Barely conscious, Hank McCoy dimly recalls what led to this nightmarish situation. Something about innocent children kidnapped by an other-dimensional witch, spirited to her bizarre laboratory in the middle of nowhere. Karma’s little siblings, he recalls. The brother and sister of Xi’an Coy Manh, first of Xavier’s third generation X-Men, one of the original New Mutants.
Then Karma herself was captured, if he remembers right. Even Cannonball, young Samuel Guthrie, and finally Doctor Henry McCoy (he’s pretty sure that’s him). Mutants trying to help mutants, all of them. But the dream of living life peacefully took some bizarre turn somewhere as even the best of them seem to do… And the reality is even worse! Leong Coy Man is nobody’s little brother anymore. Artificially aged and cybernetically altered into an independent ectomorph with the power to control his living skin he is his sister Karma’s captor now… under the spell of the venomous Viper, a rogue terrorist on the very threshold of the unfathomable Body Shop.
While Nga Coy Manh, equally altered and answerable to the bloodthirsty woman in green, crouches at the throat of the barely conscious Beast, desperately trying to resist the order to kill and failing. Cannonball too is already down.
Woozy, he tries to get up, wondering what to do, as Nga can’t hold out much longer. Suddenly, he notices a familiar look on Xian’s face. Karma may not be able to possess her sister, but nothing stops her from taking over Hank McCoy’s body. Just as Nga gets ready to slit the Beast’s throat, his leg comes up to kick her away. As the Beast is barely conscious, Karma has no problem pushing past his psi-barrier and controlling his body to take out Nga. Holding the young girl down, Karma announces out of Henry’s mouth that she will not allow her precious sister to suffer this travesty a moment longer.
Cannonball finally can use his power to free Karma from Leong’s hold and advises her to let the Beast go and let him handle Nga his own way. He’s got her now. On the contrary, comes Viper’s voice. They’ve got them now. The doors to the Body Shop close and Beast is himself once more. The noise of something shredding at his feet snaps him awake and he sees Nga, now having partially taken on his form.
Sam wakes up inside the Body Shop with Spiral’s knives at his throat. New customer without an appointment? she asks. A dealbreaker, she’s afraid.
Outside, the transformed Nga attacks Beast savagely, but she is still a child, screaming for comfort from her lost twin. Hank is aware that he mustn’t harm the real Nga, so he limits himself to pressure points and nerve centers to keep the damage minimal. Nga may be stronger than he, but he counts on his greater experience, to no avail. Nga soon has the upper hand.
Inside, Xi’an is strapped into some device. Addressing Viper, she asks why Viper is doing this to her siblings, her family. Honor, comes the reply. Spiral’s overgrown trolls here may prevent her from personally delivering the pain Karma’s depraved clan deserves, but she will still see Karma suffer for her uncle’s sins. She wills savor the fear in her eyes at least as their host begins to work her magic instead and Karma starts to understand what she is losing and to whom. And her friends? Xi’an asks. Spoils of war, Viper replies, a war her uncle, General Coy, started a few years back.
Coy was working his way through the New York underworld. A maverick with money and some other source of power that seemed difficult to define but impossible to deny. They were HYDRA, dedicated to global dominion. It was business as usual, until she took careful aim at the general’s black hole of a heart and then shot her unsuspecting partner dead instead. Mindlocked by a monster named Tran Coy Manh.
Her brother, not her, Xi’an points out calmly. Twin brother, Viper stresses. Does she have any idea what it was like for her, forced to serve in Coy’s twisted little harem for weeks? Yes, Karma replies. That’s why she finally stopped it, stopped Tran forever, smothering his psyche in hers. Viper slaps her. Allowing her to escape, she snarls, literally adding insult to injury. Leaving her to vent her vengeance on striplings and…
Spiral warns her not to handle the merchandise. The mind-jumper and her foolish friend are hers now, as renegotiated to cover the additional costs incurred. She will not remind her again. No need, Viper replies, as long as Spiral makes sure it hurts.
