‘No. No! I knew this would happen! I knew if you tried to save me you’d die too!’ Michael Pointer a.k.a. Weapon Omega exclaims to Rogue and his best friend Calvin Rankin the Mimic. ‘God help me, I’ve turned us all into walking bombs!’ Pointer shouts as power surges from the three. Dr Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast and Rachel “Marvel Girl” Grey rush into the containment cell, as the Beast tells them that if they panic, they will hasten the moment when they will detonate, taking everyone at the Jean Grey School with them. ‘If not for your own sake, get hold of yourselves for us. And let me work on fixing this!’ Hank urges them, while telling Rachel that Pointer’s hysterical and that his energy levels are rising proportionately. He asks her if she can calm him telepathically. ‘Of course’ Rachel replies.
Rogue goes over to Beast and begins ‘You’re saying when we tried to absorb his power -’, to which the Beast explains that the energy building within Pointer was replicated in them. Rogue asks if they at least slowed down the process in him, to which the Beast tells her that it appears so, and suggests she doesn’t despair yet, as she has bought them time, and that is their most valuable commodity right now. He asks Rogue to come with her, announcing that he needs to run some tests. Remy “Gambit” LeBeau rushes into the chamber, while Pointer tells Mimic and Rogue that he is sorry, that he doesn’t know what to say. Rogue tells him that he doesn’t have to say anything, and reminds him that it was their choice. ‘This isn’t your fault, Michael. Any of it’ Rogue adds, while Gambit reminds Rogue that she can give up a power that she has absorbed, that he has seen her do that.
Rogue tells Remy that she has been trying, but that she gave up Omega’s absorption powers a minute ago. ‘This energy, though…it don’t seem to wanna go nowhere’ Rogue adds. The two look at each other, before Gambit places a hand on Rogue’s head, asking her if there is anyone she wants him to call. ‘We ain’t there yet. Right now Ah got all Ah need here’ Rogue replies. At a console, the Beast calls out to Gambit, ‘I’d like to determine if your energy conversion abilities have any applications here’ Hank explains. Gambit tells Rogue that he will be back soon, and goes over to Hank, a timer displaying 1:02:37 on screen. ‘So you and Gambit are…’ the Mimic begins. ‘Not anymore. I’m kinda seeing somebody else now’ Rogue replies. ‘Oh. And he’s -’ Mimic asks, ‘On the other side of the country’ Rogue interrupts. Mimic announces that he is confused, to which Rogue tells him to join the club.
Mimic frowns, and Rogue turns to him, asking if there is anyone they should call for him. ‘No. No wife, no girlfriend, family’s all dead’ Calvin replies. ‘Friends?’ Rogue enquires. ‘He’s over there’ Calvin replies, looking at Pointer. ‘It’s my own fault. I got my powers young. Didn’t exactly make me humble. I was entitled, arrogant…and bipolar. Real fun to be around’ Mimic tells Rogue, adding that when he looked at people, all he saw was what he could take from them - special talents and abilities, that is what the X-Men were to him - a buffet table. Rogue tells Mimic that he is being awfully harsh on himself. ‘You were the first new member they ever had, right? Professor Xavier must have seen something in you’ Rogue points out.
Mimic’s mind wanders back to his early encounter with the original X-Men, and replies ‘I doubt it. I spent practically my entire time here fighting the others. The Professor probably just waned to keep an eye on me. He could see how unstable my powers were’. Mimic declares that he would lose his powers, get them back, and eventually, absorbed the original X-Men’s powers permanently. He adds that he finally left when they thought his powers had gone forever, only they were just changing. Mimic’s thoughts turn to when he started absorbing people’s life force, killing them, the same as Michael does to mutants. He asks Rogue if she knows who risked his life to help him, and reveals that it was the Beast. ‘A guy who I was always a colossal jerk to. He didn’t care. He took on the Hulk…to save me’ Mimic announces.
