X-Force have just revealed themselves to the clandestine British troop, the Pheasant Pluckers. and the operatives of MI-13.
Once, Dr. Nemesis sighs. Just once. Dialogue! Pack-mammal reasoning before instinct led violence. Please?
(instinct-led violence for the win, as the two groups are at each other’s throats.)
Agent Cargyll assures Pete Wisdom that X-Force have assaulted them, jeopardized a critical mission and imperiled national security. More important, she knows #&$* they don’t. He can’t let them take her. Yeah, yeah, Pete sighs, he knows the lot. Quick and dirty! he orders. Taking out the teleporter’s the key. Leave that to them, the super-powered captain replies.
While Nemesis pleads for dialogue, MeMe tells Cable he was right. The soldiers scan as pseudo-mutants. Definitely Volga’s work. Limeylady’s got the info.
Cable informs his team that the other side’s top trump is the blonde in the bubble (Meggan) and orders to concentrate fire on her.
Nemesis remarks that there are some fascinating flies out here. They could all just get a nice cup of coffee and—
Psylocke reminds Cable he is referring to her sister-in-law. They better leave Meggan to her. They do so like to keep their violent dysfunction within the family.
Ignored, Nemesis plops down and swears.
Captain Riggs gets in Betsy’s way and warns her to back off, only to be attacked by Fantomex. One of the soldiers scrambles the teleporter signal, causing MeMe to mess with him.
Ha! Wisdom exclaims as he uses his hot knife to sever Cable’s arm prosthesis. Cable mimics him and hits him in the face with his gun.
Marrow throws bone spikes at a very confused Faiza Hussein. Psylocke calls Marrow to her side since she isn’t very successful at attacking Meggan, who chides her that no doubt she will claim later there is a good reason for this. But they both know Betsy’s never needed much excuses to bloody her blade, just as they both know she’s never been a match for her.
Psylocke orders Marrow to touch her. Knew she fancied her, Marrow leers and complies. Marrow touches Psylocke and Meggan jolts back powerfully, taking out both herself and Betsy.
What? Marrow asks. Empathic ubermorph, Dr. Nemesis informs her. Stronger than a god but just as malleable. He imagines “Baroness Stabby” there guessed Marrow’s sociopathic post-traumatic atom brain might engender some contact killjoying. He’d say she underestimated. Predictably Marrow mumbles kill kill as she scuttles off.
So is she a doctor too? Dr. Nemesis asks Faiza Hussein. Fancy some coffee? Tea, if he has some, she replies. Off-handedly, he shoots her with a syringe, calling tea filthy stuff.
Tom the rookie is getting agitated as he sees that the real Quadees have shown up and are abducting Agent Argyll. Tom begins to emit energy. Everyone stop! he shouts and lashes out with the energy. Chopper’s buggered! Porter’s out! Quadees took the agent! Start #*$§#*& talking! Dialogue win, Nemesis groans weakly.
A little later, all of them (save for Dr. Nemesis) sit around a fire and trade stories. The captain explains Agent Argyll told them it was approved to convert double hard bastards into gods. All been tested, she said. No risk. Only rule was to keep it secret. So yeah: they better bloody believe they volunteered.
Tom stammers it was that way for him too. Chance to be a hero, she said.
The captain grimly summarizes what X-Force told him. That they are saying they got these powers from that Ivan Volga and they will kill them within a year?
Pete Wisdom asks Cable how he even found these lads. Even he didn’t know about them and he’d watched Mel like a hawk. MeMe explains there was a discrepancy in the service files. Soldiers with a patchy record suddenly get citation / promotion / transfer. Bumped up to elite units. Something fishy about it. Not based on merits. She isn’t talking about him, is she? Tom fears. He stalks away swearing.
Wisdom is impressed by Cable’s people watching the whole world. They needed evidence, Cable replies. MeMe pulled some strings. Became a reporter. Rest of them’s been trying to probe a response since.
Nemesis is examining a strange insect under a microscope. He asks MeMe for her input but she isn’t interested and instead flies over to Tom and asks if he is okay. He sulks at her to leave him alone. She’s just a… girl.
She laughs. Identity is kinda pick ‘n’ mix when you’re a post-organic lifeform. But maybe they got more in common than he thinks. Keep a secret? He see the old guy? With the eyepatch? Tom asks. He’s hot. He’s her dad, MeMe reveals. He doesn’t know, she adds. Point is he’s a warrior. Best there is at what he does. All she ever wanted was to be the same. To have his respect on his terms. But there comes a day that stops being so important. You start to see the holes in the hero. And you realize what really counts isn’t being with or like or defined by anyone or anything else. But just being the best at being you.
Psylocke stares at Tom, sensing he’s different. What was the plan? Cable asks. Trojan horse, the Captain replies. They find the Quadees, the kid has an accident. They capture him, take him back to base. Whereupon something happens. She never told them what. Three months they been tracking these bastards, breathing dust and eating camel /&%$. Ready to light up and show the world what they can do. But just when they are getting close along comes this “speccy little berk” with a better power than them? Why do they think they been so hard on him? She brung him out here to nick their gig and their glory.
