Technology TALKS expo, in the Bay Area Convention Center. 'Madrox! I need answers!' Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Angel shouts down his cellphone as he stands on stage with Trinary and Sofia Mantega a.k.a. Wind Dancer. 'Hey, Angel?' Trinary calls out, but gets no response. From his lab in the X-Corp HQ hovering overhead, James Madrox the Multiple Man is with several dupes and tells Angel that he is working on it, and that it looks like they have some intruders on board. 'Intruders? Are you kidding me?' Angel retorts as he looks up at the massive HQ. Madrox tells Warren that he thinks they are already neutralized. 'Tell my they're not dead. Are they human? Is this nonsense?' Angel asks. 'Mr Worthington' Trinary calls out sternly, but still gets no response. Tense, Angel asks if Kol is trying to start a war. 'WARREN!' Trinary shouts. She quickly apologizes for yelling as she tells Warren he needs to look – as the readouts are blank and the tech is digitally unresponsive. 'But... it's working' the shocked Warren gasps as he looks over and sees that the Ionospheric Bandwidth Generator is active.
The crowd gathered before the stage look up at the strange generator which hovers mid-air. It is the heart of the X-Corp base, crafted from the cutting-edge mutant technology, this solar device expands bandwidth channels exponentially. Balloons float around the generator as doves fly past it. Underneath the generator is Jason Wyngarde a.k.a. Mastermind. He grins as he calls out 'Greetings, friend board members!' He announces that he and a friend wanted to attend the Technology TALKS event, but that the company didn't send him, so he and his friend had to buy their own tickets, and will be expensing the cost. 'Are you Mastermind? Like, the old one?' Wind Dancer asks. 'Yes' Mastermind replies, before telling the others to hurry, as he can fake a demonstration but by the time folks leave this party, they are going to want to have their communications online.
'Thanks for inviting me along. I suppose we weren't welcome to attend with the white hats?' Selene asks as she holds up a coffee cup, sitting at a table across from Mastermind at an outdoor cafe. 'Everything's public relations now, Selene. We worried about this stuff less in the old Hellfire days' Mastermind replies. 'To the old days' Mastermind toasts, and they clink their cups together. Selene then informs Jason that she is reading surface thoughts, and she thinks the headquarters might be in danger. 'Now?' Mastermind asks. 'Well, not yet. Some of these security guards seem to think they're going to find a way on board. They want to take a hostage' Selene reveals. Mastermind looks over to one of the expo security guards and tells Selene that he is not exactly concerned about this fellow and his ilk storming the gates of X-Corp. 'Not all of them, no – but Noblesse did hire the security for this event. I think there may be a few genuine mercenaries among the goons' Selene explains. Mastermind suggests that he makes himself present at the launch stage, just in case, and as she reads from a Noblesse brochure, Selene tells him that she will meet him when she can, as it turns out one of their coworkers needs her.
Elsewhere within the expo, Sara St. John has injected something into Monet St. Croix, who has keeled over to the ground. 'It still has some very unpleasant side effects in mutant trials – paralysis, etc. but we plan to handle those before launch' Sara explains while holding a very large needle. 'Medical devices are really something these days, Monet' Sara adds. Suddenly, Selene enters the room: 'Go on, Ms St. John. You have an audience' Selene declares. 'The whole world can't stop talking about you. Yet every time I hear your name I'm disappointed' Selene admits. 'You. If you try to enter my mind, you'll regret it -' Sara begins, holding a hand up as if to warn Selene not to get any closer. 'Stupid human woman' Selene snaps as she grabs Sara's arm and pulls it backwards. 'You're smarter than the men, but you never do anything about it' Selene grins. Sara screams as Selene forces her to the ground. 'What are you doing? I wear that psychic dampener for my personal security' Sara claims as Selene finds the device and removes it from Sara's ear. 'You stupid futurists. Let me tell you something about the future'.
