First story :
In a darkened room, images from a projection machine are silently displayed on a small silver screen. Full of color and life, the images are stills of the mutant super hero team known as X-Force. Not the X-Force of recent weeks or even months, it is the X-Force shortly after it's rebirth from outlaw hero team to media sensation. Axel Cluney aka Zeitgeist, the then team's leader, locked in combat, spews forth his acidic vomit, while Tike Alicar aka the Anarchist takes out two guards with his own acid based powers. Edie Sawyer aka U-Go Girl, not even bothering to use her teleportation power, knocks out another guard with two karate chops to the neck. A new slide reveals other long-dead members of X-Force, La Nuit, using his darkforce energy powers, and Battering Ram, with his brute strength.
As the light from the slide machine projects this image onto the screen, the light likewise illuminates the wall behind and around the screen. Revealed against the darkened wall are a multitude of X-Force posters of various sizes tacked up. The posters seem to halo the silver screen, upon which a new image appears, this time of just U-Go Girl by herself. Watching these images, U-Go Girl in particular, the young boy next to the slide projector sits, watches and broods. He thinks how he might hate this. He might hate them. Just when he'd grown to love the new X-Force, despite their high mortality rate which did upset his bowels, they go and change the whole thing. Staring at the image of Edie Sawyer, the boy thinks that if that was all they'd done, he might have been able to forgive them. But now, they have done the unforgivable and killed her, the best of them. How do those people expect the fans to react?
Walking up to the movie screen, the boy studies Edie's image up close. Even though they never met, he reflects, they had a kind of relationship. In a way, Edie was his first girl. Other than his mother, he thinks, she was the first girl to speak to him nicely. Now touching her screen, and through it her, the boy thinks that he will always love her for that. And maybe he'll always hate Guy Smith and the rest of the re-launched, newly minted mutants for letting her die.
After a knock at the door, the lights to the room are turned on, restoring reality to the room. A woman calling to the boy, Arnie, tells him that dinner's ready and that it's his favorite. Arnie asks in turn what it is, but the mother only answers that she forgets. Not letting go of the point, Arnie asks her how she knows that it's his favorite. With a worried look on her face, the disheveled mother replies that it's fish pie. She has made him fish pie. Arnie quickly exclaims that it's his
favorite and tells her that he will be down after he's turned off his projector. Looking around the room, she asks to what projector he is referring. Arnie does not respond, but only silently looks at his mother with his one good eye; the other lost in the side of his face that is shriveled and flat. Not wanting to challenge her son, or apparently even look into his ruined face, Arnie's mother smiles weakly and humors him. She tells him that if he runs down she will turn off the projector. Then they can have dinner. It's his favorite. Looking into his mother's pained eyes, Arnie thinks how similar she is to Edie. In an uncanny way, the two of them are linked. While he loves them both, it is two different types of loves. Also, while his mother gave him live, Edie Sawyer was the one who saved it.
Amidst the ruins of a third-world city, the Orphan pauses, having just defeated two enemy soldiers. During this brief pause, the Orphan does not see the missile silently approaching the building behind him. Moments before the building explodes, the Orphan is tackled to the ground by the Anarchist. Concerned for his teammate, the Anarchists asks him what the hell is he doing and does he want to be killed? Dismissing the Anarchist's fears, the Orphan replies that he was just showboating for the cameras. Inwardly however, Guy admits to himself that there is something wrong with his head. However, if he lets the others know that he's insane they will probably drop him, team captain or no team captain. As they both rise to their feet, the Anarchist tells the Orphan that he was just wondering if him holding a gun to his head every morning and pulling the trigger isn't giving him a big enough kick any more. Defensively, the Orphan spits out that the Russian roulette story is just a media hype and that there is nothing remotely suicidal about himself. Ending their conversation, the Orphan leaps over a overturned tank and yells for them to go. Whatever's happened, he says, they are still X-Force. Looking a little surprised, the Anarchist tells Guy that, actually, they aren't X-Force anymore.
After joining the Orphan at the center of the battle, the Anarchist is followed by the rest of the team and the arrival of news helicopters. Realizing his mistake, the Orphan states that he meant... what are they called now? Rising over the ridge, Dead Girl replies "X-Statix". Vivisector, still in his feral form, points out to Guy that it was he who wanted the name, even though he still hasn't given a satisfactory definition of what the word means. Surveying the battle, Phat asks who cares what it means, as long as it looks good.
