Sao Paulo, Brazil, the home of DaCosta International CEO Getuilo Villa-Lobos. ‘I’m not safe here, Commander Salles’ Villa-Lobos remarks in Portuguese to one of the bodyguards in his large office. Commander Salles assures Villa-Lobos that his men are the best at what they do. ‘No one can set foot anywhere on your estate without being detected’ the Commander adds. ‘Tell that to the other Board members. Hauptman was killed in his bath and Mendoza remains in intensive care!’ Villa-Lobos exclaims, declaring that someone has targeted the DaCosta International Board of Directors. Commander Salles asks Villa-Lobos once more to trust his many years of experience, before suddenly calling out to one of his colleagues: ‘Ruiz, behind you!’ he yells as Ruiz is engulfed by energy.
Salles tells everyone to be on alert, exclaiming that they are under attack - but the other bodyguards also vanish in energy. ‘Madon -’ Villa-Lobos gasps before ducking under his desk. ‘Hail Mary full of grace…’ he begins, before a female speaking Portuguese exclaims that they have made their point, and tells Villa-Lobos that there is no place he can hide from them. The woman materializes in the room, introducing herself as Locus, and explains that the interdimensional portals are her all-access pass to the world. ’And this is my boss’ she adds as a male figure appears beside her. Also speaking Portuguese, Locus’ companion tells Villa-Lobos that they don’t wish to kill, and explains that the other Board members resisted.
Locus, now sporting dark hair, adds that they just tucked Villa-Lobos’ two little girls into bed. ‘They’re both darlings…’ Locus remarks, to which Villa-Lobos exclaims ‘Please…for the love of God…leave my family out of this…I’ll give you anything you want!’. Locus leans on his desk and declares ‘That’s what I like to hear’, while Villa-Lobos crawls out from under his desk, while Locus’ companion announces that he wants control of DaCosta International. ‘From now on you follow my orders’ he tells Villa-Lobos. Villa-Lobos asks them why they are doing this. ‘You know you inherit controlling stock when you’re twenty-five!’ he exclaims. ‘And the last time we spoke you told me you didn’t want to run the company!’ Villa-Lobos adds.
The mysterious man tells Villa-Lobos that he is making the same mistake that so many others have made. ‘I’m not Roberto DaCosta - but soon everything that belonged to him will be mine!’ Reignfire exclaims, grinning as he uses his powers on Villa-Lobos.
(In Meltdown’s dream)
The Gary Singer Show is in about to start, and Gary Singer welcomes everyone, announcing that today’s guest is Tabitha, who is here to telkl her old boyfriend Sam that he is history. ‘Sam, you know how much you mean to me, but we hardly see each other since you went back to school…and…well…I’ve sorta…kinda…started seeing someone else’. Tabitha reveals on stage to Sam, who, dressed in overalls and a farmers hat, replies that he cannot believe she is doing this to him on nation TV. Gary Singer stands between them both and tells Sam that he knows he must be hurting, but what he has to say is only going to make it worse: ‘You know Tabitha’s new flame’.
‘Ah do?’ Sam gasps, before Gary exclaims ‘Let’s bring out Roberto!’. Bobby enters the studio set, carrying a bunch of flowers, and dressed quite snazzily. ‘Bobby? Muh best girl and muh best friend?’ Sam exclaims. Bobby tells Sam to take a walk, as Tabitha is with him now. ‘She needs a real man!’ Bobby exclaims, which causes Sam to blast towards Bobby, knocking him over the crowd. Bobby powers-up and the fight over the crowd, while Gary Singer declares that there is no way he is getting in between that, before asking Tabitha if there is anything she would like to say to Bobby and Sam now that she has destroyed their friendship? Huddled on the stage, Tabitha exclaims ‘Stop it…please…I never meant for this to happen…this is all a bad…’
‘Dream’ Tabitha “Meltdown” Smith realizes as she wakes up in a sleeping bag, on the floor, lying next to Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta. ‘Whew…that was way too vivid for me’ Tabitha tells herself, deciding that there is to be no more watching late night reruns of daytime TV before she goes to bed. Late last night, Bobby and Tabitha, along with the rest of their X-Force teammates arrived at the house of an old friend, in Boulder, Colorado.
