First story :
In another reality, a young boy clings to the leg of his uncle, pleading with him to not lock him away in the cellars, but it’s no use. Ben Parker orders his nephew to let go of him and, after locking the door, shouts that this will teach him to never disobey again. Scared and in tears, Peter sits alone in the darkness and recalls how only last year his father killed his mother while he was sitting in her lap, only to one minute later turn the gun on himself. One might think it couldn’t have gotten any worse, but it did.
Sitting alone in the darkness, little Peter hears a voice calling out to him. He turns to see a pair of glowing eyes in a shadowy corner. Afraid, he asks who’s there and the voice replies that it is a friend, someone who feels just like him and who knows that his uncle is a bad person. Approaching the strange individual, Peter sees a hybrid of man and spider, twice as big as himself. It promises that when the abusive uncle comes back, it will be on little Peter’s side.
Elsewhere, Blink and Nocturne of the Exiles feel like little school girls. They are watching this reality’s Wolverine clawing his way through a group of prison guards. Both girls heard stories of Logan in their native realities, but never saw him in action like this, and they watch in awe. As Logan has finished dealing with his opponents, he senses the two Exiles staring at him.
Soon, the three mutants sit around a campfire in a forest. The two girls explain to Logan how they and their teammates jump from one reality to the next, fixing things gone wrong. Logan takes in the story and wonders what this has to do with him. Apparently, they had to break him out of prison, but for what? Nocturne says they don’t know yet and asks her friend Blink whether the Tallus has already answered this part. The Exiles‘ leader only has a partial answer in store. She knows where they have to take Logan, but not for what. Rather annoyed, Wolverine questions why they think he’ll follow the orders of the Tallus, or wether the two girls are stupid enough to make him. Nocturne tries to calm him, suggesting that possibly he would want to do it and then calls him “Unkie” Logan. However, the feral X-Man tells her to not call her that.
A little bit later, the group stands before a worn-down house, standing alone in a secluded area within a forest. Wolverine approaches it and, sniffing something odd inside, he pops his claws. Behind him, Nocturne and Blink whisper to each other that maybe they should have brought the entire team, but unfortunately they have to take out some Spider God, while they are with Logan. Actually, both of them volunteered for this side-mission, since they wanted to meet the amazing Wolverine in person. With his claws, Logan makes quick way of the door and enters the house, the two Exiles following him at a safe distance. Inside, they come upon the body of an old woman and webbing. Logan’s senses tell him that blood and pieces of the poor lady are distributed all over the walls and he recognizes something else, while Nocturne is still saddened by the brutality of the murder.
In the kitchen, Wolverine comes upon little Peter, who is eating sugar cereals with milk and whipped cream. Suspiciously eyeing the stranger, the boy says that his friend allowed him to have this for dinner. Logan, however, knows better. He tells the boy that his “friend“ stinks of the Spider God. Probably, it is a pregnant queen, looking to lay eggs inside him. The boy tells Logan to go away, his friend is big and mean and he could kill the intruder. After all, he killed his Uncle Ben and he was, by far, meaner than Wolverine. Logan corrects him on that – there is no one meaner than he.
Right on cue, the spider queen smashes through the window and lands in front of Wolverine, ready to fight. Peter shouts, “Don’t hurt him.“ Wolverine wonders whether he was talking to the beast or him, but it doesn’t really matter as he rams his claw in the creatures body. The spider queen, fighting back, wraps some webbing around his neck and slashes him across the chest. Momentarily down, Logan finds himself pinned by the spider queen’s many legs and tendrils. Blink teleports in, intending to get the kid to safety, but Peter struggles against her. The queen hears him cry and extents a webline, reclaiming her prize from the teleporter’s hands. Then, all of a sudden, the battle is ended as the creature retreats.
Nocturne comes into the room, asking “Unkie Logan“ if he is okay, which only annoys him further. Blink tries to calm the situation, reminding him that they need to help the little boy, but Logan doesn’t care about him. Making their way down a staircase to the basement, Blink once more tries to reason with him, but Wolverine no longer listens. A trail of green blood leads them to a corner where little Peter stands next to what seems to be the dead body of the spider queen. The boy accuses Logan of killing his one and only friend, but the mutant senses that the queen is still survive, he can hear its heartbeats.