Suddenly, Sara St. John finds herself hanging upside down, chained to a large rock that dangles above a pit of lava. Selene appears on an podium with several hooded figures nearby, watching. 'The future promises nothing. The only thing we know about the future is that someday, you will die there' Selene calls out, before telling Sara that endless men like Kol will sacrifice her and march over her broken body while saying they did it for her. 'You deserve him while he does it to others – and he'll do it to you' Selene adds. 'What is this? What is happening?' the confused Sara calls out. 'My God, the flame hurts – this is real! Let me out, Selene!' Sara pleads. 'Don't worry, it isn't real. Just a... metaphor' Selene smiles as Sara appears back to normal. 'What did you just do to me?' Sara asks. 'Just a thought' Selene tells her, before she suggests Sara get out of here so she can help her coworker – or else she'll do it again. 'I hear they're serving free champagne' Selene adds as she crushes the psychic dampener.
Soon, 'Ugh...' Monet utters as she sits up. 'Ah, Monet, you're awake' Selene remarks, before telling her that it is time to move, and asks her if she wants a pick-me-up, while holding up a glass of champagne. 'I'm furious' Monet snaps, informing Selene that Sara stuck her with a free sample of what she is guessing is a new pharmaceutical they are developing. 'She caught me off guard' Monet adds. 'Happens to the best of us' Selene tells her. Monet stands up and takes the glass of champagne. Selene informs her that she checked in with Mastermind and that the launch didn't go off – but he is taking care of it. 'What?' Monet asks. Selene epxlains that Kol's men were embedded in some of the security, courtesy of Noblesse. 'Did you all miss that?' Selene asks. Monet informs her that everyone is a sponsor at these things, and X-Corp were the top-tier sponsor, which is how they secured the main stage launch. 'If didn't go anywhere Nobelsse spent money, we'd stay home a lot' Monet points out, before thanking Selene for her assistance. 'I assume this isn't charity and you'll want...something' Monet adds. 'Oh yes. Like that board seat. I like that you're already in my debt – it's my favorite way to make friends' Selene smiles.
'Hey there, Angel, boss man. Just calling to update you on the situation' Madrox calls out from his lab. He informs Angel that he has dupes in tactical search mode, but that they are not finding anyone else, just that one team of humans that got on board somehow. He assures Angel that they got it handled, as Vulcan, Sunspot, Bishop and Thunderbird held their own against a couple of guys with guns. In another part of the X-Corp HQ, Sunspot, Thunderbird, Bishop and Vulcan stand over the Noblesse mercenaries as several dupes enter the room. 'We're fine, gentlemen – these lost little lambs couldn't possibly take us out. They just managed to distract us long enough to miss that launch window' Sunspot explains. 'They're clearly part of what was meant to be a stealth team' Bishop suggests, holding a gun towards one of them. 'Aww, did your buddies not show up? Get better friends' Sunspot suggests to one of them as he pulls their mask back. 'Can you get this thing online?' Angel's voice can be heard as Madrox enters the room where the mercenaries are being held. 'Of course!' Madrox claims. He tells Sunspot, Thunderbird, Bishop and Vulcan that it is go-time – as there are 30,000 Technology TALKS attendees right now who are watching reruns of the “Best of Mastermind”. 'Let's move!' Madrox exclaims.
Back at the main stage, Mastermind tells Angel that he would never be so gauche as to rush him, but that he is starting to get a bit parched from the illusory manifestation. Angel is still on his phone talking to Madrox, and asks him how the hell human mercenaries even got on board. 'I can answer that' a voice calls out. 'Monet! For god's sake – and Selene?!' Angel exclaims. Selene informs Angel that the security here had a multistep plan, that it involved using a depowered mutant hostage to get the bulk of their security team onboard, and she recovered their attempted hostage. 'I was caught off guard' Monet admits, while Selene reveals that she psychically convinced the others to get lose and forget the plan entirely, so when Kilk had some scouts drop in via plane, said scouts got stuck up there alone with an Omega mutant or two and without their expected backup. 'Fine' Angel replies before instructing Madrox to have his dupes hold the Nobelsse mercenaries for now and question them until their superiors decide to take responsibility for them. Angel then asks the Core Team to get the IBG online so Mastermind can take a well deserved break. 'And on Monday morning – I'm calling a board meeting!'
