St. Louis, Missouri, a media frenzy has gathered outside the Wakeman Oncological Research Center, not to mention the super force known as Operation Zero Tolerance. One reporter in particular announces that the tension is still high, where the Center employees trapped inside are caught between the members of the Mutant Liberation Front, and Zero Tolerance - a strike force called by State officials to deal with the mutant terrorists. ‘Operation Zero Tolerance, of course, is the organization that is dedicated to containing the threat of genetically gifted humans…’.
Inside, Theresa “Siryn” Rourke Cassidy, Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta and the enigmatic Domino, three members of the young mutant hero team X-Force, came to St. Louis, concerned for the safety of the founding New Mutant, their friend Danielle Moonstar, they intended to extricate her from the Wakeman Center before Zero Tolerance closed the trap set for Dani’s teammates in the Mutant Liberation Front - Heather “Tempo” Tucker, Tamara “Dragoness” Kurtz, Richard “Wildside” Gill and Michael “Forearm” McCain. Now though, both teams of young mutants are fighting for their lives….
‘Moonstar, you’re going to pay for betraying the Mutant Liberation Front!’ snaps Dragoness, to which Dani, who has just been discovered as working undercover for SHIELD, tells Tamara to save it for later, ‘None of us are getting out of here if we don’t work together!’ Dani points out, while she fires one of her arrows at the Prime Sentinels hovering over them. ‘X-Force and the Mutant Liberation Front side by side. There’s something I never thought I’d see’ Domino remarks.
While Wildside had already been struck unconscious, the Prime Sentinels take down their biggest threat - the time-warping Tempo. Domino and Moonstar stand guard of the human captives, while Sunspot and Siryn hover in the air, Theresa blasting one of the Prime Sentinels with her sonic abilities. Sunspot remarks that they knew Zero Tolerance had set the MLF up, but that no one told them three of the hostages were Sentinels. Terry adds that these are like no Sentinels she has ever seen. Terry jokes that at least when Sentinels were giant robots you knew when they were coming at you - but these ones appear to be flesh and blood.
The female Prime Sentinel boasts that they are equal of their mechanical predecessors in every way. One of the male Prime Sentinels adds that their purpose remains the same - to neutralize the mutant population of the world - by any means necessary. He then warns Siryn that he can counter her ultrasonic attack, and in an instant, Siryn is knocked backwards through the air, her own powers used against her.
Down below, the third Prime Sentinel has landed and is confronted by Dragoness, ‘See how you like my bio-electric sting, monster!’ the sassy young woman exclaims as she blasts her foe, who easily defends himself from Tamara’s attack, and smashes his fists into her, knocking her to the ground while declaring ‘You and yours are the true monsters, Dragoness. You’re the plague on the face of humanity!’.
Forearm, who, from birth, his size and extra arms was branded a mutant - he believed he was a freak until the MLF showed him that he was special. No matter what the cost, Michael swore to himself that he would not let anyone or anything intimidate him again. He picks up a large desk and holds it over his head, ‘You claim we mutants threaten the so-called purity of the human race- but look at yourselves, you’re no longer human, either!’ he points out. ‘You’re machines!’ he shouts as he tosses the desk at the female Prime Sentinel. She just smirks, and replies ‘Whatever part of our humanity was sacrificed to our maker…was done in order to insure the genetic integrity of the human race’ before asking Forearm if that is the best he can do as she destroys the desk with ease.
Dani, concerned for Forearm, the one member of the Front that she actually likes, calls out to him, telling him to be careful, for as hideous as it is to imagine, if these are real people, they can not simply destroy them like they would any regular android. Readying a psionic arrow, Danielle - formerly “Mirage” - hopes that the Sentinels are still human enough that her arrows can disrupt their nervous systems - her arrows cannot damage mechanics. But before Dani can strike, one of the male Sentinels blasts her from behind, right in front of Forearm, who calls out, concerned for Dani, whom he cares about.
Moments later, the mutants all regroup, rubbing their wounds, Moonstar remarks that it would seem the Sentinels are toying with them. ‘Guess their upgrade includes an option for sadistic pleasure’ she jokes. Sunspot informs everyone that he cannot turn his solar heat up all the way because of the hostages, and points out that they are not prepared to take on Sentinel technology. ‘Any suggestions’ he asks Domino. Slightly nervous, Domino replies ‘Yes…we make do. One way or another, this ends here!’ she exclaims.
