‘It’s b-broken. Oh God, tell me it’s broken! Come on! Come on!’ exclaims Bobby “Iceman” Drake as he adjusts the thermostat in an apartment while huddling into his jumper. ‘Bobby, the thermostat’s fine. The apartment’s hotter than a sauna!’ exclaims Opal Tanaka. ‘Then why am I so cold? Why can’t I get warm?’ Bobby replies. Opal runs her hands through her hair as she replies that she doesn’t know, before suggesting Bobby tries turning into Iceman. The handsome X-Man shifts his left hand into ice and explains that it makes it worse, that the cold is so intense it feels like he is dying. Opal suggests to Bobby that he call Hank. ‘He’ll know what to do!’ she exclaims.
Bobby reminds Opal how when she left him the first time around that she wanted a normal life, no crises, no heroics. ‘Yeah. So?’ Opal asks. ‘So when I bumped into you again at that party, I thought “this time I’ll try not to blow it”!’ Bobby explains. Opal tells Bobby that he will blow it big time if he dies on her. ‘Make the call!’ she tells him.
Moments later, the image of Bobby’s close friend Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy a.k.a. the Beast appears on a monitor, and Hank remarks that these are the same symptoms Bobby had when his powers manifested, and that he can see two possibilities. Hank explains that the first is that Bobby’s powers are going through some kind of spontaneous re-adjustment, or else it is to do with the neural inhibitor that Mystique zapped him with. ‘That was months ago and I recovered! My powers came back full strength!’ Bobby replies. Hank explains that some neuro-toxins can stay in your system for years, forever even.
Hank tells Bobby that he is going to have to run tests, so needs him back at headquarters, and will send the Blackbird, remote-piloted, to pick him up. ‘Nice to see you, Ms Tanaka, it’s been a while’ Hank tells Opal after telling Bobby that he can pick the Blackbird up at Hunter’s Point and fly it back himself. Bobby looks at Opal and remarks that he supposes he is off to the City by the Bay. ‘We. We’re off. I’m not letting you out of my sight again until you’re okay!’ Opal exclaims.
Shortly, the auto-piloted Blackbird arrives at Hunter’s Point where Bobby and Opal are ready, waiting for it. As Bobby leads Opal into the new Blackbird, she looks around and remarks that the X-Men travel in style these days while putting her bags in a corner. ‘We’re getting better at that’ Bobby replies, before telling Opal to strap herself in and he will get the Blackbird going. As Bobby pilots the jet high over the City, he notices Opal is being somewhat distant. ‘Something on your mind?’ he asks her. ‘What?’ Opal replies. ‘You’re looking kind of preoccupied’ Bobby points out. Opal replies that she is thinking about Hank’s second explanation. ‘The neural inhibitor. That was something that Mystique did to you, right?’
‘Yeah. She got under my guard. Made me think - well, never mind what I thought. It was all an act. A set up’ Bobby’s mind flashes back to when he kissed Mystique, the stuff in her lipstick was some poison that Sinister created for her. ‘I wonder if she meant for all this to happen’ Opal remarks. ‘Who cares? You can’t second-guess a psychopath. You’d drive yourself nuts trying!’ Bobby replies. Opal supposes that it is always difficult to read someone else’s emotions. ‘Even if you think you know them - you generally don’t. Not really’. As Opal says this, one of the bags she placed at the back of the jet begins to tick - then explodes!
Bobby gets up from his seat, ‘We’re holed! We’re losing pressure!’ he exclaims urgently. ‘Looks that way, doesn’t it?’ Opal replies casually. ‘What?’ Bobby replies, before asking Opal to hold the Blackbird steady while he tries to seal the breach. As he switches to ice-form, he remarks that on any other day, this would be easy. Bobby begins to block the gaping hole with an ice-wall, ‘I’m doing it. No problem!’ he exclaims while Opal gets up from her seat and reaches into a bag. ‘Robert’ she begins. ‘I’m afraid I haven’t been entirely frank with you…’ exclaims Mystique as she switches to her default form, dropping her disguise of Opal.
