Once again, Shakti Haddad finds herself drawn back to the orchard, as before, each occasion is more clearly defined than the last. Her senses swim as she drinks in the heady aroma of apple blossoms. Shakti panics when she takes one, as inside the flower are multiple skulls! Suddenly, full and ripe, a harvest of skulls falls on her. Shakti realizes too late that the only thing nurtured in this moist, feculent soil… is death! The ground beneath her starts to crack open, and zombies arise from it. Shakti wakes up from her nightmare, and the truck driver next to her warns her that they have made it to Siddon, where Shakti wanted to be.
Shakti thanks the driver for the ride and steps out. The driver warns Shakti about the townspeople, as they aren’t that kind to strangers. Shakti tells her friend not to be worried, as she is used being an outsider. After all, she has been one most of her life. As Shakti walks through the town, she tries to figure out what the nightmares really mean. She has been having the same one for days now. And the further to the west she goes, the stronger it gets. And that last one was the most vivid yet.
Shakti notices the townspeople staring at her and decides to enter a bar so that she can get to know some of them, to let them know that she’s alright. She orders a drink and, luckily for her, the bartender decides to giver her the drink on the house, since they don’t see much new faces around the town. Shakti isn’t found of accepting drinks from strangers, but the bartender quickly introduces himself as Bob Cord, so that he isn’t a stranger anymore.
Some time later, Shakti and Cord walk a little. Shakti explains that she is meeting some friends on the coast, but decided to stretch her legs a little bit first. Plus, the truck driver was getting a little too intimate for her likings. Bob’s glad to see her around and asks what the world is becoming these days. Bob is glad to life in an outback city like Siddon, where people don’t have to worry about the craziness that occurs in the big cities. Life makes sense around here. They also have a pact with the nature land: they respect it and honor it and the land lets the people prosper. Bob admits that life isn’t always easy, but he knows that sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get them work.
Suddenly, a woman named Peggy strangles away from her family and rushes to Cord, wanting to see him pay for killing her family! Peggy hysterically cries that everyone knows Cord killed them, but they all let it happen. The woman’s family comes to take her away, and Bob tells them to take better care of her and take the woman home again. Bob still feels sorry for what happened to Peggy’s family. He remembers how they were all trapped in a car accident and nobody could get them out. They were wounded and Bob tried to operate them while they were still trapped inside, but it was no use. They died. And now Peggy blames Bob for letting the accident happening.
A kid called Pete suddenly runs towards Bob and informs him that the Overseer wants to see him. Bob apologizes to Shakti but says that he has to go, since he is responsible for a lot of things in Siddon. But he offers Shakti to come back later and have dinner with him.
Shakti thanks and says that she might do that. Shakti watches Bob leaving and suspects that something is terribly wrong around here, and wants to know what exactly. Time for an investigation! Shakti knows so far that her nightmares resonate on the same psionic frequency as her ability to detect mutants. She knows that their psychic trace pattern resembles the pattern of a dozen mutant minds all trying to speak at once. The signal is so weak, though, that Shakti can only sense them when asleep as they touch her unconscious mind. Shakti has scanned for mutant mental signatures ever since arriving in Siddon, but so far isn’t picking up anything. She walks out of the town, and lands straight in the orchard from her dreams!
Elsewhere, Bob enters a dark cave, and he isn’t alone. A gigantic creature is with him as well. The creature asks if it’s true that there’s a newcomer in town. Bob confirms the rumors. The creature has felt that Shakti is a woman and calls her evil, like all mutants are and wants to “deal” with her itself. Bob doesn’t see the harm that Shakti can do, since she will be leaving soon. The Overseer gives Bob a strong electrical shock through his body and commands him to do what he says, or else! Bob understands, but warns the Overseer that Shakti has friends waiting for her. What if they come looking for her?
The Overseer will be ready for them, and tells Cord to move, now! Shakti checks out the orchard and hasn’t found anything weird so far. But she knows that something must be wrong, since she can feel an underlining psionic surface tension. She moves some rocks away, and suddenly senses mutants! So many of them! Men, Woman, children… all dead! Shakti is able to pick up some of the former psyches in the skulls, and sees how they lived their last moments on Earth in total fear. They were hunted down and murdered!
Suddenly Cord stands behind Shakti, and he has brought some of the local cops with him as well, and a restraining collar that deactivates Shakti’s mutant powers. Shakti realizes that Peggy was telling the truth, and Bob did kill her family. Cord confirms, but claims that it was a necessary evil. They bring her to the cave of the Overseer, and Cord explains the town’s history. He reveals that, about a century ago, Siddon hit real hard times. People were all panicking, until old man Parker found the Overseer. The Overseer said that mutants were responsible for all the bad things and that the townspeople had to kill them all, if they wanted a good life. The Overseer tested everyone to see if they were mutants or not. Those who did were cleansed from life like they never existed, and later Siddon prospered like never before, and it still does.
