Somewhere, a secluded area of land, the powerful mutant called Exodus finds himself facing off against several young mutants from the island nation of Utopia. ‘You send children to fight me, Wolverine? I thought better of you’ Exodus declares. So did I’ Wolverine a.k.a. Logan mutters as he turns to Rogue, who is responsible for calling Pixie, Dust, Surge, Transonic, Velocidad, Primal, Zero and Hope to assist. Wolverine lunges at Exodus and slashes his chest with his razor-sharp adamantium claws, while telling Pixie to get the kids out of here, as he has this under control. Velocidad dodges one of Exodus’s blasts, and rushes towards Wolverine, pointing out that English is his second language, but that he doesn’t think “under control” means the same thing as “getting our butts kicked”.
Dust moves towards Exodus, as does Remy “Gambit” LeBeau, while Rogue turns to Hope and asks her what this is. ‘Ah sent that call for help to Scott’s Extinction Team’ Rogue declares. ‘Which I’m on’ Hope replies, adding that the others were responding to a crisis, so she brought who was available. ‘You shouldn’t have brought anyone. Y’all are kids!’ Rogue shouts. ‘No, Rogue. You’re students are kids. We’re soldiers. Now let me do my job’ Hope replies as she turns from Rogue and fires the massive gun that she carries around at Exodus. Rogue calls out to Pixie, telling her that she needs to do what Wolverine said and get everyone out of here. ‘I’m sorry, Rogue, but we don’t take orders from you’ Pixie replies. Rogue announces that she swiped Exodus’s teleporting power, so could take the kids all back themselves.
There is an explosion, and Joanna “Frenzy” Cargill puts her own indestructible body in between Rogue and the debris, while telling Rogue to think twice about that, pointing out that they could take Exodus out on their own, but that Hope can duplicate the power of any mutant she is near, without having to touch them, including Exodus. Rogue declares that she will not have the kids fighting a battle that is their fault, as it goes against everything they reopened the school for. ‘Might be’ Gambit remarks, but declares that Exodus fancies himself as their savior, and that he doesn’t want to kill any mutants save for Cyclops. ‘And as much as I hate to admit it, if we’re to stop him doing that…we’re gonna need Hope’s help’ Gambit points out. Rogue frowns at him, before turning to Wolverine, who frowns back at her. ‘Damn it to hell’ Logan mutters, before ordering Rogue and Hope to form on him. ‘Let’s take the bastard down’ Wolverine snarls.
Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman casts forth lots several ice sleds, which Exodus destroys as he blasts Gambit and Zero aside. Wolverine, Rogue and Hope gather together on a ridge, and Logan tells them that they are the key to this. ‘Hope, you can copy his powers. But that just gives you the same box’a tricks as him. Unless Rogue takes some of his away’ Logan explains. Rogue tells Hope that she has already tried this, and that Exodus has more power than most anyone they have met. ‘His limits have never really been tested’ Rogue adds. ‘Neither have mine!’ Hope boasts as she takes to the air, fiery energy surrounding her in spectacular display.
Hope flies over to Exodus, who exclaims ‘Magnificent! You are more impressive than I dared imagine. The prophecies run true, Hope. You could be the messiah of all mutantkind’. ‘That make you my humble servant?’ Hope asks as Exodus blocks a surge of her power that attacks him. ‘But of course…’ Exodus replies as he uses his powers to tear a large tree trunk from the ground and smack it into Hope. ‘…once I’ve freed you from the corrupting influence of Cyclops’ he adds. ‘I hate stabbing people who agree with me!’ Wolverine shouts as Frenzy “fastball special’s” him up towards Exodus, and he shoves his claws into him. ‘Enough! It is high time this foolishness ended!’ Exodus booms as he blasts Wolverine back to the ground, while Rogue, using Cannonball’s blasting power, flies towards Exodus and slams into him, while touching his face with her bare hands. ‘Ah couldn’t’ agree more!’ Rogue tells him.
