Nighttime, the jungle of Terra Verde:
Making their way through the forest are Domino, Marvel Girl and Kid Omega, led by Wolverine.
Via comm, they are connected with Beast and Sage, who informs them that they should arrive at the target another klick northwest. Wolverine sniffs and disagrees. The target’s on them. Sage warns them to proceed with caution, and the mission never happened, so don’t leave behind witnesses!
The fight begins.
Sitting next to Sage, Beast silently muses that X-Force is a dark orchestra. Some of them are in the spotlight of the melody like Quentin Quire and his psychic weapons or Domino, while others harmonize in the background, like Sage. Some serve a necessary function by mindlessly beating drums and crashing cymbals, like Wolverine, and there are those as versatile as a cello, able to play melody or harmony, like Jean Grey. And he is their conductor. Some of his… musicians would deny it, but he considers it a fact. He is the mind. He is the conscience. He unifies them, shapes their missions, interprets their needs and controls their pacing. He is in charge of interpreting all data for Krakoa. That means he controls all information. And if that information is damaging to mutantkind, he arranges the clean-up…
The Presidential Palace in Terra Verde:
A very special guest is welcomed. Professor X (accompanied by Black Tom Cassidy) visits for the signing of a treaty to acknowledge Krakoa between Terra Verde and Krakoa. President Manuel Cocom hopes Xavier sympathizes with the delay in signing the treaty. They are a proud country. Shaking his hand, Xavier assures him there is humility in joining them but no shame. The president replies that many of his countrymen would disagree. His son puts his arm on his shoulder and tells him it’s time.
Black Tom grimly tells Xavier he doesn’t trust matters. He’s got the creeping flesh. Xavier is certain everything will be fine. But Black Tom is single-minded on not letting anything happen to Xavier again. His job may be defending Krakoa, but there is no Krakoa without Xavier.
The president begins his speech to his citizens. He promised them change. He admits this is not the change he was thinking of, but he is doing this for the greater good of Terra Verde.
He is interrupted as tentacles grab him coming from a young man in the audience. Grimly, he states there will be no deal. The mutants aren’t in charge, and neither is he. Black Tom orders Xavier to get down.
The man has turned into a green monster, dragging the president toward him. He changes his hand into a knife. The president asks what he is. The future of Terra Verde, is the reply. Two more members of the audience change shape. Black Tom gets in front of Xavier, ready to fight them to the death, if necessary.
Beast asks what happened then. Black Tom replies that they pissed off, as he told them to. Beast summarizes that President Cocom suffered only mild injuries and Xavier none. Black Tom believes he scared them away. Sage interrupts them: President Cocom has announced there will be no treaty with Krakoa.
Beast asks her to cross-reference all video footage from the ceremony. He muses that Cocom has faced many assassination attempts since taking office. Something makes this one different. Tom insists that he was the difference.
Sage quickly hacks several phones and finds out that the goal of the attack was abducting Cocom’s son…
The presidential residence, the east wing:
Guard stand outside the president’s suite. Inside, a doctor stitches Cocom’s injuries. The doctor tells him to rest and opens the door to find Beast standing outside, having taken out the guards. He hits the doctor who falls unconscious. The president cries for help and runs toward the balcony, but Marvel Girl comes flying in from there. She assures him they are here to help.
Beast grabs Cocom, who shouts that they will kill his son if he is seen talking to them. They won’t talk, Jean replies and enters his mind. She informs Beast that the kidnappers are telefloronic scientists. They’ve been infected by their work and are no longer themselves. President Cocom believes they’ve been driven mad, taken over by a hostile botanical intelligence. It’s the 21st century equivalent of developing an atomic weapon, even as your scientists are dying of nuclear poisoning.
Marvel Girl asks what Beast is thinking. He tells her they strike tonight. The situation is more perilous than he had originally realizes. He asks her to wipe the memories of everyone, while he gathers the field team. But not Cocom? Jean asks. As Beast jumps outside, he tells he wants him to remember, so he will be in their debt…
On Krakoa, Beast muses that the telefloronics are not merely the dark mirror to some of their Krakoan tech. He believes the infected hosts are the organic equivalent of an Omega Sentinel. Which would in theory give way to another version of the omega cycle. Which could, in theory, lead to the extinction of mutantkind…
On Terra Verde, Domino shoots one of the creatures with her organic gun. Marvel Girl telekinetically keeps another one off her back. Kid Omega takes out even more.
With the fight over, the others move on, but Beast telepathically tells Jean to wait and reminds her not to leave any witnesses behind. The telefloronics are capable of healing their hosts. What happened to “kill no human?” she retorts angrily. He calls it a worthless moral quandary. There is a point when a cyborg becomes more robot than human, yes? It’s called an omega sentinel.
One telefloronic begins to recover as they talk.
Beast continues that these creatures are at the same dangerous juncture. He begins to describe what will happen should they replicate.
Jean telekinetically takes the creature apart. Beast thanks her and she snaps at him not to *+&% patronize her! She joins the others, who have reached a pyramid-like structure at the top of which stands the kidnapping victim, Hadwin Cocom. When Jean reaches him, he also turns into one of the telefloronics.
Hadwin is tied to a table. Beast summarizes to himself that Hadwin had staged his own abduction to force his father’s hand. He believed Terra Verde was almost there. They had almost perfected the coding of the telefloronics. And, when they did, their country would go from the middle of nowhere to the center of everything. When humans realized they not only had an alternative to Krakoa but also a way to weaponize their bodies, they would no longer recognize mutant sovereignty.
Beast believes Hadwin was right, which is why he had his lab destroyed and his fellow revolutionaries burnt to ashes. Keeping what he is doing from the rest of the team, he had offered to interrogate Hadwin and neutralize the telefloronics, before returning him to Terra Verde. He considers this not a lie but an omission of a larger truth. He has studied the telefloronic source code and reprogrammed cells to recognize dendrites and axons as an infection. They begin to work on Hadwin as they basically eat his mind. Beast decides no one will know what he has done or question Hadwin’s condition.
This may be cruel but wouldn’t it also be cruel to inform President Cocom that his son is a traitor or doom Terra Verde’s economy? Returning Hadwin to his father, feebleminded but alive, has assured that President Cocom will blame the nationalists and be grateful to mutants. He will sign the treaty, thereby giving his people access to Krakoan medicine and saving millions.
He is unaware that, alone in his room, Hadwin turns back into his telefloronic form and secretly leaves his room.