Raven Darkholme opens a bedroom door, and finds young Trevor Chase engrossed in a video game. Beside her are Trevor’s parents, Cole and Justine. Although Trevor has discovered that she is much more than his parents believe her to be, he is content to keep her secret safe. Mystique is pleased to have found Trevor safe and sound, but feels that this is the kind of life she could never give herself. This is a family with a home, but it’s not her family, and it’s not her home.
The Coles ask Raven to stay the night, grateful for her services and friendship. She asks them to get some sleep. She’ll keep Trevor company before she heads out. Justine tells her that her mother was right about her. She always said that she’d be the best friend their family could ever have. They depart, and Trevor cuts off from his game, saying she can drop the guise. It startles Mystique to hear her name come from his lips. She asks how he figured out her secret. He replies that he’s a kid, but he’s not stupid.
He asks her to tell him a story; about her and his grandmother. Mystique replies that she was a very special person, and it’s a shame he never got to know her. But, she can’t talk about her - not tonight. It’s too painful. He asks in that case to hear about her X-Factor buddies who helped rescue him from the clutches of Bowser. Mystique again doesn’t want to talk about them, assuring Trevor that it’s for his own good. His grandmother would have wanted it that way.
Trevor looks up at her and, in a roundabout way, asks if they’re the reason she can’t spend more time with him. Mystique answers him truthfully. She tells him that there are things about her, about her life, which he’ll never know. It’s better that way. She must leave now and asks him not to stay up too late. Trevor stares at the television screen. Those ‘X-Factor creeps’ are no friends of his. He and Mystique would be better off if they were gone. He clicks a button, and the console loads up a new game: X-Factor Exploits.
X-Factor is believed dead by most of those who care, but specifically by the government agency which sought to turn them into mutant hunters. They faked their own deaths and decided to keep out of sight, but this isn’t as simple as they thought. Daily training exercises barely manage to take the edge off of the tensions, which run high.
Forge wonders if things would be simpler if Sabretooth were no longer amongst their number. He wonders why he doesn’t just lock him up somewhere and conveniently lose the key. The same concerns about Mystique somehow do not apply. However, his thoughts on the subject are put on hold, as an emergency transmission begins coming through on a quadruple secured hard line.
The call is from Dr. Valerie Cooper, and Forge asks what the word is on Guido. As X-Factor continues training, Val informs him that his suspicions were correct. Now that he’s out of his coma, the government is arranging to place him in hiding. He’s already sedated and they’re preparing to move him to a high security facility. She’s not going to allow that to happen, but there is one complication. She’s been tracking Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, like Forge asked. He’s making his move on Guido, and she’s afraid the situation could get messy.
Forge readies his team, but knows that Jamie’s attempts to free him might have adverse effects on Guido’s heart condition. Wildchild’s thoughts at the present are more focused on the giant robotic hand that their training room sicced on him, and he asks for some help getting out of the thing.
Sabretooth is eager to hunt down some more mutants, and is willing to take Jamie down hard. Forge reminds him that both Jamie Madrox and Guido Carosella are friends of X-Factor, and if all goes well, they’ll be teammates once more. Creed will do nothing without implicit instructions. He warns him not to move unless either he or Polaris tells him to. Creed places his arm around Lorna’s shoulder, and replies that he’ll stick close to her as they go way back. He brings up the ‘Malice’ incident, causing Lorna to hurl him away with her magnetic force. She warns Creed not to push it. If he messes around with Guido or Jamie, she’ll send an electromagnetic burst straight to his brain, and it’ll be him who’s hooked up to life support for a year. Creed picks himself up. “I still love you, babe.”
(Federal Hospital for very special patients)
The darkness of night hides a multitude of misdeeds, one of which is occurring right now. A pizza truck is parked outside the hospital, and Guido Carosella is being loaded into the back of it by two government agents who aren’t entirely happy with this detail. The truck sets off through the streets, watched from a phone booth by one of the Jamie Madrox dupes. Several of them are coordinating the mission.
