Domino is back…and she’s not alone. She is being hunted by an implacable killer possessing the mutant gene for murder. She has turned to her former pupils and teammates in X-Force - Sam Guthrie, Tabitha Smith, James Proudstar and Jesse Aaronson - for help. However, the young mutants are pupils no longer, but genetic renegades on the front line of a covert war, fighting for the rights of mutant kind. It was for this reason that X-Force turned their back on Domino six months ago - and it for this reason that she now needs them more than ever.
Inside X-Force’s temporary headquarters in San Francisco, Domino stands with her back to the young mutants, her shirt is removed, and she reveals a large creature - with a very big eye - on her back. ‘So, what do you think? Beats having a tattoo, huh? Problem is you gotta die to get one’ Domino exclaims. ‘EEYSSH!‘ Jesse Aaronson a.k.a. Bedlam exclaims, while James Proudstar asks if it hurts. ’Yeah, sometimes when it moves, squirms around at night, mostly’ Domino explains. ‘There’s squirming? Yuck!’ Bedlam exclaims. ‘You are such a girl!’ Tabby “Meltdown” Smith tells him. Bedlam frowns at Domino and asks her if she wants him to scope it out. Domino tells her companion that she would appreciate it, as she would like to know exactly what kind of monkey she has got on her back.
Bedlam reaches out and places two fingers on the green creature, warning Domino that he is liable to hurl at any second, before announcing that it is weird, that he is sensing some kind of energy field in both electro and biomagnetic spectrums. Jesse suddenly pulls his hand away, and declares that the creatures knows he is here. ‘I’m scanning it and it’s scanning me right back!’ he exclaims. Domino remarks that the creature mustn’t like getting prodded, and tells Bedlam to leave it alone, before thanking him for trying. Domino buttons her shirt up while Meltdown ushers the boys away: ‘Okay, nothing to see here, just an old lady getting dressed. That means about-face, guys!’
Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie asks Domino what they do now. He points out that they are still flying blind. ‘You say this thing appeared after you died. That’s some kinda bombshell. Care to enlighten us a little?’ Sam remarks. Domino replies that there is not much to tell, and announces that after realizing she was Marcus Tsung’s mark, she went underground, but needed to be able to move freely to find out why she had been targeted.
Flashback images, narrated by Domino in the present:
Domino reveals that she altered her appearance, posture and body language. She dyed her hair blonde, changed her eye color with contacts and even exculpated her cheekbones with dental putty. But, it still didn’t make a difference, as Tsung found her. Domino explains that it was a beautiful spring morning in Paris when a virtual bullet blew a fist-sized hole in her spine, and she collapsed onto the pavement, dead before she even hit the ground. Domino didn’t even see Tsung, unaware that he was just nearby on the street, face hidden by a newspaper.
The next thing Domino knows, she is in a pathology lab, naked, with some guy about to start the midline incision of her autopsy. She managed to persuade him otherwise as she grabbed his throat. She took a lab coat and left, but the device, or whatever it is, had grown out of the wound on her back, resurrected her somehow, but that isn’t all - it returned her hair to its natural color, and years of incidental wounds and scars were erased.
‘I’d been remade whole and new’ Domino tells everyone. ‘It’s not you he’s after is it - it’s the device?’ Cannonball asks. Domino replies that it looks that way, but that there is more going on here than she can figure. ‘I mean, why kill me if he knew that was going to happen?’ she asks. ‘Maybe he didn’t?’ Proudstar asks. ‘Or whoever he’s working for didn’t tell him?’ Sam suggests. ‘Bluff and counterbluff. Spook games’ Proudstar points out. Meltdown calls a time out and announces that her head hurts. ‘What do we do now?’ she asks. Cannonball admits that they are out of their depth here, that they need some help. ‘From who? We’re X-Force, the outsiders, remember! We’ve burnt our bridges. Who’s gonna help us?’ Tabitha asks.
