Professor Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters...
Little Ororo peers into the Danger Room, which, in her words, is totally a mess. Her accomplice Lockheed enthusiastically agrees. Storm really did a number on it, she tells the little, purple dragon. Again, Lockheed agrees. 'Ro mentions that Gambit, Kitty and Kurt are supposed to start cleaning up the room; she figures they must have something better to do. "Yah!" Lockheed squawks once again.
Little do they realize that "something better" for Kitty, Kurt and Gambit actually means an impromptu game of Danger Room debris baseball. Kitty takes the pitcher's mound. She hurls a balled-up heap of scrap metal toward the batter, Gambit. Nightcrawler, the catcher, tries to taunt Gambit into striking out. Gambit takes his advice and swings. However, the metal pole he uses for a bat connects with the projectile and sends it soaring across the vast expanse of the Danger Room. Kurt teleports out to the mid-field, grabs the ball and throws it back to Kitty. He urges her to catch Remy, but she has trouble with the mess lying around the room.
Kurt pitches next. He teleports into the air and lobs the ball at Gambit. Meanwhile, at that very moment, Scott Summers arrives at the Danger Room to check in on Nightcrawler's cleaning team. Inside the Danger Room, Gambit connects with the pitch once again. Did he mention he's a switch-hitter? His jovial demeanor ends when the metal ball flies directly at Cyclops's face just as he opens the door to the Danger Room. Only because of his quick reaction time does he survive by obliterating the ball with his optic blast.
Angered, he addresses Kurt, Kitty and Remy and asks what they're doing. They're supposed to be working, he reminds them. Which of them is responsible for their misbehavior? Kurt, Kitty and Remy all point at each other. Cyclops approaches Kitty first. He expected a lot better out of her, he says. Kitty asks him to cut them some slack. They've been working hard; they were just taking a break. They were talking and getting to know each other when Remy—
"Remy," Cyclops says, letting the name linger. "Why am I not surprised?" He tells Gambit it's his turn to explain. Gambit asks if he has a choice. "Nope," Scott says.
Up above, 'Ro—who wears one of the black and gold training uniforms given to students of Xavier's—watches with Lockheed from the control room. She asks what it is about that Scott guy; he actually made Remy look nervous. Lockheed squawks.
Down in the room, Kurt tries to explain to Scott that the mess in the Danger Room is little more than junk. Storm fried all the circuitry with her lightning bolts; internal fires and power flashes took care of the rest. They'll have to recycle everything and start over again from scratch, Kurt says. He also reminds Scott that Kitty and Hank are working on the core network, with new firewalls and safeguards. It will take them some time to get the room back online. Scott asks if he means in-between games of 'Batter Up'. Of course, Kurt answers. He asks Scott if he wants to participate.
'Ro, meanwhile, urges Lockheed to keep quiet. They're not supposed to be near the Danger Room, she tells the little dragon. She takes a moment to revel in the fact that she's talking to a real, live dragon. It's totally crazy, she says. Sometimes, she swears Lockheed can even understand her. Does that make her any less crazy, though? After all, she can create weather, and sometimes, if she focuses really hard, she can fly! She stands on one leg and spreads her arms out in flying position. Nothing happens. "Uh-oh," Lockheed says. 'Ro sighs. Maybe she can't fly after all. Cursing her mutant powers, she asks why they don't ever work. After all, everything works perfectly for Storm; how come it always has to be so hard for 'Ro? Lockheed yawns.
Confused, 'Ro scratches her head. She imagines what Remy would say to her: "'Chère, you're just a kid.’” “‘You just have to wait, 'Ro—til you grow up a little more.'" That's easy for him to say, 'Ro says; he's there already. To her surprise, she hears a noise coming from somewhere in the room that sounds like a scaled-down version of a lightning bolt. Although she cannot it see because of an obstruction in her line of sight, a small thundercloud forms nearby. 'Ro has only a moment to ponder the source of the noise when a strong gust of wind whips through the control room and nearly carries her out the window. Lockheed bites onto her belt to stop her, but ends up getting pulled along for the ride.
The gust of wind forces them out of the control room and into the Danger Room, where it transforms into a localized tornado—with 'Ro and Lockheed caught in its center. The X-Men look up, more surprised than anything. Kurt teleports toward the wind funnel but, try as he might, can't seem to reach 'Ro; the devil wind has a mind of its own. Gambit, meanwhile, advises his teammates to beware of the airborne debris, which has effectively turned into shrapnel. Kitty looks up at the tornado in horror; what happened to her dragon? The wind-battered 'Ro apologizes and swears it was an accident. She can't make it stop!