X-Force Fun Fact: While many super hero groups are funded by the Government or wealthy patrons, the members of X-Force refuse to sell out. Consequently, they’re broke.
Meltdown turns to Bobby, ‘Look at Bobby, lost in sleep, not a care in the world…guess the fact that Sam Guthrie hates us isn’t keeping him up at night’ Tabitha tells herself as she calls Bobby a jerk and elbows him in the back, but Bobby doesn’t wake up. Tabitha tells herself that she should have known better than to get involved with another one of her teammates - a lesson she should have learned after Rictor and Cannonball. ‘Then again, Bobby is awfully cute…’ Tabby tells herself, before touching Bobby and deciding that she will never get back to sleep now, so she tells the sleeping Bobby that she is going to get in the shower. Bobby just grumbles something indecipherable back.
‘As soon as I can get my morning jolt’ Tabitha adds as she enters the kitchen, asking James “Warpath” Proudstar, who sits at the kitchen table eating breakfast, if he has any idea where the coffee is kept. James replies that he doesn’t have a clue, before telling Tabitha that she should really try to cut down on the caffeine. ‘We can’t all be as health conscious as you’ Tabitha replies.
X-Force Fun Fact: James Proudstar’s breakfast consists of whole grain cereal, fruit and non-fat milk.
Suddenly, Sally “Skids” Blevins enters! ‘Coffee’s on the top shelf’ Sally tells her long-time friend, adding ‘Same old Tabitha’. ‘You’re up early, Skids. College life suits you, huh?’ Meltdown replies as she reaches for the coffee, to which Sally, wearing jeans, a green sweeter and a baseball cap which covers her now rather long blonde hair, replies that she had an eight o’clock chemistry midterm, before telling Tabitha that she doesn’t go by “Skids” anymore. ‘It’s just Sally’ she declares.
X-Force Fun Fact: Sally “Skids” Blevins is currently majoring in bio-science. Her GPA is a respectable 3.8.
Tabitha tells Sally that she can respect that, ‘You know I changed my codename to Meltdown. No one takes anyone named Boomer seriously’ she jokes. Sally frowns and replies ‘you don’t understand. I don’t have a codename anymore. I don’t want one. That part of my life is over. I’m a student. Period. I don’t even use my mutant powers anymore!’ A gape-jawed Tabitha exclaims ‘That’s crazy, right ,James?’, but Warpath tells her to leave him out of this. Meltdown creates a small plasma time bomb as she tells Sally that the coolest thing about being a mutant is doing things that practically nobody else in the world can do. ‘Like fly to work or move furniture telekinetically, or make your own fireworks on the Fourth of July!’. Tabitha tells Sally to admit that she loved using her powers when she was part of the New Mutants. ‘Those were great times, remember?’
X-Force Fun Fact: The New Mutants at one time consisted of Sunspot, Rictor, Skids, Rusty, Cannonball, Boom-Boom and Cypher.
Covering her face with her hands, ‘Not the way I remember it, Tabitha. We risked our lives everyday because Xavier or Magneto or Cable told us what we were supposed to do. We were just kids. We should’ve been worrying about the prom, not mutant terrorists and government agents. If we’d grown up like everyone else, we would never have been on Magneto’s Asteroid - and Rusty would never have been killed by that maniac, Holocaust!’ Sally recalls her boyfriends’ death, and hangs her head in pain, as she exclaims that she misses Rusty so much.
Meanwhile, Sunspot has woken and yawns as he makes his way to the bathroom, muttering that he must be the last one up.
