Wackyworld mascot, Wacky Dawg, welcomes the readers to Florida’s Wackyworld, where a bunch of kids with wacky powers, X-Force, have come to locate the girl who was last glimpsed with their missing teammate, Warpath.
In the entire bustle caused by the huge crowds of children and parents walking around the theme park, Risque recalls that when she was little, her father used to bring her there, to Wackyworld. He’d buy her a Wacky Dawg hat and they’d go on every ride. He loved the place as much as she did. After she turned thirteen, her world changed forever. It wasn’t bad enough she couldn’t stand being seen in public with her father, but then her mutant ability to implode any object manifested. So, she’d come there with her girlfriends and wear too much make-up trying to convince high school boys they were older – while Risque also tried to convince herself she was normal. She tried to forget she was different from everybody else and always would be. She even got a job in Wackyworld one summer but it only lasted two weeks. She got fired for smoking in costume behind the Astro-World Tilt-a-Wheel.
As she buys a “swamp shake” milkshake from a guy in a kiosk dressed as Wacky Dawg, Risque thinks she could almost say she grew up there. That’s why maybe she came back to recapture a little of her lost innocence. When she hears the scream, she knows she’s made a mistake. She can never go back.
A boy dressed in another mascot suit, starts running screaming “Run! Run for your life!” A woman behind him, holding her baby, shrieks in horror that it’s a monster! The big guy ripping through the crowd is none other than Caliban. He’s a mutant who can track other mutants like a bloodhound and he’s after her – Risque. Gloria Dolores Muñoz, as her real name is – named after both her grandmothers – is faced with three hundred pounds-plus of hunting machine hurtling her way and does the only sensible thing – she runs. As she jumps over the salesman’s kiosk, the surreally stoic Wacky Dawg-dressed employee asks her if she’d like another shake. Some other time, Risque tells him as she flees, and she also suggests he steps back. The man wonders “why?” and then just exclaims an “oh” as Caliban tosses the entire kiosk apart, in Risque’s pursuit.
“So much for a day of fun and frolic,” Risque thinks as she quickly ascends some stairs, pushing other people aside. Luckily, she knows the park like the back of her hand. Since she needs to put as much distance between herself and Caliban as possible, the Wackyworld Skytrain is her answer. Indeed, she rushes into the Skytrain moments before its doors are shut. A voice announces that the Skytrain is now leaving Fairy Tale Town. Next stop: Astro-World.
Making herself comfortable on one of the cabins of the Skytrain – much to the dismay of her fellow passengers, a plump lady and her son – Risque thinks that after Astro-World is the main parking lot. She can steal a car and be on the free-way in no time. However, she has nowhere to go, no one to turn to. The Keys are out of the question since that business with the Hulk. Maybe New Orleans, she thinks, she’s got relatives there. Looking out of the window, she can’t believe she’s on the run again. It never should have happened this way.
After things went down in New York, she needed somewhere to lay low, sit by a pool, watch a little free cable. So, she hopped a redeye to Tampa and drove here to Wackyworld. Miles and miles of cheap hotels surround the theme park. She was paying cash for everything. She didn’t think anybody could find her here. Then, one morning, carrying some groceries, she came back from a night on the town to find she had guests. Cautiously watching from the window, she saw half of X-Force sitting in her hotel room, waiting for her return. Risque is sure they wanted to ask her about James Proudstar’s disappearance but she had no desire to face their inquisition.
Thus, she made a beeline for the Wackyworld Park. She thought, how could they possibly find her in a crowd of two hundred thousand? Besides, no X-team would dare use their powers around so many people: it’d be too dangerous. Here, Risque would be just another tourist and not the woman who betrayed their friend… Who betrayed the man she…
Risque’s musings are cut short as she realizes Caliban is standing right outside her window, hanging on the train, his claws scratching the metal of the train’s exterior! Risque admits he gets points for being persistent. She’s confident it won’t take him long to break through this shatterproof glass window. She realizes desperate circumstances call for desperate measures and decides to take down the emergency lever.
Horrified, the plump lady asks her what she thinks she’s doing: she’s not supposed to touch that! “Too late” Risque replies and takes it down. Passengers go flying everywhere in the cabin as the train screams to a sudden stop. Caliban’s momentum hurls him forward a couple of hundred yards and into a small pool nearby.
With the window now open, Risque exits, saying this is her stop! “Oh you horrible, horrible woman!” the plump lady exclaims, urging her son, Marvin, to listen to his mother – he should stay away from girls like that; they’re nothing but trouble! Hearing this as she climbs down the train via the utility ladder, Risque thinks that if she had a dollar for every time someone said that about her, she wouldn’t be in this mess.
