It is the eve of Election Day. Senator Graydon Creed has been taking his anti-mutant message to the people for the past ten months and, soon, it will be determined if the people have been listening to him. In an abandoned factory on the outskirts of Atlanta, Mystique blasts holes in a poster of her ‘beloved’ son. With her is Pyro, a mutant suffering the final stages of the Legacy Virus, a disease that will ultimately kill him if a cure isn’t found.
He reminds Mystique that it isn’t too late for her to change her mind, but she is adamant. She’s doing what needs to be done. Pyro collapses, as flames burn around him, uncontrollably. He apologizes, but says that it looks like the virus is going to beat him yet. Mystique asks if he’s sure he’s up for this. Pyro replies that he’s not dead yet. He can handle whatever needs to be done. He asks her to explain once again how she intends to get through security, and close enough to her little boy to do what needs doing. Mystique transforms herself into Val Cooper, and replies that she’s going to walk right through security.
(a short time later)
A news helicopter flies over a building, inside of which is Val Cooper and the presidential candidate, Graydon Creed. He is angry that Val would like to cancel his speech over security issues. He reminds Val that it’s the last speech he’ll make before the election, and he’s going to deliver it no matter who is making threats against him. His campaign has thrived on adversity. Val tells him she has his orders. He either accepts the additional security she is offering, or the speech is cancelled. He points his finger at Val, and warns her not to try and give him ultimatums.
Creed notices a green glow, emanating from outside his window. He turns and sees X-Factor, arriving with the help of Polaris, who carries them on waves of magnetic force. Forge gives the orders, telling Polaris to seal that floor with a magnetic field, whilst ordering Sabretooth and Wildchild to search for any explosive devices. Creed can’t believe that this is the additional security she is offering. He won’t accept them; not them, and definitely not him! He looks at Sabretooth, who replies, “Oh, come on, sonny boy! Is that any way to greet one of your biggest supporters? I hear mom may be planning on showing up!” He reckons that they could have themselves a family reunion.
Creed orders his guards into the room, and the doors are thrown open to reveal a half-dozen burly men, all dressed in suits. Amongst them in Sam Guthrie, better known as the X-Men’s Cannonball. Creed tells his men to get X-Factor outta there, but Forge explains that Sabretooth’s presence is essential to their needs. Val instantly recognizes Sam Guthrie. Forge whispers to her that he’d heard that the X-Men had one of their own in Creed’s camp. Extra protection, he guesses.
Forge tells Creed that Sabretooth and Wildchild possess powers advantageous in keeping him from harm’s way, but Creed asks whose going to protect him from Sabretooth. Forge asks Sabretooth to step forward and shake the presidential candidate’s hand. Sabretooth does as requested, and offers his hand. Creed’s response is to order his men to shoot him. Sabretooth reaches out for him, but the restraining collar he wears gives him an electric shock, which stops him in his tracks. Forge programmed it to keep Sabretooth at least three feet from Graydon Creed. Creed asks how he knows he won’t override it. Val replies that, if he did, it would kill him. She assures Creed that they’ll keep Sabretooth out of sight for the rest of the day. Creed accepts the protection, but tells them all to stay out of sight.
(later that day)
A crowd gathers hear Graydon Creed’s speech. There are supporters and detractors amongst the audience, but Val is assured that security is very tight. A security guard allows her through but, as she walks, a hand grabs her from behind and drags her behind a curtain. A gun is pinned to the back of her skull. It’s the real Val Cooper, and she tells Mystique she expected more of her. She thought that at least she would try and pass herself off as someone other than her. Mystique turns, and says that she’s always loved her hair.
Val keeps her weapon pointed at Mystique and asks how she bypassed her inhibitor transplant that prevents her from morphing into anyone downloaded into it. Mystique replies that she’s been at Fall’s Edge for a long time, and hacked into Forge’s programming. That’s why she kept changing into Forge or Storm or anyone other than Val. They were all a test for this moment. She adds that Val is the only one in X-Factor that has the government’s total trust. She is the only non-mutant. Val informs her that it’s over. They’ll wait there for the others to show, and then they’ll take her back. Mystique gives a wicked smile. “Whatever you say, Valerie!” she says, “But look here… my little boy has arrived!”
A limousine pulls up and two burly guards step out, carrying concealed weapons. Creed waves at the crowd and is then hustled towards the stage surrounded by his security team. Mystique can see that Xavier has placed Sam Guthrie right next to him, and a riot is beginning to break out between Creed’s supporters and detractors. Mystique uses the distraction to take out Val and make her escape through the crowd, changing her shape every few steps to completely throw off any observers.
The other members of X-Factor are wearing plain suits to blend in with the crowd. Forge contacts Val, who informs him that Mystique’s out there somewhere. Sabretooth and Wildchild have her scent but, with so many other people, it’s gonna be difficult to locate her. Graydon Creed begins his speech. As he talks, Mystique moves in real close, disguised as a security guard. Graydon Creed notices her eyes and recognizes them as belonging to his mother.
