‘Scatter, X-Factor! She means to do us serious hurt! She says she’s Dagger, but I thought Dagger was supposed to be one of the good guys!’ Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman calls out to his teammates Jean “Marvel Girl” Grey and Hank McCoy, the Beast. Unconscious civilians litter the streets, while the woman called Night stands and watches in glee as Tandy “Dagger” Bowen hurls shards of shadow light at X-Factor. Dagger now wears a black version of her costume, and her hair is short and spiked. ‘Stand still, you costumed buffoons, and feel the sweet kiss of my black-light knives, like these puny humans who fell before me!’ Dagger calls out.
‘I’ll stop da lady!’ the Beast calls out as he rips up some of the street. On an ice-sled, Iceman tells his friend not to: ‘You know that every time you use your strength you get dumber!’ Bobby points out, before realizing that Hank is just tearing the street up as if he was the Hulk. Suddenly, a black shard of light strikes Bobby in the side. It hits his belt, but forces him to tumble from his ice-sled. ‘My goose is cooked for sure!’ he thinks to himself, before Jean extends a telekinetic field around her teammate. ‘I’ve got you!’ Jean assures Bobby, before telling Hank to stop tearing up the street. He does as told, and Jean suggests they shelter behind the debris shield that Hank has created, while they formulate a plan of action.
Night decides that this is working great, that her hated enemy absorbed all the darkness she stole from the evilest inhabitants of the city and it has erased her memory, except for thoughts of cruelty and destruction. ‘Come out, cowards you’re only postponing you fate, not avoiding it!’ Dagger shouts at X-Factor. Forlorn, the Beast asks Jean what is wrong, as he could have crushed her all up. ‘No, Beast, if that is Dagger out there, and she certainly matches the physical description in our X-Factor mutant files, then something is wrong with her’ Jean explains. Jean tells Hank that they have to help Dagger somehow, not hurt her. Bobby creates a ice-sculpture of his chest and face and holds it up - as a distraction to Dagger - but an black light shard is thrown through it. ‘Yeoww! I wish you’d explain that “not hurting” part to her, Jeannie!’ Bobby exclaims. ‘She just tried to give me Excedrin Headache #39!’ he jokes.
Marvel Girl tells the Beast to hang back and act as a diversion while she and Bobby subdue Dagger. She warns Bobby to be more careful, for if Dagger’s light knives strike him, he will be unconscious like Sgt Miller and all the others.
The Beast leaps over the slab of road that X-Factor are shielded behind, as the Beast exclaims ‘I don’t wanna be no “version”!’ and boasts that he can stop her. ‘Dagger! Your foes approach at last!’ Night calls out. Dagger agrees, and remarks that the fool eagerly rushes to feel the exquisite pain that she bestows. ‘Come, fool, my sting is ready for you!’ Dagger beckons the Beast. Jean tells Bobby that they have to stop Hank, for in his present state, he could kill Dagger without meaning to.
Suddenly, a snowball lands in Dagger’s face, taking her by surprise. Night is equally surprised, while Bobby approaches on an ice-sled. ‘Hey, lady - can Dagger come out and play?’ Bobby calls out. ‘He can’t do that to you, Dagger! Destroy him!’ Night orders. Jean catches Hank in a telekinetic field, which slows him down, but he struggles hard against it, and gains in strength. ‘Your little distraction worked too well, cretin - you shall be the target of my monumental rage!’ Dagger exclaims as she throws several black light shards at his ice-sled.
A strange creature consisting of two large eyes and a serpent like body hovers near Night, and she calls it Yip Yap. ‘You gruesome runt - it’s time for one of you to report to our master, Mister Jip, while the other stays here to see the end of the fight!’ Night orders. The creature splits into two and she tells the one that starts to fly away to tell Mr Jip how good Night has been at following his orders, and remind him of their teal. Mr Jip’s conjured creation travels fast and far, until sometime later, the creature arrives, flying through a window, ‘Ah, dear Yip Yap - enter my lair with your clever suckers! Mt never endings tingle in sweet anticipation of the receipt of your intelligence!’ the hideous Mr Jip calls out.
