Still paused in the standoff, Bad Guy, aided by his suit’s mechanical arms, holds aloft a gigantic chunk of the ruined pavement, preparing to bring it down upon the helpless form of the Anarchist, who realizes that every moment may be his last. Standing but a few feet behind Bad Guy, Venus Dee Milo is frozen with indecision. Does she save her teammate by attacking someone who is possibly another? As the events are being transmitted to televisions around the country, untold viewers, including X-Statix employer, Spike Freeman, and Mutant Rights crusader, Professor Xavier, watch for Venus’ decision.
Venus’ dilemma is resolved by the arrival of Dead Girl, who pushes Venus aside and to the ground. Wishing very much to save the Anarchist, Dead Girl tells Venus that if she doesn’t want to save Tike’s butt, someone else does. Taking advantage of the new player to the standoff, the Anarchist expels a blast of acid, which disintegrates the block of concrete being held by Bad Guy.
Acting swiftly, Bad Guy uses one of the telescopic, metal tentacles from his costume to impale Dead Girl, lifting her high into the air. Declaring her heroics as touching, Bad Guy also characterizes them as futile. As the various parts of her body, having just been torn from her torso, begin to attack Bad Guy, Dead Girl asks if her heroics are as futile as this. Her coffin nails… Her tombstone talons… a cold, shivering graffito from the home of the grave and the land of the freezing… One of Dead Girl’s hands, detached below the wrist, manages to slash Bad Guy across his face, drawing blood from the wound. Crying out in pain, Bad Guy flees the scene, propelled by the giant strides of his metal arms.
Collapsed in self-pity, Venus ponders the cry of pain from the fleeing Bad Guy. Did it come from Guy? From Mister Sensitive? Shaken from her thoughts by the Anarchist, Venus regards her angry teammate as he asks what the hell that was all about. Bad Guy could have killed him! She’s supposed to be a member of this team! Rising to her feet, Venus begins to walk away, telling Tike that she doesn’t want to talk about it. Undeterred, the Anarchist grabs Venus by the hand and holds her back. Her wishes are too bad, he tells her. He is acting leader of X-Statix and she was going to let him die rather than risk hurting her boyfriend.
Still reassembling herself nearby, Dead Girl begins to weigh in. Questioning whether Guy is Venus’ boyfriend, Dead Girl asks Venus if they have… done it yet. Asking Venus more directly, Dead Girl adds that if her feelings for Guy are going to jeopardize their lives, they should know. Chiming in, Vivisector tells Dead Girl to leave Venus alone; it was a terrible dilemma. Uninterested in dilemmas, Tike proclaims that Dead Girl is right. Still grasping Venus by her hand, Tike asks her point-blank if she and Guy are lovers.
Suddenly, Venus’ eyes go large and wide as energy begins to seep from her containment costume. A little scared by this show of energy, Tike backs off, telling Venus that it was just a question. The Anarchist, as well as the rest of the team, is suddenly and violently propelled back by the exploding energies of Venus. Recovering from her evidently involuntary display of energy, Venus asks the still-recovering team if they really want the truth. No, Guy and she are not lovers, not in the strictest sense of the word. They have not “done it.” The fact is, she continues, she’s never done it with anyone. She hasn’t ever wanted to… couldn’t do it even if she did want to.
Interrupting her special relief bulletin, a television news anchor announces that she has a breaking story. It’s official: Venus Dee Milo is a virgin! Watching the breaking news telecast, Xavier lowers his head in sadness. Xavier’s attention is drawn by the clearing of a throat, the throat of Guy Smith. Noting Xavier’s displeasure at what is on television, the disheveled Guy suggests they should watch the comedy channel. They’re re-running Seinfeld, which makes him laugh so hard it hurts. Then again, he adds, just about everything hurts him. Taking in Guy’s appearance, Xavier tells Guy that he looks terrible. Holding his head, Guy replies that he’s suffering from “post X-Statix withdrawal syndrome.” Even Betty Ford can’t help you with that one. That’s why he’s there, he tells the Professor. He needs his help. Again. He wants a new suit.
