One last payday…
Venus cradles the desiccated form of Dead Girl, while the rest of the mansion they are in continues to be demolished around her. The lounge in which she kneels is in shambles. Laser blasts fire over her head into the room. All is in ruins.
Calling out, Venus tells her teammates that she thinks Dead Girl is dead. Slashing a trooper nearby, Vivisector responds that he thought that he was the brains of the outfit. Ignoring the sarcasm, Venus rejoins that she means really dead… disintegrating. She then adds she’s so scared. We’re all scared, Guy thinks to himself. They don’t tell their fans that. How scared they get.
Having taken out his own trooper, Guy remarks to the nearby Anarchist that this was supposed to be a walk in the park. Where has he heard that one before? The troopers inside now taken care of, Tike moves to the window, ready to throw the curtain aside. Okay, X-Sters, he tells the team, anyone with a weak constitution better look the other way. Throwing the curtain aside, the Anarchist and the rest of the team beholds over half a dozen military helicopters, ready to open fire.
Seeing doom hovering outside, Guy calls out to Venus, telling her to get them out of there. Venus, still cradling Dead Girl, replies that she has a problem. Dead Girl’s breaking up. If she tries ‘porting with her inside her like this… she’ll probably die before she gets them anywhere.
So, Vivisector says, taking stock of the situation, they go without her. She’s dead anyhow. Incensed at this, the Anarchist declares that they came in together, they go out together. A little late to start being heroes, isn’t it, he replies. Turning to Guy for guidance, Tike tells him that it’s his call. However, before Guy can even consider, the room erupts in fire and a deafening boom.
A few moments later, Guy finds himself flat on his back. Staring up with vacant eyes, his minds wanders. I love the way it hits you, he thinks to himself. That first hit of very good, very cold champagne. First the stomach, then the head. Just like falling in love. The X-Statix farewell party is the hottest ticket in town. The heavy scent of sex, money, power… late sunlight on fine crystal.
“It’ll be a walk in the park, Mister Sensitive…” the man says, “for a superb fighting machine like X-Statix! The man, sporting a business suit, is nonetheless relaxed. His collar is unbuttoned and his tie untied. Before him stands Guy Smith, who seems to have been interrupted from his enjoyment of his beverage and the party going around them at outside of X-Statix Tower. Assembled is not only the team, but dozens of other super-heroes, including the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange and even a few X-Men.
Replying a little non-committal, Guys replies that he’ll talk it over with his team, and walks away. Calling out to the departing hero, the man rejoins that, now that he’s retiring, he might want one more payday.
(a little later)
Repeating the words “one last payday,” the Anarchist asks if that isn’t what punch-drunk fighters say before they step into the ring and lose whatever brains they’ve got left. They’re not punchy, Guy replies, his eyes downcast. They’re as good as ever, and this is a very easy and very lucrative job. Concerned more about Guy himself than what he is saying, Tike asks him what it is. Can he not let go? He never wanted to be number one, he reminds Guy. But now it’s ending, he can’t give it up?
Suddenly, Guy doubles over, his stomach wracked in pain. Venus calls to Guy, asking what it is. His stomach, he tells her. Musta had some bad shrimp. Moved to his knee, Guy reaches up to Venus, asking her to help him out of there…
His chest is gaping from a wound, still smoldering, Guy reaches up to Venus, repeating her name.
However, it is not Venus who stands before him, but Tike, who reaches out his own hand. Calling Guy his brother, Tike tells him that Venus ain’t there. A quick glance over his shoulder reveals the prone form of Venus, face down.
Turning back to Guy, Tike expels some acid from his hand to Guy’s stomach. He explains that he’s using it to close up his gut. It should keep him alive until they get out of there. Does he feel any better?
Using her powers on Guy’s sore stomach, Venus asks if it feels any better. In reply to the affirmative, Guy states that if she could bottle her molecules as a stomachache cure, she’d be a rich woman. Leaning down to her lover, Venus replies with a smile that she’s already a rich woman.
The two sit on a balcony at X-Statix Tower, taking in the night air. Below, the parties continues, its search lights still illuminating the night sky. Taking Venus’ arms in his hands, Guy says that he’s been thinking about this job at the billionaire’s mansion. Maybe his stomachache was a premonition. She knows how sensitive it is. Especially to the future, he continues, a little more melancholic. Not worried, Venus presses her cheek against Guy’s replying that they’re offering them so much money. To this, he rejoins that she said she was already a rich woman. But they’ll need lots and lots when they retire, she replies. People like them… need to be loaded, just to lead a normal lives.