His guards locate a weapon that she’s carrying, and Polaris uses her magnetic powers to keep it in place. She tells Mystique that it’s over, but Mystique changes into Val’s form. She asks Polaris to drop the magnetic field; she doesn’t understand. Polaris says she’s not letting her go until she changes back to her real form. Sabretooth and Wildchild pile on Mystique, who finally changes into her usual, blue appearance. With Forge’s help, they shackle her hands and Forge places a new restraining collar around her neck. She asks Forge to just listen to her before it’s too late, but Forge is tired of listening to her lies. He tells her that she’s failed. “Yes I did,” she replies, “but whatever happens from this point on… is all your fault.”
Graydon Creed steps down from the podium and thanks Dr. Cooper, but his men will take it from there. He moves up close to Mystique and says it’s time to do to her, that which he should have done long ago. He recalls his childhood spent with his two mutant parents, and the anger almost gets the better of him. He orders Mystique taken away, but Forge informs him that he cannot allow that. She is part of X-Factor and they take care of their own.
Creed cracks on regardless, and tells his men to shoot if X-Factor interferes. Val quickly jumps in and reminds Creed that Mystique is a sanctioned government agent, under X-Factor’s control. She will take care of her and, if he has a problem with that, then he can take it up with the president who is still in office. She asks Forge to watch their backs; she doesn’t trust Creed. Mystique once again asks if she can just listen to her. She explains that she’s not stupid enough to kill Creed in public and give his cause a martyr. If she really wanted Creed dead, she’d have found some way to do it without getting caught. Val asks her security to get them to Fall’s Edge, and adds that she has no idea what someone like Mystique thinks about.
The transporter rumbles away and, en route to Fall’s Edge, Mystique reminds Val that there are parts of the government she has no idea exists; plans within plans, and she’s allowing her self to be a part of it. Val replies that it is Mystique who is uninformed. She knows where she stands. She tells Mystique to be quiet, as she wants to watch Creed’s speech on television.
Graydon Creed admits Forge has won the day, but adds that tomorrow he might wake up to find someone else calling the shots. As he returns to the podium to continue his speech, Forge tells Lorna that they did good today, but Lorna has the feeling that if Creed actually wins, mutants will suffer more than ever. Suddenly, they hear a cough behind them, and realize that it’s Pyro.
(aboard the transporter)
Mystique tells Val that her problem is that she never sits back and questions her job. She never asks why she and Sabretooth are on the team, or why a bigot like Creed could get so far in the campaign. Can’t she see it was all a set-up? Part of a bigger plan. Today, she and X-Factor are about to help make history. Graydon Creed is going to die, and Val might as well have been holding the gun. She could have stopped it, but Val arresting her has just set human/mutant relations back twenty years. Val now realizes that she may have made a mistake, and calls for the driver to turn around and get her Creed’s security people on the radio.
Creed is part way through his big speech, when a blinding pulse comes from nowhere, and plows into the back of him. His pain is apparent to all who witness the event, but the pain is not prolonged. In an instant, Graydon Creed is reduced to a pile of ashes, along with his candidacy. It takes only a second for the shock to wear off, and for accusations to fly, and they’re mainly from the audience who blame mutants.
Watching television, Mystique says well done to Val Cooper. The anti-mutant cause now has its martyr. Val asks what Mystique has done. Mystique replies that she must be very proud of herself. Val turns and punches Mystique over and over. “You knew! You knew all along,” she screams. Val is impressed that there is fire in Val’s soul after all. With Mystique laid out on the floor of the transporter, the van suddenly stops. A guard warns Val to look out. The back doors open, and Val finds X-Factor standing outside. Sabretooth warns the guard to put his weapon down, unless he wants it feeding to him. Val asks Forge what happened out there. He replies that someone got Creed.
Val points to Pyro, and asks what he’s doing there. Forge informs her that they took him into custody just before Creed was hit. It was some kind of plasma burst. He adds that having mutants on the scene was only going to exacerbate the problem, so they left. Val asks Mystique if she had Pyro planted in the crowd to finish off what she started. Mystique reminds her that Forge said he was taken into custody before Creed was fried. Yes, she admits, he was her back up. “We tried, my friend,” Mystique tells Pyro. He coughs, and apologizes.
Mystique tells Val that they were trying to stop what she let happen. Val asks if they’re expected to believe that. Forge says that Mystique is telling the truth. They found her weapon, and it was actually a forcefield remote that was from his lab. She was trying to protect Creed.
He suddenly notices the computer screen and points to it. Everyone turns, and sees writing appearing on it. It reads, Creed was the first. There will be others. You, Mystique… are next. “If she didn’t do it,” asks Lorna, “then who?”