Descending from his armored troop carrier, Colonel Moran is welcomed back. As the soldier begins to update him on the status of their surveillance, Moran interrupts, announcing that they’re going in. They’re to ready flash bands, gas canisters. Mutants or no, they have to see and they have to breathe. The team to is make sure their targets do neither. Go time is in ninety seconds.
A little over a minute and a half later, two flash grenades are thrown through X-Factor’s front window. After ignition, they are followed by Moran and his men, who make their way through a wall of gas. Via the comm. system within his gas mask & helmet, Moran is asked by the faraway Bolivar Trask for a sitrep. Finding nothing but an empty HQ, Moran reports that there’s no sign of them. Undeterred, Trask orders Moran to take to the streets. They’re to use DNA detectors to go avenue to avenue, block to block… door to door, if he has to. When Moran begins to remind him about their low profile intent, Trask interrupts. Not anymore. They’re done screwing around.
Meanwhile, in South America, the team leader of the Mutant Response Division squad reports via comm. that their locators indicate mutant targets are inside the structure. So informed, the team leader is ordered to pull back his troops in preparation for air assault in two minutes. After replying with a “copy that,” the leader relays the order, telling his men that the place is going to be scorched earth damned quick! Nothing in there gets our alive!
Within the structure, Guido glances over his shoulder as he works to remove the bonds holding Ambassador St. Croix to his chair. Speaking to Baron Mordo, he asks if Mordo realizes that they’re probably gonna nuke them from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. Chiming in, the St. Croix reminds Mordo that he’s a magic user. Can he… “poof” them out of there? Glancing about, Mordo replies that it’s child’s play for one such as he… save that it will use up the last of the energy that he…
“…stole… from me…” a weak Monet haltingly interjects. As all in the room look down on her prone form, as she attempts to raise herself up, Monet calls Mordo a vampire and states that she should tear him apart… with her bare hands.
Having difficulty looking her in the eyes, Mordo asks if she thinks he’s proud of his actions. Using her like a parasite, to secure the energies needed to cure his cancer? Energies he had to expend on ministering to the wounds those savages inflicted upon him? An incredulous Monet begins to ask if she’s supposed to feel sorry for him, but one of Mordo’s men calls out from his control panel. He reports that he’s hearing activity outside. He thinks the large freak is right. They’re preparing an air strike.
Turning to Monet, who has managed to return to her feet, Mordo pleads with her to allow him to take from her what he needs to cure himself permanently, and he will get them to safety. Unconvinced, Monet rejoins that he’d just vanish and leave them there. Making a counter offer, she suggests that he get them back to New York… to X-Factor… and then he can take what he needs. Both Guido and her father begin to protest, but Monet is resolute. She tells her dad that she loves him and respects him… but she kinda needs him to shut the hell up right now.
When she turns her attention back to him, Mordo asks Monet how does he know that she’ll keep her word. For starters, she replies, she’s not evil, unlike some people. If he takes her friends and her to X-Factor safe and sound, she’s his. She swears. As green energy dances from his fingers, Mordo informs Monet that she drives a hard bargain. A moment later, amidst his rhyming chant, the energy expands into a sphere, which then transforms into a tunnel – through which the Baron, Guido, Monet and her father walk. As the portal closes behind them, Mordo’s men are a bit confused about what they are supposed to do. However, a moment later the question becomes moot, as two high incendiary bombs obliterate the ruins of the temple.
In Ireland, Theresa Cassidy once again joins the world of the conscious. As she begins to take in where she is, she becomes more and more surprised. She’s in the back of a jeep, in the front of which are Layla Miller and Shatterstar. As they both smile back at her, Layla explains that they’re buying some time so Shatterstar can get powered up and jump them out of there. When Shatterstar then greets her as “Siryn,” Theresa corrects that it’s “Banshee” now. And since when can he drive? To this, Shatterstar explains that the vehicle’s operation is rudimentary. That, combined with his warrior’s reflexes, have made this a fairly simple exercise. To this, Layla offers that he just has one or two fine points to work out. When Theresa then yells that he’s driving on the wrong side of the road (noting the ongoing traffic swerving to avoid them), Layla replies that that’s one. Plus, he’s not big on using the brakes. Countering this, Shatterstar points out that it slows them down. Seems pointless.
