Outside of her TV studio in Hollywood, CA, the mutant talk show host known as Lacuna lays in a pool of her own blood, having just been shot by the random killer. Standing around her inert form, several onlookers point up a rooftop, showing people from where the shots came. Rising slowly from the concrete street to that towering point, Guy Smith uses his power of levitation to bridge the distance. Thinking to himself, Guy tries to make light of the dark situation, telling “people” to not try this at home. Levitation, he thinks, isn’t for everyone.
Up, up Guy floats, passing windows, from which his picture is taken by one bystander. Ignoring such distractions, he thinks about how, if you lose concentration, you fall. Neglect to study hard and long enough with the right shaman and you don’t even get off the ground. You have to be sensitive to every breeze and change in atmospheric pressure. You have to be sensitive to every thermal blip. Rising to the sniper’s roof level, catching him off-guard as he has just finished packing his rifle, Guy notes to himself that he’s particularly good at being sensitive.
Realizing that he’s caught, the sniper pulls out his pistol, even as he asks Guy how the hell he got up there. Floating to the terra firma of the building’s roof, Guy informs his prey that he wants to talk about Mister Code. Not missing a beat, Guy leaps, evading the four shots fired by the sniper. Even as he does so, Guy continues his focus on Mister Code. Who is he? Where is he? Having expended his pistol’s ammunition, the sniper curses to himself that they really can dodge bullets.
Now disarmed, the sniper finds himself slapped to the ground by Guy, who grabs his shirt and menacingly draws back his open palm, ready for the fatal strike. Barking out orders, Guy tells the sniper to talk. He knows a lot of ways to kill his very, very slowly. He can shut down his organs, Guy tells the assassin, one by one.
Guy’s threats, however, fall on deaf ears, as the sniper’s face begins to contort into a mix of astonishment and pain. Immediately, Guy sees it. He feels it. A chemical change in the brain – a rapid spread of something alien through his body. Good God, Guy thinks, as he dashes away at his best speed, he’s going to…
The force of the explosion throws Guy off of his feet, tossing him across the rooftop. Though having survived, Guy comes to a stop and begins to roll into a fetal position. Professor X had created the suit that he wears – it protects his heightened senses from the cold, sharp edges of the sensory world. But now, the aftershocks of the blast still charge through him, pulsing phantom limbs of agony. Taking a pill from a pocket, Guy painstakingly slips it into his mouth. The tablet is another one of Xavier’s creations and, for half an hour, his senses will be dulled to almost human levels. Though now normal, Guys thinks, as he rises to his feet, he’ll be able to breathe without screaming.
As he walks to the deceased sniper, Guy guesses that he’s just witnessed a novel kind of suicide pill. From the blackened remains of what was once a human skull, Guy pulls a small electronic device. An explosive device, Guy muses, just what he thought. Something that would require very thorough mental training… and very smart technology. Mister Code obviously values his privacy… and his foot soldiers are crazy enough or indoctrinated enough to kill themselves to protect it.
Looking over the edge of the roof to the street below, Guy sees two paramedics hover over the fallen Lacuna. Seeing this, Guy chastises himself; only now does he remember the girl who’s lying down there. The girl who just yesterday told him she loved him.
Hours later, as Lacuna lies motionless in her hospital bed, Guy withstands the emotional tirades of Lacuna’s parents. Holding out his hand in an accusatory fashion, Lacuna’s father tells Guy that their daughter would never have ended up on a life-support system if it hadn’t been for him and his bunch of champagne mutants. Replying defensively, Guy reminds the man that Lacuna tried to join X-Statix. Her face contorted in anguish, Lacuna’s mother rejoins that they wouldn’t let her! She decided to become a TV personality, the father then adds, looking at his daughter, and now she’s full of holes and fighting for her life.
Having had enough, Guy begins to leave, excusing himself. Lacuna, he tells them, was probably shot by the random killers. A lot of innocent people have been killed that way, he reminds them. Stern-faced, Lacuna’s father asks Guy if he really thinks that. The shooting of their little girl… Lacuna… was a random event? Pausing before he leaves, Guy offers no response.
