Hanging from the rigging of a sailing vessel, Shatterstar is ecstatic, brandishing both a wide smile and a saber. Yelling avast to the “swabs” below, he demands to know which of them has the nerve to cross steel with him. Let him step forward and be put to the test!
Among the group of spectators below, Madrox and the rest of X-Factor regard their teammate, along with all of the other spectators of the pirate ship display of the Treasure Island hotel and casino. Yelling up, Madrox tells him to come down. Guido asks Madrox if he wants him to go and get it, but Banshee responds first, noting with some sarcasm that Madrox can handle it. Nearby, Darwin opines that, in retrospect, Rictor’s showing to Shatterstar all three of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies in one shot might not have been the best idea. “Y’think?” Guido adds.
Back on the ship, Shatterstar finds himself confronted by two period-costumed actors, each holding their own sabers, as well as incorrect notions of Shatterstar’s presence. Pointing with his own sword prop, one bluntly informs Shatterstar that he’s not in the show. He bets he’s not even equity! As the other begins to suggest that they call the cops, Shatterstar leaps into action, disarming the first actor with a swipe of his saber. Then, extending his twin blades from beneath his coat sleeve, Shatterstar demands to be told who the cowering man is. Which others of them are insane enough to face…
Reality returns to Shatterstar with a “yo” from Madrox, who places his hand on Shatterstar’s shoulder. Calling him “Captain Jack,” Madrox instructs Shatterstar to put it away and to get out of there before the cops show up. Shatterstar begins to object with a “but,” only to be interrupted by Madrox, who rejoins that buts are for horses… or something like that. As they depart down the Las Vegas Strip, Guido continues his attempt to explain to Shatterstar that the sword-wielding men were actors, albeit in vain.
Suddenly struck with a notion, Madrox asks where Longshot and Layla are. His question quickly begins to devolve into an argument with Banshee, who angrily retorts when pressed that it wasn’t her job to watch them. Ignoring the two, Darwin attempts to call them on his mobile phone, but reports that neither of them are picking up. Moved from anger to resignation, Madrox rubs the bridge of his nose and laments that it’s like herding cats. Addressing the others, he tells them to spread out, as they couldn’t have gotten far. Now speaking directly to Shatterstar, he informs him that if he threatens more actors, he’s gonna shove those swords of his where the sun doesn’t shine. Unfazed, Shatterstar doubts that he could, which prompts Guido to begin to state that he’d probably like that before being told to shut up by Madrox.
As the team splits up, Madrox admits to himself that this is one of those times where he envies Scott a little. They go on a mission, Emma links them all telepathically and they operate like a precision timepiece. Scott gets a Swiss watch and he gets a cuckoo clock. Continuing his line of thought, Madrox begins to reconsider. Rahne, he points out to himself, came out of that pressure cooker as close to PTSD as he’s ever seen, and Scott let that happen. He could barely believe it when he found out she came back.
(six hours earlier)
“Rahne is back?” Madrox asks. “Where is she?” Pointing to his own room, Rictor replies that she’s in there, but then tries to pause Madrox, telling him that something happened to her. When Madrox replies that he knows, Rictor is surprised. Continuing, Madrox informs Rictor that he did some asking around on the QT after they didn’t see her on Utopia during their visit. Some sort of wetworks squad with Wolverine. Pretty brutal stuff. Visibly uncomfortable from Madrox’s reply, Rictor states that that’s not what he was referring to.
Opening the door, Madrox begins to ask what he means, only to have his sentence transform into a “holy crap.” Before the two of them, curled up on the bed, is a slumbering Rahne Sinclair, visibly apparent with child. When Rictor states the obvious that she is pregnant, Madrox quips that he figured. Either that or she’s become part python and she’s digesting a Shih-Tzu.
Turning back to him, Madrox asks whether Rictor is the father. When Rictor replies that that’s what she said, Madrox asks back if she said it exactly that way. No ambiguity. Growing irate, Rictor replies that he doesn’t know. He guesses. What, does he think she’s gonna parse words about something that important? She’s, like, seven months along! Who else would… Rictor’s words trail as a thought occurs to him. A moment later, he has Madrox pressed against the wall, demanding to know if it was him. When Madrox fails to make the connection, Rictor asks if it was one of his freakin’ dupes. Did he get her drunk and…
The forthcoming vehement denials from Madrox are short-lived, as the now awake Rahne states that, no offense to Jamie, but there’s not enough liquor in the world for her to sleep with him, dupe or no. Replying that there’s no offense taken, Madrox adds Rictor if he wants to give Rahne a hand with that sheet so that… Taking his meaning to refer to the lack of a sheet covering her underwear, Rahne pulls it up herself, noting that she’s only doing do to protect his modesty. Lately, she’s wound up runnin’ around starkers so often, she’s lost her blushes, so he doesn’t have to worry about her. She just needs some sleep, that’s all. She feels like she hasn’t slept for months, and after she’s rested, she swears she’ll pull her weight around there…
Attempting to allay her concerns, Madrox tells her not to worry about that. A thought occurring to him, Madrox asks if Scott knows she’s there? Does Logan? Visibly concerned, Rahne asks Madrox not to tell them. Please. She dropped them a note, told them she was safe. She just… she doesn’t want t’go back. Sitting on the bed, Madrox takes her hand and replies that she doesn’t have to. Accepting it in the spirit in which it’s being offered, Rahne replies that she just needs something more low-pressure…
“She’s pregnant?!” Theresa yells. Standing in the doorway, fire in her eyes, Theresa informs Madrox that, so help her, if one of his dupes… A short distance behind her, Rictor tells Theresa that he’s way ahead of her.