Flashback, Six Months Ago:
Atop the Golden Gate Bridge, X-Force stand in their new leather costumes. ‘Spies, spooks and ex-intel types…they’re all lying, conniving, back-stabbing rat-bags who I wouldn’t trust as far as I could spit a brick’ Wisdom tells his team, adding that doesn’t mean X-Force can’t work with them, explaining that the trick is to play them at their own game. ‘Which is what, o great wise, chain-smoking one?’ Meltdown enquires. ‘That’s for you to find out, my child’ Wisdom replies. Meltdown mutters that things are never easy with Wisdom, to which Wisdom tells them that if they want easy, to go and talk to the bald guy with the wheels. ‘I’m serious, children. These people specialise in deceit. Their purpose in life is to perplex and confuse, make you think one thing while doing another’ Wisdom explains.
Bedlam asks if they have to hustle, give them what they want but at a price. ’Or what they think they want!’ Cannonball exclaims. ‘Bright boy. You’re learning’ Wisdom smiles, putting a hand on Cannonball’s shoulder, before motioning out to the city, ‘Look at it…this is the world because those mugs down there are told it is. They expect it to be a certain way because the newspapers, TV, movies and government say so’ Wisdom remarks, adding that it is all a distraction, a sleight of hand, a con. ‘In exchange for cable TV, liposuction, and Brittany Spears cleavage, they’ve been seduced into looking the other way so they don’t see how things really work. So they don’t see the ghost world’.
Wisdom continues, ‘A secret world with a secret history populated by men and women who don’t officially exist’. He remarks that they fight secret wars and die secret deaths on the say-so of powers-that-be that the good people down there have never heard of or voted for. ‘We’re part of it now, aren’t we…part of the ghost world, we’ve crossed over’ Bedlam remarks, to which Wisdom tells the young mutants that they did that on the first day back in China Basin, when they chose to stand by him instead of Domino. ‘It was a hard choice, I know…especially as there’s no going back’ he adds, lighting another cigarette. Wisdom tells X-Force that they all have the talent and aptitude to do good, but that these are just broad strokes, that it is now time for details and finesse. Wisdom adds that they have to know who it’s safe to talk to and who not to, and how to deal with both of them. ‘There will be times you need help and more often than not it’ll come from the unlikeliest of quarters’ Wisdom remarks. ‘This is my final less. I will teach you these things and much more besides because I am wise in name and nature!’
Night has fallen, and celebrations are taking place at a birthday party for Oscar. Kids are enjoying themselves when the doorbell suddenly rings. ‘I’ll get it. No one touch that cake without me!’ a woman exclaims as she rushes to the door, only to find a strange man standing in front of her. ‘Oh, hi! Another late arrival, huh? C’mon, you’ll have to move fast, they’re about to start cutting…sorry. I didn’t catch your name’ the woman exclaims - but Marcus Tsung just stares at her.
A moment later, Tsung goes over to the telephone and picks it up. ‘Its Tsung. Yes, this line is untraceable. What are your instructions?’ he speaks into the receiver. ‘There is a change of plan. Your quarry has already made contact with her allies’ a voice responds. ‘Then I will deal with them also’ Tsung responds, bodies of children littering the floor. But the person Tsung is talking to tells him not to get side-tracked. ‘I will handle them. You concentrate on Domino’ they order, suggesting decapitation, as it will take the artefact longer to regenerate Domino that way. ‘And the rest?’ Tsung asks. ‘Once she is dealt with, you may play with any survivors’ Tsung smiles and asks where they are now. He then puts the phone down, and puts his hand into the partly cut birthday cake. He brings some of the cake to his lips. ‘Hmmm. Too much lemon’ he remarks.
