The South Bronx, X-Force are currently searching an old abounded building. There are ghosts at play in the shadows around them, for this old tenement building holds the answers to a long-ago tragic mystery that they seek to unravel. But for the young heroes, along with the former Morlock Thornn a.k.a. Lucia Callasantos, and their newfound ally, New York Police Detective Jose Hidalgo, who shares a past with Lucia, ghosts also haunt their memories. Grouped together - Thornn, Hidalgo, Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie and Shatterstar - they conduct a systematic interior search of the apartment building, and each of them see the crumbled ruins around them - bits and pieces of someone they once called a friend.
As Shatterstar strides ahead, Cannonball tells him to slow it down and stop going ahead of the rest of them. Dragging his sword along the wall, carving a thin line, Shatterstar asks ‘Why?’ and declares that they would be well served to find the traitor - Feral - gut her, and be done with this. Cannonball grabs Shatterstar by the arm and remarks that he knows how he feels about her, that Feral fooled a lot of them, ‘But she did even more to me, remember? She nearly killed me!’ Sam exclaims, before telling Shatterstar that they are not here to kill Feral, that just want to find out the truth about what really happened to her and Thornn’s family. ‘And guilty or innocent, try and find a way to help them both!’ Sam exclaims.
Feral and Jose listen to Cannonball’s speech, and Jose turns to the young woman he once loved, ‘You don’t think that’s going to happen do you?’ he asks her. ‘No, Jose, I don’t’ Lucia replies. ‘The girl I used to know - the girl you were - had a lot of hope inside her heart’. Jose remarks. ‘Is there any left inside the mutant named Thornn?’ he asks. Thornn replies that hope left her a long time ago. ‘Stamped out so hard that I can barely remember what it felt like’. Motioning to the stairs nearby, a teary-eyed Lucia reminds Jose that this is where her sister died, this is where is all began. ‘Carolina…’ she whispers as she remembers the blood splattered everywhere.
Lucia explains that she told Maria to watch Carolina for five minutes, as she had seen Jose and his friends outside, so she wanted to play with them - but then they heard the scream. Lucia reminds Jose that they all ran inside, but she never really found out - ‘Did Carolina fall down the stairs - or was she pushed?’. Up above the quartet, Maria “Feral” Callasantos, Thornn’s wicked sister, creeps ever so quietly, observing and listening to the goings-ons below. But so enthralled in the conversation, her own skills suddenly slip, and some plaster falls down onto Jose, who quickly tells X-Force to watch out, as he has movement.
Jose starts firing above him, but Thornn quickly informs him that Feral is coming at him from behind. Too late though, as Feral lunges at Hidalgo, ‘Long time, hermana mia!’ Feral exclaims while Thornn tells her not to do this. ‘Let go of him little sister! Don’t - do this - please!’ Lucia pleads, her mind flashing back to an earlier attack from Feral. But Feral uses her enhanced strength to leap upwards, carrying Hidalgo with her through a hole in the floorboards above them. ‘All I’m doing, Lucia, is what I always done - finding a way to survive!’ Feral shouts back. ‘Maria…’ Lucia whispers.
Just outside the apartment block, inside X-Force’s concealed transport device, Cannonball radios to Nathan “Cable” Summers, informing X-Force’s leader that Feral got the jump on them and took Hidalgo hostage. ‘JUST GREAT!’ shouts Cable angrily. ‘You were sent in there to flush her out - and instead, Feral’s going to pick you off one at a time!’ Nathan exclaims. Domino tells Nathan that it sounds like he trained Feral too well, to which Julio “Rictor” Richter remarks that the cop was so gung-ho in there. ‘What could we have done?’ he asks. Tabby “Boomer” Smith blows some bubble gum and replies ‘Maybe say “No”, Rictor’, pointing out that they need Hidalgo alive after this is all done.
