Contemplative in demeanor, the demonic Jezebel prays to God. If He can hear this, she begins, if He is paying attention to anything that is happening in the world… if He even exists anymore… Please listen to her. Please help her. Please prevent this terrible thing from happening. Please tell the Hell Lords that this great battle must not transpire. That this… this massive war over their own egos can… will… lay waste to everything. Tell them to go back to their neutral corners. Tell them He has decided this insanity ends before it begins. Tell them all this. She’s begging Him.
For a long moment, Jezebel sits stop the Devil’s Tower rock in Wyoming, waiting for an answer, her giant, dark wings spread out in seeming supplication. After another moment of silence, Jezebel becomes annoyed and announces that, okay, fine, she’ll do it herself.
In Times Square in New York City, a young man walks among other passersby, unnoticed. Clad in his coat with his hoodie, he hides his feral visage from all who would find it frightening. His name is Tier, the son of Wolfsbane and Hrimhari. Though he is only a few months old, he’s already as functional as an average twelve year old. These days, however, he feels like wherever he’s going there are people chasing him who want to kill him or eat him or both. He hates it. He hates this life of his. It just… it sucks, that’s all. It sucks that it’s so wrong… and there’s not a damned thing he can do to change it. Sorry, he thinks to himself. He shouldn’t say “damned.” Not sure his mom would be thrilled.
Continuing this walk, he thinks how he wishes he could stop thinking about this mom. He means, first she shoved him aside, and then she came back. And then… Screw it. “Get to X-Factor.” That’s the last thing she said before she was carried off into a fight. “I’ll meet you there,” she said. Yeah, that was convincing. He should just go to them, Tier thinks. Eying a train, he thinks that it should get him to them. He doesn’t have any money at the moment, but that shouldn’t be a probl…
Suddenly, a messenger races by on his bicycle, knocking Tier to the pavement. A voice offers to help him up, but Tier declines through gritted teeth. He’ll be fine… His words trail as he looks up and spies his months-long pursuer, Darwin, extending one hand in help while clasping the handle of an immense weapon with the other. Sorry, the hunter apologizes, as he grabs the startled Tier by his coat. He won’t be fine this time. This time, it ends. This time, he’s done. Tossed back to the pavement, this time on his back, Tier find acceptance with his apparent final fate. Okay, fine! Tier spits at Darwin. He’s been chasing him since he was born! Waving his gun at him! Saying he has to kill him! So just do it already! Kill him! KILL HIM!
He… will, Darwin replies, hesitantly. After still another moment of inaction, Tier comes to the realization that he can’t. He can’t pull the trigger. He can’t pull it! Before he can decide what to do next, Tier’s decision is made for him, as a taxi cab rams into Darwin, breaking his legs and tossing him into the air. A moment later, the taxi pulls to a stop and out of its driver’s side window appears Rahne, yelling for her son to get in. Leaping into an open window in the back, Tier yells that she’s all right. For now, she replies. Hold on! With that, Rahne peels out, being sure to use Darwin as a speed bump along the way.
From the back, Tier tells his mom that he can’t believe she made it! Where’s… Interrupting, Rahne tells him not to ask. …Jack? he finishes. She said not to ask. Duly chastised, Tier searches for another subject and begins to ask where they are going. To X-Factor, she replies. Told that he thought she left them, Rahne explains “temporarily.” She left them temporarily. No worries, though, she promises, she’s sure they’ll welcome her back with open arms.
Holding Pip’s letter of resignation (which reads “I’ve left! And it’s all Monet’s fault.” – Pip), Monet proclaims it’s good riddance. Madrox begins to protest, but Monet simply crumples the paper and reminds him that he leaped into her head! Does he get that? Into her head! So yes, she told Pip she’d beat the hell out of him if he stayed around! Should she threaten him next?
Stepping in, Layla tells Monet that that’s enough. Monet tries to tell her to stay out of it, but Layla presses. She’s threatening her husband, she says, so she’s kind of in it. Now back off. Before Monet can respond, Polaris interrupts the two, announcing that Rahne is there. She and her kid. She’s asking for Madrox and seems rather cryptic. Okay then, Madrox replies, picking up his coat. They discuss that later. Looking forward to it, she replies.
At the front desk, after a brief explanation, Madrox summarizes that Darwin’s been trying to kill them both all this time? But… it makes no sense. Interjecting, Rictor replies that it makes sense to him. He got in Darwin’s way when he was gunning for Tier a couple of months ago. He nearly killed him, too. Considering this, Madrox notes that he doesn’t know what’s going on with Darwin. He hasn’t seen him since Vegas. But, if she and Tier need a place to stay… and even a team to join… then welcome back to X-Factor. She and Tier.
