On the India/Pakistan border, X-Statix makes its way through the remains of a battlefield. Calling out to the team’s leader, Tike, Guy points out the remains of the soldiers and announces that they have a little collateral damage. Replying glibly that it couldn’t be helped, Tike adds that there isn’t a war-crimes tribunal in the world that’ll convict them. We’ll see, replies Guy as he picks up the skull of one of the slain, after Dead Girl does what she’s paid to do and gets a reading from her cold cousin here. Hearing this, Tike apologizes and informs Guy that Dead Girl’s real busy at the moment. Hearing Guy repeat the word busy interrogatively, Tike replies that something important came up. Taken aback at the statement, Guy innocently asks what could be more important than going on a mission with X-Statix? To this question, Tike offers only a wry smile.
Dressed in a black evening gown with matching gloves, Dead Girl glides down the display runway, as photographers snap photos of her. Her uncommon smile is enhanced by the tiara upon her head, which pins up her hair in unaccustomed style. Over the loudspeaker, the announcer welcomes the guests to fashion week, where the breaking news is that Dead Girl, in her first season as a catwalk model, has been offered a contract reputed to be worth more than a million dollars a year!
Subsequently off the catwalk, Dead Girl submits to being interviewed by Savannah Saxxon – winner of three adult video monthly awards – from fashion TV. Holding up her microphone, Savannah asks Dead Girl to tell her how it feels to be the new face of fashion. Smiling dryly and feigning surprise, Dead Girl replies that, underneath it all, she’s still the same old corpse. When asked by Savannah if she thinks she’s worth all that they’re paying her, Dead Girl replies “naturally.” She doesn’t get out of her coffin for less than ten thousand a day. Miles away, sitting with the rest of the team at X-Statix HQ, Venus dee Milo sticks two fingers in her mouth in a “gag-me” sign and asks for someone to pass her the bulimia bowl.
Back at the fashion show, Dead Girl’s interview is interrupted by the arrival of a number of less-than-fit women. Several of them carry signs, reading Real Live Role Models. After an obvious declaration from Savannah that they have a situation, one plump protestor grabs the reporter’s microphone. Glaring at the camera, the protestor asks the viewers what kind of message is this giving to their daughters? So-called “heroin chic” was bad enough… but to hold up this, this, this dead body as a role model to their nation’s young women is both immoral and irresponsible!
Sensing a pause in the protestor’s statements, Savannah grabs the microphone back and, placing it before the startled Dead Girl, asks her what she has to say about that. Stammering her response, Dead Girl replies that she never wanted to be a role model, just a… sex symbol. Still filled with vitriol, the protestor points her finger at the X-Static and asks her what it says about their country’s state of mind when a dead woman is held up as a paragon of female beauty? It says, she continues, answering her own question, that they are sick in the head. Beginning to become angry herself, Dead Girl retorts that it is said people get the politicians they deserve… well, they get the models they deserve, too. Incensed by the response, the protestor re-snatches the microphone and, speaking to her fellow rioters, instructs them to string Dead Girl up. She’s dead anyhow, she reasons. The law can’t touch them!
Back at X-Statix HQ, Guy attempts to raise Venus from the couch and into action. Told by her boyfriend that they have to get Dead Girl out of there, Venus protests, pointing out that she joined the team to save the world and jump-start her multi-media career… not to be a bus service for an overpaid, overrated stiff who should be able to look after herself! Joining in on the joke, Tike tells Venus that, if she is a “bus service,” then she should save him a seat in the back. Replying back in kind, Venus informs the team leader that he “ain’t got no ticket.”
Turning the conversation back to topic, Spike Freeman orders Tike to stop hitting on Venus. In fact, he thought that Dead Girl was his girlfriend. Jumping to his feet, the Anarchist retorts that they’re crazy superstar mutants! They can rip up that whole bourgeois, tight-@$$ed, girlfriend/boyfriend book. Right, mocks Venus; when it suits him. Smiling wryly, Spike tells Tike that he really needs Dead Girl on this Kashmir thing. He’ll know where to find her, he continues.