Very carefully, Madrox makes his way through the casino at Caesar’s Palace, trying his best not to be jostled by the moving crowds of people and accidentally create a dupe. In short order, a cheering crowd gains his attention and it occurs to Madrox that it sounds like someone’s having a run of… luck. As he makes his way to the craps table, Madrox silently tells himself that it can’t be him. However, upon arriving at the table, his hand again comes to his face and he asks himself what was he thinking? Of course it’s him. At the end of the table, accompanied by a cheering Layla, clad in a thematic Roman dress, as well as on-looking crowd, is Longshot.
Shaking his dice, Longshot asks fate for a seven or eleven, informing any who might be in charge of such things that Layla needs a new pair of shoes. When Layla confirms, specifically mentioning “Jimmy Choos,” Longshot offers a “gesundheit” and lets loose the dice.
A few moments later, elsewhere on the Strip, Theresa received a call from Madrox, informing her of his discovery. In reply to Longshot and Layla’s location, she notes that they should have seen that coming. Receiving a similar call soon thereafter as he was checking out the area around a swimming pool, Darwin replies that he thought if Longshot used his luck powers for selfish purposes, that it would backfire. Then told that Longshot is winning for Layla, Darwin admits that that would do it. Receiving his own call while scoping out a strip club, Guido asks Madrox if he’s sure it’s him. It could be a Skrull imposter or something. Mebbe he should keep, y’know, lookin’ around on his own… Receiving a no, a disappointed Guido replies “dang.”
The last to be so informed, Shatterstar leans against a bar and tells Madrox that he’ll be right over. When Madrox notes that he sounds out of breath, Shatterstar replies that he’s fine. He just had a mild workout. Hanging up, Shatterstar addresses the patrons of the bar who remain standing. Telling them he’s leaving now, he asks if, before he leaves, if anyone else has any snide comments they want to make about the star on his face. His only reply are negative comments, along with a statement by one guy that it totally works on him.
Back at Caesar’s Palace, having informed the rest of the team, Madrox finally confronts Longshot, pulling him away from the table. When asked how he could go wandering off like that, a surprised Longshot answers that it felt right. And he’s learned to trust his instincts. Growing exasperated, Madrox then notes that Longshot is wearing a bandolier with knives – how did he not get flagged by hotel security. Just lucky, he Longshot guesses.
Now turning to Layla, Madrox tells her she should know better. Ticked off at the accusation, Layla replies that she kept an eye on him. What’s the problem? Madrox begins to reply, but finally notices a casino employee dressed in the hotel’s thematic Roman dress standing nearby, holding in her hands a large tray with towering stacks of chips on it. Asked who she is, the woman replies that she’s carrying “Mr. Shot’s” winnings for him, compliments of the management.
Still annoyed, despite the prodigious winnings, Madrox returns his attention to Longshot. Holding the hammer pendant, he reminds Longshot that he was supposed to be getting a read off the amulet so they could find Pip. Replying that he knows, Longshot replies that he’s tried and has been trying, but he’s still drawing a blank. It was… unnerving, so he decided to see if his other powers were still functioning. Plus, Layla states, chiming in, she really could use a new pair of shoes.
Holding up a picture of Hela, Madrox tells Layla that, with all respect to her shoes, this is what they’re supposed to be focusing on. They’re supposed to be showing this around, trying to get a lead. Have they been doing that? Visibly defensive in his demeanor, Longshot admits that he got… distracted. All the lights, all the… This place is the closest to Mojo World he’s ever seen on this planet.
Taking charge of the discussion, Layla points out of Madrox that she was with Longshot. It was under control. Asked if it really was, Layla replies yes. And since Longshot’s luck powers seem to be in full swing, maybe Madrox should be taking advantage of that. He affects probabilities, so… Regarding her line of reasoning, Madrox asks if she means he thinks he might have a better shot of finding a lead if he’s near Madrox. Told it’s worth a try, Madrox replies “fine” and shows the picture to the casino employee, telling her that they’re looking for this woman. Does she know her? Her name’s Hela. When the woman replies that she doesn’t look familiar, Madrox begins to gloat to Layla. However, a voice asks interjects with an apology, asking if he just said “Hela.”
