Cipher pilots an X-Jet across California, accompanied by Ink, whom she refuses to tell anything to, including her real name. When asked why she came to him for help instead of Cyclops or the other X-Men, Cipher claims not to know any adult X-Men besides Cyclops but she does know Ink better than he thinks.
Meanwhile, at the La Jolla Paintball Arena, Sunspot, Anole, Rockslide and Graymalkin are overwhelmed by the “Y-Men,” a group of gangbangers with a variety of tattoo-influenced powers.
Dust has retreated from the battle to take Moonstar, who was shot, to safety. Moonstar, however, thinks her situation is beyond help and tells Dust to go back to the battle. Before they can continue their argument, Julio Rodriguez interrupts them, ready to finish them off completely with his bomb-tattooed fist.
Elsewhere, Ink takes Cipher to an apartment building, despite Cipher’s concern that the team needs their immediate help. Ink seems to have a plan as he breaks into Leon Nunez’s apartment. His tattoo artist is fully aware of his mutant abilities which he discovered when inking a rose tattoo on a young girl’s lower back and afterwards, realized it smelt like roses. Besides giving Ink powered tattoos, he knowingly gave them to gang members and convicts for a hefty price. Ink forcefully takes his former tattoo artist out of the apartment to take him to his tattoo parlor to test out a theory of his.
While Leon gives Ink his requested tattoos, Anole and Sunspot wonder in the heat of battle how such a mutant power can work as they fight against gangbangers with abilities as strange as shooting actual bullets out of one’s fingertips.
Cipher scolds Ink for wasting time getting inked up when the whole team may be dead or dying. Ink insists that getting new tattoos are necessary since the two of them will make little difference in a fight against a hundred super-powered gangbangers. Ink instructs Nunez to give him a second tattoo, one inspired by an X-Man.
Back at the paintball arena, Julio Rodriguez defeats Dust using his forcefield and bomb-powered fists. As he’s about to have some “fun” with a helpless Moonstar, Ink arrives and takes him out with a super-powered punch of his own. Ink uses his new caduceus symbol tattooed on his palm to heal Moonstar’s wounds. He then concentrates to prepare the usage of his other new tattoo, which was placed over his right eye.
Suddenly, the hundreds of Y-Men that Sunspot and the others were fighting burst into flames and fall to the floor as the raptor of the Phoenix Force arrives, courtesy of Ink and his new Phoenix symbol tattoo that Nunez placed over his eye. Moonstar asks him how this is happening and Ink explains that the tattoos have nothing to do with being iconic but are actually capable of doing whatever Nunez wants them to do. As the young man uses the force to drain the Y-Men of their super-powers, Ink tells Dani that he told Nunez about the Phoenix, since the Phoenix force is capable of just about anything.
Later, Sunspot and Moonstar are debriefed by Cyclops, who’s understandably uncomfortable with the idea of the Phoenix in the hands of a non-mutant who was working for their enemies less than a month ago. Sunspot and Moonstar explain that Ink doesn’t actually have the Phoenix Force, but rather has the will of Leon Nunez who reached his limit by powering up the Y-Men and was put in a coma after giving Ink the Phoenix tattoo. According to Beast, Ink will retain his tattoo abilities as long as Nunez remains comatose. Moonstar wants to invite Ink back to the being an X-Men, an idea that Cyclops agrees with since anyone with Phoenix-like powers needs to be watched carefully.
Later, as Ink unpacks his things back in his room, Graymalkin approaches him. Noticing how the others treat Ink and knowing what it feels like to be an outsider, Graymalkin offers his hand in friendship to him, which Ink accepts. His first request of his new friend is for him to answer a burning question: Who the hell is Cipher?