As the team watches repeats of the news footage of Lacuna on the street, Tike scoffs at the idea of it being random; Spike Freeman set Lacuna up to be shot. But he was stupid, offers Vivisector. To this Venus adds that Spike was stupid because the sexist pig presumed Lacuna was just another stupid girl. Instead, rejoins Vivisector, of the intelligent, young woman who, according to Guy, was smart enough to give all those incriminating documents to her lawyers. It almost makes him wish he were…
Straight up, proclaims Phat. They ask her parents! You, he says, pretending they are in the room, give us the name of Lacuna’s lawyers. We gotta steal some incriminating documents from them. Taking in the logic of that method, Guy announces that he has the feeling her parents won’t help them. Though, he continues, he does have another idea.
Reading through the yellow pages of the phone book, Vivisector calls out the name of the law firm of Kohan, Schuman and Warbistle. Holding Lacuna’s wrist, using his super senses to detect a change in Lacuna’s pulse rate, Guy replies negatively. When Vivisector calls out the name of Mulligan, Milliken and McCall, Guy replies not a twitch. Stealing a glance at Lacuna, Guy thinks about how they’ve been there an hour. Myles reads out names of L.A. lawyers and he waits for a response. He’s so sensitive, the slightest tremor in her near-death, comatose soul will register. Coming to a new firm, Vivisector announces that this one has to be fake. Who’d call themselves Williams, Williams and Williams? Having finally senses the tremor her was waiting for, Guy thanks Lacuna.
Inside the building of the law firm of Williams, Williams and Williams, X-Statix arrives, via the teleportation power of Venus Dee Milo. The room they are in is large but empty, save for the dozens upon dozens of unlabeled record boxes. Seeing all of this, Guy thanks Venus for the excellent porting… the only problem is… How do they find the damning documents from all these, finishes Vivisector. They start searching, Guy responds, paper by paper. They’ve still got another hour before the offices open. Already exhausted at the idea of that search, the Anarchist tosses a handful of acid, announcing that he never did like paperwork.
The clearing of a throat draws the attention of the team to a portly, old man, who holds out a small stack of documents. Holding them up, he announces that they are copies of the documents they are looking for. He is John Williams, Lacuna’s lawyer… and they are screwed.
Flanked by a picture of Saddam Hussein, whose picture is overshadowed by the logo of X-Statix, a new anchor announces that breaking news: documents have been sent to her station linking Spike Freeman and X-Statix to illegal chemical sales to Saddam Hussein. With heroes like these, she editorializes, who needs plague and pestilence? Adding to the report, her co-anchor, Bob, states that the documents implicate other members of the filthy mutant crew in illegal transactions involving drugs, land scams and MP3s. Hearing this, the Anarchist repeats the statement regarding MP3s, declaring it a damned lie.
Facing the reality, Guy announces that it’s open season on them now. They can make up what they like about them and people will believe it. Joking about Guy’s statement, Vivisector rejoins that he thought that was the job of their marketing department.
Continuing his report, Bob states that, meanwhile, Lacuna continues to fight for her life - now with some unlikely assistance. Looking into the camera, Lacuna’s mother tells the viewing audience that they’ve decided to enlist the help of some charismatic Christians to pray for Lacuna’s recovery. In fact, adds Lacuna’s father, they’d like the whole country to pray for their daughter. Soon thereafter, somewhere in America, a young boy kneels at the foot of his bed and indeed prays. He asks God to make Lacuna better again… and to make sure those atheistic perverts X-Statix roast in the fires of Hell. And he wants a new scooter for Christmas.
Okay, the Anarchist declares, the game’s up. The party’s over. They’ll have to adopt fake identities and move to South America or something. Twisting his body and displaying a stereotypical “limp-wrist,” Vivisector announces that he shall be Madam Salsa, the sultry dancing queen of Rio! Things aren’t that bad yet, Guy warns. They’ll just have to win back the hearts of the American people, by doing something spectacular. Like what, asks Phat, shrugging his shoulders.
On the nearby TV screen, Bob continues his report, stating that the random killings continue. And they’re getting more insane messages from Mister Code, telling them that living in abject fear is good for them. Hearing this report, the whole team collectively produces an idea.