Meanwhile, Tyrone Johnson a.k.a. Cloak has been trapped in a crude magical pentagram in the basement rec room of the Plotnick family in Fernwood, Ohio. Apparently, little Lamar Plotnick was trying to conjure up a demon using a spell in a large mystic book. But, he botched it up, and Cloak was snatched out of Mr Jip’s tardly trap and ensnared here, instead. Standing on the pool table, Cloak tells the boy that he will explain one more time, that he is not a demon. He adds that his name is Cloak, and that he is a super hero of sorts. ‘You know, like Spider-Man’ he remarks, adding that his partner’s name is Dagger. Lamar just looks up at Cloak, while an advert on the television says “Kids! Try oaty Crunchies! They’re yum-yummy good!”.
Flashback images, narrated by Cloak in the present:
Cloak explains to Lamar that he and Dagger were two runaway kids who were used as guinea pigs in a mob experiment to test a cheap synthetic heroin substitute. But what they, and Cloak and Dagger themselves, didn’t know was that they were both mutants whose latent abilities hadn’t manifested themselves, yet. The drug twisted those abilities and transformed them into Cloak and Dagger. Cloak became a portal into a dimension of darkness, a dimension where a creature known as the Predator drains the unwary of their life essence by manufacturing visions of their greatest fears. Dagger, on the other hand, became a virtual generator of this light of life, the purity of which can stun the polluted systems of evil-doers.
Cloak tells Lamar that normally, he can travel through the dimension inside his ape, in an effect similar to teleportation, but that the magical spell he cast has stuck him in this pentagram and when he last saw Dagger, a bad man named Mr Jip had her in a fix. ‘So please, Lamar, break the pentagram so I can go help her!’ Cloak asks. Lamar just looks at Cloak, unimpressed, while an announcement on the television states ‘That’s all for cartoon-time today, kids - join your ol’ pal, Cap’n Jolly here tomorrow’. Lamar starts to walk up the stairs and mutters ‘Goo-Gams is over, demon…I’ll be back from nursery school at lunch and tell ya the slave stuff I want you to do’. Lamar adds that if Cloak is good, he will give him half of his peanut butter and baloney sandwich. ‘NOOO!’ Cloak calls out, as the door to the basement slams. ‘Are you tense? Try Flubile, the coffee for those early morning jitters!’ an advertisement on the television suggests.
At that moment, ‘Sleep well, my cherub…the information you imparted into my hungry nerve endings concerning the degenerate state of Dagger and her subsequent memory loss and attack on innocent human an mutantkind as well, causes my ancient heart to swell with gladness!’ Mr Jip tells the Yip Yap creature. Various bones stick out of Mr Jip’s hideous body, and he adds ‘Especially as it was I who brought this to pass’. But, Mr Jip remarks that the one unsettling detail is the disappearance of Cloak, as somehow, he slipped the bonds in which he imprisoned him, so he currently can’t be tortured with Dagger’s plight, since he hasn’t appeared at Dagger’s side, Mr Jip is forced to conclude that some unforeseen random factor has entered the equation to spoil his carefully laid plan of revenge once again.
Holding Yip Yap in his hands, Mister Jip states that it was a plan he set into motion even as Dagger ended his plot to eject Cloak from his body in order to prolong his own centuries old existence in pursuit of mystical knowledge. Mr Jip adds that it is patently unfair that his magical abilities will thus far only allow him to usurp the bodies of those filled with the dark taint of evil, as he is himself, and that those who are already aware of his existence are immune as the process is so repugnant that their brains will erect psychic barriers to keep him out at all costs. He releases Yip Yap and decides that there is no use dwelling on past mistakes. ‘As I pride myself on being at least two steps ahead of any opponent at any given moment, I shall begin to fry other of my fish’ Mister Jip remarks.
