A ramshackle army medical camp…smoke from a war-torn town billows in the background, while refugees and medical aid workers go about their business in the camp. ‘I don’t really remember this. Did it happen? Were we - here together?’ Nurse Amelia Voght asks the man lying on the stretcher across from her. ‘You were here, Amelia. It’s a field hospital near Tripoli. You passed through it briefly eight years ago. But not with me’ Charles Xavier replies - or at least is astral form does. ‘So this is a dream?’ Amelia asks, before smiling as she tells Charles Xavier that it is good to see him. ‘Brings it all back’ she adds, before asking to what it is she owes the pleasure. ‘I wanted to warn you. I’m coming to New Avalon. I’m on my way right now’ Xavier reveals to his former lover. ‘You’ll be welcome here’ Amelia assures Charles , but taking Amelia’s hand he replies that he won’t, really, ‘Because I’m coming to tear it down’.
Amelia lets out a small scream as she wakes, sitting upright in bed, just as Marshall Marshallstone III a.k.a. Random passes her quarters, telling her that it is time to haul it. ‘You hear those sirens?’ he asks, telling her that there is a steaming heap of trouble headed right for the fan. ‘I - I had a dream -’ Amelia begins as she gets up and walks alongside Random through the New Avalon corridors. ‘This place burning, right?’ Random asks. ‘And Charles Xavier walking through the ashes’. He adds that he had a couple of Hooters waitresses too, but thinks they were in the back of his mind already.
Amelia and Random shortly arrive at the control room, where Exodus asks Karima Shapandar a.k.a. Omega Sentinel whether Xavier is in range of their defenses. The human-Sentinel hybrid replies that Xavier has been for the last three miles, but that he is just walking. ‘Unarmed, alone. It’s hard to see him as a threat’ she points out. Heather “Tempo” Tucker and Carmella Unuscione round out the current Acolytes roster as they remain at their positions in the control room. Exodus reminds everyone that Xavier is the strongest mutant mind ever known, and that the visions he sent them were very clear. He orders his team to monitor the situation and wait on his order. ‘He’s coming to the outer doors. And unless he has a rocket launcher hidden in his sleeve, that’s where he has to stop!’ Exodus exclaims.
Indeed, the founder of the Uncanny X-Men approaches the inconspicuous looking steel doors and pauses, before pressing a hand against the door and whispering ‘Open’. Moments later, the mighty doors rumble as they move apart from each other, letting Xavier pass through them. ‘Thank you’ Xavier whispers as he makes his way through the factory-like New Avalon.
In the control room, Omega Sentinel is “hooked up” to the controls and announces that the doors throughout New Avalon are opening as Xavier walks up to them, and that the defense grid refuses to track him. ‘This is insane! Xavier has no telekinetic power!’ Karima exclaims, when, suddenly, Carmella exclaims ‘It - it’s me! He’s using my hands!’ she declares as her hands move about uncontrollably.
Fire rages behind Xavier and parts of New Avalon crumble, when, suddenly, he finds himself passing through the laser sensors. ‘I ordered psi-shields!’ Exodus shouts at Unuscione, who replies that she is wearing one, but that it must have fritzed. Omega Sentinel announces that her sensors read Unuscione’s shield as functional, but on stand-by. ’I think your memory of switching it on was planted in your mind by the Professor’ she declares.
‘Weapons to automatic! Visual and electronic authorization!’ Exodus shouts, but even though the various weapons in the corridors of New Avalon blast at Xavier, he simply passes them by with ease. Carmella suddenly announces that Xavier has disappeared from the scanners, but Omega Sentinel declares that the scanners have gone offline, at Tempo’s authorization, time code 0330 hours. ’What?’ Heather asks, confused.
Exodus remarks that Xavier has been manipulating their minds for some time, and orders Omega Sentinel to slave all functions to her own motherboard, before telling Random, Tempo and Unuscione to go and find Xavier, while he checks their psi-shields himself. ’You got it, chief!’ Random replies.
Moments later, Heather, Marshall and Carmella make their way down a corridor, while Marshall exclaims that he has a bad feeling about this. ‘He’s just a man. A weak, frail old man’ Carmella points out. ‘Who can think us to death with one brain hemisphere tied behind his back’ Random points out, when, suddenly, Xavier appears before them: ’Are you looking for me?’ he asks. Random lets out a yelp, before holding up his morphed arm as a large weapon, and exclaiming ’That’s far enough, Professor. Our minds are all locked up!’. ’Yes, so I see’ Xavier replies, before exclaiming ’Court square, Decatur. June. The smell of violets. Remember’. which causes Random to start blasting energy from his weapon, though Carmella manages to put a force field up around herself before she is hit, while Tempo is behind him. ’Random - don’t!’ Heather calls out, but it’s too late and the trio become “stuck” thanks to her power to slow down or speed up time. Xavier passes the three mutants remarking that the psi-shields keep him out only now, but he left those post-hypnotic suggestions when he visited their dreams last night.