‘It will end here, mutants!’ one of the Prime Sentinels replies as the three of them hover above the mutants and the hostages, all three begin to generate an energy field that expands as it its charge increases. ‘Aw, don’t tell me, they’re more powerful together!’ Sunspot mutters as everyone shields their eyes from the blinding light above them, Moonstar pointing out that it is like they are building to critical mass. Forearm reminds everyone that there are more Zero Tolerance troops outside waiting for them, so they’re trapped, to which Siryn declares that if the “three stooges” want to blow them to Kingdom Come, she reckons they should do it to them first.
Domino suggests that they might be able to break the Sentinel’s connection first. ‘Maybe they are partly human, but we can’t sit here waiting for them to exterminate us!’ she points out, while pulling some plastique from the heel of her shoe where she hid it before they entered the Center. Sunspot knows what Domino is going to do and after Domino points out that since Meltdown is not here, someone has to blow something up, Bobby tells her that she cannot get close enough to detonate the plastique, but he can.
Domino tells Bobby that she needs him to clear an exit through the roof for Siryn to follow him through, to which Sunspot points out that Domino will be caught in the blast. ‘Not a problem, I’m the luckiest girl in the world’ Domino replies, getting closer to the Sentinels, shielding her eyes, she adds ‘That’s my gift - I walk away from everything’ and tells Sunspot to be ready to clear a path, as it is their only shot. ‘Okay, boys and girls, here’s a little something to remember me by!’ she shouts as she tosses the plastique, under the Sentinels it is as if she has entered the heart of the storm. ‘Hope you like it!’ she adds, seconds before the massive explosion, which engulfs the area, including the Prime Sentinels.
For Siryn though, when she became X-Force’s deputy leader, she knew that she would have to make some difficult choices, decisions in the heart of battle that would surely torment her later. Leaving Domino at the mercy of Zero Tolerance is one of them. ‘All right, Bobby, Domino bought us our moment - let’s go!’ she orders her teammate, who instantly sends a solar fireball through the top level of the Wakeman Center. Using the smoke and flames as cover, Siryn and Sunspot make their escape - with passengers in tow - Siryn pulls along Moonstar with her, while Sunspot’s enhanced strength enables him to lift Forearm to safety, telling Mike that he is lucky Dani didn’t want him to be left behind. ‘I never asked for your help, Sunspot!’ Mike shouts back.
Siryn exclaims that she doesn’t like leaving Domino to the wolves, while Moonstar asks how they knew where to find her. As they fly down towards ground, past the Zero Tolerance troops who begin opening fire on them, Sunspot replies that G.W. Bridge got word to Domino that Zero Tolerance had set up an ambush, and while Bridge’s hands were tied, he didn’t want to see Dani go down with the rest of the Mutant Liberation Front. Setting down at the news van they arrived in, disguised as reporters, Siryn explains that they lost contact with the others once they went inside.
Sunspot asks where Meltdown, Rictor and Shatterstar are as he enters the van and discovers it to be empty. ‘This is bad’ he declares, pointing out that if Zero Tolerance got their teammates, then they have probably been waiting for their return. Siryn orders everyone into the van, but it’s too late, as some Prime Sentinels discover them, ‘There they are! Get them!’ they shout, another exclaiming that the mutant designates must be contained.
Siryn takes the wheel, although she has a little difficulty starting the van, they soon take off, and Terry orders Sunspot to take out the missiles that Zero Tolerance just fired before any innocent bystanders are injured. Bobby does as requested, firing a solar flare at Zero Tolerance from the back of the van, as the van speeds away, a trail of fire behind it.
Inside the Wakeman Center, shortly, Commander Ekatarina Gryaznova leads a dozen of her soldiers through the rubble, ‘Who do we have?’ she asks. One of the soldiers replies that they have Tempo, Dragoness and Wildside, and explains that they believe Locus teleported out before the three members of X-Force entered the facility. ‘Pathetic! We should have been able to capture every mutant here. What about our people?’ the Commander asks.
Someone finds the Prime Sentinels and alerts Gryaznova to the Sentinels who are under a pile of rubble, and remark that they appear to have sustained some damage, to which Ekatarina orders the Sentinels to be taken to the synth-tanks, points out that their self-repaid system will kick in soon enough. Suddenly, a young officer announces that they have found someone else. ‘Domino!’ Ekatarina exclaims as she sees the long-serving X-Force member. ‘She thought she could masquerade as a news producer and no one would recognize her…but I’d know her anywhere!’ Ekatarina exclaims cryptically as Domino lies in a pile of rubble, before the Commander tells her soldiers that she will deal with Domino personally.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, a rather odd-looking man has many TV stations all playing on various television sets. ‘As anti-mutant sentiment rises in the wake of Graydon Creed’s assassination…’. ‘Fireworks exploded over Colorado today…’. ‘In Kansas, the Wakeman hostage crisis came to a dramatic conclusion…’. ‘As both Houses of Congress are heatedly debating how to contain what the White house may now consider a crisis rapidly spinning out of control’. ‘The mutant outlaws known as the X-Men allegedly attacked an Operation: Zero Tolerance transport, but were instead captured themselves’. ‘After federal and local authorities stormed the Center, freeing the hostages, and taking at least three members of the MLF into custody’. ‘Unconfirmed rumors suggest the outlaw mutant group X-Force was also involved…’.