Elsewhere, specifically the Dillard Sanctuary for the Insane, there is Francis Delgado, one time priest at the Holy Ghost Church, until events surrounding Cloak & Dagger destroyed his faith and system of beliefs. It was the desire to possess Dagger, who he saw as the only pure, uncorrupt thing left in the universe, and the desire to destroy Cloak, who he saw as a threat to his angel of light, that pushed him over the brink of madness. However, today, Francis Delgado is graduating. A doctor shakes his hand and wishes him luck, adding that they are always pleased when one of their patents effects a full recovery and rejoins the outside world again. ‘Thank you, doctor. I plan to keep very busy’ Francis replies.
A cleaner approaches them and announces that he was cleaning the Father’s old room and noticed he forgot his Bible. ‘It’s not Father any longer: please call me Francis’ Delgado replies, and announces that he doesn’t need the book anymore, either, suggesting the janitor that he keeps it. They go outside and the doctor waves good bye to Francis, telling him not to forget the friends he has made here. ‘Oh, I won’t!’ Francis replies. Inside, the janitor starts looking through the Bible, and gasps ‘Sweet mother of mercy!’, to which a nurse asks him what is wrong. ‘Somebody done defaced that nice Father Delgado’s Bible!’ the janitor reveals, explaining that every time it appears in the whole book, somebody has crossed out the name of their Lord and wrote in “Mr Jip”. ‘What a darned shame…no wonder he didn’t want it’ the janitor decides. And outside, Francis is balancing his duffel bag on his head as he walks along the side of the pavement, arms held out to balance him. He has found his faith again, and a whole new system of beliefs.
Back at the scene of the battle, ‘Chew on these ice balls, sister!’ Iceman exclaims as he tosses ice rocks towards Dagger. ‘If you weren’t spoiling my aim, I’d finish you - idiot!’ Dagger retorts as the ice rocks knock her black light off course. Night tells Dagger to forget him and concentrate on the other two, as they are sitting ducks. Hank continues to fight Jean’s telekinetic field, and he tells her to let him go. Jean struggles to hold Hank back and she tells Bobby that she needs some help. ‘I’ll help you, Red - into your grave!’ Dagger shouts as she hurls some black daggers towards Jean Grey. ‘Don’t dig that grave just yet, playmate!’ Iceman calls out as he blocks the attack with an ice shield. The black daggers sizzle as they strike the ice.
Bobby then assists Jean by creating a pool of ice beneath Hank’s feet. ‘Sorry about this, big buddy!’ Bobby calls out. ‘That was close - I might have been able to deflect them with telekinetic, but not without losing Hank complete’ Jean tells Bobby, as Hank falls over on the ice. Bobby tells Hank that in his present state he might get hurt out there, and they don’t want that to happen to him, as they are his friends. ‘No fair! You guys’r no fair!’ Hank complains, before Bobby helps him up. Hank sniffles and asks if they will be friends for ever and ever. ‘Sure, Hankie, you big lug - and don’t you forget it!’ Bobby tells him. Jean tells Bobby that perhaps they are forgetting something out there - for if that is Dagger, then something has happened to change her, so if she can talk to Dagger, get through to her somehow. ‘Sometimes I think that’s the trouble having powers like ours - the tendency is to use them - fight, rather than reason’ Jean adds.
Dagger approaches X-Factor and, calling them fools, tells them that they have signed their death warrants. ‘Perhaps - but, before you strike, take a second to think about the way you’re acting - you’ve hurt innocent people - does that feel right to you?’ Jean asks. ‘Think about the way you used to feel’ she tells Dagger. Dagger turns to Night, ‘What does she mean - why can’t I remember anything?’ she asks. Night frowns and tell Dagger that she is only trying to confuse her so that they can destroy her. ‘Don’t hold back! The only feeling worth having comes from seeing the corpses of your enemies lying at your feet!’ Night screeches. ‘Yesss - she’s right! Only when the street is awash with your blood will I feel whole again!’ Dagger declares. ‘Now, Hank - the evil is too strong within her!’ Jean calls out, and on cue, Hank tears up part of the road that Dagger and Night are standing on, causing them to fall over. ‘Roll it like an ocean wave, ain’t that what you said, Jeannie?’ Hank asks.