Making his way down another corridor, Xavier is suddenly surrounded by a mist. ‘Amelia’ he declares. ‘Charles. What Judas kiss did you plant in my mind?’ the sultry woman asks, aiming a large weapon at her former lover. ‘None. I did that to you once. And then forgot it’. They stare at each other while Charles remarks that now he has remembered, he would see the green Earth burn before he hurt her again. Amelia stares at him for some time longer, before hanging her head. Xavier walks away, and Amelia begins to cry.
Soon, Xavier enters the control room of New Avalon, where Exodus and Omega Sentinel are waiting for him. ‘Tricks!’ Exodus exclaims. ‘If you like’ Xavier replies. ‘Variations on a theme. You tampered with our minds before you dared come against us. A coward’s stratagem!’ Exodus declares. Charles assures Exodus that he has not touched his mind, and that he is all out of tricks. ’All I’m asking from you is a moment of your time’ Xavier tells Exodus. ’Sentinel’ Exodus exclaiming, turning to Karima. ’Yes, Exodus?’ Karima asks. ’Are your weapon systems trained on Charles Xavier? Locked and primed?’ Exodus asks. ’No. They’re trained on you!’ Karima replies, aiming a massive weapon at Exodus’ face.
‘You dare?’ Exodus booms, to which Karima declares that whatever humanity she still has, it is down to Charles Xavier. ’I can’t harm him. Or stand by and see him harmed’ Karima declares. ’Then it ends as it should. Your mind against mine’ Exodus snaps at Xavier. ’You think I came here to fight you, Bennet du Parris? You’re wrong’ Xavier replies, telling Exodus that he wanted him to understand what was at stake, which is why he sent the dreams, so Exodus would not receive him mistakenly, in friendship. ’I’m not here as a friend’ Xavier reveals.
‘You intend to destroy the Acolytes’ Exodus declares. ‘I see no alternative. But no blood needs to be shed’ Charles replies calmly. ‘You think not?’ Exodus retorts. Exodus announces that so long as life and breath are in him, he will not yield to Xavier. ‘I made a vow to defend my people. To lead them safe from the midst of their foes. My life, my soul as gage. I swore it!’ he exclaims. Xavier asks Exodus if that it still his purpose, to which Exodus snaps back ‘Never doubt it’. ‘Good’ Xavier tells him as he begins to walk out of the control room, asking Exodus to walk with him so they can talk.
Following Xavier down a corridor, Exodus tells the foremost telepath that he will not persuade him. ‘If that’s so, what have you got to lose?’ Xavier asks. ‘My time, certainly. My peace of mind. My way, perhaps’ Exodus replies. Charles glances back and remarks ‘But you are the way. Isn’t that what you always say? The path that others follow into the light?’ Xavier asks. ‘I promise you, you have nothing to fear’ he assures Exodus. But Exodus narrows his eyes as he tells Xavier that he never said he was afraid of him, and declares that he only fears two things - dishonor and dying with his work still left unfinished. ‘Lead on’ he tells Charles, before asking him if he can tell him where they are going. ‘Into my memories. This is a mind-walk. And it will only take a second of objective time. To the outside world, the pause in our conversation will barely even be noticeable’. Omega Sentinel. Tempo, Random and Carmella look on as the powerful men pass them by.
‘These are my Acolytes’ Exodus remarks, motioning to the first image that passes into their mind-walk. ‘Yours. And Magneto’s. And Joseph’s. Almost all the Acolytes who ever were’ Xavier points out. Indeed, from original Acolyte the manic Fabian Cortez, through to long-time Acolytes like the Kleinstock Brothers, unwitting Acolyte Skids and newer Acolyte Random. ‘They are the bravest and noblest company I ever fought with. Their very names are a blazon’ Exodus remarks. Xavier asks ‘How many of those names are now carved on headstones, Exodus? How many fell, in your wars or someone else’s?’. Examining the images, Exodus replies ‘The majority. That is the nature of the crusade. As I’m sure your own dead students would explain to you if they still had the breath to do it’ he adds.
