In Mystique’s abandoned apartment in Brooklyn, Rogue is attacked by a berserk Sunfire. Rogue struggles to convince him to hang on: “It’s me, Rogue!” She suggests he cools it with the atomic burn: they’re on the same side! “Drop the charade, Mystique!” a thoroughly unconvinced Sunfire intensifies his attack, still thinking Rogue to be a masqueraded Mystique. He exclaims that one of the men she assassinated was a true friend to him and his spirit cries out for justice! His honor demands it! As Shiro’s demands revenge!
Rogue admits she’s sorry to hear that. She’s guessing he doesn’t have all that many pals to spare! “But I’m not Mystique, hotshot!” she again stresses. And she hasn’t killed anyone – yet. Now that they know this is one of those good-guy-versus-good-gal, mistaken-identity-mix-ups, she thinks the right thing to do would be to talk this through like the good X-Man she’s supposed to be… but she gets the idea he’s out for blood! And that suits her just fine, she proclaims, as she tears out a part of the wall and tosses it at him!
She confesses it’s not like she’s having a bad day, as a bad month… a bad year. The X-Men fight countless battles to save the world and a humanity that can’t stand the sight of them… and do things get better? “Nah,” she grimaces: the United Nations give Magneto his own country and then Professor Xavier dissolves the team! Saying this, she tears out a water pump and uses water to counterbalance Shiro’s atomic fire. Some sort of water vapor is generated as a result of the clash between water and fire.
She asks him to listen up: Mystique’s a metamorph, period. She duplicates physical appearances, not powers. Sunfire tries to discern where she is, through the water vapor… and suddenly Rogue lunges at him and forces him out of the apartment and into the waters of the old pier nearby, while reminding him that Mystique can’t fly and she’s not super-strong. She then pulls him out of the water and grabs him by the throat. If he needs any more proof that she’s not Mystique, she could try skin-to-skin contact and snatch up his powers and sparkling personality for an hour or two. Or she could just pound his skull into pulp. “That will not be necessary… Rogue,” Sunfire pants, finally persuaded. “’Course not,” Rogue smirks. “Let’s talk, Shiro…”
“Weird,” Shadowcat contemplates at that exact moment, back at Mystique’s luxurious penthouse in Manhattan, carefully examining the late Destiny’s facemask, comfortably placed on a shelf, next to framed photos and other memorials. Kitty realizes she sometimes forgets how much they don’t know about Rogue. The girl had a whole other family before hooking up with the X-Men, a whole different life, on the opposite side of the law… but she never says much about it. Even after all this time, she’s never shared any details about her childhood – not even her real name. She keeps her past murky by choice… and Mystique is downright cryptic. But Destiny here – a blind woman who claimed to see into the future – she’s the real enigma.
This started out as a vacation of sorts for Rogue, Nightcrawler and Kitty, a spur-of-the-moment jaunt to the big city for some power-shopping and club-hopping, a brief distraction from their troubles at home and from the very real possibility that they no longer have a home. But trouble tracked them down in the form of Mystique. With Mystique now slumbering peacefully at a couch in the living room of her lush apartment, Kitty almost feels guilty taking advantage of the situation like this – like she’s trespassing through other people’s memories. But, she reminds herself, Mystique did tell her to make herself at home. Sure, she was just probably being polite, she thinks – if she can buy that from a woman who’s tried to kill her a half-dozen times or so – but she’s not going to pass an opportunity like this.
Feeling around, Kitty gleefully ponders that there’s bound to be a seriously embarrassing shot of Rogue around here somewhere. A baby photo or something from cheerleading tryouts, better yet. Anything with solid blackmail potential. As Kitty tries to lift a framed portrait that depicts Mystique and little Rogue skiing on snowy slopes and which is on top of an entire series of framed portraits, a crisp “crack” sound is heard, as the back part of the painting is torn off. “Uh-oh,” an upset Kitty thinks. It sounds like something came loose back there. She hopes she didn’t do any damage to the frame…
As she examines the back of the painting, she reads something written on it: “Cat Shadow X reach in - - D.” “Cat Shadow X…?” Kitty wonders for a moment before she puts two and two together: “Shadowcat of the X-Men… me?” she thinks in shock. She then interprets “reach in:” phase into the frame?! And signed “D”… for Destiny?! She thinks it can’t be. She and Destiny had no real history to speak of. Nothing personal, at least. How could she have known Kitty would stumble onto this particular picture? She promptly answers her own question: because she could see the future. “My God,” she thinks. Destiny’s been dead for years now. How long ago did she plan this? As she phases her hand inside the painting and brings out Destiny’s ‘gift’ to her, she wonders: why would Destiny give her… her journal?!