The odd man, Sledge, continues to flick the channels, before finally switching them all off, ‘Same old story, somebody’s gotta be the scapegoat’ he mutters, adding that it is too bad Xavier’s kids are going to end up as martyrs. ‘Better to keep a low profile and stay alive’. While not much is known about Sledge, except that his deformed appearance belies a superior intellect, a talent for constructing technological marvels out of the scraps of others, and a knack for hoarding information - he can get you anything you want - for a price that is.
Sledge decides that there is no point in letting Warpath know that his X-Force pals are in hot water. ‘Can’t have him giving in to his heroic impulses, not when I have a job for him to do!’. Suddenly, James “Warpath” Proudstar, dressed in what can be described as an orange space suit, announces that he is ready, though asks if the suit is really necessary. Sledge’s raspy voice assures Warpath that where he is going he is going to need it, explaining that it will regulate his temperature in extreme climates and give him forty-eight hours of oxygen in a vacuum, not to mention providing propulsion in zero-gravity.
Warpath replies that he is only going through with this because Sledge knows where Michael Whitecloud is, and James needs to know how Whitecloud survived the massacre that wiped out every Apache at Camp Verde - including his family. ‘Tough break’ Sledge replies as they approach a chamber, which Sledge unlocks while remarking that if he did charity, he might have given him Whitecloud for free - but that would set a bad precedent. ‘Wow - what is this place?’ a stunned Warpath asks, looking around the bizarre chamber.
‘Just something I mixed up in my spare time’ Sledge replies, before explaining that it is an interdimensional gateway. ‘You know, people get so wrapped up in the mundane routine of their day-to-day lives - they never consider there might be something more than the world outside their window’ Sledge remarks. ‘Realms that lie outside our universe…parallel to it…or somewhere in between’. Warpath asks Sledge how he got access to this kind of technology, to which Sledge explains that, several years ago, Reed Richards discovered the existence of alternate realities, a discovery he shared with a very select group of individuals within the government and scientific communities.
Sledge reveals that one of those individuals has had the need of his particular skills from time to time, ‘And that’s about as close to the truth as you need to get’ Sledge declares, remarking that it was a hassle getting the trans-dimensional interface online, but he did it, and motions to a portal. ‘This is the dimension in which my friend disappeared. And this is why you black-mailed Risque into betraying me?’ Warpath exclaims. Sledge points out that if he had called Warpath, asking him to risk his life in another reality, he would have hung the phone up on him. ‘I need leverage’ Sledge explains, remarking that Risque owed him a favor, so he asked her to persuade Warpath to do him one.
‘Nice to know my relationship with Risque was a lie from the very beginning’ Warpath mumbles, to which Sledge assures Warpath, for what it’s worth anyway, that Risque did fall for him. Sledge explains that is why he had to send the Blob and the Mimic, who had just been through the ringer in that Onslaught affair, to New York, as Risque was taking too long getting Warpath here - she was having second thoughts. ‘Why me?’ Warpath asks, remarking that from what he has been told, this suit can practically run itself.
Sledge replies that the last guy who tried went insane, explaining that not everyone can process the alien sensory input of another dimension. ‘What makes you think I can?’ James asks as Sledge hands him the helmet. Sledge replies that James’ heightened senses already perceive a slightly greater range of sights, sounds and smells than an average person, not to mention he is as strong as an ox, fast, and has super-human endurance. ‘Let’s just get this over with’ Warpath remarks as he puts the helmet on, warning Sledge that if Whitecloud’s address is not waiting for him when he gets back, then Sledge will be crossing into another dimension without a suit.
Back in St. Louis, Agent Ritter of the FBI puffs on a cigar as her introduces himself to Commander Gryaznova, remarking that he understands that none of the hostages were seriously injured, he congratulates the Commander, pointing out that it doesn’t always work out that way. The Commander practically ignores Agent Ritter, asking him to excuse her as she is very busy, but Ritter ignores that comment, telling her that now she has a number of mutant perps in custody, they may need to iron out some small jurisdictional conflicts. ‘There are no conflicts here. This is a Zero Tolerance Operation!’ the Commander snaps back, explaining that every mutant captured today will be transported to their classified detention facility.