Meantime, X-Force are dressed in civilian clothing as they stand and sit around on a street corner. ‘What time is it?’ Tabby asks. ‘About thirty seconds since you asked me before. I thought you had a watch’ James replies. Tabby tells him that she does, but that she likes being a pain. Sam, Jesse and Domino are watching their surroundings, and Domino declares ‘They’re not coming’, but Sam assures her that they will be here. Jesse figures that they already are, announcing that he is detecting a low res sensor field sweeping over their position. ‘They’re scanning us! I don’t like it’ James states, to which Sam asks him what alternative they have. ‘Let ‘em check us out. We’ve got nothing to hide’ Sam adds, before Tabby motions to an approaching bus ‘Don’t look now but I think that’s them. See, that’s their high-tech stealth bus’ she remarks.
‘Yep. It’s them’ Tabby exclaims as the bus stops. People inside the bus stare out the window, and the doors open. ‘We’ll catch the next one. We’re waiting for some friends’ Sam tells the driver. A panel on the side of the bus suddenly slides apart, revealing a compartment underneath, and a strange looking woman steps out. ‘We’re not your friends. Now get in. We ain’t got all day’ she snaps. ‘Tab?’ Sam asks. ‘Lucky guess, I swear!’ Tabby replies. James turns to Sam, concerned, but Sam assures his friends that it is okay, and suggests they get going as he enters the compartment. ‘You heard the man, shift it!’ the strange woman with blank eyes orders. ‘Who do you -’ Domino begins, but the strange woman interrupts: ‘No questions. You walk. We talk’.
Inside the compartment underneath the bus, X-Force and Domino are greeted by two other men, one with a strange appearance, the other who looks “normal”, and calling his companion Baker, tells him to check X-Force out. ‘Please hold still for a moment. This won’t hurt’ he tells his gusts. ‘Jess?’ Meltdown asks as the one called Baker raises a hand, ands Bedlam explains that it is wetware dermal circuitry, a security scan, probably the same stuff that they checked them out with earlier. ‘They’re clean’ Baker reports. The “normal” man glances upwards and remarks ‘Traveler, resume course’. A robotic voice responds ‘Understood’, before the “normal” man introduces himself as Abel. He motions to the man with the wetware dermal circuitry and introduces him as Baker, before turning to the “Ever-charming” woman at his side, Charlie. ‘We got your message’ Abel tells them.
Cannonball introduces himself, and begins to introduce his friends, but Abel interrupts, ‘We know who you all are’ he exclaims, adding that they know how they saved the city from the mutagenic bio-engine. ‘It was good work’ Abel remarks. ‘And it’s the only thing keeping you alive!’ Charlie warns them, before asking Abel ‘why are we even talking to them after what they did?’. ‘What did we do?’ Cannonball enquires. ‘Let Pete Wisdom die, you moron!’ Charlie exclaims, shaking a finger at Cannonball, who gets angry and retorts ‘you think we wanted it to happen? Any of us would have taken that bullet for him!’, to which Charlie asks them why they didn’t. ‘That’s it! I’m gonna pop her one!’ Meltdown shouts, clenching her fists, she storms over to Charlie, who raises a weapon and replies ‘Bring it on!’
Cannonball tells everyone to quit it, and points out that what’s done is done. ‘Pete said we could turn to you if we needed to. Was he wrong?’ Cannonball asks the trio. Abel replies ‘No’, to Cannonball turns to Domino, ‘Show them’ he tells her. Domino lowers her shirt to reveal the creature on her back. ‘What is that?’ Abel asks. ‘Better yet, why didn’t it register when I scanned her?’ Baker wonders, raising a hand over the creature. ‘Probably because it didn’t want to. Junior doesn’t like being messed with. He gets kinda tetchy’ Domino explains. Abel asks her if it is alive, to which Domino replies ‘Sort of. I don’t really know’. Abel enquires as to how Domino came by it, to which Domino replies ‘I’m hoping you’ll tell me’. Abel smiles and assures her that they will try. ‘Tell us everything, down to the last detail…we’re not going anywhere’ he replies as the bus continues along the road.