Boomer explains that Hidalgo was their alibi for busting Thornn out of Police custody, to which Cable declares that Hidalgo had to go into the complex, as he was doing his job, just as they are doing theirs. Cable radios back to Sam and asks him if he needs any help in there, to which Sam replies that they can handle it, but suggests Siryn should go airborne in case Feral tries getting away over the rooftops. Instantly, Theresa “Siryn” Rourke Cassidy takes to the air, her familiar sonic scream accompanying her, while the rest of X-Force, including James “Warpath” Proudstar spread out to cover the entire perimeter. Nathan tells Sam to stay and in touch, and points out that if necessary, they can take down the whole building in five seconds.
‘And we can blast it down in two - but that ain’t gonna solve our problems’ Cannonball remarks as he blasts through a wall inside the complex, with Shatterstar and Thornn following him. Shatterstar declares that where someone like Feral is concerned, there is only one solution. But Sam assures Shatterstar that there is always more than that, and even though she may be a bad seed, Feral was still family, in a way. ‘And the way I was raised, you always try to do right by your family’. Sam adds that he hopes Hidalgo is okay.
At that moment, Hidalgo is being shoved to the floor by Feral, ‘Is that your answer?’ Jose asks. ‘Try to hurt the people who want to help you?’. ‘HELP ME, JOSE? SURE!’ shrieks Feral as she leans into Jose, telling him that he just wants to make his mutie collar and get his face on the front page of the paper, Feral then smacks Hidalgo across his face. Jose tells Maria that she hasn’t changed a bit. ‘Evil inside and out!’ he declares. Picking up an old soft doll toy from the floor, Feral replies ‘Naaah, not evil, Jose…just sometimes…sometimes it all gets too much, you know?’. Feral turns from Jose and stares through some broken windows.
Jose reminds Feral that her sister Carolina died from falling down the stairs, and her brother Matteo fell off the roof - two accidental deaths. ‘Statistically possible, but it did raise eyebrows, didn’t it?’ Jose remarks. ‘Then your mother died when you were fifteen, and no one thought that was accident’. Jose gets too his feet, remarking that very soon after that, Maria and Lucia disappeared. ‘But someone was missing, huh? Guess whose body was found stuffed between the walls of a building one block away?’ Jose asks.
‘Tell me - how did your mother’s old boyfriend happen to get his face ripped off?’ Jose asks as he sneaks up behind Feral and grabs her long hair. ‘Or did you guess already? Did you see the news reports we leaked out to try and draw you and your sister back here? Tell me why it required dental records to identify Harry Bellinger?!’ Jose asks a furious Feral, whose mind flashes back to when she was younger, and the way Harry treated her, what he did to her. ‘SHUT UP!’ screams Feral as she twists her body around, kicking Jose to the ground, she tells him that he doesn’t know “nothing about nothing”, that he doesn’t know what Bellinger did to her.
Feral asks Hidalgo if he ever stops to look past the bade he wears, the messed up laws that he gets paid to uphold, and think to himself that some people deserve to get killed. ‘Maybe some people do, Maria’ Jose replies, clutching the wounds Feral inflicted upon him. ‘But wanting someone to die is a big step from actually committing murder. My job isn’t to police your thoughts - but your actions’ Hidalgo points out. Feral begins to drag Hidalgo along behind her as she leaves this part of the complex, blood trailing behind him, and declares that “After the fact” is all the cops were ever good for. ‘After we got our TV stolen, the came. After Daddy hit Mommy, they showed up. After Daddy was found dead in an alley with a needle in his arm, then they told us’. Maria asks Jose to tell him where he and his stinking shiny badge was when she and Lucia really needed him.
Nearby, Cable radios to Sam, informing him that he has Feral’s mutagenic signature, and that she is two floors above his position. Sam replies that they are going there now, and asks Cable to let him know if he loses the signal coming from Hidalgo. Shatterstar asks Cannonball that if Feral kills Hidalgo he will accept the fact that she needs to be terminated, to which Thornn announces that her sister is not going to kill Jose - not yet anyway, as she is using him to draw the rest of them up, to show them something.