Catching him off guard, Tier launches himself at Madrox, embracing his midsection in a hug. Closing his eyes in the moment, Tier thinks to himself that he’s everything she said he’d be. And more besides. All this time they’ve been running, and now, for the first time… Tier’s smile suddenly melts away as he opens his eyes to find Darwin bursting through the front doors with nothing murder on his face. Immediately, Tier pushes Madrox to the ground, yelling him to get down. Seconds later, Darwin produces his giant handgun and bullets fly. However, a second after that, Darwin’s pistol flies from his hand and the source of the cause, Polaris, tells everyone to take him!
“He’s taken!” Shatterstar proclaims, grabbing Darwin from behind and pulling him off his feet. He doesn’t understand, Darwin yells at his former teammate. These are the final moments! He has to die now! Otherwise it’s about to start! They know it because they saw the creatures arrive on Earth through the volcano!
Hearing this, Madrox yells for Shatterstar to get off of him. However, Shatterstar replies that he knows what he’s doing… Just as he says that, Darwin gains the upper hand and throws Shatterstar through the front doors. He gave them the opportunity to see reason, Darwin announces, leaping for his floating weapon (still levitating thanks to Polaris). They were his brothers in arms… know that he takes no pleasure in this. Grabbing his weapon from Polaris’ magnetic grasp, Darwin then grabs Tier. Now with the youth in his clutches, Darwin explains that if by ending one life he can save seven billion… he has no choice.
Polaris moves to act, but Madrox tells her no, much to her surprise. Speaking back to Darwin, Madrox tells him he trusts he knows what he’s doing… so he should do what he’s got to do. Screaming NO! Rahne begins to transform into Wolfsbane, but is quickly held back by Layla’s force field under Madrox’s orders. When his wife hopes aloud that he’s right about this, Madrox counters that he’s suspecting he is… because Darwin’s still not shot him. Has he? As Darwin hesitates, Madrox presses. And he’s not gonna.
The next few moments stretch as Darwin does nothing, neither replying nor acting. All the while, a dupe of Madrox creeps up behind him. However, before the dupe can get close enough to act, Darwin fires his weapon… but not at Tier. Releasing the youth, Darwin sinks to his knees, muttering a curse. God help him, he can’t do it. He can’t… And now it’s too late. Already moving Tier to safety, Madrox begins to ask what he is talking about, but suddenly a wall shatters, showering the group with debris. Once the dust settles, the team sees a smiling Guido, wearing a new, skintight costume and a smile. Hey there, he tells them. Mind if he takes a stab at it?
For a moment, everyone stares in stunned silence, with the exception of Monet, who angrily yells Guido’s name and attacks in full force. Nice to see her too, Guido tells Monet, just before delivering a left hook, knocking her through the ceiling and high into the night sky. Instantly, the rest of the team leaps in to action. First is Longshot, who tosses two dozen flechettes with a single toss, which Guido slaps around like they’re nothing. When an army of Madrox dupes try their hand, Guido does the same thing. The only thing which causes pause for Guido is the voice of Jezebel, shouting his name from the entrance to the building which had been a wall just a minute before. He’s wasting time, she tells him. Kill the kid now!
As the team moves to protect the youth, Madrox demands to know who the woman is. Jezebel, she replies, and promptly orders him out of the way. Told he’s thinking not, she replies that he doesn’t understand. Tier has to die… Well, he has a problem with that, Madrox replies, grabbing her wrist. Not happening! Jezebel proceeds to plead with Madrox, but a giant KROOM alerts her that it’s too late. They waited too long, she tells him.
Yelling to the whole group, Layla motions her gauntlet and tells them to get over to her, RIGHT NOW!!! Madrox orders everyone to do as she says. Shatterstar begins to ask why, but Madrox counters emphatically because he said so. And right now, that’s good enough!
Outside, as she flies back to the HQ, Monet promises to kill him. She’ll kill him, and then she’ll get Layla to bring him back to life and kill him all over ag… Monet stops mid-sentence as she witnesses the building housing X-Factor investigations explodes.
At that moment, atop the Devil’s Tower rock, the rest of X-Factor emerges from a portal with Guido and Jezebel, the latter of whom is welcomed by her father. Towering above the group as a giant, Mephisto congratulates his daughter on finding the boy. Told by her that it’s not that simple, Mephisto rejoins that sometimes it truly is. Does he not agree, he asks Gudio. Oh, yeah, Guido agrees, fer sure.
Without taking his eyes off the giant red demon before them, Madrox haltingly asks Layla if that… Mephisto, Layla answers. Underworld lord. Asked if she can get them out of there, Layla replies that she didn’t get them into there, so not really now.
So, the day has finally come, another voice announces. Looking up Madrox and the rest of X-Factor find other demonic forms looking down on them. Satana. Hela. Pluto. Asmodeus. Satannish. The source of the voice, Hela, Norse goddess of death, raises her hand. Let one of them kill Tier and get this war over with, she announces.