Utopia, home to the Uncanny X-Men and their myriad allies, where right now, Mindee, Celeste and Phoebe - the Stepford Cuckoos - stand over the motionless body of their teammate Trance. The telepathic girls inform Cyclops that there is increased activity in both hemisphere’s of Trance’s brain, especially in her reticular and limbic cortexes. ‘She’ll wake in the next few minutes’ they announce. In the X-Club laboratory, Cyclops stands near Doctor Nemesis and Ariel and remarks that when Trance wakes, the effects of Rogue’s touch will have worn off. ‘If that’s true on Rogue’s side, too, she could be in real trouble’ Cyclops adds, before asking the Cuckoos what Rogue’s status is.
The Cuckoos reply that Rogue hasn’t moved and that her astral form has not returned either. ‘We’ve got no hint of a psionic trace on her’ they add. While Madison Jeffries and Kavita Rao go about their business, Cyclops tells the girls to keep searching, before asking Doctor Nemesis if the machine is ready to go. Doctor Nemesis replies that he believes it is and remarks that they should be able to throw a liminal dragnet over anything that arrives here in Utopia from an adjacent dimension. ‘In theory, tearing it to pieces’ Doctor Nemesis adds. Cyclops orders him to activate the dragnet at the first sign of Emplate or his house. He adds that Bling is ninety percent diamond and Rogue is effectively a ghost right now, so it is going to take a lot to hurt either of them.
At that moment, in Emplate’s dimension, Rogue’s “Trance” form finds herself getting leeched by the vampiric mutant, while his lackey, DOA, keeps Bling occupied. ‘Stupid girl. To come into my house. To challenge me. When you know I can meet you on any plane - ghost, solid, or in-between’ Emplate declares as his hand covers Rogue’s mouth, leeching her. He tells her that she will now feed him, as so many other mutants have. ‘And Ah will endure. Just as - just as Ah have -’ he exclaims oddly, before going wide-eyed and asking Rogue what she is doing to him. ‘What’s happening? Why am Ah -’ he asks while Rogue wraps her hands onto his arm.
Rogue then reveals her hands to now have leech like abilities stolen from Emplate, and she extends a hand to his throat, where she wraps it around his neck, despite his protests. ‘Cuts both ways Emplate! You get mah powers and Ah get yours!’ Rogue exclaims as she breaks free from Emplate’s grasp. Emplate cowers before her, ‘Don’t touch me!’ he exclaims while Rogue hovers before him and remarks that it looks like a stalemate. ‘Stalemate? You’re injured and failing. You can barely cope with the power you took from me. I only have to wait until you collapse. Or fade away completely’ Emplate retorts.
‘All out of power. All our of time. Can you even get back to your own body, Rogue?’ Emplate asks. ‘Or will you just flicker out like a candle flame?’. Emplate moves towards Bling and exclaims that, either way, Rogue will get to watch as he devours Bling, whom she came here to protect. ‘Shugah - Ah don’t think so!’ rogue exclaims, when suddenly, there is a loud SKRAK as the lighthouse shudders, and Rogue, Bling, Emplate and DOA find themselves thrust into the air. ‘Did we forget to pay the gravity bill?’ DOA jokes, while Emplate asks Rogue what she has done. ‘You got your compass creature well trained, Emplate’ Rogue replies. ‘He knows what to expect if he doesn’t jump to it and do what he’s told. So ah gave him a new heading. Ah told him to shoot for Utopia’. Rogue adds that she maybe should have warned him not to hit anything that was lying in the way.
A wide-eyed Emplate looks horrified, as he gazes through a hole in the wall and sees the lighthouse and his small floating island breaking up against the glass moon that it hit. ‘No!’ Emplate exclaims, while DOA remarks that he normally just covers the cracks with Beatles posters, but that this time they could need something more load-bearing. ‘You cretinous dwarf! The house is irrelevant! But the glass moon - you know what lives in there. If it’s damaged where we hit it -’ Emplate exclaims as the glass moon begins to crack. He turns to Rogue, ‘You don’t know what you’ve done!’ he shouts, to which Rogue replies that she knows exactly what she has done as she saw what is in there. ‘Looks like the neighborhood just went all to Hell, Marius. So it’s Utopia or -’ Rogue begins, before she fades away, much to Bling’s horror.
Utopia, where Rogue sits up, and the Stepford Cuckoos, Hellion and Onyxx gather around as their teammate Trance rouses also. ‘What happened? Didn’t it work?’ Trance asks, rubbing her head. Rogue tells Trance that it worked fine, to which Trance asks where Bling is. Rogue replies that Bling is on her way, before telling the Cuckoos to inform Cyclops that they have incoming and that it is probably going to be a messy landing.
