Lorna Dane’s body reels with the force of the attack. Her mind goes blank, unable to accept what’s happening to her. A few short hours ago, she was in Alex Summers’ arms, trying to comfort him and, now, possessed by the evil entity known as Malice, her lover is unleashing his deadly plasma blasts at her, trying to kill her.
The force of the blast knocks her out of the bungalow. Alex/Malice follows, mocking how good it is to see Lorna again – especially without using a mirror! When Mr. Sinister made Malice possess Lorna all those months ago, it thought it was a real kick – until it discovered that it was trapped and its lifeforce had become linked to Lorna’s. It took the entity months to escape and it has been on the run ever since – plotting against Sinister for what he did. And now Sinister wants Lorna again.
Never, Lorna defiantly exclaims. Nevertheless, as Malice notes, she doesn’t lift a finger to fight back. After all, she wouldn’t want to damage the merchandise. As if she’s going to live long enough to ever see poor Alex again, the creature mocks and uses Havok’s plasma blasts again with Lorna barely able to shield herself.
Caught in the rush of power and noticing the crowd that gathers, Malice triumphs, rambling how it anticipates Havok’s reaction on learning that he killed his lover. After months of positioning itself as Beatrice Connors, attempting to eliminate Polaris through sanction and protocol – all without attracting Sinister’s attention… While Malice / Havok keeps on rambling about using that fool Malone to get to Lorna, she uses the chance and starts running.
With energy crackling from Havok’s finger, Malice bitterly vows that Lorna will die. It has felt Sinister’s pull again. Irresistible, dark and alluring. He wants Malice to take over Lorna again, but this time he’s not getting either of them. He failed the first time with the Pryor cow, after all. And good breeding stock is all he wants. Malice grins, announcing it would rather Lorna die than possess her again. It has Alex blasting away at the shrubbery, only to find that Lorna isn’t hiding there after all.
Rhinebeck, NY. The Beekman Arms, where Lorna and Alex’s team member Strong Guy meets with his old flame, Mary Vanderbilt née Bradley. Mary tells him about her unhappy marriage and how she returned home to rebuild her life gain. Utterly besotted, Guido listens, reminding her of the love they shared. Mary is somewhat taken aback and stutters. They are interrupted by a boy with a cast, who asks Guido to sign his cast. His dad told him he’s called Strong Guy because he’s the toughest one there is, that Guido fought the Hulk and nothing can hurt him.
With a happy grin on his face, the boy walks away with his autograph, while Guido confides to Mary that he’s been thinking about her a lot the past few years. He remembers how they met: she was a candy-striper at the hospital where he’d been in so long, going through all the tests. She was so shy and so was he, but still she came to visit him every day and he fell for her hard. He thought he was dreaming when she’d told him she felt the same.
They were just kids, Mary points out flatly. It was a school-girl crush. Guido doesn’t take the hint. Mary finally admits that, when he left to go the other hospital, she found out that she wasn’t the shy little candy-striper anymore. She dated other boys and became popular. She realized she didn’t have to—
--to go out with huge deformed freak? Guido completes the sentence. No, she exclaims, only to admit ‘yes’ a moment later. She apologizes with tears in her eyes and leaves. The boy shows his mother the cast, telling her that he’s Strong Guy. Nothing can hurt him.
Malice / Havok turns around, only to have Lorna attack from above. Magnetically, she lifts a metal fence and twists it around Alex’ body, thus preventing him from aiming the blasts. Lorna orders Malice to get out of her man and begs Alex to fight its influence. Wildly blasting around as far as it can, Malice snarls that Havok is “too far inside” to hear her. He probably hasn’t had the opportunity yet to comprehend what has happened. But, when it feels him stirring around, Malice assure Lorna, it will let him take a little peek outside when it kills Lorna.… so that h can feel guilty about the death of another teammate.
Some of the stray blasts hit other bungalows, much to Lorna’s horror – if there had been people… This has t stop, she decides. She has to find a way to contain Alex, until she figures out a way to break the possession. She magnetically levitates a dumpster and wraps it around Havok. Then she flies to the bungalow, the metal ball behind her, to try and call X-Factor.