Stepping back, Venus adds that they’ve done the hard work. They’ve fought that pop star who looked like Lady Diana with a wig… they’ve risked their necks all over the world. They deserve one big splash. Then they walk away. Is that possible? Guy asks. Can they just walk away from this thing? Zeitgeist couldn’t Edie couldn’t. Nor could so many before them…
That’s why they’re special, she counters. They get famous, get rich, beat up the bad guys. And walk away. They’re the ones who break the mold. He hopes she’s right, Guy replies. Turning his sight back down to the party below, he suggests that they get back to base and call in the others. When Venus replies that the party’s still going strong. There’ll be other parties, he replies, to which Venus voices that she sure hopes so. The two teleport away.
Driving his car, with Dead Girl in the passenger seat, Tike continues their conversation. He suggests that she call in sick. She’s got some color in her face… that ain’t right. Not with her. She can’t call in sick, she replies. She’s dead. Does he know what that means? It means always having to be a little better than the others, just to keep up. I hear you, baby, Tike replies.
Sitting on a couch with his lover, Raj, Vivisector enjoys the mood of the fireplace until interrupted by the beeping on his watch. Regarding it, Myles tells Raj that it’ll be one last job. Then he’s all his. Asked by Raj if he really means that, Myles takes off his copyright-protected X-Statix alarm watch and tosses it to his boyfriend. He tells him he can what he wants with it. After today, he won’t be needing it.
Later, in the X-Statix briefing room, Guy shows images of their target: a mansion, overrun by armed gunmen. How hard can it be? Sitting in one of the rows before the screen, Myles takes a break from his book, “the Man Without Qualities,” and asks why the police can’t handle this? Or the National Guard? The owners, Guy explains, are super rich. They only get the best. Sitting next to Dead Girl nearby, Tike snarkly asks if they X-Men were busy.
Just because they’re disbanding, Venus chimes in, doesn’t mean they should start dissing themselves. Agreeing, Guy asks Tike what his problem is. A little angered at this, Tike replies that, a couple of years ago, he sat in this same seat and listened to Coach and Zeitgeist say pretty much what he’s saying. A little later, there was just he and Edie left. The rest of the team were slabs of meat. So this might be therapeutic, Venus opines. He’ll be laying some ghosts to rest. That’s closure, Myles says, for psychobabble.
Another thing, Tike says, continuing, they’re doing this purely for the money. X-Statix did it for the fame. The kicks. The hell of it. But the money? They might as well become super-villains. Rob banks. Own banks. Taking in Tike’s words, Guy can’t help but wonder to himself if Tike knows something. Something he’s not sharing with them. Or is he just being Tike? Contrary.
The Anarchist leaps forward, his arms outstretched and his hands spewing acid, each stream of which connects with two armed gunmen. An advantage obtained, Tike then uses his acid in a mist effect, providing cover and protection.
Approaching Tike from behind, Guy asks him if he knew this was going to turn badly. He was against the operation from the start. Replying that he didn’t know nothin’, Tike adds that Dead Girl was sick. But he didn’t want to be a cry-baby. He was trying to stop this mission so she didn’t have to go… and save her the shame of looking weaker than her living comrades.
Seeing Tike recoil from the effort of his acidic mist, Guy grabs his teammate and pulls him back to safety. As he does so, he tells Tike that he could have said something. She would have killed him, Tike replies. Anyway, who knew it was gonna be like this? Now safely behind a large pile of debris, Guy replies that he thinks he did. His stomach did. It tried to warn him.
As he tries to project another stream of acid sweat, Tike realizes that he’s running out. When he does, he tells Guy, those S.O.B.s. are going to have a clean shot at them. Returning to Guy’s statement, he asks why he didn’t listen to his damn gut. He could have nipped this thing in the bud. To please Venus, he replies. Ever since they decided to end X-Statix, she’s been obsessed about money. About not being poor. As the two bolt from their position to return to the offensive, Tike rejoins that you can take the mutant sistah out of the project… Something like that, Guy replies.
Somersaulting into his foes, Guy takes down three gunmen at once. However, the act causes pain in his wound and Guy finds himself on the floor again. Looking around, he asks Tike where Venus is. Now positioned to protect his teammate, Tike lets loose another volley of acid against another gunman. In reply to Guy’s question, he states that she was over there. Looking in that spot, Guy is horrified. There’s only a… stain.
The clearing of a throat causes the two to turn around and see Venus, still very much alive, though smoldering. She tells the duo that she’s been called some bad things in her time, but stain takes the chocolate chip cookie. Overjoyed, Guy rushes to her side and helps her up, who tells him that she knows she looks awful, so he can just stop staring at her. In reply, he tells her that she looks beautiful, as always. She calls him a liar.
