Several weeks earlier…
Reverend Stryker to Matthew Risman - ”God is with you, Matthew. Always remember that.”
The Xavier Institute is surrounded by flames as the Purifiers attack the school. Inside, Matthew Risman, a former assassin recruited by revered William Stryker is stalking through the corridors. He sees a handful of mutant students rounding the corner ahead of him and opens fire with his automatic weapon. He tells them “There’s no future for you, demon-spawn!” As he pursues them, he is attacked by Dust whose sandstorm form tears through him and strips the flesh from the left side of his face. Nearby, Rockslide is holding up the ceiling as Surge cradles the injured David Alleyne who was shot by Risman. Emma Frost asks David where Stryker is and he tells her that Stryker is at Cerebra. Risman looks up and sees Dust as she reforms. He says her name in shock having believed that she was already eliminated. She sees the damage she has done to the Purifier and says “please forgive me.”
Washington, DC – The Present:
Risman is now known to the Purifiers as “Father Matthew”. Brother Paul calls to him, shaking him out of his recollections of the raid at the Xavier Institute that left him scarred. Paul reports that the Ottawa branch of the Purifiers has caught the trail of Predator X. It is alive and hunting. On the view screen is the image of a horribly mangled corpse of what appears to be an emaciated mutant with greenish skin and large pointed ears.
At the Xavier Institute, the X-Men are meeting to discuss the recent activities of the junior X-Men team. Cyclops reiterates the various trials and accomplishments of the New X-Men in the months since M-Day. Wolverine jokingly suggests that the kids are so good that they should all just retire now. Maybe even shoot the youngsters into space and let them deal with Vulcan.
Emma drolly compliments Logan on his amazing sensitivity. Cyclops is not distracted by their comments. He reminds everyone that there are now 25 students left at the Institute and that they represent roughly 1/8th of the remaining mutant population. He adds that they have failed these kids in every possible way. He points out that not only have they failed to protect them, they don’t even really know them. He decrees that starting today that ends and that protecting them is their imperative. Especially in light of the Beast’s current belief that mutantkind is at an evolutionary standstill. These could be the final generation of X-Men.
As he says all this, Scott is holding up a picture of Rockslide in the lava-like form he assumed while trapped in Limbo. Logan says that he didn’t know they had a “lava kid”. Beast replies that that is Rockslide and he’s still trying to figure it out.
A short time later, Beast is examining Dust who dislocated her shoulder during the New X-Men’s battle against Belasco. She tells him that she does not wish to be a bother and he replies that she and her teammates saved them all from Belasco and that she has earned the right to “bother them”.
Pixie is in the infirmary as well and chimes in. She enthusiastically reminds Dr. McCoy that she and Sooraya are now teammates and adds that they are probably going to become best friends. Dust asks Megan if she is injured. She replies that she lost a piece of her soul in Limbo but that she’s been checked out by Amanda Sefton and Dr. Strange and they agreed that she had plenty of soul to spare.
Dust cries out a bit as Hank pops her shoulder back into place. Pixie continues to ramble on about how she can now do magic and has a soul dagger and can even cast a spell allowing her to teleport! Dust seems confused and asks if this is good. She adds that Dr. Strange said that he’d take her on as a student but that she had to be eighteen and take a vow of silence. Beast says that they all hope Strange will take her early, subtly expressing his annoyance at Megan’s incessant jabbering.
Megan asks Sooraya why she still wears her burqa since everyone has seen her without it, it must be really hot and she’s so pretty. Nezhno corrects Megan by pointing out that Sooraya wears an abaya with a niqab veil, not a burqa. He tells her that she can show respect for Sooraya by learning about her.
Megan is only momentarily taken aback by this abrupt rebuke. She turns her attention to Nezhno, who is sitting in a meditative position nearby. She gushes about how he saved her in Limbo and asks why he never uses his powers and why he went into spasms when he did. He informs her that it was a seizure and that every time he uses his powers his strength increases. He shares with her that at some point his body will not be able to contain his power and he will die. Currently, the Vibranium tattoos that adorn his body help to keep his power in check but he knows they will not last. Megan is speechless (for once). At that moment, Mercury pokes her head in the door and asks them how old they are.
