Jamie Madrox feels like he is having an out of body experience, looking at something that he can’t even begin to understand. Clad in a tuxedo, he finds himself in a hotel room, staring at the mauled corpses of another Jamie Madrox and his new wife, Layla Madrox. While the other Madrox is lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood, Layla lies on the bed, her mid-section opened and her dress in tatters.
Madrox takes this all in, trying to make sense of it. It’s their wedding night. Their wedding night in the future. He then thinks about what the now-deceased Madrox said before he died… that Rahne was responsible for this slaughter. That only he could stop her. What is he doing there? For that matter, if that’s Madrox… then who the hell is he?
At that moment, the door to the room opens and in enters a waiter with room service. A bottle of champagne, the oblivious man announces, courtesy of the management for the happy… The waiter stops in mid-sentence and drops the ice bucket, spilling the ice and shattering the bottle. The sound of the crash and the horrified gasp from the man snaps Madrox from his paralysis and he immediately accosts the man, demanding to know if he saw anyone leave just now. A woman with short red hair? Or a walking wolf which, of course, he probably didn’t or he wouldn’t have just strolled in there like nothing’s wrong.
When the man does not respond, shocked into obvious paralysis, Madrox guesses to himself that he’s going to be useless for questioning, at least for now. Ordering the man to call 9-1-1, Madrox leaps out the open door and prays for any clues as to where Rahne might have fled. Immediately, he spies a trail of blood splotches culminating in a bloodied claw-like handprint on the crash bar of the exit door.
Bursting through the door, Madrox spies more droplets of blood on the stairs, now from human feet and on the railing from human hands. She couldn’t have left a more obvious trail, Madrox thinks to himself, which means she didn’t care if someone followed her or not. As he races down the stairwell, Madrox notes to himself that he’s operating completely on instinct. He doesn’t know what he’s doing there or how he got there. Last thing he remembers was a whomping huge blade sticking out of his own chest and his own voice snarling in his ear. And now, he’s here, wherever “here” is.
Erupting through another exit door, Madrox finds himself in a hotel lobby. For a moment, he stands motionless, taking it all in. Slowly, he realizes that he knows the place. It’s the Wallingford. He handled a case for the manager once. Purely routine divorce thing, but the guy swore if he ever needed to use the facility… Suddenly, Madrox notes something coming from the bar. He could swear he heard…
Making his way there, Madrox finds Rahne sitting at the bar, clad in a dress chatting with a similarly attired Theresa and a tuxedo-clad Rictor. Laughing, Rahne asks if they saw how hammered Val Cooper got at the reception, to which Theresa hopes that she had a ride home. Gesturing to the glass in Theresa’s hand, Rictor asks if that’s tonic water. She’s a wee bit old to have a baby sitter, Theresa replies. Doesn’t he think… Suddenly, Theresa spies Madrox entering the bar and, confused at his presence, asks him not to tell her the two of them had a spat already. And what the hell did he do to his fa…
Theresa stops in mid-thought, as Madrox launches himself at Rahne, grabbing her by the neck. Ignoring the exclamations of everyone else, Madrox forces Rahne to the ground and places both hands around her neck. Through gritted teeth, he asks Rahne if she thinks she can go wolf faster then he can crush her windpipe. Because he’s betting she can’t. So if she shows so much as a follicle of fur…
From behind, a horrified Rictor asks Madrox if he’s out of his mind, to which Madrox suggests that he check out the corpses upstairs and then ask who’s out of whose mind. Hearing this, Rahne weakly repeats the word “corpses,” which Madrox confirms. Layla’s dead, and so is he. Now he gets it, Rictor rejoins. He’s some dupe who’s gone nuts! When Madrox then counters that he’s not a dupe, Rictor asks back how he would know.
Before Madrox can reply, a new voice instructs him to let go of her right now. The man’s right, a second voice adds. This ain’t no way to celebrate a weddin’. Looking up, Madrox finds Logan and Sean Cassidy looking down at him. So, Logan continues, why doesn’t he get off the lady before he does something that either of them will regret.
