Panicked, Sunspot and Magma run through darkened city streets. Looking around, Magma announces that there is no sign of pursuit. Perhaps they have eluded them. Roberto tells her not to bet on it and drags her down a subway tunnel. Downstairs, the gate is locked. Roberto powers up and pulls the gate aside, while Amara warns him that he dare not exhaust his sun-fuelled powers at night. He snarls back at her not to mother-hen him. They’re in luck, he announces a moment later. He recalls that Mirage told them to split up. Forces the bad guys to do the same. Makes the odds more even, gives them all a better chance.
Nice idea, comes a voice from the approaching train. Too bad they are ahead of her. It is Scalphunter of the Marauder, standing on the front part of the train. He shoots Sunspot with his rifle.
He’s dead! Amara shouts horrified. Yep, comes the reply, and she’s next! Magma powers up and fires a lava blast at him, which the villain dodges. She plans to create a volcano beneath him next, but Scalphunter didn’t come alone. Vertigo uses her vertigo effect to create nausea and dizziness in Amara. Scalphunter fires again, though the shot doesn’t kill.
Scrambler next kisses Amara. Disgusted Amara shoves him aside, shouting they should have slain her when they had the chance. But they did, Scrambler retorts. She just doesn’t know it yet. Magma powers up. But as Scramber has scrambled her power, her flame consumes her instead of others.
Up above her, the other New Mutants hear a scream of agony as there is a volcanic eruption. Dani spells out what the others don’t dare. The Marauders nailed Amara and probably Sunspot with her. While the others are horrified, Illyana Rasputin seems bored, announcing that this is stupid. She has got lots of better things to do.
Behind her, from the shadows someone suggests she keep the pose and the attitude. But before Sabretooth can slice her, Illyana teleports away, not interested in continuing this any longer.
Dani orders Karma to possess the Marauder. She tries but finds the villain’s will formidable. She fears she can’t hold him long.
Doug cries a warning as he sees another Marauder not too far away. It is Harpoon who hurls one of his eponymous weapons at Karma. Warlock steps in between the harpoon and Karma, but the weapon fries his system. Douglas runs to his aid, while Wolfsbane attacks Sabretooth and Cannonball flies towards Harpoon. Dani shouts after him to hurry back. They need to find a better place to make their stand.
Sabretooth hurls Wolfsbane way and then hurries after her to finish her off. Cannonball doesn’t even reach his quarry as suddenly the world turns topsy-turvy for him. He crashlands thanks to Vertigo. Arclight next uses one of her shockwaves to collapse a building on the mutants. Only Dani escapes. Before she can take in the horror, Sabretooth dangles the dying Wolfsbane before her. Muttering, asking her forgiveness, Rahne dies and Sabretoth hurls her down like a rag doll.
Scalphunter gets ready to kill Dani too. Dani threatens she can take his heart’s desire or greatest fear and bring it to life. Trouble is, he leers, that he confronts his fears instead of running and his heart’s desire is doing what he does best. And he fires.
A moment later, the Danger Room returns to normal and the mutants slowly get up. Program ended, their headmaster Magneto announces from the observation booth. He orders them on their feet. They are none of them dead, though they may feel like it and perhaps before he is done they may wish they were. He floats down with his magnetic powers. Sunspot silently sulks that Magneto probably wouldn’t have fared any better.
Cypher moans that he’s never been through so real a Danger Room exercise. Lucky this was only a test. He is missing the point, Sam observes. They failed.
Elapsed time of exercise. 327 seconds, Magneto tells them. Barely five minutes. Result, termination of all student participants. Opposing casualties, minor and cosmetic. Hardly a performance to be proud of. What does he expect, Roberto demands. That was a top-line X-Men training session. Is not he the one who constantly maintains that they are the equal of the school’s senior team? Magneto asks icily.
When the Marauders first attacked, they were told to remain on school grounds for their own safety. They chose to defy that command. And thereby placed their lives, and possibly the X-Men’s, in jeopardy. This training sequence, these simulacrums of the Marauders are derived from the X-Men’s own encounters with them. Today’s exercise, he trusts, gives them an idea of how they would have fared. Xavier’s school is here not simply to teach them the proper use of their power, but also to help them learn about life and through the difficult transition from youth to adulthood. Their actions have proved how far they have yet to go.
Karma states that the blame is hers. The mutants defied Magneto’s orders to rescue her. He understands, but replies that is not an excuse. He expected better of them all. He thought he could trust them, count on them. He was mistaken. Consequently, they are all restricted to the school grounds until they prove themselves able to act with appropriate maturity and responsibility. Suddenly, he notices that only eight are present. Where the devil is Magik?!
“Where the devil” is appropriate as Magik is in her magical realm of Limbo, again fighting S’ym for control. He may have numbers on his side, she snarls, but she has the power. So what? he replies amused and suggests she take a good look at herself. Even when she wins, she loses. What matters, is the winning, she snarls and slices him apart.
The demons are gone. She destroyed him, she realizes. But it was too quick, too easy. She wanted him to suffer. Just to make sure, she’ll leave her Soulword implanted in the ground, to keep the creep from ever returning. She teleports back to Earth and one of the flowers reveals itself o be S’ym. Nice try, but no cigar, he mocks.
Back home, in the room she shares with Kitty Pryde, Illyana sees her reflection in the mirror, she has become the Darkchilde, the outward manifestation of the evil in her soul. She shakes it off. Sadly, she realizes that using her black magic against S’ym is changing her. She is drowning inside. More and more certain that’s the real her and this the illusion.