‘Stupid girl. You can only steal a fraction of my power!’ Exodus tells Rogue as he blasts her with his energy, slamming her into the ground. ‘Oh, Ah know’ Rogue replies as she looks up from the crater she caused upon impact. ‘But against odds like this…fractions mean a lot!’ she tells Exodus, as all of the mutants move towards him. Rachel Grey a.k.a. Marvel Girl drops down from above, while Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie blasts in from the side, and Iceman, in a giant form, moves up behind Exodus. ‘First wave…fire!’ Rogue calls out as Cannonball and Transonic fly into him. ‘Second wave…knock him out of the sky!’ Rogue shouts, and energy-wielders blast their power at Exodus. As Exodus falls to the ground. Wolverine orders the third wave to finish it. Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast, Frenzy, Wolverine and Primal all lunge at Exodus, and keep him down.
Everyone steps back when Exodus seems unable to move, as Rachel declares that she finally got past Exodus’s defenses and set up a mental block, stopping him from using his powers. ‘Weakened as he is, it should last for hours’ Rachel adds. Wolverine tells everyone to back off, as he has had enough, and that they have beaten him. Exodus smirks, ‘So you have. But it is I who won the day’ Exodus utters. He tells the mutants that separated, they could not beat him, and only by coming together, the disparate factions reuniting, were they able to prevail. ‘Cyclops still lives, but it’s apparent this divide cannot’ he adds. Exodus tells the heroes that they have proven the righteousness of his quest, the necessity, because of what happened here today.
‘It is inevitable. Soon…very soon…mutant kind must be one’ he announces. Logan turns away from Exodus and asks Rachel to shut him up. ‘I don’t need him yammering while I figure out what ta do with him’ Logan exclaims. Hope declares that she thought it was obvious - that they take him back to Utopia. ‘Danger’s cellblock will keep his power dampened. I doubt there’s another prison on Earth that could hold him’ Hope adds. Rogue turns to Wolverine and tells him that Hope is right. Wolverine replies that he knows, and mutters that the nut job gets to go exactly where he was headed anyway. ‘Gotta love winning’ Logan remarks, while Rogue turns to the Utopia children and tells them that Wolverine has a point. ‘With what Scott’s doing, Utopia gets more dangerous by the day. He’s put a target on your backs, and Exodus ain’t gonna be the last to come gunning for it’ she tells them.
Rogue states that she knows why Hope stayed, being a soldier is all she has ever known, and that the rest of her team stayed because of her. ‘But Dust…Pixie…Ah never had the chance to talk to y’all about your decision’ Rogue points out, before assuring them that there is a place for them at the school, a safe place for all of them. ‘You’re kidding, right? “Safe place?” the school where I saw forty-five of my friends murdered?’ Surge asks, stepping forward. ‘Things are different now, Surge’ Rogue assures her. Dust steps forward and respectfully tells Rogue that they are not. ‘At first I wanted to go with you…with so many of my friends. But I quickly realized you were deluding yourselves. We will spend our lives fighting for our lives. This is what our life has always been…and will be’ the young woman states.
Dust continues, pointing out that this not need be a bad thing, as they can still have good lives if they accept and understand it. ‘But to pretend we have another choice is to invite the same kind of tragedy we saw when we were last at the school’ she declares.
Hope turns to Wolverine and tells him to face it - that what happened here proves everything Dust said. ‘Or did you not just use a bunch of kids as soldiers when your backs were against the wall?’ she asks him. The kids go over to Exodus and surround him, while Rogue exclaims ‘That’s not fair. We ain’t a bunch of hippie Pollyannas. We didn’t say there’d never come a time when kids would have to fight. But if you accept that’s your purpose in life - if you spend your childhood preparing for it - you lose something, and end up like -’ Rogue calls out, before Pixie interrupts.
‘Like Magneto? Like Wolverine? Like you? We’re a bit okay with that’ Pixie tells them as she casts a teleport spell around herself and the other young mutants from Utopia. An instant later, they and Exodus vanish. Rogue hangs her head as she glances at Wolverine, who frowns, and walks off, ‘Let’s get the hell outta here’ he mutters. Shortly, the ride back to the Jean Grey School is taken in silence, with no one saying a thing to anyone.