‘By whose authority?’ demands Ritter, spit spraying out of his mouth, exclaiming that the prisoners may be mutants, but they are still entitled to some form of due process. ‘This is still the United States, Commander!’ he bellows. Ekatarina just tells Ritter that if he has a problem with the constitutionality of Zero Tolerance’s work, then to write to his Congressman, but to stay out of her way. Ritter just ’Hrrmphs!’ in reply, before storming off over to his car.
A soldier informs the Commander that Bastion is online, and shortly, Gryaznova enters a vehicle, where Bastion’s image appears on screen. Zero Tolerance would not exist if not for the mysterious man known only as Bastion - every hour of his life has been dedicated to one purpose - creating the means to completely and irrevocably eliminate mutants. Those who have tried to stop him have failed.
Bastion declares that he wants a status report, and informs the Commander that her personal feed has been off-line for an hour. Gryaznova replies that she will have that checked immediately, before explaining that X-Force’s arrival has proved more troublesome than anticipated. She informs Bastion that, in addition to Tempo, Dragoness and Wildside, they currently have Meltdown, Rictor and Shatterstar in stasis, however Siryn, Sunspot, Moonstar and Forearm remain at large, adding that Moonstar is also apparently an undercover operative for SHIELD.
Bastion replies that he will deal with the government if necessary, before asking about the one known as Domino, adding that Cable is playing hide-and-seek at Xavier’s Mansion, but he and Domino are known associates, so he could use her as bait. Nervously, the Commander replies that Domino escaped, hoping deep down that Bastion never learns she is lying to him, for if he were to find out, then none of her body’s cybernetic defenses could save her from his wrath.
Elsewhere, the reporter van that X-Force used has come to a stop in some woods, where Michael is angry, ‘You lied to me, Dani!’ he exclaims. Danielle replies that she didn’t mean to hurt him, to which Forearm just reminds Dani of the situation - that she was working for SHIELD and sent to destroy the MLF. ‘Yeah, and it turns out they didn’t need my help’ Danielle replies, pointing out that everyone’s petty jealousies and psychoses were tearing the group apart from the inside. ‘The MLF was a ticking bomb, waiting to self-destruct!’ she exclaims, but Mike declares that this isn’t about the MLF, ‘It’s about you and me’ he tells Moonstar. ‘I thought you were my friend. I thought you were special…’ his voice trails off, forlorn.
Sunspot and Siryn fly towards Moonstar and Forearm, and Bobby tells Mike not to feel so bad, as apparently, Dani lies to all her friends. Siryn tells Sunspot to save his feelings for later, as right now, they have more pressing matters to attend to. Good news though, Terry announces that their aircraft is still secure, but the bad news is that Zero Tolerance shot down the X-Men’s Blackbird, and they cannot raise Cable or anyone at the Mansion. Sunspot remarks that if they are going to rescue their teammates before they are bagged and tagged, then they will need help. ‘Dani?’ he asks. ‘You don’t need to ask, Bobby, I’m in’ Danielle replies, turning to Mike and asking if he is interested. ‘Forget it, Dani. I’m better off alone’ Michael replies, making his way deeper into the forest. Danielle calls out to him as he leaves, but Siryn tells Moonstar to let Forearm go, as he has to make his own choice.
Later, Domino opens her eyes - this is not the first time though that she has been knocked unconscious in one place, and returned to consciousness in another. Sitting up on the table where she has been placed, Domino tries to survey her surroundings for a clue as to her new location, but her eyes refused to focus properly. Then, Domino notices how dry her mouth is and how much her tongue feels like a cotton ball. ‘I’ve been drugged!’ Domino exclaims, rubbing her head.
Suddenly, a figure enters the room, ‘A precaution’ the newcomer exclaims, before revealing that Domino was hardly injured in the explosion, just a few bruises and scrapes, and a bump on the head that you couldn’t even call a minor concussion. ‘You are indeed a very lucky woman’. ‘That’s what they say’ Domino replies. ‘Who in blazes are you?’. Ekatarina steps into the light, revealing herself as she declares that Domino is her prisoner. ‘Would you like to attempt an escape?’ she asks.
‘I’ll pass - it’s not fun if you ask’ Domino replies, before remarking that she has a feeling the Commander is one of those new Sentinel’s. ‘So do I get a final request?’. ‘You think I’m going to kill you?’ Ekatarina asks. ‘You’ll try, eventually’ Domino remarks. ‘That is the ultimate goal of you and your friends in Zero Tolerance - the complete annihilation of anyone like me’. However,, surprisingly, Gryaznova exclaims that she doesn’t want Domino dead, and remarks that she thought they might talk about the past. ‘There’s not much to talk about’ Domino mutters in response.