Amazed at the discovery and being in the very location, the Anarchist asks aloud, more in statement than in question, that X-Statix has its own mortuary? Yes, the mortician replies, examining the corpse he has pulled out of its refrigeration unit. It makes it easier when he… he means they need to manipulate body counts or keep nasty truths from the press. His girls and boys, he continues in morbid humor, are all very happy with the arrangement.
Taken aback at the humor, Dead Girl repeats the words “girls and boys,” but the mortician only replies with a humorless glance. Only a heart of stone wouldn’t get attached to their guests, he counters. And he makes sure each one gets the best possible treatment. Placing on his surgical gloves, the mortician asks Dead Girl if he could interest her in a slab for the night. Every table, he tells her, is individually heated or cooled to their requirements and their special weekend rate includes a holistic body-autopsy.
Sitting on a extended slab and fingering the clean, white cloth covering the corpse laying upon it, the Anarchist suggests that he could do with some Z’s himself. Maybe he’ll check in, too. Replying bluntly, the mortician apologizes and informs Tike that they don’t admit his kind. Leaping to his feet at the apparent racial slur, Tike asks what kind of people does he mean? People of color? From beneath his medical frock, the mortician produces a pistol from a hidden holster. The problem isn’t his color, the mortician informs Tike. Handing the pistol to the Anarchist, the mortician adds that, if he could just blow his own brains out, they’d be more than happy to accommodate him. His demeanor neither irate or humorous, the Anarchist replies that maybe he’ll just try the Beverly Hills Wilshire instead…
A little later, walking in the city as paparazzi snap candid photos of them, Dead Girl and the Anarchist speak of their shared experience. When told by Dead Girl that the mortician gives her the creeps, the Anarchist dismisses it, telling her that Brad’s cool. He was hitting on her, she replies. She’s not really his type, he replies in kind. Looking quite worried, she informs her lover that she thinks she’s exactly his type. Seeing that she’s not getting through to him, Dead Girl asks if she has to draw a diagram for him. Finally getting the message, Tike’s face contorts in disgust.
The conversation is cutoff, however, as Dead Girl begins to sense something. When asked by Tike what is wrong, Dead Girl replies that she’s been picking up these… low-level telepathic distress signals from some of her sisters in there. Now she knows why… it’s Brad.
Brad Gutman’s wife tells him to get his disgusting hands off of their daughter. Standing in front of his open refrigerator, Brad asks his wife, Brenda, what her problem is. Can’t a man kiss his own daughter goodnight? Brad’s teenage daughter doesn’t seem to mind, however, and smiles innocently. Dressed in a drab blue top and skirt, she has her face painted to resemble death… or Dead Girl herself.
He was touching her… with his fingers… Brenda continues. What else is he supposed to touch her with, Brad counters. The same fingers that, only hours ago, were doing God knows what with all that dead flesh he works with, Brenda states, accusingly. Unable to take any more, Brad’s daughter asks if the two can please stop their fighting. Not missing a beat, Brenda points her finger at her daughter, asking what all the stuff on her face is. Looking defensive, she replies simply that it’s what all the kids are wearing. Pointing to a picture of Dead Girl tacked to the refrigerator door, Brenda asks if it is so that she can be like her. Now enraged, the daughter punches the door closed and storms off, announcing that it is so she can be herself. With this, she tells her parents goodnight.
Take this to bed with you, she shouts, as she launches the slice of uncooked meat across the darkened room. Unable to see it in time, Brad is slapped in the face by the steak, which lands with a wet splatt. It’s cold, it’s dead, yells Brenda to her husband. It’s doesn’t answer back! It’s doesn’t have an opinion! It can’t say no!
Removing the steak, Brad turns on the light on the nightstand but does not rise from the bed. Bewildered by what just happened, Brad attempts to ask his wife what’s going on, until he notices her face. Seeing it painted white, with black markings, Brad asks if it’s Britney’s makeup. Isn’t this how you want it, she asks in response. To this, she adds that she even took that cold bath before coming to bed… just like he asked.
Across the hall in her own bedroom, Britney can hear her parents arguing. Disgusted by it and disheartened, she walks to the holstered pistol on her table and removes it. Examining the cold, metallic object in her grip and fingering the trigger, Britney wishes softly to herself that she were dead.
