‘It’s war. We’re at war with the Avengers. You all know what’s at stake’ Rachel “Marvel Girl” Grey announces as she stands before nine of the Westchester-based X-Men, in the teacher’s lounge at the Jean Grey School. Rogue hangs her head and remembers a time when she herself was at war with the Avengers, and recalls standing over Thor’s motionless body, in a pile of rubble.
Rachel tells her teammates that they have been made aware of what is going on, and that it was agreed they would stay here and watch the students - not get involved. ‘But things have changed’ she announces, adding that Kitty will give an updated briefing to bring everyone up to speed. ‘Then you’ll have to make a decision’ Rachel tells everyone, apologizing for hitting them with this so abruptly. ‘But that’s how these things go’ she points out, while Rogue recalls fighting Captain America so long ago, kicking him into a park bench.
Rachel adds that she knows some of her teammates understand the Avengers have history. ‘That’s in the past. This is about our future…and what we want it to be’ she explains, before turning to Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde. Without standing up, Kitty summarizes the situation by explaining that the Phoenix Force is returning to Earth. ‘Yes, the powerful cosmic entity that’s destroyed entire planets’ she adds, remarking that it needs a host, and that they think it has chosen Hope Summers, and now Cyclops and his team think Hope can control the power, that this is a turning point for mutantkind. Kitty continues, stating that Wolverine, Beast and the Avengers disagree, that they think Hope won’t be able to handle the Phoenix Force, endangering all life on Earth.
Kitty’s pet dragon, Lockheed, curls around her shoulders as Kitty reports that there have been hostilities, a battle on Utopia, and right now, both sides are racing each other to find Hope. Kitty pauses as she announces that this is a difficult situation for her, as she has seen what the Phoenix can do. ‘I fear for anyone it touches’ she declares.
Rachel remarks that Kitty makes a valid point, and points out that she was one of the Phoenix’s former hosts, and was able to handle it, and that she believes Hope is up to this. Bobby “Iceman” Drake points out that Hope could use this power to change things for mutantkind and bring them back from the brink. ‘It’s clear the Avengers want to stop that’ he points out, announcing that they can’t stay on the sidelines anymore, he explains that he and Rachel are joining Cyclops. ‘We’re leaving now. Anyone who wants to come is welcome’ he states.
‘Or you can stay here. We all agree we don’t want the kids getting involved. They may want to. But we brought them here to keep them out of conflicts like this’ Kitty declares, adding that she isn’t saying they can’t change their minds later, but that they need to present a united front when they tell the students they are confined to campus. ‘So I need your decision now’ Kitty tells them. Paige Guthrie a.k.a. Husk, skin flaking from her face, remarks that she doesn’t know what to do. Turning to her brother, Sam a.k.a. Cannonball, she asks ‘Are you…?’ to which Sam replies that he is staying, long enough to settle the kids down, anyway. Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit agrees, and points out that the kids will be stirred up, so they have to keep routine as much as they can, keep the kids from doing anything stupid. Referring to her time with the Acolytes, Frenzy a.k.a. Joanna Cargill remarks that following messiahs never got her anywhere, so she is staying.
New arrival Calvin Rankin a.k.a. the Mimic announces that he doesn’t even know who most of those people are, while Jonathan “Chamber” Starsmore points out that it wasn’t so long ago he was on the other side of the desk, so he knows the students will be scared. ‘Figure I can do more good here than in a punch-up with Iron Man’ he adds, before turning to Rogue, remarking that he heard she has some experience with this sort of thing. ‘Ah…Ah reckon Ah do’ Rogue replies, recalling that fateful battle with the Avengers were she touched Ms Marvel’s skin. Looking away, Rogue announces that she is staying. Bobby tells Rogue that they could really use her, reminding her that she beat them all by herself. ‘Bad things happen when Ah fight Avengers. Last time Ah messed up a bunch of lives - including my own - for a lotta years’ Rogue replies.