‘See, I toldja it was all a con to make you weak - you’ve gotta regain the upper hand!’ Use any dirty trick in the book! Call up your arm and paste those suckers!’ Night tells Dagger. ‘I toldja I could do it!’ the Beast exclaims, and Bobby tells him that they are proud of him, while Jean tells them to be quiet, as she thought she heard something about an army. Indeed, the three heroes find themselves surrounded by civilians under the thrall of the shadow. Hank asks what they will do now, to which Bobby mutters ‘Know any hymns?’
In Ohio, Cloak remains trapped in the pentagram still, and decides that it is no use, as the magic is like a force field holding him in place. He tells himself that in some insane way, this is worse than the bonds Mr Jip put him in, for at least there he had a mystic view screen so that he could watch what was happening to Dagger. He recalls that the last he saw of her, Jip’s puppet, Night, had her trapped, so realizes Dagger could now be injured or worse. Suddenly, a voice is heard on the television, as an announcer interrupts the mid-morning movie for a live news report from Trish Tilby of WARC-TV in New York.
The well known reporter appears onscreen and states that, behind her, are photos from the scene of a battle between the mutant super hero group X-Factor and an as yet unidentified villainess. Trish explains that the woman has so far attacked scores of people and caused untold property damage. A headshot of Dagger appears on the screen as Trish states that this film was shot by WARC’s “eye-in-the-sky copter” just before it was attacked and forced to ditch into the East River. Trish informs viewers that she will be on the scene shortly to bring them live pictures of the conflict. Cloak looks forlorn. Evidently, he has never heard the expression “be careful what you wish for, you might just get it”.
Meanwhile, at the crumbling edifice known as the Holy Ghost Church, once the home of Father Francis Delgado and a dwindling flock of faithful worshippers, now abandoned, it is a place of welcome refuge for Cloak and Dagger. This woman who approaches the Holy Ghost Church has come to find Cloak and Dagger. She is a policewoman - and she is mad. ‘This place must have been something in its hey-day’ the officer thinks to herself as she examines her surroundings, realizing that now it is just a pile of rotting timber and dusty concrete. She holds a small gun in one hand, and decides that this isn’t exactly what she would have pictured as a headquarters for costumed vigilantes. ‘Then again, what did I expect - banks of computers and a giant penny?’ she asks herself.
Suddenly, a man enters from another room, ‘FREEZE!’ the officer shouts, aiming her gun at him, before apologizing when she sees he is a priest. She asks him what he is doing here, and then realizes what she said. ‘Uh - do me a favor, forget I said that, ok?’ she asks. ‘Provided you have an explanation for your behavior, lass’ the priest replies. The officer lowers her weapon and introduces herself as Detective Nales of the 21st Precinct. She remarks that they have this property listed as abandoned, and she is looking for strangely dressed intruders. ‘Cloak and Dagger; yes, well, I’m afraid they’re not home right now’ the priest reveals, and tells the detective not to look so shocked, as he does know them. He then introduces himself as Father Michael Bowen, and explains that he does community service work here a few days a week.
Father Bowen then asks the detective what the problem is. ‘Call me Rusty, father’ Detective Rusty Nales replies, and tells him that he will never believe this, but that she is investigating a strange tale involving her supposedly dead ex-partner, whose corpse neglected to attend her own funeral. She continues, informing Michael Bowen that she has come to question Cloak and Dagger who were reported to have been consorting with her partner, after her death. ‘Sounds about normal for them’ Michael tells Rusty, but suggests she will have to come back some other time, before asking her to take it easy on the lassie. ‘What’s the girl to you, if you don’t mind me asking?’ Rusty asks. Michael Bowen informs Rusty Nales that he is Dagger’s uncle.
