‘Let’s get one thing straight. The Mayor may have panicked and called you in because he saw your ads, Mr “Mutant Hunter”. But that don’t mean I’m clapping my hands for joy. What we got here is a situation. I’m not looking to see any…random violence’, the Sheriff says, holding up a sign that reads “Got a mutant problem? Call the X-Pert”. ‘You follow me, Random?’ the Sheriff asks the large gray-skinned mutant chomping on a cigar, standing before him. ‘Like a trail of manure’ Random retorts, before marching towards the hospital entrance.
A reporter announces that the situation is escalating rapidly at Cedar Sinai Hospital in upstate New York, explaining that the local authorities have summoned in an individual who calls himself Random, who works out of Albany, to deal with the renegade X-Patriots who have taken over the emergency ward. The reporter explains that the X-Patriots are demanding treatment for one of their number, believed to be a mutant, who was seen brutally beaten on a nationally broadcast videotape.
‘Now look, wise guy…’ the Sheriff begins, but Random exclaims ‘No, you look. If you think you boys can handle it…then y’all go right ahead. Whip those guns out and do it!’ Random exclaims, before one of the officers exclaims ‘Sheriff! Our guns!’ The Sheriff turns and the officer announces that their guns have just rusted away. ‘What?’ the Sheriff asks, before his gun begins to rust away as well. ‘WHAT?’ the Sheriff exclaims. ‘Ohhh, they’re just terrified of you, Sheriff’ Random remarks. ‘Hows-about if I take a whack at ‘em, hmmm?’ he asks, tossing his cigar to the ground, Random shifts his arm into a massive weapon, and rips past the Police-line. ‘They’re your own kind, Random! Why should we trust you?’ the Sheriff asks. ‘You arrest normal humans. “Noids” I call ‘em. Your “own kind”. Why trust you?’ Random replies, before pointing out that it takes a thief to catch a thief. ‘And it takes a mutant to catch a mutant, don’t it?’
Nearby, a jet has landed, and six very special people emerge from it - Alex “Havok” Summers, Lorna “Polaris” Dane, Guido Carosella a.k.a. Strong Guy, James Madrox the Multiple Man, Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair, and Dr Valerie Cooper. Alex tells Val that he is still not thrilled that she gave Quicksilver time off without consulting him. ‘It was my call, Havok. Live with it’ Valerie replies. Wolfsbane looks at Strong Guy and asks if Val seems a bit odd to him lately. Guido smiles and replies ‘Sure, kid. Mebbe she’s been replaced by an evil duplicate, huh?’, and tells Rahne to relax, as Val is just stressed.
At the hospital, Random blows a wall down, and enters, calling out: ‘All right, X-Patriots. You can come in peace. Or in pieces!’. He tells them it makes no difference to him, while the X-Patriot called Lukas steps forward, announcing ‘And you, intruder, won’t make any difference to us. Once I - I - it’s not possible! I’m reading your mind: I can’t draw images to shape shift into!’ he exclaims, confused. ‘Think you can read this, hotshot?’ Random asks as he raises his large weapon, while Lukas tells his teammate Pirouette to stay away. ‘Don’t worry, Lukas, I can handle him!’ Pirouette exclaims as she creates a whirlwind effect around Random. ‘Think so, windy?’ Random asks, before generating a whirlwind effect that goes in the opposite direction to hers - causing Pirouette to get tangled up, she falls to the ground.
‘Don’t fight it, kid. It’s bigger than both of us’ Random exclaims. Lukas rushes towards Random, but Random smacks him in the face. ‘Oooh, that hurt. Not me, mind you’ Random mutters, before turning his attention to Prodigal, who tells Random to come no further. Prodigal announces that they are not leaving until Taylor is out of danger. ‘You’re gonna have more danger than you know what to do with it’ Random replies, adding that Prodigal cannot use his rusting trick on him. This weapon ain’t metal. It’s all me!’ Random declares as he fires two shots, which hit the wall either side of Prodigal’s head.
‘Leave us alone!’ Pirouette exclaims as she lunges at Random. ‘All we wanted was freedom! Why was that too much to ask?’ she exclaims as she scratches Random’s back. Random yells out, and spins around, grabbing Pirouette he slams her to the ground. ‘You scratched me! That’s what I get for going easy on you, windy!’. Suddenly, ‘Jo Beth!’ Strong Guy calls out, concerned for Piroueete. ‘Oh, you blew it, cousin!’ Guido tells Random. ‘Blew it, big time!’ he shouts, before punching Random in the face, adding that he was going to give him a chance to back of quietly now that X-Factor is here. ‘Huh?’ Guido exclaims as Random’s face morphs backwards, almost splattering. ‘Oh, yuck!’ Guido exclaims.