X-Force Fun Fact: When he was fifteen Roberto DaCosta made the cover of the Brazilian equivalent of Tiger Beat. The accompanying article revealed that the qualities Bobby most wanted in a girlfriend were “spontaneity” and “a sense of humor”.
Entering the bathroom, Bobby calls out ‘Morning Tabitha’ before standing beside the shower and asking her if she wants some company. Pushing the shower curtain aside, he begins ‘I can loofah your…oops!’. Bobby goes wide-eyed as he realizes that it is not Tabitha in the shower. Suddenly, there is a piercing scream, and Bobby is knocked across the bathroom and through the bathroom door.
X-Force Fun Fact: Statistics prove that most home accidents occur in the bathroom.
‘I am so dead’ Bobby mutters, before Theresa “Siryn” Rourke, towel wrapped around her, tells Bobby that he is right, before asking him what he was thinking walking in on her like that. ‘Have ye no decency?’ X-Force’s leader asks him. ‘Theresa, I - I - I -’ Bobby begins. ‘Spit it out, boyo’ Siryn snaps. ‘I thought you were Tabitha. Sorry’ Bobby replies.
X-Force Fun Fact: Theresa Rourke sings Top 40 hits from the 1970’s in the shower. Her current favorite: “Rock the Boat” by the Hues Corporation.
‘That’s not gonna help’ Warpath remarks as he, Meltdown and Skids stand in the doorway. ‘And you thought it would be alright to walk in on me?’ Tabitha asks, angrily. ‘Um…Hi, Tabitha…this is all a big misunderstand. Really’ Sunspot declares, when suddenly, a voice calls out ‘Hey - what’s with all the noise? I thought I heard someone screaming. Whoa - what happened to the bathroom door?’. Sally turns to her roommate, Des, and tells him that it was just an accident and he can go back to bed while they take care of it. Des replies that he has a portfolio due at eleven, before telling Sally that he is glad to finally meet some of her friends. ‘Lucy and I were beginning to think you never brought anyone home because you were embarrassed of your house-mates’ he remarks, before asking Sally if she is going to introduce him.
Leaning against a wall, Sally exclaims ‘Desmond Hatori, meet James, Bobby, Tabitha and Theresa’. Desmond takes Theresa by the hand and says ‘Hi…’, to which Siryn tells him that she didn’t mean to break his door. ‘No problem’ Des replies, before telling Siryn that she has a great voice and asking her if she is Irish. ‘Aye that I am. Desmond, is it?’ Siryn replies, smiling. Tabitha leans over and quietly whispers to Siryn ‘FYI, girlfriend, before you through yourself at Skids’ roommate…remember you’re wearing nothing but a towel’. Theresa goes wide-eyed, before quickly disappearing into a room and slamming the door behind her. ‘I like your friends, Sal. How come they call you Skids?’ Des asks Sally, curiously. ‘Don’t go there, Des’ Sally replies bashfully.
A hundred miles away, outside of Denver, Danielle Moonstar has returned to her family’s ranch for a long overdue visit. William Lonestar, Dani’s father, tells her that it is good to have her back home, and reassuring to see her on a horse that doesn’t have wings.
X-Force Fun Fact: SHIELD Commander GW Bridge refused to process Dani’s resignation from that agency. Her status is currently listed as Inactive.
Riding alongside her father, Danielle tells him that she misses Brightwind, but that after living undercover with the Mutant Liberation Front, she let her return home. ‘She deserved to fun free in the wild fields of Asgard’. William tells Dani that her mother and he were wondering what her plans are for the future, to which Dani smiles and tells her father that she wishes she had an answer for him, but that right now it is just nice travelling with her friends.