Suddenly, Theresa yells that there’s something up ahead. However, both Shatterstar and Layla are already grinning, the latter of which noting that he sees it. Noting the tank and barricade before them, Shatterstar guesses aloud that they want their stolen vehicle back. Ordering her to take the wheel, he unsheathes his twin blades and asks Layla if she knows where she wants to go, to which Layla offers a “yup.” As an incredulous and increasingly excited Theresa asks what they are doing, a grinning Layla tells her not to worry. They’re professionals.
Within the tank, a smiling pilot readies his targeting sensor and prepares to fire. However, a moment later, a giant, luminous “X” appears between the tank and the closing jeep. As the tank commander fires, the jeep reaches the X and is no longer there when the shell explodes on that spot a moment later.
Back in New York, a detective sergeant informs Bolivar Trask that he can’t drop a military operation in the middle of his precinct! Who do they think they are? Undeterred, Trask replies that their credentials come from the United Nations. If he has an issue, he should take it up with them. Unimpressed, the sergeant replies that the chairman of the UN ain’t there, so he’s taking it up with the commander. Growing more annoyed, Trask corrects that it’s the “secretary general” and then adds that the sergeant’s been harboring mutant freaks in his precinct so… Interrupting while waving a finger, the sergeant rejoins with a “so what?” This is New York. He should see the freaks they got driving cabs.
Far away, Bastion delivers Trask’s next words. There is no greater threat to his city’s security, sergeant. New Yorkers should be particularly sensitive to such considera… The words of Trask (and Bastion) are interrupted by Colonel Moran, who reports that they’ve got a location. When Trask asks if it’s firm, the man replies that their scouts have a definite DNA lock. Warehouse by the waterfront. Location’s been fed into his vehicle’s guidance systems. As they turn to depart, the sergeant begins to protest but is ignored by both. Informed by Moran that he’s still not sanguine about Trask’s direct participate, Trask asks if the Dread-X is invincible or not. Told that there’s every reason to believe so, Trask is satisfied. “Let’s roll.”
Walking outside as well, the sergeant is met by an officer at a squad car, who informs him that backup will be there any minute. Replying that that’s good, the sergeant asks the officer to get the mayor’s office on the horn and tell them it’s time to set those UN loons straight. No one runs over him in his… A moment later, both the sergeant and the officer look up in abject astonishment. They take the moment they have left to bolt out of the way of the gigantic treaded military vehicle which rolls over the squad car, reducing it to scrap.
As the waterfront warehouse, Longshot, Darwin, Rictor and Madrox take stock of their situation. Addressing Madrox, Rictor notes that he created this “safehouse” as a backup should something like this occur. If he anticipated this eventuality, he must have planned for what happens next. His back turned to Rictor and the others, Madrox replies that, yeah, you’d think that wouldn’t you? He also didn’t think they’d be down half the team!
When Rictor then asks what happens if the MRD tracks them there, Longshot answers, telling him not to worry. Quality, not quantity, is what’s important. When Rictor then mocks Longshot as “luck boy,” Longshot replies in the affirmative, absentmindedly tossing a playing card into a small trashcan a great distance away.
Remaining incredulous, Rictor asks Longshot why doesn’t he turn that luck of his to getting them some reinforcements. Before Longshot or anyone else can answer, a blinding green light fills the warehouse, eventually coalescing into a portal through which Guido, Monet, Monet’s father and a visibly exhausted Baron Mordo emerge. Before anyone can react, a giant, luminous “X” appears behind Madrox and through it races a jeep, carrying Layla, Shatterstar and Theresa, the latter of whom repeatedly and excitedly yells to Shatterstar that now would be a good time to break. Unfortunately, the distance is too short and the jeep crashes into a stack of crates.
Not having moved from his perch at the window, Longshot grins slightly at Rictor and asks if he has any other requests.
