In the vacuum of space, Asteroid M is drawn ever closer, second by second, toward the sun and ultimate destruction. Watching this process through the machinery within the asteroid itself, Wolverine can do nothing about it. Calling out to his partner, Phoenix, Wolverine tells her that the good news is that they probably have air for another 36 hours. The bad news is they’ll hit the surface of the sun in 24.
Walking into the next room, Wolverine sees Jean moving pieces of machinery around with her telekinesis, attempting to construct something that might aid them. Speaking as she does so, Jean informs Wolverine that the station’s too heavy to move and she tried to slow down the air molecules with her mind but everything’s just too hot. 130 degrees and rising, Wolverine replies, unless he can do something with the power.
Half-turning to look at her teammate, Jean asks Wolverine that happened to him. Realizing that she is speaking of Weapon Fifteen, Wolverine replies that he dropped his guard and he gutted him. Sensing a possible protest from Jean, Wolverine adds that he was all set to lead the charge against the mutant race, so she shouldn’t give him a hard time. He blew the Weapon Plus station to hell… they wrestled… and then they hit this rock.
Taking in their surroundings, Wolverine regards the place they are in: Asteroid M, as Magneto used to call it. It swung right into place and waited in orbit until she got there, he tells Jean. An’ he didn’t see it… he didn’t smell him until now. Lost in the very thought, Jean looks up at the window above, which shows the blazing sun moving ever closer. And he’s sure it’s him, she asks Wolverine, taking in the sight. Yep, he replies. Magneto nailed them this time. To this, Wolverine brings the subject to the present. Twenty-four hours, he states, somberly. They’d better use’em well.
The metal mask of Xorn floats in place, held aloft by nothing more than the ambient magnetic field placed there by its former wearer. Studying every detail of this emotionless face, Ernst states, to no one in particular, that she misses Xorn. He used to tell them stories about China and Buddha and… nice things. When is he coming back?
Hearing this, Magneto approaches the youth with a sneer. He was a fiction, he reminds her. How often must he explain? Undeterred in her own logic, Ernst replies in kind that Xorn was nice… There is no Xorn, repeats Magneto, more emphatically. There is only he… Magneto! Finally relenting to the futility of the argument, Ernst apologizes and then asks if she is early for the Brotherhood meeting.
Arriving on the scene with leaps and bounds, Toad can barely contain his composure at the situation outside. Yelling out the word chaos repeatedly, he reports to Magneto that there is chaos in the streets! People need to know what’s happening, he continues… soon. Not responding to his disciple with the same concern, Magneto orders Toad to calm himself. He doesn’t want bad news! He wants to be brought good news! Then, he should feed him a few soundbites everyone can understand. Seeeeee, Toad exclaims, sounding shrill, they really have no idea what he’s talking about when he does all his big Shakespearean stuff. He’s only telling him what it’s like out there… they’re baying at the moon for some action. A public hanging! Anything!
Turning his back and beginning to depart, Magneto asks Toad since when did a good education and an extensive vocabulary become handicaps? “Shakespearean stuff,” he repeats, in afterthought. As he departs the room, Magneto instructs Toad to stay there and wait with the others where he belongs. He wishes to be alone for a moment. Gliding into the darkened room, Magneto’s eyes adjust to the dim lighting. Calling out the name of Charles, Magneto comes to the tank holding his former foe. Now laid horizontal, the green-liquid filled tank contains the unconscious form of Charles Xavier.
Lording over the unconscious form, Magneto cannot help but enjoy the situation. He’s fed them so many lies, he tells Xavier, engineered a species war in his name. He doesn’t expect he’ll have much time before reprisals commence. He will have to do something… unforgettable. Speaking of an old plan of his, Magneto asks Xavier if he remembers the reversal of the Earth’s magnetic poles he talked about before but never went through with? North will become south. The event will obliterate the weak human, rewire mutant brains and alter planetary consciousness forever. One his old ideas, admittedly, he declares, but a good one. As Magneto rants, Xavier opens his eyes.
Continuing his diatribe, Magneto tells Xavier that, each day, more and more mutants flock to his cause, empowered by supplies of the drug Kick. Xavier’s timid, colorless leadership has been forgotten. He failed to inspire, he tells the Professor. While he… he became a legend in death and a savior upon his return. He always comes back, hasn’t he noticed? Perhaps that’s his secondary mutation. To always come back.