Random falls to the ground, then trips Strong Guy up, as his face begins to re-form. ‘You don’t understand, “cuisine”. I’m the kinda guy who goes with the flow’ Random declares. ‘What are you? A shape shifter?’ Guido asks. ‘When needs be. I’m all things to all people. I’m Random. And you’re toast!’ Random exclaims. Suddenly, ‘Stop right there!’ Polaris orders. ‘Aw, now what?’ Random mutters, turning to see the rest of X-Factor behind him. ‘What do they do, ship you guys in by the con, like Godiva Chocolates?’ Random asks.
Lorna tells Havok that her magnetism is not affecting Random’s weapon, to which Havok orders Wolfsbane and Multiple Man to take Random from the left and right. ‘He’s taken, Havok!’ Wolfsbane exclaims, lunging at Random, who stares at her, and whistles - causing Rahne to drop to her knees, cover her ears and scream. ‘What did you do to her?’ Multiple Man and a dupe ask. ‘Whistled a tune only she could hear. But for you, Multiple Mange, I don’t need to get so all-fired fancy!’ Random replies as he smacks Multiple Man over. ‘Havok! I’m okay! Get him!’ Jamie calls out.
‘Yes, By all means, Havok. Get me’ Random replies. ‘Start tossing your plasma blasts around in a hospital. The patients in intensive care will love you for it!’ Random exclaims, before informing X-Factor that he is just a working stuff and doesn’t care about the X-Patriots. ‘But I’m getting two grand to gift wrap ‘em for the local brass. No way I’m walking away from a pay check -’ Random begins, before spinning around and holding his transformed arm up to Havok, telling him to take his hand out of his jacket real slow.
‘Believe it or not, Random…we’re working stiffs, too’ Alex explains. Holding up a check book, he tells Random that he thinks they can come to some accord, and writes out a check for four grand on X-Factor’s T&E account. ‘We take the X-Patriots, you take a hike’ Alex exclaims, handing Random the check. ‘Pleasure doing business with you’ Random tells Havok, adding that it is nice to know that just because they all work for the government doesn’t mean they are willing to chisel someone out of a legitimate job. Random adds that he would have settled for three thousand, to which Havok tells him he would have gone as high as five.
Strong Guy picks up Pirouette, while Multiple Man helps up Wolfsbane as Prodigal tells Havok that he questions his ethics in this matter. ‘Check-book heroism?’ he asks. ‘What was I supposed to do? Risk levelling the hospital? Hundreds of injuries or deaths, just to beat him up?’ Alex asks, pointing out that Random had a legitimate grievance, so he settled it. ‘You’re the idiot who got us into this fix in the first place!’ Alex tells Prodigal. ‘Where do you get off, running away like that? Endangering the people in this hospital!’ Alex exclaims. ‘I did what I felt necessary’ Prodigal replies. ‘Welcome to the club’ Alex mutters. Havok tells the X-Patriots that he is done pussyfooting with them. ‘Give me any more grief, your butt is grass and I’m a lawnmower. Clear?’ he declares. ‘Completely’ Prodigal replies.
Soon, ‘Prodigal, what’s happening?’ Taylor asks as they are on board X-Factor’s plane. ‘We’re going home, Taylor’ Prodigal announces, explaining that X-Factor has agreed to accompany them back to Genosha. ‘It was the best thing we could do for you. Better than running away while your condition worsened’. ‘But…but ye’re sacrificing ever’one…just fer me!’ Taylor exclaims. Prodigal replies that he doesn’t think they are, as Havok seems sincere. ‘I trust him…as much as I trust anybody’ Prodigal exclaims.
Elsewhere onboard the plane, Havok tells Valerie that he appreciates her support, especially since she fought the idea of them going to Genosha previously. ‘What can I say, Alex? People change’ Valerie replies. Wolfsbane leans over Jamie’s chair and asks him what book he is reading. ‘”Stolen Away”, it’s about the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby’ James replies. ‘Ach! Poor tyke! Have they found the wee one yet?’ Rahne asks. ‘Uh…not yet. No’ James replies. ‘Pity’ Rahne replies, before asking James if his leg is okay. ‘When he shot ye, I thought…’ Rahne begins.
Madrox tells Wolfsbane that it was not a real bullet. ‘I dunno what it was. Mostly caused surface damage’ James tells her. James adds that when one of his bodies suffers injury and then merges back with the rest, it absorbs the hurt, so there is not even a mark now. ‘Well, that’s a relief, I mean…’ Rahne begins, before leaning over the chair, and stroking Madrox’s leg, telling him that she would not want to see him hurt. ‘Ye are the closest to muh age on the team, after all, Jamie. I care about ye, ye know’ Rahne gushes. James looks anxious, and sits up, banging his head on the overhead locker, creating a couple of dupes.
