Three hours ago, Utopia:
Wolverine unsheathes his claws, musing that it hurts every time. Those claws pop, that’s his flesh they are tearing through. But after a few million snikts you don’t get to notice so much anymore. Then there comes a day like today when it hurts like never before. “Take the beach!” Captain America orders the Avengers, Wolverine among them and so he fights his own teammates and friends.
Now, at the Jean Grey School:
Kitty Pryde listens to the news report describing the battle. Utopia now seems to be in the hands of SHIELD and there is no word yet on the whereabouts of the X-Men who once called Utopia their home. In other news, Worthington Industries stock continues to plummet.
As Wolverine comes in, she asks if he is all right. He tells her he popped his claws and used them against people he once considered family. People who called him a traitor to his face! So no, he definitely ain’t all right.
And the worst part is this mess is just getting started. Hope took off. Nobody knows where. They are having a helluva time tracking her And Scott and his people got clean away They could be anywhere now.
Um, Logan… Kitty starts as she looks out the window. “You gotta be kidding me!” he moans and downs a whisky shot. He and Kitty walk outside. Take one more step and he’ll bleed for it he greets the arrivals, namely one Scott Summers, flanked by Emma Frost and teleporter Magik.
Hasn’t there been enough bloodshed for one day, Cyclops asks. He thought this was supposed to be a place of sanctuary for mutants. Well, trust him, they could use a bit of that right about now.
Inside the building, Rachel watches the news while Iceman, predictably, comfort-eats some ice cream. The news report is about the conflict between the Avengers and X-Men, offering footage of the most memorable face-offs such as Iron Man against Magneto, Black Panther vs. Storm and Spider-Woman versus Dazzler!
Rachel muses they should have been there. Iceman agrees but wonders on which side. Frustrated, he suggests they talk about something else. Rachel reveals she finished her psychic evaluation of Angel. Enthused, Bobby asks if she has figured out a way to help him remember he is Warren Worthington. That’s the thing, Rachel replies, eyes downcast, he may be thinking with what was once Warren’s grey matter, but she has searched every inch of his brain and she is afraid there is absolutely nothing left of the man he used to be. In her professional opinion, Warren Worthington is dead.
Bobby refuses to accept that. Rachel continues that everything that was Warren has been burned away. Whatever did this to him scorched his mind clear. And since then, something completely new has been growing in its place. Growing at an unprecedented rate. When he first came here, Angel could barely dress himself. He couldn’t read a word in any language. He had no idea how to draw even a basic stick figure. Two nights ago, he faithfully recreated the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel on the walls of his room. Within just three weeks, he has gone from remedial classes to scoring the highest marks in school. Next to Quentin Quire (who she is convinced is cheating). And when he’s not studying, painting or singing soprano on Professor Doop’s choir you can find Angel in Salem Center, volunteering at the hospital, taking sick children on rides through the clouds.
He believes he is a real Angel, Bobby agrees. And if he is, would that qualify as even the 9th strangest thing to have happened in the last month alone? Rachel asks. Beast says Angel’s energy readings are unlike any everything he’s ever seen and they are growing stronger every day.
Bobby decides to take him to Xavier for a second opinion. Rachel apologizes but he is not Warren anymore. But whatever he actually is, whatever he is becoming, it’s something quite extraordinary. Bobby should give him a chance.
Bobby notices the noise and asks what the commotion is. Rachel mentally checks and exclaims he is never gonna believe who just showed up.
Outside, Wolverine snarls that he knew Summers was crazy but, coming here, tells him he is downright suicidal! Krakoa, fetch! he orders and the earth monster grabs Scott.
Cyclops shouts at Logan to call it off. He didn’t come here to fight. Unsheathing his claws, Wolverine suggests he stand real still and take his medicine…
In her diamond form, Emma Frost whacks Wolverine in the head. Does he never get tired of sounding like such an idiot? she chides him.