Bobby points out that was a different time, and that Rogue was a different person. ‘You’ve changed a lot’ he tells her. But when Rogue offers no response, Bobby creates an ice-sled and begins to slide away, with Rachel flying at his side. Bobby calls back that perhaps Rogue has changed too much, declaring that she used to know there are some fights you can’t sit out.
One hour later, Rogue is teaching a class consisting of Hellion, Kid Gladiator, Oya, Rockslide, Glob Herman and Broo. ‘As it became clear the US entering the war was inevitable -’ Rogue begins, before seeing that Broo has raised his hand. ‘You have a question?’ she asks the young alien. ‘Yes, pardon my asking’ Broo begins as he enquires as to why Rogue is not going to fight the Avengers. He explains that his research indicates that she is quite accomplished in this area. Turning away, Rogue realizes that they are not going to get any work done until they discuss this. ‘Okay. Yes, Ah fought the Avengers. And yeah, Ah did all right for myself’ Rogue begins, explaining that she was a scared, angry, brainwashed kid, out to punish the world for her pain, and who used people like suits of clothes without giving it a second thought. ‘So you’re all mature now. So what? Our future’s on the line!’ Julian Keller a.k.a. Hellion exclaims.
Rogue tells Hellion that he hasn’t let her finish, and she declares that she has changed quite a bit, but that who she was then and who she is now, is still all her. ‘Ah start thinking otherwise, that’s when the trouble all starts’ she adds. Not wanting to lie to the students, she tells them that it felt good, that she felt unstoppable. ‘Which is a big part of why things went bad. Ah’ve traveled that road, again Ah ain’t going there again’ she announces.
Suddenly, everyone’s attention turns to the window. ‘Uh, I’m not trying to be a buzz kill, but…you might not have a choice’ Rockslide announces, as a small aircraft has landed on the grounds of the Jean Grey School - and from it emerge three members of the Avengers - Sam Wilcon a.k.a. the Falcon, along with his loyal bird, Redwing, Jennifer Walters the She-Hulk and Marc Spector a.k.a. Moon Knight. ‘Ya’ll stay here’ Rogue orders as she begins to rush from the room. ‘But we’re -’ Rockslide calls after her. ‘STAY!’ Rogue barks back at him.
‘We don’t want trouble’ Falcon announces as Rogue, Cannonball, Frenzy, Gambit and Shadowcat rush towards him. ‘Dropping in unannounced at times like these is a good way to find it’ Cannonball tells him, but Shadowcat announces that it is okay, as Falcon radioed in to report that they were coming. ‘A whopping thirty seconds ago. But we won’t mention that’ Kitty mutters. ‘That’s more warning than we got that a bunch of your teachers were joining up with Cyclops to attack our friends’ She-Hulk reports. Kitty is quick to declare that any faculty member entering this conflict is doing so as an independent individual. ‘Including those fighting for your side’ she announces, adding that all they are trying to do here is teach. ‘Which isn’t easy when She-Hulk lands on our lawn’ Kitty declares.
Falcon declares that things are already way more out of hand than any of them want. ‘You say you’re holding class? That’s great. That’s wonderful. We’ve just been asked to come here to make sure no more fuel gets added to the fire. And nobody else decides to take “individual action”!’ Sam remarks. The X-Men all look at each other and frown, ‘I’ll take an individual action upside your head, you smug son of a -’ Frenzy begins as she and Gambit move towards Falcon, with Gambit adding ‘You see us coming to your home and making threats, homme?’, while Kitty tells them both stand down. Lockheed and Redwing both move towards each other, while Kitty asks ‘I’m supposed to believe Wolverine signed off on this?’, to which the Falcon replies that Wolverine is out of reach at the moment. ‘We don’t know you. Or Moon Knight. Or She-Hulk. I want to talk to Beast -’ Shadowcat announces.
