahan that this is her calling his bluff, and that if he could have shut off her powers, he would have, as he knows she is too dangerous to toy with. Emma adds that it is a shame there aren't more mutants around for him to test his equipment on, as he might find that his psychic shield needs some work. Emma psionically commands Callahan to take the gun from his holster and raise it to his head. 'Wait!' Callahan exclaims. 'Goodbye, General' Emma remarks, while Callahan warns Emma that she is making a mistake. Callahan informs Emma that she is still around because the government has a use for her – if she is willing to play ball – but if she makes him pull thje trigger, then all that goes away. 'This desperation suits you' Emma replies. Callahan warns Emma that she is gambling with a lot of lives here, and asks if Mr Porter understands the game she is playing with his. 'Don't you dare – Vanisher, go!' Emma exclaims, while Callahan removes the gun from his head, 'Allow us to show him' Callahan suggests, while Vanisher suddenly starts to shake, 'Miss Frost! I can't -' he calls out, and Emma screams as Vanisher explodes, his remains slopping to the ground as a pile of gunk.
Emma stands over Vanisher's remains, while Elixir kneels at Vanisher's side, and Marrow snatches a file from one of the O*N*E soldiers, who turn and walk away with Callahan, who remarks that that is not what they anticipated. He adds that his people did warn him that a lot of mutants have such different physiologies that no study would work without a huge test group. 'Like I said, McCoy's serum is fascinating'. Callahan informs Emma that her Uncle Sam wants her back – but no more outbursts like this. Callahan reveals that Marrow has the lists of mutant targets, and that it is hard to get a good sense of who is still out there, but they are starting with some old favorites, and they need to know who is coming. 'Get us Blindfold first... you find her for us and nobody will have to clean you off Madison Avenue with a mop' Callahan declares, as Elixir reveals that he can't help the Vanisher.
Later, Emma is relaxing in a high rise apartment, a fireplace glowing across the room. 'Miss Frost? Miss Frost?' a voice calls out. Emma looks up and sees Elixir standing with a bunch of flowers. She apologizes to him for being distracted, and explains that she sent the Marauders after Blindfold, but that it would seem they are as incompetent as they are brutal, and Blindfold keeps moving in ways she quite understand. Elixir informs Miss Frost that these flowers came for her. 'You are thev Black Bishop of the Hellfire Club now. Please call me Emma' Emma responds. 'Of course' Elixir replies, before asking what the card says.
Emma reads the card out loud:
“Dear Emma, we found Cassandra Nova last night thanks to you. She didn't put up much of a fight. To the first of many”.
The card is from General Robert Callahan, and Elixir starts to say 'I can't believe you're helping them. They are hunting our -' to which Emma interrupts him, hurling the flowers into the fire, she tells Elixir that he has made his displeasure known, and asks if he thinks she enjoys any part of this, that these games are won by thinking ten moves ahead of your opponent, and that they will let Callahan think that's what he's done – and when her time comes, Callahan will realize how poorly he's played his hand. Emma adds that without Cerebro, what Callahan has asked of her is nearly impossible. 'I can't just search every mind of the planet myself in the hopes of finding...' Emma's voice trails off, and she goes wide-eyed, uttering 'It can't be...he's alive?' She gets to her feet and tells Elixir to gather Marrow, that they have to go. 'Where -' Elixir begins. 'Now!' Emma declares.
Shortly, inside a diner, Scott Summers sits in a booth, a blue hood pulled over his head, he is eating something and keeping his head down. 'I don't know how you're here. I don't know what it means... but it means something, Scott. I know that' Emma utters, sitting across from Scott. Emma stares at Scott and tells him that she loves him, and that she has hoped every single day that he knew that when he died – and she hopes he remembers it now. Emma remarks that she knows if she tried to stop him from saving the world it would destroy him, but she needs him to be careful for her, to stay out of sight, and she will find a way for them to be together again – she promises. Emma reaches across the table and touches Scott's hand – this causes Scott to look over to his hand, as if he can sense something. But he doesn't see Emma, and she gets to her feet and walks away, wiping the tears from her eyes.
'What did he say?' Elixir asks as he and Marrow wait for Emma outside the diner. 'She didn't speak with him' Marrow points out. 'What? I just watched them talk -' Elixir remarks, but Marrow explains that Cyclops didn't know Emma was there. 'Miss Frost, that's insane. You have to tell him. We could use his -' Elixir starts to say, but Emma declares that Scott is to stay out of this. 'Yes, Ma'am. But...but you love him' Elixir replies. 'That was a long time ago, you simple boy' Emma mutters as she turns and walks away, adding that if she speaks with Cyclops now, Callahan will know he is alive, and will kill him. If Scott comes looking for her, they will kill him, too. Emma reveals that she read Scott's thoughts, and discovered that he is going to try and re-form the X-Men and go after his enemies. 'But if he's not smart enough to do it from the shadows, he will get himself killed again... so we shan't discuss this further' Emma announces.