‘But that’s always been part of the spice in our relationship, hasn’t it?’ Raven Darkholme adds as she fires the gun she pulled from the bag - the bullet strikes a surprised Bobby in the chest, ‘Mystique! This is insane - even by your standards!’ Bobby exclaims, asking Mystique if she did all this just to mess with his head. ‘No, lover. With your melting point!’ Raven replies as she kicks Bobby through his ice-wall, which shatters, causing Bobby to fall into open air. As he falls, a worried Bobby begins to switch to his human form, ‘No no no no no…!’ he exclaims, forcing himself back into his ice-form. Bobby plummets towards an icy mountain, and hits it at full-force, while the Blackbird crashes down some distance away.
A week later, two helicopters are flittering above the mountains where Iceman landed and the Blackbird crashed. ‘nothing moving up here, Tango Seven’ one of them reports. ‘It’s been a week. Anybody came out of that wreck they’re dead by now’ the other replies.
However, where the snow on the mountain ends, a trickle of water begins to fall - it meets up with the water fall, then takes human form as the water meets a small lake. The figure sweeps through the water, and climbs onto the lakeside - it’s Bobby, naked, who has reformed himself, but collapses….
San Francisco, at a street lined with boutique shops, a shop door slams open and a pink high-heel shoe is the first thing seen exiting - attached to slender legs, covered by a slinky pink dress. ‘Look out! It’s Tabitha Smith! And she’s looking good!’ the former New Mutant-cum-X-Forcer thinks to herself as she strides along the street, joking ‘Who? Meltdown! Who? BOOM-BOOM!’. Tabby thinks that she likes “Boom-Boom, and ponders the possibility of taking that codename back on, ‘Even if guys used to snicker’ she admits.
Tabby tells herself that she is glad she was able to help out with the new school, otherwise she would never have seen San Francisco. ‘And missing out on this quality shopping would be - a crime!’ Tabby exclaims, when, appropriately, someone throws a shopkeeper through a store window, sending glass and clothing everywhere. ‘What the -’ Tabby asks, as the assailant steps through the broken window, ‘Not “what” - “who”!’ she exclaims, introducing herself as Nuwa. Annoyed, Tabby replies ‘Bad timing, bad guy - you messed up a good girl’s good day!’
Tabby tosses one of her plasma “time-bombs” at Nuwa, who smirks as she dodges the firecracker. ‘Oopsie!’ Tabby mutters as the time-bomb land in the shop, and explodes. ‘I was excited about that sale!’ Boom-Boom exclaims, before telling Nuwa that she has to explode now, and readies another time-bomb. ‘You first!’ Nuwa retorts, pointing at Boom-Boom, her eyes flash, ‘What does that mean…?’ Tabby asks, only to have her question answered when she stumbles over, lands on the road, her time-bomb exploding on her, while Nuwa makes her getaway.
Later, at the X-Men’s new headquarters, Boom-Boom is in a laboratory with her former X-Factor guardian, Dr Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast, who is tinkering away with something, while Boom-Boom is ranting about, exclaiming ‘Just when I was about to blow her up - I don’t even know! I got blown up!’ Tabby declares that she cannot even figure out what Nuwa’s powers are. ‘I’ve never even heard of this girl! Where does she get off blowing me up! I was in X-Force! I was in Nextwave!’ she shouts. ‘I don’t know what that is’ the Beast tells his former charge. ‘I dated Cannonball - I bet she can’t even get a date!’ Boom-Boom boasts.
Annoyed, Tabby shouts ‘I mean, Nuwa? that doesn’t even mean anything!’ and asks why she cannot be like most bad guys and have a name that tells one about their powers. ‘So it’s like “I’m Magneto”, and you’re like, “Cool, I’ll take off my jewelry!’. Hank, swinging about from one contraption to the next, suggests to Tabby that Nuwa might actually mean something, and asks her if she has attempted to do any research. ‘Ew. No. Besides, I don’t have a library card out here’ Tabby replies in disgust.
The Beast picks Tabby up and tosses her in to a chair, ‘Allow me to introduce you to the internet! While not entirely reliable, it can be a source of infinite knowledge!’ Hank declares. ‘Ugh. Fine’ Tabby mutters, unimpressed, before asking ‘How do you think she spells it, anyway?’, and turning to the computer, she types in ‘N-E-W-W-A-H? No. Guess not. N-O-O-W-A-A? N-U-W-A…here we go - no! I don’t believe it!’ Tabby gasps, announcing ‘This chick has a Facespace Page!’. ‘I can’t begin to comprehend you’ Hank replies dryly. Boom-Boom explains that Facespace is a website where you connect with your friends and make new friends, ‘But, you know, without having to actually talk to anyone’.