Brooklyn Heights, 3:25 a.m.
Rogue tells Sunfire that, with all due respect, he’s way off-base on this one. He has to be, from what she’s heard so far. Sunfire retorts that the Yakiba serves as the cutting edge of Japan’s military swords: they do not make mistakes. Their agents were investigating a series of infiltrations at top secret facilities by someone who could mimic another person so completely as to foil the most elaborate security screens. Only a metamorph could achieve such a feat. Weeks ago, in July, four top agents on the trail of the perpetrator were murdered. Evidence gathered from all of the crime scenes led to this address. And sustained surveillance revealed that the woman living here, posing as innocent fashion model Ronnie Blake was, in fact, Mystique – a metamorph and a known criminal.
Rogue retorts that it may be all true, but she still believes she didn’t murder anyone. And if she is wrong – if she was involved somehow – there wouldn’t have been any clues at all. Sunfire argues that perhaps she doesn’t know the woman as well as she thinks. The case, as they say, is watertight. “Hardly,” Rogue insists. She will give him “convenient” but leaking like a sieve, from at least one major hole in the story.
As she kneels on the floor of the trashed apartment, she picks up a magazine. Shiro tells her the murders were in July… Well, she suggests he takes a gander at this and presents him with a magazine article: Ronnie Blake was in Switzerland for that whole month. “B-but…” Shiro stammers as he riffles through the pages of the magazine. Rogue insists he can’t seriously believe she’d commute between infiltrations and murders. He has to face it: someone framed Mystique. They’re playing them off each other, most likely watching even now, enjoying a good laugh at their expense. “Yes… you’re correct,” Sunfire remarks, visibly angered.
Downtown Manhattan, 3:45 a.m.
In Polaris’ apartment, a very frightened Lorna pulls the curtains and gazes outside the window. Nightcrawler tells her that, having checked her apartment twice, inside and out, he can confirm that there are no sign of intruders or pursuit at the moment. Still, it might be best to stand away from the window nonetheless. Lorna apologizes: Kurt must think she’s completely paranoid… or worse.
“Nonsense,” Kurt replies. If she says she’s being followed, then he has no doubt it is so. As Polaris and Nightcrawler, they have both experienced more than enough trouble in their time to be able to trust their own instincts now. Lorna hopes that’s true. It’s just she was never as comfortable with this kind of life as he is. She’s a mutant, yes, but not an adventuress. She didn’t want to be an X-Man, never wanted to be an X-anything. She just sort of fell into it and stayed… for Alex.
Kurt reminds her she’s part of the X-Men family now, for good or bad. She needs not face this alone – nor should she mourn alone. Polaris assures him she has no fear of that… because Alex is still alive out there, somewhere. He has to be. “But…” Kurt is about to protest. Lorna cuts him short: she knows how that must sound. She saw the explosion. Common sense – and all five senses – tells her he died. But her heart tells her something else. She’d feel it if he was dead… she’d known it.
She stresses that Alex Summers was – is – unique by any standards. Considering the solar-generated plasma-bursts he wields as Havok, it’s almost as if the laws of physics don’t apply to him. She reminds Kurt that Alex also has that weird symbiotic relationship with the Living Monolith. Ahmet Abdol somehow leeches off whatever energies Alex doesn’t absorb from the sun, growing in size and power. If Alex was really dead, the Monolith would live again. And if the Monolith was back, they’d have heard about it by now. But they haven’t, which means Alex must be safe.
“Nein,” thinks Kurt, “the Living Monolith was hurled into space months ago, with little hope of return.” However, Lorna is an old friend. He found her seeking the sanctuary of a church earlier this evening, alone, terrified, and in desperate need of something, anything, to which she could cling… so he says nothing at all.
Sunfire tells Rogue to get behind her, quickly! He’s visually sifting through the layers of ambient heat, zeroing in on source emissions other than their own. He points her to the electrical wiring in the walls. The glare of…
“There,” he motions her to the telescope beside the window, explaining that it transmitting a very subtle but intense frequency. “Not surprised,” Rogue admits: Mystique’s security system is stashed inside here. Sunfire also reveals there is another, even more sophisticated signal emanating from the far side of the river.