Later, Wolverine is brawling with several men in a pub. He knocks one of them back with a punch, while another calls out 'Imma shove my foot up your -' when suddenly, the brawlers are frozen in place. Wolverine narrows his eyes as a voice calls out 'Hello, Logan'. Logan narrows his eyes, then pops his claws as he turns to a doorway, 'Hello, Emma' he responds. Emma goes behind the bar and starts to make herself a martini. She tells Logan that she doesn't relish having to come down here to find him. 'I don't normally do borough, you know' Emma frowns. Logan tells Emma that she should have called, as he would have happily come to her place and stabbed her there instead. Emma tells Logan to spare her the theatrics, as she needs his help. 'You practically choked saying that' Logan remarks. Emma tells him that it is hard to get the words out while swallowing her not insignificant pride, so this cocktail will wash it down easier. 'Can I make you one?' she asks. 'I don't drink with people I hate' Emma replies. 'You are a lonely drunk' Emma points out.
Emma then informs Logan that Scott is back. 'That's #$%&#%$' Logan replies. 'I'd have said the same thing if I hadn't just watched him eat 4,000 calories of pure sadness' Emma remarks. Logan asks Emma what Scott, but Emma tells Logan that they didn't speak, and they won't, not yet at least – which is why she needs Logan. Logan replies that he is happy Slim is back, as the world could use him right about now – but he is done with Scott and done with Emma, too. Emma smiles and raises her martini glass, telling Logan that she assumed he would say that – but she is afraid that when she walks out of here, Logan will want to see Scott and will do his best to look for him, as only as her can – but neither of them will even remember that she exists. 'I – what the -?' Logan remarks, confused, looking around, but Emma has vanished – and the drunk he was about to fight with cracks a bottle over Logan's head.
'Dammit' Emma mutters back at her apartment where she drops a bottle of milk on the floor. She crouches down to start cleaning it up, 'That's what I get for fixing myself a midnight -' Emma begins, before getting to her feet as Marrow is hurled acoss the room. Emma goes over to check on Marrow, while Callahan tells Frost that she lied to them. 'How dare you barge in here and lay a hand on her! I'm doing everything you -' Emma begins, while Callahan announces that Cyclops is alive. 'The boy? Yes, everyone know -' Emma starts to reply, but Callahan holds up a phone with a photo of Cyclops and tells Emma that the boy is gone, they don't know where, but this is the man – her lover, and he broke into one of their labs in Ridgewood earlier tonight. 'You knew he was back' Callahan claims. 'If I knew he was back he'd be in my bed with me right now, General' Emma retorts.
Callahan tells Emma that they will figure out what to do with her later, but that now she is going to help them find Scott and kill him. 'Wait...no...he could be of use' Emma suggests. But Callahan declares that Cyclops is a headstrong idealist, a principled terrorist, and until this week, a martyr for his cause. 'He'd never work with -' Callahan begins, but Emma, who has switched to her diamond form, smiles, 'Not willingly. But I can be persuasive' she points out. Emma tells Callahan that if she knows her ex. He will bring together whatever X-Men he can, so they should let them hunt the targets, use their enemies against each other – and all Callahan will have to do is clean up whatever is left. 'Emma, you monstrous creature... I knew there was a reason I let you live' Callahan responds.
In the basement parking garage of the Hellfire Club, Mr Sinister is collared and shackled, and stands before Captain America. He offers Captain America some advice, free of charge, and tells him that for a man such as himself, so recently painted with the broad brush of facism, he might suggest an examination of his current course. 'I don't know what manner of deals are brokered that gets a man like Scott Summers hunting mutants for this government, but I can assure you the history books will not look kindly on your role in this debacle' Sinister remarks, adding that he is surprised to find Captain America involved at all. 'Get used to that feeling' Captain America replies. An elevator to the parking lot opens, and Emma steps out with Marrow and Elixir. 'Emma Frost. This is unexpected...' Sinister smiles. 'Mister Sinister. You've been bested by Scott Summers again, I see' Emma replies. 'And you're still faking the accept, I see' Sinister replies, before asking Emma if she is an Avenger now. 'The brand is not what it once was' he jokes.
Emma assures Sinister that she is no Avenger, and that the Captain works with her – in a sense. Captain America suddenly vanishes as Mystique reveals herself. Sinister smirks, 'Oh, Mystique. What a twist indeed. I was wondering why I couldn't stop thinking about having carnal knowledge of the good Captain. It seems the loins know what the mind does not' Sinister suggests, to which Mystique does not respond. Sinister then thanks Emma for rescsuing him from the clutches of those vile X-Men – he thought today was going to end on a much darker note. He asks Emma to be a dear and take these accursed shackles off so they can have some brandy and disucss their mutual infatuation with Scott Summers. 'Oh, you misunderstand, Nathaniel. I didn't rescue you from the X-Men. They work for me' Emma smiles.
Marrow asks if she should arrange for Callahan's men to pick Sinister up, but Emma tells her that the White King will take Sinister to his cell, as the Callahan and his men aren't to know about this one. 'He's mine' Emma smiles. Suddenly, a voice calls out 'You sure you don't want to call Callahan down here and save me a trip? He's my next stop'. Emma, Mystique and the others look over to see two new arrivals in the parking garage: Wolverine and Kwannon. 'It's been a real long time, Frost. I'm going to take it slow so I can savor it' Logan utters, while Sinister smiles and exclaims that this day keeps getting more and more delightful.