Risque is halfway down the utility ladder when she spots the X-Force airborne division heading her way: the solar-powered Brazilian known as Sunspot, whom she doesn’t really know, and Siryn, the Irish redhead with the dangerous pipes. Before Risque entered the picture, James had it really bad for Siryn, but she didn’t see it. Now she resents Risque for taking James away from her.
Flying towards Risque, Sunspot asks Theresa if she sees her. Aye, Theresa replies: straight ahead. Theresa swears that if that witch has hurt James, she is going to make her wish she’d never been born!
On the ground, one of the park’s security guards urges his partner, Dillon, to follow him as they are on red alert: mutant terrorists have invaded the park. As if killing Graydon Creed wasn’t enough, now they want to despoil the most wholesome place on Earth!
“Terrorists? Sheeesh!” Risque exclaims as she jumps off the train and onto the two officers. She tells these guys they take this place too seriously. Running away from them, Risque knows she can’t stay out in the open. She also knows there’s a network of tunnels running beneath the car. She needs to get underground fast. The quickest route would be through one of the service exits hidden in all the rides. With that plan in mind, she decidedly rushes into the Wacky-Town Joy Ride!
Risque cuts through all the people waiting in the line for the ride. “No cuts!” a furious man in the line shouts but Risque assures him she has a pass. She eventually jumps into the back seat of one of the cars just as the ride is about to commence. With a smile, she asks the two boys in the front seat if they mind giving her a lift. One of the boys screams there’s a girl in their car! The boy on the wheel asks Risque to pardon his friend, Charles; he’s a little excitable. He introduces himself as Jay Glazer and assures they’d be happy to help her. Does she realizes, though, there’s only supposed to be two people in one car? Risque insists she won’t tell if they don’t. As the ride starts, a pre-recorded voice coming from a mechanical “pig officer” urges citizens to remember to keep their arms and legs inside the car at all times during the ride!
The International Terminal of New York’s JFK Airport
Domino has just come back to the US. After her showdown with Donald Pierce and Lady Deathstrike in the south-west, she’d hoped a week in Brazil would clear her head. However, not even the glitter and glamour of carnival could take her mind off Milo. If only she’d done something differently, her ex-husband might still be alive. Their time together was so brief… Yet, she still can’t imagine ever caring for anyone else like she did for him.
The employee in the customs welcomes her to the United States. “Do you have anything to declare, Miss…,” Domino demonstrates her fake ID: Alioso, Christina Elizabeth. “…Alioso?” No, not a thing, Domino replies. However, the man tells her to just step over here. These gentlemen would like a word with her. As two huge guys in sunglasses stand ominously around her, Domino thinks “Great. I’ve been made…!”
In Wackyworld, Risque thinks she should have come here with James. They could’ve been getting busy in the dark of the spooky slay-ride. Not that there’s much chance of that now: if only she didn’t owe that junkyard dog in Detroit a favor.
On the front seat of the car, the boys are excited, spotting recognizable characters like Wally Warthog, and Sammy Skunk, and Arnold Armadillo and… Suddenly, Jay points to a guy that’s not part of the Wackyworld family. Charlie assumes he must be a new character. Risque hates to tell them but that one’s for real! Caliban makes his way through the various dummies of Wackyworld characters, proclaiming that he is coming for her! Risque tells the kids to stay down: it’s her he wants. Charlie screams whereas the always nonchalant Jay admits “this is cool.”
As the children in the car duck, Risque uses her own line of defense against the brute strength and animal rage of Caliban. When she hit puberty, she learned she could implode inorganic matter – in this case, a segment of support beam holding up the Wacky-Town scenery! As she uses her powers, a large part of the scenery (the sign reads This house is made of timber!) collapses on Caliban.
Risque confesses to herself that she hates to do that to the big guy but she doesn’t like playing cat and mouse when she’s the mouse. As she attempts to exit the installation via the emergency exit door, she finds it locked. As she’s about to implode the lock, Caliban slams his fist on the door. Caliban says stop! Realizing she’s cornered, Risque tries to persuade Caliban that he’s got her all wrong. She’s as much a victim as James in all of this. Caliban tells her to stop trying to confuse him; he knows she’s a bad lady. She took James away from X-Force. Caliban will make her give him…
Suddenly, Caliban releases a terrible scream and collapses. Risque wonders if he had a stroke or a heart attack – or something big and bad along those lines. She thinks she’d better call 911… once she’s out of the park.
