A plaque is fixed to the ground at a cemetery. The name “Peter Winston Wisdom” is stamped into it, with a quote “Stuff This for a Lark”. Leaves blow around, and a priest stands over the grave, ‘And so we commit his body to the ground, in the sure and certain hope of his resurrection into everlasting light…ashes to ashes…dust to dust. Amen’ the priest concludes, throwing some dirt onto the casket.
Four young people approach the priest, and Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie thanks them for a fine service. Sam and Jesse Aaronson a.k.a. Bedlam are dressed in black suits. James Proudstar wears a grey suit, and Tabitha “Meltdown” Smith is clad in a white outfit with a long coat. The priest remarks that these things are always so much harder on the living. ‘The dead have it easy, they’ve passed on to a better place…the hardest part of those left behind is simply getting on with my life. You are friends. Be strong for each other’.
The young heroes collectively known as X-Force watch the priest leave, before Tabitha breaks the silence: ‘They didn’t come…not a single one. Not Nightcrawler, Colossus, Dr MacTaggert. Any of them from his time with Excalibur…nothing’ she exclaims, annoyed. Jesse tells Tabitha that she knows how this works, and points out that this isn’t your average occupation. ‘Maybe they were…busy?’ he suggests. ‘Busy? The guy’s dead, Jess! How busy can they be?’ she shouts, while Sam tells her to let it go. ‘No!’ Tabitha replies. ‘At least she could’ve made it. She and Mr W had a history together! Little cow’s pride in more than just name alone!’ Tab exclaims, referring to Shadowcat a.k.a. Kitty Pryde.
Sam puts his arms around Tabitha and tells her to let all go. But Tab replies that it isn’t far. ‘He smoked and swore and smelled weird but I miss him!’ she sulks. Sam suggests that Jesse might be right, they could all be busy. ‘We’re outta the loop now. We’ve no way of knowing what’s happening with the others. If they didn’t show, then they had their reasons’ he adds. James tells his teammates that he hates to be the one to bring this up, and asks ‘What if they weren’t busy? We’re outsiders now, remember?’ He asks what if they all turned their back on X-Force, all of them. ‘Maybe they’re sending us a message’ he wonders. But Jesse tells James that he is wrong, that is too cold. They wouldn’t do that to us. ‘What about his friends and family - they were no-shows too’ he adds.
Sam reveals that Pete once told him that spies and spooks like him spend their lives in the shadows, convincing folks that they’re not there. ‘So when they’re gone no one notices. After all, who’s gonna mourn a ghost?’ he asks. ‘We will’ Tabitha remarks. The boys look away from each other, seemingly lost, while Tabitha points out that Mr W brought them together, made them something more than they were, showed them that they could change things. ‘He’d want us to carry on. We’re all we have now. We need each other’ Tabitha tells them. Sam looks at her, while Jesse and James remain silent, until Jesse finally breaks the silence, ‘Breakfast?’ he asks. ‘Sounds good’ James replies. Tabitha smiles and exclaims that she wants chocolate and coffee in a big bowl with a straw.
Sam tells Jesse to dig deep, as he is paying. ‘No way, I paid last time!’ Jesse complains. ‘That was me, after Tab’ James points out. Tabitha tells Jesse to dust off his bucks, because she is starving, when suddenly, a car pulls up nearby. ‘Hey, check this out. Late arrivals…bit late arrivals’ Sam remarks as an elderly woman is escorted to Wisdom’s grave by three burly men. ‘Son of a…’ Sam begins, while the woman kneels beside the open grave, and strikes a match against Wisdom’s coffin to light a cigarette. Sam frowns and prepares to walk over to her, but the men step in front of him: ‘Leave it chummy. You don’t wanna mess with that. Not today’ one of them tells him, before the woman starts to walk back to her car.
‘Who was that?’ Tabitha asks, when, suddenly, ‘Her name’s Romany Wisdom…she’s his sister’ announces a former member of X-Force, who steps out of the shadows. ‘Domino!’ someone gasps at seeing their friend. ‘I know this is a bad time, but we need to talk’ Domino announces.