Mimic tells Rogue that even when he copied other people’s powers, their skills, he didn’t get what really made them special. Calvin grits his teeth and declares that underneath it all, there was nothing. ‘I was nothing. Just a pale reflection of someone else’. Pointer’s absorbed power glows around Rogue and the Mimic, while inside the chamber, Joanna “Frenzy” Cargill and Sam Guthrie a.k.a. Cannonball are assisting the Beast. A monitor shows the countdown as 55:12, while Rogue tells Calvin that she used to feel the same way, especially because when she absorbed someone’s powers, she got their memories, too. ‘Ah was never sure if the decisions Ah made…the things Ah wanted…were really mine’.
Rogue continues, explaining that she ended up defining herself according to other people - folks who seemed real sure of themselves. Calvin remarks that it might be a moot point soon, before telling Rogue that if she doesn’t mind, he would like to know how she changed that. ‘With the help of a lot of people. A fair amount of pain. And not to sound like an embroidered wall sampler…but by helping others. Especially the kids here’ Rogue reveals. She hangs her head, and offers Calvin the truth - that she isn’t really sure she has changed much at all. ‘But…how can you say that? After all you’ve done…’ Calvin begins, before the Beast exclaims ‘All right. The time has come, the Beast said, to try many things’.
Hank informs Rogue and Calvin that the energy within them seems to be like a virus, self-replicating. ‘I’d like you to try absorbing other forms of energy. See if we can find something more powerful, yet more controllable, to overwrite it’ he explains. Hank sends Rogue and Calvin outside, just in case, before calling out to Rachel, pointing out that they have seen the correlation between this energy and the host’s mental state. ‘You want me to keep them all calm?’ Rachel replies. ‘Yes. But if it comes to it, there’s something else’ Hank begins, informing Rachel that Mimic and Rogue have bought them time with Omega. He adds that if the energy within any of them begins to approach the tipping point again, the level of critical mass, Rachel may have to shut down their higher brain functions.
‘You want me to lobotomize them?’ Rachel asks, surprised. Hank tells her to think of it as a medically induced coma, reducing their bran activity to the minimum necessary for survival, and the energy to its minimum level, allowing the energy to be used naturally by the host’s body over time, however long that is. ‘Rogue’s my friend. And you’re asking me to -’ Rachel begins, to which Hank declares that he is asking her to save Rogue’s life, if there is no other choice. ‘If you can’t do it, I’ll bring in someone who can. But I need to know now…can I count on you?’ Hank asks. With the timer down to 51:30, Rachel hangs her head, closes her eyes and quietly replies ‘Yes’.
Shortly, ‘No dice’ Rogue declares as she is with Gambit, trying to absorb his kinetic energy. Remy tells Rogue that he kind of figured that he release the potential energy that is already in the object, as it isn’t something that comes from within him. ‘Sorry to waste your time’ he tells her as he turns and walks away. ‘You’ve never wasted my time, Remy. Ah hope Ah haven’t wasted yours’ Rogue replies, quietly as the timer is down to 46:22. Standing nearby, waiting for their turn are Cannonball and his sister, Paige a.k.a. Husk, while Mimic meets with Jonathan “Chamber” Starsmore. Mimic declares that it isn’t working, that he is only absorbing so much. ‘It’s like memory on a computer…with all that energy already in me, there’s only so much room’. Calvin adds that he thought Chamber’s power would be like fire, but that there is numbness, cold. ‘Is that what you feel all the -’ Mimic begins, to which Chamber quickly interrupts, telling Calvin that he is sorry he couldn’t help, and suggests it is time to move on, the timer now at 43:08.
Husk informs Rogue that if she is hurt and sheds her skin, that she heals, like a whole new body underneath. ‘Maybe that’ll work for you. It can be painful…’ Paige suggests. ‘No more so than exploding, Ah’d imagine. Here goes nothing…’ Rogue replies as she finds that she cannot shed her skin. ‘Ow. What the hell?’ she mutters, with the timer now down to 40:10. Tapping away at various computer monitors with his fingers and toes, the Beast states that it seems the adaptive properties of Rogue’s cells are being overwhelmed by the energy. ‘In simple terms, you’re “filling up”!’ he explains, telling Rogue that she can no longer replicate powers that involve significant physical changes. ‘When you can’t absorb any at all…’ he begins, his voice trailing off. ‘It’ll be too late’ Rogue realizes. ‘Oh, no…’ Paige utters, but Rogue tells her that it is not her fault. Husk explains that she knows, but that she cannot deal with this. ‘I need to get myself together…’ she mutters, before tearing her face away, revealing a stone form underneath, and walking away, solemnly.