Risque rushes out of the emergency exit – until she asks herself who she’s kidding. Realizing she can’t leave him, she comes back. She admits to herself it’s a lousy time to develop a conscience. Kneeling next to Caliban, she asks him what the matter is. Caliban tells her it hurts and pleads her to help him. Risque finds it strange how one moment Caliban seems unstoppable and the next, he seems so fragile. She wishes she knew what to do for him.
“Get away from him, ye traitorous witch!” Siryn suddenly screams. Risque finds herself thrown across the room by a storm front of sound. X-Force has finally caught up with her: Rictor, Meltdown, Siryn and Sunspot. Siryn informs Risque that she has an important decision to make now: she can walk out with them or be dragged out by them. Either way, she’s not going anywhere until she takes them to James.
Tabitha states that, if Risque’s hurt Caliban, she’s got a handful of explosive energy guaranteed to ruin her day. Risque swears she didn’t do anything to the big guy. He had her cornered and then he suddenly seized up in pain and keeled over. Sunspot realizes that it was just like the other day at the piano. He knew they shouldn’t have let Caliban go with them. He’s sick. Rictor reminds Bobby, though, that the tests Cable ran in the Medlab didn’t find anything wrong with Caliban.
As Sunspot and Rictor carry Caliban on their shoulders, the former remarks that Caliban experienced a number of radical physical transformations in recent years – from Morlock, to one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen to his current incarnation. Maybe all that genetic restructuring’s finally exacting a toll. Caliban mumbles that he doesn’t mean to be a burden. Rictor tells him that no way he’s a burden. This is what friends do: they take care of each other.
Holding Risque pressed against the wall, Theresa tells her she’s lucky Caliban’s health appears to be on the mend. She’s already done plenty of damage to James. Amused, Risque asks her if she’s a little jealous. Besides, how do they even know Warpath’s missing? He’s an adult. Maybe he’s on vacation. Or maybe he got tired of…
Siryn pulls Risque’s arms backwards, causing her to scream in pain and leave her ironic remarks aside. Theresa tells her not to get smart with her. They have a device that can pinpoint the bio-signature of any mutant around the world. When it couldn’t find locate James, they knew something was amiss… and Risque is the last person he was seen with. Sunspot adds that when they entered everything they knew about her into Cerebro, the device – along with Caliban’s tracking powers – led them here. They subsequently canvassed the surrounding motels until they found Risque’s. Siryn urges Risque to be a good girl and tell them where James is.
Sleeping on a mattress, in what appears to be a dimly lit room, stripped of furniture but full of junk, Warpath is dreaming about Risque. “Risque… What are you doing to me…? Thought… we were… why…” As he wakes up, he tells himself, “Oh man, what a dream I had.” He then realizes it wasn’t a dream… he only wishes it were. He remembers how Risque drugged him. As he stands up, he wonders where he is – and also what happened to his left arm, as there’s a strip dressing around it. This place looks filled to the rafters with junk – old cars, TVs, appliances – all dismantled, scavenged for parts. James also sees a mechanic working on an old car, engaged in oxy-fuel cutting. The mechanic hasn’t even noticed him but James knows how to get his attention.
Warpath grabs the man’s arm, ordering him to drop the torch now. He’s gonna answer some quest…
James pauses as the mechanic takes off his protective mask: his face is ugly and his head is freakishly larger compared to his quite massive body. Seeing James astounded, the mechanic assures him he usually gets that reaction. Not too pretty, is he? He tells Proudstar to relax. He is in no danger from him yet. As James can see, despite his size, he can’t move around too quickly. The man introduces himself as Sledge and informs Warpath this is his home… such as it is. As James can imagine, there aren’t a lot of places where someone like Sledge can be accepted. Sledge, of course, assumes every mutant knows that. Changing the subject, he tells James it is about time he woke up. Risque’s Mickey Finn was a little too potent. James was out for three days.
Warpath asks him about his arm. Sledge informs that, when he was in “slumberland,” his doctor ran some tests. Nothing unusual: a little blood work, a couple of tissue samples. As Sledge opens the fridge, he explains to Warpath that he needed to make sure Risque brought him to him healthy. Warpath asks him why Risque brought him here at all. Sledge explains it was because she owed him a favor. A lot of people owe him favor – the Blob and the Mimic, for example. He provided those two the means to better control their powers; now, they’re in his debt. Getting two bottles out of the fridge, Sledge nonchalantly offers James a beer.
Smashing a piece of junk car with his fist, a furious Warpath tells him the only thing he wants from his is answers. Why is he there? Sledge answers his question: he needs a man with James’ heightened senses and strength. James asks him what makes him think he’ll help him with anything. “Let me show you something” Sledge simply replies. Turning on a projector, he instructs Warpath to direct his attention to the clear spot on the wall.