Casually pressing a button on his chair, Xavier asks Guy if he doesn’t have enough suits. Ignoring the accusatory question, Guy tells Xavier that he needs a suit that will stop… the pain. Stop everything. He wants to be… he wants to be “Mister Insensitive.” He wants Xavier to make a suit that will wrap him up in stainless steel. Ring-fence his heart with impenetrable metal. Cauterize his soul. Turning dramatically back to Xavier, informs him that he knows he pressed that alarm button. He’s super-sensitive, remember?
Changing the subject, Xavier eyes claw marks across Guy’s face and notes that he is hurt. Replying dryly, Guy states that he cut himself shaving. Countering this sarcasm, Xavier tells Guy that the stress has gotten to him and asks him to let him help before… Xavier’s words are interrupted by the arrival of security. Finishing Xavier’s thoughts with a question, Guy asks before what? Before his former teammates kill him? Whatever he’s going through, Xavier tells Guy, turning bad won’t solve anything. Look where being good has gotten him, Guy retorts and begins to leave. Calmly, Guy walks past the security guards, who are held back by Xavier. Guy will only hurt them, the Professor tells his guards. This is an X-Statix problem now.
Venus awakens with a scream. Technically naked, Venus is clad only in her encounter suit, minus her costume or hair. Clutching her sheets, she realizes that the nightmares have gotten worse. She was back there, looking for her family, but in the wrong dimension and the darkness was moving around. Then… then what? What did she see? What was out there? Rising from bed, Venus begins to walk through X-Statix headquarters, despite that it gives her the creeps at night. So many locked rooms, so many secrets… and there’s always that noise… the background hum.
Sensing a presence, Venus turns to see Doop floating from the shadows with a small photo camera in hand. Covering her technically naked body, Venus asks Doop what he is doing with his camera at four AM. The answer, given in Doop’s language, is obviously a snide one, causing Venus to mutter about asking a silly question, gives one a silly answer. Suddenly, hearing voices, Venus ignores Doop to investigate.
Gathered around a small lamp, the only source of light in the darkened room, Spike Freeman and the Anarchist converse. In fact, Spike continues the conversation, having an African-American leader won’t do them any harm… but he doesn’t want to wait until Guy Smith is eliminated before making him officially the Number One. They’ll announce his new position, Spike informs Tike, to the media tomorrow.
Finally seeing Venus, Spike says hello and congratulates her on her sex life, or lack of… it was good PR! Pointing to her employer without even looking at him, Venus tells Spike to shut up. Staring Tike down with eyes of disgust, Venus tells the two that she now understands why they’re all so keen to kill Guy! They can’t wait even a day until… Venus’ rant is cut short by Tike, who informs Venus that, if she had snooped a little longer, she would have heard him tell Freeman to go to hell! Taken aback, Venus asks in amazement if she would have, echoed a second later by Spike with the same question. His eyes downcast in seriousness, Tike replies with a succinct, damn right!
Rising to his feet, Tike points at the surprised Spike, informing him that no new leader’s being announced to no one until the thing with Guy is settled, understood? His hands held up defensively, Spike replies that he does. He can dig it. Her demeanor changed, Venus touches Tike on his shoulder, apologizes and thanks him. Questioning the need for her apology, Tike informs Venus that he’s not doing this for her. She might have a crush on Guy and might even love him, but he doesn’t give a damn. He’s doing this, Tike tells Venus, because Guy was his friend. They fought together. They watched comrades die together.
Still confused, Venus asks Tike if he means that he is now not going to eliminate Guy. Coldly, Tike rhetorically asks if he said that. Recalling the earlier battle, Tike tells Venus that she didn’t fry Bad Guy because she suspected it was Guy under all of that junk. So far, no one’s been killed but, if he keeps playing this way, someone will be. It is X-Statix job to kill him first. Friend, comrade or would-be lover. Processing these words, Venus does not speak.
Eyeing the gibberish that is the ever-changing natural tattoos of his mutation, Solomon O’Sullivan explains that it’s never happened to like this; code, encryption. And it feels… different. Walking around in her two-piece bathing suit, the leathery-winged Sharon Ginsberg suggests that it must be male menopause. Lounging in his own swimming trunks in the spacious mansion living room, Solomon thanks his partner for the concern. Apologizing, Sharon points out to O’Sullivan that he’s been obsessing so much about his epidermis that he’s not listening to her idea. They contact Guy Smith, who is obviously Bad Guy, join forces and then, together, destroy the brand name known as X-Statix.