Flashback, six months ago, takes place between X-Force (1st series) #101 and #102:
‘Hit me!’ Domino orders inside a warehouse in a run-down area of San Francisco. Five young mutants step out of the shadows, only to get thrown back there one by one: ‘Clumsy!’ Domino shouts as she knocks Dani Moonstar backwards. ‘sloppy!’ she tells Proudstar as she leaps on him. ‘Slow!’ she exclaims, easily dodging Cannonball. ‘Dumb!’ Domino shouts. ‘Pathetic!’ she mocks as her teammates all fall to the ground. She tells them to get up, front and center, as they are going to go again, right now. ‘You’re kidding! For a training exercise this kinda hurts, y’know!’ Meltdown complains. ‘Good. Because when it stops hurting, you’re doing it right. We don’t quit till then!’ Domino replies.
Domino tells her younger teammates that she is not playing games here. ‘Duh!’ Meltdown mutters. Domino continues, pointing out that when the High Evolutionary stripped the powers off every mutant on the planet, it was a wake-up call, as it made her realize how vulnerable and exposed X-Force has become, relying solely on their mutant talents. She points out that they are in danger of becoming complacent, and that could kill them. ‘I’ve a lifetime’s worth of martial skills to fall back on, you don’t. You’ve some unarmed combat training, but it’s not enough. It’s time to go back to basics’ Domino announces, while Sam, Dani, Tabby, James and Jesse just stare at her, unimpressed. Suddenly, a voice coming from the door calls out ‘Here endeth the first lesson!’ It’s Pete Wisdom, who smiles and approaches X-Force, ‘Pop the kettle on, Domino, love. I’m spitting feathers!’ Wisdom announces.
‘Better than spitting tooth. What do you want, Wisdom?’ Domino asks, unimpressed. Wisdom smiles and replies that he is collecting for the mutant boy scouts of America. ‘I hear you’ve got a couple to spare?’ he remarks. ‘Again. Why?’ Domino replies, ignoring his flippant comments. Hands in his pockets, Wisdom casually replies that he was invited. ‘Invited…’ Domino begins, once more, unimpressed. Looking at Bedlam, Cannonball announces ‘Uh, we…asked him, actually’. Bedlam reveals that after the Genosha incident, he and Sam contacted Pete, that they talked, and liked what they heard. ‘We want him to run his offer by the others’ Bedlam announces.
‘What offer?’ Domino asks, frowning at Wisdom, who replies ‘You’re a merc. I’m a spook. We both know how the world works - our world. Full of secrets, lies and strange deaths. Where crimes and injustices are perpetrated on mutant kind by types that’ll never be brought to book’ Wisdom tells Domino, adding that the ghost people who run the shadow world think they are immune from justice. ‘I want to show them otherwise’ he reveals. Domino pauses, remaining silent for some time, before remarking that she sees where this is going. ‘No way!’ she shouts. Wisdom tells Domino to look at them, pointing out that they are not kids, and that she can’t keep them from the truth.
Cannonball steps forward and tells Domino that, with respect, it is not her choice. ‘Yeah, it’s ours. All of ours. How could you do this without asking us first?’ Danielle snaps at Sam. Jesse frowns and points out that they are asking her now. Sam tells Dani that she must know herself they have been drifting without a real purpose for far too long, and that that their time in Genosha bought it home, hard. Sam tells his teammates that they are always reacting instead of acting, that the show up when the damage is being done instead of ensuring that it never happens in the first place. ‘The time we waste costs lives. I can’t live with that’ he declares.
Bedlam remarks that Professor Xavier’s dream of mutant integration is a fine one, but that is all it is - a dream. ‘How can you say that?’ Moonstar asks, bothered. ‘Cause it’s the truth and you know it!’ Bedlam replies. Sam tells them to calm down, as he didn’t want it to go like this. Sam tells Dani to ask herself what good they are really doing anyone. ‘We want a normal life but face it, we ain’t normal. So let’s use that…Mister W’ Sam declares, turning to Wisdom, who looks at Proudstar and Meltdown and announces ‘This is the deal. Throw in with me, I’ll give you the opportunity to make a difference’. He tells X-Force that he knows scary stuff, that he knows the black ops world, and how to make it work for them. ‘I’ll teach you new ways to add depth and dexterity to your powers. Make better use of them to make a better world’ Wisdom announces. Lighting a cigarette, Wisdom tells X-Force that the choice is theirs.