William tells Dani that he knows being a mutant is no easy thing in this day and age, and tells his daughter that if it gets too much for her, she can always come home. ‘I know, Dad. Thanks’ Dani replies, when suddenly, William’s horse stays braying. ‘What is it, girl? What’s spooking you?’ Williams asks, when suddenly, Dani tells her father to get out of her before he gets hurt - as Reignfire appears hovering above them! Reignfire tells Moonstar that he doesn’t want her father, just her. ‘You’re the traitorous jezebel who lied her way into my Mutant Liberation Front. Now you’re going to pay for your deception!’ he exclaims.
William declares ‘Mister, this is private property. You’d better leave now’, but Dani reminds her father that she told him to get out of here. ‘I meant it. Just go!’ she shouts, before calling Reignfire Bobby and telling him that she doesn’t know what has caused him to relapse like this, ‘But I promise I’ll do everything I can to cure you of this twisted personality!’ she exclaims, readying a psionic arrow. ‘I’m touched’ Reignfire replies as he blasts Dani off of her horse. He declares that he knows that Dani and Roberto have been friends since that first day at Xavier’s School, before exclaiming ‘How often must I explain that I am not your old friend?’
X-Force Fun Fact: No on in X-Force has been enrolled in college. However, in her freshman year of high school, a guidance counselor advised Tabitha to consider cosmetology school. Tabitha was suspended for her colorful response to the counselor.
Walking across the college campus, Meltdown remarks that Skids seems so different. ‘I mean, I know Rusty’s death hit her hard, but it’s like she’s shut herself off. I thought she’d be glad to see us again. Instead, I think she can’t wait for us to leave’ Tabitha exclaims, to which Sunspot asks if they can stop talking about Skids for a while. ‘Uhmm…yeah…I guess’ Tabitha replies, to which Bobby tells her that she has been giving her the cold shoulder since New Mexico, and asks ‘What’s up? I thought you wanted to be with me’. ‘Yeah…me, too’ Tabitha replies, remarking that everything would’ve been fine if Sam hadn’t shown up in Texas.
Sunspot asks Meltdown if she is still hung up on Cannonball, but Tabby replies that she just needs a little space. Sunspot puts his arms around her, telling her that it is not a difficult question. ‘Either you want to be with me or you don’t’ he exclaims, but Meltdown pushes him away, telling him not to pressure her. ‘Fine. You want space? I’ll give you all the space you need. I’ll see you later!’ Bobby exclaims as he leaves Tabitha standing under a tree and walks away.
X-Force Not-So-Fun Fact: Bobby is not having any fun.
Walking with his head hanging, Bobby tells himself that, first his trust fund gets tied up with some lawsuit, which leaves him sponging off his friends, ‘Then Tabitha and I hook up which seems like a good idea at the time - but that relationship cost me my best friend, and now it’s falling apart as well. When did my life end up in the toilet?’. Suddenly, a football is kicked over towards Bobby and lands at his feet. ‘Hmmm…haven’t played futbol in ages. I used to eat, drink and sleep the game. Life was a lot simpler then’ Bobby tells himself, before one of the college students on the nearby field calls out ‘A little help, dude’, wanting the ball back. Bobby kicks the ball up on to his head and head-butts it over to the students. ‘Coming at you!’ he exclaims, to which one of the students remarks that they need an extra player. ‘You wanna play?’ he asks Bobby, who replies that he does, very much.
X-Force Fun Fact: Of all the X-Men and X-Force members, only Theresa and Henry McCoy knew how to operate the Xavier Institute latte machine. The machine was later confiscated by Bastion when his Zero Tolerance troops occupied the estate.
Entering a coffee house on the college campus, Siryn suggests to James that she might apply to college. ‘Imagine how glorious it’d be t’spend five or six years doing nothing but studying’ she exclaims, adding that she could go to law school. ‘We could certainly use a mutant lobby in Washington’ she points out, before sitting down at a table and asking James if he was in school what his major would be. ‘Tough question!’ James replies as he makes his way over to the counter to get them something to drink, he tells her he will answer when he gets back. ‘Yeah, I could get used to the college life’ Siryn tells herself when suddenly, someone approaches her: ‘Theresa! Hi. Remember me?’
