Terry Roland races down the hallway of a dilapidated mansion, terrified out of his mind. Suddenly, he finds the source of his terror no longer behind him but at his side, as it comes crashing through the wall. Still, the agile youth manages to evade the scythe-like sword-wielding agent. Resolutely, Terry’s pursuer follows, mocking Terry’s feeble pleas for him to “get away.” A moment later, when he finds his way blocked by a wall, Terry pleads to his impediment that it wasn’t a dead end before. It is now, Terry’s pursuer mocks, and now is all that matters. Smile, he tells the kid. This is his big moment. The one that kicks them from “PG-13” to hard “R.” The question is: do they cut away before they cut away?
With that, the sword-wielding man raises his weapon and suggests that they find out together. However, before the blade finds its mark, something catches the man’s attention. Ah, he notes aloud. They have visitors. Right on time. With that, the man sheathes the weapon in a scabbard strapped to his back. Relax, kid, he tells the Terry. Take “five” and smoke ‘em if he’s got ‘em… although not on screen. There’s rules now.
No longer filled with terror, Terry furrows his brow at his would-be murderer. His dad’s going to kill him, Terry informs him. ‘Cause that’s what he does. He kills people. In mocking response, the man wishes Terry good luck with that. As he then departs, the man narrates his departure, as if he were in a movie. “Pull back and dissolve to… exterior of the abandoned movie studio. Night. Establishing shot of our heroes, gathering for the assault.”
Meanwhile, just outside the exterior of an abandoned movie studio, the heroes of X-Factor stand in the night air discuss their location. Speaking to the Hangman, Madrox tells him he doesn’t get this. If he knows that this “Bloodbath” guy is holed up there with his kid, why hasn’t he done something to bust him out? He was told by Bloodbath, Hangman replies, that if he set foot in the place Terry dies instantly. Hearing this, Rahne asks what’s to stop him from killing the boy if they bust in. Replying technically nothing, Hangman elaborates that he won’t. He knows how Bloodbath thinks and it’s pretty twisted. He fancies himself a man of his word. He didn’t say “if anyone sets foot there, I’ll kill the boy.” Just him. He won’t change the rules in mid-game. When Madrox then points out that Bloodbath also said he wouldn’t kill his wife, Hangman replies, “well… fingers crossed.”
Chiming in, Rictor asks Hangman if he’s telling them Bloodbath’s kind of a freelance demon, right? As contrasted to other demons, Shatterstar quips, who are employed full-time. Angered by the jesting, Hangman rejoins that this isn’t a joke and they don’t know jack. They have no idea what happens beyond the edge of their understanding. It’s like he told them. Bloodbath found him after he broke out of Hell. He insisted he reap souls for him. Five hundred, already slated for damnation. He told him he wasn’t the boss of him. So, Bloodbath grabbed his son. The one Sally hid from him.
Chiming in, Banshee notes that she still doesn’t understand. Hangman kills people and sends their souls to Hell. What does Bloodbath get out of it? “A commission,” Layla answers. Souls have an energy called “puissance.” It’s unique to them. It can be converted into malleable energy if you know how to siphon it. Bloodbath apparently does. That’s how he reanimated Sally’s corpse and inhabited it.
Having heard enough, Guido announces “yakety-yakety” and asks if they are X-Factor or X-Position. He’s missing a Mets game fer this. They go in, nail the bad guy and they’re done. So why sweat the small stuff? With that, Guido breaks the padlock on the front page and then smashes the gate itself open. When Shatterstar compliments that there’s something to be said for the direct approach, Guido replies that he’s glad he approves. As the group walks through the open gate, Monet asks if anyone else thinks it is a trap. Oh yes, Banshee replies. Obviously, Shatterstar answers. Bring it on, Rictor proclaims.
Hanging back with the Hangman, Longshot asks if he had anything to do with David Carradine’s death. Oh, hell no, Hangman replies. He loved him in “Kill Bill.” From far off, Madrox yells for Longshot, who replies that he’s coming.
As they walk along the studio lot between buildings, Madrox recalls the legendary Imperial Studios. Originally a cover for the Sub-Mariner, who named it for himself, subsequent ownership realized that a studio called “S.M” had unfortunate connotations. Hence, “Imperial.” It was moderately successful until a suspicious fire torched half the place. Now it’s deserted while the insurance companies wrangle over it. A perfect place for some kind of psycho demon and his prisoner.
Reaching a crossroads, Layla tells Madrox to let her guess: they split up again. Right, an airborne Monet replies. Because the last time they did that, it worked out so well that Madrox nearly got strangled. Nevertheless, Madrox replies, Bloodbath could be anywhere and this place is huge. He’s thinking splitting up is…
Interrupting, Monet asks why doesn’t “Miss Knows Stuff” tell them where they are and save them some running off in different directions. Glancing up toward Monet, Layla explains that this is one of those times. Asked what that means, Layla elaborates that it’s a junction point. Things could go several ways. What she knows isn’t necessarily what happens. To this, Monet rejoins that Layla’s still not big on clarity, is she?
Monet’s right, Madrox announces, to which Monet replies of course. She’s speaking. Ignoring her, Madrox asks Layla at least to give them a starting point. If they start out, do they find this guy? This Bloodbath. “No,” Layla replies. When Madrox repeats the word, Layla explains. “He finds us.”