The source of the voice, a woman, asks Madrox is she can see the photo and, upon viewing it, immediately asks where he got it. Answering without question, Madrox tells her from his office’s security camera. They have reason to believe she’s there in Vegas. She’s taken someone prisoner and they may be partly responsible... “Totally, actually,” Layla chimes in, to which Madrox feels compelled to agree. Asked if they have called the police, Madrox replies that it’s not exactly a police matter. Anyway, they’re trying to help this guy, so if she…
Interrupting as she continues to examine the photograph, the woman tells Madrox that he’s right. It’s not a police matter and it should be theirs either. If their friend’s mixed up with her, it’d be best to stay clear. To this, Madrox rejoins to the “miss” that that’s not an option and, if she can help them finds her… Interrupting again, the woman informs Madrox that it’s not “miss.” It’s “doctor.” Doctor Jane Foster.
After Madrox then introduces himself in turn, Dr. Foster hands the photo back, telling Madrox that you don’t find Hela. She finds you. And if she does, God help you. Asked how she knows her, Dr. Foster replies that their paths have crossed. Distantly.
At this point, Longshot asks the doctor if she’s looking for Hela too. Guessing aloud that it’s more likely that she’s there for the AMA conference, Layla is told that she’s right the first time. She then adds that, if Hela’s taken up residence there, the best thing they can do is hope she doesn’t notice them. She likes people she thinks can be of use to her. Trust her, Dr. Foster tells the trio, they don’t want to be on that list. Turning to leave, Dr. Foster tells Madrox to go home. Go home and don’t look back.
Crossing his arms, Madrox mocks that that was cryptic. To this, Layla incredulously asks where she gets off. Cryptic is her thing. Totally, her thing, Madrox agrees. A short distance away, Jane calls Don Blake on her mobile phone. Answering his first question, she tells him that the conference is fine – boring in fact. However, she tells him, she thinks a situation is developing that might need him to… raise a little cane.
In short order, Madrox, Layla and Longshot are joined by Shatterstar, Guido, Darwin and Banshee, the last of whom asks if the mystery doctor is saying that they’ve got to get Hela to notice them. Actually, Madrox corrects, she said they shouldn’t but… Stopping himself in mid-sentence, Madrox asks Shatterstar what happened to him. When Shatterstar doesn’t seem to understand his meaning, Madrox explains that he looks mussed up, like he was in a fight. Shrugging, Shatterstar replies that someone made a comment about his tattoo. Asked by Madrox if he beat the guy up, Shatterstar confirms, adding the guy’s friends. A couple of bystanders.
As Shatterstar walks off, Guido leans in to Madrox’s ear, whispering that someone’s on a short fuse. To this, Madrox replies that they can’t worry about that now. They’ve got other things to… to… Madrox’s line of thought trails as his eyes land on Longshot, who is simultaneously smiling at two ladies and counting the bills into which the chips he won have been converted. Inspired with a plan, Madrox walks back to Longshot and, jovially calling him his new best friend, Madrox tells him that he wants him to go back into that casino and win. Asked “win what,” Madrox replies with a wry grin, “Everything.”
As the night goes on, Longshot does as instructed, winning at every game; Texas Hold’em, craps and even slots.
Hours later, the team takes a break to enjoy some of Longshot’s winnings. Lying on his stomach as a scantily-clad, young Asian woman massages his bare back with her bare feet, Guido declares this the “best… plan… ever…” Agreeing as she reclines on a nearby couch, Theresa states that she’s with him on this one. Got to love a high roller suite, compliments of the management. When Darwin states that Rictor and Rahne are going to kick themselves for missing out on this, Theresa counters that they needed some time alone to sort out their… issues.
Chiming in, Guido states that, if they ask him, “Starface” is the one with issues right now. He picked a fight with costumed pirates, for crying out loud. When Layla replies that she wouldn’t be concerned, he asks why not. With a smile, Layla says she thinks he’ll have enough opportunities to burn off some energy.
Back outside, Madrox and Longshot walk down the Strip, followed a short distance behind by Shatterstar. When asked by Longshot where to not, Madrox replies that he was thinking Excalibur. To this, Longshot notes that he thought they disbanded.
Before Madrox can clarify, a booming voice instructs Shatterstar, who is called a “star-faced maggot,” to step aside. Turning to the source of the voice, Shatterstar spies a cadre of men, clad in the weapons and adornments of Viking warriors. Sensing Shatterstar’s rising spirit of battle, Madrox tries to hold him back, telling him that it’s more actors. Ignoring the warning, Shatterstar unsheathes the twin blades from both sleeves, announcing that they started it… and he shall finish it! With this, Shatterstar leaps into battle.
Unimpressed by the leaping Shatterstar, the lead Viking declares aloud that he has no time for this. Pulling a gigantic war hammer from his back, the Viking slams it into Shatterstar’s torso, causing him to spit blood. This is followed up by a blow to Shatterstar’s face, causing wounds from which blood sprays into the air. Mocking his attacker, the Viking calls him a fool with toy swords. What knows he of real warriors?
A short distance ahead, Madrox has already gotten Theresa on the phone, instructing her to lock onto his GPS and get over there. Not waiting for backup, Longshot brandishes two knives and instructs the Viking to stay where he is. Not moving to attack, however, the Viking replies that their mistress has dispatched them to make certain they join their ranks. So be of good cheer, the Viking notes, as he removes his helmet to reveal his zombie-like, necrotic face. This is his luck day.