X-Force # 32

(First move) With A Roll of the Dice (Child's Play 1 of 4)

Paige Summary

The only witness to her brother's disappearance, Paige has to tell his teammates from X-Force what she saw. Paige had always known that her brother was a mutant, but she was amazed at what his powers actually looked like up close. She had been spying on him and Boomer, waiting to see if they would start kissing again as they had been for most of their trip. Sam had taken Boomer to the pond for a swim and they had been enjoying themselves, until a energy bolt cut acoss the sky. Paige tells Domino and Cable that it looked like the bolt was searching for her brother and his girlfriend. Sam had reacted by activating his blast field and extending it so that it covered Boomer too, but the bolt cut through his defences easily and knocked them both down. Before Paige could see if they were alright, a girl around Sam's age had appeared and laughed at the unconscious pair. She said that she was disappointed that it had been so easy to defeat them and get her points. Then all three disappeared in an energy haze. Paige tried to use her own mutant powers to save Sam and Boomer, but though she concentrated on turning into something useful, she could only change into a sparrow. Paige is upset at this, feeling that she could do great things with her powers, if only she could start to learn how. Her mother comforts her, saying that it will take her time to understand her powers, just like it took Sam.

When the findings of X-Force's investigation around the Guthrie farm back up her explanation, her older brother Josh is surprised. He had believed that Paige had made up much of what she had seen, as she prefered to dream than live in reality, just as he himself had once done.

Mrs Guthrie and Cable argue over Paige, with Cable stating that Paige is old enough to make her own decisions and pointing out that she is the same age that Sam was when he left home. Although Mrs Guthrie agrees with all of this, she is scared that she will loose Paige to the mutant-human 'war', as she has lost her eldest son. She is also worried that if she lets Paige go, her daughter will try to win the 'war' all by herself.

Wider Issue Summary

In an effort to gain official membership of the Upstarts competition, Andrea and Andreas Strucker aka Fenris are taking part in the Younghunt. In order to win and thus gain membership, they must capture a group of assigned targets - the former members of the New Mutants and Hellions teams. They begin by attacking and overcoming Amara Aquilla/Allison Crestmere aka Magma, but are themselves attacked by Manuel de la Rocha aka Empath, who takes control of the minds of the Strucker's hired hands. Andres and Andreas join to become the mutant known as Fenris, breaking Empath's control and forcing him to flee.

Meanwhile, the Manhattan chapter of the Hellfire Club is having a party, one organised by Shinobi Shaw in an effor to form an elite Inner Circle. Some members of the New Warriors are in attendance, having infiltrated the club with an eye to finding out what Shaw is up to. So far, they have discovered that Shaw has organised the Younghunt, but they aren't sure who's taking part.

In Cumberland County, Kentucky, some members of X-Force are visiting the Guthrie farm trying to establish what has happened to their missing members, Sam Guthrie aka Cannonball and Boomer. The pair had been vacationing at the farm but had been mysteriously abducted. The only witness to this event was Sam's younger sister, Paige. After they hear her version of what happened, X-Force start to search the area of signs of what could have happened to their teammates.

In fact, Sam and Boomer are being held captive in a psionic mindscape controlled by the Gamesmaster, the arbiter of the Younghunt. The Gamesmaster calls together the current members of the Upstarts - Signa Blaze, Graydon Creed, Shinobi Shaw and Trevor Fitzroy - to change the rules on them. Angered by their recent lack of success, he changes the way the Younghunt is to be run.

Still on the run from the Strucker's, Manuel de la Rocha heads towards the resettlement camp located outside of Nova Roma, but before he can get help he is struck down by Fenris, who have caught up with him. Fenris attack the entire settlement and are only stopped by energy lances shot at them by Moonstar, another former member of the New Mutants.

Back on the Guthrie farm, Cable and Mrs Guthrie argue about Paige, but are interrupted when Trevor Fitzroy shows up, looking to capture Rictor and Warpath. X-Force, however, are not about to let them go without a fight.

While Fitzroy confronts X-Force, the Gamesmaster watches Shinobi Shaw, who is blackmailing Vance Astrovik aka Justice. Justice, a member of the New Warriors had been undercover in the Hellfire Club, but Shinobi had discovered who he really was and demands that he capture Angelica Jones aka Firestar, a former Hellion and turn her over to him. If Justice doesn't do as he suggests, Shinobi warns, he will send one of the other Upstarts after her, something which Justice wouldn't want to see happen to his girlfriend...

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