Headmaster down, Kitty warns and Iceman jokes they should go easy on him. Wolverine signs his paychecks. He gets more nervous though as Magik manifests her Soulsword and begins to cast her spell. He demon friends in Limbo have always wanted to know if Iceman feels pain when he gets melted. She sends demon fire at him and remarks they are going to be happy to hear that, when he screams in pain. And she used to be such a cute little kid, he mumbles.
She loves what she has down with the place, Emma snarks at Kitty. Looks like every thirteen-year-old girl’s dream. Where do they keep the unicorns? And oh, look! They have a redhead. How novel. Kitty tells Rachel to hold Emma down. She’ll carve them off some earrings. Rachel agrees.
Fed up, Cyclops frees himself with an optic blast then reminds everybody that they came here in peace. This is him waving the white flag. He’s only here to talk. Man to man. Mutant to mutant. He looks at the statue of Jean Grey and comments about the school name that he doesn’t know whether to thank Logan or punch him in the face.
Logan reminds him a white flag buys him five minutes. The clock is ticking. Cyclops states he’s come to give him one last chance to change his mind, to get on the right side of this things before it goes any further.
Logan scoffs that he is out of his mind. Scott explains their way of life is under assault. Now more than ever mutants have to stand together. “Their way of life,” Logan repeats. Does he even hear himself anymore?
No matter their difference, Scott continues. Or how many other teams he is on, he always thought that at the end of the day, when push came to shove, nobody was more of an X-Man than Wolverine! He needs to hear him say it: Avenger or X-Man… friend or foe… who is he?
Angel flies above the grounds. He knows who he is. It’s everybody else who doesn’t believe him. Only one way to prove it, he figures, that he is really an angel…
As they watch the proceedings outside from the classroom, Evan Sabahnur figures he too knows who he is and where he comes from. While the others are pressed against the window, he stares at his computer screen showing him images of Apocalypse… It doesn’t matter what others think. He knows it in his heart.
Husk tries to get the kids back to paying attention to the lesson and isn’t doing a very good job. She suggests they be more like Genesis and work. When she sees what he is looking up she stammers. Evan explains that everyone seems to think he looks a lot like this Apocalypse person but he’s been reading about him. He’s a supervillain who fights against the X-Men. He sounds like a terrible man. And yet… there does seem to be some resemblance. Husk suggests he talk to Dr. McCoy about this, once he returns from space. It’s all right, Evan replies. This isn’t him. He would never in a million years do these things. He knows who he is. Who his parents raised him to be.
In the meantime, Angel flies further and further up, to find he can’t breathe. He falls.
Cyclops follows Wolverine into the building. Where does he get off? Wolverine demands. He doesn’t get to sit on his throne and decree who is an X-Man and who’s not! He never stopped being an X-Man; he just stopped agreeing with Scott. Cyclops went off the rack. He should be trying to get back on right side of this. The Phoenix is burning its way through the stratosphere, blowing up planets and it’s heading for Earth! There’s nothing to debate here! They gotta stop this thing before it kills them all!
Scott reminds him the Phoenix is a force of nature and it keeps coming back here for a reason. If it wanted to destroy them, it could have done this plenty of times before. He believes when the mutants were on the brink of extinction the Phoenix was the thing that resparked them. Gave them Hope, both literally and figuratively. And he thinks it’s coming back to finish what it started.
He just wants a W.M.D. in his pockets! Logan retorts. He’s still trying to intimidate the world into respecting him, and what better way than with a Phoenix by his side!
Scott replies that Logan feels he can only carry the darkness on his back when he knows there is still some innocence left in the world. If not for him, then for someone else, at least. He understands why Logan opened the school. He disagreed with his line and still does, but understands. He has always thought of himself as an honorable man. A samurai. Even when he was standing ankle-deep in blood.
Logan insists Scott is gambling the fate of the world, all on a crazy cosmic firebird who for years played with Scott’s wife like she was a ragdoll, and on a 16-year-old girl who has no idea what the hell is coming for her!
Scott insists they both want the same thing: a better world for all of them - especially the kids! He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get there. Even if he can’t get there himself. He’s going to make that world happen - with or without Wolverine! He can keep trying to stop him. But know that, in this fight, there won’t be any shaking hands and making up at the end. There’s gonna be real winners and losers this time. When all is said and done, there’ll be the X-Men who made it to the promised land and the people who tried to stop them. Which one does he want to be?
