Far away from Earth is the world of the P!ndyr, an independent freedom-loving species, the best natural warriors in known space. The Shi’ar Imperium offered them an alliance and wasn’t prepared to take “no” for an answer. Not wishing to see their world destroyed by the Shi’ar, a duel between the best warrior of both people was suggested to determine the status of the P!ndyr. The P!ndyr believed they’d win. Surprisingly, their champion is beaten with ridiculous ease and thrown back upon his world.
As his worried mate runs to his side, he rasps that he never even came close to his foe. But there was no treachery. His opponent was simply a man. He cracked the P!ndyr’s psi-shield like egg-shells. He was helpless against him. He never imagined such power existed. Against it, they are nothing. With it at her command, the mad Shi’ar empress reigns supreme.
Nightime in Cairo, Illinois, the mansion of a man who made his fortune strip-mining companies. Also, he is acting as banker for a major cartel expansion into the American heartland, which means that he has some serious cash on the premises. His bad luck that Ororo Munroe, now back to being a pre-teen and to her thieving ways, has chosen him as her victim. With her loot secure, she exits the mansion through the window and onto the roof, thinking to herself that her mentor, Achmed, would be proud of her.
She jumps down and finds to her delight that once more the winds obey her silent command, but when she is in mid-air the wind suddenly leaves her as it did before. She falls and is anxious about touching the electrified perimeter fence or the alarms sensors on the ground. However, before that happens, the wind picks her up again and she lands in the branches of a tree.
Marveling at the strange abilities she seems to possess, Ororo focuses, trying to call down lightning to shorten out the fence. The power doesn’t come, she focuses again, becomes enraged and it finally works, thought the backlash throws to her the ground. Ororo wonders what the point of having such powers is when they do her as much harm as good. Pity there is nobody to teach her in their use the way Achmed el-Gibar did her craft as a thief. As the alarms go off, Ororo disappears on her bike, thinking to herself that the police should be there soon.
Elsewhere, Nanny and the Orphan-Maker are scanning for Storm. They almost found her this time when she used her powers. While Nanny is looking forward to Ororo’s eventual capture, the Orphan-Maker sulks. He reminds Nanny that Storm tried to fry them in the past. She doesn’t deserve to be rescued. Nanny points out that Storm didn’t understand their noble purpose; she was too full of being leader of the X-Men. That is why they had to regress her to childhood. He’ll like having a baby sister to look up to him and to help fellow mutant children. The Orphan-Maker is not convinced.
At the Mississippi mall, several cops are meeting, discussing the theft. However, there was not only a burglary; the house owner was found dead this morning. Whoever did this was extremely nasty. They figure it has to do with him being a banker for major drug cartel.
At a nearby table sits Ororo, disguised with sunglasses and a scarf over her now shortly-cropped hair. She smiles as she hears the men talking about the modern day Robin Hood, robbing the bad guys, but quickly turns serious as the FBI agents discuss working with Jacob Reisz, who is after the deadly killer mutant who murdered that doctor. One agent who saw the corpse states that he doesn’t care how young the killer is, she ought to be shot like a rabid dog. Another agent mentions that, whatever he says about the girl, Reisz is worse. The man gives him the creeps. He just hopes that he stays in Washington forever.
In Washington DC, Valerie Cooper finds herself a victim of said Jacob Reisz, aka the Shadow King. With her mind possessed, her face is frozen in a smile, a sole tear betraying her true emotions. Next to her, another of Reisz’ victims, Dr Lian Shen, wipes away the tear, telling Val being a slave isn’t that bad. The Shadow King points out that since they are both her slaves. Val can hardly argue the point.
He tells Val that she should have heeded Colonel Vazhin’s warnings. As the president’s national security advisor for superhuman affairs, she is indeed the federal officer primarily responsible for super-powered activities. Through her, he now has access to every being in her file – starting with the executive strike team Freedom Force.