Looking at the now airborne Ginsberg, O’Sullivan asks how are they going to get to him. Larry, Ginsberg answers. He is one of the guys who operates the satellite tracking system used by X-Statix and is besotted with her. He’ll make sure she gets a ten-minute start on X-Statix when Bad Guy shows up again. A little curious, O’Sullivan asks Ginsberg why Larry is besotted with her. When Sharon begins to explain that she uses her wings to… O’Sullivan cuts her off; it is enough.
Trapped beneath a transparent dome, the green glob writhes in its confinement with the dozen black tendrils. Watching this, Xavier states that there’s something not right about this little monster. He’s staring at it and he can’t see it… and that irritates his greatly. Her back turned away, as she leans against the railing, Venus informs the Professor that she doesn’t like looking at it. Why, Xavier asks, what else did she see over there? When Venus begins to deflect the question, Xavier changes it. What about the nightmares? Fine, Venus lies. All gone, no more nightmares.
Turning to Venus, Xavier tells her that he saw her disclosure on television. Joking about it, Venus states that as Britney has gone over to the dark side, she’s in possession of the most talked about love life in America. She’s been offered a small fortune to do a cover of “Like a Virgin.” Sadly, she adds, she’d only do it if the Neptunes produced it.
Once again bringing up the subject of the special suit, Xavier informs Venus that it is almost complete. Changing the subject just as quickly, Venus tells Xavier that she didn’t come here to talk about that. She came to talk about Guy. Isn’t there something he can do? To Venus’ surprise, Xavier informs her that Guy came to visit him earlier. He was desperate, perhaps a little crazy. Continuing, Xavier tells Venus that Guy had a nasty wound down his neck in exactly the same spot where Dead Girl slashed Bad Guy.
Her short-lived excitement now turned to despair, Venus states that that’s it; Guy’s finished. Maybe not, the Professor tells her, but she’s Guy’s only chance. Addressing the now attentive Venus, Xavier tells her to try to get him alone, try to persuade him to stop being Bad Guy, return the suits and then to… to let him help him. They might still be able to save him. When Venus coolly asks if he means that Guy can be saved for X-Statix, Xavier takes Venus by the hand and corrects her… Guy can be saved for her.
Gliding by her leathery wings between the city’s tall buildings, high above the street below, Sharon Ginsberg speaks to her associate, Larry. Informing Larry that she sees him, Sharon reports that he is about to hit a multiplex in Century City; just girding his loins, one might say. Hearing Larry’s response, Sharon tells him that he is a very naughty boy and closes the phone. The line now disconnected, Ginsberg calls Larry a jerk.
Landing safely in the alley below, Ginsberg addresses Bad Guy as simply “Guy.” Noting Bad Guy’s surprise, Sharon points out her wings and verifies that she is, indeed, one of them. Sharon Ginsberg… a mutant… who’da thought? As she cautiously approaches the defensive Bad Guy, his suit’s tentacles ready for battle, Ginsberg tells him that she had to hide them all through law school, which meant she couldn’t make friends. This, she postulates, might account for her abrasive attitude. Changing the subject to “Guy,” Ginsberg tells him that she wants to talk. They can do business together. Her hand outstretched in a greeting, Sharon states calmly that they can cut a deal.
That’s the deal, Lacuna states with a grin. It seems, the Anarchist tells her, as he lounges on the floor, that she’s using Bad Guy merely to increase her celebrity profile. Countering the argument, Lacuna retorts that it’s a win-win situation. They get to know whether it’s Guy under that Bad Guy suit before they try to apprehend him… and she gets to have the exclusive for “Lacuna and the Stars” in a follow-up to her wildly successful Bag Guy/Good Guy episode. Maybe it was that show that gave Guy the crazy idea, Tike postulates, which is followed by Lacuna’s statement that he can’t blame television for everything.