Behind his back, Blink tells Nocturne that she can save the boy and their plan is set. Peter tries to protect the creature as Logan leaps forward, when the Exiles girls use their powers as well. Blink opens a teleportation gate and grabs the child, while Nocturne uses her power to possess Logan. She feels sorry for her “uncle“ but she knows she has to do this to buy Blink some extra seconds to rescue the child. After her comrade is finished, she let’s go of Logan and, according to plan, he and the spider queen now start fighting each other recklessly.
Nocturne joins Blink and little Peter outside, stating that they will apparently kill each other, but they might be supposed to. The boy is quite mad at the two girls, yelling that he hates them and that the beast was his friend. Blink promises that they’ll find him another friend, someone who will take care of him but, right after the words have left her mouth, she realizes that she can’t keep this promise. Apparently, the rest of the team has finished their mission too, as the Exiles are teleported away to the next dimension. Peter is left alone, alone with the dark and scary things inside of him, for the queen already laid the eggs – the bloody bite marks on Peter’s neck being silent proof of it.
Second story :
Phat, Vivisector and the Orphan are running from a crowd of obsessed X-Statix fans. They make it into a train station and hide in three telephone booths. It works, as their pursuers run past them, also not noticing the Anarchist, who is sitting next to an elderly man on a bench, both holding up a newspaper so as not to be seen. By the time the fans again spot their idols, the X-Statix members have already boarded their train.
For a while, they silently sit in their compartment, Phat flipping through a magazine, Miles, as usual, reading a book, Tike gazing out of the window and the Orphan wondering about the elderly white man sitting next to his comrade. Finally, he asks the Anarchist who the man is. Tike replies that it’s his grandfather. Phat, Vivisector and Orphan look at each other confused, then they remember – Tike was adopted and brought up by white people. Considering the old man being well dressed and bald, Miles begins to theorize that they might look at the reason for Tike’s own predisposition towards cleanliness, but the others have problems understanding the terms he uses.
The conversation is interrupted by Mr. Filson, a PR person, who tells the X-Statix members that they are about to arrive. He also warns them; he heard about the things they did in San Francisco and he wants them to behave before the presentation tonight. Soon, the group is staying in a hotel suite. Phat announces to change into his party threads and hit a bachelor party in the conference room, but Filson tells him he is staying put as he has scheduled an interview with the local rag. This is bad news for the mutants and they wonder if all of them need to be present for this. Filson explains that they requested Tike, Guy and Billy Bob, which would mean Vivisector could have some little spare time.
Filson even offers to get him a book but Miles is a little bit depressed and wonders why they specifically excluded him. The PR person tries to explain that they have a large female readership, and the gay, intellectual thing might turn them off, but the Anarchist makes a joke that he is just too hairy. His grandfather has another idea – it must be the glasses; they are so outdated, they look from his own times. Phat even tops this, reminding his teammate that his fan mail has also decreased, so he might want to hire an image consultant. Filson leaves, once more reminding the group not to go anywhere.
In the instant that the door is closed behind him, Guy lets out a surprise. The local fan club has got a party going on that should give them all some ego boost. Tike tells his grandpa to “mind the store“ and the four youngsters leave. Before long, Tike and Guy are sitting in a lounge having drinks with three girls, while Phat and Vivisector are dancing among the crowd. It seems that one of the men is even hitting on Miles and his teammates curiously observe what might happen next, when suddenly someone blocks their view. It’s Mr. Filson. He has found them and now it’s back to the scheduled interview, for which they are now late. This means extra costs for him.
For Phat, the Anarchist and the Orphan, it’s now business as usual, as they come face to face with the team of reporters. Phat has his picture taken in as many different grimaces as he can think off, before answering a stupid question what he calls his costume. “Joe,“ he answers. When asked about his hobbies, Tike, with two ladies in his arms, only grins. Guy makes a lame joke of being a “superlante“ when asked wether he considers himself a super hero or a vigilante. Through all off this, Vivisector silently sits on a table, refusing the hour d’oeuvres offered by a waitress.
After the press conference, Filson leads the team through a corridor, already talking about their public performance scheduled for later that day. He is well aware that they have a set arrangement that nicely displays all their powers but he was hoping they could change it a little bit. While he keeps on blabbering, the four teenagers sneak out through a back door behind him. They run out of the building into a park and enjoy just playing with their powers. Their joy is soon stopped by a park guard, who tells the “lousy mutants“ to stay off the grass as the park is private property. Vivisector apologizes for the behavior of him and his friends but Tike is annoyed by the prejudice they are constantly met with.