‘Jamie! Ye banged yuir head! What startled ye?’ Rahne asks. ‘Uh. Nothing. Just…I gotta hit the Multiple Men’s room’ Jamie exclaims as he and his dupes rush from Rahne, he enters another part of the jet, where Lorna is resting on a sofa. ‘Uhhh…Lorna? Can I talk to you about Rahne?’ Jamie asks. ‘What’s wrong? She make a pass at you or something?’ Lorna asks, before telling Jamie to smile, as she was joking. ‘Oh, wait. Don’t tell me she really did?’ Lorna exclaims when James doesn’t answer her. ‘Ohhh boy. Here was go again’ Polaris sighs, while in the other compartment, Wolfsbane stares out the window.
‘You gotta be kidding!’ Alex exclaims. ‘Jamie, if this is another of your jokes…’ Valerie tells him. ‘Hey, you notice I don’t pull jokes on Rahne. It’d be like mugging a hairy Smurf’ Madrox replies, adding that he draws the line at lying about teammates. ‘I swear, the way she was rubbing her hand against me. I mean, I’m not Mr Experience, like Guido is…’ he remarks. ‘Dang straight’ Strong Guy exclaims, ‘…but even I could tell there was something going on’ Jamie concludes. Alex tells his teammates that he knows from persona experience that Rahne can get a bit frisky. ‘Whatever’s going on with her, it’s been happening ever since her mind and body where mucked with as a mutate’. Havok announces that perhaps they will find answers once they get to Genosha….
Meanwhile, in Genosha, President Mabawa approaches the Genoshan President, telling her that he must be returning home soon. ‘Of course, Mister President. But I couldn’t let you go…without introducing you to Doctor Sasha Ryan, our new Director of Genetics, and Doctor Moira MacTaggert, a specialist in mutations’ the Genoshan President exclaims, adding that they are both working on the mutate situation. ‘Doctors, this is President Mabawa of our neighboring Aznia’.
‘Mutates. Mutants. Why waste such effort on monstrous freaks?’ President Mabawa asks. ‘FREAKS? I’ll have ye know, sir…’ Moira exclaims angrily, before Sasha exclaims ‘Moira, Please’ and tells the President of Aznia that homo sapiens were once “freaks”. ‘Hopefully we have the cranial capacity to recognize the ways of nature’ she adds. Sasha adds, that ‘As for “monstrous”, the only monstrous thing was what the previous administration did to them, making them into mutates. It’s an injustice we’re working to correct’. President Mabawa tells the Genoshan President that she has very enthusiastic people working for her, before Sasha excuses herself, announcing that she has work to do.
Doctor Ryan approaches a lab, and uses her priority access card to gain entry. She looks up and exclaims ‘Soon…very soon…everything will be ready. And the mutate problem will be solved. Permanently!’….
‘Val Coop…Valerie…may I speak with you for a moment?’ Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff exclaims as he enters Dr Valerie Cooper’s office. ‘The mighty Quicksilver being courteous? Even…dare I say it…tentative?’ Valerie smirks. ‘How can I pass this up? Sure, Pietro. What’s on your mind?’ Valerie asks the mutant speedster. Hands behind his back, Pietro informs Valerie that he would like some time off. ‘Not too long. A week, perhaps, at most’ he tells her. Valerie smiles and rubs her fingertips together, asking ‘Okay…what’s the gag? What’s with the Mr Nice attitude?’, adding that she keeps waiting for something to explode.
Quicksilver sheepishly rubs his head as he explains that he is practising the art of communicating with as little condescension as he can. ‘It’s a skill I might require’ he explains, adding that his wife, Crystal, has contacted him. ‘She is interested in a…what did she call it…a getaway’. Valerie smirks and tells Pietro that it sounds like Crystal knocked over a bank. Pietro reveals that Crystal is broaching the possibility of a reconciliation. ‘We have been talking regularly, and it seemed something worth exploring’ he adds.
‘She has some free time at the moment, and in our line of work, one never knows…’ Pietro begins. Valerie informs him that X-Factor is on alert at the moment. ‘As soon as the X-Patriots show up…’, to which Quicksilver exclaims ‘Well, there will always be something won’t there. Always some excuse to…’ he begins, before turning around and striding towards the door: ‘Never mind, Val Cooper. Coming to you, hat in hand, was never my stile, anyway. I should simply -’ he exclaims, but Valerie interrupts him, telling him to go, by all means. ‘I’m not going to sit here and tell you not to try and save your marriage’ Valerie exclaims.