Meantime, the subject of Rusty’s investigation, the former detective Brigid O’Reilly, who is now a troubled soul by the name of Mayhem, sits in a barren landscape. Her entire body, hair and clothing is green, and she thinks to herself that it is weird the changes life puts you through. ‘When I was a cop, I couldn’t stand it when someone like Cloak and Dagger bent the law to accomplish their ends - then I “died” at the hands of corrupt cops and I became a crazed vigilante whose only desire was for revenge’ she reminds herself. Mayhem decides that it is ironic that it took Cloak, a being she despised when she thought he was the type of creature she became, to point out the obvious, and recalls him telling her that her recent action showed there is compassion within her, and that he thinks the act of compassion is the mark of the thinking being, and how if a being thinks, the being must live.
Mayhem also recalls her encounter with the Thing, and how when she attempted a small act of personal atonement, it was he who pushed her back from the brink, pointing out that he knows it isn’t what’s on the outside that is important. Mayhem starts to cry, and tells herself that here she is, full circle and learned her lesson, but wonders to what end, because now the thing she prizes most is the one thing beyond her grasp. ‘I want to LIVE!’ she screams, when suddenly, a shadow looms over her and calls out ‘Salutations’.
At that moment, the civilians close in on Jean, Bobby and Hank. Bobby points out that these are all the people Dagger took out earlier with her black light knives, and supposes that they absorbed the darkness and are now some kind of evil zombies at her command. ‘Jus what we needed - more people out to hurt us, whom we have to stop without injury!’ Jean tells her friends, before telling Bobby that the two of them will have to handle it, as Hank might accidentally harm them. As she captures some of the civilians in a telekinetic field, Jean orders Hank to stay here and not to move. ‘That’s great, Marvel Girl! You consolidate them in groups and I’ll ice ‘em in before they can scatter!’ Bobby calls out as he encases the first group of civilians in a large chunk of ice. Jean moves another group towards Bobby and congratulates him on a good job, before asking where Hank is.
Suddenly, Jean sees him - surrounded by a mass of civilians, one of whom has raised a large chunk of wood towards him. ‘See? I’m not moving, just like ya told me’ Hank replies. ‘GET OFF HIM - NOW!’ Jean screams as she flies closer to the mob and uses her telekinesis to force them away from the Beast. None the wiser, Hank looks at Jean and tells her that he did just like she said. ‘I didn’t move, no matter what’ he points out, his costume torn from the attack. ‘Oh, Hank, I didn’t mean - oh, I’m so sorry!’ Jean tells him. ‘Not as sorry as you’re going to be - you’ve still got to face me, and I won’t be as easy to deal with as stick-wielding housewives and businessmen, Red!’ Dagger snarls.
Cloak continues to watch the television, where Trish Tilby is still reporting, announcing that she is live at the battle site, and that they are being held behind police barricades, so are forced to shoot this with their longest lens. ‘We apologize for the poor audio quality, but apparently both sides are gearing up for another clash!’ Trish reports, informing viewers that the woman in black is shouting some sort of challenge. ‘No! Jip has done something to Dagger - don’t hurt her - do you hear? Don’t hurt her!’ Cloak calls out. Suddenly, Lamar returns to the basement and switches the television off, telling Cloak that he has had enough TV for today, as it will hurt his eyes and then he will have to wear glasses, just like he does. ‘Child, listen to me! That woman on TV, that’s Dagger! A very bad man has done something terrible to her, and some people may get hurt if I don’t get there first!’ Cloak tells the child.
