Kid Gladiator awakes in a shuttle piloted by Warbird, who informs him they are headed home. She apologizes for drugging him but there was no time to explain. She also didn’t want him culpable in the theft of the school’s space vessel. She explains they are leaving because the Phoenix is coming. What the Shi’ar call “the End of All that is.” Earth’s days are most definitely numbered.
And everyone else back at school? Kubark asks hesitantly. They are not her concern, she replies strictly, he is.
Kid Gladiator looks downward. No more Earth school. No more Danger Room exams in the middle of the night. No more angry redheaded psychics with spikes on their arms threatening to lobotomize him if he doesn’t behave. No more punching the little Brood person in the face…
Warbird comforts him they’ll have him back in his Shi’ar hard labor learning institution by the end of the week, like he wanted all along, right? Of course, he mumbles. How great to finally be rid of these dreary Terrans. It’s just… They are running from a fight, aren’t they? Kid Gladiator has never run from a fight in his entire life!
Patiently, Warbird explains that this is a fight for X-Men and Avengers. They are neither. They are going back where they belong. Just as his father would wish it.
Without a word, Kubark presses the button for the emergency escape pod and, after he has fled in it, flies downwards under his own power. She can tell his father he’ll be a bit late. Tell him Kid Gladiator isn’t about to leave Earth now, just when things are getting interesting!
And all over Earth the X-Men and Avengers fight over finding Hope Summers, who has left several false Cerebra trails in place all over Earth. In the Savage Land, Magik battles Captain America. In Tabula Rasa, Sunspot and Namor fight the Thing and Luke Cage. In Latveria, Spider-Woman is blinded by Dazzler, while Spider-Man does the same thing with his webs to Colossus, all the while reminiscing about the good old days. None of the groups has found Hope Summers.
Nor has the group at Wundagore Mountain, where Angel, Psylocke and Iceman are battling Hawkeye and Doctor Strange. In Wakanda, Rachel, Storm and Dr. Nemesis fight the Black Panther, the Black Widow and Iron Fist. Storm points out that they don’t have to find Hope. They just have to keep the Avengers from finding her. Iceman agrees with the plan. As he is attacked by the Red Hulk, he suggests Rachel get out of his head now, because it’s going to get ugly! Somberly, Rachel wishes Hope godspeed, hoping she has someone to watch her back.
Wolverine is caught in a familiar, haunting memory. Jean Grey as Dark Phoenix, holding on to her last remnant of sanity, begs him to kill her while she still is in control. When he hesitates, she blasts him away.
Is he still with her? Hope Summers asks impatiently and shakes him from his reverie. She reminds him he gave her his word that he could get her to the moon, where she can meet the Phoenix head-on before it gets to Earth, just in case… things go bad.
Again he thinks of Dark Phoenix and wonders what the hell he is doing here. Hope wants him here. She thinks, if she can’t handle the Phoenix, he’s the only one who can do what needs to be done. He’s the only one who can kill her.
Logan warns her no to do this. He’s seen what the Phoenix does to people. Damn thing played with Jean like a toy for years! Put her through all sorts of hell before she was ever able to exert any sort of control over it. And Rachel’s whole damn family got murdered because of her connection to the thing. The Phoenix ain’t worth it! She doesn’t wanna sell her soul to this thing!
Hope stubbornly insists everything in her life has been leading up to this moment. She won’t back down now. Just get her to the moon and get ready for anything!
He reminds himself he is the best at what he does. But since when does that include killing kids?
He tells her there is an AIM base he knows about. The Avengers were getting ready to hit it this weekend. Shouldn’t be much farther. That moment, the plane is hit and goes down courtesy of the Shi’ar Death Commandoes.
The Super Skrull announces if anyone’s alive in there, listen up. They are duly constituted agents of the Shi’Ar Empire with orders to execute the Phoenix witch. If she submits to their judgment without a fight, they won’t kill anyone else. There won’t be any further offers of mercy. He scans the ship to see both are alive.
Hope saved herself by mimicking Wolverine’s healing factor and his claws as well. He warns her tht the Death Commandoes won’t hold back. Both of them jump out and tear into their enemies.
In Wundagore, several Icemen attack the Red Hulk, who warns them they are making him angry. And the madder he gets, the hotter he burns. The Icemen reconstitute. He’d be mad too, if he was him. What are there, like eight different Hulks now? They must be giving those powers out as game show prizes! A giant ice foots stomps on the Red Hulk as he remarks that, last time he checked, there’s only one Iceman.
Dr. Strange pleads with Magneto to see reason, while Magneto retorts the Avengers should stop treating them like children.
Dodging Hawkeye’s arrow, Angel suggests solving this through discourse or guided meditation. He hits him, apologizing. Even an Angel can be pushed too far.
Iron fist kicks Rachel in the face. She was an avatar of the Phoenix, right? he asks. She should know how dangerous and unpredictable it can be. Telekinetically, she pushes him back and replies that she’s sure Hope is doing fine on her own.
Indeed, Hope has just attacked one Death Commando. Wolverine warns her to stay close. She challenges him to try and keep up. He reminds her that these things have been trained their entire lives to kill! And she’s been trained to survive! Hope retorts as an insect-like Death Commando attacks her. Logan claws it in the stomach. Hope admits she could get used to the claws.
He warns her to watch out for the War Skrull. Before she can ask what that is, the War Skrull grabs her with a Thing fist and mocks she wouldn’t last a day as a Phoenix… he should know. He eviscerates Hope. He has killed more host than anyone!
Logan is distracted and falls to the killer insects.
Cheerfully, the War Skrull informs them that Colony takes several minutes to strip all the flesh from the ones it consumes. But Hope will not have to listen long to the screams. He withdraws his claws from her guts. He has just done her a favor. Best she dies now, unsoiled by the Phoenix than later with the blood of whole worlds on her hands.
Hope lies dying and somewhere the Phoenix gets mad. Another Phoenix flash heals Hope and burns the Death Commandos. Logan shouts that’s enough. Seeing her aflame, he again thinks of Jean struggling against Dark Phoenix, begging him to kill her. He unsheathes his claws, looks at Hope and retracts them again.
Hope powers down. The flare-ups are getting stronger, she announces - the Phoenix must be close. Let’s get going! They gotta get to the moon.
Looking at the fallen Death Commandos, Logan admits to himself he will never be able to kill her. It’s not because she reminds him of Jean. Other than the red hair, she really doesn’t. Jean was the most amazing woman he’s ever known. He looks at Hope and he sees a kid. Even if it’s to save the word, how could he go back to his school and face the kids there with Hope’s blood on his hands? How could he face himself?
Back at the school, Kitty Pryde tries to teach the kids about space (with Lockheed’s help) but the kids are watching their tablets to see the battle. Idie desperately want to see Hope, while Anole sulks that Angel gets to be there. Kitty takes away the tablets and focuses on Rachel, who is currently fighting both Iron Fist and the Black Panther.
Iceman struggles against the Red Hulk until Kid Gladiator intervenes and hits him. Captain America takes down Gambit and, a moment later, receives a message from Wolverine, who tells him where they are headed. Wolverine figures this is his way of saving Hope.
Quentin sulks about being forced to study while there’s fighting going on when there is a loud noise. The kids look outside to see a furious Gladiator demanding to know where his son is.