A gigantic alien spaceship approaches the Earth and instantly teleports all of its heroes aboard from the midst of their regular activities. The abductees awaken in luxurious individual suites where they're greeted by members of the Coterie. The hosts explain that the heroes have been selected to compete in a contest, fighting each other in select matches, for the entertainment of their intergalactic audience. The ultimate victor will be awarded the full benefit of the Coterie's accumulated otherworldly knowledge, enough to grant anything the heart desires. There is no need to worry about the welfare of their opponents, as losers will be restored and returned home safely at the end of each match. In the downtime between matches, contestants get to enjoy the ship's ability to holographically manifest any dream scenario they want. Most of the contestants are quickly taken in by the offer, but for sinister reasons. What they don't see is that the ship's air is suffused with nanites that infect those brought aboard, making their minds more suggestible and content. The one exception is Iron Man, whose air-tight armor and analytical instruments give him the chance to examine the situation more critically. He sees through the Coterie's holographic façade, but can't tell what the nanites are meant for, and noticing that the contestants are all isolated from one another outside of battle, he opts to play along until he can learn more. Unfortunately, Iron Man's immunity doesn't go unnoticed by those running the contest, the Badoon Brother Royal and the mysterious Imperatrix. They make sure to fast-track him through the arena. He defeats Psylocke in the first match, but in his second he's pitted against all eight members of X-Force simultaneously. He adapts well to most of the team, but gets shut down quickly by Bedlam's electronic-disrupting powers.