Later, in the remodeled X-Statix headquarters, the team bathes in their communal shower. After someone asks why they can't just watch the show-reels as usual, Guy replies that he wants to see all of the recruits in the flesh. After what happened with the Spike, they've got to choose their next two members well. Tomorrow, he tells the team, they will go to the training camp in Nevada. Lathering up, Phat tells Guy that he can't do it tomorrow as he's launching a range of weight watching products: Phat No More. Nearby, Vivisector adds that he's booked to have a TV debate about the role of fiction in a fictive world with Umberto Eco. Leaning over the wall of his customized shower, Guy suggests the day after tomorrow. In her eerie voice, Dead Girl replies that she is supposed to be doing a promo for a cryogenics research lab in Napa. A little frustrated, Guy tells Dead Girl that cryogenics can wait, but he can't wait to get the team to full strength.
Showering next to Dead Girl, the Anarchist adds that the merchandising department doesn't know who to put on the trading cards, posters and all the other junk. Think of all the dough X-Statix is losing! Turning to Tike, the Anarchist, Dead Girl replies that it's strange that he adopts that attitude when everyone knows that he cashes in on his fame more than any of them. Incredulously, Tike reacts in amazement that Dead Girl is actually talking to him. Now angry, Dead Girl retorts that she never had any objections to talking to him, just sleeping with him.
they see him; not as a fan, but as a blip on a sales chart. Walking to a tape recorder on a nearby desk, Arnie presses play. From the player's speaker, the voice of Edie Sawyer introduces herself. She states that this is a very special message to a very special person, Arnie.
Thinking back, Arnie recalls that Edie sent him the tape after some of the upstanding children of this upstanding town almost killed him because of his disfigurement. His flat head, his iron face, his side winder. Morbidly, he thinks that those days lying in a coma with only her voice to keep him company were probably the happiest of his life. It was while he was in this coma, Arnie thinks, that he found something hidden in a dark, flat place inside him.
Walking to the window, Arnie looks down and sees two paramedics rolling a filled body bag on a gurney to an awaiting ambulance. But that was then, Arnie thinks. Today, he has to kill Mr. Mullen for trying to talk to a tourist. This town, Arnie broods, made his life hell. Now he, in turn, is making this town hell.
With a sullen countenance, Guy Smith sits and broods. To the nearby Venus, Guy admits that he keeps seeing her. More than just imagination, he says, it's like someone's beaming the images into his brain. He keeps hearing her voice, but she's calling him by another name. She keeps saying that she's sending a very special message to a very special person. Turning to Venus, Guy asks who the hell is Arnie? A little confused, Venus asks in turn why he is telling her this? Rising to his feet, Guy grabs his own hair, pulling it. Frantically, he tells her it's because there's still time to walk away. Admitting that he is going insane, Guy tells Venus that the rest of the team is falling apart and she is too beautiful and pure to be a part of this.
Raising her arms, energy from within Venus' containment suit escapes and surrounds herself and the Orphan. As they both are transported through the eye of her portal, she tells Guy that it isn't the reason he doesn't want her in X-Statix. Guy tries to respond, but is promptly told to shut up. Appearing outside a dilapidated cabin, overgrown up by the woods that surround it, Venus introduces Guy to her grandparents' former house. When she was eleven, she tells him, her mom and dad brought her and her two brothers there for a visit. She killed them all. Completely stunned, Guy only replies that he doesn't believe her. Leading the Orphan into the cabin, Venus asks why not? She is too pure and beautiful to do something like that? Showing Guy a picture of her family, Venus tells Guy that she got angry. She wanted to go out and play instead of eating dinner. Then it happened. Her skin started to burn and then caught fire as the energy poured out of her. When she stopped screaming, she was alone, having obliterated her family.
