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Dennis Hopeless (writer), Riccardo Burchielli (artist), Jean-Francois Beaulieu (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Dave Johnson (cover artist), Jon Moisan (assistant editor), Bill Rosemann (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)
Nico wakes up and wakes X-23 to inform her that Apex and Death Locket knocked her out and disappeared. They realize the Sentinel is missing as well and X-23 smells that Katie killed Juston. She follows their tracks, while Nico wakes the rest up. X-23 passes Chase and tells him to stay put while she attacks Katy; however she is no match against the Sentinel. Afterwards, Katy notices Chase. While the others discuss how to handle the situation, Apex brings the fight to them. Nico defends them with her spells and finally teleports the others elsewhere in Murderworld. She can’t join them though and shuts the portal to protect them from Apex. When Darkhawk joins them, Nico is hopeful again; however the alien Darkhawk tech is under Apex’ control as well. Darkhawk blasts off Nico’s arm holding the Staff of One and kicks her after it down a ravine. Broken and bleeding, Nico manages to drag herself to the Staff of One, calling for help, before she dies.
Present:A horribly wounded Nico, her right leg broken, crawls though the snow, telling herself she isn’t dead yet. Dying, true, but not dead. She’s read a lot about this. If this were the end, she wouldn’t be able to feel the broken bone that’s sticking out of her right leg. Her fingers wouldn’t be throbbing like this. The snow wouldn’t be so cold it hurt. When people are about to go a calm settles over them. She is not calm. She’s pissed off! She’s pissed at Chase. At Arcade. At herself. But most of all she’s pissed at the Staff of One for being way the %&§$ over there!
She lies down exhausted. This isn’t dying. Everything will be okay. She can make it. She can survive this. She has magic powers!
She lies there bleeding, her left arm cut off at the wrist.
Quadrant 2, 12 hours ago:Nico woke up in a panic after Apex took her out. Now Katy is gone with Juston and Death Locket. She tries to wake the meditating X-23, who almost attacks her in instinctive response. Did she see it happen? Laura asks. Nico explains that Katy knocked her out. She woke up a few minutes ago, bloody and with a headache. If Katy’s back in control, she’s been outed. No reason to hide. This is as bad as it gets, right? Now she has a Deathlok, a Sentinel and Juston as hostage.
X-23 sniffs. Juston is not a hostage, she announces. He’s dead. She orders Nico to stay. She will try and get them back.
Cullen is the first of the others to wake up, asking how things went.
Katy has set down the Sentinel in snowy quadrant 1, complaining what he’s done to this beautiful machine. She blames herself for trying to nick it before it was ready. Smashed it all up.
Death Locket asks what she is planning. Planning to win, is the curt reply. Death Locket begs to be let go. She doesn’t like not being unable to move. Well, she doesn’t much like Tim using her body for a bump-and-rub snog session with a cyborg, Katy bitches. She doesn’t like raisins or beets or iceberg lettuce. And she absolutely hates it when all her secrets get broadcast to the other players in the middle of a bloody death match. Life is just full of ‘don’t likes’, isn’t it? She recommends Rebecca be happy she left her brain turned on this time.
So she’s just gonna kill everybody here? Death Locket asks. Use that Sentinel and her like guns? She asks Katy not to be a monster. She’s being realistic, Katy snaps. Far as she can tell, she’s the only one who is. Back home she does friendly better than anyone. She catches all the flies with honey and they love her for it. But this is a simpler game than that one. In a death match, all you have to do is survive.
She has the Sentinel throw Juston’s corpse away. Given the choice, she’ll take killing over dying, she remarks. Maybe that does make her a monster, but she’ll be the monster going home.
He knew it, Chase whispers, watching from the shadows. Psycho sister takes back over and now everyone’s hosed! He turns into Darkhawk and gets ready to attack. X-23 runs past him and orders him to stay put.
X-23 attacks Katy but isn’t fast enough. Apex uses the Sentinel to hold Laura down and then it stomps on her. Holy *&%$! Chase exclaims, so loud that Katy hears him.
Elsewhere, Cammi orders the group to shut up and announces this is Nico’s call. When Nara protests, she explains that none of them has any power set that can stack up well against a strategy-obsessed technopath with a couple different sizes of kill bots and two itchy trigger fingers. They are outgunned. They are outclassed. And yesterday they booted a cosmic level ally out of the camp for making what now seems like a very reasonable suggestion. The only real firepower they’ve got left belongs to their resident cosplayer of the dark arts. It’s Nico’s call because it’s gonna be Nico’s fight.
Right, Nico mumbles. She gets ready to say something when X-23 lands amongst them. A moment later, Apex, Death Locket and the Sentinel hang in the air above them.
The others try to take cover behind the safe with the food. Cullen finds Laura is barely alive.
Solar flare is Nico’s spell, followed by quicksand.
Cullen remarks they might last another five or six minutes, if they are lucky.
Nico casts Giant-Killer and vines trap the Sentinel and Death Locket. Nico orders the others to run. They flee into the snow sector to get cover behind the trees. Cammi tells Nico they can’t outrun them. So if she has some kind of GTFO hoodoo, now’s the time to use it.
Nico tells her teleportation spells don’t work here. She’s tried. They find themselves trapped next to a ravine. Cool story, try again! Cammi suggests.
Nico complies: Safe House! She opens a doorway above the ravine which will take them to somewhere else within Murderworld. She figures previous spells didn’t work because she was trying to leave Murderworld. Cammi is the last to jump in.
Before Nico can follow, a blast sends her to the ground. Nico closes the doorway. That was a brave thing and a noble sacrifice, Katy commends her. Betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of strategy, but at least she gets to go out feeling good about herself.
That moment, Darkhawk closes in and lands. Relieved, Nico babbles this is the worst time for an apology because there’s this awful British %&$&* behind him who’s about to try and kill them but she’s so sorry she sent him away! Really, he was right and she’s just--
Darkhawk blasts her arm which is holding the Staff of One, cutting off her hand at the wrist. The hand and staff fall down the ravine. Guess she’s met her new toy, Apex gloats. Alien tech is quite a bit harder to operate. She wasn’t sure if she’d be able to control him or not. But, as always, practice makes perfect. Darkhawk kicks Nico down the ravine.
Present:Nico slowly, painfully crawls towards the staff, leaving a trail of blood. People like to tell you everyone dies alone. She always thought that was a poetic way of saying mortality is inevitable or death is scary. But she’s calm now. She can’t feel anything but the cold. This is the end. And right now it’s not the dying that keeps her dragging herself through the snow. It’s the alone.
She grabs the Staff of One and moans help, then sinks down, dead.
Anachronism, Apex , Cullen Bloodstone, Cammi, Death Locket, Nara, Chase Stein, X-23
DEAD: Juston Syefried, Kid Briton, Mettle, Nico Minoru, Red Raven
The story is narrated by Nico.The cover refernces the movie 'Platoon'.