Outside, Hank is still pinned by Nga with no room to maneuver and Nga is getting ready for the killing strike. Getting a fist free, he punches her and then keeps her off-balance by juggling her with his feet.
Inside, the process has begun and Xi’an screams in pain. Cannonball asks Spiral to shut it down. She’s killing Karma. Purging, Spiral corrects him. Upgrading. Out with the old Karma, in with the… Odd, she sounds surprised. There’s something else… woven directly into and through her psi-signature, almost indiscernible from her own bio-signature… someone else… someone close… inside. Tran… Karma states.
That moment, Nga throws Beast inside. Spiral is surprised at Nga taking out an X-Man, but is proud of her work. Viper tells her to keep Nga then, She wants Karma back. He’s in her somewhere. That psycho Tran is actually in Karma. Spiral can take the Beast but… Spiral orders her not to presume. She intends to take them all.
A moment later Nga screams, as she sheds her duplicate form of the Beast, allowing the real Beast, who had been faking a diversion with the help of Nga, to come forward. As he frees Cannonball, Viper furiously orders Leong to kill Nga for this. Nga begs her brother not to.
Cannoball follows Beast’s order, flies to Leong and attaches his communicator-patch set to subsonic-4 at the base of Leon’s neck, in the hope that this will jam the control signal from the Body Shop. As Beast fights the creatures, he adds that it took a lot of trial and error with Nga and way too much blood, sweat and tears to find the correct frequency site, but the children are finally free.
Spiral decides on vengeance, pressing a button that is meant to disassemble Karma molecule by molecule before they can reach her. Beast agrees. Cannonball is hightailing the youngsters out of there and he is busy with Spiral’s creatures, but it’s not just about them anymore. There’s one other who has a vested interest in Karma’s survival now. One who must realize that, if she allows Spiral to kill Xi’an Coy Manh, she’s also allowing Spiral to kill her last chance for real revenge, her last shot at Tran Coy Man himself.
Viper realizes he’s right. Therefore, she can’t let Karma die now. She fires at Spiral and her machinery. Spiral is horrified: with so many aberrant energies and forces in flux, this will destroy everything, just as the Beast intended, unless she first destroy Viper.
While the chain reaction begins, Karma gets out of her restraints and Cannonball lifts the two kids to get them out. Karma suddenly orders him to stop and leave the children. These mutates, tainted by the touch of this wicked, place are her brother and sister no longer. She commands him to drop those two and then continue on to safety and not to return.
Spiral spins out with Viper and her trolls threatening vengeance on Viper. Beast suggests they hightail it as well. Not yet, Karma decides and possesses him. Not until he uses what’s left of this abattoir to reverse the twins’ mutations, to regress Leong and Nga into children again. Beast replies that he cannot. Not the way she wants them. Not the way they were. He’s seen enough of Spiral’s omni-dimensional technology to know what’s beyond even his capabilities. And he studied Nga outside.
The ceiling comes crashing down and Nga shouts a warning. Beast keeps the large piece of debris off them with his strength, as he continues that he studied Nga closely. Spiral’s effects changed their body on a genetic-field level. There is no external agent, no actualized virus or foreign substances to be removed from the organism. This is what the twins are now. Forever. What they, what any of them make of such changes is what ultimately defines them, he tells Xi’an and asks her to trust them.
Xi’an drags the twins out and orders them to head for the hole in the wall and to not stop running until they are out the other side. Cannonball intends to run back to save Beast but he has just managed to save himself, seconds before the body shop implodes.
Later Xi’an thanks them, but Gateway is still waiting up on the hill to teleport them their separate way. Unless she’s reconsidered, Hank offers. She can always bring the twins home with them to Westchester instead. Family is always welcome. Their youth is lost, true, and their so-called normal appearance but not their humanity. As she walks away with the twins, Xi’an thanks Hank for making her see that so clearly before it was too late, but its her humanity she’s come to fear for now…