From the roof of her school, Britney fires repeatedly in the crowd of students below, shouting to them all over and over again that she hates them. A short distance away, a police officer crouches from behind his squad car, shouting orders for Allsott to get a sniper.
Appearing on the scene, the Anarchist instructs the officer to leave the kid to them. Disgusted by the very idea, Officer Stone replies that it is a police matter, adding that they don’t need any help from a bunch of headline-grabbing mutants and they should back off. Immediately following this, Stone hears Dead Girl tell him that there are cameras at three o’clock, causing him to change his tune. Turning to one camera, Stone places his arm around the incredulous Anarchist, informing the viewing audience that, as they can see, he has a real close working relationship with the fine people from X-Statix. They could almost say he’s an honorary member! When asked by Stone if that isn’t correct, the Anarchist merely displays a disgusted look and swears aloud as he walks away.
Ignoring all of this posturing, Dead Girl walks on air, climbing a non-existing staircase until she reaches a level just below the roof. Staring up at the startled Britney, the undead X-Static asks bluntly what she is doing. Defiantly, Britney replies that she’s going to die… and she’s going to take some others with her. Do them all a favor. Telling Britney to trust her, Dead Girl replies that there’s nothing so great about being dead. Nothing romantic. Nothing sexy. That’s just propaganda. Death, she continues, is just death. It’s an absence of life. Nothing more.
Right, replies Britney, unconvinced. And that’s why she gets all the big modeling contracts and hangs out with guys like Tike Alicar? That’s why her dad wants her mom to act dead before he sleeps with her. That’s why her dad would obviously prefer it if she were dead. Telling Dead Girl to not be a hypocrite, Britney adds that she, of all people, should be honest with her. When asked by Dead Girl why she thinks that, Britney replies that it’s because she’s dead.
Listen, Dead Girl replies, glancing down in deep thought, the dead aren’t honest. The dead lie… all the time. Some of the biggest liars she knows are dead people. Changing her demeanor, Dead Girl begins to scratch her head. Let’s get this straight, she says, changing the subject… she’s upset because her father is a necrophiliac. So she reacts by trying to shoot her teachers and classmates and get herself killed? That doesn’t make an awful lot of sense. Now pointing the gun at Dead Girl, Britney retorts that life doesn’t make sense most of the time, but she wouldn’t know about that. She doesn’t have to deal with the hypocrisy of being alive. She doesn’t have to handle the pain.
With this said, and without warning, Britney fires a single shot from her pistol, blowing a hole clear through Dead Girl. If she wasn’t dead, Britney exclaims, that would really hurt. Stunned more than injured, Dead Girl continues to float, several feet away from Britney. Even as her mutant body repairs the damage, Dead Girl replies that it does hurt; just not in the way she’d expect.
From the ground below, Officer Stone tells the sniper that the time’s up. Having received the signal, the sniper fires his shot, sending the single bullet through Dead Girl’s back and, subsequently, through Britney’s stomach. Startled and coughing up blood, Britney declares that it really hurts and struggles to keep from doubling over. Funny, she states with a quaking voice, he’s pretty scared now. Beginning to lose coherency, Britney attempts to ask Dead Girl to look after her… make sure that nothing… bad happens…
When the last part of life disappears from her form, Britney slumps forward toward the ground below. Already in the way, Dead Girl easily catches the teenager’s body. As she lowers both herself and her charge to the ground, Dead Girl tells her not to worry, she’ll look out after her. It’s over now; it’s all over.
Shortly after Dead Girl has laid his daughter’s body onto the concrete, Brad makes his way through the crowd. Immediately, he leans down and lifts his daughter into his arms, cradling her. Speaking to the crowd and officials present, he informs them that he’ll take care of her. He’s a senior mortician and her father. She’s his little girl… she’s always been his little girl. A short distance away, Brad’s hysterical wife, Brenda, tries in vain to get past two police officers, who are holding her back. To whomever will listen, she orders them to not let him take her… she doesn’t want him touching her. Despite her protestations, an officer replies that she’ll be able to see her later. In the meantime, she’s in good hands. Shedding tears in her defeat, Brenda can only reach her arm out in helplessness toward Dead Girl, muttering please… someone help her..