Elsewhere in the Institute, Anole, Rockslide and X-23 are playing pool. Victor tells them for the last time that he will not let them cut off his other arm. Rockslide reminds him that Beast said it was part of his power and it would grow back just like the arm he lost in Limbo. This new arm is stronger and spiked. Santo says that they should do his legs too and then he’d be an “awesome dragon guy”. X-23 has agreed to do it and says it won’t even hurt. She tells Victor that she would make the cut at the glenohumeral joint and it would be over quickly. She extends her claws and slices through the pool ball to illustrate her point. Victor tells them both to back off. He likes his arm the way it was and wants to keep the one normal arm he has left. Santo calls him a “big sissy”. Victor glares angrily at him and says “What did you call me?” At that moment, Cessily enters and tells them she has a quick question.
Josh Foley sits alone in his room in the dark. There is a knock on the door and Cessily enters. She asks what he’s doing and he tells her he’s thinking. She asks him how old he is and he replies eerily that he can feel his cells aging and knows everything there is to know about the process. The real question, he tells her, is can he stop it? Mercury is clearly weirded out by Josh’s esoteric response and tells him that she’ll just ask David about it. She leaves them room quickly wishing him “good thinking”.
A few minutes later, Mercury is knocking on Hellion’s door and telling him that she thinks that Elixir has flipped out again. There is no answer but a huge explosion rips forth from Julian’s room and sends Cessily flying. Julian emerges form the room cursing Dr. McCoy and his paper clip! Julian admits that he can’t control his power and that anything smaller than a refrigerator is hard for him to handle because he now lacks fine motor control. He says that he may be the last telekinetic on the planet other than some guy called “Justice” who works for the Initiative. She tells him that he’ll work it out and then asks if he knows how old the Cuckoos are. He replies “Old enough” and Cessily calls him a “perv” and asks for a real answer. He tells her that they’re really only two years old but were artificially aged to fifteen. He asks why she’s so curious about it. Cessily replies “Matt Landru”.
A short time later, Mercury is in the Cerebra chamber with the Stepford Cuckoos and Julian. She explains that the death of Matt Landru made her realize that with no new mutants manifesting powers or being born, somewhere out there is a mutant who is the youngest surviving mutant on the planet. Given how many young mutants are at the Institute, one of them is likely the youngest. Julian asks about the young mutant member of the Runaways who he thinks is only about five. The Cuckoos report that she is not registering on Cerebra and add that Angel and Beak’s child Tito is technically the youngest mutant. Julian says that that’s just gross and asks that they not remind him of all that.
Mercury asks about Franklin Richards and wonders if he retained his mutant powers. Hellion says that he hardly counts since no one is going to go after the child of the Fantastic Four. At that moment Ms. Frost enters and chides them subtly for being in the Cerebra chamber. She announces that the senior staff is conducting interviews with the student body and she would like to see both Julian and Cessily in her office.
Outside, Colossus and Beast are waiting for Rockslide. Piotr is getting impatient and asks McCoy if he is sure the boy can even tell time. Beast replies “Not entirely”. A crash is heard from above followed by shouting. Rockslide yells at Victor to stop hitting him. The two young mutants come crashing down in front of the two senior X-Men. Anole is using his newly enlarged and stronger arm to pummel Santo who is trying to get him to stop his assault. He tells Victor “I swear I didn’t know! Don’t be so sensitive!” Anole tells him to shut up as they slam forcefully into the ground.
A few minutes later, Dr. McCoy has asked Santo to blow himself up again as he did in Limbo to test the true nature of his powers and his seeming ability to reform himself. He theorizes that Santo is now a psychic entity with the ability to form and control a stone golem form around himself. He suspects that his former ability to project his limbs from his body has given way to a more powerful ability to explode and reform his rock-form. This is why he wants Santo to detonate his new “rockslide” explosive power and reform himself. Santo refuses and declares that he’ll never use that power again. Victor smiles smugly and calls Rockslide a sissy. Santo tells him that he’s going to take him down and explodes his body.
Anole ducks behind Colossus organic steel form and Beast thanks him. Victor says “No problem” and Piotr asks if that’s they only reason he was asked to be present. Beast speaks to Santo , asking him to concentrate and pull himself together . The ground where Rockslide exploded begins to rumble and a moment later, his rock-form is fully restored. It resembles the form he possessed prior to his adventure in Limbo since it is no longer composed of rock from Limbo’s fiery wastelands. He initially wants to pound on Victor but is then simply amazed that he managed to reconstitute his rock-form on command. Beast drolly congratulates him and says that next he’d like to see if he can reform after someone else has shattered his golem form. Santo can’t believe what he’s hearing. Anole enthusiastically raises his hand and says “Ooo! Ooo! Me!!” with a broad smile on his face.