Sneaking around a corner, Cannonball asks what that would be. ‘What haven’t you told us yet, woman? We need to know the whole truth!’ Sam exclaims. Shatterstar rushes past Cannonball and forces a door open, telling Sam never to expect a den of thieves to safeguard your valuables, similarly a family of liars to provide you with the truth. Shatterstar holds a sword high and remarks that it is becoming increasingly obvious that the words they need he hear regarding Feral’s past will have to be ripped from her hissing tongue.
Outside, the rain beats down, and Cable and Domino stand on rooftops not far from each other, Cable asks Domino if she has any movement over there. ‘Zip’ Domino replies, but Cable warns her to be ready, as the others are getting closer, so the only escape Feral has left is through the rooftops. Domino remarks that it is funny how Feral let herself get pinned like this, to which Cable agrees, adding that it is almost as if she wanted to, that she had a reason to. Cable adds that Feral is going to come out in the open, he’s not sure why, but his gut tells him. Domino tells Nathan to say the word when Feral does, as she has the shot lined up already.
‘Just like I had…when Stryfe took my son, Tyler…and I took the shot to protect the other members of my family…I shot my own son…’ Cable whispers, recalling the horrific event. ‘Nathan?’ Domino asks. Cable replies that the word will not be given, that the situation will not end with Feral’s death. ‘Even if that means giving her the chance to kill us?’ asks Domino.
Back inside, ‘STAY BACK!?’ screams Feral as she holds her claws to Jose’s throat, and Cannonball, Thornn and Shatterstar surround her. Sam tells Feral to stop it, that she is not getting away from them, that she cannot kill any of them. ‘Just give yourself up, okay?’ he asks. ‘What for, Sammy? So that I can go to jail? So I can get locked up in a cage?’ Feral snarls, her eyes red with hate, ‘You think I’m gonna let that happen to me?’ Thornn tells her sister that she is not going to get out of this one like she did before, that she will not protect her and wont let her run away again. ‘LET ME RUN AWAY?’ Feral shrieks, what choice did you ever give me, Lucia?’ Feral asks, recalling their past.
Still clutching Hidalgo, Feral exclaims that she had to leave, and although Thornn helped her find the Morlocks, and convinced them to take her in, ‘But if you’d done what you shoulda done from the beginning - I never woulda been put in the position I was in! You covered up for me, Lucia, but don’t think you ever protected me!’ Feral exclaims, placing her deadly claws on Jose’s head. Domino is listening in on the situation and informs Cable that it is very tense in there, that Feral is shaking Jose like he is a rag doll, he’s hurting. Cable orders Domino to let it play through. ‘But Nate -!’ Domino begins to protect. ‘I said let it play through!’ Cable exclaims.
Lucia recalls when she found Feral wounding Harry Bellinger and admits that perhaps Maria is right, she could have done more. ‘I was the older sister, but I was scared! But you…you never were. Were you?’ Thornn remarks. ‘Scared of what, Lucia?’ Feral asks as she lunges at her sister. ‘Of Momma drunk every night? Of Harry trying to paw us after she passed out on the couch?’. Feral screams that she wasn’t scared about any of that, she was angry about it.
Feral pushes Hidalgo through a window onto the fire escape and follows him, remarking that unlike her big sister she was willing to do something about the problem. ‘Move it, Jose!’ she exclaims, while Cable radios to Domino, informing her that they are moving out onto the fire escape. Domino replies that she is tracking them, and remarks that Feral shot out of here like greased spit. Cable informs Cannonball that Feral is heading higher and that Siryn is circling above now. ‘I get the feeling that this is all coming to a head up on the roof!’ Cannonball replies.