For some reason, the tornado dissipates at that moment, and Ororo falls toward Cyclops. They collide and Scott falls backward into the scrap heap. The rest of the X-Men rush over to help them. Is 'Ro all right? Nightcrawler jokes that, yet again, the Danger Room lives up to its name. Kitty is in no mood for joking; Lockheed had better not be hurt, she says. "Temper, katzchen, temper," Nightcrawler says. "Your first encounters with this room were just as memorable."
'Ro apologizes profusely to Cyclops. He smiles and tells her not to mention it; around the X-mansion, accidents have been known to happen. She helps him off the ground. When he asks if she is okay, 'Ro reminds him that he is the one who got slammed. After assuring her he is just fine, he asks the X-Men to get back to work.
Meanwhile, upstairs, the blind X-Mansion guest Sabretooth wanders around in his casual attire. He hears the noises coming from the basement with his heightened senses and wonders if it's some kind of localized 'boomer'. That aside, the mansion is virtually empty. He detects a lot of residual scents. He can smell Rogue in her room. Jean and Hank are down in his lab. Only one other X-guy is active topside, he realizes.
As Sabretooth wanders into the kitchen to grab some grub, he wonders if Logan is laughing at him from wherever he is. Is it funny to see Sabretooth without his eyes? He grabs a box of Wheaty O's, pours them into a bowl and douses it with a can of beer. My healin's stronger'n yours, Logan, Sabretooth thinks. Who knows, my sight may actually grow back. All it'll take is time. An' that, I've always had to spare, he thinks. "Ain't that right, Chucky?"
He is speaking, of course, to Charles Xavier, who is sitting across the kitchen in his wheelchair and watching Sabretooth eat. Xavier reminds Sabretooth that he accepted such familiarity from Logan because Logan was his friend. Sabretooth, however, has no such privileges. As he consumes a ladleful of beer and cereal, Sabretooth asks Xavier why he thinks he would care. Xavier tells Sabes he cares nothing for the people around him. "Care is something you earn," Sabretooth replies. "Among the lot of you, there's only one even comes close to makin' that cut." How dare he! Xavier snaps. "Blood speaks to blood, Charley," Sabretooth replies. "She got more than a claw from the boy—she became a part of me, same as him." Professor X reminds him the girl is but a child. It's a little too late for that, Sabretooth says. The X-Men are all pretty much children; the time to worry about them was before Xavier knocked on their doors. After all, he was the one who set this car in motion, Sabretooth says. He reminds the professor that the kids trust him; they believe in him. Xavier is the one who has to face the consequences of that.
Changing the subject, Professor X asks Sabretooth what he wants and why he is still hanging around the mansion. Sabretooth explains that because Storm killed Logan, he must kill her. However, like Cyclops said, that won't be the end of it. Someone set Storm in motion, which automatically puts them on Sabretooth's list. He will stop when those people are gone. He explains to Xavier that, unlike Logan, he knows who he is and what he does. Logan thought what he did best wasn't very nice. Sabretooth, however, thinks what he does best is glorious; he's never hidden that. Professor X, on the other hand, hides everything. He wonders, at the end of the day, which of them has the better way. As Professor X wheels out of the room, Sabretooth advises him to be careful; folks may be scared of Sabretooth, but liars, they tend to hate.
"How do you feel, Jean?" Hank asks. Jean asks how many times he's going to ask. As many times as it takes him to get a straight answer, Beast says. Jean refuses to believe Logan is dead. She can't bear the hurt she has caused Scott. She's terrified of the feelings she senses inside of Kitty; she's never felt passions so raw. Kitty senses Sabretooth stalking her, and she's terrified of that confrontation—and yet, she hungers for it. That's how she feels, Jean tells Hank. Isn't he glad he asked? "Aren't you glad you answered?" Hank responds. Actually, she is, Jean sighs. Hank reminds her he is her friend; he listens without judging.
Jean turns to the myriad computer monitors in Hank's lab and asks what he's researching. He encourages her to see for herself and points her toward the list of contacts on the screen. Jean immediately understands. The list extends back several years; Charles has been tracking mutants as far back as he can find records. These are private files, she reminds Hank. Hank admits he doesn't care; the more he discovers about Xavier, the less he feels obliged to follow his rules. Although he is loathe to admit it's true, he can't argue with the empirical evidence. He turns to face Jean. They lock eyes for a moment, their faces dangerously close to each other. "And... as much as it pains me to say, Jean, I think we both know now the horrible secret of being a mutant," Hank says. "We all of us seem to die young."