In the crumbling lighthouse, Emplate approaches the strange object - the compass - and orders it to come to a dead stop. ‘Accept new -’ he begins, but it’s too late, as the lighthouse is thrust into reality, right above Utopia. Hellion, Rockslide, Anole and Match all look up at the lighthouse, while one of the Cuckoos exclaims ‘He’s here’ and asks Rogue how she knew. Rogue explains that she nudged the steering wheel. ‘Game on, Mindee. Send up the flare’ Rogue exclaims.
Mindee contacts Cyclops, who replies that they see it, and asks Jeffries if he has a lock on it. ‘Air tight’ the former Alphan replies. ‘Then let’s show Marius St Croix what makes the X-Men such a hard target’ Cyclops declares, as Jeffries presses the control, and the lighthouse gets frazzled.
Inside the lighthouse, DOA looks out a window and tells Emplate that they need a little more height and a little less solidity. Emplate replies that they have found some way of holding them in this reality. ‘A sheet anchor. We’re out of control’ he remarks. ‘That chokes’ DOA replies, before telling Emplate that it has been real, and that he will cherish the happy memories. ‘But I think this is my stop’ he adds as the lighthouse crashes down onto Utopia. Rogue, Match and the others standing nearby cover their faces from all the dust and rubble that is sent flying into the air.
‘He’s down. And out’ Jeffries announces, to which Cyclops tells him to keep the field at full strength as long as he can. ‘He’s not ghosting out of this one’ Cyclops declares.
In amongst the rubble, Emplate finds Bling. ‘Child’ he exclaims, telling her that this is sweet providence and that he is too heavy, too solid. ‘But with your help, I’ll be gone before the X-Men get here’. ‘Stay away from me!’ Bling exclaims, lying in the rubble as Emplate approaches her, hands outstretched. ‘One last taste. Then I’ll scrape this dimension off my feet’ Emplate declares.
Nearby, Iceman, Psylocke, Cannonball and Warpath rush towards the crash-site, ‘This way. I can smell him!’ Warpath exclaims. ‘No disrespect to your tracking skills, James. But we can all smell him’ Iceman exclaims. Suddenly, Rogue steps in front of them and tells them to wait. ‘What do you mean, wait? I owe this guy some lumps’ Warpath exclaims, holding a large knife. Rogue tells Warpath that what he owes Emplate is nothing compared to what Bling owes him. ‘We don’t move until she’s done’ Rogue orders.
‘What has your life been up to this point?’ Emplate asks Bling. ‘Ugly, outcast, without friends or worth. You shouldn’t fear the peace I offer you, Roxanne. You should welcome it’ Emplate exclaims. ‘Who said I was afraid?’ Bling asks, before telling Emplate that he doesn’t look nearly so creepy in broad daylight. ‘Just old, and sick’. She tells Emplate that if anyone should be looking for an assisted suicide, it should be him. ‘Close your eyes. It will be over before you know it’ Emplate tells Bling as he places his hands on either side of her head. ‘No’ Bling exclaims, ‘It’s over right now!’ and with that, she releases diamond hard shards and a fury at Emplate, knocking the villain backwards.
‘Now he’s ours’ Rogue tells the others. ‘Now there isn’t any point’ Warpath remarks, while a shocked Trance asks if Bling killed Emplate. Rogue walks over to Emplate’s fallen body and remarks that she is not sure he can be killed. ‘But we’d better not take any chances’ she points out as she kicks Emplate hard in the head.
In the X-Club laboratory, Doctor Nemesis announces that the field is reaching its stable limit, and that he could compress it around Emplate, probably kill him, but Utopia would take some damage in the process. ‘Or else?’ Cyclops asks. ‘Or else we spit him back. Your choice’ Doctor Nemesis replies.
The side-line reality, Emplate is thrust back into it, and lands in some gunk. ‘I won’t forget this indignity, X-Men!’ he shouts as he gathers himself. ‘You’ll weep blood before I’m - before I’m through with -’ he begins, before realizing that countless slug-like creatures with large mouths filled with sharp teeth are swarming in around him. He screams as they move in to devour him.
Later, the sun sets over Utopia, several of the X-Men Students have gathered near the water tower, some including Rockslide, Hellion, Graymalkin, Indra and Match are playing a game of volleyball with Cannonball, while Surge, Mercury, Anole, Trance, Dust, Loa, Pixie and Armor gather around Bling, as Surge asks her what happened to her in there, and what the other dimension was like. ‘Well, you know. It had its upside’ Bling replies. ‘Like what? Wasn’t this guy planning to eat you alive or something?’ Mercury asks.