Stunned at the sight of the original Banshee, Madrox exclaims that he’s dead. To this, Sean rejoins that he’s wee bit over his limit, thanks to two days of partyin’ he’ll admit, but he thinks he still as some life left in him. No, Madrox counters, returning to his feet. He died! There was an airplane that exploded and…
Interrupting, Theresa tells Jamie (or dupe Jamie, or whatever he is) that this isn’t funny. First he says Layla’s dead, and Madrox is dead… Interjecting, Madrox replies that it’s true! Rahne killed them! To this, Theresa rejoins that Rahne was right there! With her! Ever since the wedding! When the undeterred Madrox emphatically suggests she check for herself, Logan takes up the offer and calls across the room for “Fleet Feet.” In a heartbeat, Quicksilver races to the scene, lamenting that he was just making serious progress with Aurora (talk about fast women). Ignoring the protestations, Logan orders him to head up to Madrox’s suite and tell them what he finds. At first, Pietro objects, noting that it’s a little voyeuristic, but Logan presses. Two moments later, a visibly horrified Pietro returns, suggesting that he’d better get up there… before the police do.
In short order, the group as arrived at the room, finding the situation just as Madrox described it. Watching from the hallway, Madrox thinks that part of him was afraid they’d be gone. That this was going to be one of those situations where one guy knows the truth but everyone else just finds everything normal, and they figure the guy’s crazy. But even though they know the truth too, maybe he is crazy. Maybe he’s gone stark-staring nuts.
Waiting next to Madrox in the hallway, Rictor asks where’d Pietro go. When Sean replies to tell the others, Madrox questions who he means, only to see the answer on his own. Walking down the hallways to them are Longshot and Shatterstar, the latter of whom is wearing an outfit reminiscent of his early X-Force costume. When Shatterstar announces that he’ll kill whoever’s responsible for this, Longshot corrects that he means they’ll kill them, doesn’t he? “Of course, brother,” Shatterstar replies. Suddenly noticing the tattoo on Madrox’s face, he asks the others why the “dupe” has an “M” on his face. When Madrox replies that he’s not a dupe, Rictor asks if he’s saying that that’s a dupe in there. To this, Madrox rejoins that he doesn’t know what he’s saying. “Join the club,” Rictor quips.
The brief lull in the conversation gives Madrox a moment to consider the meaning of Shatterstr’s use of the word “brother” in referring to Longshot. Did he mean it figuratively, like “bro,” or… Noting to himself that there’s no time to waste on this line of thought, he instead asks about Rahne, who’s on her knees and head in hands. In tears, she proclaims that it’s her fault… that he was right… Kneeling at her side, Logan disagrees, noting that he knows a bit about havin’ outta control kids. He knows that guilt-trips are her default reaction, but…
Confused even more, Madrox repeats “kids?” What are they talking about? Standing up, Logan replies that the Madrox who died here… whether he was the original or dupe or whatever… he thought it was Rahne who killed ‘m. But it wasn’t. The scent’s unmistakable, though. Interjecting through her tears, Rahne replies that it was her daughter. It was Vanora. The… the demon spawn that she had with Hrim Hari… She can morph into any wolfen form, including her own. They all thought she was dead. That’s why Jamie mistook her…
Rubbing his finger through his hair, Madrox states “a son, not a daughter.” When Rahne then states that she knows what the gender of her own child is, Madrox asks if she didn’t reject her when she was born. Of course not! Rahne rejoins. She took her t’Asgard… raised her there… but she grew so fast, and… and she was filled with hate… and… But he knows all this! No, he doesn’t, Madrox defends. This isn’t his world. He’s on some sort of parallel world. Similar to his, but…
Interrupting, Logan announces police sirens. They better scatter. When Madrox asks why, since they’ve not done anything wrong, Logan replies that they’re mutants. They don’t need any excuse beyond that. Within moments, the entire group is racing down the stairwell. Leading the group, Logan announces they’re going back to the mansion to get everything sorted out. When Theresa asks about the bodies, Logan replies that they ain’t gonna abandon them. ‘Sides, they don’t need to explain what really happened. Like it or not, Vanora’s one of them. Cops can’t deal with her. It’s their business. Family business.
As they race through the lobby, Logan begins to ask Madrox a question, only to realize that he’s disappeared. However, he has no time to wonder for long, as their exit is cut off by a squad of heavily armed police, clad in riot-gear. Speaking with a megaphone, the squad leader orders everyone to stay right where they are. The entire hotel is to be considered a crime scene! Everyone stays put!