Dani looks at Sam and Jesse as they cross over to stand with Wisdom. ‘James, you can’t be serious!’ Dani calls out to Proudstar he follows Meltdown towards the others. James tells his friend that he is sorry, but that the others are right. ‘You know they are’ he points out. ’Okay, I agree but this isn’t the way!’ Dani declares. Domino hangs her head and tells Dani to forget about it, as there is nothing more to be said. Dani starts crying, while Domino turns to Wisdom and clenching her fist, warns him that if any one of them gets hurt, or worse, because of his misplaced idealism, she will find whatever rock he is hiding under and tear out his heart. ‘Fair enough’ Wisdom smiles.
‘That’s it? We all just walk away?’ Dani asks. ‘Like the man said. It’s their choice’ Domino points out, putting a comforting hand on Dani’s shoulder. But Dani is too upset, and she rushes over to Wisdom as he and her friends start to leave the warehouse. Dani grabs Wisdom by his shoulder and pulls him back, ’This is your fault, you’ve torn us apart!’ she exclaims. ’What about us? What about X-Force?’ Dani demands to know. Sam, Tabitha, James and Jesse all turn to look at Dani as Wisdom motions back at them, and replies ’You’re looking at it’.
‘Talk about twisting the knife. That was harsh’ someone remarks as the young mutants sit in a booth at a coffee house. ‘Classic Wisdom though. Hugh Grant he wasn’t’ Domino points out, before asking the others if they have heard from Dani and if she is okay. No one responds, until James asks ‘Haven’t you spoken to her?’ Domino replies that she hasn’t, and reveals that she dropped out of sight for a while, ‘I don’t really know what happened to me’ she tells her former teammates, adding that one minute she is out trying to clear her head and think things through after Wisdom’s bombshell, and the next, she is possessed by some creep named Aentaros, one of the Undying, and trying to kill Cable. ‘And another guy called Shire…I think’ Domino reveals.
‘Whoa!’ Tabitha exclaims, before Domino announces that the rest is still a blur, but that when she got back to China Basin, everyone had packed up and gone. Sam reveals that he heard Dani was moonlighting with the X-Men. ‘But we haven’t talked since…well, you know’ his voice trails off. Domino replies that she knows, but that was then, and this is now. ‘Time to cut to the chase. I need your help’ Domino explains. ‘You’ve got it’ James assures her, to which Domino suggests they hear her out first, and reveals that she is in trouble, that she is marked and being hunted. ‘And to be honest, I’m scared’. This surprises the young mutants: ‘Scared…’ Sam asks. ‘…You?’ Bedlam enquires. ‘You’re joking!’ a wide-eyed Tabitha smiles. ‘Do I look like I’m joking? It’s not a feeling I relish, believe me’ Domino replies. Sam asks her what is up, Domino explains that after everything fell apart, she didn’t know where to go, what to do, so she drifted back into the freelance circuit again, needing money, badly.
Flashback, narrated by Domino in the present:
Domino informs X-Force that one of those jobs was working for a nasty piece of slime she knows named Vogel, who ran a trigger agency in Morocco, and he offered her a high bounty contract working with a bunch of others in New Delhi. She explains that a Swiss multinational was being targeted by a terrorist faction who figured their foreign investment was a form of was a form of economic imperialism.
Along with several mercenaries, they began a covert operation, and Domino tells X-Force that maybe the terrorists were right, but that they were bombing public places with semtex explosives packed with glass and plastic shards that don’t show up on hospital x-rays, which didn’t win her sympathy. Domino and the mercenaries found the terrorists and took them down, but it wasn’t until after that, when their troubles really began.
Domino explains that when their fees weren’t transferred into their accounts, it looked liked Vogel was trying to scam them, so she and the mercenaries went to set him straight. But, someone else beat them to the draw with what looked like a single high-velocity shot to the head. However, Domino felt that something wasn’t right, for Vogel was locked inside his office from the inside, the window were still intact and no impact damage anywhere from the round that killed him. ‘The whole thing set alarm bells ringing’ she tells her friends.
Domino explains that the mercenaries tore the place apart looking for their money, when the truth suddenly dawned on her. One of the mercenary’s chest suddenly exploded, and Domino knew for certain - the trajectory of the shot came from outside, but the window hadn’t shattered - there had been no gunshot because the killer didn’t need one - just his talent and a clear line of sight. Domino explains that she was lucky that the mercenary got in the way, for she knows she was the intended target. Indeed, a man stood on the rooftop of a nearby building, and Domino explains that his name is Marcus Tsung, and that he possesses the mutant gene for murder….