‘Yeah. That was the bad part’ Bling explains, remarking that having Rogue come riding in to the rescue and sweep her up into her womanly arms was kind of hot. ‘God, you are such a slut!’ Trance exclaims. Bling admits that she was never so scared in her life, and that it was like some of her parents’ parties, back when she was a kid. ‘You knew anything could happen, and not in a good way’. The volleyball bounces off Rockslide and into the air, so Pixie flies up to get it while Trance remarks that comparison was actually scarier. ‘Agreed. All in favor of changing the subject?’ someone else suggests.
Elsewhere on Utopia, Cyclops and Rogue meet down near the waters edge. ‘So. Now that you’ve had a chance to think about it…’ Cyclops remarks, to which Rogue sarcastically replies ‘Right. It’s been a real quiet day, and Ah used it to reflect on your generous offer. When Ah wasn’t meditating on zen parables’. Cyclops asks Rogue if she has heard any good ones lately, to which Rogue replies ‘An upstart monk picked a fight with Bankei the zen master. He said Bankei could never make him obedient or respectful. Bankei commanded the monk to breathe’.
Rogue proceeds to tell Cyclops that he has a way of doing that - asking people to do what they can’t not do. ‘These kids need as many guardian angels as they can get’ she adds. Cyclops asks her if she will take the job, before exclaiming ‘Excellent!’ and suggesting they hit Wolverine’s room. ‘What for?’ Rogue asks. As they walk back to base, Cyclops tells Rogue that they need to make a toast and that on an island which has spent the last five years at the bottom of the ocean, Wolverine’s room is the one place he can guarantee they can steal some beer from.
Elsewhere, Gambit looks at the ace of diamonds playing card, hard. Suddenly, the card goes black - and it’s as if he is looking into a mirror - only the reflection is his Horseman of Apocalypse appearance. ‘Who are you?’ Gambit asks. ‘Who do you think I am?’ comes the response. ‘Part of me. Something that woke up inside me when I lay down in Apocalypse’s machine’ Gambit replies. ‘Well - yes and no’ is the cryptic response.
The ice begins to crack under Hope Summers as she and Cable walk across and expanse of ice. Cable tells Hope to be careful and not to rush. ‘Keep your balance’ he adds. Hope asks if they can’t find some other way to cross. ‘There’s gotta be a bridge around here somewh - are you even listening to me?’ she exclaims when she notices Cable’s attention is focused elsewhere. Cable tells Hope to shush, when a pack of wolves surrounds them. ‘Oh #$^*’ Hope exclaims, before telling Cable to shoot them already. As the wolves move in closer, Cable replies that he can’t, as he only has two bullets left. ‘You’ve got grenades’ Hope points out, but Cable tells her that they would burst the ice beneath them. ‘What about your mutant powers? Your teleki-whatever?’ Hope asks, to which Cable explains that would burst the ice also.
Cable hands Hope a gun and tells her to sit down. ‘On the ice? What’s so good about mutant powers if you never use them?’ Hope protests. Cable reminds Hope that they have encountered these wolves before. ‘They’re robots, remember’. Hope replies that she remembers, to which Cable remarks that machines operate logically, so they will expend their resources according to their size and weight. ‘Yeah. So?’ Hope asks. ‘So’ Cable tells her as he pushes her across the ice. Hope lets out a scream, before realizing what Cable means, as he is a big guy, and four of the robot wolves go after him, leaving two for her, which she immediately shoots in the head with the weapon - one bullet for each robot.
The robots fall to the ice, smoke pouring from their heads, while Hope thinks to herself ‘Two wolves. Two bullets. Just like he’d planned’. Hope watches Cable, without any bullets, two of the robot wolves lunge at him. ‘And power he couldn’t even use’ Hope tells herself as Cable grabs the two robot wolves by the throat. ‘Watch out!’ Hope exclaims as the other two wolves approach him from behind. Cable turns around and throws the two in his hands at the other two, the impact causes the ice to break, and all four fall into the icy cold water beneath.
Suddenly, one of the robots that Hope shot gets up and growls at her. Hope thinks to herself that she has a gun, but no bullets. A wide-eyed Cable calls out to Hope, telling her that he is coming so not to move. Hope thinks to herself that she doesn’t have any powers yet, and if just a defenceless little girl. She tells herself that Cable couldn’t use his powers either, and throws the gun down at the ice, just in front of the robot wolf. Hope tells herself that maybe she doesn’t even need powers as the robot wolf stops growling as it sinks into the icy cold water. ‘Good job, solider’ Cable tells Hope as he walks over to her. They turn and continue their trek, with Hope remarking that she still thinks Cable should have used the grenades.