Three young people make their way through the rainforest: Cannonball and Warpath of X-Force and Firestar, current New Warrior. Exhausted, they reach their goal and stare down at Nova Roma. Angelica states that she’s been to Japan, Cambodian temples, the moon, but this is…
Incredible? Warpath asks. Ridiculous, Angel replies. Who builds a Roman city in a jungle? she scoffs. She apologizes for being jaded, but it’s been three days of slogging through the jungle. James adds that he is antsy about their having to come there in person. Sam doesn’t know why Amara didn’t respond to their call. Maybe the comm-system she took from the Massachusetts Academy isn’t working. That would explain the radio silence. After all, they don’t have the means to fix it.
Hard to believe the city is descended from Roman settlers and they’ve never advanced beyond that time, Angel muses. Warpath tells them to check it out: Roman soldiers in skirts are advancing on them. Cannonball shouts that they’re not here to fight. They came to see Amara Aquilla to tell her and Manuel delaRocha what happened to the White Queen and the Hellions.
The legionnaires respond by throwing a spear at him, which Firestar disintegrates before it reaches Sam. Warpath makes short work of the soldiers, while Angel wonders if they’ll have to fight their way through the entire city to get a chance to see Amara and Manuel. That’s not something she’ll have to worry her pretty little head over, a condescending voice announces, for Empath and Magma have come to see them. Manuel deLa Rocha greets them, while Amara Aquilla stands strangely docile behind him.
Back in Manhattan, Richie Rider aka Nova’s first date with Laura Dunham is just ending. Everything was great, Laura assures him. Does she want any dessert? he asks nervously. Never eat dessert on a first date or you come across like a pig, Laura jokes. He really wanted to take her someplace nicer than a Chinese restaurant on their first date, Rich states defensively. They already had their first date, Laura reminds him, when she bumped into his delivery van. Well, meeting he was worth getting fired for, he announces. She apologizes and he tells her to forget it. Bigger things are in store for him than being a messenger.
They open the notes in their fortune cookies. Rich reads his. “Good things happen if good deeds prevail.” “In love,” Laura adds and explains that one always has to put “in love” after one’s fortune. Doesn’t that work better the other way round, Rich wonders. What’s hers?
“Perhaps he time is right to make things happen.” “In love,” both of them add laughing. The waiter brings the check and Rich intends to cover it until noticing that he hasn’t got enough money. No problem, Laura tells him and suggests they split it. He has to start making some cash, an embarassed Rich thinks.
Night falls over Nova Roma and, on the estate of Senator Lucius Antonius Aquilla, a formal dinner is being held in honor of the visitors from the outside world After some small talk, Sam remarks how they tried calling before they came. Is there a problem with their comm-systems? Amara replies sluggishly and Manuel cuts her off by stating that they’ve been down for months. His fault really, being the only technologically civilized resident of the city he should have been more attentive. He asks why they decided to come and Angelica tells him it’s not good news.
It began when she received a call from Sam Guthrie, who, along with the rest of X-Force, was currently held in custody by the X-Men. Sam explained what he had recently learned. How the Hellions were killed by a mutant timetraveller named Fitzroy. The White Queen was put in a coma by a bunch of Sentinels. Jimmy and he were planning on heading to Nova Roma to inform Amara and Delarocha. As she was… involved with the Hellions, she is more than welcome to join them. She decided to come along to put some ghosts to rest. Sam admitted there was a small problem though: Xavier had heard about the Warriors “borrowing” and losing an Avengers Quinjet, so could she provide the lift down to Brazil?
Angel convinced the Warriors’ pilot, Sprocket, to fly them as far as Rio de Janeiro. With the directions Xavier had given them, they hiked through the rain forest to get there. They thought it was important foe Amara and Manuel to learn of this and have a chance to grieve properly for their friends.
Manuel thanks them and tells them how sorry they are. Amara starts sayings she is sorry. Manuel once again cuts her off, stating Amara is sorry as well. Sam, Angel and Jimmy exchange suspicious glances. Now that they have told them, will they be going home in the morning, Empath asks. He guesses so, Sam replies undecidedly.
Hours later, with everybody asleep, Angelica slips back into her costume. Something is wrong there and she knows how DelaRocha’s mindcontrol works. She’s felt him use his scuzzy powers on her. And everyone she’s seen in the city looked like she felt. Amara was totally glazed over. She leaves her quarters, conceding that James and Sam noticed something too, but they’re guys which means they can’t add two ad two together when it comes to feelings and intuitions. She climbs into the maids’ quarter through the window and notices that the people lying there are stiff as boards. What’s going on here, she wonders.