Siryn looks up and sees Desmond, Sally’s roommate, and tells him that she didn’t forget him. Des asks if he can sit down, to which Theresa tells him he can. James sees Siryn and Desmond together and tells himself that they really seem to be hitting it off. ‘Funny, considering the heavy duty torch I carried for Theresa, I should feel jealous, but I don’t…she’s my best friend. She deserves to find someone’. Suddenly, a crack of electricity sparks behind Theresa - it would be imperceptible to anyone without James Proudstar’s heightened senses - ‘Theresa, get down!’ James calls out across the coffee house.
But Warpath’s warning is lost in the noise of the coffee house, as a teleportation signature appears behind Siryn, and someeon reaches through a grabs her, pulling her through. Even though Siryn would sense the threat a fraction of a second after James, it is in that infinitesimal moment that her attacker presses her advantage. ‘That light!’ Desmond exclaims while the portal closes - but not fast enough as Warpath bounds across the room in a superhuman blur, diving into the diminishing breach, following his kidnapped friend to an unknown place and peril. Desmond spins around, ‘That was soooo weird. Did you see that, Theresa? It was like a flash of - Theresa?’ he calls out, realizing Theresa has vanished.
X-Force Fun Fact: The odds than an ordinary person will be abducted as repeatedly as the average mutant are astronomically low.
X-Force Fun Fact: Before he left Brazil to attend the Xavier Institute, Bobby was being groomed by his coaches for his Native County’s Olympic team.
‘SCORE!’ someone calls out as the football is kicked past the goal keeper. ‘Not again!’ the goalie mutters, while one of the students tells Bobby that he is the bomb. ‘You should go out for the school team. With you playing forward, we’d smoke the western division!’ he exclaims. Bobby smiles and remarks that it has been a long time since he has played. ‘I’d forgotten how much I love the game’ he remarks, adding that he is not a student here, to which his new friend tells him that once the coach sees him play, he will bend over backwards to get him admitted. Suddenly, Bobby’s new friend is burned to a crisp right before Bobby’s eyes. ‘Everyone that gets close to you is going to die, Bobby!’ a voice exclaims. ‘No…it’s can’t be!’ Bobby utters, looking upwards.
X-Force Fun Fact: Tabitha was kicked out of four different high schools before she dropped out completely. Consequently, she doesn’t like schools.
Sally finds Tabitha sitting on some steps, and asks her what she is doing here by herself. ‘I thought you and Bobby wanted some time alone’ Sally remarks. Frowning, Tabitha replies that Bobby is off pouting somewhere. ‘It’s not like we’re a couple now’ she adds. Sally asks Tabitha if she broke up with Bobby, to which Tabitha replies that it is not like they were even officially together. ‘I should know better than to get involved with a friend’ she adds. ‘You wanna talk about regrets? I’ve got a million of ‘em’ Sally declares, telling Meltdown that if she wants to be part of the mutant revolution, that is fine, but to count her out. ‘I don’t want to play those games anymore. The cost is too high’.
Suddenly, Meltdown sees a cloud of smoke in the distance. ‘FIRE!’ another student calls out, before Meltdown realizes that it is not any fire. ‘That’s Bobby!’ she exclaims as she and Sally begin running towards the field. ‘You couldn’t spend a couple of days here without getting into trouble’ Sally remarks, before they arrive at the field: ‘Oh no - not him -’ Meltdown gasps as she looks up and sees Reignfire.
X-Force Not-So-Fun Fact: Reignfire wants to hurt Bobby before he kills him.