Right at that moment, in the warehouse by the river, the two Skrulls posing as Mesmero and Mastermind are spying on Rogue and Sunfire through their monitors… and realize they are being spied in return. Seeing Sunfire in the monitor pointing at them, the fake Mesmero exclaims they’ve been discovered! They know they’re being watched and they know where they are!
Apparently so, the Mastermind doppelganger coolly replies. “This is disastrous!” the faux Mesmero shrieks. He accuses ‘Mastermind’ that his arrogant plans and schemes to pit potential enemy factions against each other have only succeeded in revealing their position! The master will slay them all now! The Mastermind lookalike, however, slaps him and reminds his colleague that the targets do not yet know who they are and that is all that matters! He orders him to cease his sniveling at once and initiate station-wide evacuation immediately!
Kitty can’t make much sense of the journals so far. She muses she probably should’ve given up on the whole thing an hour ago… except for the way she found it. Left here, just for her. But it’s just one big rambling mess. Scribbled, half-formed sentences, written in a bizarre, broken English: Twelve 2000, alien Skull?, The Devil’s deadline is millennium’s end, Trust not the treacherous clan from beyond and within. Some is written in foreign languages; some in foreign languages Kitty doesn’t even recognize.
The only thing that really stands out is the name “Xavier”: Armageddon looms large when Xavier is betrayed, Kitty reads above an even more disquieting phrase, Death kills the one who is become Death. Professor Xavier, obviously, Kitty thinks. The man who helped most of them learn how to control their mutant abilities, who taught them all how to best use them for a better world. Currently, he’s at home and not quite alone but with a minimum of X-Men left to protect him while the rest of them take some downtime to consider ‘other possibilities.’
Kitty reads yet another ominous phrase: The Twelve will gather in the darkest hour. She almost wishes Mystique would wake up now and tell her it’s a fake, a setup, part of some plan they had. Thing is, if there’s anything to this stuff – anything at all – it’s way bigger than both of them…
As they fly towards the old pier, Sunfire advises Rogue to stay behind him and brace herself for immediate attack. The suspect heat traces focus into a single source point, all stemming from that dockside warehouse dead ahead. “Gotcha. That’s all I needed to know,” Rogue replies and tells Shiro to just point her in the right direction and she’ll handle the rest from there…
As they crash into the warehouse, the pair comes across an enormous, ghastly creature that flaunts its hands and tentacles menacingly against them. “Like ah was saying, Sunfire… your turn!” Rogue remarks. “Of course, X-Man,” an undeterred Sunfire replies. If his thermal readings can be trusted – and they certainly have every reason to believe that they can at this point – then this guard dog’s bark is far worse than its bite. Indeed, Shiro releases a blast on the beast’s forehead… and the illusion shatters!
The Mesmero and Mastermind imposters are revealed. ‘Mesmero’ screams they’ve been exposed – exposed in the field, before the ordained time! The master will skin them both alive personally! ‘Mastermind’ retorts it worked. Their joint charade bought them the few precious moments needed to deploy a full squadron! As their soldiers appear behind them and move towards Rogue and Sunfire, Rogue finds herself at loss: Mastermind alive? How? He died of the Legacy Virus! “Shape-shifters!” Shiro growls. He sees the soldiers are armed to the teeth and tells Rogue to get behind him!
Rogue suggests he doesn’t waste his breath again! She’s never been the type to complain about a gentlemanly gesture, so she’s let him get away with that a couple of times now. But she’s the one with the near-invulnerable body here, so he gets behind her! She immediately gets in front of him and bears the brunt of a blast!
Shocked, the faux Mesmero asks his colleague what he’s doing! He tells him to call off the troops now before it’s too late! The boy must not be hurt, he knows that! ‘Mastermind’ assures him their men know it, as well. They are freeing him to take his final leave on this place while it’s still possible. “Are you insane, man?!” the fake Mesmero exasperates. Deserting the installation in mid-evacuation?! ‘Mastermind’ corrects him: he’s escaping from a base they’d just begun to build. “Living to fight another day, if you like,” he clarifies.
“No… I don’t,” the counterfeit Mesmero coldly announces and shoots him with his gun; the shot is lethal. Approaching a control panel, ‘Mesmero’ murmurs that whatever happens here tonight is his colleague’s fault and his alone. “This all comes down on you, pig… your failed machinations and pompous pride,” he vents his loathing against his victim. He realizes they only have one option left: they must destroy the base. If their true purpose were to be discovered, it would doom the rest of them. And with this thought, he presses his palm on a monitor.
