In what appears to be Caldecott, Mississippi - Mystique plummets to what appears to be her death. Actually, the whole scene is a holographic projection, drawn from the mind of the young woman called Rogue and witnessed by Nightcrawler and the neural recording device’s creator, Forge. The events took place only a few weeks ago and are painful for Rogue, who is still battling with her feelings of loss and betrayal.
Impatiently, she asks Forge why he is making her go through all this again. Nightcrawler agrees that this is morbid. Forge apologizes and ends the simulation, revealing his office in X-Factor’s Georgetown headquarters. Forge states that he knows that, aside from Mystique’s death, Kurt and Rogue learned things that emotionally were quite painful. If there was any way he could do this without involving either of them, he would have, but he had to see for himself. He admits that he is concerned, as he has reason to believe Mystique is still alive.
Rogue scoffs at this. They all just saw Mystique’s death in her memory. Doesn’t he trust his device? Forge tells her that he knows he seems paranoid but he is aware of Mystique being a dangerously devious individual. She’d been exhibiting behavior indicating a marked decrease in her mental stability. That’s what she wanted them to believe. Forge now believes that she wanted them to think she was losing her grip, preparing them for her “suicide”.
Nightcrawler interjects: if they thought that there was any chance Mystique could be alive, doesn’t he think they’d be tracking her? Would they? Forge asks pointedly. Rogue was raised by Mystique and considers her her mother. On a subconscious level, she may be protecting her. Or perhaps she has hurt Rogue so much emotionally that it’s simpler for her to believe Mystique dead. Utterly pissed, by those insinuations, Rogue storms out, followed by Nightcrawler, both of them feeling that Forge has gone too far.
His friends didn’t exactly look happy, Val Cooper observes. Has he confronted them with the Mystique scenario? They don’t believe that Mystique could have survived and he can’t believe otherwise, Forge relays. He has told her that he feels somewhat responsible for Mystique’s actions. She “acquired” a great deal of high security information while in his care. But, as much as she was faking her instability with him to avoid prosecution, he really feels that she was trying to reach out.
Val tells him not to be fooled. She and Mystique used to work together when she was still disguised as Raven Darkholme. Val respected and admired her, until she found out she’d been using her all the time. But, even if she were still alive, her shapeshifting abilities keep hampering their chances at obtaining more evidence against her. That’s where she’s wrong, a newly-arrived Colonel Nick Fury announces.
The head of SHIELD tells them that he has evidence and shows them a video tape, showing them Mavis Fein, one of the executive secretaries at the Israeli embassy in New York. She thought he had something on Mystique, Val remarks. Why is Fury showing them this? Because, Fury retorts, at the same time, Mavis was also enjoying a cup of coffee in the embassy’s break room with a co-worker. Does he have to draw them a picture? Playing Devil’s Advocate, Val points out that there are also other shapeshifters and masters of disguise. What makes him so sure this is Mystique? Because “Mavis” was securing and approving a travel visa for a Mister Jon Bloom. Name ring a bell? That’s one of Avalanche’s aliases, Val cries out excited. It must be Mystique! What does she want with one of her old Freedom Force cronies?
That night, Alexandria, Virginia. A dockhouse warehouse on the Potomac. Avalanche enters it and a voice says, Hello, Dominic… or should I call you Jon?. Is he waiting for someone, Havok inquires. Strong Guy and he took the liberty of letting themselves in. It didn’t take X-Factor long to figure out he was using this place for his “freelance” activities. But right now they want to talk about Mystique.
He’s got nothing to say to them, Avalanche snarls. The two heroes start to grin. Too bad, Havok announces. On the way down there, Guido and he kicked around the idea of playing “good cop, bad cop” with him, but neither wanted to be the good cop… He never finishes his sentence, as Avalanche uses his seismic powers full blast. Before the two heroes get their bearings, Avalanche is gone. Forge is gonna love this, Alex announces grimly.
The next morning, X-Factor regroups in their Georgetown headquarters. Forge explains that he checked the Israeli embassy files for any further tampering. It seems Mystique accessed the security, medical and personnel files on Gabrielle Haller, a high-ranking Israeli diplomat. What would Mystique want with a fancy-pants aristocrat like her, Guido scoffs. Her son, Forge corrects him. Legion, Rahne, one of the few members who knows David Haller, whispers. Val continues quickly, explaining about David aka Legion, son of Gaby Haller and Charles Xavier.