Back in Rhinebeck, Rahne has a talk with Guido’s young cousin, Anthony, who keeps on asking her what her life would be like if she had never become a mutant. Rahne inquires what’s troubling him and the boy admits that, not only he has to worry about inheriting his father’s muscular dystrophy, he is also worried about becoming a mutant like Guido. What are the chances? Rahne asks him what he would do if neither of his fears came true. Keep growing up and have fun with his friends he guesses. What will he do if either fear comes true? The same. He has nothing to worry about then, she assure him. As long as he is himself and has friends who love him, he will be alright. She assured him that, whatever happens, he has his family and she will be his friend.
Returning to the house, they pass several reporters waiting for Strong Guy. Unnerved he slams the door in their faces, only to learn from his aunt that even more journalists have called or written asking for interviews. He tosses away their letters, unhooks the phone and orders the journalists outside to get the heck out of his driveway.
Rahne asks if his luncheon with Mary didn’t go well. Guido makes a feeble joke but then admits that, no, it didn’t. He unburdened his heart to Mary and she was just embarrassed. Rahne looks at a picture of Guido and Mary as he confides that he only wanted something solid and secure like Lorna and Alex have. He always dreamed he could have that with Mary. That it could be like before. And she said it was never like that, he whispers unhappily. Rahne hugs her friend telling him how sorry she is.
Back in ”paradise,” Lorna enters her bungalow, telling herself she needs to come up with a plan now. She reaches for the phone, intent to call help when she hears a moan. She rushes outside to find Beatrice Connors on her doorstep and realizes that she must have been Malice’s previous host. Apparently, the creature discarded her on the steps.
Clutching her head, Mrs. Connors asks where she is. Lorna helps her inside. Recognizing her, Connors complains that the last thing she remembers is attending a conference at the U.N., regarding the perpetuation of the Magneto protocols. That was months ago, Lorna exclaims and realizes that Malice possessed the woman then and is behind everything that’s been happening these past few months, including Malone’s death.
Connors protests that this is crazy. Who is Malice? Lorna tries to explain, while grabbing her uniform and getting dressed. After that, she calls X-Factor’s townhouse, only to be connected to an answering machine. She’s barely able to shout, “It’s Lorna! This is an emer-“, when a plasma blast hits her. Malice is free. New rules, the villain announces. No calling for help. It only wants to kill her. The furious Lorna gets up willing to give her best, but Malice tells her not to do anything rash or Mrs. Connors will receive a point-blank plasma blast to the temple … unless, of course, Lorna surrenders.
X-Factor’s communication center in their Georgetown townhouse. A frenzied Val Cooper is talking with Quicksilver at Avengers Mansion, telling him that Alex and Lorna are involved in a firefight in Honolulu. There also was a panicked phonecall from Lorna. She can’t reach Forge at Xavier’s Mansion or any of the X-Men, so she’s calling X-Factor reserve. Quicksilver regrets that the Avengers are having an emergency of their own. It’ll only take a few hours, then he’ll be over. Val declines. They don’t have a few hours.
A short time later, X-Factor’s jet lands in Rhinebeck in front of the Carosella farm. Guido greets Val, jokingly telling her if they’d known she’d come they’d have left. Val curtly orders them to grab their stuff – they are going to Hawaii. Guido says good-bye to his proud uncle and aunt and X-Factor is off.
In Hawaii, Polaris sees no choice and surrenders. After Lorna begs for Beatrice’s life, Malice/Havok hits her with a plasma blast that catapults her out of the bungalow. Weakly, Lorna still begs Malice to let the woman go. Grabbing her by her hair, Malice assures Lorna she has let her go. After all, it wouldn’t want anything to get in its way when it puts Lorna out of her misery. Malice touches Lorna’s face with a hand crackling with energy, when help comes from a most unexpected quarter: “I wouldn’t do that, Malice, “ Mr Sinister announces calmly,” or your misery will be all the more sinister!” His companions, the Nasty Boys, just smirk.