A huge explosion instantly occurs… and the base is history. Thankfully, Rogue and Sunfire manage to escape the explosion – barely. “Lord, no!” Rogue exclaims. No one could have survived that. If Shiro hadn’t shoved her clear… Shiro claims he cannot take credit. Something drove him into her from behind… some sort of force field, from the feel of it, propelling them both out of harm’s way.
Rogue deduces it was a shockwave from the explosions. She can’t imagine either of those mindworms, Mesmero or Mastermind, deliberately acting to protect them while sacrificing themselves. Sunfire agrees. As he and Rogue fly away from the burning remains of the warehouse, he reminds her, though, that they died to protect something. The question is, what could possibly have driven them to such an end?
At Mystique’s Manhattan apartment, Shadowcat keeps reading Destiny’s diary: Now this has been found, the future be bound. One rises, twelve gathered upon his return, the spark has been lit, the fires now burn, all else has been prelude, warning, and threat determined occurrence, no chance to forget. When time’s on the brink, all all people know fear, his power flows free, the end is now near, with the thirteenth, awakened, the end is now here. One falls as a hero, a sacrifice made and two become one both are betrayed, the “X”es ask y but they die, still they DIE.
Nostradamus. Swedenborg. Odhar. Kitty thinks that all of history’s clairvoyants, according to this, weren’t predicting the future; they were predicting a manifesto, an agenda. Almost as if someone – or something – was whispering over their shoulders all along, dictating the fate it planned for humanity. And the truly scary part is… that makes sense. She never bought into the idea that the cataclysmic end to all civilization would fall on a nice, round date at the end of the millennium. It always seemed too simplistic to expect fate to follow their calendar so closely, to tie things up so neat and clean. But if it isn’t chance at all, it’s a deadline; the last stage of a timetable spanning centuries. “What are you trying to tell me, Destiny?” she ponders. This can’t be for real… can it?
At Brooklyn, Rogue asks Sunfire where they go from here. They obviously stumbled onto something big down here – bigger than just Mesmero and Mastermind, that’s for sure. But they don’t have any idea what, why or who’s behind it. All they really know is they are players, major players and they made for easy marks. The rest of the game just went up in smoke. For the moment only, Shiro remarks. He’ll return to the Yakiba with the information he has. He will inform them that another agency appears to be at work in the shadows, attempting to foster confusion and conflict…
“An’ that they’re the ones responsible for the murders in Tokyo, not Mystique,” Rogue adds. It was probably just bad luck that she took an apartment directly across the river from this place, where her powerful security system would’ve been the equivalent of a lighthouse to Mastermind and Mesmero’s superior technology. Sunfire surmises they investigated and identified Mystique as a potential threat. A lone one, though, with no current affiliations on record. “No loose end,” Rogue realizes. So, instead of eliminating Mystique, they positioned her to take the blame for their crimes in Japan, effectively diverting all attention away from the real culprits. Insidious, if it’s true, Sunfire thinks. He wonders, though: who would dare risk such a dance between her people and his?
Right at that moment, the Yakiba agents watch Rogue and Shiro through their monitors, from the safety of their submarine. One of the agents tells his superior that Sunfire’s good. Fearless, focused and his instincts are uncanny. He’s uncovered more in one night than all the previous teams combined. Best of all, he shows no after-effects of his recent illness. He may never be the hero he so desperately wishes to be, but Shiro Yoshida has all the makings of a first-rate field agent. His superior argues he is a mutant. A weapon to be fired, not a man to be trusted. He then orders his inferior to recall the operative Sunfire for immediate debriefing.
At Polaris’ apartment, Lorna pulls back the shades and light gushes in. “Ach, dawn already?” Kurt mumbles. He apologizes: he got so carried away with swapping war stories and catching up on old friends that he took advantage of her hospitality. He would hate to overstate his welcome on his very first visit. Lorna thanks him for listening. “Any time, of course,” Kurt assures her. He enjoyed the evening far more than she could know and whatever’s still bothering her… “Just a good, old-fashioned dose of humiliation, Kurt,” Lorna shyly admits. After all her hysterics last night, all the ranting and raving about being followed by who knows what, it’s a little embarrassing to face him now in the cold, clear light of day.