Changing the subject, Guy asks if she thinks she can ‘port them out of there. One last time? Demoralized, Venus tells Guy to look at her. She can hardly hold her poor butt together. If she tries ‘porting them anywhere, their molecules are likely to be scattered…
Suddenly, an explosion knocks the trio off of their feet. Looking up through the demolished wall, they see several military helicopters, hovering nearby. Seeing this, Venus states that, what she can do is try to teleport all those ‘copters somewhere far away. As Guy tries to digest this, Venus heads him off. She’ll try to come back alive. She ain’t anxious to make some big dramatic last exit.
Forget it, Tike tells her. He and Guy will take care of this. He and Guy, Venus scoffs. He’s so sweated out he’s turning white. And Guy, she says, looking down at him, he can’t even take care of himself. Angered, Guy tries to rise from the floor. He tells her that he’s not going to let her do this. It’s suicide. Hush, darling, she replies. If she doesn’t come back, it’s been real sweet. And at least this way he don’t see her go topless. Her piece made, Venus teleports away, even as Guy screams her name.
In a last-ditch effort, Guy tries to jump into her matrix, ordering her as leader to come back now. To stop teleporting, this instant. However, it is too late and she has gone. As Guy stares off into he space that Venus just departed, Tike curses with a smile. He wishes he has his authority. Suddenly, outside the mansion, Venus teleports again, with explosive results that destroy the helicopters. Guy curses, even as he and Tike are knocked off of their feet again.
Peeking out, Tike informs Guy that she took out the ‘copters, God bless her. She took them all out. Not wishing to look himself, Guy asks where she is. Is she dead? Who knows, Tike replies. With Venus dee Milo, she could be anywhere. She could be everywhere. But, he continues, seeing a host of gunmen making their way through the smoke of the ruins, they still got those bozos on their buts.
Raising their weapons, the gunmen open fire, though they miss their targets. Much to Tike’s surprise, he and Guy float ever upward. Responding to Tike astonishment, Guy replies that it is his doing… and it’s killing him. He then asks Tike if he’s got any more sweat. He needs patching up. Sorry, Tike apologizes. Like Venus said, he’s all sweated out.
Arriving in a new room, Guy sets himself and Tike down. Before them is a terminated gunman… as well as Vivisector. Noticing a green blob in the corner, Guy laments that they got Doop too. It’s unbelievable. Just the two of them, Tike says.
Suddenly, the floor beneath them erupts in fire, as weapons from the floor below are fired upward. Deftly, the two mutants evade the blasts, though when Guy asks Tike if he thinks they can make it out of there, Tike replies “not a chance.”
Quickly, the two arrive to another resting place and peer from their improvised foxhole. Tike asks who the hell these people are, but Guy only replies with his own question: “Does it matter?” ever matter? Ignoring this, Tike tells his teammate that he doesn’t want to die like some kinda animal in a hole. He’s right, Guy replies. They’ll go up standing. Heads held high. Like heroes.
Placing his had on Tike’s shoulder, Guy tells him that he wants him to know he’s sorry about this. He guesses he kind of screwed up all of their retirement plans, huh? Returning the favor, Tike places his arm around Guy’s back and says to hell with growing old gracefully. That was never their style. Let them remember them in their prime. Taking off his visor, Tike asks Guy if he’s ready. Replying that he is, Guy asks Tike in turn if he is ready. Without an answer, the two rush out from the protection of their spot and into the volley of fire coming at them.
“Are you ready?” Guy asks to the team, having just seen his presentation on their mission. Of course they’re ready, Guy, Dead Girl replies. Leaning over the chair before his, Myles laments that he can’t believe this is their last mission. To this, Tike adds that he can’t believe their going to fight a bunch of disaffected kids.
And, Venus chimes in, she can’t believe how much Hugh Hefner just offered her to appear topless. Hearing this, Dead Girl replies that he offered her a million last year to go full frontal. Until he saw what she looked like full frontal and had an aneurism. Ignoring Doop’s response to this, Guy asks Venus if she’s not actually considering it. Why not, she asks. He’s always saying she’s got a great… That’s not the point, he interrupts.
Having had enough, Vivisector stands up and asks the two if they can’t fight about this when they get back. He’s got to finish an article for the New Yorker about surviving super-hero team break-ups. Okay, Guy says in agreement. Turning to Venus, he tells her to port them out. After a quick reply that she is, the sextet disappear in Venus’ energy matrix, leaving the briefing room quiet and very much empty.