In the shadow of the Washington Monument, X-Factor’s former employer, Bowser, is waiting impatiently for one of his tech guys to insert the CD that Forge handed over. The CD was given to Bowser before Forge and the rest of X-Factor departed for good. He is anxious to know what’s on it. Smith is keen to ensure the CD is clean, and Val Cooper asks Bowser to back off. They have no idea what kind of virus Forge may have built into the CD-Rom. Bowser warns her not to lecture him. The disc is the only access he has to the late, great mutant inventor shaman. He and X-Factor aren’t going to come back from the grave to reveal their secrets to him.
Bowser wants access to Forge’s database, which he blames Val’s incompetence for now being locked behind an electrostatic dome in Fall’s Edge. Val is offended. Bowser adds that, if they decrypt the disk, they might be able to gain access to the Fall’s Edge computer system and put this entire ugly incident behind them. He asks Smith if the CD is clean. It is so far, but Smith hasn’t completed the checks. Bowser doesn’t care, and orders it loaded up. Smith refuses to take any responsibility for what happens from this point on.
On screen, the image of Forge appears, only he’s wearing traditional Native American Indian garb. He greets Bowser, and says that he assumes by now, X-Factor is presumed dead. In the past, he continues, they have sought to honor their country with service, despite being treated poorly for being mutants. Their reward has been to become ensnared in a web of lies and deceit. They no longer know what they can trust. The image on screen changes, and Forge transforms into something a little more demonic. He adds that they sought to be friends, but only become his adversary. “All that you know, all that you do - we will know.”
The computer terminal sparks, and Bowser takes a step back. Smith informs his boss that there appears to be a hidden virus buried within the CD; like nothing he’s seen before. It’s boring into their system and disseminating out to all others. Bowser’s expression turns to that of horror as he realizes the implications. Smith advises him that right now, X-Factor has complete access to all government systems; everything, including NSA, FBI, CIA and SAC has been compromised. Bowser turns to Val Cooper. “But X-Factor is dead. Isn’t that right, Cooper? They are dead!” Val simply replies that he would have thought that, wouldn’t he?
(Fall’s Edge, Virginia)
The members of X-Factor are aboard their craft and heading at speed through a tunnel, away from Fall’s Edge, piloted by Shard. Mystique asks if they took the bait. Forge is pleased to say that they did. He’s using this window of opportunity that Bowser has given them to ensure that they’ll be able to come and go as they please, without having to worry about the government’s spying eyes. They are now officially invisible to all government spy satellites. He asks Polaris, Wildchild and Sabretooth to buckle in tight. The next part of the ride is going to get a little rough.
The craft rockets away from the base, and Sabretooth asks what they do now. Their first task is to recover the kidnapped acquaintance of Mystique’s… Trevor Chase. Mystique appreciates the help. Kyle is surprised to discover that the ice queen has a heart after all, and asks who this Trevor is who’s melted her chilly flesh. Mystique quickly transforms into a large green creature and swats Kyle away. She wants to teach him some manners, but Forge soon puts a stop to the fight.
Sabretooth hurls Kyle away from Shard, and only Polaris’s quick reaction saves him from crashing into the control panel, saving them from possible disaster. Polaris explains that they could have been sent flying straight to Earth at over five hundred miles an hour. Forge puts his head in his hands. “Is it too late to get Guido and Jamie back? he utters to himself in desperation. They had such a calming influence on them.
(Federal Hospital for very special patients)
Guido is out of his coma, but as one of the government agents at his bedside remarks, his heart may not be up to supporting the bulk. They monitor his vitals as Guido begins to ask questions about how long he’s been asleep. He remembers having a vision about saving the world from an armada of attacking aliens, but then things get a little fuzzy.
He could have sworn he saw his buddy Jamie in the room, earlier, fighting an evil twin of Alex Summers. But, Jamie’s dead isn’t he? and Alex is a good guy; one of the best? Must have been a dream, he surmises. He tries to get the docs attention, but everyone is pitching in trying to stabilize him. With no response from the docs, Guido’s patience wears thin, and he grabs the doc with his massive fist and demands answers. He wants to talk to somebody from X-Factor; now!
Bowser arrives back at his spacious home, only to find the door open for him. It’s Jasmine, his voluptuous wife, wearing only a coat and her underwear. He wonders what she’s doing up so late. “Can’t a woman wait for her husband?” she asks. Bowser smiles and takes her hands in his. He replies, “It’s just that this morning, after we fought about your mother, I thought…” Jasmine tells him, “No more thinking, come in, and let’s talk.” As she speaks, her hands transform into large green spiky talons, and Jasmine morphs into a large slavering creature. It’s Mystique, and she wants to know where Trevor is. Bowser doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but Mystique wishes to make him talk.