“Don’t be silly,” Kurt replies. These are difficult times for all of them and paranoia is healthy for mutants. That’s why he carries the X-9000 image-inducer, incorporating state-of-the-art camo-field technology imported all the way from the Shi’ar Galaxy, dedicated to delivering the very best in personal camouflage screens…
As Kurt finishes his humorous rambling, he uses the device to alter his guise in that of a normal-looking man and exits the apartment, urging Lorna to remember to send his greetings to Forge and the others. Soon as I see them, Lorna promises. “And if you need me again for anything….” Kurt adds. Lorna assures him the number’s on speed-dial. She thanks him again and asks him to do her one last favor: be careful out there. “And you, Lorna. Be well,” Kurt tells her as Lorna closes the door behind him.
“Why wouldn’t I be, Kurt…?” Lorna thinks, left all alone in her apartment. She’s confident she’s perfectly safe now in here. She immediately uses her magnetic powers to pull several locks on the door. Sealed with a kiss from the magnetic forces at her command, she believes nothing can reach her here… no one can touch her.
“Except you, Alex,” she pronounces as she magnetically animates Havok’s original costume and makes it spring out of a chest. “You’re here, love… I know you’re still here,” she whispers. This costume was originally designed to tap directly into Alex’s power and she believes it’s still connected to him somehow, even now. Examining the costume, she is confident that as long as the headpiece continues to show signs of life, then the same can be said of the man who wore it. Lorna is unaware, however, that a mysterious figure is spying on her from a building across the street.
It’s morning. Rogue, Shadowcat and Mystique are promenading in the park. Rogue has finished recounting her adventure and tells them that Sunfire promised to contact her if the Yakiba turned up anything more. However, she’s not holding her breath. “No questions, Kitty, no badgerin’ me for details..? Not even ‘bout Shiro…?!” Rogue suddenly blurts out, genuinely surprised. After all she’s been through in the last few hours, she hates to even ask this but… did something happen back here last night?
Kitty admits it was a long night, that’s all. She’s just tired. Raven quips it must have been exhausting for her guarding a sleeping woman in a luxury penthouse, while Rogue handled all the dirty work. “Your dirty work, Raven,” Rogue retorts and reminds her that Kitty stayed behind with her as a favor. There’s still a lot left up in the air, though, questions about why the infiltrations occurred in the first place, how Mesmero and Mastermind were mixed up in it and who started…
“But the bottom line is?” Mystique impatiently interrupts her. “You’re off the hook for the murders. Completely,” Rogue reassures her. Raven thanks her. She understands how much Rogue risked, how much she still risks for her and with her. But she knew Rogue would not fail. She trusted her with her life. She always has and she always will. She is still the child she and Irene raised, the girl with so much spark in her eyes and in her soul. She believes Rogue’s spirit is as strong as ever – perhaps even stronger than Raven cares to admit – and it is hers. “Don’t lose that… don’t give up on who you are,” she urges her foster daughter.
Moved, Rogue weeps and tells Raven not to worry. Last night brought a lot of things into perspective for her. She’s running with a different crowd now, but she still knows when and how to break the rules. She gives her thanks to both her and Reenie and everything they all taught her about honoring her self…
Suddenly, as she sweeps her tears and looks around, she realizes Mystique has vanished. Kitty asks her if she’s okay. Better than ever, Rogue replies. Kitty hopes so because she hates to get so heavy on her, so early in the day and all… but there’s something she needs to tell her. To show her, actually, something she has every right to see for herself. Still, she warns Rogue she’s not going to believe it. It’s either really crazy or really, really scary… With this, she presents Destiny’s diary to Rogue.
In a secret hangar, hidden under the rolling green hills of a secluded Westchester estate, the X-Men are working on their newest vehicle. It has been some thirty hours after the return of Professor X, whom the X-Men believed to be dead. Charles admits this is a remarkable vehicle. They captured it from the Sentinels, they say? Cyclops quips that ‘captured’ might be a bit too generous. Beast clarifies that those rampaging robots had all been defeated, courtesy of the ingenuity of their Mr. Summers here. Thus, they just borrowed one of their ships for their own use, Angel adds.
“And you have discovered no hidden traps within its mechanisms?” Xavier reasonably wonders. It seems unlikely the Sentinels would have left one of their craft unsecured. Cyclops explains they found and deactivated a number of security systems. Charles is not sure that will be sufficient. He instructs them to scour the ship once more. If they are to make use of this vessel, they must be certain there are no lurking surprises! “You heard the man, people!” Scott tells his teammates. “One more time, by the numbers, top to bottom!”