Moon Knight steps forward and explains that the Beast is still in space, on what is probably a suicide mission, trying to stop the Phoenix Force from incinerating this planet, like it has done a hundred others. ‘You wanna believe it’s coming to make the world all rainbows and ponies, fine. But we’ve got enough problems with out people getting in our way’ Moon Knight adds. ‘Did the guy in the white hood really just say “you people”?’ Kitty asks, folding her arms. Rogue suddenly steps between the X-Men and the Avengers. ‘Guys. Behind you’ she whispers, as she sees several of the students come rushing out of the building. ‘Before ya’ll came here we were fixing to have a school day. You got a problem with that?’ Rogue remarks. ‘None whatsoever’ Falcon replies. ‘Then maybe we can come to an accommodation’ Rogue suggests.
Kitty looks less than impressed, and tells Falcon that the Avengers are to stay out os sight of the school. ‘Watch it through binoculars, have your bird do it, I don’t care. But don’t distract the students’. She tells him that they are not welcome inside or on any part of the property where classes or activities are held. ‘You remain outside a hundred yard radius. That’s non-negotiable’ she adds. Falcon replies that they can live with that. The trio of Avengers turn to walk away, with Moon Knight asking ‘How do we know they’re not using teleporter, or -’, to which Falcon tells him to just let it go. The X-Men turn to walk back to the buildings, and Frenzy exclaims ‘Unbelievable. We stayed out of the fight, but they want to put chains on us anyway. And you all just sat there and took it. Typical’.
‘What are we supposed to be teaching those kids? How to roll over for the humans?’ Frenzy calls out. Rogue tells her that they are teaching the kids that you don’t solve all your problems buy beating the hell out of people. ‘Hnh. Well, one of these days, they need to learn that sometimes you do’ Frenzy frowns.
Shortly, 101 yards from the Jean Grey School, ‘This is a waste of time’ She-Hulk mutters as she reclines in one of the chairs. Moon Knight tells her that all stakeouts seem that way until you hit pay dirt. ‘For all we know, Hope could come here’ he suggests. ‘What I know is our teammates are out doing something while we play poker’ She-Hulk replies as she holds her cards close to her. Moon Knight throws some cards down on the crate they are using as a table and tells Jennifer not to let the cute little uniforms fool her, remarking that all those kids are combat veterans. ‘We’re outnumbered a dozen to one’ he points out. He adds that if things go south here, they are going to need their secret weapon. Falcon spills his coffee as he announces that they have a visitor. ‘Everyone stay cool’ he adds, while She-Hulk remarks ‘I know this one. She’s bad news’ as Frenzy approaches the Quinjet.
‘Frenzy. I understood you had classes’ Falcon remarks as he steps outsider, followed by She-Hulk and Momon Knight. Frenzy replies that she only teaches hand-to-hand combat and gym, and that she is done for the day. ‘Well, can we…help you with something?’ Sam asks her. Frenzy reminds him that the agreement was the Avengers would stay a hundred yards away. ‘By my reckoning, that’s right about…here’ she declares as she draws a line in the dirt with her feet. ‘You’re watching us. Making sure we don’t cross any lines. I’m doing the same to you. Can’t imagine you have a problem with that’ Frenzy remarks. Falcon doesn’t reply, he and Joanna stare each other down for a time, before he turns away, ‘Knock yourself out’ he tells her, throwing a hand in the air.
Rogue, Gambit and Mimic walk together down a corridor, and Gambit remarks that if they have to thrown down with the Avengers, Mimic could copy their powers. Mimic explains that last time he mimicked a Hulk, he got radiation poisoning. ‘But maybe if I don’t keep her powers too long…’ he suggests. Gambit tells him that it isn’t worth the risk, and suggests that they can handle the three of them. ‘Ain’t like they got Thor or Iron Man out there’ he remarks, to which Rogue tells him that she thought he didn’t want to fight. Remy replies that he hasn’t got a burning desire to, but that he doesn’t want the kids to if it can be helped. He adds that he hasn’t lived this long by hoping for the best. ‘So you’re like Bobby? You think I’m being naïve?’ Rogue asks.