A few minutes later, the truck’s driver finds their progress blocked. Someone is lying in the street. One of the agents says he’ll turn the truck around whilst his partner radios for an ambulance. One of the Jamie’s shines a torch on the truck, and says that won’t be necessary. One of the agents readies his weapon, preparing for trouble. Jamie tells them that all they want is to hijack their cargo; “Pizza’s isn’t it?” The agents step out of the truck and Jamie puts his hands in the air. As they inform him that he’s stopped the wrong truck, several more Jamie’s appear, confusing the agents. “You mean this isn’t the poorly disguised truck that is carrying the mutant known worldwide as Strong Guy?” he asks.
As the startled agents look on, one of the Jamie’s climbs onto the truck’s roof, puts his hands in the air and surrenders. This is a distraction to keep the agents off balance. Within a few seconds, the decision has been made. With so many dupes, there is only one direction to go in. “Monkey Pile!”
Soon, X-Factor arrives at the scene and finds someone has beaten them to it. The two agents are bound, with one of them sporting a sign reading ‘Our Pizza Stinks.’ Wildchild has a scent, but Forge has already deduced the person responsible. Unfortunately, Forge informs them that Madrox has no idea how weak Guido’s heart is. If he causes him any exertion, Strong Guy could die. He wonders where Mystique is. She was supposed to have met them there.
Trevor Chase is sat in front of a television screen. To him, this is nothing but a game. He begins Level 4 of his game, which is called Government Intercept. It’s his favorite part. He is angry that Mystique has left him to join up with her friends in X-Factor.
Elsewhere at a government listening post, Bowser is with one of his troops, and has lost contact with the agents covering Guido Carosella. He scrambles a team to find him, but asks the trooper himself to hold off for now. Bastion doesn’t want them losing track of any of them. It’s too early to use him, and this Strong Guy isn’t worth it. He gives the order to bring back Guido and whoever has taken him dead or alive. He thinks his field agents can handle that. As the team is scrambled, Trevor says to himself that he’ll win this game yet. Government intercept is his favorite part. “She’ll see.”
A short time later, the multiple Jamie’s are heading through town in the pizza van when they brake hard for a cat, wandering across the road. They get a flat tire, and step out to take a look. One of them has a bad feeling about this, and turns to see lights in the sky. They’re in trouble.
A short distance away, X-Factor converses with each other using a com-link. Shard informs Wildchild that she has the distinct feeling that they are been looked for. Kyle is hiding behind a car bathed in searchlights, and knows what she means. Every sense in his body is screaming at him to run and, yet, he doesn’t know what good they’re going to do Strong Guy if they’re stuck hiding in the shadows.
Forge is now with Mystique, who notes that the team is on edge. Despite their training and experience, they’re just a bunch of frightened kids. Forge asks what she would have him do. Let them go their separate ways? Mystique thinks it might be best for them all. Forge isn’t so sure. Besides, this is the second time this week that he’s heard Mystique putting the concern of others over her own private agenda. He admits he didn’t really expect her to show up tonight, and thought they’d have to hunt her down again.
Mystique looks him in the eyes, and replies that sometimes she gets tired of running. Forge tries to respond, but he gazes back and there’s a definite connection between them. Their lips move closer but, at the last moment, Forge turns and asks where the heck Sabretooth is.
Sabretooth is in his most animalistic mode, and growls as he squats on a rooftop. He finds all this ridiculous. They spend all the time and effort faking their deaths and going underground, and now, because some former corpse wakes up, they risk blowing it all! He tells them that if they really want to get caught, then they should do it right. They should take the fight to the government boys.
Forge asks Kyle to take care of Creed before he blows their cover. He leaps up the building, rebounding off every nook and cranny until he reaches Sabretooth. However, he acknowledges that Creed has a point. It seems like it would have been a good idea to leave Sabretooth at home, and have rescued Strong Guy a little more stealthily.
As he reaches the rooftop, he kicks Sabretooth. It shuts him up, but Creed warns Kyle that, someday, his restraining collar isn’t going to be on, or it’s going to get a glitch. Then, they’re going to go at it. Kyle smiles, and replies that he looks forward to it. But, for now, they should go save a life. “Might be something totally new for you… like… say… dental hygiene?”