The school janitor, Toad, enters the room and calls out to Paige, telling her that if there is anything he can do to help he would be more than happy to, but when he gets no response, he mutters ‘Or perhaps you need to be alone’. The Beast offers to consult with various colleagues, suggesting that Hank Pym might have some thoughts. Toad begins sweeping up Husk’s skin from the floor, and tells Rogue that he knows what she is thinking, and that yes, she should call him. ‘What, Toad? Who?’ Rogue replies. ‘Magneto’ Toad points out, adding that Magneto used to insult him, hit him and order him around like a slave, but that he never felt so safe in all his life when he was with Magneto. ‘He has that quality. You know the one I mean’ Toad adds. ‘That makes you feel everything’s taken care of’.
Toad reveals that even when he left Magneto, and was leading the Brotherhood on his own, it was all an act, for inside, he was a nervous wreck. ‘I knew I’d fail. I knew without him, I was nothing. If I thought for a second he’d take me back, I’d run to him right now’ Toad declares. Rogue touches Toad by his chin, lifting his face up and tells him not to sell himself short, as it took a lot of courage to strike out on his own and join them. She adds that if she calls Magneto for the reasons he says, it is like she is giving up. She tells Toad that in spite of what he might think, he never gave up. ‘And Ah ain’t gonna either’ Rogue declares. ‘Ah, pride. I had pride. Look how wonderful it’s worked out for me’ Toad mutters as he walks away, carrying his brooms with him. Cannonball goes over to Rogue and tells her that he is sorry about his sister, explaining that she hasn’t been herself lately. He begins to offer his assistance, but Rogue tells hi that she needs to get outside and clear her head for a bit - somewhere she can’t see a damn clock.
Soon, Rogue finds Mimic who is beside the lake. Calvin asks Rogue what she is doing here, to which Rogue explains that she is trying to keep herself from calling someone. ‘He can’t help us. But Ah know he’d swoop in and dominate things. Lift the burden off me. Let me sit back and watch him run the show’ Rogue explains. ‘What’s so bad about that?’ Calvin asks, to which Rogue replies ‘How good it sounds’, explaining that he is one of the people who helped her to respect herself, by treating her like someone who deserves it. ‘Ah ain’t gonna throw that away because it’d be easier to hand the wheel to someone else. Even him’.
Looking out over the lake, Rogue remarks that it is pretty here, to which Mimic tells her that is not why he cam here, revealing that one the best moments in his life was right here. He informs Rogue that the Super-Adaptoid attacked the original X-Men, that Super-Adaptoid had all the Avengers’ powers, and absorbed the X-Men’s, too, almost killing them. Mimic explains that he had been his typical obnoxious self, had quit the team, but something made him come back - and he saved them, with the Adaptoid tried to absorb his abilities, Mimic did the some thing to him. There was some sort of reaction and it shorted out both their powers. Calvin tells Rogue that it was the first time in his life that he did the right thing, without even thinking about it. ‘Cal, hang on. Did you just say when you tried to absorb each other’s powers…it shorted them both out?’ Rogue asks. ‘Yeah. I mean, not permanently, they came back after a while, but - of. Oh my God’ he declares.
Soon, back in the lab, the clock now reads 20:08, as the Beast asks ‘All three of you…absorbing each other’s powers at once?’ Mimic reminds the Beast that he was there, ‘Remember what happened with the Super-Adaptoid’. The Beast does remember, but points out that the Super-Adpatoid was an artificial being. ‘None of your abilities function quite the same way’ he explains. Rogue asks Hank how many other options they have left, and looking at Rachel, Hank replies that right now, they have just one.