Boom-Boom reads of Nuwa’s Facespace page and announces that it has her powers: ‘Sedation?’ Boom-Boom queries. ‘She makes you sleepy’ Hank explains. ‘I know what “Sedation” means thank you very much!’ Tabby retorts. Before gasping that Nuwa has more friends than she does - including Rhino, Mysterio and Dr. Doom. ‘I would not trust this to be an accurate gauge of one’s self-worth’ the Beast cautions Boom-Boom, before Tabby tells Hank that someone has made a page about him. ‘Really?’ Hank asks, ‘How many friends do I have?’
Later, Boom-Boom marches down the same street, armed with a take-away coffee in one hand, she tells herself that she likes this plan: shopping as a stake-out? ‘It’s a win-win. I’m a win-winner! - Even if Nu-Whatever has more friends than I do. Mos of them were bands anyway’. Tabby approaches a store which has someone lying sedated in the front step.
Inside the store, Nuwa is checking the cash register and is complaining about the poor amount of cash: ‘Ugh. This is it? Doesn’t anyone pay with cash anymore?’ she exclaims, when suddenly, Boom-Boom, time-bomb ready, stands in the doorway, exclaiming ‘No. Cash is lame. So are you!’. ‘Ouch’ Nuwa replies sarcastically. ‘I don’t know why you’re following me around, but you need to come up with better fighting banter’ Nuwa exclaims, telling Boom-Boom that she will let her sleep on it. ‘Oh no - you have sleepy powers…what ever will I…’ Boom-Boom utters as she falls to the ground, only to leap back up, ‘Just kidding!’ she shouts as she holds her coffee up in the air. ‘I beat you with coffee!’ Tabby yells.
‘Your powers don’t work against caffeine! No wonder I have never heard of you!’ Tabby jokes, before asking Nuwa ‘Do you know what else you can do to beat me?’. Nuwa looks somewhat forlorn, before replying ‘Eh…no?’. ‘I thought not!’ Boom-Boom exclaims, before casting a time bomb at Nuwa, ‘This is for tricking me with a crappy super-power!’ she shouts as the time bomb strikes Nuwa in the chest. ‘This is for being dumb enough to put damaging personal information on a website!’ Tabby declares as she throws a time bomb at Nuwa’s stomach. ‘And this is for having more internet friends than me!’ Boom-Boom shouts as a final, large time bomb, propels a horrified Nuwa out of the store. ‘Wow. I like research’ a proud Tabby tells herself.
San Francisco, the founding New Mutant Xi’an “Shan” Coy Manh, better known as Karma, sits stern-faced across from the glamorous Emma “White Queen” Frost, at the X-Men’s new training facility. Karma thinks to herself how she prides herself in being in constant control of everything around her, ‘It’s a part of who I am’ she tells herself. After all, given what she has been through in life, she doesn’t like it when she is not in control. ‘Is that all you’ve got? If so, I think we’re about done here, no?’ the White Queen tells Xi’an, who is thinking that, given what she can do, there is no reason she shouldn’t be in control. ‘Not yet…we’re not…I can still…possess you…’ Karma exclaims. ‘Please, Shan, there’s no need to continue this pointless charade’ Emma declares.
Karma makes the attack, it drains her, while Emma barely flexes a psychic muscle, resiting the attack with ease. ‘You’re weak!’ she tells Karma as she stands up. ‘Accept it!’ she suggests, offering Karma a hand, to pull her off the ground. But Karma doesn’t like losing control - bad things happen when she does. ‘I’M NOT WEAK!’ she screams at the White Queen, shoving Emma away. ‘That’s not who I am’ Xi’an thinks to herself. ‘As if there was any doubt, I think you’re just proving my point for me’ the White Queen remarks. ‘Not what I am’ Karma tells herself.
Karma walks over to the glossy wall, and looks at her reflection, while Emma declares that Karma possesses one of the greatest mutant powers on the planet. ‘The ability to possess people’s minds is not one to be taken lightly’ Emma tells her, explaining that she wanted to test her, as she feared that she was losing her edge. ‘Trust me, this is one case where I don’t like being right’ the White Queen assures Karma, who thinks to herself that her powers are supposed to be a blessing - not a curse. ‘I would expect someone with the power to control the minds of others to have better control over her own emotions. Over her own life!’ Emma announces.