She looks at a snapshot of her and Kitty. She needs her. But Kitty is with her brother in the hospital an ocean away from here. Wounded, dying, and for all her powers there is nothing Illyana can do to save her. She breaks down crying.
Elsewhere, Dani is caring for her winged Asgardian stallion Brightwind. She talks to her horse, telling him about the future she experienced, a utopia for mutants where human were treated worse than animals. How can she change that future? Brightwind sniffs. Company.
Dani turns around to find Rahne. The younger admits that in the future she saw, Dani and Sam were the sole survivors and a lifetime of war had made that Dani cruel beyond imagining. How can she prevent that world where all mutants are murdered from coming to pass? Same way she will Dani replies, by taking life a day at a time and hoping for the best
She gets up on Brightwind and drags Rahne up behind her. They fly upwards. Below them they see Sam and Bobby who is trying to teach his best friend the art of soccer. He calls up at the girls not to forget their game this afternoon. Dani promises to be there and “whup” them good. That’ll be the day, Bobby snorts.
Magneto watches their banter from his office window. He wonders whether he was too harsh to them, but reminds himself it was for their own good.
Karma knocks and he asks her to enter. Acting as school secretary again, she tells him she has finished his correspondence. These letters require his signature. He praises her work. On the desk, she sees their evaluation report cards. After yesterday’s debacle, they have probably all failed.
She then addresses him about her missing siblings, Nga and Leong. They disappeared the day the Marauders attacked. Magneto assures her he is doing everything possible to find them.
Unusually forcefully, Shan replies that it is not enough. She wishes to search for them herself. Out of the question, he replies. Must she stand idly by without even trying to help? she asks. Perhaps he can abandon those he loves. She cannot! And if the Marauders are involved? he asks. Would she fare any better against them in reality than she did in the Danger Room? He asks for her trust and acceptance that his dictates are for the best. Shan closes the door. She understands him, but she refuses to accept.
Magneto muses that Shan’s siblings may also be mutants. Cerebro’s system may be able to detect them. It was destroyed by Sabretooth when he attacked the mansion. He tries to repair it magnetically and fails.
A little later, he stands in front of Illyana’s room. On the door are signs like “Beware of demons” and “knock before entering – Danger”. Those signs might be seen on any teenager’s door, he muses. In Illyana’s case, however, the warnings are serious.
He changes his suit to his costume and enters her darkened room. He tells her he has a problem and was wondering if she could help him resolve it. He is headmaster. That means he is responsible for them all. But what is he to do with a student who deliberately flouts his authority. If he tolerates such behavior, he loses all respect. If he responds the wrong way, he might well drive the student away.
Keeping her back to him, Illyana suggests he could force obedience. Does being the strongest automatically give one the right to force obedience? Magneto asks as he sits down next to her. Without power you are always the victim, she replies. Is that what she wishes to be? he asks. Does he think he can beat her? she asks with a devilish grin. That isn’t why he is here. Why doesn’t he just leave her alone? she demands. He can’t help. He has to try, Magneto insists.
Then maybe he’d better see what he is up against. She lights the room. In the light, the room is full of demonic sigils and symbols. She is merely showing her true colors, she mocks. He refuses to believe that. Suit yourself, she replies. But the New Mutants know the truth, and so do Kitty and her brother Peter. They know her for what she truly is. Maybe she is tired of trying to hide it. She only did it for Peter and Kitty’s benefit anyway and once they die, there is no more point. With all her power, she can’t help the two she loves best. She can’t help herself. She can’t help anyone.
She teleports the two of them to Limbo, where she takes on her Darkchilde look. Because, she continues, if she heals them, the cure is sure to prove worse then the disease. It’ll be tainted and twisted by the evil that’s a fundamental part of her.
Magneto is surprised at Limbo, which looks lovely. She wonders why she even bothers. The harder she tries to heal the land or herself, the more she seems to win her war with S’ym, the more she loses herself to the dark side of her soul. Peter and Kitty are her balance, they anchor her to humanity. Without them, she is done.
Easy solution, comes the suggestion from S’ym. Leave Limbo to him. He reaches out for her. That’s her decision to make, Magneto replies and holds him fast in a magnetic field. He offers to destroy S’ym for Illyana. Her welfare is his responsibility. But Limbo and this mess are her responsibility, she replies. She has to take care of her own problems, doesn’t she? And the way she does it is as important as what she chooses to do. That’s what he old her. She tells him to let S’ym go. She’ll find a better way to beat him.
With that, she turns back to her human self. She teleports both of them back. Magneto tells her that they both have demons in their souls. Hers have a physical being as well and can be confronted directly, but his are no less fearsome. They have both done things that will mark them forever, that cannot be undone or forgotten and may never be atoned for. Their choice is to be overwhelmed by them and let their past dictate their present and future, her to be the demon sorceress and he the evil mutant… or they can accept what they were and are and go on regardless. Learning and growing as they do. She hugs him. They could lose, she remarks. Does that mean they should not try? he asks.
From outside, Sam calls up to Illyana, reminding her that the soccer game is about to start. Is she part of the team or what? You betcha, she cries back and grabs her gear. She thanks Magneto and teleports downstairs. His pleasure, he replies. It’s why he is there and why it makes him proud that she has decided to stay.