But Gryaznova exclaims that she disagrees, and declares that Domino has led a fascinating life. The Commander reveals that she has made a point of finding out background information about Domino, which was not an easy task. ‘You appear as one person, vanish mysteriously, and reappear as another’. The Commander declares that Domino’s life is a jigsaw puzzle where pieces rarely fit together, and where more often than not, she is not even sure if the pieces belong to Domino at all.
(Shown with flashback illustrations)
Gryaznova declares that they believe Domino may have been a thirteen year-old runaway when she was picked up in Seattle for shoplifting - a girl who told the police her name was Jessica Marie Costello, before escaping the juvenile authorities.
Two years later, a young woman appeared in the combat arenas of Madripoor - where she fought under a stage name. ‘We do know you were recruited by the National Security Agency where you adopted the name Domino…and used what government scientists classified “probability-altering” powers in the service of the United States.
During that time, Domino married analyst Milo Thurman, but after that marriage ended, Domino left the NSA and disappeared, but, sometime later, a Luisa Mendoza took five casinos for approximately one point two million dollars.
In Hong Kong shortly thereafter, they observed a business woman calling herself Samantha Wu - who worked as an executive for the Fujikawa Corporation for six months.
While, in Prague, a familiar-looking Elena Vladescu was seen with the Russian Ambassador - mere hours before his unexplained death at an embassy party.
‘You must have tired of these subtle intrigues, because you surfaced again as Domino - the only woman in a mercenary team known in government circles as the Six Pack’. Gryaznova remarks that somehow that group membership let to Domino’s current association with the terrorist team X-Force.
The Commander adds one more thing - two weeks ago, Domino attended the funeral of wise guy Cesare Caetano, identifying herself as Tamara Winter.
‘I’m flattered you think all those women are me - too bad you’re at least eighty percent wrong’ Domino replies, pointing out that even the Domino Gryaznova observed might now have even been her, as a shape shifter did steal her identity for a year or so. But the Commander tells Domino not to play games with her, exclaiming that she knows her better than she can imagine. ‘This isn’t the first time we’ve met!’ the Commander reveals. ‘Oh?’ Domino replies, not impressed. ‘Forgive me if I don’t remember you, Commander’.
An image appears on a screen behind the Commander, who explains that it is El Salvador, three years ago, and reminds Domino that she infiltrated a top secret research compound run by a rogue CIA faction….
(Flashback shown on monitor)
…in order to rescue DR. Rebecca Schuyler, a neuro-cybernetic specialist, who had been kidnapped from Stanford, California, and forced to design a cybernetic link that would connect soldiers with battlefield drones. The Commander explains that Domino encountered one of the prototype drones, codenamed Jericho, who was designed to be the ultimate fighting machine, which was controlled from a distance by a human soldier in a secure location. The Commander explains that, unfortunately, Domino used a device that created an electromagnetic pulse to fry every electronic circuit in the compound - including the motherboards and cyber link in Jericho. ‘By the time an alternate generator was operation, you and the Dr. were gone - and the thirty million dollar prototype was slag’.
‘A touching story, but where are you in it?’ Domino asks, still sitting on the table. ‘I controlled the Jericho prototype’ Ekatarina replies. ‘Small world’ Domino mumbles, while Ekatarina thinks back to that time, recalling herself lying in a hospital bed, she explains that the neural feedback from the electromagnetic pulse put her in a coma for about ten months. ‘Had certain parties not taken an interest in my recovery…I’d still be in that hospital bed, oblivious to the world’.
Ekatarina reveals that when she awoke, she had no idea what had been done to her, all she knew was that her body felt strong and whole once more. Power surges around her as she explains that the truth could not be concealed, she had been intended to be a sleeper agent - a Prime Sentinel, with advanced mutant-hunting technology implanted within her. ‘Most in my position would have been driven mad with horror and revulsion - and for a time, I thought I would’, the Commander remarks, before declaring that, eventually, she embraced the transformation in the hopes that Bastion’s crusade would eventually lead her to Domino, and with that, blasts Domino before she can react.
Another unidentifiable period of time later - Domino is now strapped down to a table with metal bars, and weak, she tells Ekatarina that this is getting old, before noticing that she is tied down, she remarks that the party must just be starting. Domino sees some Doctors around the table, one of whom brings a mask down on Domino’s face to put her unconscious with gas, while Ekatarina smirks and exclaims ‘You ruined my life. Now I’m going to return the favor. Your luck has finally run out!’.