In X-Statix’s morgue, Brad gently lowers his daughter to a retracting slab. Speaking to his little girl as if she stilled lived, Brad tells her that, though her mom is upset, she shouldn’t worry. Daddy’ll take care of her... take good care of… Brad’s words trail off, morphing into a guttural exclamation. Looking downward, he is able to see his own heart emerging from his chest, held by Dead Girl’s hand, which has reached through his back and has emerged from his chest.
Exclaiming the obvious, even as she looks at the heart in Dead Girl’s hands, Venus tells her teammate that she killed Brad! After subsequently being told that she is very observant, Venus asks if there was any particular reason. In her spectral voice, Dead Girl replies that it was Brad Gutman’s job to care for the dead. Instead, he abused them. He treated them like pieces of meat… like they had no rights. She wasn’t going to let him do that to his daughter or to her other brothers and sisters. Maybe that’s the reason she’s there, she concludes.
So…, Tike chimes in, she figures she’s some kind of protector of the dead? Unless she can teach them to protect themselves, Dead Girl replies. Turning to Venus, Dead Girl asks if they don’t have some unfinished business on the India/Pakistan border.
On the desolate border between India and Pakistan, the X-Statix make their way through the ruins of a battle. Trucks and armored vehicles lay in pieces and half buried in the sand. Among them are the skeletal remains of the people who fought in them, half-buried as well.
Taking all of this in, Dead Girl surmises to the group that, maybe, she has this need to read the cooling minds of the dead… in the hope that, one day, one of them will read her… and tell her about herself. The stuff she doesn’t want to remember. The stuff she doesn’t want to know. How she became what she is. Right, states Mister Sensitive rather bluntly. What they need her to do now is tell them if any of these dead soldiers were U.S. citizens. See if there are any trace memories… that might link them to a domestic terrorist network. If there is, they ship them home.
Walking among the corpses, Dead Girl replies that they want to be there in Kashmir, not Kentucky. Resting in peace. And they’re going to stay that way. Standing erect once again and looking out into distance, Dead Girl suggests to Venus that they go home. There’s one corpse… she hasn’t finished with yet.
You see, Dead Girl says to the corpse of Brad Gutman, which lies inertly on the morgue slab, she has many strange powers… and she’s not talking about the uncanny power to compel millions of otherwise sane women to spend fortunes on clothes they don’t like and can’t afford. One doesn’t have to be a mutant to posses that power… unless you classify being beautiful, tall and improbably skinny as being a mutant, which she thinks for their purposes they probably can. No, she’s talking about the power to give a little spark of life to a cold bag of dead organs such as him.
With these words, the corpse of Brad Gutman opens its eyes; eyes filled with at least a spark of life. Continuing her soliloquy, Dead Girl tells the reanimated Brad that the spark won’t last for long, and he won’t be animated enough to move about much… but she needed him to see the party. Able to rise to his elbows, Brad Gutman looks around the morgue and sees ghosts, all women, swirling around him. As he looks on in horror, Dead Girl tells him that it’s all in his honor.
Sitting next to the speechless Brad, Dead Girl tells him that she’s breathed the spark of life into her sisters, too. She wants him to learn something… and she wants him to take it with him to his grave: Just because a person’s dead, that doesn’t mean she ain’t got any rights. Understand? As the horrified Brad tries to stutter a response, Dead Girl replies that she will take that as a yes, and begins to walk away. Asked by one of the phantoms what they shall do with him, Dead Girl replies anything they life… as long as he doesn’t enjoy it.
Walking over to her teammate, Dead Girl suggests to Venus that they leave. It looks like her work there is done. Replying affirmatively. Venus asks, “where to?” Pondering her answer for a second, Dead Girl replies Paris… then Milan… no, London… wait! Rome. With each city named, Venus teleports the two of them each. Finally, making her decision, Dead Girl has Venus teleport them home, to X-Statix HQ. Arriving before a screaming crowd of fans, Dead Girl declares that she guesses home will have to do.