Another image flashes before Xavier and Exodus - this time of various X-Men and their associates from different eras running towards representatives of the various mutant villain teams over the years: Jean Grey from her days with the Original X-Factor, Polaris and Strong Guy from their time with the government-sanctioned X-Factor, Sunspot from his X-Force days, Cannonball from his recent time with the X-Men and more, going up against well-known foes like Magneto, Sabretooth, Juggernaut and Mystique, as well as lesser-known mutant villains like Strobe, Post, Stonewall and Harpoon. ‘Many of these are strangers to me’ Exodus remarks ‘The Brotherhood. The Mutant Liberation Front. The Hellions. The Horsemen of Apocalypse. The Alliance of Evil. The Nasty Boys. The Marauders. Other armies, assembled to fight other wars’ Xavier replies.
The next image appears courtesy of the massacre of the unfortunate Hellions. ‘Mostly civil wars. Internecine conflicts. Mutant against mutant. To settle some issue of doctrine or to decide some purely theoretical pecking order’ Xavier explains to Exodus, before asking once more how many mutants died. ‘How earnestly did Homo Sapiens Superior try to purge itself from the world?’
‘I’m not responsible for other men’s mistakes!’ Exodus exclaims. ‘You are if you repeat them. If you compound madness with yet more madness, world without end!’ Xavier replies as they watch Colossus, his steel body frozen in place after being super-heated, then subjected to absolute cold. Another classic battle between the X-Men - Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and their long-time ally Amanda Sefton - and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants - Blob, Avalanche and Pyro - plays out in the background.
The image changes again, this time to the event known as the “Magneto War” - where Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Colossus, Gambit and Marrow are battling several of the Acolytes. ‘You talk about your people, and your duty to them. But when the Messiah Child came, your response was to try to seize her for your own group - your own agenda’ Xavier tells Exodus. ‘As if this was a fight in a school playground, instead of a struggle for our very survival!’ Xavier adds. ’Man, I have fought in that struggle since before you were conceived!’ the truly ancient mutant replies.
While the image around them changes to that of the Original X-Men’s battle with Magneto, Xavier remarks that the world changed around Exodus as he fought. ‘Changed out of all recognition. The Decimation came and went, and here you still are’.
‘Yes! Here I still am! First in the lists, in each and every battle!’ Exodus replies, waving his fists in the air. ‘Where in God’s name would you have me be?’ he asks Charles, while an even older image of the X-Men - Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Iceman, Archangel, Colossus and Bishop - battling the Acolytes who have Dr Moira MacTaggert as their prisoner, appears in the mind-walk.
Moments later, the mind-walk ends, and Charles and Exodus’ surroundings return to that of New Avalon, with Random, Carmella, Tempo and Omega Sentinel standing nearby. In answer to Exodus’ question, Xavier replies that he would have him with the few remaining mutants - with the X-Men, perhaps - in San Francisco. ‘Not fighting a long-dead war on an imaginary battlefield’ Charles adds. ‘So your X-Men are right and everybody else is wrong?’ Exodus asks. ‘Not my X-Men. Not any more. And right and wrong are not the issue’ Charles replies.
‘She came, and you almost killed her. What will you do when she comes again?’ Xavier asks, adding that the ledge they stand on is too narrow for warring factions. ‘One wrong move, and we all fall together into the abyss’, Xavier adds. Exodus boasts that he will not let that happen, to which Xavier asks Bennet how he will stop it. ‘When human armies come against you, how will you make an alliance with former enemies?’ Xavier asks, warning Exodus that they will come - impelled by their fear, and the mutants’ weakness. ‘Mutant-kind must act together, or else they’ll die piecemeal. Those really are the only options!’. Exodus pauses and looks at Xavier, before turning and walking away from him, replying ‘I will consider this. We will all consider it’.
Shortly, Xavier and Omega Sentinel walk side-by-side down a corridor. ‘In there, Professor. But she won’t thank you for this’ Karima tells Charles, who replies that he wouldn’t expect her to, before asking why Exodus has not done this already, for certainly he has the power. Entering a lab, Xavier and Karima approach Joanna “Frenzy” Cargill, who is in a coma. Karima remarks ‘She disobeyed him when she tried to kill you’, and suggests that leaving her like this is Exodus’ way of punishing her. ‘Or perhaps - of respecting her strength’ Xavier suggests, before casting his hand in Frenzy’s direction and exclaiming ‘You must wake, Joanna Cargill. Wake to the world, and don’t be afraid!’ he exclaims, telling Frenzy that her comrades - her friends - have missed her.