Monday morning, in X-Corp HQ. Angel, Monet, Trinary, Madrox, Mastermind and Selene are gathered in a meeting room. Angel stands in the center of a circular a couch lines the area, the others sitting on the couch. Angel points out that thanks to Mastermind and Selene's intervention they made it by the skin of their teeth. 'A lot of what went on at Technology TALKS would have destroyed anyone else, but we're doing better than fine. Aside from the original blip, we're not supplying most of the bandwidth to the world's top four telecom companies' Angel announces, adding that they have to do something, and can't just keep floating by, letting Kol take chunks out of them. Angel turns to Trinary and asks if they can have the room. 'Isn't this a board meeting?' Trinary asks. Angel rubs his forehead as he informs Trinary that the offer that was made to her was not previously vetted through proper channels, and that they have to reconsider an offer after they have reviewed her criminal record – if they have an opening.
Trinary hangs her head and folds her arms, unhappy, while Monet exclaims 'That is complete $#%&, Warren' Angel turns to Monet and tells her that he doesn't want to do this with her right now. 'You left me hanging. Your goose chase got you hurt and left me onstage with my pants down' he points out. 'Oh stop. The audience would have loved that' Monet replies. 'I don't even want my seat, Trinary can have it' Madrox announces as he stands up. 'Well, no, she's practically a child' Mastermind suggests. 'Compared to me, you're all children' Selene reminds him. 'SIT DOWN!' an unimpressed Angel shouts, slamming a hand onto a table. 'We are going to vote on things. Like a board. No more impulses. We need a plan. And then we vote on that plan' Angel declares. He tells the Board that Noblesse is gobbling up every deal they can to try to replicate X-Corp's tech – up to and including smaller companies they can cannibalize. Monet announces that she has a plan, and suggests that they make a deal. 'How?' Angel asks.
'We buy them out' Monet announces. She tells Warren that Kol and Sara and Fenris are pains in their collective ass, but that no company is a monolith, and human companies like Noblesse have ten shareholders under Kol who own more of his company than he does, so they would just have to find out who they are and what they'd want for it. 'I suggests we do the intelligence gathering on a Friday afternoon – people will pay less attention to us' Monet offers. Monet continues, telling Warren that if they are smart, they time it so that they do this simultaneously, with more than one psychic operating, and from there, they have to immediately act on it in places away from their offices, take exterior meetings before making the offer. 'If they balk, remind them – even accepting a private meeting with one of us is admitting disloyalty to Kol in a big way. We can ruin them for just having coffee with us if we choose. But if we make it a very lucrative deal, which we can... I think they'll take the deal' Monet suggests.
'After all, I have the power to see the things they want but dare not say out loud...shouldn't I at least offer it to them?' Monet asks. 'What if they don't accept a meeting and just turn on you? What if they need more convincing?' Warren asks, folding his arms. 'They won't. Call it a hunch' Monet replies, before telling Warren that it is corporate espionage – get Kol's board to see it out from under him. 'They've all got their own machinations, and they need money for them. Everyone does' she points out. Warren asks Monet if that is her plan – for her and Selene to get into the building, follow some psychic bread crumbs to pop open a few schedules and make their execs think the buyout was their own idea? 'I don't like the cloak-and-dagger of it. We're better than that. We don't have to do those things, remember, X-Corp?' Warren states. 'Fine then. Let's put it to a vote' Monet suggests. The board members then take some papers and begin to cast their votes.
After reading the votes, Angel reports that it is outvoted. 'So where do we start?' he asks. Monet then tells him the best news is that she and Selene already did it thiis morning.
Monet arrives at Noblesse headquarters with two Madrox dupes dressed in black suits. She stands over the receptionist who speaks to Monet in French: 'He's in a meeting. May I have your name to add you to his schedule?' she asks. 'That's all right, madame. I'll find all of the details I need myself' Monet responds as she uses her telepathic powers to enter the woman's mind, discovering the schedule of the shareholder in question.
Monet leaves the Noblesse building and passes Selene, who is walking with a nervous-looking elderly woman. Monet and Selene both slightly lower their sunglasses, acknowledging each other.
Monet later meets with the man whose schedule she telepathically took from the receptionist, and smiles at him as he signs his name on some papers.