Cloak continues, telling Lamar that he has got to let him go, or at least turn the television on so he can see Dagger. ‘Mama says too much TV is bad for ya, but I like it - mama says that milk is good for ya, but I hate it…so maybe I’ll turn the TV back on if you drink all my milk, you old demon…’ Lamar replies, holding his glass of milk up to Cloak. An instant later, Cloak drinks the entire glass, and he hands it back to Lamar, pointing out that he drunk the milk, so now the TV needs to go back on. Suddenly, ‘Lamar, who is this man with the milk moustache standing on my pool table?’ an older man in a suit asks as he enters the rec room. ‘Uh-oh! It’s pops! Now I’m gonna catch it!’ Lamar mutters, while Cloak introduces himself to Mr Plotnick, explaining that he is a super hero of sorts, and that his son brought him here.
Mr Plotnick sees the a large book open on the floor and picks it up: ‘With this book! Yes, I see the trouble…Lamar! What did I tell you about getting in my things?’ Mr Plotnick calls out. ‘You’re taking all this rather calmly’ Cloak points out, to which Mr Plotnick asks ‘Why shouldn’t I? I was once, what you would call, a super-villain!’ he reveals. ‘Yeah, Dad - you were the best!’ Lamar exclaims as he goes over and wraps his arms around his father’s leg. ‘Now, son - that’s far from accurate’ Mr Plotnick replies, explaining that is why he left the world domination business behind, married Lamar’s mother and joined Stitko Insurance. ‘But I see we’re confusing your guest - allow me to explain’ he adds, as he starts to tell his story:
Flashback images, narrated by Mr Plotnick in the present:
It was more years ago than he cares to remember, he had become involved in the study of the black arts and decided to rule the world by fear, in an attempt to emulate his ancestor, the first Rasputin. Mr Plotnick explains that he called himself Mister Rasputin, corny, he knows, but he thought he was hot stuff. He wore a dark blue cloak and matching clothing, and wielded magical energies. That is, until he joined battle with Dr Strange, the true master of the mystic arts. ‘I discovered how little I knew, how punt my powers!’ he explains, revealing that he was forced to use other means to defeat Dr Strange - by shooting him with a gun.
But, even that wasn’t enough to shake his confidence, for he was mighty bull-headed in those days, and it wasn’t until he was finally beaten by Dr Strange’s cape and amulet, directed by him from Strange’s hospital bed, that he realized the super-villain game wasn’t for him. At least he gave himself credit for knowing he was small potatoes after only one outing - as some guys never seen to catch on. So, he used his time in prison to study - not the black arts, but actuarial tables, and when he was released, he moved to the quietest community he could find, took a nice boring job as an insurance claims adjuster and married Lamar’s mother.
Mr Plotnick sits down in an armchair and holds the book, explaining that he legally changed his name so that his children, Lamar and his sister, Lavinia, wouldn’t have to live down that Rasputin thing. ‘If I ever thought about going back, the thought of a super-villain named Mister Plotnick was enough to stop me!’ he jokes. Cloak tells Mr Plotnick that he doesn’t mean to interrupt his story, but that he really must be going. ‘Oh, ahem - yes! Forgive a man’s fond remembrance of his misspent youth!’ Mr Plotnick replies, before asking Cloak if he can drop him somewhere. Cloak tells him that it would be a rather long drive, and ordinarily he would teleport, but that it is a out of his range. ‘Perhaps a series of shorter hops -’ he decides, but Mr Plotnick grins as he flicks through the pages of his book and exclaims ‘Nonsense, my boy! I’ll be only too happy to send you back! I’m a bit rusty, though - gonna need a pretty good fix on your destination’ he remarks.
Cloak asks if a visual aid would help, and Mr Plotnick tells him it would be just the ticket. ‘Turn on the TV’ Cloak asks, and Lamar does it, where they see X-Factor surrounded by an ice shield, and hear Trish reporting that the battle is intensifying, that she thinks this is the final skirmish, as both sides seem to know that it is do-or-die time. Indeed, black light dagger start striking the ice wall, while Jean tells her friends ‘Ok, at my signal, we all go! We can’t afford to be hit by those daggers and turned into zombies, so be careful’ Jean tells them, adding that she didn’t want to risk getting rough with Dagger, but they no longer have any choice. ‘Hopefully, if we divide her attention, at least one of us can get to Dagger’ Jean explains. ‘NOW’ Jean shouts, as she flies over the ice wall, Bobby slides over it on an ice-sled, and Hank leaps over it. ‘Come to me, fools! Come embrace Dagger, so that I may steal your breath away with my black kisses!’ Dagger beckons.