The pizza truck is parked, and several Jamie’s carry Strong Guy out of the back. Suddenly, Guido stands up, looking in pretty good shape. He asks if it’s really Jamie; not a clone or doppelganger or some other silly thing. Jamie grins, and they have a group hug. As they embrace, the lights shine down from above and Jamie reckons their reunion is going to have to be cut short. Guido wonders what’s going on. He’s been out of the loop for some time now. Jamie apologizes, but says he thought he could help them both get a new start on life without any government interference. Guido asks what he’s talking about. They work for the government! Forge’ll clear this up for them.
Jamie informs him that things have changed; things neither of them would have thought possible. Havok is now on the other side of the fence - a regular mutant terrorist. Guido can’t believe it. Jamie adds that maybe worse has happened to X-Factor. Sabretooth is now part of the team, along with Mystique. It’s not the X-Factor they knew; not the world they knew. As government troops close in on them, all armed, Guido realizes they aren’t going to listen to them. He decides to go on the offensive. He smashes his huge fists into the ground, which creates a shockwave, toppling the troops. He and Jamie then sprint away but, as they head down the street, Jamie turns and sees Guido clutching his chest, kneeling in pain. “Jamie…? I don’t feel so good. What’s wrong?” The troops quickly catch up, and are about to arrest them both.
Jamie holds his friend, praying his heart won’t give out again. Fight it, he tells him. Guido is, but Jamie asks the troops to call a doctor. He looks into their eyes, and realizes they aren’t there to take them in. They’re going to kill them. He thinks that maybe Havok was right all along. Maybe there’s only one way to deal with the problems between mutants and humans. Maybe he just can’t go on thinking life is a great big joke. He guesses he figured that out a little too late. “Okay… just do it.”
Strangely, the troops don’t shoot. One of them informs his boss that the trigger on his gun just froze. His boss is having the same problem, and his mind is also feeling a little fuzzy. Before his thoughts can be completed, the entire squadron is engulfed in the magnetic field, which slows down the flow of iron to their brains. In moments, they fall unconscious, thanks to the magnetic mastery of Polaris. Jamie is pleased to see them, but is more concerned with Guido’s welfare.
With the electrostatic bubble protecting everything inside the compound, X-Factor has returned there to help Guido. Guido wonders what happened, telling Forge that one minute Polaris is disarming those Joes, and they appear out of thin air. Now Jamie is gone. Forge says that Jamie wouldn’t come back with them. He’s pretty broken up, feeling responsible for almost causing Guido’s death. But, they’ll find him. Right now, though, he needs to focus on getting Guido better. It was a close one this time. His heart is still too weak to handle the strain caused by his muscular body. Guido tells him that’s the story of his life.
He asks Forge what he’s hooked up to. It looks like something Iron Man would wear. Is it going to make him better? Forge informs him that it’s nothing more than a high-powered pacemaker. However, he’s been working on a device since his heart gave out. He thinks he’s come up with the perfect answer. It’s a device that, when implanted into his heart, will transmit kinetic energy directly to his heart muscles, This will act in conjunction with his body’s own mutant power to absorb and store kinetic energy. This should build his chest in proportion to the rest of his body. He even has an old friend willing to carry out the surgery; if he’s interested. Guido agrees, but first wants to know about the stories Jamie told him, about Havok, Sabretooth and X-Factor. “Tell me he was kidding, please?” Forge wishes that he could.
(The Chase household)
Whilst Guido is recovering, Mystique is visiting Trevor. His parents are out for the afternoon and she is standing in his room, holding a hot drink in her true form - no longer pretending to be Raven Darkholme. X-Factor’s mission hasn’t ended as Trevor had wished, and he takes his frustrations out by destroying his video game screen. Mystique asks what happened. Trevor replies that it was an accident. Nothing ever works out the way he wants it to. She tells him that he said he wanted to see more of her and there she is. That’s two days in a row. She hugs him, and he reciprocates the gesture.
Mystique tells him that she knows things have been tough, but he can trust her when she says that things are going to get better. She can’t tell him where she’s been, or what X-Factor has been doing, but he must try and understand that you can’t always get what you want. Trevor replies that he doesn’t know about that. Sometimes he can. Besides, he adds; he’s seen enough for today.