A TV set in a very messy room. The news is on – a report showing how “GeeCee” Strong Guy is being released into the custody of X-Factor liaison Val Cooper. Strong Guy has been named in a complaint by Senator Shaffran, stating that the activities of Strong Guy and X-Factor pose a threat to public safety as evidenced by the recent destruction of the Washington Memorial. “No comment!” Guido shouts on screen.
Someone throws a tomato at the screen, right into Strong Guy’s face. Bullseye! he shouts. Slab, suddenly very small, keeps on eating and comments that he has his “no comment” right here! Ol’ Slab messed him up real good!
Another purple-skinned man with elongated fingers remarks that he gets worried when Slab talks about himself in the third person. He orders him to get away from the TV. Calling the other man “George,” Slab orders him to get his slimy fingers off him. He’ll sit where he feels like sitting.
A feral third man – Hairbag – tells him to back off and keep the flaming produce off the screen! Slab tells Hairbag to shut up. The whole operation, all he’s been doing is flapping his buns. Why doesn’t he do something useful like chasing cars or something? Or find a fire hydrant, so he won’t be so cranky around them…
Hairbag snarls he doesn’t care if Slab can grow as big as a house. He’s gonna feed him his intestines if he doesn’t shut up! George orders them to be quiet. They are about to have company.
Mister Sinister steps in and wonders if they have ever heard of such niceties as air freshener. The atmosphere down here could flatten Magneto. And what in the world is that growing in the corner? Gray or green? George asks. If it’s grey, it’s Slab socks. He just leaves them standing in the corner waiting for him to step back in.
He was referring to the green matter, Sinister clarifies. That’s his pet mold, George replies. He wants to see how long it has to lie before it gains sentience. He is quite attached to it, actually. And it to the wall, Sinister remarks dryly and orders Gorgeous George to clean it away. And would they mind telling him where Ruckus and Ramrod are? They had an emergency to attend to, George explains. Another beer run? Sinister translates. He is displeased that the group is not complete. Seeing the TV screen, he remarks that Senator Shaffran with tomato on his face is an intriguing improvement.
Shaffran on screen states that he intends to make clear on behalf of the American people that they are not going to stand by while mutants, GeeCees or whatever they choose to call themselves run rampant through the streets! Especially when these rampages are sanctioned by the government, supported by tax dollars, dollars that could very well be funding some secret sinister agenda. Now there’s a man who knows a good sound-bite, Sinister remarks wryly. Pity he knows little else.
In a convenience store, the owner holds up two strangely dressed young men, demanding some ID. Second, are they planning to give him any money for that beer. ID? the pink-haired young man asks. Okay, he’s Ruckus, his friend is Ramrod. As for money, why doesn’t he give them what’s in the register and then they will give him some back? The owner presses an alarm button.
Ramrod suddenly presents a big stick, announcing that wasn’t nice. He hits the owner with it. When Ruckus then tells him to empty the register, Ramrod splits it apart.
A police car suddenly arrives and Ruckus pleasantly announces that they arrived in less than 90 seconds. How often does that happen outside of TV shows? He reminds “Roddy” to put his earplugs in.
They walk out where the cop orders them to put their hands over their heads. Ruckus wonders which of the many sounds to use, then decides to use them all. He screams and magnifies the sounds he’s collected to the point where the cop’s eardrums burst. He’s some piece of work, Ramrod tells him. Ruckus orders him to get the beer.
Back at X-Factor’s headquarters, the team is in conference with Dr. Moira MacTaggert regarding the identity of the two Madroxes. Moira confirms the civilian Madrox’s story about the Coconut Grove and the Fallen Angels.
Val wonders why the other Jamie has no recollection of it. Moira suggests he may be lying or maybe it is some sort of mental block. There’s a lot they don’t know about his powers. The longer the dupes are apart, the more independent they become. That’s why all the dupes disappeared when he was knocked unconscious except for the X-Factor one. His mind is his own.
Moira explains that every person is the center of their own world except for Jamie. Every one of his dupes sees the world a bit differently and then constantly remerging… trying to pull these world views into one - it’s no wonder he is a bit off center.
He has an idea. Let’s talk about him like he isn’t there, Madrox suggests. Moira announces she has a good mind to turn him over her knee. Why did he waltz off like that? Is he a child or is she some sort of ogress? If he wanted some time away, he could have just told her, instead he snuck away, leaving a dupe, as if he’s so clever to be pulling some schoolboy prank… Madrox apologizes. She tells him that, when he’s done gallivanting around, she hopes to be seeing him.