Later, darkness has fallen, and inside the compartment beneath the bus, X-Force gather with Abel, Charlie and Baker around various monitors and computer equipment. ‘If that’s what I think it is, you’re a life saver…’ Domino tells Sam as he brings her some coffee. ‘Any cookies?’ Domino asks. ‘Sorry, I don’t think our counter-culture techno-anarchist friends are real big on grocery shopping’ Sam replies. Suddenly, Domino leans down onto the desk and moans. ‘You okay?’ Sam asks her. ‘No…don’t sweat it…I…I’m fine. It’s passing now’ Domino replies. ‘Dumb question, sorry’ Sam tells her, but Domino smiles and tells him now to be, explaining that when Junior shuffles around it feels like the Hulk is doing aerobics on her spine. ‘Otherwise I’m just peachy’.
Sam tells Domino that she looks beat and asks her when she last got some sleep. ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Oops! Been there, done that already!’ Domino exclaims. Sam frowns at her, ‘Hey, joke! You remember those, don’t you?’ Domino asks him. ‘Sure’ Sam replies. Domino puts a hand on Sam’s hand and tells him not to get too old too soon. Domino then admits that she was wrong, and remarks that for all his faults, Wisdom was right in training X-Force. ‘But don’t take after him too much’ she adds. Sam asks her what she means, to which Domino points out that Sam doesn’t know everything about Wisdom, his past, the events that shaped him. ‘There’s plenty of good in the world as well as the persecution and hatred he was raging against. Don’t let it eat you up like it did him’ Domino declares.
Abel suddenly tells everyone to gather around, as he thinks they have a result. ‘What’ve you found?’ Sam asks. ‘More questions than answers, I’m afraid’ Abel replies, adding that they are weird ones, too. X-Force, Domino and the others gather around Abel, who looks up at a map and reports that he initially trawled every database he knows and called in favors from across the community, and got nothing - a fact suspicious itself. Charlie points out that someone knows about the device, as Tsung’s attempt on Domino’s life proves it. ‘Exactly’ Abel agrees, remarking that whatever data there is, is being held under such secure lockouts, they can’t even get a lead on it, let alone work out what it is. ‘Without being immodest, that scares me, because we’re no slouches at what we do. Whoever’s behind this has access to serious resources to be able to cover their tracks so thoroughly’ Abel states.
Proudstar asks Abel what he found, to which Abel responds ‘A mystery wrapped in an enigma’, before announcing that they have Jesse to thank for this, as he is quite the lateral thinker. An image of a dinosaur fossil appears on the monitor, and Abel states that when his conventional leads dried up, Jesse went looking for visual recognition patterns, if anything matching Junior’s physiological format, had shown up previously, and it had. Jesse takes over, explaining that the fossil was excavated from a mine in the Black Hills, South Dakota, around 1908, and that it is maybe 60 million years old, possibly a lot more, but that is not the best part. ‘Punch it up, Abel’ Jesse asks. Abel clicks on the keyboard, and another image appears, of two men holding another fossil. ‘Junior’s got a big brother somewhere’ Jesse announces. ‘Oh my God’ Domino utters.
Suddenly, the voice of the Traveler can be heard, announcing a security alert, that the stealth field has been penetrated, and hostile marks are approaching on attack vector, reading multiple weapons signatures. The Traveler states that it is locking on and recommends immediate evasive maneuvers. ‘Uh-oh, bad guys’ Meltdown mutters.
Outside, several high-tech choppers fly between the skyscrapers, and a voice inside one of them exclaims ‘Den mother to all wings, we have them, reading eight bio-marks at two-ten. Disengage silent running, make weapons hot’. ‘Copy that, den mother’ one of the “wings” replies. ‘Let’s plough the field! Another exclaims as the choppers open fire. ‘I have a clean visual lock’ someone reports. ‘Take ‘em out! Burn ‘em!’ another orders, as several missiles are dropped from the choppers - and explode as they impact with the bus!