Back in the rec room, ‘Do it now, Sir!’ Cloak asks Mr Plotnick, who reads from the book and begins casting a spell. Suddenly, there is a POP and Cloak vanishes. ‘Bye-bye Demon!’ Lamar calls out. Mr Plotnick tells his son that that was something, and asks him to promise that he won’t go snooping in his things again. ‘Yessir, Pop’ the boy replies. ‘Good boy’ Mr Plotnick replies, telling his son to go and help his mother with the lunch dishes. ‘You gonna magic ‘em clean, Pop?’ Lamar asks. ‘No, son’ Mr Plotnick replies.
Suddenly, as Jean Grey, Iceman and the Beast leap towards Dagger, Cloak appears in front of her. ‘Stand back! This woman will harm no more innocent beings!’ Cloak declares. ‘What in -’ Jean gasps, while Cloak’s cowl spreads around Dagger, ‘She is mine to deal with!’ Cloak announces. ‘NO!’ Dagger shouts, before screaming, as she is encased in the Darkforce. ‘Who was that? What did he do to me - and where am I now?’ she wonders, realizing that there is a strange familiarity to this featureless void, but she cannot recall why it should be so. ‘No matter. The first order of business is to leave this place and drop the caped intruder’s corpse at my feet!’ Tandy thinks to herself, when suddenly, red eyes glow in front of her.
Tandy gasps, then asks ‘Who are you, creature, whose hot breath and fetid stench assail my senses?’ She tells him to show her the path out of here if he values his continued existence. A large bug-like creature appears before Dagger, and snarls ‘We are destined to become intimately acquainted, frail sack of flesh - I will such the light of life from your sinewy form, then crack your bones and drain their marrow, if my hunger is not appeased!’ the creature boasts, declaring that he is predator, and she is his prey. ‘There’s a difference between prey and helpless victim, monster!’ Dagger exclaims as she throws her black light shards at him, but the creature tells her that she cannot buy him off with crumbs, as his hunger won’t be satisfied until she is a drained, withered husk.
Dagger realizes that her black light isn’t stopping the monster, and what’s more, her black light seems to have merely whetted his appetite. Dagger senses that her mysterious opponent could drain her of light and still want more. So, if she can’t best him in combat, she knows she must flee. ‘I’ll discover the exit from this realm, then all will pay dearly for this affront to my person!’ Dagger tells herself. ‘Poor stupd cow! There is nowhere to hide here - no doorway back to the world you once inhabited!’ the creature calls out as it appears in front of the frightened Dagger. She spins around, but the monster is behind her, and announces that this is his kingdom, and he is the absolute authority here. He picks her up in his hand and declares that those who enter here are subject to his rule and his law. ‘Trapped - helpless!’ Tandy tells herself. She looks scared, as the monster brings her towards his mouth, warning her that his law is elegantly simple - for she is predator and his is meat.
‘NOOO!’ Dagger shrieks, while, at the same time, ‘The pain - AAARRR!’ Cloak calls out, as there is a blinding explosion of light from within him, followed by a multitude of writhing shadow-shapes, returning to their rightful owners, and followed in turn, by the return of one who Cloak feared he might never see again. Dagger lands on the ground with a massive THUD, and X-Factor race over, ‘What’s going on? Is she -’ Jean calls out. Cloak replies that Dagger is alive, but unconscious, and seemingly back to normal. He puts a hand on his friend’s face, and explains that it was a Longshot, but he reasoned that Dagger had been saturated with evil - coated like a piece of candy in a chocolate shell, and so if he placed her in a life-threatening situation, one where her only recourse was to crack open that shell from within and release the true light hidden inside, then Dagger would be restored to him.