Looking over at Dead Girl, who has been cradling the corpse of the team’s former employer, Spike Freeman, Guy asks what’s up with her. Noting her own body seeming to be desiccated, Guy remarks that she looks all… dead. Answering the question, Tike remarks that she’s doing something with the late Spike. Who, chimes in Vivisector, is starting to smell. Nearby, Venus leans into Henrietta and remarks that she thought Spike stank even before Guy killed him. To this, Henrietta innocently muses aloud, wondering where he is now.
In a world devoid of color, Spike Freeman walks around in his underwear. He is in the middle of a classic, bazaar-style market, filled with tents of vendors, all selling flowers. Vendors and patrons alike are all dressed in hooded robes and all are ignoring the frantic Freeman. Holding out a fistful of cash, Spike asks anyone who will listen what is going on. He’s got money, see. Money! Now sell him something, he commands. Anything. He doesn’t care what it is… he needs to buy something. He needs to buy something to confirm his own existence.
But you don’t exist anymore, a voice replies. Turning to the voice, Spike sees Dead Girl, who is also dressed in a robe, but with her hood down. At least not, she continues, in the sense of existing in the land of the living. Hearing this, Spike drops his cash, asking if she means he’s… he’s actually dead. Smiling wryly, Dead Girl tells him to join the club. Though she’s afraid it ain’t an exclusive one.
Continuing, Dead Girl informs Spike that his fate hasn’t been decided yet. That’s why she can still contact him. Changing the subject slightly, Spike tells Dead Girl that he’s hungry and thirsty. How can he be those things if he’s dead? Responding by asking who said it was easy, Dead Girl adds that it isn’t. He’ll still feel the pains of being alive, but he won’t be. Turning to another vendor, trying in vain to hand him a wad of cash, Spike asks why they won’t sell him anything. Some food… To this, Dead Girl replies that his money’s no good. They only take plastic. Eagerly rejoining that that’s cool, Spike begins to pull several out of his wallet. Amex? Mastercard? Diner’s? Replying negatively, Dead Girl gives him a card.
Reading the card, Spike declares that it is from the Bank of Hell, Sulphur Card. Is it some kind of joke? Still holding the card, Dead Girl replies that they tend not to joke around in this place. He can keep it, she tells him, buy stuff to make his stay a little more bearable. Before the really bad things start to happen. But, she states, as he reaches for the card, she wants something in return. His eyes sparkling from the coming deal, Spike tells her to say it.
Hiding behind a rock outcropping, the team looks at a set of residential buildings. Before they go into battle, Dead Girl explains what she learned from Spike. He bankrolled some of Mister Code’s bizarre seminars a few years back, during which his disciples were programmed to become killers. They kept in touch. Mister Code had Lacuna shot for Freeman.
Taking this in, the feral Vivisector states that, when Guy killed Spike Freeman, they almost lost their one way of finding the mastermind behind the random killings. So it’s just as well, Dead Girl replies, that they’ve got her on their side. Lowering her eyes, she adds that she had to go to Hell to get this information from Freeman… literally! Hearing this sound of her voice, the Anarchist tells her that she did good. To this, Henrietta lifts a clenched fist and suggests that they kick some serious butt. Making his way to the team leader, Guy asks Henrietta if she’s sure she wants to come along. It could get nasty. Good, she replies.
Like Henrietta, Phat continues his piercing gaze to their target, declaring that the singer’s down by law. Now… are they going in or not? Looking into the sky above and seeing a small fleet of news helicopters, all from different stations, Guy announces that it looks like they’re all there. Of course, he thinks, they’ve contacted the media and it is all going out live. The way to a nation’s heart is through its television. With the word given by Guy, Venus begins the teleportation jump.
The team arrives in a fenced-in backyard and promptly find themselves under fire from snipers and other gunmen. Immediately, the Anarchist begins propelling acid blasts, while the rest of the team dives for cover. After blasting through one building’s wall, the Anarchist finds a group of small children, cowering in the darkness. Seeing this as he kicks one gunman, breaking his neck, Guy tells Venus to get the kids out of there. Venus complies, adding that she’ll be back. However, before she can leave, Venus is knocked out by a baton, thrown at her skull.