Cord adds that, since then, Siddon has been killing mutants. Bob knows that it’s hard, since he has lost both friends and family because of this, but knows that it’s for the best. Shakti wants to know who the Overseer is. The Overseer steps out of the shadows, and… it’s a Sentinel! Bob can’t believe it, but the Overseer orders Cord not to listen to Shakti and kill her this instant. Shakti shouts and tries to warn everyone that they’ve only been taken orders from a broken robot. The Sentinel didn’t change their future, the future changed all by itself, like it mostly does. Cord and the cops don’t know what to think and ask the Overseer if she’s right. The Overseer just responds that mutants are an evil that must be extinct. Shakti tries to explain to the townspeople that the Sentinel has only been using them so that its program could be completed. Everyone opens fire upon the Sentinel, but it fires back and kills a man.
Everyone runs for it and the Sentinel brakes out of the cave and goes out for the action itself. Shakti takes the retainer off and reveals that she only made Bob think that he had caught her to find out what’s really going on. Shakti realizes that the Overseer is after her, so she decides to run away to assure that the others are safe.
The Overseer shouts that the humans will kill the mutants, and afterwards will build an army of his kind to destroy all of them. Nobody wants that to happen and open fire on the Sentinel. It gets a little harmed and fails to activate his rocket launcher boots to escape. Shakti notices the damages and uses her powers on the Sentinel to slam it down. The Overseer is even more damaged now and everyone works together to destroy it. Shakti thinks that she has done enough and takes off. After a while, Cord comes running after her with her bag.
He hands it over to her and asks what to do. Shakti doesn’t feel sorry for the loss of Cord, and tells him to make his own choices for a change. Shakti hands Bob over a shovel, and asks him to bury their dead first and life each day as it comes. Shakti takes off, and Bob watches her leaving.
A rich man named Orville Fink commands Sally and Sylvester, two young kids, to behave while he takes the lovely Miss September out for dinner, or else! And he doesn’t want to see any damages on his collectibles either! Sally and Sylvester think that it’s best that they just sit motionless on the coach until Fink gets back. And they do that, until suddenly, a knight’s armor collapses. The kids worry that Fink is going to think that they pushed it over and want to try to repair it.
Halloween Jack enters the big house, and tells the youngsters not to bother, because soon Fink’s collectibles will all be for sale. Sally asks Jack how he got past the security, since the house was wired pretty good. Jack playfully slides down from the many stairs and as he lands, Jack says that he goes where he pleases, and no security system he knows can stop him. After all, he owns Las Vegas!
Sally and Sylvester warn Jack about Fink and tell him that he better leaves before he comes back, because he is going to be angry when he finds him. Jack jokingly says that he’s sorry to hear that, since they haven’t been Fink’s captives long enough to side with him. Jack tells the kids not to worry and promises that he will get them out. After all, Las Vegas is the premier family entertainment capital of the world, at least after Orlando got nuked. The kids aren’t amused by the joke, so Jack wants to change that. He juggles with some rare collectible items.
The kids don’t know what to think and fear how furious Fink is going to be when he gets back. Jack tells them not to worry and enjoy the show. He drops the items, and the kids laugh at the accident! Jack is happy to see that they still can laugh, and wants to bring the kids to the next level.
Jack hands the kids some swords and guns and let them destroy some things. Jack wants to have some fun as well and shows the kids his secret weapon: a Whirlitizer, which is a dervish of other-dimensional origin. He opens the box it’s sealed in, and when it’s free the Whirlitizer destroys everything that stands in its way! The kids laugh at it all, including Jack. Jack quickly puts the weapon back in its box and vanishes. Fink comes home and is outraged when he sees the destructions, and wants to make the kids pay for it no matter if their parents pay the ransom. Jack pops up behind Fink, and tells him that he wanted to pay the man who tried to murder him a visit. Fink begs Jack not to take it personal, and says that after he took over Las Vegas, the Syndicate put out a platinum contract on his head. Who could pass such a high reward?
Obviously not Fink, Jack says, and he throws him with the piranha’s Fink had, and the fish eat the man alive. The kids dance of pure joy. And, Jack concludes, the moral of this story is: if you cross Halloween Jack, sooner or later, you are going to sleep with the fish!
A frog-like creature gets put into a guillotine, and his sentence is clear. Everyone cheers to finish him off. “Princess Shakti” makes her way through the crowd and the creature begs her to help him out, since he’s innocent. Shakti touches the creature, and concludes that it’s not one of them and to kill it. And it gets done. Shakti wakes up from her nightmare and screams. She tries to get calm. She says that she has never received such an impression like this one. And not such a strong one, or real one either.
Shakti hasn’t had one of these dreams for years and wonders what it means. She realizes that she needs help, and thinks about checking the lab, since Meanstreak is always there. And he is. Meanstreak is rather busy and is even wearing an environmental suit indoors. Shakti asks Henri where Krystalin is. Meanstreak says that Krystalin is out with Xi’an looking for another mutant. He adds that Krystalin checked in a few days ago from parts unknown and she said that she won’t be in radio contact for 23 hours.