Surge makes the rounds, asking the others for details about what Belasco did to David while they were in Limbo. Trance says she just saw him fall and knew he was hurt. She suggests that others might know more. Dust thinks that he broke a rib, perhaps but Josh healed it. Mercury tells Nori that he broke his wrist when he fell but it was no big deal. Josh himself lies and says that nothing happened beyond a few scratches. X-23 provides the full story. Belasco ripped David’s heart out with his bare hands doing massive damage to David’s chest and cardiovascular system. Elixir healed him fast enough that there was no brain damage from his instantaneous death. Nori thanks Laura for being 100% truthful.
Surge stalks down the hall, oblivious to Pixie’s attempts to get her attention. She finally stops and asks what her new teammate wants. Pixie tells Nori that she thinks that she and David make a cute couple. At that moment, Cyclops appears and tells the two that they need to talk about the planned student/teacher conferences. Nori tells Scott that she’s busy and Pixie jumps in and volunteers to meet with him. Logan tells Pixie that she’s coming with him. Megan asks where they’re going and Logan smiles and pops his claws as he says “Danger Room”. Pixie’s smile fades as she gulps.
Emma meets with Mercury and Hellion and asks how they and the team are doing. Mercury lays into Emma right away and says that if this is how this meeting is going to be then she’s got a question: Where is Wither? She accuses Emma of losing him and asks if maybe he’s dead too and Emma is just keeping it from them. Julian informs Emma that Sooraya told them all about the bizarre discussion about “trust” that the two recently had. He says “You’ve lost it, haven’t you?” He then points out that since the Purifiers attack she’s completely ignored them all and thinks that she’s doing it to put some emotional distance there in case they don’t survive either. He then asks if the only reason she’s meeting with them now is because Cyclops forced her to. Cessily adds that they all think it’s pretty sad and the two exit the office, slamming the door on the way out. Emma sits at her desk, her face like stone and simply says “Dismissed”.
Elixir is still sitting in the dark on his bedroom floor when Kitty Pryde knocks on his door. She announces herself and tells him it’s time for their student/teacher conference. When he doesn’t answer, she phases through the wall. She asks what he’s doing alone, on the floor in the dark. He tells her he’s thinking and she asks what he’s thinking about. He tells her, “Life. Death. Taking it, and giving it. I give life. I take it.” He asks her what it is he can’t do given his powers. Kitty is clearly overwhelmed by the gravity of his comments and simply says “Oooookay”, declares it a “good meeting” and says that she’ll get back to him.
In the kitchen, Wolf Cub and Loa are eating ice cream and talking about the youngest mutant issue that Mercury has raised. Alani thinks that Pixie is probably the youngest and points out hesitantly that everyone thinks it’s probably her… or Wolf Cub himself. He says “Great” and Alani tries to change the subject by asking him what he thinks of Josh. Nicholas replies that Josh is definitely older and then adds that he hopes he isn’t the youngest because everyone knows what that means. At that instant, Pixie flies through the kitchen screaming. A cloud of glittery pink “pixie dust” trails behind her like exhaust from a jet engine. Wolverine is close behind slashing his way through the pink clouds shouting “$#%^ing unicorns!” Wolf Cub slumps down on the table and says “I hate this place”.
That evening a majority of the student body gather in the mansion’s living room to determine once and for all who among them is the youngest mutant. Indra is doing the calculations and is surprised to see that the Stepford Cuckoos are technically only two years old.
As they all wait anxiously, Hellions says that it has to be Pixie. David enters and asks Nori how her meeting with Cyclops went. He notes that he hasn’t seen her all day. She tells him she doesn’t want to talk about it. Nicholas urges Indra to hurry up and tells him that being the youngest mutant on the planet is a one-way ticket to death. He adds that being a student there is one kind of target on your back and being the youngest is like having two! David asks Surge what’s wrong and shy she won’t talk to him. Indra comes to the conclusion that Wolf Cub is the youngest mutant.
Nicholas quickly reminds them about Franklin Richards and beak’s son, Tito but is told they don’t count. Nick begins to panic and speculate on how he’s going to die, suggesting the Purifiers or maybe the Sentinels. Pixie gives a sigh of relief that it wasn’t her after all. Mercury then notices that Indra didn’t include his own birth date on the list and asks when it is. He then realizes that he was wrong before and that he is the youngest!
Prodigy asks Nori to look at him but she refuses. Instead she rushes over to Julian and kisses him fiercely, to everyone surprise. X-23 sees this and instinctively pops her claws, glaring at the electrifying kiss between Surge and Hellion. To break the tension, Rockslide says “Dude, Indra… You’re dead.”