Frenzy’s eyes open, and she moans, before seeing who stands over her, she shouts ‘Xavier! I’ll kill you!’ as she rips through her restraints. Xavier tells Joanna that a debate is about to start - concerning the future of the Acolytes - and that she should be a part of it. ‘Or try to touch me again, and sleep for another year’ he warns her.
Later, Xavier sits at a desk and plays a game of chess against himself, when mist suddenly surrounds him, and Amelia materializes. ‘Isn’t that a foregone conclusion?’ Amelia asks. ‘Amelia. No, not entirely’ Xavier tells her. ‘But white can’t win’ Amelia tells Charles, who replies that if white runs out of moves, he can force a stalemate - turn his weakness into a kind of strength, before asking Amelia if she has decided. ‘Exodus is leaving. On what he calls a pilgrimage’ Amelia replies. ‘And the rest of you?’ Xavier asks. Amelia reveals that she is going to San Francisco, and that Random and Karima are going with her, and Tempo might too, but Cargill and Unuscione are angry. ‘They don’t understand what’s changed’ she tells Xavier.
Wide-eyed, Amelia tells Xavier that he has defeated the Acolytes, almost without a fight. ‘I suppose I’m impressed’ she adds, informing Xavier that the part of her that hates him for it is relatively small. ‘You brought me back to life’ Xavier tells Amelia, putting a hand on her shoulder. ‘That was Exodus’ Amelia corrects him. ‘Not then. After I lost the use of my legs in India. All those years ago’ Charles reminds her. ‘You say a part of you hates me. I hate many parts of myself. I hate the Charles Xavier who squandered your trust and drove you away’ Charles reveals. ‘I wish that he’d never lived’.
Amelia looks at Charles as she tells him that there was also an Amelia Voght who was too afraid to see the truth about herself. ‘It wasn’t all your fault’ she assures him. ‘But I owed you so much, and gave you such a poor return. Amelia, I’d like to -’ Xavier begins, but Amelia puts her fingers to Charles’ mouth: ‘Not today’ she tells him, before turning away from him and shifting her form into mist: ‘This is a day of endings’ Amelia declares as she vanishes, leaving Charles alone.
Outside New Avalon, Marshall tells Amelia, Carmella, Heather, Joanna and Karima, while Charles walks behind them, to get to a safe distance, as the roof is about to come down. Frenzy suddenly spins around and shouts ‘This is wrong. You’re all cowards and fools!’ she tells them. ‘To give up on a fight because the odds have changed against you!’. Suddenly, Exodus appears flying above them all. ‘Not just the odds, Joanna Cargill. The battlefield. The prize. The very reason why we fight!’ he exclaims, pointing out that mutant-kind are not a race anymore. ‘They need a different kind of protector now. A different kind of crusade. We must all of us consider what that might be. Strive to be the knights our lost tribes need - whatever that striving might cost us!’ he tells his former followers.
‘And in the meantime - turn out backs on the ways that can help us no longer!’ Exodus exclaims, as he unleashes a mighty energy which levels New Avalon, leaving only a giant crater in its place. When the dust clears, only Exodus and Xavier remain. After a moment, Charles approaches Exodus, calling out to him, but Exodus replies that he renounces the name. ’Moses led his people to a land flowing with milk and honey. I presided over a retreat’. But Xavier tells Exodus that this is not what this is, as it was all past time, that’s all. ’To declare an armistice on wars we already lost’.
‘Not to forget the past, but to make our peace with it - and live at last in the present’ Xavier adds. ‘The present? It’s a wilderness where wounded animals spit at Heaven. And devour each other even as they die’ Exodus retorts. ‘Then change it’ Xavier tells him. Suddenly, a helicopter descends near Xavier and Exodus, scattering more dust around as it lands. Xavier and Exodus look at the chopper, before Exodus remarks that the pilot works for HAMMER, though he is not certain why he is here, while the other occupants hide themselves behind mechanical scramblers. ‘Was this all part of some wider strategy, Xavier?’ Exodus asks.
‘No, Ecodus. I have no idea why these people are here - or how they found you’ Charles assures Bennet. Inside the chopper, several agents of HAMMER remark that the area is secure, and moments later Norman Osborn, Director of HAMMER, along with his Executive Assistant, Victoria Hand, step out of the chopper and approach the two mutants. ‘Professor Xavier. I’m Norman Osborn. I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?’…. Xavier just frowns….