A beeping alarm draws the conversation to a close. Realizing that this means that Bad Guy has been found, Lacuna announces that this is the perfect chance for them to work together! A symbiotic relationship, she says, and then asks Venus if she has room for one more. Teleporting Lacuna, as well as the rest of X-Statix, Venus stipulates that as long as she keeps her irritating mouth shut… Scant moments later, the team materializes in a mall, already surrounding Bad Guy, still in the act of destruction.
Eyeing Lacuna expectedly, the Anarchist asks if she is not going to do her thing; slip between the moments and unmask that “bad boy.” Her face contorted in horror, Lacuna states that she has already tried. It must be one of the suits. He can’t move between the moments normally… but when she approached him, she must have triggered something off. He almost caught her and he’s really mad about something.
Nearby and lost in thought, Venus recalls Xavier’s instructions; to try to get him alone, try to stop him from being Bad Guy. Promising the absent Professor that she will do her best, Venus launches into an attack on Bad Guy. Hearing the protestations of the Anarchist, Venus replies that the man and her need a little privacy and promptly teleports them both away.
Elsewhere, Solomon O’Sullivan, sans shirt and wearing only his pajama bottom and socks, sits on the floor with an opened beer at his side. Pouring over papers that he has spread within arms reach, O’Sullivan reads “Theories of the CPU Language of the Iron Man Armor,” “Further Asgardian Runes & Glyphs” and “Skrull Phonetics volume 5.” Constantly haunted by the seemingly meaningless gibberish displayed on his chest by his mutant power, O’Sullivan has turned the entire Solomon O’Sullivan Enterprise, all his employees and their computers over to the task of decoding its meaning. As a result, he realizes, his head has become a kind of scrambler, some kind of unbreakable Enigma Machine.
Through countless language and codes, O’Sullivan examines; plain text, cipher text, Adfgvx Cipher, the Bible Code, Linear B, Vigenere’s Le Chiffré Indéchiffrable, frequency analysis, the Caesar Shift, polyalphabetic substitution, ASCII. Finally, O’Sullivan decides the only sensible course of action is to get blind drunk. It’s funny, he thinks, as he takes a long drought, with the blindness, he starts to see. As the letters and marks on his chest begin to move, O’Sullivan feels likewise excruciating pain, as if his skin is tearing itself apart as its impenetrable secrets slowly reveal themselves. Finally, the moving marks form new letters, words and sentences; the same sentence, over and over again: Guy Smith is not Bad Guy.
Driving along a highway, oblivious of the events transpiring with X-Statix, Guy Smith travels with the car’s top down and the wind blowing his hair. Lying in an alley in a pool of her own blood, Sharon Ginsberg lays motionless, her mutant wings torn from her body and lying nearby. In his local laboratory, Xavier continues his examination of the black-tendriled interdimensional glob. Finally understanding some of the data from his analyzer, Xavier swears aloud, much to the worries of Doctor Swaime. When prodded by the doctor for an explanation, Xavier informs him that now he understands. This… object… is only the old skin of the thing that entered their dimension. It’s one-time owner, the malign being from one of the Dark Dimensions, is still at large… and wearing his stolen suits. Looking up from his instruments in stark understanding, Xavier can barely whisper Venus’ name.
Having emerged from her teleportation portal, Venus and Bad Guy stand among the ruins of Venus’ family’s cabin. Pointing toward Bad Guy accusatorily, Venus informs him that she knows who he is. She knows that he doesn’t want to hurt her. She knows he’s confused and in pain. That’s why she brought him here; where her confusion and pain began. Where she obliterated her family.
As Bad Guy silently walks through the cabin, walking away from her, Venus asks if he remembers this place. It’s funny, she tells him, it should freak her out bit… it gives her a sense of peace. She comes here when she wants to chill out or meditate. Or just feel closer to them. Walking up to Bad Guy, whose back is turned to her, Venus reiterates that she knows he’s going through stuff, but being Bad Guy isn’t the answer. Take off Professor Xavier’s suits and be good Guy again she instructs him. Silently complying with Venus’ wishes, Bad Guy reaches up to his helmet and begins to lift it off. That’s right, she states. Xavier can help. He’s helped them all in the…
Venus’ words trail off into the forest air as the shadowed face of Bad Guy emerges from beneath his helmet. Venus can only manage a confused question; asking Bad Guy if he is Guy. As the helmet is completely taken off, Venus can only stare in silence.