La Lunática tries to prevent both Tim and Junkpile from killing each other. Junkpile wants to kill Tim for the grief he and the other X-Men gave him in Las Vegas, and Tim wants to make Junkpile pay for the death of Serpentina. Luna commands them both to stop or else she’ll kick their mutant butts.
Suddenly, they are disturbed by the mall security. Various security robots surround them and human guards step forward. One guard points his gun at them, but when he notices the angry faces of Tim, Luna and Junkpile he smartly turns back. Tim wants to know why he can’t kill Junkpile, who wants to know the same thing. Luna tells Junkpile to back off because he owes her. Junkpile remembers but isn’t happy about it.
Luna reveals that she has been a prisoner of the Theatre of Pain for 10 long years. After she finally freed herself from the Controller’s influence, she knew the Theatre wouldn’t let her go and sent trackers after her to bring her back. Once outside the Theatre, Luna hitched a ride on a Synge transport that was headed east. The driver couldn’t keep his eyes on the road but instead on her. Luna didn’t like that and smashed the driver’s head on the dash, causing the truck to fall down and get smashed. Luna survived, but the driver didn’t. But before the driver died, Luna explains that she fed on his last moments of pain and anguish, learning that he was deadly afraid of his cargo.
Curious, Luna opened the transport hold and found Junkpile, drugged and restrained. Luna realized that Desdemona Synge had sold him to an Alchemax Bioshop. Luna knew that Junkpile would be more valuable to her than anyone else. Junkpile confirms and, to thank her, he agreed to protect Luna. Tim doesn’t understand why Luna would need protection, since he saw how she knocked out Bloodhawk. They enter a saloon. Tim wants Luna to answer his question. Luna explains that while Tim and his friends were at the Theatre, they only saw a small fraction of it. Luna reveals that the Theatre reaches out extends across the country and around the world.
Luna continues to explain that the Theatre traffics in human misery, providing twisted entertainment to a decadent clientele. The Theatre’s hierarchy specializes in tortures, vulgar and sublime, from the Grand Guignol Bloodsport of the Norns, to the sadistic machinations of the Controllers. But, Luna says, the Norns and the Controllers pale before the calculated cruelty and white hot fury of the Theatre’s leader: Brimstone Love! Luna reveals that the Theatre sees the rest of the world as chattel to be used and abused at their whim. Luna says that they’ve kept circuit-skips on her heels since she broke free from the Theatre.
Luna is tired of the running and wants them gone. Junkpile realizes that Luna must want them to take care of that. He likes the idea of someone possibly getting hurt. Tim doesn’t trust Junkpile on his side, but keeps that thought to himself.
Meanwhile outside, still in his sheriff guise, Brimstone Love finds the stray he has been following. Brimstone Love thinks to himself that nobody leaves the Theatre of Pain before the final curtain.
In the Cyberverse, Haiku attacks Xi’an. She still can’t believe that he actually got the nerve to come ask her for a favor and request information, after he left her to die! Haiku explains that she survived, but only thanks to the help of Victor Ten Eagles. Haiku reveals that she has heard Xi’an had changed since he left the Lawless, that he had found a heart and soul with his band of X-Men. Apparently, she has been informed wrong.
Xi’an asks Haiku what happened to her, because he remembers a real woman and not some sort of fantasy. Xi’an asks Haiku when she retreated from the real world. Haiku doesn’t buy that Xi’an could actually be concerned about her and just asks what he wants from her. Xi’an explains that he is tracking a purge-era mutant runner who is known as the Driver. Xi’an sees the Driver as the only lead he has to other mutants that survived the Purge. Xi’an shows the disc he has containing specs on the Driver’s underground ruins, and Xi’an says he needs Haiku to crossref the data on the Driver’s current location.
Haiku remembers how Xi’an always wanted to world. She asks what he is going to do if the information proves to lead nowhere. Xi’an just tells Haiku to do what he asks, since nobody is better suited for the job. Haiku promises to do it, but warns Xi’an that what he will find won’t be what he expects. Xi’an asks what she means, but instead of answering his question, Haiku sends them both back to the real world. Xi’an isn’t happy with the warning but is pleased that Haiku is going to help him. Ulysses tells Xi’an that is more than he deserves.
Ulysses orders Xi’an to leave because he isn’t welcome here. Xi’an does so. But before he leaves, he asks Ulysses if it doesn’t drive him crazy to love a woman he can’t touch. As Xi’an is gone, Haiku tells Ulysses not to let himself be bothered by Xi’an’s words. Haiku thinks of Xi’an a fool if he thinks he is going to help him without a prize. Haiku says that nothing comes for free, and says that Xi’an Chi Xan might get what he wants.
Elsewhere, the Driver checks out the equipment he has in his base. The Driver remembers how his times on the roads have stretched from years to decades. Yet, he seems untouched by the passage of time. He remembers little of the life he once led, before he was bonded to the nitroburn and given direction.
The Driver’s mission is to assemble the lost mutant tribe and bring them there to the Garage, where they can be safe. Concealed within the memory of the computer and awaiting resurrection. Suddenly, one of the Driver’s computers reports to him that he has an incoming message. The Driver doesn’t understand, since all his lines are secured. The face of the Broken Haiku appears on the screen, telling the Driver that no system is ever totally secure.