At that moment, Bloodbath appears in the midst of the team, erupting in flaming energy which forces everyone backwards, off their feet. “You ruined the surprise, Bloodbath chortles. Turning to Layla, who has erected a forcefield, Bloodbath tells her he should’ve known if anyone would, it’d be her, acolyte. He warned her to stay out of his business. Now look where they are. With that, Bloodbath reaches through Layla’s forcefield and grabs her by the throat. Asked by her how he keeps doing that, Bloodbath replies that she knows stuff. Tell him.
Under the grip of Bloodbath, Layla crackled with energy and pain. Reveling in the action, Bloodbath tells her she knows she wants it. As the forcefield collapses around the two, Shatterstar leaps into action, his two sets of twin blades extended. Before he can reach the two, Bloodbath tosses Layla away like a ragdoll and produces his scythe-like sword from its hiding place. Addressing Shatterstar, Bloodbath mocks that another genetic junkpile wants another go. As the two then begin to trade blows, Bloodbath compliments his opponent with cinematic descriptions. Parry! Thrust! Touché! A hit! A palpapable hit! It’ll run for years!
Nearby, a lupine Wolfsbane informs Madrox that she’s got Bloodbath’s scent. Madrox replies that it’s a little late, since he’s right there. Calling him a “bampot,” Wolfsbane explains that she means she can track where he was and… And find the boy, of course, Madrox finishes. With that, he thumps himself on the head, creating a dupe and tells her to take him with her. The newly created dupe asks what a “bampot” is but Wolfsbane merely grabs him, explaining that she’ll tell him later.
Back at the fight, Bloodbath asks Shatterstar if he’s a warrior back where he comes from. Strong & fast. He’ll give him that. But not the brightest bulb. With that, he uses his scythe-sword to shatter a set of Shatterstar’s swords. Before he can press his advantage, however, Bloodbath is into a building by the forceful sonic scream of Banshee. Unphased by the impact, Bloodback laughs and proclaims “what a ride!” A moment later, Rictor follows up Banshee’s attack with his own, creating an earthquake that collapse the building around Bloodbath.
Meanwhile, back in the hallway, Terry has found a revolver on the floor and picks it up. It can’t be that easy, he says to himself. A moment later, the voice of an “a-ha!!!” causes him to panic and Terry fires the pistol at its source, hitting the Madrox dupe square in the chest. Staggered by the impact, Madrox weakly asks Terry if he remembers him. He’s Jamie Madrox. They’re there to… to rescue h… With that, the dupe drops forward, dead.
Outside, Banshee notes that Madrox seems shaken and asks what’s wrong. Before he can answer, however, she answers her own question. She’s seem the look on his face before. It’s the dupe, isn’t it? He’s dead. Yeah, Madrox replies. He felt a flash of pain… then… then nothing…
Ignoring Madrox, the rest of the team continues to inspect the ruins of the building, trying to find the remains of Bloodbath. The first sign of life, however, comes from Layla, who yells for all of them to get back. A moment later, the rubble explodes and, from its epicenter, Bloodbath emerges, his sword glowing with energy. Yeah, okay, he tells the group. Not screwing around anymore. Lights… camera… action!
Swinging his blade, Bloodbath fires rays of energy from the arc of light it produces. As the rays each strike dead center members of X-Factor, Bloodbath declares it a second act turning point! Ticking clock set into motion as the bad guy starts draining the souls of the heroes! As the “heroes” writhe, Bloodbath quips that they didn’t know what they were running into, the poor… fools? Bloodbath’s words trail as he spies Guido racing toward him, unencumbered by the rays paralyzing everyone else. Okay, Bloodbath remarks, he wasn’t expecting that.
Ya want bloodbath? Guido asks, laying a left hook across Bloodbath’s chin. Huh? Do ya? HERE’S YER BLOODBATH!!!! With that, Guido lays into Bloodbath, pounding him with blow after blow. Watching a short distance away and seeing the blood spatter from Guido’s fists, the rest of the team are all taken aback, with the exception of Shatterstar who declares it “excellent.” Finally deciding it’s enough, Guido stands up and tells the others that he told them. Nail the bad guy and they’re done.
Arriving on the scene and accompanied by Rahne, Terry sees the very much alive Madrox and asks if he’s okay. His stomach’s kind of queasy, Madrox replies, but otherwise yeah. Rahne points out that Terry was a little rattled because he, y’kno… Shot him, yeah, Madrox finishes. Don’t worry about it, he tells Terry. Everything’s fi…
Madrox’s words trail as he suddenly finds Bloodbath’s scythe-sword erupting through his chest, forced through from his back by his undead dupe. Clearly possessed by the spirit of Bloodbath, the dupe revels in his actions. Oooo! Twist ending!
Madrox’s world fades to black.
With a start, Jamie Madrox’s eyes open and he clutches his chest. Rather than a bloody hole, he finds it intact. What’s more, he is no longer wearing his brown long coat and trademark shirt. Instead, he is clad in a tuxedo and lying against the door of a hotel room. Before he can wonder why he’s still alive, Madrox spies the bloodied Layla, who is lying lifeless on the bed, her eyes vacant and open. Even more confusing, Madrox finds what seems to be one of his dupes, also clad in a tuxedo and lying in a pool of his own blood. Curiously, neither Layla nor the other Madrox have the M tattoo over their right eye. Weakly, the other Madrox warns Madrox not to let Rahne get away. It’s all… up to… him…
A moment later, Jamie Madrox finds himself the only living thing in the bloodstained room. What the hell…?