‘Beg pardon?’ Iceman asks. ‘Uh…suffice to say, I took a gamble and it brought Dagger back to me’ Cloak remarks. ‘That’s good’ Bobby tells him, adding that if Hank was okay, he could probably explain it to them. ‘Speaking of okay, look over there!’ Bobby adds, motioning to where his ice domes have melted, and the civilians appear back to normal, as does Sergeant Miller. Jean tells Cloak that she is glad he showed up when he did, as she was afraid they might have had to hurt Dagger in order to stop her. Cloak apologizes for the fact that he was detained, explaining that it couldn’t be helped. Iceman asks what has happened to the lady who was egging Dagger on, and Cloak states that her name is Night. ‘The lady runned away - but she left her nice kitty…’ the Beast calls out, as Yip Yap flies around him creatures in his hand. ‘What? Hank, why didn’t you stop her?’ one of his teammates asks, while the other asks ‘What’s that thing?’
Cloak explains that it is it is Yip Yap, Mr Jip’s spy, and instructs the Beast to grab him. ‘Too late…bye-bye nice kitty!’ Hank calls out as Yip Yap takes flight. Dagger suddenly moans, and someone alerts Cloak to this fact. Cloak crouches beside Tandy and asks her if she is all right. ‘Hi partner! Where’ve you been - I missed you!’ Dagger replies, her costume back to its white color. Dagger tells Cloak that it is so dark, that she can feel his face, but can’t see him. ‘Are we inside your cape?’ she enquires, offering to make some light. But, as she does so, Dagger asks why she cant see it. ‘Why can’t I see you? What happened to my light?’ Dagger exclaims. She gets to her feet and Cloak assures her that she is fine, that she is glowing like a star. ‘No - I can’t see the light - I can’t see anything! Oh, Cloak! I can’t see! I’m blind!’ Dagger gasps, as Jean and Iceman look on, concerned.
Meanwhile, Jip sits on his throne, while Yip Yap floats at his side and Night stands before him. ‘So Cloak appeared and spoiled my little test…a pity, really - I would so much have enjoyed usurping Dagger’s body and using it to prolong my life…wouldn’t that have caused Cloak the most exquisite agony?’ Jip declares. Night claims that it isn’t her fault that things went wrong. ‘I filled her up with my darkness, erasing her memory, just like you said!’ she assures Mister Jip. ‘Thus fulfilling the two prerequisites necessary to recondition her to a proper candidate for my habituer…’ Jip points out. Night tells Jip that Dagger actually made a pretty decent villainess, not that that will keep her hands off Dagger’s throat when they meet again.
‘Had her powers proven adequate to defeat X-Factor, then she would have truly evidenced herself as a worthy subject for my body-displacement process’ Jip states. He shows his jagged yellow teeth and decides ‘No mater, Yip Yap has returned with gleeful tidings indeed!’ and boats that once again he has proven to be two steps ahead of his poor foes and has emerged victorious from the very jaws of defeat. He adds that the initial phase of his alternative plan is in operation, as Dagger’s sight has been destroyed. ‘Great, master! How about our bargain?’ Night asks, reminding Jip that he agreed to use his magic to fix up Day if she prepared Dagger for his use. ‘Oh, yes - your paramour… I’m afraid that, in the critical overview of the situation (that being the only one that truly matters), ultimately, you failed in your task’ Jip replies. He adds that, therefore, he is obligated to withhold his aid and the poor, fragile fellow died some time ago.
Night looks shocked, while Jip tells her not to fret, and announces that he has replaced Day with a new little puppet, who should prove most useful in the trials he shall unleash on Cloak and Dagger in the days ahead. ‘Is that not accurate, Francis?’ Mister Jip calls out as he pulls back a curtain, revealing Francis Delgado standing behind them. Appearing with a blank expression, Delgado replies ‘I exist only to serve you, Lord’….