Forge interjects, and warns her that, if she continues this, they walk. Bowser is amazed that to discover who it is, having believed they had died. He turns and runs, only to find his face crash into the muscular chest of Sabretooth. He tells them he’ll kill them if they’ve harmed Jasmine. Mystique asks him to relax. His wife is fine and sleeping peacefully.
Bowser removes a gun from its holster, and Mystique asks him politely to put it away. If he gives them the answers they require, they’ll disappear from his life. He aims the gun at her, calling them a bunch of deceitful mutant traitors. Polaris whips the gun from his hand with her magnetic powers, leaving him helpless. Bowser collapses, knowing that resistance is futile. He breaks down, and says he doesn’t care what mutant tortures they heap upon him. He will not betray his nation.
Suddenly, Shard phases through the wall and puts her arms around his chest. She asks him to relax, but he does quite the opposite. Shard tells him that no one is asking him to turn traitor. In the alternate future she comes from, being a traitor is the worst thing you could imagine. She tells him to relax, and take a seat.
Bowser lands in a comfortable chair, and Kyle clambers all over it, and says that, between them, he should get Shard to explain that whole photon-based life form of an alternate future thing. “It’s confusing, but cool.” Seeing Bowser’s anxious expression, Kyle informs Forge that he’s ready to talk.
Forge pulls up another chair, and the whole team give Bowser the evil eyes as Forge begins proceedings, by informing him that rumors of their deaths were greatly exaggerated. This is going to be a long night.
Strong Guy is annoyed that no one will listen to him. All he wants is to speak with X-Factor. Agent Jennings almost tells him about their demise, but the doc reminds him that Guido isn’t to be agitated in any way. They don’t know if his heart can take it. Guido gets the feeling that the doc is keeping something from him, and throws him into one of Jennings’s troopers. Guido then confronts Jennings, and demands to see X-Factor. Jennings replies that it’s impossible and, besides, he’s placing Guido under arrest. Before he can react to the statement, a brave nurse leaps onto him and plunges a scary-looking syringe into his neck, sedating him.
(at that moment)
Mystique has taken seconds to become so agitated and impatient, that she’s morphed into another monster and is only restrained from attacking Bowser by Polaris, Kyle and Shard. Kyle asks Sabretooth if he’d mind lending a hand, but he grins, and says that the last time he got close to her in this kind of mood, it led to Graydon being born nine months later. Besides, he adds, guys like him don’t understand talk. He wants to cut loose and have some fun.
Sabretooth sticks his ugly face inches away from Bowser’s, and asks them to give him five seconds with him. He’ll spill his guts… one way or another. Forge orders him to back off, or he’ll find himself in restraints. Forge tells Bower that, as he can see, tensions are running a little high amongst their group. He guesses that comes from being dead and all. Bowser is now sweating, and swears he doesn’t know anything about the missing kid. He mentions that, if they walk away now, he’ll make things easy for them.
Suddenly, a voice can be heard from somewhere in the house. “Raven… help me… please.” It’s Trevor’s voice, and Mystique drops back into her Raven Darkholme identity before rushing off to find him. She warns Bowser that, if he’s hurt Trevor, she swears that whatever Sabretooth had in mind for him will seem like an act of kindness compared to what she’ll do to him. She kicks in a wooden door, and discovers Trevor behind it, tied up with rope. He warns her to leave and forget about him. “They said you’re next! They said!
Bowser swears to Forge that, although he knows the boy, he doesn’t know how he came to be in his house. He wants protection from Mystique. Kyle is getting some strange scents, and Sabretooth backs him up. Something doesn’t quite right here. As Trevor tries to drag Mystique from the house, she asks who it is that’s coming for her. Trevor points to the ceiling, and everyone sees a gaping hole with monstrous forms peering down at them. They are the creatures that dwell in every child’s nightmares; imagined horrors made real.
They attack X-Factor, as the words, “You’re next,” are repeated. Long black tendrils lash out at the team, forcing them to take evasive action. Polaris tries to contain them within a magnetic field, but catching them is like trying to fight ghosts. Bowser makes a run for it, but he is seen by one of the creatures who wraps him up within its tendrils. He screams for help but, despite Polaris’s efforts, Bowser vanishes along with the monsters.
The team can relax a little. Trevor tells Mystique that Bowser was a bad man, and deserved to be taken away. Mystique, still in her Raven Darkholme form, kneels down and says that her name is Raven. Trevor replies that he knows who she is. They told him. She transforms into her real form, and asks if he isn’t afraid of her. No, he replies, she’s his friend. Mystique hugs him tenderly, as Trevor adds that she’s always been his friend as Raven Darkholme. In his mind, Bowser can be seen held captive by the monsters. One of the monsters says, “You’re next!”