The Danger Room...
As the X-Men continue to clear out the Danger Room, Nightcrawler remarks that Jean's telekinesis could certainly help with the heavy lifting. Scott informs him Jean is working with Hank. Kurt doesn't think Hank's strength would hurt, either. As he blasts a pile of debris, Scott reminds Kurt that they do the best with that they have. He then asks Kitty to phase some raw pieces down to the recycling bay. She tells him she's already on it.
Elsewhere in the room, 'Ro approaches Remy and asks if they're going to stay. When he asks what she means, she clarifies that this isn't really their life. Do they belong with the X-Men? Remy asks if she wants to go back to New Orleans and pick up where they left off. She does. It makes sense to Gambit, but 'Ro senses he has a better idea.
Before she can learn just what this idea is, however, the doors to the Danger Room slam shut. Nightcrawler advises his allies to be wary; the room has gone active! He thought Kitty shut everything down. She did, except for the lights, Kitty says. A stream of fire suddenly engulfs her body, but Kitty phases through it. She doesn't understand how this is happening. Cyclops had better not be playing games!
'Ro asks Cyclops what Kitty means by that. As they evade a large robot forming from the scrap metal, Cyclops informs Ororo that, back in the day, he would occasionally arrange for surprise scenarios in the Danger Room to keep everyone on their toes. This is not one of them. He calls out to Gambit and makes him aware of the wreckage robot. Gambit, meanwhile, remarks that the room must have its own recycling program.
Lockheed flies over to Kitty, bites down on the back of her baseball T-shirt and tries to pull her to safety. Nearby, Cyclops sends 'Ro for cover while he fends off the approaching scrap monster with his optic blasts. Nightcrawler swings in on a loose cable and carries 'Ro to safety. She asks what will happen to Cyclops, but Kurt tells her Scott can take care of himself.
Nightcrawler continues his arc across the room when a set of spiked platforms thrust toward him from both sides. He teleports both himself and 'Ro around the deadly obtrusions, but the effect makes 'Ro queasy. Kurt apologizes; teleporting has that effect on people sometimes. Regardless, he tells her to hang tight, as he's afraid the worst is yet to come. Once more, he and 'Ro disappear with a BAMF! This time, they rematerialize outside the sealed Danger Room doors. She says she's going to be sick. Although Kurt tells her she will get used to it with time, 'Ro swears she'll never let him do that to her again.
Lockheed and Kitty Pryde phase through the door right behind Kurt and 'Ro. Things are getting really nasty in there, she says to Kurt. She asks if he noticed the systems adapting to their powers. She doubts the network will let them back inside using either her phase power or his teleportation power. This horrifies 'Ro, who suddenly realizes Cyclops and Gambit are still inside. Kurt asks if there is anything else they can do, but Kitty doesn't think so. They already disconnected the power and cybernetic mains. With the way the system is consuming its energy, it should burn through the reserves in no time at all. Until then, though, Scott and Remy are on their own.
Inside the Danger Room, Gambit focuses on dodging missiles while Cyclops holds the robot at bay with his mutant power. Remy notices he doesn't look too worried; Scott chalks it up to his basic arrogance. He refuses to let the room—or the network running it—get the better of him. Gambit asks him if he's really that good. In response, Scott points out that Gambit is keeping pace; he's certainly not bad himself.
Scott turns Remy's attention to the big, red, circular module by the door. He tells him that it's a power vent, and if he punches it, the system will crash. It can't be as easy as just pressing a button, Remy sighs as he approaches the door. He tells Cyclops the deed is as good as done. However, before he can reach the button, a set of robotic tentacles reach out and ensnare him. Clearly, stopping the Danger Room won't be as easy as he assumed. He asks Scott for some assistance. Scott, however, is too busy splitting his optic blast to fend off a flurry of approaching attacks to help; Gambit is on his own. Now held upside-down, Gambit charges up a playing card.
Outside the door, Kurt says to Kitty that because of Storm's attack, there is no way of knowing how dangerous the room might be for Scott and Remy. He begins suggesting they teleport to the auxiliary grid out back to put a stop to it. Just as he says this, however, Gambit hurls his charged card at the module by the door and blows it to pieces. The door to the Danger Room jerks open, and Cyclops leaps out, pushing 'Ro out of the way of a set of escaping missiles. The weapons explode harmlessly.