When things get difficult with another shareholder, Monet switches to her Penance form to convince him to sign the papers. Selene has difficulty with an old man, too – but she has no problems shoving the heel of her stiletto into his chest.
'You and Selene spent your weekend...buying Kol out of his brand-new company?' Warren asks, folding his arms. Monet and Selene place two thick folders onto the table as Monet tells Warren that they bought out the people under Kol. 'None of the shareholders were very attached, truly' Selene smiles. 'What if we'd voted no? Are you two okay with this?' Warren asks, looking over at Mastermind and Madrox. 'Exceedingly' Mastermind replies. He points out that this war against Noblesse is the worst media angle possible – as Noblesse won't let anyone forget for a second that they are mutants. 'Would we want to?' Madrox asks. 'Lovely sentiment for bad PR' Mastermind tells him. Warren frowns and declares that the meeting is adjourned. 'The break-room bagel bush is fruiting. Help yourselves' he mutters. 'Except for you, Monet. I would like to talk to you in the executive lounge, please'.
Shortly, Monet enters the executive lounge, where she finds Warren is starting to remove his shirt. 'I thought you were going to lose your cool up there. I like that you didn't. It was the right move' Monet tells Warren. But, Warren informs Monet that he is furious. 'But I'm tired of being goaded into this in front of everyone. I need to know what you want from me' Warren remarks, asking Monet if she wants him to snap and embarrass himself, or if she wants him to just be reckless like she is. 'Or do you wish I wasn't here?' Warren asks. 'Oh, give me a break -' Monet starts to say, but Warren interrupts her: 'I'm serious, Monet. You've been trying to get me to snap and fight you since day one' Warren points out. Shirtless, he stands ready for a fight, telling Monet 'So here you go. Here's the meeting you've been wanting but have been too scared to ask for. I don't need to be a psychic to tell. You want to fight me, here I am'.
'Aw, you shouldn't have' Monet responds, slamming her powerful fist into Warren and knocking him backwards. Rubbing his jaw, Warren replies 'That's better' before telling Monet that he wants to be clear – this is not about anger or disagreement. 'We were taught like this, Monet. For humans, it might seem insane, but it's how we were raised' Warren states, kicking Monet in the face and knocking her backwards into a table. 'You were never in my class' Monet boasts as she takes flight and hovers above Warren. 'But when we were both young, and we had to learn how to understand ourselves? And who we were? We fought our classmates!' Warren exclaims. 'Yes, in danger rooms, you nostalgic lunatic! Not in the executive lounge of our billion-dollar headquarters!' Monet repliers as she shoves Warren against the glass dome which covers the executive lounge. Something happens, and the entire room becomes empty, as if it was projecting holograms. 'It is a Danger Room, Monet. What else would executives like us want?' Warren replies.
'I told you. This is how we learned how to defeat our enemies. Why stop now?' Warren remarks. 'You're so old-school' Monet tells Warren as they both drop to the floor, before Monet leaps at him and slams her high-heeled shoes into his back. 'Do you want me to shift into Penance? Do you want to shift too? Would it feel better to be the other guy?' Monet asks, before she pins Warren to the ground, resting a knee against his back. 'You might have a chance at beating me then' Monet points out, before asking Warren that if this is about Penance, well, she isn't the Hulk – Penance is a part of her that she draws upon, not something with control over her – not something she fights. 'As for you – is that what it's like for you? Struggling against it?' Monet asks, her face moving in closer to Warren's.
'Monet – you're so sure that Penance is worth accepting, aren't you, Monet? Don't you ever question yourself?' Warren exclaims as he shifts to his Archangel form, standing up, he sends Monet backwards, slamming against a wall, while his razor-sharp wings extend. Monet gathers herself and tells Warren that he has no idea the kinds of questions she asks herself. 'Do you think I need to lose control and become Penance every time I'm challenged?' she asks, dodging deadly feather-blades that Warren hurls towards her. 'Of course not' Warren repllies. 'But if Kol is dealt with, we need to trust each other before someone strikes again. And I need to show you that though I often resist becoming Archangel...I'm not afraid of him anymore' Warren explains. 'you idiot. You should be afraid of me' Monet retorts as she flies towards Warren.