He is primarily interested in its leader, Mystique, and her lover, the precognitive Destiny. Val replies that Destiny is dead, killed in action along with Stonewall. How careless of her, Reisz mocks. That means Mystique has no warning of his plans for her. The decent thing would be to put the poor woman out of her misery, he suggests. Val promises it is as good as done and leaves. Lian remarks that it is a shame to sacrifice so valuable an asset. Stroking her cheek, Reisz tells her that, if there’s a way to kill Mystique scot-free, Val will find it. If not, he still possesses her knowledge. As he possesses Lian and very soon now one for whom he has waited a human lifetime – Storm.
Cairo, an old Air force base, now a junkheap for planes. Within such a carcass sits Ororo in the cockpit daydreaming.
(Storm’s dream / memory)
She remembers being a young child on a family picknick, her father throwing her into the air and playing “plane” with her. However, suddenly, David Munroe turns into the Shadow King. Ororo tries to get loose, ordering him to give her back her daddy. Her mother promises to protect her, but she has metamorphed into Nanny. Ororo screams that she put her into that awful body before that hurt her. Between the two of them, they are about to tear Ororo apart.
She wakes up in a panicked state, the weather around her echoing her emotions with strong winds and lightning. The winds push the plane into the air until Ororo manages to put a stop to it.
Exhausted she turns in, at the back of the plane, but her thoughts are still racing as she tries to make sense of her divergent memories. She knows who she is and that she was born in America. Her parents were killed in a land far from there and she was left to fend for herself. That was Cairo. This is also Cairo, but it is in America. Impossible, but the Cairo from her memory was next to a great river and so is this one. But where is the desert? And why is it so cold? She recalls the X-Men as people who are familiar to her but she doesn’t know in which context. She tells herself to stop woolgathering. There is only one sure antidote for misery: action.
Nighttime, a luxurious villa where the Shadow King and Lian Shen are waiting. Lian wonders what makes the Shadow King so certain that Storm will try to rob this place. The telepath explains that his current host body, Jacob Reisz, was a superb investigator and lost none of that skill when he possessed him. As a child in Egypt, Ororo was taught by the finest of thieves and, since escaping from Memorial Hospital, she has clearly reverted to type.
He critically looks at the wine bottle he is currently tasting. A superb Montrachet, clearly wasted on this poseur – he refers to the villa’s owner. He called his broker and ordered something appropriate to his tax bracket. Did the same with his painting only they were stolen. An irresistible score for Ororo. The man spent a fortune on his collection. She steals them, and returns them to their rightful owner, leaving him out of the money and the loot. That appeals to her innate sense of honor, just as it appeals to his sense of irony to use the collector, his wife and their bodyguard as hounds, which will catch her. He turns to said people, now little more than animals under his control.
Casting him a sly look, Lian wonders what he has done to them. The telepath explains that, just as he tapped the wickedness deep inside Lian’s psyche, so did he unleash the animals in theirs. Why the obsession with Storm? she presses. Stroking her like a pet, the Shadow King replies that, long ago, she was promised to him. Lian understands. She is worth more than them, a fellow mutant, and not so easy a conquest. The Shadow King confides that Storm’s mentor, Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men, came as close as any to destroying him. If he cannot be revenged on the man himself, then most assuredly on those he holds most dear.
A little later, Ororo uses the winds to float to the villa’s roof. She still wonders what her dreams and visions were about. Also since that storm, she has been thinking in English. She wonders whether she shouldn’t disappear after this caper as both the Shadow King and Nanny are after her. Suddenly, one of the Hounds jumps at her and tries to tear out her throat. Both of them fall through the skylight, though thankfully Ororo lands on a bed and uses a sheet to tangle her opponent before taking her out with a stick. It is only then that she notices how badly she is wounded by the Hound’s claws. Angrily, she chides herself to ignore the pain and just get out.
That moment, Reisz opens the door, entering with three more Hounds and informing her that she hasn’t got a prayer of escaping. He’ll savor every moment of her struggling, but in the end she will be his.