Looking to the source of the projectile, Guy sees Mister Code, clad in a yellow jumpsuit and his trademark barcode mask. Wielding two more fighting sticks, Mister Code tells Guy that there was a time when Americans didn’t need mutants to fight their battles for them. Jumping into action, Guy replies that just because he’s a mutant, doesn’t mean he’s not American. Deftly sidestepping Guy’s assault, at the same time landing a blow at the base of Guy’s skull, Mister Code rejoins that he disagrees.
As Guy recovers, Henrietta joins the battle, leaping over Guy and telling him that it’s okay; he’s hers! Still rising to his feet, Guy tries to utter a warning but, before he can, Mister Code lands a blow with a fighting stick to Henrietta’s neck, breaking it. By the time he reaches her form, Guy sees Henrietta’s disjointed neck and hears her attempts at speech, which are at best gurgles.
Incensed, yelling that she’s dead, Guy leaps at Mister Code, this time managing to land a blow and beat him back. Undeterred, Mister Code regains his balance. Speaking of the normal people… fat, complacent, bovine America… they have a need for both of them. Heroes. Villains. Fear. Drama. Climaxes. Denouements.
All the while Mister Code speaks, he holds off Guy’s blows easily. These people, he continues, can no longer create their own dramas. They are separated from their own mythologies, so they need them. So really… they shouldn’t be fighting. They’re not fighting, Guy replies, finally landing a solid blow to Mister Code’s midsection, he’s tearing him apart.
The talking over, Guy and Mister Code’s duet becomes a silent display of skill. Each matches the other’s moves with countermoves and a subsequent counterattack. As they dance their ballet of aggression, Guy thinks of how Mister Code is strong. He’s well trained. And insane; a very lethal blend. Luckily, Guy thinks, he’s got the edge. He’s strong, too, and well trained. And, though he might not be insane, he’s pretty mad right now. He also has something else. The little matter of the X-gene. That’s American X.
Grabbing hold of Mister Code’s collar, Guy crosses his legs and begins to rise off of the ground. Levitation isn’t for everyone’s, he tells Mister Code. Realizing the implication of what is happening but unable to stop it, Mister Code begs for mercy.
As he continues to rise, Guy repeats his mantras for levitation. Lost concentration and you fall. Neglect to study long and hard enough with the right shaman and you don’t even get off the ground. You have to be sensitive to every breeze and change in atmospheric pressure. It also helps to be a mutant, he concludes, as he strikes Mister Code, causing him to lose his own grip and fall.
Held aloft by nothing but his insanity, Mister Code begins his uncontrolled descent, captured on camera by the local news media. Finally and abruptly, he comes to rest on the ground, far below.
Levitating down, Guy calls out to the recovered Venus, asking if she is okay. Motioning over to the motionless Mister Code, Venus replies that she’s a lot better than he is. Replying that he’s glad to hear it, Guy moves to body of Mister Code, which has been impaled on the rubble of a building.
Standing over the body, Guy speaks back to Venus, asking if she is fit enough to teleport. She replies that she’s groggy and asks for another minute. Seeing Guy move closer to their fallen foe, she asks what he’s doing. Checking to see if he’s dead? Answering bluntly, Guy replies that he knows she’s dead… he just wants to see what he looks like. Pulling off the Mister Code’s mask, Guy’s eyes open wide and he exclaims, My God… My God… you!!
Unable to see, Venus tries to get closer, all the while asking what’s going on and who it is. Rather than answering, Guy announces that he’s feeling something. Like before… but stronger. Realizing the meaning, Guy informs Venus that removing Mister Code’s mask has triggered him off. He’s a bomb about to explode! Rushing over to Venus, Guy tries to raise her up, telling her that he’s got to get them out of there. The whole place, he tells her, is about to go up.
Venus, however, protests, replying that she’s still too groggy. He needs more time. They don’t have more time, Guy yells. He’s… Unfortunately, Guy’s following words are drowned out by the deafening sound of Mister Code’s explosion.