‘Know where we are Hidaggy?’ Feral asks as she tosses Jose into a coop of birds. ‘Remember the pigeon coop I had?’ Feral asks, before reminding him how they all made fun of her for wanting to take care of the stupid, smelly, dirty pigeons. Suddenly, Siryn soars by, ‘Feral, stop this madness - now!’ she exclaims. But Feral tells Siryn to keep back. ‘I never had no problem with you…don’t make me hurt you now’ she warns. ‘The pigeons…?’ Jose whispers. He recalls a young Maria playing with the pigeons, and exclaims that he remembers them, before asking Feral if she remembers what happened to them.
An image of a young Maria and feathers flying around her, Feral replies that she does remember, and exclaims that they were all she ever really had - and all she ever needed. ‘Those birds was the only things that ever needed me!’ Feral screams at Jose, clutching his wounds as he lies in the coop. Thornn, Cannonball and Shatterstar have arrived now, and Sam tells Feral that she’s wrong, that X-Force needed her, reminding her how during battles she watched their backs and they watched a hers. ‘And you needed us too. For friendship - for a place to belong to’.
But Feral shouts ‘NO!’ and exclaims that none of them ever wanted her around, never. Lucia tells her sister to stop lying, not only to them, but to herself. ‘Me, lying? That’s a laugh and a half, huh?’ Feral snarls, before telling Lucia to tell them all the truth. ‘This is the best place to do it, huh?’ she suggests. Thornn replies that it is, and reveals that their father ran away after Carolina was born. ‘Four kids and no job was too much for him’ she explains, adding that it was hard on them. ‘Momma said it was all our fault. Especially Carolina. One kid too many, she said. Drove poppa away’.
Thornn remarks that she was old enough to know better, but that Maria was only six at the time, and when she heard what their mother said, she thought it was Carolina’s fault - maybe even Matteo’s - both their faults that their father had left. ‘Oh, Lord - did Feral kill your sister?’ Cannonball asks Thornn. Nervously, Lucia replies that she doesn’t know. Recalling the blood-covered steps, she exclaims that she should have been watching Carolina, that it was as much her fault that Carolina fell down the stairs. A furious Feral exclaims ‘That’s right! The little brat went over to the stairs and fell!’.
Feral shrieks that she was watching both Carolina and Matteo because Lucia wanted to go outside and see Hidalgo, to flirt with him. ‘It wasn’t my fault she died!’ Feral screams. ‘Maybe not, Maria. But remember when Carolina shouted, we all came running inside - we saw you standing at the top of the stairs - and maybe Carolina’s death was an accident - maybe it wasn’t your fault - but it was still a tragedy, Maria, right?’ Jose remarks, before asking Feral to answer him as to why he remembers her looking down and smiling?
Cannonball narrows his eyes and asks Feral about her brother, what happened to him? Recalling a time when Matteo was on the roof chasing her pigeons, Maria retells this to those around her. ‘Did you kill him for that, Feral? Because he messed with your pigeons?’ Sam asks. ‘No…’ Feral whispers, before revealing that Matteo tripped off the ledge. ‘He was hanging by his fingers. But Matteo was always weak. He couldn’t hang on for long’ Feral declares, standing defiantly, proudly, on the corner of the rooftop, she folds her arms across her front. Sam asks for how long Matteo hung on for, to which Feral replies that she doesn’t know, she didn’t count, that it’s not her fault Matteo couldn’t pull himself up. ‘Nothing’s ever your fault, is it?’ Sam remarks, before asking about their mother’s boyfriend. ‘Tell him about Harry, Lucia!’ Feral exclaims.
A solemn Lucia replies that Harry Bellinger was a pig. ‘A cokehead…a drunk…he got momma messed up on drugs’. She reveals that Bellinger was always trying to get at her, but her mutations started real slow, much later than Maria’s, and Harry said that he was into furry chicks. Lucia recalls how one night, their mother was passed out, she was seventeen and wanted to leave - but Harry followed her, dragged her into an alley. ‘I knew saying “No” wouldn’t work this time’ Lucia remarks, before explaining how they heard a growl, an animal spitting out hate - and they looked up…then Harry got his face sliced off.