Leaving the park, a girl recognizes the Orphan and tells him that she loves him. Guy is flattered, but then the girl puts on her glasses. “No wait – It‘s not you. I can’t stand you“. Meanwhile, a black guy presents some of his clothes to Phat and the Anarchist and wants them to wear them. Phat politely turns down the offer as they already have a manufacturer, but the man doesn’t give up. He even talks slang and tries to bond with them, but Phat can do the slang-talk better and disses the man’s designs. He only would wear them if he killed him and buried him in it. Anarchist congratulates his comrade.
Later, back in the hotel room, the grandfather waves Vivisector to come to him, he wants to give him some advice. Miles welcomes this, surely the old man has gathered some wisdom over the years. That’s exactly the grandfather’s point. He thinks that Miles is still young with his whole life in front of him. Why waste it wandering around doing what he is told and filling the blank spots with a book? Miles interrupts; he enjoys reading. The elder man says that he didn’t mean to offend him; he just wanted to shed some sight on him. Miles should be squirreling around with antics that will fill books for others to read about. Vivisector is confused “Squirreling?“ The grandfather repeats it, making an important gesture. Miles finally gets the meaning and enthusiastically agrees with him.
Mr. Filson is furious, now Miles is missing. He thinks he never should have taken on these unstable freaks. It’s bad enough they couldn’t even get the female members off the team, but now they are down to just three. The Anarchist apologizes, it was his grandfather’s doing, giving another of his “squirreling speeches.“ Probably their friend is rolling around in chocolate right now. The manager is confused “Squirreling? Chocolate?“ The Orphan changes the subject, saying that he didn’t help either by telling Miles that the local paper didn’t want him. He advises him to back off or, instead of three X-Statix members, he’ll get none.
Meanwhile, Vivisector is out in the city, sightseeing, taking pictures of himself and thinking about his life. He keeps telling himself that, one day, they’ll all realize how much they underestimate him. Suddenly, he is hit by a spinning wheel from behind. A kid runs up and apologizes, before he recognizes him. The kid’s is amazed, this is Vivisector – the coolest mutant in the world. Miles wonders if that is really his opinion and, to prove his claim, the young boy imitates Vivisector’s trademark pose, also saying that his friends think the same. Now feeling better, Miles returns to the hotel, much to Filson’s relief.
The show starts and the crowd is eagerly anticipating their stars. Behind the stage, Tike’s grandfather encourages him to give his all. Mr. Filson gets on stage and introduces the world’s greatest super mutant team – the X-Statix. The mostly female audience cheer and shout the names of the objects of their affections, while the four mutants perform on stage, publicly demonstrating their powers in mock battles.
After the show, Mr. Filson congratulates the X-Statix members and claims that he never had any doubt it would be a great display. The four mutants are met by Dead Girl, Venus and Doop. Orphan tells them that they missed a great exhibition and that the town loves them. Tike too wonders where the girls have been. Holding up her bags, Dead Girl gives the answer – shopping. Seeing Doop nearly crumble beneath the weight of several boxes, Guy asks if he had fun with the girls, earning a snappy remark from the team’s cameraman. Venus tells everyone to get ready and then starts to teleport the team home. Tike’s grandfather, also caught in the effect voices his discomfort. He thinks they are all a bunch of nitwits.
Third story :
It’s the final victory show of the American Megastar contest. MC Milo Mystik is on stage with 5,000 people in the audience cheering at him. The women throw their underwear at the stage and Milo takes it all in, almost disbelieving it. Milo is mega, he is bigger than ecstasy, bigger than X-Force. Nothing can stop him now.
(several months ago)
Milo Smutts is a sixteen year old teenager with a personal hygiene problem, he sweats a lot. As he enters his biology class several kids laugh at him and one girl sarcastically offers him a deodorant stick. However this day something changes. Miss Jimenez, the good looking teacher, announces the topic for today – pheromone. She explains that it is a chemical substance secreted by many animals to induce a behavioral or physiological response in others of the same species. Some scientists even believe that, although atrophied by evolution, this ability may be residual in humans. Milo hangs on the teacher’s every word, his glands seeping, perfuming his skin. Finally it makes all sense to him, as he sees the teacher flush, body heat thickening the air and students screaming in spontaneous arousal.