All three groups begin to take stock of each other. Monet’s father asks her if she’s all right, to which she replies that she’s fine. Getting stronger every second. Excitedly, Darwin races to her, asking who the unconscious, bearded man who has collapsed on the warehouse floor is. It is Guido who answers, explaining that it’s Mordo. He kidnapped Monet’s dad so that he could capture M and suck energy from her. In a moment, Darwin becomes incensed that he tried to hurt her, but Guido manages to grab him before he can reach Mordo. Stepping forward, Monet tells Darwin that she appreciates his desire to welcome her home by killing a helpless man, but she had a deal. Asked by Guido is she’s gonna stick with that, Monet rejoins that she takes her promises seriously.
Before the exchange can descend into an argument, a gigantic circular saw shatters the rood above. Much to Madrox’s wide-eyed disbelief, on the other end of the mechanical arm connected to the spinning blade is a gigantic, headless, robot-like mechanism, with multiple segmented, spider-like legs and an equal number of arms. Amidst its legs is a cadre of MRD troops, all heavily armed. Booming from its control dome, the mechanism calls X-Factor to attention, ordering them to come out immediately and spare themselves unnecessary conflict. A conflict that they will certainly lose! They have superior weapons… the superior firepower… the superior numbers…
“Oh yeah?” Madrox rejoins. “Count again!” A moment later, a host of Madrox dupes spring into action, all accompanied by the reunited X-Factor. As the dupes all work in unusual fashion – an overwhelming threat causing them to set aside their differences and personalities to act as one – so too does the team. While Banshee uses her screen to deflect any fired projectiles, Guido and Shatterstar fight back to back, taking on all comers.
Just as Madrox is beginning to admire the teamwork, he spied Layla standing still as one of the robot’s gigantic saws approaches her. Madrox sees Monet flying to her rescue, but there is not enough time. However, just as the edge of the saw is about to slice Layla in twain, a sphere of energy erupts from her outstretched gauntlet, immediately hardening into an impenetrable force field. The gigantic saw shatters against its impassable shell.
Lowering her shield, Layla calls out to Monet. Pointing to the control dome at the top of the robot, she tells her that Trask is there. If she gets in his head, he’ll take it from there. At first, Monet is not sure she understands, but Layla’s command for her just to do it springs her into action. As she darts to the dome, dodging the robot’s defensive gunfire, Monet notes that now that Layla’s grown up, she’ll feel way less guilty about kicking her ass.
Arriving at the transparent dome, Monet regards the panicked Trask within, sarcastically suggesting that it’s time they get to know each other. Not truly alone within his own mind, Trask is told by the non-present Bastion to shoot her. Not to let her… Bastion’s words trail as he himself feels the “unacceptable mutant cerebral infestation.”
Immediately, both Monet and Trask feel a release of sorts in their heads. His mind cleared, Trask addresses the whole of the MRD forces and orders all troops to stand down. Repeat, mission over. As Colonel Moran tries to make sense of the orders, Monet is likewise in confusion as she sees Trask produce a pistol and place it to his own temple. Amidst Monet’s confusion, Trask explains that he’ll be back in charge any second. HE;’s sorry. No time… God bless her. With that, the trigger is pulled and Bolivar Trask is no more.
Down below, Trooper Sylvius calls out to Colonel Moran, who continues to lead his soldiers into battle. Reminded that Trask said the mission was over, Moran replies “like Hell it is!” It’s not over until he says… it’s over…? Moran’s words trail as the entirety of the robot collapses atop him and his men, reducing itself to scrap and wreckage, while reducing them to a pulp. Emerging atop from the former battle machine from the other side, Madrox – flanked by the rest of X-Factor – tells the remaining MRD forces that they heard the man. It’s over. “You just keep telling yourself that, mutant,” one of the troops below rejoins. “Just keep telling yourself that.”
To this, Madrox replies that he sure will. No, Theresa states, taking his hand in hers. “We will. Asked “really?” Theresa replies really. He likes the sound of that, Madrox replies. He then adds to Theresa to watch the finger. It’s still a little sore. Oh, shut up, she tells him.