‘That night, I lost my sister. And Feral had taken her place’ Lucia exclaims. Cannonball asks if they both hid Harry’s body in the abandoned building where it stayed until it was found a few weeks ago. ‘That’s why you came back, Feral? Cause when you saw the news reports about Harry, you knew the truth would get out?’. ‘Yeah, Sammy, you’re so smart for an in-bred mountain man, huh?’ Feral snaps back, revealing that she got the tip that the Friends of Humanity were gonna spring Lucia, bring her here and make her pay for “her” crimes. ‘But that was all just a set up so you could trap me!’ she snarls.
Cannonball tells Feral that Thornn cannot go to jail for crimes which she didn’t commit. ‘Crims?’ Feral asks. ‘Carolina was an accident? Who knows?’ Sam replies. ‘Matteo, too? Maybe?’ he then suggests that perhaps with Harry Bellinger she could made a case for self defense. ‘But what about your mother, Feral? What happened to her?’ Sam asks. ‘The pigeons’ Feral replies bluntly, recalling how her mother took a butcher’s knife to her pigeons. ‘After we got rid of Harry, she was mad…so to get back at me she killed the pigeons!’
‘I hated her. So you wanna know what I did, Sammy? I KILLED HER!’ Feral reveals, screaming as she lunges at Cannonball, ‘JUST LIKE I’M GONNA KILL ALL OF YOU!’ But Sam replies that there is more than enough dying done here. ‘Too much pain, too much blood. We came here tonight to end it! And now that we’ve found out the whole truth - end it we will!’ Sam responds to Feral’s attack by firing at her with a blast of energy.
Feral crashes down to the floor of the rooftop and Sam tells her that she can come up with all the excuses she wants to, but the bottom line is not that she killed people because she hated them or because they hated her, but that she did it because shed has always hated herself. ‘And there’s too much hate in this world to let someone like you keep spreading it around everywhere you go!’ Sam exclaims. Shatterstar moves in and holds his swords to Feral’s neck while Sam remarks that there is only one place left for Feral to go. The place she should have been put a long time ago. Hidalgo steps forward with Thorn at his side and remarks ‘Maria Callasantos, you’re under arrest for the murders of…’.
‘…Carolina, Matteo and Marcella Callasantos, as well as a man named Harry Bellinger’ the newsreader announces, adding that Maria is also a member of the Mutant Liberation Front, and used the MLF to kidnap her sister and NYPD Detective Jose Hidalgo from their transport to Ryker’s Island. While video footage shows Hidalgo leading Feral, looking angry, and Thornn, looking solemn, both wearing prison garb, through a crowd of reporters, the newsreader remarks that the heroic Hidalgo and Lucia Callasantos, the sister trapped by this tragedy, were able to fend off their MLF kidnappers, and apprehend Feral.
The newsreader informs everyone that it is expected Lucia will not be indicted for her role in covering up her sister’s actions, but that Feral will be indicted on at least one murder charge…. Watching the news on a television screen with some civilians, Sam turns to Nathan and remarks ‘No easy solutions, huh?’. Cable points out that it wasn’t an easy problem, to which Sam remarks that blaming the MLF for what happened was a neat trick. Cable replies that he cannot take all the credit for that, and explains that the idea came from the young woman who tipped him off when Feral first arrived in Manhattan.
Cable and Cannonball make their way along the street, and Nathan explains to Sam that their informant also happened to feed Feral the false information which brought her to the Bronx. Sam begins to ask who would benefit from helping out X-Force, making them MLF look bad and getting rid of Feral all at the same time, when, suddenly, that very person - a very dear friend to Sam - reveals their presence - Dani Moonstar! The sultry New Mutant, standing in an alleyway with her horse, Darkwind, greets Sam and Cable, and asks if things worked out fine.
Sam is shocked to see Danielle, and exclaims that she is with the MLF now, so why would she help them? Dani mounts her steed and as she takes to the skies replies ‘Maybe because, Sam, like you, I always have been - and still am - someone who cares about the truth…and about family’.