As the two walk outside into the forest, Venus clutches her containment suit. She tells Guy that she doesn't know what she would have done if Professor Xavier hadn't found her and designed her suit. As sensitive as skin, it is now her body. Recalling her earlier question, Guy asks Venus
why she is telling him this. Noticing a familiar sight, Venus bends down and picks up an old doll. She tells Guy that there was a lot of talk that he didn't want her on the team, and now she knows why; he does want her to take Edie's place. Clutching the doll to her face, Venus tells Guy that while he couldn't find a reason not to choose her, she will now give plenty of reasons; eight years of therapy, four suicide attempts, manic depression, self-loathing and unable to sleep without drugs to keep the nightmares away. Now looking away, Venus says that she doesn't want to take Edie's place. If he doesn't want her on the team, he now has the reasons. Standing in the doorway, Guy tells Venus that she has given him all the reasons he needs... to ask her to join them. Turning his back to the cabin, and all of Venus' past left inside, he tells her that she will fit in just fine.
Second Story :
Through the lens of the camera, Doop's camera, Corkscrew films a herd of wild horses running wild and free. Admiring their spirit, Corkscrew comments how beautiful they are and wonders if they are the same ones they saw before. Turning the camera around, Corkscrew brings himself and the floating Doop into the frame. Introducing himself and Doop to the camera, he announces that they are on the Lost in the Forest Show. He then adds that he has been told that this is about something called Code X, whatever that is. Zooming the camera into a close-up, Corkscrew assumes that it has something to do with him being a contender for the X-Statix. Maybe it is kind of an initiation test. He tried to ask Doop, but as he doesn't yet know his language he didn't get an answer.
Turning the camera to Doop, Corkscrew is surprised when he promptly disappears. Now alone, without compass or map, Corkscrew begins to panic. After a little while, he calms down, returns to camp, and makes himself some coffee. Still brooding, he talks to the absent Doop, supposing that he thinks what he's done is pretty smart. And then making all those noises in the night... Is he trying to freak him out? See if corkscrew can take the pressure? Now irate, Corkscrew attacks the camera, knocking it off the tripod. Turning it so it will record his words, Corkscrew tells it that he isn't putting up with it anymore. Maybe he's not supposed to. Maybe that's the thing. Knocking the camera back down, the young mutant states that he's going to try to take his chances and try to get back to civilization. With this, Corkscrew confidently walks into the woods.
Hours later, now completely lost, Corkscrew lies on the rain soaked ground and calls out to Doop. To his surprise, the floating mutant appears with the camera in tow. After setting the camera up to record them, Doop floats to Corkscrew and begins to untangle his legs from a mass of vines. As Doop works, Corkscrew tells him that he's been wandering all night. Once stuck, he didn't want to cut himself out in case he might accidentally injure himself. Finished with his work, Doop silently returns to the camera's perch to reclaim his property. Slowly rising from his night's resting place, Corkscrew asks if they can go home. He showed them that he could take the pressure. Not getting a response, the panicked youth exclaims that he no longer cares about X-Statix. He just wants to go home.
Convinced that he has heard something, Corkscrew rises from his bed in the tent. Looking outside, he asks the sleeping Doop if he can hear the footsteps or the laughing. That's laughing right? Looking back at Doop, Corkscrew theorizes that it's a search party, perhaps X-Statix themselves. Looking at the sleeping Doop, Corkscrew angrily bets that he's as lost as he is. Or maybe he's just playing with him. Yeah, he thinks, that is laughing outside. They're laughing at Corkscrew. This isn't Code X; it's just one big joke. Now enraged, Corkscrew morphs his arm into a drill and yells that no one makes fun of corkscrew! He'll tear them up so good, they'll be laughing outta their guts!
Surveying the killing ground, Doop and his camera views the herd of horses, now lying on the grassy ground in pieces. Audibly remorseful, Corkscrew mutters that he is sorry. It was dark and they were all around. It gets like that sometimes, he says, these things happen ... and they were only horses. Hearing Doop approach from behind, Corkscrew turns and asks what he is doing. As Doop approaches ever closer, Corkscrew yells out in horror and then in pain.
From a mounted position, Doop's camera overlooks a chopping block, imbedded with an ax stained by blue blood. Beyond these two object, a shovel dumps another clump of dirt on a freshly dug and filled grave. Wiping sweat and blue blood, from his forehead, Doop plants the shovel's tip into the dirt. Floating toward the camera, he pauses briefly to note the ax and the substance it is covered with. Approaching the still recording camera, Doop pauses again only to smile a toothy grin before turning it off.