Enraged, Shatterstar yells that they true killer makes good her escape and they have to stand there suffering orders from the likes of them! One side idiots! With that, Shatterstar races forward, armed with two twin-bladed sword, even as Longshot calls on him to wait. As the squad leader orders the approaching Shatterstar stop where he is or they’ll fire, Logan proclaims that he hates that guy, a sentiment to which Rictor agrees. With that, Logan pops his adamantium claws and guesses aloud that they’re about to piss off police chief Parker again.
Meanwhile, in an alley beside the hotel, Madrox crouches behind a dumpster as armed police in riot gear race by, having been called back to the lobby as back-up. Although he can guess what that’s all about, Madrox notes to himself as he emerges from his hiding place and races the opposite direction down the alley, it’s none of his business. This isn’t his world and those aren’t his friends. He needs to get back to… To what? To where? He knows about the whole multiverse concept. Infinite worlds, infinite variety of circumstances on them. But how did he get pulled into this one? Maybe Reed Richards would be able to help out. Or maybe… Maybe Forge is still alive. Hell, even Doctor Strange might…
Pausing for a moment, Madrox realizes that he hears a growl… and that’s not good. A moment later, a lupine female, completely covered in white fur, launches herself from the shadows. “I killed you! I know I did!” Vanora yells with bared teeth. “and what’s with that stupid M on your face?!” More than a little taken back by the new threat, Madrox replies that if she kills him, she won’t get to find out, to which Vanora replies that she’s not that interested.
So threatened, Madrox deliberately backs into a brick wall, generating a dupe. Heartened that his powers still work there, he punches the wall repeatedly, creating four more dupes. With the odds now evened, Madrox asks Vanora if she wants to give him some idea of why she killed them. When Vanora acts confused at this, Madrox asks if she’s denying it now. Of course not, she rejoins. She just doesn’t understand why he’s asking. Layla told her it’s what he wanted.
Stunned, Madrox replies that that’s… insane. She… She’d never… Not in any world. Undeterred, Vanora replies that she asked her. She begged her. She said that’s how the story ends. It’s rare, Vanora then offers, that you see that much dedication to one’s art. Anyway… time to finish the deal!
With that, Vanora launches herself at Madrox. However, just before she can lay a claw on Madrox, one of his dupes fires an energy blast at her, knocking her away. Stunned, Madrox asks the dupe where that came from. Confused, the dupe asks his progenitor what he means. Each of them has a different power. Doesn’t he know anything? Almost in demonstration, two more dupes demonstrate their abilities, as one transforms into a rock-like body while another bursts into flames and takes into the air like the Human Torch.
As the dupes and Vanora begin their battle, Madrox runs away, silently noting the complete insanity of the whole situation. He someone got channeled into this asylum when another Madrox Prime died at the exact same moment that he did. It’s the only explanation, and even that one doesn’t make much sense. But how can he get out of it? How can he…?
Suddenly, Madrox stops, both in mid-thought and mid-step, as he spies Damien Tryp the Elder standing on the sidewalk in front of him. “Oh. Hello.” Tryp says to Madrox nonchalantly.
Unfortunately, Madrox doesn’t even have time for a scream, as a car barrels into him. Though a host of dupe are sent flying, Madrox himself is pinned to a wall by the car. Fortunately for him, he doesn’t even feel the pain, as she’s crushed between the front of the car and the building, most likely due to his brain shutting down. He has just enough of his senses left to see Val Cooper (without a scratch on her of course) and to smell the alcohol coming off her in waves… to hear her slurring his name into something that sounds like “Mad Ducks.” And then… he’s gone.
Jamie Madrox sits up with a start, clutching his chest. No longer crushed between car and brick wall, he’s likewise out of his tuxedo, once again wearing his trademark shirt and brown overcoat. Just as he’s beginning to accept the fact that he’s alive, Madrox sees another Madrox nearby who’s clearly not. The other Madrox is badly burned, what little remains of his skin smoldering. Struggling to his feet, Madrox takes in the ruins of the city around him, filled with the shelled remains of buildings and littered with the corpses of its inhabitants.
“Well, crap,” Madrox thinks to himself. “This isn’t good.”