Dismissively Fantomex points out the Quadees captured her instead. He’d call that divine justice, non?
Cable points out she might know where Volga is so they gotta find her. Wisdom muses he wouldn’t mind getting some solid dirt on Mel’s department, so if they want some back-up his people are in. When Cable addresses Captain Riggs, the soldier retorts his men aren’t in the business of quitting. But it’s not a case of them coming along with X-Force. X-Force wants to tag along with them, he ain’t averse. Anyone says ‘team-up’ get a knife in the arse.
Soon, they lurk outside the Quadees’ cave fortress. MeMe announces there is no tech to hack. Powered up, Captain Riggs states aerial recons’s clear. Fantomex opines there was a small mountain goat the captain didn’t see. His recon is better. Meggan corrects him that was her. It was a very attractive mountain goat, Fantomex tries to amend.
Meggan senses neither a defensive perimeter nor Agent Mel. Betsy agrees, figuring she still has her psi-shield.
Plan of attack, the leaders figure and a moment later the more brutal members simply storm loose and attack the Quadees who have powers themselves. Volga, Cable figures, surprising Wisdom that he sold them to both sides. Go time? Betsy asks Cable. Very go time, he replies and joins the fight.
Psylocke telepathically orders Hope to her as they enter the cave system. Quickly, she takes out Mel’s guards. The agent is tied up and Psylocke takes off her psi-dampener. Betsy learns the treatment came from a front company. No new intel on Volga.
What about Tom? Hope asks. Same process as the rest, Betsy finds out. Bit of a freak outcome. So they’ve been keeping him drugged, so he stays calm. All those pills. Keep him out of combat by faking a poor service record. Some sort of bio-generated psychic singularity. Basically a black hole for organics. A bloody reality bomb. If poor Tom ever gets really excited, it’ll come fully out to play, swallowing him and anyone around him. He doesn’t even know.
Leave no trace, Hope realizes and swears. Betsy tells Hope it’s her call what to do with Mel, who is begging. She doesn’t know who she’s talking about, Hope replies. And they leave her behind.
They join the battle outside and Psylocke telepathically brings the others up to speed. The Volga lead is a bust. The kid is a psychic nuke waiting to blow and the baddie to goodie ratio is rotten. They need to leave.
Cable tells the rest to go, he’s got a trick up his sleeve… Betsy tells him to stop groping at self-destruct for every problem. These guys would be too tough to “martyrsplode,” even if they did have the luxury of impunity. Leave no trace, remember? She’s afraid someone else gets to play the sacrificial lamb today.
MeMe protests that’s a horrible plan. It’s Agent Mel’s horrible plan, Betsy agrees. Unfortunately, it is the best one there is. Captain Riggs agrees. Except it’ll need someone here to keep the baddies bottled in and they shouldn’t be leaving tech of Volga lying around. So maybe the Pheasant Pluckers don’t get cheated of all the glory after all.
X-Force and MI13 run for it while the soldiers stay behind with the Quadees. Tom stutters, asking if he did something wrong again. The Captain tells him kindly that, for once, he’s doing fine. Asset to the team!
The others are behind cover. MeMe asks Betsy to touch her. She thinks she can route her power down the datalink from HQ and borrow Betsy’s telepathy. Betsy does so as Hope explains it’s for him. Because he deserves it.
Inside, Tom starts going ballistic expressing the singularity which tears everyone apart. As he dies, Hope telepathically gives him a full life: being accepted by the others and gaining some recognition and love. He is gone, she finally announces.
The cave is now empty. Tough call, Cable tells Betsy. She was under the impression that’s what they do, she replies archly. She okay? Cable asks about MeMe. Betsy suggests he talk to her. However, he shrugs it off. Tough calls is what they do. No room for needy damn soldiers. Mutant nation and his daughter — that’s his business. Also exxing himself every day, so the rest of thee don’t get nuked. Anything else can take care of itself.
Fantomex tries to flirt with Meggan, assuring her she makes a very sensual mountain goat. She’s married, she replies annoyed. What if he bleat? He can bleat better than anyone— She continues to be married.
Faiza tells Dr. Nemesis that she found a coffee ration. That’s very sporting, he begins. Then she poured it away, she continues. Here’s an empty cup.
Wisdom addresses Cable. He admits things turned out nicely. So why the face like a bomb blast? Cable asks. He’s a British agent and a mutant, Wisdom begins. He’s always been pretty clear about the two things not being incompatible. But this stuff… and other things… He asks Psylocke to sling up a deadzone. They’ll always use mutants, won’t they? he asks. Always have, Cable agrees. And will never fully trust them? Pete continues. Never will, Cable echoes.
Pete announces he will tell him a national secret. By passing it along, he is committing nothing short of bloody treason. He could be shot. There’s an agency. Calls itself “The Yellow Eye.” It’s being paid a lot by pretty much every sovereign state worth mentioning to spy on mutants every minute. All at once and all of the time. The bugs, Nathan! Don’t let the bugs bite!
And above them, a strange fly chuckles.