Marvel Girl telepathically reveals to Professor X that she can sense what’s in his mind. Does he really think… “Silence, Marvel Girl!” Xavier rigorously shushes her with his thoughts. What he does, he does for the greater good of the team!
A bit further, Angel hopes the Prof isn’t eavesdropping telepathically right now, because, he admits to his teammates that he thinks this is a grade A waste of time! Iceman admits he’s on the same page with him here. First the Professor fools them into thinking he’s dead and then he pops up and starts bossing them around like they were still his students!
“And aren’t we, Bobby?” Cyclops retorts. “Whoa!” an impressed Warren exclaims. He wouldn’t have thought anyone could sneak up on them in a fishbowl like this but Cyke did it! And he overheard the grumbling in the ranks, Bobby observes. Question is, what is Scott going to do about it? “What I always do, Iceman: watch and wait!” Scott glibly replies. He reminds them that beating back the Z’Nox invasion took a lot out of Professor X. He almost died for real, but for Bruce Banner’s help. If they have to put up with him being a little edgy while he completely recovers…
Beast suddenly intervenes. He asks them to forgive his intrusion but there’s something in the main cockpit he thinks they should take a look at!
A moment later, inside the cockpit of the vehicle, Scott tells Hank he’s right. They all went over these control surfaces a dozen times… and none of them noticed that array of buttons before, Warren adds in surprise! Beast tells him that the mystery goes even deeper than that. He presents them with a device that appears to be nothing more than a dummy panel. The buttons are not connected to anything. Scott believes they better get that component into the electronics lab pronto. “Careful!” Bobby cautions them. If it’s Sentinel technology, there’s no telling that…
A voice behind them informs them that the Sentinels did not create that device: he did. The team turns around only to confront their archenemy… Magneto! “But he’s dead!” Warren gasps. “Or so you would wish, fools!” Magneto roars and unleashes his magnetic fury on them, yanking them all outside the vehicle.
As he collapses to the ground, Beast argues that there’s no way Magneto could have made his way this deep into their headquarters. Not without triggering half a hundred alarms, anyway. Which means there is something more going on here than is not immediately apparent to their optical endowments…
“Houf!!” he suddenly huffs as a hideously obese foot steps on his chest, preventing him from standing up… it’s the Blob! “Going’ somewheres, punk?” the Blob mocks him. The Angel flutters to his way, while wondering: since when Blob and Magneto are cahoots? “Since now, featherhead,” Blob retorts. And it’s not just them!
Indeed, the Toad suddenly leaps down and lands on Angel’s wings. The Toad cackles and gloats that not even the high-flying Angel is swift enough to elude his leaps! Angel wonders where the heck he came from! Cyclops advises Warren to sweat the details later. Right now, they have to…
He suddenly howls in pain and unleashes a random optic blast, as yet another unexpected foe crashes into the hangar and strikes him from behind… the Juggernaut! “Right now you have to die, Summers!” the Juggernaut finishes Scott’s phrase for him. Cyclops gasps that this can’t be happening! “Yeah?!” Cain scoffs at him. Well, then, Cyclops is about to get squashed by something that isn’t here!
“Don’t be the farm on that one, Jiggy!” Iceman intervenes. “Not while the ever-lovin’ Iceman is around to slow you down!” he brags and attempts to freeze him in a layer of ice. “You idiot!” the Juggernaut snarls and easily breaks through Bobby’s ice. He wonders: has there ever been a time when his ice was enough to stop him? Nothing can stop the Juggernaut!
To one side of the battle, Professor X is pleased: the others are performing much as he expected. He telepathically tells Jean that it is time for her to join the fray. Jean, however, is not sure how effective she’d be, knowing what she knows… Xavier insists that, nevertheless, she must do as she is told and instructs her to target the Blob with her telepathic powers. Marvel Girl hesitantly complies and confront the Blob: “Okay, lump… How about you and me take a few turns on the dance floor?” The Blob chuckles: “Ha! A girl and a cripple!” He revels: this is going to be too easy!