'Listen! It's part of every cell now. Maybe Angel and Archangel – or Monet and Penance – were distinct once, but not anymore. Not for a long time before – and certainly not since dying on that solar mission and coming back. Something we both lived and died through!' Archangel suggests to Monet. Archangel blocks Monet's kick with his arm as Monet tells him that she isn't sure why he thinks their relationship ought to be so special, or why they are alike. 'It's business, Warren' Monet declares. 'I'm sure we'll turn on each other someday!' Monet adds as they suddenly burst through the glass dome above them. 'Wait – what's going on down there?' Warren asks as they end their fight mid-air. Monet looks over and sees what Warren is looking at. She tells him it is investors – with guns. 'Don't get shot in the head. If you die in front of them that's your retirement on Krakoa early. You can't be seen in front of humans again' Monet warns Warren. Warren tells Monet that he gets it, and that if they go out there with anything other than their best armor, it will be career suicide.
Down below, Andreas and Andrea von Strucker, the Fenris Twins, can be seen with Sara St. John and Jean-Pierre Kol. They are all wearing black costumes and armed with weapons. Andreas informs Sara that they are in. 'He can start whenever' Andreas adds. Sara informs Kol that they have hijacked the comms, and that he should go ahead and make his offer. 'They'll hear you' she assures him. Kol stands before a Krakoan gateway and greets X-Corporation. 'I came to find out you'd been to my headquarters, and I hadn't yet gotten the chance to see yours. Thankfully, Fenris here was happy to walk me through the gate. But I hope you'll invite me inside!' Kol calls out. The quartet begin to walk around on the X-Corp HQ, as Kol tells X-Corporation that previously they had been dealing with the professional Jean-Pierre Kol, as he had so many interests to protect – with his corporate portfolio, he couldn't just start a fight with mutants. 'But now I have been relieved of my corporate responsibilities. And I have come to find out from my consultants Fenris that you are violent brutes with no sense'.
Kol continues, boasting that he just wants to take what he feels he is owed, what X-Corp refused to give – and so he has opted for the hostile takeover. Kol points out that he has Ms St. John and her amazing technology with him. 'But you were right about one thing, Warren. I should retire. Once I've taken over your HQ, I can see it for parts to the hundreds of less scrupulous markets who wouldn't shed a tear over your absence'. Kol, Sara and Fenris all raise their weapons, while Kol asks 'Which young go-getter will be the first to come talk to me?'
In his lab, Madrox and several dupes look out at the commotion. 'What is going on? Is that Noblesse? Are we being boarded again?' one of the dupes asks. 'Yeah, apparently we bought Kol's company, so now he's out of a job and gone full crazy' Madrox explains. 'We're going to join up with the security guys up top -' one of the dupes begins, before Madrox absorbs him. 'No! Stop! If we're being boarded, I'm absorbing everyone before I lose your research. Get in line!' Madrox calls out, before realizing that there isn't time to absorb them all – and his research is going to be massively incomplete. 'Doc? We're coming too -' one dupe calls out as Madrox heads for an elevator tube. Madrox orders his dupes to stay here, as he is going to see what is going on, and then he will be back down for further direction. 'You stay here. You're my research' Madrox calls out.
Inside the elevator, Madrox contacts his teammates and informs them that he is heading up top to meet with the security team. Madrox hears Trinary in his ear-piece talking to him, informing him that Angel and Monet just went out the ceiling. 'Uh, okay, I just don't want to be the first one up there so -' Madrox replies, when suddenly, the elevator door opens and someone points a gun in Madrox's face – and pulls the trigger. 'He shouldn't have interrupted you' Andrea von Strucker remarks, holding the smoking gun. 'You were saying, Monsieur Kol?' Andreas asks. 'That I can do whatever I want with the X-Corporation's mutant trash and the world will cheer me on' Kol replies. Archangel and Monet look down in shock as they see Madrox's unmoving body, while Kol suggest 'Perhaps I'll even crash it into your smug $#%& island – once you're all dead!'