The movie projected on the wall shows three Native American men. Sledge asks Warpath if he recognizes the guy to the left. James tells him it’s Michael Whitecloud. He was friends with James’ brother, John. He died with the rest of James’ tribe in the Camp Verde massacre. Sledge remarks that’s interesting… because this footage was taken last month. “He’s alive! How can that be?” James wonders in amazement. He thought he was the last one left. Sledge assures him he never learned the truth behind the massacre but Whitecloud knows… and Sledge can give him Warpath. James deduces that, in return, he’ll owe Sledge a “favor.” “Of course,” Sledge replies. He doesn’t do anything for free.
Sitting on a toilet and reading a digest novel, Domino thinks this is absolutely bizarre. She has been stuck inside a storage closet for three hours. She could escape in a heartbeat but she is curious why federal agents are treating her with kid gloves.
One of the agents opens the door, urging “Ms. Alioso” to come with him. Domino thinks that maybe they don’t know who she is. No one’s called her “Domino” since they stopped her at customs. As Domino starts walking, the agent following her warns her not to make any sudden moves. He’s armed. “Oooh, I’m scared,” Domino mocks him.
As they enter a room, the agent informs his superior – the man is turned the other way around – she’s there. The mysterious man thanks the sergeant. “Christina Elizabeth Alioso” he pronounces. That’s a new one but, then, he never could keep track of all her aliases. As he turns around, he apologizes for the strongarm tactics. He would have met her plane but he was detained in Washington and didn’t want to risk losing her. “G. W. Bridge?” Domino exclaims in surprise.
Meanwhile, after two and a half hours aboard the PACRAT (their transport craft) X-Force hits the “motor city” with a vengeance. Risque has accompanied the team here, contemplating that her debt to Sledge was paid when she brought James to him. Now, it’s his turn to deal with this… destructive mutant scout troop.
The team blasts its way inside Sledge’s “house.” Theresa believes this place looks as shoddy on the inside as it does on the outside. Sunspot jokes that one would think that any place that could scramble Cerebro’s satellite surveillance would have a little more hi-tech interior. Upon seeing them, Sledge asks them if they can’t read. The sign says keep out.
Sunspot tells him he has their friend: where’s Warpath? Sledge is a little puzzled by this name but then realizes they mean Proudstar. Suddenly, James appears and tells Bobby that there’s no need for that. He appreciates all of their concern but everything’s under control. Surprised, Theresa asks him how he can say that. Risque admitted drugging him and delivering him to this Sledge person, whoever he is. James insists he’s fine – in fact, they can all go home now. As the team departs in disappointment, Sledge reminds Warpath that they have a deal. James insists that, if Sledge keeps his end of the bargain, he’ll also keep his own.
Risque suddenly approaches James. The two lovers pronounce each other’s name as they see each other. Risque realizes this isn’t going to be easy. Seeing them as such, Bobby thinks they need a moment alone. Siryn retorts that perhaps they’ve already had too much of that. Tabitha insists it’s his business: it’s a little late for Siryn to take such an interest in his love life.
Warpath tells Risque he really doesn’t have much to tell her. Upset, Risque tells him he needs to understand: she had no choice! Sledge kept her out of a bad situation a few years back. She owed him. James insists that, if she was in trouble, she could’ve asked him. Risque tells him he knows how she feels about him. “Do I?” Warpath wonders. Ever since he lost his tribe – his family – he’s felt completely alone. She changed that. He felt comfortable with her… like he belonged. Now he realizes it was all a lie. “Don’t call me,” he tells her as he walks away. Risque tries to convince herself she’s better off without him. That she’s always operated best as a loner… but she doesn’t believe it for a minute.
Domino is surprised she isn’t under arrest. She’s one of the most wanted individuals in the world. Doesn’t this violate every rule in the S.H.I.E.L.D. manual? Bridge tells her he’s here because they were friends once – and because he needs her help. Domino believes that what he means is that he needs her to do something he can’t handle officially and for which he won’t be blamed if anything goes wrong. Bridge explains that a Zero Tolerance operation is threatening one of their deep cover operatives. S.H.I.E.L.D. can’t do anything without compromising that agent’s position.
Domino still wonders why she should want to involve herself in this. As he hands over a folder to Domino, Bridge provides the answer: their agent has strong connections to X-Force. As Domino looks at the photo of the agent, she mumbles she doesn’t believe it. Dani Moonstar’s an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.!