Elsewhere, Father Matthew and one of his Purifiers have carefully placed one of Dust’s burqas in such a manner that Predator X will find it. Their plan is simple: turn Predator X’s genetically engineered drive to feast on mutant DNA against a specific target! The Purifiers watch from afar until Predator X arrives. It devours the burqa and the Purifier says to Father Matthew “Whoever wore that burqa… they’re dead.” Matthew Risman simply replies “ Praise be to God.”
Dr. Hank McCoy and his evil counterpart from the Age of Apocalypse, the Dark Beast AKA “Doc” pay a visit to the Guthrie homestead in Kentucky. Lucinda Guthrie is overwhelmed at the sight of the two, despite having twins of her own. Henry thanks her for seeing them and acknowledges the hard times she and her family have had to deal with lately. He knows that this must bring up painful memories for them all.
Lucinda tells him that they are no strangers to pain but she’s still surprised to see them. She tells her children to go and work on their chores and homework. Beast gets straight to the point and tells Lucinda that they’ve come to request some cell samples from her. She reminds him that she isn’t a mutant and asks why they want her genes. Hank explains that half of her children manifested powers at puberty. He tells her this is not only unusual but miraculous and they’ve come seeking a miracle. He explains to her about the events that led to M-Day.
As he’s speaking, Lucinda’s youngest boy Lewis heads out to the yard. “Doc” follows him to a spot where he has set up a test range for practicing his mutant powers which have yet to manifest. Doc asks if he is playing superhero and Lewis insists that this is no game, he’s practicing. Doc asks if he comes here so that he’ll know when his own powers kick in and then he’ll practice until he’s good enough to be an X-Man.
Lewis says “yes” and the Dark Beast informs him that it’s never going to happen for him. Lewis still clings to some hope that he may turn out to be a mutant, but Doc tells him it isn’t possible. “No more mutants”, he adds. He lists off all of Lewis’ siblings who got a taste of being a mutant and tells Lewis that he won’t get the chance to experience the glory and adventures like they did. He then holds out a vial and says that’s the reality for him unless he’d like to try approaching the problem from a different angle. Lewis’ eyes grow wide at the offer.
Inside, Lucinda clarifies what Hank is asking for here. Basically, he wants her to help him restart the mutant race. He tells her that is essentially what he’s asking. He unexpressed X-gene could prove the missing piece needed to continue their search for a way of reigniting the X-gene in humanity. She asks what they’ use it for. He tells her that they’d offer it to depowered mutants in the event it might restore their powers. Hank says that that alone may be enough. She replies that it’s more than enough for her. He assumes this to mean that she’ll help and asks her if that’s what she means. She replies “Not on your life, Dr. McCoy. Not for a heartbeat.”
Doc continues his discussion with Lewis, telling him that mutant powers aren’t just fun and adventure but come with responsibilities. He tells Lewis he’d have to promise to use them for good. Lewis eagerly promises saying that he wants to save the world like Sam, Paige and Josh. He vows to use his powers to find the people who killed Josh and take them to jail. Doc tells him that there’s no way to know what powers he might get and that this serum hasn’t been tested. Lewis says he doesn’t care and offers to let them test it on him. Doc smiles and tells Lewis to roll up his sleeve so they can see what kind of mood God is in today.
Lucinda explains to Henry that Xavier has sent one of her children home in a body bag and another heartbroken after losing her powers. She points out that her daughter Joelle was devastated at not being a mutant like her siblings and it nearly ruined her life. She reveals that when Jeb’s powers manifested she prayed to God to take this burden from her because she didn’t think she could bear it any longer. She explains that it’s like waiting for your child to be drafted into a war that never ends. For her, the Decimation was an end to all this. She tells him not to ask her to start that cycle up all over again.
He tries to explain his perspective but she cuts him off. She says she sorry for what he’s lost but she can’t give him what he’s asking for. Desperate to win her cooperation, Beast offers to keep whatever cure or solution he develops a secret from her children if that’s what it takes. She asks him if he expects her to lie to her own kids.
At that moment, Cissie rushes in and tells her mother to come quick. When Lucinda asks what’s happened, Cissie tells her that Lewis is sick and the grey man did it!
Lucinda accuses Henry of planning all this and keeping her busy while the Dark Beast went after her kids. Beast assures her there was no plan and begs her to believe him. Doc verifies that Hank is telling the truth and says that this was all his plan. He is holding Lewis who has turned pink. His eyes are black and his skin appears to be bubbling. He appears to be foaming at the mouth. Doc tells Hank that he warned him that there would be sacrifices involved and asks him coldly if they should try one of the girls next.