With the conversation over, Madrox thanks Atkinson for proving he is the real deal, thanks to his polygraph test. He thinks maybe one in a million would have been expert enough to detect such subtle shadings of truth and fiction between himself… and himself.
Lorna Dane observes the other Jamie – their Jamie who has just been proved to be a dupe – looks shell-shocked. Wouldn’t she be? What would you do if you found out you weren’t who you thought you were? Alex agrees. He would max out his credit cards, Guido announces. Edmond Atkinson leaves and Val walks him to his car.
Madrox announces he’d like a few minutes alone with his wayward dupe here. Lorna tells the tied-up Jamie good-bye, fumbling for words. She’s sorry, she announces and leaves with the others.
Outside, Val thanks Edmond for coming. He’s the best! She deserves the best, he assures her and they kiss goodbye. He closes his car window and drives away.
Madrox asks Jamie if he finally understands. It’s nothing personal. He likes him. But enough’s enough. Time to come back now. Sure, they are all identical, but there is still only one primary self and that’s him. The other is an incredible simulation. Jamiemania! He had no way of knowing. He convinced himself he was the original. But somewhere deep inside he must have known the truth. The lie detector guy knew. Moira vouches for Madrox. Jamie’s friends have walked out… what more proof does he need? Let’s be one happy family again, he suggests and holds out his hand.
He’s right, Jamie admits and allows himself to be absorbed. Well, that’s that, Madrox announces and smiles darkly…
A little later, Havok tells him that the invitation to join X-Factor also applies for him. He has to think about that, Madrox replies, but he certainly will get back to them one way or the other.
He walks some steps until Edmond’s car parks next to him. Greetings, its driver, Mr. Sinister tells him and asks if he’d care for a lift…
Elsewhere, Pietro is tested, running, protesting he will see the doctor in court if he drops dead. He can stop, the doctor replies and tells X-Factor nothing is wrong with Quicksilver. Pietro protests that he feels so tired and he looks ghastly. Ask anyone! Havok agrees, though frankly he didn’t look so hot before…
The doctor explains that his vital signals are all normal. Havok remarks that his collapse outside the monument seemed like a heart attack. The ECG showed no scarring, he is told. There was no heart attack. He can only attribute it to stress. It’s in Quicksilver’s mind. Physiologically, he is fine. He’d recommend two aspirins and a night on town with some lovely young lady. It’ll do wonders for him.
Elsewhere, the Nasty Boys are commenting on the return of Multiple Man. They were worried, Ruckus remarks. Why, Gorgeous George here was up in arms. George whose arms are a bit out of control sighs and asks him to stop the jokes. He knew he shouldn’t have had that third beer. He’ll never remember how long his arms are meant to be.
How did it go? Ruckus asks. Perfect, Madrox replies. At the end, he went without a whimper and it was beautiful. All of them standing around apologizing. They should have seen it! He and Ruckus high five.
Sinister asks them to stop it for a moment. They have an illustrious guest. He introduces Senator Shaffran to them and in turns introduces the Nasty Boys to him. Hairbag, Gorgeous George, team leader Ruckus, Ramrod, Slab and the fellow who’s been acting as go-between between them and Shaffran and was kind enough to shoot himself to help set things in motion… Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man!
Did Madrox get what he wanted? Shaffran asks. Is he the primary personality now? That’s right! Jamie gloats. No more skulking around when Jamie was asleep. No more having to drug him so that he could go off on that jaunt with the Fallen Angels. No more mental blocks or being concerned that he might not be able to recreate himself. No more worry about being caught… now there’s just him and he’s got Shaffran to thank for it.
His power to thank for it, Shaffran clarifies. Event manipulation plus the ability to unsettle the minds of others and cloud their thinking and abilities. A rare talent… only the Scarlet Witch has anything like it.
He wanted to tell them all to keep up the good work. He’s making his speech this afternoon in the Senate. His next major salvo on the president. Come the next election, there will be a new man in the Oval Office…
Hairbag asks, since Shaffran has this kick-butt power that causes people to screw up big time… why didn’t he use it on Bush during the first election? He did, Shaffran replies. Why else do they think Bush nominated Quayle?
As Shaffran leaves, Ruckus asks Sinister why he is cooperating with that guy. He must be paying him plenty. When do they get their cut? Sinister hits him and announces what he will get is in line. Don’t think that little business at the convenience store went unnoticed. Ruckus may be leader of the Nasty Boys but Sinister is their leader! Do not forget that!
Madrox mutters something about a headache and announces he’ll lie down.