Cyclops helps 'Ro up off the ground and comments that collisions between them seem to be becoming a habit. He asks if she is okay. "I'm kind'a squished," she says. "But no more 'young lady', okay? I'm 'Ro," she says. She asks about Remy's whereabouts; is he all right?
Kitty peers into the open Danger Room door and gasps. Nightcrawler, meanwhile, teleports right next to her and begins explaining what happened, but the sight Kitty sees also catches his eye and makes him gasp as well. Inside the Danger Room, Gambit still hangs suspended—harmlessly—by the robotic coils. Smirking at his teammates, he tells them not to mind him; he's just hanging around until one of them can figure out how to cut him down. "By the way, that was fun!" Remy adds. "Anyone interested in settin' things up for Round 2?"
A while later...
In the rec room, Cyclops commends Gambit's performance inside the Danger Room earlier and thanks him for his help. No problem, Remy tells him. Cyclops continues; according to 'Ro, she and Remy have plans. Remy thanks Scott for everything they've done, but admits the X-Men is not where he and 'Ro belong. He doesn't mean any offense, but they have their own lives to live. They're not superheroes. Cyclops asks 'Ro how about this, and she admits she feels the same way. This isn't her place, she says, and it isn't her life.
Scott reminds them a whole lot has changed in the past few days: the solid rock beneath them has turned to sand. Although he understands their feelings, he thinks they all need to stay together. Too many of their lives are in the wind. If they go their separate ways, they'll end up getting lost. Besides, if they go solo, they're just easy targets. Gambit begs to differ; he can take care of himself. Cyclops asks if he feels the same way about 'Ro. She's just a girl, after all; doesn't she deserve the chance to grow up to become a woman?
Gambit asks Scott if he truly thinks the Xavier Institute is the place for that. It might be the place to start, Scott suggests. Gambit asks 'Ro what she thinks. Does she have anything to add? They're talking about her life, after all.
'Ro turns away from them and lowers her head. "What if Storm's the truth, Remy, an' I'm the lie?" she asks. Gambit tells her that truth is truth, but life is what you make of it. Where she came from doesn't matter; where she chooses to go, and how she chooses to get there, do. 'Ro admits she's scared, but Gambit asks if she intends to face her fear, or run.
Elsewhere, Nightcrawler repairs a motherboard in the Danger Room while Kitty assists. He comments on how quiet she's been. She's just been thinking, she says. Kurt asks about what. Everything that's happened, she says. "I miss him too, katzchen," Kurt says.
"Yeah—but you don't have pieces of him inside you, Kurt, body and soul! You don't have his dad scoping you out as his next prey," Kitty says. "I feel—like I don't know who I am anymore. I don't like what I've become." Nightcrawler brusquely tells her to deal with it. She should know by now how he would reply to a problem like this. He reminds her she cannot change the fundamental nature of her existence. She must learn to adapt and cope and overcome—or accept that she will be forever overwhelmed. Given who they are and what they have accomplished, he finds it quite impossible to believe she would do that. "Not showing any mercy tonight, are you, Elf?" Kitty asks.
He tells her he is bound by faith: faith in God, and faith in her. She was given these gifts of hers for a reason. Admittedly, Kurt does not yet understand that reason, and he confesses part of him feels concern. What he knows above all else, though, is Kitty. He can't say where her path will lead. He suspects it will be hard, but, in the end, he knows it will be good. Kitty hopes he's right.
Outside Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, a S.H.I.E.L.D. carrier sits parked on the lawn while two soldiers stand guard. Inside, Nick Fury takes a phone call from his colleague Daisy. He can't believe it; he's been gone less than a day and they're still setting up shop at Xavier's, and she's already calling in an emergency? On the other end of the line, Daisy Dugan explains that they lost contact with a foreign dispatch investigating suspicious activity in South America. They were only two days into the Amazon when they fell off the grid—until now. Fury asks what happened; did they get lost in the woods. Nope, Daisy says; it appears as if they lost them. She sends Fury some visuals.
Xavier's eyes widen as he looks at the incoming images. Fury furrows his brow; he asks Daisy from where the image came. She explains it was pirated off a keyhole surveillance grid established by the C.I.A. during a routine orbital surveillance of South America. In fact, she doubts the Pentagon has even noticed the anomaly. Understandable, Xavier says. This wouldn't register as one of the Pentagon's defined threats. He turns to Fury and asks him if he's observing the image correctly; are those tanks?
Sure enough, on the computer monitor, an image of a vegetation-filled crater with abrupt side and flattened tanks on the bottom fills the screen. It almost resembles a footprint…