What’s wrong here is her presence, Empath announces, a matter which will soon be rectified with a little bit of help from his friends. Under his control are Magma, Cannonball and Warpath.
Meanwhile in Springdale, Connecticut, Justin and Maddie Baldwin have just heard their son Robbie (Speedball) make a fateful decision, namely that he is moving with his mother to Manhattan. What about school, Justin demands. He’ll get to school in the city, Maddie answers. What about his friends? His best friends are in Manhattan, Maddie again points out. Those so-called superheroes, he scoffs. This is all about being close to those New Warriors, isn’t it? he asks, with an accusing pointed finger. Well, if he’s out of Connecticut, he’s out of his jurisdiction as district attorney, Robbie points out, and he doesn’t have to worry about arresting him for breaking Springdale’s dumb laws against superheroes. His father is not amused and Robbie marches off to become Speedball outside.
He bounces away, still angry about always having to argue with his father. He heads to the New Warriors’ crash-pad, where he tells his pal, Rage, all about the argument. Rage has checked the Crashpad’s blueprints and shows him that the building goes in deeper than they thought - about five stories. ‘Holy batcave, boywonder,’ Robbie exclaims.
In Nova Roma, Firestar has her hands full, trying to keep Cannonball, Warpath and Magma at bay without hurting any of them. Empath urges them on to stop her, complaining that his powers aren’t working on her. She’ll ruin everything. Cannonball blasts at her and Firestar shoots at him to slow him down before putting some distance between them. Sam follows but she has better maneuverability. She dives through Warpath’s legs and Cannonball collides with his teammate.
His little puppets aren’t working out too well, are they, Angel asks Manuel. Too much for him to control the entire city and an all-out battle? Almost panicked, he tells her to stand back. Why is he doing this? she demands. He always manipulated people, but he chose to live here, make this his home. He has no choice, he exclaims and, because her increased control of her powers is scrambling his ability to override her neuro-functions, he can’t make her understand. Angel lashes out with her microwaves, shouting she won’t let him or anyone take control of her ever again.
Manuel begs her to stop: her microwave pulse will scramble the wavelength on which he has mind-locked the entire city. He’s doing it for them, he pleads in vain… as Magma, Cannonball, Warpath and all the citizens re slowly starting to come out of it.
Standing over Manuel, who’s whimpering that he’s lost it all, Firestar announces that it’s over. The people of Nova Roma have been freed from his control. So now, why has he done it? Amara interrupts, hesitatingly asking: Excuse me – uhm - but who are you? - and who am I?
This was all a lie, Manuel explains. Nova Roma was never founded by ancient Roman settlers. It was populated by the kidnapped and mind-wiped victims of an immortal mutant sorceress named Selene. She created the city as a testament to the times she loved most and desperately wanted to regain. So what do they do now, Sam wonders.
Clearly suffering, Empath reveals that he doesn’t want to lose this. He loved living here … the people, especially Amara. But the spell Selene had cast was fading and the people were starting to remember who they were. Angrily, Firestar threatens him with her powers and accuses him of keeping them living the lie instead of helping them. That’s no better than what Selene did to them. He knows, Manuel admits. What’s going on here, “Amara” asks, still not comprehending.
Looking at the ground, Manuel informs her that her name is Allison Crestmere. She is a mutant of British descent. She had been living with her family in Rio when Selene kidnapped her. Crying, he tells the New Romans that he knows who all of them are and where they came from. He can help them… remember the good… forget the bad… he can help them all reclaim their lives and, in doing so, give up the only life he’s ever truly been happy with.
The Massachusetts Academy, two days later. Angel and Sam are waiting outside, while James went in get the all the records the White Queen ever kept on the Hellions. He shows them the files adding that barely anyone ever knew they were alive and now nobody knows they are dead. Such a waste, Angel mutters, as she looks at the pictures. Not a lot left to bury, is there, Sam asks. There’s a lot to bury, Angel disagrees as she burns the files, a lot of memories to put behind them as they carry on.
That evening in Namorita’s apartment, Nita is about to do a happy dance, as Angel has finally given in to her badgering of getting a new costume. Going through her ridiculously huge wardrobe, Nita establishes an ensemble of clothes, which she tosses at Angel, and asks what caused her to finally make the decision. Basically, over the last few days, she saw what living a lie could do to people. This afternoon, in a lot of ways, she buried the past and now looks ahead to the future. With that, Firestar presents her darker more dramatic uniform.