X-Factor’s liaison opens a desk drawer and tells Pietro that she thinks she can help. ‘Where are you going for this “getaway”?’ she asks. Quicksilver replies that they hadn’t really decided, to which Valerie announces that there is a cabin up in Maine, its primary function being a safe house, but at the moment it is deserted. ‘I doubt we’ll be using it anytime real soon’ Valerie explains, tossing Pietro the keys, Val tells him to get the address from Baldrick. ‘I hear it’s gorgeous up there’ Valerie remarks. ‘Besides, it means I can get in touch in an emergency’ Valerie points out, as Quicksilver catches the keys.
‘Valerie…this is most generous of you’ Pietro smiles, before Baldrick enters Valerie’s office, ‘Dr Cooper! They’ve turned up!’ he exclaims, revealing that the X-Patriots are holed up in a hospital in Upstate New York. Valerie gives Pietro a teasing smile as she tells him that it sounds like the kind of thing they could really use him for. ‘I should have expect -’ Pietro begins, before Valerie remarks that it is too bad Pietro left already. ‘Go on, scram’ she tells him, to which Quicksilver turns and speeds from Valerie’s office. The rush of Quicksilver leaving the office caused papers to fly up around Valerie, and looking slightly bedraggled, Valerie tells Baldrick to assemble the rest of the team.
Shortly, Quicksilver speeds past cars along a road, while carrying his estranged wife, he asks her if she is comfortable, and if her oxygen mask is functioning. ‘Yes, obviously so’ Pietro tells himself. Quicksilver remarks that, to some degree, this is against his better judgment. ‘If too much has happened between us, so that a genuine reconciliation is really a mere fanta -’ he begins, before the royal Inhuman tells Quicksilver that with the wind rushing and everything, she cannot make out what he is saying. ‘What?’ Quicksilver replies. ‘WHAT?’ Crystal shouts.
‘Never mind. It will keep’ Pietro mutters, speeding past a sheriff’s patrol car. ‘What the flipping?’ the sheriff remarks, before checking a speed-reader in his car, he sees that whatever sped past him was doing one hundred and eighty-nine miles per hour. ‘That was either my imagination…or an equipment screw-up…or some collector zipping around, still trying to find one of those “death of Superman” comics!’ The sheriff decides to let this one go quietly.
Nearby, a man sits outside a small store - and is almost knocked off his rocking chair when Quicksilver speeds past.
Soon, ‘Well…?’ Pietro asks as he puts Crystal down and they look at the cabin. ‘Oh, Pietro…it’s gorgeous. Everything I could have hoped for. The whole place is…dear Agon, smell that air!’ Crystal exclaims. ‘And listen…it’s soooooo quiet!’. Pietro opens the door to the cabin and enters. Taking in their surroundings, Pietro remarks that it seems quite pleasant, perhaps a bit too rustic for his taste. ‘I thought you grew up in rustic settings. Forests and stuff like that?’ Crystal asks. ‘Yes, I know. And I had an abysmal childhood’ Pietro replies, before asking Crystal why she is pausing at the threshold.
‘Oh, of course; Pietro realizes, before picking Crystal up and carrying her into the cabin. ‘I was wondering if you’d be romantic enough to carry me in’ Crystal replies. ‘Either that or stand in the doorway all day’ Quicksilver remarks. Pietro sets his backpack down and asks Crystal if there is anything else her highness requires. ‘By Agon…you’re actually starting to develop a sense of humor!’ Crystal exclaims. ‘That’s what happens from joining a mutant group without the word “evil” in it’ Crystal jokes, before remarking ‘Well, the fireplace could use some…’ - but she hasn’t even finished her sentence before Pietro speeds out the front door, picks up some logs and begins chopping them with his hands. ‘…wood for the…’ Crystal continues her sentence, as Pietro speeds back in and lights the fire. ‘Oh’ Crystal utters.
And later, with a bottle of wine open, Crystal and Quicksilver sit in front of the fire. ‘So…where do we go from here, Pietro?’ Crystal asks, telling him that their daughter misses him. ‘And I her’ Quicksilver replies. ‘And do you miss me?’ Crystal asks. ‘No, not at all’ Quicksilver tells her. ‘Same here’ Crystal responds as they move closer together, the flames flickering in the fireplace. Hey begin kissing, and Crystal starts pulling up Pietro’s shirt. Quicksilver finishes the job, removing his shirt and tossing it aside. ‘Mmmm…this part we never had arguments over’ Crystal declares, as Pietro slowly lies her down on the rug in front of the fire. ‘But Pietro…please…for once…slow down…?’ Crystal utters.
Meanwhile, the old man on the rocking chair has been listening to Quicksilver and Crystal through a hearing device. He radios someone: ‘Yeah. They’re up there, all right. Time to put the operation into effect’ he remarks, before leaning back in the chair….