Finally seeing Xavier’s open eyes, glaring at him, Magneto sneers, ordering him to not look at him like that. He has no right to judge him. They’re establishing a nation, a species. He’ll rest when his work is done and the devouring sickness of man and his ugly machines has been erased from their planet. Cradling a Kick inhaler in his palm, Magneto tells Xavier that the drug is only for as long as he needs it to boost his strength. With this said, Magneto takes a long inhalation of the drug inside.
Instantly, Magneto grins anew, his senses coming alive with both the augmentation of his power and the accompanying rush from the drug itself. You! he bellows at Xavier… You offer them a long difficult process of “peaceful integration” with a species which is neither peaceful nor inclines to integrate with any other living thing. Now standing before the map of the world, his map, in which traditional North and South are upside-down, Magneto declares that he offers a new map of tomorrow… and the triumph of Homo Superior. The city, he gloats, is only the beginning. Casting his arms wide in self-adulation, he informs Xavier that he offers them Utopia! There and now! The shining morning of mutants!
In the bowels of Asteroid M, Wolverine and Jean continue their work on the station’s machinery. With the temperature having risen more, the two X-Men have removed their shirts. Wolverine is now bare-chested and Jean is stripped to her bra. Working with some wires, Wolverine tries to make a little small talk. Stating that he knows she has the Phoenix Force inside her, and that he knows everybody’s scared it’s gonna eat her up and kill them all… he has a question: can it fly in space? Cause if it can’t, he states, wiping the sweat from his brow, they’re on a one-way trip. Nothing works in there.
Responding with her mind instead of words, Jean tells Wolverine to not talk… telepathy, she points out, conserves oxygen. Answering the question, Jean asks Wolverine to let her tell him what she knows about the Phoenix.
When she was thirteen, she begins, she realized she could control matter with her mind… just crude stuff at first… lifting things and throwing them across the room. Then, it progressed, with the Professor’s help, until she was manipulating dozens of objects at once. Now, she’s learning to move molecules around and expand her senses beyond all boundaries.
Having “listened” as he worked, Wolverine mentally responds; so potentially she could do anything? She could be like a god. She could make her own universe and set it right… Jean, however, disagrees, pointing out that the Phoenix isn’t like that. It’s more like… it burns away what doesn’t work. It eats planets and stars. It talks to her and, if she gets too close, it… it replaces her.
Continuing his work, Wolverine mentally responds that he’s still waiting for the note of hope. If this Phoenix is there to judge the Earth, then why the hell would it allow her to be killed before it’s done? Contemplating this thought, Jean responds with the idea that maybe it’s judging her too. All she knows, she tells Wolverine, is her body still needs oxygen and water to function… and there’s nothing but vacuum out there… she can’t fly through space. Not yet. Not the way he means.
Suddenly, Jean’s musings are interrupted by an explosion from Wolverine’s direction. After the dust has cleared, Wolverine, back in full health, lays among the wrecked machinery that he was just working on. Visibly frustrated, he declares that there’s ‘gotta be a way out of this! There’s always a way out! Rising to his feet, Wolverine pops his adamantium laced claws and pulverized the remaining pieces of the machine, which crumbles from the blow. Now calm, Wolverine examines his handiwork and, almost to himself, states that he’ll find a way.
Nearby, Jean looks off into the distance, her face drenched with sweat. Remarking to a stray thought, Jean recalls that Esme, the little blonde girl from Emma’s groups, was caught dealing Kick… she tried to kill Emma and implicate young Angel… so where does Magneto fit into all of this? she asks.
Back on the isle of Manhattan, now renamed New Genosha, Magneto addresses his Brotherhood. He informs them that he paralyzed their precious TV screens and they offered to negotiate. Can they imagine the idea? Homo Inferior, he says, referring to humanity, seems to have forgotten the unresolved matter of 16 million murdered mutants in Genosha.
Well, Esme starts, rising to her feet, they should have the most appalling series of human sacrifices as soon as possible. It has to look like they’re absolutely serious about changing the world, doesn’t it? Shooting back that he is serious, Magneto tells Esme that he will set the agenda for their campaign and to stop interrupting him. Proceeding to said agenda, he informs Esme that several of Charles’ X-Men remain unaccounted for and it will be her task to locate any troublesome survivors using the Cerebra machine.