Later, Karma walks through a park in San Francisco, head hanging low, she thinks about Emma’s last comment, about not having control over her own life. ‘What the hell does Emma know anyway? She can kiss ma petite derriere!’. Karma decides, boasting that she makes her own choices, has her own free will. Karma recalls her childhood, and how she made a vow as a child that no one would force her to do anything against her will when she grew up. Karma can see the Celestial in the background as she reminds herself that she moved to San Francisco of her own accord, and that, given all that has happened to them, some of the X-Men may feel displaced here in this strange new city, but not her.
‘I refuse to be a refugee ever again!’ Karma exclaims as she walks down a small district, remarking that she is here to be with her people, and her relatives. She enters a child care facility to collect her family, her brother Leong and her sister Nga, the only family she has left. The kids smile as they see their older sister. Karma recalls how her parents were slaughtered by Thai pirates, then she was forced to take the life of her evil brother Tran, becoming the guardian of her siblings. ‘If raising twins can’t teach you a little about self-control, then nothing can’ Karma decides as she leads her siblings home.
On the way, Karma recalls how she has run into other long-lost family members over the years - like odd, murderous uncles, not that she has wanted to spend much time with him, though she did work for him in Madripoor. Now though, Karma just has her siblings. They have each other. ‘And that’s all we need’ she decides as they sit down for a meal together.
Later, after putting her siblings to sleep, Karma tells herself that she definitely has control over her life now. ‘I always have!’ she exclaims. Karma looks at a photo of herself and the other original New Mutants - Sam, Dani, Bobby and Rahne - and she recalls that in those “carefree” days of youth, she was always the level-headed one. Picking up a more recent photo which features Dani, Bobby and Tabby, Karma thinks ‘Well, most of the time, anyway’, as in the photo, she had short pink hair.
Karma recalls her battle with the Shadow King, and decides that even when people, like the Shadow King, tried to take that control from her, or when she was immensely overweight and thought all hope was lost, control was something she always managed to regain and turn to her advantage, like her encounter with Tessa at the Hellfire Club.
Karma looks at a photograph of herself and her dear friend Kitty Pryde, thinking to herself ‘As long as I was around, everything was under control’ and remembering the terrible events that happened to Kitty, she adds ‘If only I’d been there, Kitty…I know I could have…maybe…’ Karma begins to cry, tears fall onto the photo. Her sobbing wakes her siblings, who enter the living area, asking Shan what is wrong. Karma wipes her eyes and replies ‘Nothing’ before asking the twins what they are doing up. ‘We heard you crying and got scared’ Nga replies.
Leong sees the photograph of Kitty and exclaims ‘Aunt Kitty! Aunt Kitty! I miss her!’ he declares as he takes the photo and holds it above his head as he stands on the sofa. ‘Is she coming for a visit? Is she?’ Nga asks excitedly. ‘Can we see her?!’ Leong asks. Karma tells the kids that their Aunt Kitty is not coming over. ‘BOOOOOOOOOO!’ the twins exclaim, before Shan tells them that it is getting late and they need to get back to bed. ‘Aunt Kitty never made us go to bed!’ Leong boasts as he begins bouncing on the sofa, still holding the photo up high, while Nga exclaims that their Aunt Kitty let them stay up late and watch TV with her.
‘We want Kitty! We want Kitty! We want Kitty!’ they declare. ‘Stop it, both of you! STOP IT!’ screams a frustrated Karma. ‘I’M IN CONTROL HERE!’ she demands, taking possession of her twin siblings. The photo falls from Leong and upon landing on the floor, the glass breaks. As Karma mentally forces her siblings to begin walking back towards their room, she recalls what the White Queen had said to her earlier: You possess one of the greatest mutant powers on the planet, Shan. The ability to possess people’s minds is not to be taken lightly. I would expect someone with the power to control the minds of others to have better control over her own emotions. Over her own life.
A wide-eyed Karma gasps ‘Oh my God…no! What have I done!’, and instantly frees the twins from her control. ‘What happened?’ Leong asks. ‘What did you do to us?’ Nga asks, confused. Karma looks at her siblings, realizing that she couldn’t take it anymore, she got too emotional and lost control. ‘Nothing. It was nothing. I’m so sorry’ she tells the twins as she hugs them. ‘That’s not who I am’ she thinks to herself. ‘Not what I am. I have lost my edge. I am weak. I need to take control again - of my powers - of my emotions - of my life…’ and Karma begins to cry.