‘I’ve been waiting for this moment, Bobby. There’s so much I have to show you’ Reignfire exclaims. ‘You see, I use the power we share in ways you never dreamed. And because I am more powerful than you, I can absorb all the ambient heat including your own!’ Reignfire declares. ‘This isn’t possible! You can’t be real! I was Reignfire!’ Bobby exclaims, lying on the field, while Reignfire absorbs his energy. ‘Reality check, Bobby. You thought you were me and so did Cable. And that was a big mistake!’ Reignfire exclaims, while Bobby whispers ‘I’m so cold’. Arriving on the field, Sally tells Tabitha that this looks bad, while other students gather around to watch also. ‘Mutants -’ someone exclaims. ‘I didn’t know we had mutants in Boulder’ another student remarks. ‘Somebody call the Police!’ another suggests. ‘Call the news!’ someone shouts. ‘You’ve never been to my boyfriend’s frat house’ another remarks, while Tabitha declares that she has to do something, as Reignfire is killing Bobby. ‘Tabitha, we’re in public!’ Sally exclaims.
‘Like I care’ Tabitha replies as she rushes forward, and shouts ‘Get away from him!’ as she readies a large time-bomb to throw at Reignfire, who sees Meltdown and greets her, before remarking that he can disable her with a blast of hot air. Indeed, Tabitha is knocked backwards, and the field around her gets scorched with the touch of Reignfire’s power. ‘If you think a little steam burn’s gonna stop me, you’re wrong!’ Meltdown exclaims as she rubs her head. ‘I was going to kill you eventually’ Reignfire replies as he prepares another attack. ‘It might as well be now!’ he exclaims as he prepares to blast Tabitha - except his attack is deflected by the bio-electric force field which Skids throws up around Tabitha and herself as she runs onto the battlefield to protect her friend.
‘You lied about using your power. You couldn’t do this when we were New Mutants’ Tabitha exclaims. ‘Okay, so I’ve practised once or twice. It doesn’t mean I like this’ Sally exclaims, while the other students look on. ‘I know that girl. She’s in my biology class’ someone whispers. Sally manages to drag Meltdown off the field. ‘Thanks Ski - Sally, I knew you’d come through’ Meltdown exclaims, before muttering ‘Ow ow ow…feels like I fell asleep on the beach!’. ‘This is exactly the kind of insanity I was trying to keep out of my life!’ Sally exclaims, before both girls are knocked to the ground as Locus materializes on the field. ‘You didn’t have to be part of this, honey. We only wanted members of X-Force. Too bad you’ve joined them!’ Locus exclaims to Skids, while she pulls Meltdown towards her portal. ‘Do you have them all?’ Reignfire asks as he, Locus, Sunspot, Meltdown and Skids begin to vanish. ‘Everyone but Proudstar’ Locus replies, while Sunspot asks ’Where are you taking me?’.
Later, in Las Vegas, in a hidden chamber, Moonstar, Siryn, Meltdown and Skids are strung up by their feet, hanging upside down, while Sunspot is strapped to a large box in the center of the chamber. Siryn has a gag over her mouth, while Moonstar has chains wrapped around her. ’Now what?’ Locus asks. ’My retribution begins. I did not ask for his body and his memories, Locus, but they’re a part of me now’ Reignfire declares, adding that he refuses to live as Sunspot’s shadow. ’His very existence is an affront to me!’ he exclaims, before telling Bobby to wake up. ’Who are you?’ Sunspot asks. ’Think of me as the brother you never had. I’ll be Cain to your Abel’ Reignfire replies.
Reignfire boasts that he has been slowly destroying Sunspot’s life in little pieces, revealing that he arranged for the lawsuit that froze Bobby’s trust fund, and has followed him across the country, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake. ’Today I stole your power, and tonight I’m going to kill your friends. Leaving your death for my big finale!’. Standing around a corner, Warpath listens, while thinking to himself that it is lucky Locus teleported out of here after depositing Siryn, as she was too busy to notice he had followed her back here. ’If Reignfire really has added Bobby’s power to his own, we’re all in deep trouble!’ Warpath realizes.
X-Force Fun Fact Q&A: Next issue, can Bobby survive learning the truth behind Reignfire?