But when the Blackbird is docked, Rogue races down the ramp after Wolverine: ‘Logan…’ she calls out. ‘Got nothing to say to you’ Logan replies. Rogue puts a hand on his shoulder and tells him that they are going to have to work together, so they best clear the air. ‘You wanna clear the air? Fine’ Wolverine snarls as he spins around and tells Rogue that there is no point in hashing out the arguments. ‘I know why you did what you did, calling Utopia like that. None of it matters. What does matter is you went behind my back’ Logan declares, adding that they can work together fine, as she is good with the kids and great in a fight. ‘I know I can rely on you. What I can’t do is trust you’ Logan announces. He frowns and Rogue and tells her that from here on out, he will plan accordingly, before turning and walking away. Rogue looks worried, while Beast and Iceman watch with concern.
Suddenly, Gambit calls after Wolverine, telling him that he has no right to speak to her like that. ‘She’s proven herself more times than -’ Gambit begins, but Rogue tells him not to, as Wolverine is right to question her judgment. ‘After this mess…Lord knows Ah will’ Rogue tells him as she walks away.
‘There you are’ Rachel calls out to Rogue as she drops down beside her friend as Rogue observes Paige “Husk” Guthrie, who is supervising the return of the students to the Jean Grey School. Rachel tells Rogue that just so she knows, everyone thinks Wolverine is being an ass. ‘You read their minds?’ Rogue asks her. ‘No, it’s the topic du jour in the teachers’ lounge’ Rachel explains. ‘Lovely. You ain’t told me what you think’ Rogue tells her. ‘You gave us time to stop Exodus alone. Failing that, you sent a message to Utopia’s big guns. It’s just bad luck it got picked up by the kids’ Rachel tells her. ‘And using them to fight Exodus…well, we beat him, didn’t we? It’s not like our students take a vow of non-violence either. It’s about making choices’ Rachel adds, telling Rogue that everything she did was eminently reasonable. ‘But…?’ Rogue asks.
‘But I think you did it at least in part because you wanted to see Magneto’ Rachel tells her. ‘You actually think Ah’d risk lives just to -’ Rogue begins, but Rachel interrupts her, ‘No, not “just” to. Like I said, your reasons were sound’ she assures her. Rachel points out that Rogue is in an intense long-distance relationship with a man she clearly cares about. ‘A relationship that’s in flux and undefined’ Rachel adds, assuring Rogue that it is perfectly normal human reaction for that to be in her thoughts and even influence her choices. ‘But in our case, those choices affect the lives of dozens of kids. Some of the last mutants left on Earth’ Rachel adds, announcing that she isn’t sure they have the luxury of normal human reactions. Rogue listens intently, before Rachel hovers over her and suggests that she needs to figure out this thing with Magneto soon. ‘Since you asked’. Rogue says nothing, and just watches as more of the students return from the safe zone.
Down below, Anole asks Husk if she is sure it is safe to come back. ‘Safe as can be, Anole. The bad guy’s locked up and it’s business as usual’ Husk announces. Anole smiles, and walking beside Trance tells her that there is no need to be scared of Blindfold, as her visions don’t always come true. ‘Right, Ruth? You said Exodus was bringing out destruction and you were wrong’ Anole tells her. ‘Excuse me? No’ Blindfold replies as she looks up at Rogue, who has turned and starts to walk away.
In his office, Logan stares out the window, and flying past it, Rachel frowns at him from outside. In the training room, Frenzy smashes a robot apart, while outdoors, Gambit tears up the ground of a nearby field with a burst of kinetic energy charges.
In the brig on Utopia, a security camera watches as Exodus sits in his very small cell, and stares up, smiling.
Back at the Jean Grey School, Anole and Trance look at Blindfold, concerned, as she announces ‘It’s not finished yet’.