Elsewhere, Professor Vic Chalker finally has finished his devastating exo-skeleton. In his lab, he takes his first steps in the suit, intent on ridding the world of GeeCees forever. Unfortunately, he made the thing so strong it drained the power cells immediately. And it doesn’t move. And he has no idea how to get out of it…
Back at the X-Factor townhouse, Polaris informs Rahne, who is busy reading, that the others should be back from the doctor soon. Rahne studiously ignores her. They ought to talk, Lorna announces. Is there anything Rahne would like to discuss? Just them girls… She thought Lorna wanted to talk, Rahne retorts. About what, she cannot guess. Well, there are so many interesting topics, Lorna presses on. War, famine, Alex? Rahne remembers Alex, the guy whose bedroom she sneaked into the other night?
She doesn’t know what she is talking about, Rahne replies. And, frankly, “just between them girls,” sounds to her like Lorna is a wee bit jealous. Jealous? Lorna repeats icily. Rahne’s been acting weird ever since she blew back from Genosha. She better tell her what’s up… She doesn’t have to do anything, Rahne retorts and orders Lorna not to call her “kiddo.” She’s only eight years younger than Lorna and that doesn’t—
That moment, the others return. What’s the story with blue boy, Lorna asks. Well apparently there’s just enough room for two things in Pietro’s head, Alex replies. His ego and his problem. Pietro rants he doesn’t accept it. How can it be psychosomatic? How could it have such a pervasive effect on him?
Alex believes it’s not normal. He believes they are dealing with someone who has the power to turn their own powers against them, to create situations or mindsets where their abilities ricochet back. He or she did it with Pietro and Guido and… Jamie.
They realize that someone might have created or exacerbated a situation. For instance, if Jamie had a dupe that was secretly rebelling, this “Ricochet” helped it to gain more control… They realize what they’ve done and that they have to find the wrong Madrox.
He’ll scour the city at high speed, Pietro announces. Rahne wants to track his scent. Val offers to alert field agents and Guido promises to phone for pizza.
At the headquarters of the Nasty Boys, Ramrod finds the wrong Madrox shivering and feeling horrible. Suddenly, he protests as he seem to collapse in on himself. Ramrod cries for help as Madrox shouts it isn’t fair. He already had his chance! Now go away! He’s worked too long, done too much… he won’t let him take it all away! He sinks to his knees.
The others join them to observe it looks like he’s shrinking. He didn’t do anything that wrong, he protests weakly as he becomes smaller and smaller. Please let him--
He disappears to be replaced instantly by the real Jamie Madrox, who calls him an idiot. Dupes may be identical but there is only one genuine original accept-no-substitutes Multiple Man! Multiple Man! Doing the things a Multiple can! Like making the renegade dupe believe he conned him and then hiding within him, slowly and quietly taking him apart from the inside. No applause please, just throw money!
The Nasty Boys are on him. Jamie hits Gorgeous George, only to find his arms stuck in the body mass. Hope he’s not allergic to dying, George remarks. Jamie steps down and makes a dupe of himself on the other side of George that drags the original out.
As they plan to run out of the building, Sinister stands in their way. Was he planning on leaving their humble facility? Sinister asks. Then don’t let him stop him, he remarks and steps aside.
He let him get away? Hairbag protests. Sinister explains he wants Jamie monitored. He believes that he will head toward the Capitol because now that he’s overwhelmed the renegade duplicate, the dupe’s mental blocks are no longer in place and Madrox knows all. His sense of heroics will doubtlessly promote him to confront the senator. He tells the Nasty Boys to not force a battle before they get to the Senate and then give it their best shot. He will be dealing with matters in another way, he remarks and disappears.
Carrying Wolfsbane, Quicksilver races though the city. Quicksilver orders Rahne to concentrate on sniffing out Madrox. Since when does he care about Madrox? Rahne asks. He wants to get his hands on whoever messed with his mind, Quicksilver explains. If that means saving Madrox to do that, well, that’s the price of vengeance. Rahne finally catches a whiff of him and informs Val who sends the car with the rest of the team.
Jamie has reached the Capitol and intends to confront the Senate with Shaffran’s deeds, however he realizes he has no way of proving it. Maybe he should just call Val and—No, the heck with them! he decides. They didn’t believe in him and he doesn’t need them. No one but--
That moment, the Nasty Boys come attacking and Jamie realizes he could sure use X-Factor bout now. Then again, he can be pretty self-reliant, he remarks and knocks his fists together several times to create an army of dupes. The Nasty Boys are confused figuring they must focus on the one heading for the Capitol chamber.