David Haller turned autistic when his mutant abilities manifested at the age of ten, in response to the terrorist slaying of his godfather, Daniel Shomron. David’s mental identity was comprised of three core personalities, each of which controlled one of his powers: Cyndi, the pyrokinetic, Jemail, the telepath, and Jack Wayne, the telekinetic. An extremely loose cannon, David seemingly, without reason, murdered the precog, Destiny. Destiny was not only a member of X-Factor’s predecessor, Freedom Force, but also Mystique’s close friend and confidante. David is currently diagnosed as braindead, sustained by life-support in a hospital in Tel Aviv, but for Mystique that may not be enough…
Shouldn’t they contact the Professor, Polaris suggests. This is a government matter, Val insists. Mystique is a wanted murderer, who violated the terms of her agreement with the federal government that led to the creation of Freedom Force. The feds don’t take kindly to being double-crossed. She manipulated them all and they’re going to put an end to it.
At a sidewalk café in Tel Aviv, a solitary woman breakfasts. Mystique thinks about the revenge she will soon have. If it hadn’t been so contrary to her plans, she would have killed David Haller long ago for what he took from her. Growing sad, she remembers Irene Adler. Shaken, she gets up telling herself not to get emotional. She has to stay hard. Among the crowd of faces, Mystique changes into a young man.
Tel Aviv hospital. Going after her routine duties, Nurse Natalie Mier pities David Haller. A tragedy when these things happen to someone so young. Suddenly, she wonders if her eyes were playing tricks on her. Did he just move?
Elsewhere in the hospital, Gabrielle Haller expects X-Factor. Val explains why they are there and Gaby tells them that, while she appreciates their concern, she has alerted the hospital to their concerns. She doubts Washington’s involvement will be necessary. Lorna calmly points out that Mystique is not going to be stopped by hospital security. Guido whispers to Rahne that he hates hospitals, probably because he spent so much time in them as a kid. He covers her while she tranforms into her transitional form and announces that she’s caught her scent. Mystique is here.
Forge orders the team to fan out. Rahne is to take the point but they are to remember that Mystique is dangerous. Turning back to Gaby Haller, Forge apologizes for the intrusion. Gaby understands and tells him she should apologize for not realizing how very real the threat is. She’ll go alert the guards.
As Val, Havok and Polaris stride through the hospital corridors, they pass Mystique, still in the form of the young man. Mystique isn’t surprised to see Val here, admitting that she is good. She intended for her “Freedom Force” diversion to keep her and X-Factor occupied longer. As it is, they wouldn’t take the bait, with Avalanche and the Blob didn’t even get out of the airport. Still, with X-Factor there, she’ll have to make a few adjustments in her plans. She changes shape again.
In David’s hospital room, Forge studies the comatose boy, pondering the irony of protecting him, even though, if he were awake, they’d probably have to fight him.
Gaby enters again, telling Forge she has notified security. She touches David’s face, wondering how any one could wish to hurt such a vulnerable child. Not wishing to intrude, Forge leaves the room, giving them some time alone.
With Forge gone, “Gaby’s” demeanor changes, as she prepares a syringe. The only time she need is the minute or to pump “her son” full of Curare. And yet, she admits to herself, “Gabrielle’s” sentiments a moment ago weren’t so far from her own. Can she take the life of a defenseless comatose boy? She decides that she can: after all, Legion took away the person who meant the most to her… the best thing in her life.
“And, if you do that, you’ll take away the only thing left in mine,” the real Gabriel Haller shouts, as she enters the room. She begs Mystique, who takes on her real form, not to do this. David didn’t intend to hurt her. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s an innocent. “Innocent,” Mystique shouts, Destiny was a frail old woman! What he did to her was horrific. Mystique felt her final scream in her mind. She was in agony! If Haller feels pain today, she’s sorry, but now she’ll know Mystique’s pain.
That moment, Wolfsbane, Val and Forge storm into the room. She’s been found out, Rahne shouts. That’s not the way it works, Mystique mocks, as she holds the syringe to David’s jugular. One step closer and she’ll inject him with the poison. Val tries to appeal to her better nature and common sense. Killing the boy won’t make her feel better. If she truly understood her, Mystique shouts back, she’d know that nothing matters, that she just doesn’t care.
She’s prepared to ram the needle into Legion’s throat but, suddenly, her arm jerks back, uncontrollably, shattering the deadly syringe against the wall. The sudden look of surprise and fear on her face is soon mirrored by the others, as a dark presence fills the room… washing over them, enveloping them. A voice, cracked from disuse, chillingly melodious in its tone, rasps out its first spoken words in years. “Hullo, Mystique, I’ve been expecting you,” Legion says with a smile.