Down in the reinforced sub-basement vault theta, the clock now reads 14:28, and Beast turns to Rogue, Mimic and Weapon Omega, telling them that he wants them to be sure they understand the risks. He tells them that instead of shorting each other out, they could trigger each other. ‘The induced coma is still an option’ he offers. But Rogue asks how long it would take before they would be cured, and what the guarantee is that they would ever be. ‘I don’t know. And none’ Hank tells her. The Mimic remarks that he didn’t much enjoy his last coma, but will take his chances if Rogue would rather, however Rogue declares that she just started getting control of her life. ‘Ah’d rather die than give it up again’ she declares. Michael Pointer declares that they all feel the same way. ‘Let’s do this’ he tells them.
Gambit and Rachel go over to Rogue, and Rachel tells Rogue that if there is anyone she wants to say anything to, she can connect her mentally. Rogue thanks Rachel, but declares that she can do this on her own. ‘More important…Ah want to’ she explains, before she and Gambit embrace. Gambit tells her that he is right outside, waiting to celebrate her success. ‘You’re a prince, Remy LeBeau’ Rogue replies. ‘Prince of Thieves. Let’s steal one more from fate, hm?’ Gambit tells her. Hank, Remy and Rachel leave the vault, waiting outside where Bobby stands. Hank calls back to Rogue, Calvin and Pointer, telling them that there is nothing else to say other than to wish them luck. ‘If fortune favors the bold, you have nothing to fear’ he tells them.
Rogue turns to Mimic and Pointer and tells them that they should get this over with. ‘Ah got laundry to do’ Rogue jokes. Pointer tells Mimic that drinks are on him with this is over. ‘You’re on, buddy’ Calvin replies, before telling the others that they need to do this at the exact same time, on the count of three. Mimic counts them down, and at once, the three attempt to absorb each others powers. Blue energy fills the room, and when it all subsides, the vault opens, and the Beast, Gambit and Rachel race back in. ‘What happened? How do you feel?’ Hank calls out. Mimic and Rogue are standing, no energy blurs around them. ‘Ah feel…weak. Powerless. Perfect!’ Rogue declares. ‘Never doubted for a minute’ Gambit exclaims as he and Rogue hug. ‘You lying son of a…’ Rogue jokes.
‘You saved me again’ Mimic thanks the Beast, who tells Calvin ‘No. You saved yourself. Congratulations’. ‘Thank God. I don’t know what I’d have done if that hadn’t worked’ someone remarks. ‘We did it, Michael. I told you it would all be -’ Calvin begins, but as he, Rogue and others turn to face Michael Pointer, they find him surrounded by energy. ‘Oh, Michael. No…’ Mimic utters. Pointer tells Mimic that it is okay, that this is how it had to go. ‘Wait - you knew? You knew this would happen?’ Mimic asks. Pointer remarks that Mimic and Rogue copy powers, while absorbs energy, so it was never going to work for him, but that he knew once Rogue and Mimic’s powers shorted out that he could take what was left in them and make right what he had done.
Pointer declares that this is how it always should have gone. ‘Let’s be honest, it should’ve happened a long time ago’ he adds. The clock now reads 9:50, and Pointer exclaims ‘I’ve hurt people…killed people. Even when I tried to do something good, it always ended in disaster’. He tells everyone that he doesn’t want to go on like this, especially not as a shell, a vegetable. ‘Michael, you’re talking about suicide’ Rachel points out. But Michael declares that he is talking about dying with a measure of dignity. ‘I won’t let you keep me locked up here. Dangerous as I am. Not around kids’ he announces. Rogue reminds Michael that those kids have powers, too, and that each one of them could lose control, kill who knows how many people. ‘You saying we should write ‘em off, too?’ Rogue asks.