Milo recalls weird stuff happening around him recently. Like when he was totally focused on playing a video game, he only realized that the screams he thought were sound effects were coming from the fighting crowd behind him when he turned from the screen. Another time, while watching a horror movie, he witnessed all other people in the cinema totally freaking out, pulling out their hair and screaming in agony. He was happy when the paramedics arrived to treat with the “mass hysteria.” He never knew how or why, but he was sure that he was the cause.
(several months ago)
Now thanks to the teacher, Milo finally has a name for what was happening. He understands that he has mutant sweat, everyone who catches his scent is tuned in to his emotions. As Miss Jimenez leans over to Milo, opening her blouse, he is relieved. He had felt like kissing her fir ages. But it’s the teacher who acts first and, in front of the whole class, she pushes him to the floor and tongue-wrestles the sweaty youth.
Later that day, while Miss Jimenez is led away by the police, Milo finds himself in the student counselor’s office, who to tries to rebuild the victim’s damaged self-esteem. He thinks little about the poor teacher whose career is now at an end. Instead, Milo grooves about his new power and thinks about how to make it work for him.
(the following days and weeks)
It takes Milo a while to get the hang of his gift and, although he found it pretty cool, he thought that it wasn’t as useful as other mutations, like those of X-Force. He could induce terror, rage, despair, joy, love, lust – the basic emotional responses. The problem is that it works indiscriminately. Anyone within the zone of influence reacts according to the pheromones. Milo learns this the hard way when he tries to push beautiful Milly McDonagh’s desire to nurture him at her bosom without checking the wind direction first, as Milo gets nearly crushed between two obese women following his wish instantly.
Another accident occurs when Milo tries to pay back the guy who extorted his lunch money since third grade. He hits him with a wave of despair, though the driver of the school bus gets caught in it too, resulting in him getting reckless and driving off the road. Afterwards, Milo is ready to give up his quest for glory and keeps taking showers to limit his sweat output. He stays at home, watching TV shows about X-Force, when there is suddenly an answer to all his dreams, a commercial about the new American Megastar show.
At first thought, a primetime TV talent show, with the winner chosen by phone ballot, was not vulnerable to rigging by pheromone power. However, in the first rounds, music industry insiders make the first cuts, live in a studio environment. Milo knows that he just has to nail the judges and make it to the final rounds to have a shot at the price. All performers touch their audience someway, usually by sight or sound; Milo by smell. He can’t sing, but under the studio lighting and the pressure to succeed, Milo sweats more than ever. His debut touches the judges and he makes them experience love and desire, earning him a pass to the second round. Once backstage, he ensures that he’d have not much competition by undermining the other contestants with doubt and insecurity.
Over the next rounds Milo refines his show, synching his pheromone cocktail with a roller coaster ride of synthesized samples. He snags the crowd’s emotions and plays them up and down the scale, before bringing them to a climax. Humans are mimetic creatures. Primal excitement is contagious, even via television. The viewers couldn’t smell him but they catch the wild buzz from the live audience and reach for the phone in millions. MC Milo Mystik storms the ballot every time. By the time of the network finals, he is a full-blown media phenomenon. Preachers denounce his satanic influence and music critics loathe him, but the show’s producers kiss his butt as advertisers pay enormous amounts of money to place their ads. Finally, the big price is about to be his. All Milo needs to do is reach out and take it.
Milo is on stage with the crowd cheering at him. He had the from the first minute, when he started his show with aromatic appetizers to set their juices flowing and get them into his groove. He let them experience desire, then pushed them down the road of pure black terror, only to again change the mood. The audience is charged to the max and many of them throw their underwear on stage. That’s when it happens: Milo loses the plot. For a moment, he can’t believe this is actually happened. “This is too totally un-freaking-real, man,“ he says to himself.
It is just a moment, a tiny chink in his armor of self-belief, but it translates to the audience nonetheless. Milo senses the mood of the crowd change and he starts to panic. Fear is in his eyes and the crowd responds, becoming the center of his fear. Milo thinks to himself that he was stupid to do all of this without a safety net. Next time, he needs to make sure that there is a strong air-condition that could flush out the pheromone-ridden air, as security caves in and dozens of angry people storm towards the stage. Next time, Milo thinks, or else someone is gonna end up dead. Too late, Milo ...