Sitting nearby, Basilisk grins stupidly at Esme, chucking that Magneto sees through her bra-stuffing tricks. Visibly irate at the humiliation, Esme spits back for Basilisk to shut up. After agreeing with his lieutenant, instructing Basilisk to shut up, Magneto turns his attention to Beak, informing him that he will be in charge of tomorrow’s mass extermination of all remaining Homo Inferior in New Genosha. It is time, he states to Beak, that they put some steel in him. Look at Magneto in shock horror, Beak can barely repeat a near-inaudible “extermination?”
Deep within Asteroid M, which continues its way toward the surface of the sun, Jean thinks to Wolverine, asking for him to repeat himself. Apologizing before he does so, Jean adds that her mind’s drifting all over the place… she can’t stop thinking about ice cream. Or a long, cold beer straight from the icebox, Wolverine adds. Finally repeating himself, Wolverine states that somebody’s been undermining the school and dividing the X-Men, and now there they are in a deathtrap that looks exactly like Magneto’s old headquarters. Hell, maybe Magneto has nothing to do with it after all. Maybe it’s Xorn.
Apologizing again, Jean tells Wolverine that she didn’t hear any of that… she’s stopped sweating… that’s a bad sign, isn’t it? She… she doesn’t think she’s going to get through this after all… she doesn’t feel good at all… Letting down her hair, already drenched with sweat, Jean tells Wolverine that it can’t end like this. Not to them. They can’t just die, can they? Thinking back in response, Wolverine replies that, one time, he survived for six months under a glacier by eating strips off his own arm… healing factor grew the flesh right back… there’s always a way.
Grinning at the thought, Jean asks Wolverine back if he is going to fight the sun for her. What happened? she asks. Something happened to him on that Weapon Plus space station, didn’t it? Something happened? Wolverine replies, you bet something happened! The floor fell out from under his life is what happened. With the memory returned to his forefront consciousness, Wolverine is unable to keep the thoughts from running to Jean. Seeing it all, Jean tells Wolverine that he’s been having flashbacks, she knows that much… a woman with red hair calling his name… James. He thought he was starting to remember who he was… but…
Kneeling to Jean’s side, Wolverine touches her hair gently. It could be a lie, he counters. It could be a cover story they implanted to keep him under control. They made him into a Sentinel… part-man, part-metal, brainwashed and trained to murder his own people. Now thinking more softly, Wolverine adds that she wasn’t calling him name… she was calling for help. They chose him because he liked to kill… all he’s good for is killing… Now speaking aloud, Wolverine tells Jean that, if she knew what he was, she’d hate him.
Struggling to remain conscious, Jean replies in thought that, no, it doesn’t matter who he was… she knows what he’s gone through to be the good man he is now. How could she ever hate him? With this “said,” Jean collapses into Wolverine’s arms. After reviving her, Wolverine asks Jean to hang on. Any minute now, she continues, Scott and Hank are gonna turn up, waving flags. Barely about to respond coherently, Jean replies that she’s trying to concentrate really hard… but she can’t find the Phoenix anywhere now… maybe there isn’t… isn’t a way this time…
Trying to calm his teammate, Wolverine tells Jean to hush. Is Scott there? Jean asks in response, beginning to ramble in thought. Hearing her incoherent worries about her husband, Wolverine cradles her head on his shoulder and replies that Scott is just going through some growing up. It’s okay. It’s okay. He said he was a little confused, but… he still loves her.
Not listening, Jean continues to babble about the Phoenix, it burning and disinfecting… dying to return. Blood and flame and sacrifice… it’s not a place, it’s not… Finally returning to a moment of lucidity, Jean tells Wolverine that she feels terrible… everything’s wrong inside her… horrible voices in the heat… she’s dying… As she trails off once again, Jean begs Wolverine to not leave her.
Never, he replies. He’s right beside her. He’d die to save her life. He’d take all her pain on himself. But he can’t. He can only take it away. This said, Wolverine pops his claws and sinks them into Jean’s stomach, their blades emerging from her back. The death is instantaneous.
The moment passed, Wolverine tries to regain his composure, horrified at what he has just had to do. Finally, he picks up the inert form of Jean and walks her to the giant airlock of Asteroid M. He and she, he tells Jean. He and she in a blaze of glory.
Before the two, the giant airlock opens, revealing the blinding light and heat of the sun, which has already begun to consume Asteroid M. Without moving a muscle, Wolverine withstands the heat as it begins to consume his and Jean’s flesh, searing it from their bodies. Aflame from the sun’s inferno, Jean’s corpse begins to move. Her eyes open and begin to blaze with a fire of their own. A moment later, Asteroid M and everything on it is reduced to less than a cinder under the sun’s fury.