After X-Factor was sent to Madripoor, they crossed paths with Strong Guy’s former employer, Lila Cheney. Lila’s path could best be marked “enter at your own risk.” Now, Guido and Lila find themselves on the run from a spaceship that fires blasts at them while Lila mutters she can’t believe that they’ve found her.
The other X-Factor members impatiently ask Guido what this is about. Guido refers them to Lila, who is getting away, explaining that this is her gig – no need for them to get dragged into it. She intends to teleport away but, at that moment, the ship catches her in a sort of tractor beam. She finds herself in an energy stasis field, meaning she can’t get away. Out of the ship emerge two strict, regal-looking aliens called the K’lanti. They address Lila in a language the others don’t understand and Lila replies apologetically that she doesn’t have it. In response, an electric blast hits her. The beings are displeased.
Guido tries to come to the rescue, only to get hit as well. He is not deterred and neither is Wolfsbane. Both of them stand ready to attack the aliens, as does Polaris, waiting only for Havok’s command. Forge, trying to be the voice of reason, points out that they are not aware of the dynamics of the situation. Lila surprisingly agrees with him, through the pain. She doesn’t want them involved. She can handle it, she tells the unconvinced Strong Guy. She tells the aliens that this is a misunderstanding. She doesn’t have it with her. But she can get it… honest.
‘Get what?’ Lorna whispers. With Lila, who knows, Havok replies. She always has some scam going and always pulls Guido into it. The aliens say something incomprehensible, and Lila agrees, pointing out it would be easier, though, if they let her out of that bubble. They drop her and Guido catches Lila. Why does it seem like anytime they get together he feels like Ricky in a bad Lucy episode. Hey… “I love Lucy” Lila replies comically.
She finally explains that the K’lanti have agreed to let her retrieve the harmonium – the music box, which she stole, Guido interjects. Which she was keeping save for them, she says undeterred, until Jornik swiped it from her. But she stole it first, Guido insists. They had a civil war going, Lila defends herself. She didn’t want to see it destroyed. So she stole it, Guido insist. All right, she stole it Lila shouts.
Suddenly, a red, flying gem appears in the sky and explodes, taking a whole city block with it. The K’lanti, surrounded by more diamonds, tell them that as incentive these diamonds will be dispersed to six different locations about the city. To be detonated if the harmonium isn’t returned to them… soon. Define ‘soon,’ Guido tells Lila. About an hour? she replies, apologetically. This stopped being her game right now, Forge decides and orders her to take Lorna and Guido to find the Harmonium. He, Alex and Rahne will go after the diamond devices. Would it help if she said how sorry she is, Lila asks. No, Polaris replies curtly.
Val Cooper is on the mobile phone, angrily talking to an agents, asking where X-Factor is. They have satellites that could pinpoint a paperclip anywhere on the planet and they can’t find her five operatives? It’s not like they can keep a low profile, after all. Suddenly, words fail her. On the street, she sees a young man walking by, a young man who looks exactly like the dead Jamie Madrox. Shouting out for him to wait, she runs down the streets and almost collides with a car. In the confusion, Jamie has slipped away.
Lilah has teleported herself, Guido, and Polaris to Cygnus Prime, home of what Balthazar refers to as his used goods emporium. Lila calls it a junkyard. He’s got acres of discarded debris and, as Jornik has sold him her Daedalus wings, he can survey all his treasure from above.
Lila calls up to what appears to be a flying monkey and Lorna addresses him politely. Balthazar, however, insults her. Lorna replies with holding onto him magnetically. Balthazar refuses to return the Daedalus wing. Lila threatens him but tells him she doesn’t want the wing back; she wants the Harmonium. It was broken, Balthazar explains, and he threw it out back on the garbage heap. The junkyard is immense but Balthazar refuses to help them find it. Lila angrily slaps him and then describes the Harmonium to the others. As she mentions that its gears are metal, Lorna starts sifting through the junk by separating the metallic from the non-metallic junk. Suddenly, they hear a growling sound and a red mechanical horror attacks Guido. That moment, Lila spots the Harmonium.
Back in Madripoor, Forge, Havok and Wolfsbane are trying to rent a helicopter, but the owner assures them he can’t rent it out. The shaft is bent and the tail rotor is busted. It’s scrap. If he could get it going, would he consider renting it out then, Forge asks. If he can do that, they can take the bird for free, the man scoffs. Alex and Rahne throw each other knowing looks and, a very short time later, they are up in the air, closing in on one of the red diamonds.
Forge explains that there is a failsafe built into each of them. If they deviate from their respective axes by more than eight degrees, they will go into self-destruct mode. Reaching out from the helicopter, Rahne gently places a propulsion unit onto one of the diamonds. Using that, they rocket the bomb to a higher elevation, all the while maintaining the gem’s internal axis so it will detonate at safer distance form the city. The diamond flies up and Havok destroys it. They repeat that procedure with the other diamonds.
On Cygnus Prime, Guido fights for his life against a beast gone mad. Isn’t that always the way, he jokes. There’s never a Sigourney Weaver with a flame-thrower around when you need one. The fight breaks Lorna’s concentration and, while she can protect herself and Lila, Guido gets buried under tons of junk an rubble.
A moment later, he emerges, bigger and clearly in agony as he has absorbed all the kinetic energy from the crash. He has to get rid of the energy somehow… Luckily, at that moment, the beast attacks again, and Guido hits it with all his strength. Coldly, he tells Lila to get them out of there.
A moment later, they appear back in Madripoor, while the others join them and the K’Lanti.
Lila hands the Harmonium over. It rises, as discordant alien music fills the air. With that, the K’lanti are gone, but a little box is left behind. A token of their appreciation, Lila hopes. Actually, another diamond bomb as it turns out.
Guido shoves Lila aside and catches the brunt of the explosion, absorbing the energy of the blast. Maddened by the pain that permeates his hulking body, he howls. Saturated beyond their limit, his muscles strain at the skin. He hits things around him to release the energy and then falls choking ‘m’ … my heart…’
Lila tries to administer CPR, but they find it is not working. His muscles have gotten so big that she cannot get through.
It is a moment of great danger and potential tragedy but, fundamentally it is merely a transition between what was and will be, a fleeting instant built upon the foundation of the past.
Somewhere in that past, the foundation has been sabotaged and two decades of history collapse, leaving this present this now to crystallize and shatter because none of this ever happened.