Elsewhere on the grounds, Evan sees Angel’s shadow on the ground and calls out to him. He looks up to see Angel is falling and jumps up with his powers up to catch him.
Angel wakes up. He doesn’t know how to thank him. He could begin by teaching him how to fly, Evan suggests and apologizes about the landing. Angel explains he was trying to fly to Heaven. If he was really an Angel, he should have been able to do that, right? Maybe they are right about him. Maybe he is just a mutant. A simple genetic anomaly. Yet, when he looks at himself, he sees so much more. He see himself glowing.
Evan replies that behind his back the other kids call him names. They call him Kid Apocalypse. But he’s just a boy from Kansas who wants to do good. Could Angel tell him what he sees when he looks at him? Angel sees Apocalypse, but tells Evan he only sees goodness in him. Evan hugs him relieved. He truly is an Angel and most importantly he is a good friend!
Time’s up, Wolverine tells Cyclops. If he’s still here in thirty seconds, he’ll give him a grand tour of Ryker’s Island. At least he can say he tried, Cyclops retorts. Logan asks why he really came. He knew Logan wouldn’t change his mind. He’s not the only X-Man here, Cyclops replies as he joins Emma and Magik.
Emma and Kitty are still playing their game of one-upmanship as Emma asks about the test scores of Kitty’s students. Exemplary, is the reply. It’s nice to know she hasn’t ruined everything they learned from her, Emma remarks. Any time she wants to set up a quiz bowl challenge between their students, let her know, Kitty snaps.
Quentin Quire tries to come on to Magik. She’s blonde, Russian and exceedingly demonic. How is it that they aren’t already dating? She would tear him apart like the bear does the baby goat, Illyana replies unimpressed before she teleports her group away. That sounded like “maybe,” Quentin decides.
Logan asks Rachel if she eavesdropped and is glad when she admits it. Now she knows what kind of a stubborn, arrogant nut job they are dealing with. Now she sees why he has to fight him. He is not the only one who wants a piece of that fight, Rachel replies. Logan muses that the Avengers can use all the help they get as long as the school is covered.
That’s the thing, though, Iceman tells him. They won’t necessarily be fighting on Wolverine’s side. Rachel adds she knows the Phoenix Force can be controlled. Because she’s done it! She’s dealt with it longer than anybody else on Earth. If it’s chosen Hope and if that’s the destiny she wants, then Rachel’s gonna help her get there!
Gambit adds he never really liked the Avengers. All the different teams they got, and not one Southerner in the ranks. Don’t sit right with him. Chamber points out that he still has friends on Utopia. Are they supposed to just stand around and watch them get bullied? No offense, he adds and decides to go back to being invisible.
Iceman admits that both times Jean died, he wasn’t there to help her. He knows Jean would want him to help Hope. Then come with him! Wolverine urges. That’s what the Avengers are trying to do. Iceman continues that he didn’t come to Westchester because he stopped believing in Scott. He came there because Wolverine needed his help, but now Scott needs it. He hopes Logan can understand that, because once this is over he’d like to come back here. Let’s just hope there’s something to come back to, Wolverine replies darkly and walks away from them.
Angel joins the three, wanting to come with them. Iceman doesn’t think that is a good idea. Angel points out that he is older than Iceman. He also knows he is not a real angel. Angels don’t lie, and he just did – to a friend. If he really is a mutant like everyone else here, he wants to do his part. Somewhere out there, other mutants are in trouble. What say they go help them? Can they just explain to him on the way who it is they are fighting?
Husk shoos the students back inside. Idie asks Logan if Hope is in trouble. He doesn’t know. Idie adds that Hope is her best friend and asks him to promise he won’t let anything happen to her.
That moment, a priority alarm by Captain America reaches him. All Avengers are to report to Avengers Tower.
Meanwhile, the Shi’ar Death Commandos are close to Earth on their mission to find and kill the Phoenix host and any who stand with her or get in the way…