As she takes him on, Marvel Girl thinks that he moves like the Blob, it sounds like the Blob… “But, no!” she suddenly snaps back into reason. She must not let her mind run in that direction! She’s got to concentrate… “Always the very soul of tact, eh, Dukes?” she snidely remarks. Blob asks her to cut that out and get out of his head! Jean cruelly informs him that the last time they tussled with him, the Professor hadn’t shared his own telepathic abilities with her. And his control of inertia isn’t much use against someone who can send him to sleep with a thought… which she promptly does, putting him to sleep with her psychic powers!
“Well done, Jean Grey,” Magneto congratulates her. However, the electromagnetic fields he generates can deflect her telepathy, as Charles Xavier knows all too well. And her vaunted telekinetic powers are not up to the task of bending back these strips of metal the Juggernaut so thoughtfully provided with his entrance! Saying this, he manipulates the strips of metal and uses them to shackle Jean. “Get away from her, you monster!” Cyclops snarls and blasts him. Magneto easily avoids the shot, levitating and mocking Scott: “Ah, the anguished cry of a teenager in love, is there anything more timeless?” How sad, he thinks, that Cyclops must perish, with all his passions unrequited, strangled as always by his fears! With this, he sends Scott flying against a wall.
“No!” Jean shrieks and wonders how he can be so cruel. “Cruel?” Magneto repeats. Is that not a rather puny word to describe the evils that have been unleashed by the Master of Magnetism? Marvel Girl insists he knows very well what she’s talking about. This whole charade has gone long enough! Hearing this, Scott wonders what she’s saying. It suddenly dawns on him. “Oh… no!” he muses. It can’t be! And yet, it’s the only thing that makes sense!
“On your feet, Summers!” the Juggernaut puts him out of his thoughts, telling him that nap time’s over! Scott agrees to face him… but not the way he expects! Juggernaut impatiently huffs: is Cyclops just going to stand there? “Well, fine!” he growls. If Cyclops wants to commit suicide, the Juggernaut is just the man to help him… and with this, he tries to strike Scott but his fist curiously passes right through him! Juggernaut is at loss, much as Angel who watches is. “Does that mean…” Warren puts two and two together and suddenly realizes that of course it does! He tells his adversary, Toad, that this means their little tussle is also over and flies right through Toad’s ‘ghostly’ body.
Cyclops asks the Professor to turn it off. He thinks they’ve all proven themselves to him. Professor X agrees: they have done quite well. He shall terminate his mental projections! At once, the various “enemies” the team faced begin to vanish. “What gives!” Bobby remarks, seeing the ‘bad guys’ doing a fast fade. Hank explains they’re not real. As Cyclops seems to have deduced before any of them, they are merely images, placed in their minds by Professor X. Angel also realizes they have been fighting illusions!
Xavier insists they are not illusions; that is more the province of Mastermind. Rather, these were fragments of their memories, drawn from their subconscious and made to seem real by his telepathic powers. An exasperated Bobby realizes he tricked them: why? “Easy, Bobby,” Hank tries to appease him. He’s sure the Professor had a… reason. Charles insists that of course he did. In the time he was isolated, preparing a defense against the approaching Z’Nox, he was not able to monitor them all on a regular basis. This exercise was designed to make certain none of them had lost their edge without his guidance.
“Sounds like we missed something,” Cyclops’ younger brother, Havok, remarks, as he suddenly makes his entrance, in the company of Lorna Dane. Bobby angrily snaps that they missed being made fool of. “De-freezing” himself and sweeping himself with a towel, Bobby exclaims that he’s got to get out of here! He’s got to go clear his head! “Come on, baby, let’s you an’ me take a walk!” he tells Lorna.
“No, thanks, Bobby,” Lorna nervously stammers. She and Alex have other plans this afternoon… “Alex and you have…?” Bobby scowls at them. “Well doesn’t that put the cream on the cupcake!” he snorts with rage. Alex advises him to take it easy. He and Lorna haven’t exactly made a secret of their feelings for each other… “That cuts it!” Bobby grunts and announces he’s gone! “Call me if something real happens!” he adds before he leaves. Cyclops calls out his name but Jean suggests he lets him go. Bobby needs time to himself; time to think.
Xavier adds he also needs time alone now to prepare for debriefing them tomorrow. He asks Jean to wheel him back to his study. Marvel Girl complies. As they both exit, Warren chuffs: does the Prof know how to stage a homecoming or what! Beast notices there’s not a scrap of damage to the hangar or its contents. The whole battle took place in their heads. Cyclops stresses that Xavier used their own thoughts, their own fears against them. Something that might have been necessary then, but now – like Jean said – now it’s just cruel…