‘No, of course not. But - it’s just so hard. So hard. Can’t you just let me go?’ Michael whispers, covering his face with one of his hands. Mimic goes over to Pointer and tells him ‘No. I can’t. I need all the friends I can get. So if you don’t want to live for yourself…do it for me. Please’ he tells Michael. Michael remains silent, before asking ‘Will you do it, Cal?’ Borrow Rachel’s power…shut down my mind. I think maybe I can do this if it’s you’ Michael announces. Mimic frowns at his friend, before turning to Rachel, who explains that it is a complicated process. Mimic tells her that when he absorbs powers he also gets the instinctive knowledge of how to use them. ‘Besides, you can guide me telepathically if you want’ he adds. ‘If he can do this, s can I’ Mimic states.
Hank helps Michael into a seat, and with 2:22 left on the timer, Michael remarks that he knows Calvin is going to want to stay around, to keep an eye on him. ‘Promise me you won’t. Promise you’ll forget about me…make a life for yourself. A good one and live it for both of us. Can you do that?’ Michael asks. Calvin just hangs his head, before stating that not long ago, he would not have been able to, that he would have been afraid to try - afraid to fail, or would have just made a mess of it. But now, especially after today, he knows he can. Calvin tells Michael that there is no way he is going to forget him. ‘The things we’ve been through together…Osborn, everything since…I only got through it because of you. Because you were right there with me. Backing me up’ Calvin declares.
Hank and Bobby look at each other as Calvin continues talking to Michael. ‘Picking me up when I fell’ he tells his friend. ‘Believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself’ he adds, while Cannonball puts a comforting arm around his sullen sister, who hangs her head. ‘You’re the best friend I ever had. You made me better than I was’ Mimic tells Pointer, while Rogue closers her eyes, with Gambit standing on one side of her, and Frenzy on the other. Mimic tells Pointer that he will be here for him, no matter what gets in the way, no matter how long it takes. ‘I can be strong without you because I learned to be strong with you. And because I know we’ll be together again’.
The Beast interrupts Mimic’s speech, pointing out that the time is getting short. ‘I’m ready’ Michael announces, as the timer reaches 1:44. Michael remarks that there is something that kind of surprises him - that he is looking forward to seeing what is next. He and Mimic shake hands, before embracing. Pointer lies down on the reclining chair, and Mimic stands behind him, hands at his head. ‘Careful now…gently…’ Rachel tells Mimic, who concentrates hard, before declaring ‘It’s done. Hank…please tell me it’s done’. Rachel telekinetically lifts Michael off the chair, and Hank reports that Michael’s energy has stabilized, but points out that there is no way to predict how long it will take to cure him. He tells Mimic to rest assured, that he will not stop working on the cure.
Rachel moves Michael into the stasis tube that Hank has prepared, and as Pointer’s comatose body is covered by the tube, Rogue tells Mimic that was one of the bravest and kindest things she has ever seen. Mimic replies that everything he said to Michael was true, but the fact is, he is not so sure he could have done it if not for all of the X-Men. He adds that it is no coincidence that the best moment of his life was here, ot that Rogue has come so much further than him, even though their powers are pretty similar. ‘When you’re surrounded by the best, it makes you better. Powers have nothing to do with it. I don’t suppose…I’d like to keep an eye on Michael…’ Mimic’s voice trails off.
‘Of course you’re welcome to stay as long as you want’ Rogue tells Mimic, who smiles and thanks Rogue, remarking that it turns out he had more friends than he thought, and promises to pull his weight. Rogue tells Calvin that she wouldn’t worry about that, and that he looks like one hell of a teacher to her. They head outside, with Mimic asking if it is okay keeping Michael here. ‘I mean, I know he’s under control now and all, but he’s still a bomb that could explode any time’ Calvin points out. ‘Aren’t we all?’ Rogue asks, telling Calvin that it is more than okay for them to stay. She adds that she knows she has been talking a lot about standing on your own, and that it is good to do that, as everyone has to. ‘But today Ah remembered there’s a reason we all came together. Because it’s a lot easier to stand a lone when you got friends to help you do it’ Rogue remarks. Nearby, on one of the fields, ‘Quentin, put me down!’ one of the young mutants, Match calls out, as Quentin Quire uses his power to life him up. Wolverine and Chamber stand in amongst a group of students, learning to stand alone, together.