Gambit smiles and tells Rogue that he thinks she worked damn hard to get here - powers under control, place to call home, a teacher, a leader, giving kids what she never had, so it is understandable she would be reluctant to shake that up, especially in a way that takes her back to a place she would prefer not to go. As they pas several students who are looking out a window, Gambit tells Rogue that he doesn’t blame her for holding tight to what she has. He suggests that if he was her, he would think a bit on what it would take to make him let go, because the problem with standing still is that the world keeps on spinning around. ‘Check it out. About time someone here took a stand for us’ Hellion exclaims as he, Match and Glob Herman watch Frenzy.
Back outside, Moon Knight addresses Frenzy by her real name and tells her that he knows who she is, that she has a sheet as long as his arm - terrorism, murder, and that she has never answered for any of it. ‘Why do you think I’m here?’ Frenzy mutters in reply, before addressing Moon Knight by his real name, and suggests they talk about him. ‘That supposed to rattle me? I produce a TB show about myself. My life’s prime-time entertainment’ Marc tells Frenzy. ‘Not all of it. I was a mercenary too, Spector. I heard the stuff a Google search doesn’t turn up’ Frenzy remarks. ‘The wetwork. The torture. You deserve a cell right next to me. But that isn’t why the other operators talked about you…why you scare stone killers. You got a rep for being a little off. Your powers, the moon…but they’ve got nothing to do with it, do they?’ Joanna tells him.
Moon Knight’s eyes light up under his hood, and Frenzy suggests that someone should tell his Avenger buddies he was a lunatic before he ever put the suit on. ‘That you doubled down on the crazy…because you like it’ Joanna exclaims. This causes Moon Knight to lunge at her, and wraps his arms around her neck. Joanna smiles at him. ‘Look at that. You crossed the line’ she points out as she raises her fists - which sport some sort of solid weapon attached to them - and she smacks Moon Knight in the face so hard that she forces him to the ground, shattering the concrete.
‘Awesome!’ Match exclaim as he and the other kids continue to watch from inside. ‘Hell yeah!’ Glob Herman declares. ‘No way are they keeping us prisoners ever again’ Hellion begins. Rogue hears their commotion and asks what is going on - but as she goes over to the boys and looks out the window, she sees for herself.
‘Been begging for this-’ She-Hulk tells Frenzy as she punches her in the face. ‘Stuck up human cow’ Frenzy replies as she punches back. ‘HEY!’ Rogue calls out as she rushes from the building to where the battle has gone into full swing. The kids follow her, and Hellion declares that Frenzy and Rogue have gone into bat for them, so they have to back them up. Glob Herman asks Match to light him up, so Match engulfs Glob in flame and he rushes towards She-Hulk and Falcon, while Rogue tries to pull Frenzy away, and absorbs her power in the process. ‘Take your head out of the sand! This ends with us all in cells!’ Frenzy exclaims. ‘That’s where you belong!’ She-Hulk shouts as Falcon pulls her back, telling her not to get carried away, when suddenly, the flaming Glob shouts ‘MUTANT POWER!’ as he looms over them.
Suddenly, She-Hulk slams her hands together, causing a shockwave, which knocks Glob, Hellion and Match backwards. ‘NO!’ Rogue gasps, before rushing over to Hellion’s bleeding body. ‘Jen, those were students!’ Falcon declares. ‘Wh- I - I saw a monster…’ She-Hulk replies, hanging her head. ‘Course you did’ Rogue mutters, while Moon Knight declares that the X-Men attacked them. ‘Quiet. Look, this was a mistake…’ Falcon begins. ‘Damn right’ Rogue tells him, frowning, before rushing over to the Avengers, and pushing Moon Knight backwards, she wraps her hands around She-Hulk’s neck, and begins to absorb her power, while declaring ‘And y’all made it!’
Falcon calls out Redwing and tells his bird to active emergency protocols. Redwing flies over to the Quinjet, and landing on a button, causing the Quinjet to suddenly shift and change form. Frenzy tells Rogue that she could use more of her power back about now, as she tosses Moon Knight in the air, when suddenly, Rogue is knocked sideways, and a voice announces ‘I gold Falcon to only call me in case of an emergency…so I’m going to assume being nice has failed…and just end this fast’ Iron Man announces as he flies towards Rogue….