As he talks, Meanstreak is busy with repairs around the lab but the suit slows him down. Shakti tells Meanstreak how she felt the presence of a powerful mutant and she wants Krystalin back immediately so that she can go find him. Henri asks Shakti why she can’t go find him. Is she afraid? Shakti turns on a device that gives Meanstreak an electrical shock, and she tells him that she isn’t afraid of anything. She just has a lot of work to do there and isn’t the mutant welcome wagon. Shakti walks out of the room and orders Meanstreak to get the suit back in the closet where it belongs and to make sure that the power cells are fully charged. Meanstreak does as told.
Colonel Phineas Lynch Amusements…
The first “unplanned” detonation of a nuclear device in North America was the direct result of a decaf cappuccino. Robert Stewart Richards, an employee at a government-subsidized missile assembly plant was working the late shift when he spilled the fluid on a control console during the transfer of plutonium to an ICBM housing, shorting out the computer-controlled transfer. In his haste to sop it up, Bobby inadvertently compounded his error by overriding the automatic shut-down protocols.
The whole thing could have been remembered as a colossal joke if 200,000 people hadn’t been killed in the process. Seventy years later, Bobby’s legacy is 300 miles of scorched terrain commonly referred to as the Wasteland. Radioactive, desolate and barren, the very definition of scorched Earth. Hardly a place for a good time. Then again, Americans have a great sense of humor. And the rent is cheap. Shakti walks inside the amusement park, and knows that the mutant is here. Luckily, Shakti has locked the experience’s auto-pilot on her position. She wishes to be out of this place as quickly as possible.
Shakti wanders around a bit, and takes a look at the many “misshaped” performances. To herself, Shakti remembers how much she hates crowds. Strange eyes always stare at you. A show is about to begin, and Shakti notices a lot of people going there. She follows, and hears the announcer proudly present his act: a rather ugly looking creature Lynch has nicknamed “the Demon of the Wastelands.” One of the performers, Garvin, notices Shakti and is impressed by her good looks. He goes after her and flirts a bit. He wants to take Shakti with him, but Shakti isn’t impressed and takes over Gavin’s mind and makes him do all sorts of crazy things. The other performers notice it and try to get their partner back to normal, but Shakti makes Garvin attack them.
Some time later, Shakti goes behind the scenes, and finds the “Demon” trapped in a cage. The Demon says that his name is Norman, and nothing else. Shakti introduces herself and says that she’s from the X-Men. Shakti explains what her powers are and hacks the control panel of the cage. Norman however refuses to go with her.
Norman laughs with Shakti’s strong suggestion points of food and shelter. He doesn’t want to run forever. Norman explains that when he was young, his mother used to tell him fairy tales to keep him from crying. His favorite was about a princess who kissed a frog and turned that frog into a handsome prince. Norman says that he used to dream that he was that frog and someday a beautiful princess would make him a prince. Now, Norman doesn’t’ believe in fairy tales anymore. He knows that he’s a freak and wants to be left alone. Shakti walks out of the room. Shakti doesn’t care about Norman anymore, and if he wants to stay in a cage that’s fine by her!
Wait a minute… she takes a look at the control panel she took away from the cage, and reads that Norman is a metamorph. In a few minutes, he will…! Two of the circus performers stand in front of Shakti with two big guns. They know who Shakti is and want to sell her on the red market with the slave traders. Shakti pushes another button on the control panel, and the truck she came in here moves and rides into the two performers and knocks them out.
Shakti had enough and wants to get Norman out, no matter what he says. Shakti rides the truck outside and contacts Meanstreak through holographic video phone. She wants Henri to come as quick as possible, and to also bring the experience’s generators. She needs them for something, but doesn’t want to explain it to Henri just yet. At the back of the truck, Norman sulks. He doesn’t understand why Shakti has freed him. Now, the circus will come after them both. Shakti tries to explain to Norman that he is a metamorph, but Norman doesn’t know what that is.
Shakti explains that he can change into whatever he wants, including in a human! Norman is afraid to. Shakti comforts that she too once used to be afraid to be a mutant. She always hid in her books. Never had any friends or lovers. She doesn’t want the same thing happening to Norman and wants to help him. She tells Norman to go for it and kisses the poor guy on the forehead. Meanwhile, Lynch and his helpers have intercepted Shakti’s message to Meanstreak and plan to take both X-Men down so that they can sell them on the red market.
Some time later, Shakti does have doubts about Norman and fears that she might be wrong. She puts on an environmental suit, but gets attacked and bounded by Lynch and his helpers. They want Norman back, but Shakti refuses to answer. Lynch slaps her real hard. Norman, while in an accelerator unit, hears the noise of the fight and wants to help Shakti out, but is afraid to come out of the unit because he thinks that the transformation isn’t complete yet. Norman doesn’t care and breaks out. The unit explodes and catches Lynch and his helpers.
Norman gets out and goes to see if Shakti’s all right. When the smoke clears, Norman is human again! Shakti is knocked out and Lynch has survived. He attacks Norman, but he transforms into a gigantic dragon! He spits fire and kills Lynch in his wake. Shakti wakes up and can’t believe that Norman actually killed a man. Norman says that he told Shakti that he didn’t believe in fairy tales, but that it was nice to pretend. He thanks Shakti, the princess, for her help and flies away. Meanstreak arrives and notices Shakti crying and asks her why. Shakti sadly answers that she cries because she is a lousy kisser…