Inside, Senator Shaffran begins his speech, lodging a formal protest against the president. He is in the process of wasting tax dollars to support activities of dangerously unstable, genetically challenged individuals, also known as mutants. While squads of renegade GeeCees wander the land, the president has created a taskforce of these untrustworthy individuals. This is a danger to the American people, sanctioned by the highest office in the land.
The others whisper that Shaffran has his eye on the next election and is launching his first salvo. Suddenly, they hear some sort of noise from outside.
Ramrod has figured out which Madrox is the original and wonders if he will split on impact if the impact is his razor sharp rod through Madrox’ heart.
Let’s not see, Quicksilver suggests and swats him away. He’s gonna knock him to the moon, Ramrod threatens. So what, Quicksilver retorts, he has relatives there. Besides, he’s chopped his staff to bits. He doesn’t seem especially threatening to him. Unfortunately, Ramrod controls all manner of wood, as evidenced when vines come out of the ground to trap Pietro.
That moment, the cavalry arrives in a flying ship (in bathtub shape). Guido quips they would have been there sooner, but they hadn’t finished painting their logo over the big number 4 that used to be on the flying car. They have to be X-Factor, Gorgeous George figures. Yeah, they have to be, Guido agrees. All the better names were taken.
George traps Guido with his body while Wolfsbane is making short work of Hairbag. Guido breaks free of George, who orders Slab to help him with Muscle Man here. Slab has problems of his own, courtesy of Havok. He and Guido switch foes.
Polaris attacks Ruckus, who amplifies sound a thousand times. Nevertheless, she manages to take him out, while Quicksilver does the same to Ramrod.
Guido and Slab’s fight takes them inside the Senate chamber, where Shaffran uses the as an example to prove his point. Jamie shouts that Shaffran is behind all this. He hired the Nasty Boys and their weird leader! He is a mutant as well, turning their powers against them! Havok demands explanations.
Shaffran begins to glow with light. He doesn’t have to explain anything! he scoffs. Not to any of them! He represents the American people and they won’t be fooled by their kind.
Jamie warns Alex back. These aren’t special effects he is tossing around.
Shaffran continues that they made him do this. But the American people will understand and they will support him. They will appreciate his honesty, and love him all the more.
Havok fires an energy blast at him. Shaffran is so many cards shy of a deck it’s not even funny! He orders him to knock it off. He’s not accomplishing anything and he is going to get somebody killed!
Shaffran admits he is right. There will be a better time and place. He vows to be back as he flies away. “Look out, America! I’m coming to spread the word!”
Lorna calls over the commlink, asking what happened. They confronted the Senator and he went ballistic, Alex informs her. They’ve got Slab nailed. What’s the story out there? Lorna tells him Quicksilver caught the one who controls wood and Rahne took out the one who looked like he’d actually make a pretty good date for her. The rest of them got away. Here comes the press. And she’ll look ten pounds heavier on camera, she fears. Real life too, Rahne snarks.
In Shaffran’s home enter “Shaffran” or more to the point Mr. Sinister, who had the real Senator tied up. He made sure to leave the TV on for him. He assumes Shaffran saw it all. Let him remove the gag and they can chat.
The real Shaffran protests. He thought they were partners. He promised Sinister power once he was president. Instead, he’s ruined him!
Sinister retorts he already has power. His only concern was Shaffran and the difficulties he would have caused for mutants, had he gained power. And he would indeed have become president, if left unchecked. He even would have caused the deaths of Alex Summers and Lorna Dane. He could not allow that. Personal reasons. So he manipulated Shaffran and now the general public believes him to be the precise type of mutant he himself warned against. And once Val Cooper finishes putting the right spin on this, X-Factor will be heroes, which suits Sinister’s purposes. Of course, it will take her some time to figure out how her ex husband works into it all, but he will let that stew for now.
Now, he knows Shaffran’s wondering why Sinister didn’t simply kill him in the first place. That will be his own job. Shaffran protests he will tell the public it was Sinister posing as him. They will believe him!
Why? Sinister asks. Did they care about Gary Hart’s explanation? Or Ted Kennedy’s? In Roman times, disgraced Senators opened their veins. This – he hands him a gun – is a little more reliable. Shaffran uses the gun to fire at Sinister. The bullet ricochets and hits him instead.
A splatter of his blood covers the TV set, which shows Alex Summers holding a speech, assuring the American public that they are in no danger from X-Factor. They have seen by the events today that more often than not detractors of… uh… GeeCees have their hidden agenda. They were fortunate enough today to root out Shaffran and they’ll be hunting for the rest of his supporters, the so-called Nasty Boy and their leaders. X-Factor’s job will be to serve and protect the American people and to go wherever they needed. They have his blood oath on that…