Metalhead smashes a locked door open. The building will be the resting place for the Freakshow for the night. Mama Hurricane promises that they will reach the Reservation tomorrow. Breakdown mocks that he could have transformed the lock into glass so that they could break in without destroying the front door. Mama Hurricane tells Breakdown to relax because Eddie was only trying to help. Eddie confirms, saying that he wants to do his share because Mama has been so good to him. Mama Hurricane thanks him, saying that there will be plenty of work along the way.
Mama notices how much her family has grown since she met Breakdown and Rosa in Tempé. Breakdown doesn’t understand why they let a mutant in their group, because he isn’t a degene like the rest of them. Eddie asks Breakdown why him being a mutant bothers him so. Breakdown says that he hates everything about Eddie, because since he has lost his pretty boy looks he only wants to hide with the other “monsters.” Rosa tells Cesar to back off, because he has been on Eddie’s throat ever since they left Iron Horse. And she thinks it’s because of her.
Breakdown tells Rosa to stop it, because she already made one mistake and he won’t let her make another one. Eddie and Rosa wander off from the group. Rosa tells Eddie not to let Breakdown bother him. Cesar thinks that he still needs to look after her like he did in the Bioshop nursery. Eddie replies that some of the things Breakdown said are true: he has been wallowing in self-pity. Eddie recalls how once he had control of his body and could shift his metallomimetic abilities, but now he’s stuck in them.
Rosa tells Eddie that he isn’t the only one going through some changes, because, in four months, she herself is going to be a mother. Eddie asks Rosa if she thinks that Shakti is going to be right, and that her baby is going to be a mutant. Is she worried? Rosa answers that she isn’t worried about her child having special powers in whatever way, only about its safety. It’s a rough world and a lot of bad things can happen to a little child. Rosa knows that herself. Eddie says that Mama Hurricane has promised that her friends at the Reservation are going to give them shelter. Eddie tells Rosa that she is a powerful woman. Rosa says that she has to be. Someone’s life is depending on her.
At the saloon, the bartender says that he’ll serve anyone, but wishes that the one table Tim and his “friends” sit on didn’t scare away all the other customers. Behind him, a sheriff says he can see why. Suddenly, the bartender gets it warm and asks if it got hot in here. The sheriff transforms into Brimstone Love and replies “Soon.”
Meanwhile, Junkpile tells Tim he is about to get killed, because Junkpile doesn’t understand why Tim thinks that he can’t be trusted. Tim wants to answer, but Luna holds him. Tim doesn’t obey and tells Luna that he’s got his help if she needs it, but he refuses to work together with Junkpile. As the conversation goes on, none of them notice Brimstone Love standing behind them, back in his sheriff form. Brimstone Love realizes how easy it would be to just attack them now and ruin their plans completely, but he holds himself back when he notices Xi’an entering the saloon.
Xi’an enters and happily greets Junkpile and hands him over a Genoshan whisky, a drink Junkpile has always liked. Junpile doesn’t understand why Xi’an is so happy with him being there, considering their past. Xi’an claims that the past is over; done is done. Junkpile crossed him, and in return Xi’an shut him down. Xi’an says that if he wanted Junkpile dead, he would be. Junkpile notices how Xi’an sounds like his old self again, before he found religion and wanted to bring life again in Xavier’s dream. Xi’an doesn’t know what to say, so he simply answers that he considered the X-Men to be a dead end. Luna says that she heard that Zhao messed with Xi’an’s head. Xi’an gets angry and shouts that Luna knows nothing about him. Xi’an asks Tim to come with him and leave Luna and Junkpile be for what they are.
Tim agrees and tells Luna that he meant what he said and doesn’t want Junkpile at his side and walks out. Junkpile tries to tell Luna that she’s better off without him, but Luna refuses to let Tim go. The bartender is glad to see the mutants leave. Brimstone Love turns back to himself and, through a comm-link, orders his servant, Charon, to send him information about Xi’an Chi Xan. As Brimstone Love has read the file through, he is happy to find out that Xi’an seems to be unable to burry his dark side. Which is a very good thing for the Theatre.
Sulphur Springs Valley, Arizona
Xi’an, Tim, Luna and Junkpile find a gigantic white box. Everyone believes that Xi’an is crazy and asks him what he expects to find here. Xi’an reveals this is the base of the Driver, or at least his ghost. Tim and Junkpile each try to open the box, but fail. Xi’an decides to use his deadly touch and opens the box. Xi’an concludes that despite appearances, he was touching nothing. They discover that the entrance is concealed by a solid particle field projection system and a holographic imager. They enter a garage. Tim doesn’t recognize any of the many types of equipment in there. They walk on unknown territory.
They go deeper and Xi’an realizes that they are being trapped. He is correct, as suddenly they are all caught in a laser grid! The Driver appears, and says that he was expecting them. Xi’an realizes that Haiku has sold him out. The Driver confirms. The Driver continues to say that this is the first time passengers have come to his garage, for this is the final destination. He is the Driver.