Outside Xavier’s school, Colossus (wearing another new costume) is scouring the grounds to look for his teammate Nightcrawler in an impromptu game of hide ‘n’ seek. Kurt calls him from a precipice above and jumps on him, making Peter lose his balance and fall off the cliff into the lake. Before he falls with him Nightcrawler ‘ports up again.
Nightcrawler remarks that, if the professor saw their performance, he’d probably replace them with the New Mutants. Short-handed as they are, they have to be better than his.
Rogue (sporting a short haircut and new green overall outfit) tells him to speak for himself as she grabs him, she’s doing just fine. He teleports out of her grip and onto her back and then covers her eyes. She flails about helplessly and also ends up in the water. Kurt teleports himself to safety again and gloats at them both. Isn’t this much more fun than their Danger Room? he asks. He doesn’t know about them, but he is having the time of his life!
Rogue sighs about her new outfit being soaked. But in round two it’ll be the elf’s turn, right? she asks Colossus, whose mind is clearly elsewhere. She calls him on it. Peter apologizes. Kitty Pryde is due home from Japan tonight, with Wolverine. Rogue reminds him he could have gone with the Prof and Storm to meet her. It is because of him she left, he retorts. He has hurt her enough. Better for now to stay away.
They sit down on the shore and Nightcrawler joins them. Peter tells them he didn’t ask to fall in love with the alien healer Zsaji. It happened. His feelings for Kitty changed. At least this is what he believed. Lately, he does not know and the more he wonders, the more confused he becomes. Rogue replies this sort of stuff is out of her league. Maybe the Carol Danvers side of her psyche could offer some advice.
Changing the subject, Kurt remarks that Carol had among her powers a precognitive 7th sense. Since Rogue absorbed her powers, she should possess that talent as well.
Rogue snaps that she doubts it. She’s never displayed that talent. She demands they change the subject. It wasn’t exactly the happiest chapter of her career. Kurt presses such a power would be useful in a fight. Didn’t do Carol much good, Rogue points out bitterly, didn’t warn her of Rogue.
Kurt tries to cheer her up with a tickle attack, made worse when he keeps teleporting out of her reach. He ignores her more vehement protests until she blindly punches and manages to hit him, displaying the very 7th sense Nightcrawler was trying to goad out.
He flies towards a rock but, before that can happen, Rogue catches him. She tells him he would have deserved it. She knew he meant well, but she didn’t like it. Don’t ever toy with her again! Hamming it up, he announces he owes her his life. Would that he could thank her with a kiss. Furious, she drops him in the water and angrily flies away.
First Kurt complains about being wet, then wonders what he did. He never heard her so upset before. Then he realizes what he said and blames himself for being so unfeeling. Storm had told them that Rogue’s power manifested when she was barely in her teens. She’s never been kissed. All the things they take for granted are totally alien to her. Possessing Carol’s memories must be absolute torture, constantly reminding Rogue of things she can never experience firsthand. No wonder she was so angry. What to him was a harmless little jest to her must have seemed an exercise in deliberate cruelty. And nothing he can say or do will make amends.
Peter points in the direction she flew toward a ruined mansion. Should they follow? Suddenly, there is a flash of light, something falling that way. They quickly take cover, but the light is blinding and the shockwave of the object passing hammers them to the brink of unconsciousness. There’s a final flash as the object lands at the derelict mansion.
Meanwhile, at Kennedy International Airport, Professor Xavier, Ororo Munroe, Rachel Summers and Illyana Rasputin are waiting for their returning teammates Kitty Pryde and Wolverine. Charles is noting down remarks and thoughts he hears from the background of the people around them. He uses the notes for a course he is teaching at Colombia University.
Peeking over his shoulder, Ororo points out that so many comments refer to mutants and they are so cruel. She had not realized people’s fear of them was this intense. Xavier agrees. The recent controversy about Dazzler and her film has evidently catalyzed considerable ill will. The “mutant menace” has suddenly become a prime target for television exposes and the view most often presented is so hostile, he fears they’ll do lasting – possibly irreparable – harm. More mutants are born every day. What hope have they or humanity in a world where they are condemned outright as evil?
He changes the subject, looking at his watch, wondering how much longer they will have to wait for Kitty and Logan. Their flight was delayed by bad weather, Ororo replies. She would have helped, if she could.
Xavier realizes her remark was a joke but that’s merely a façade. However well she masks her true feelings, the loss of her powers still hurts and, to make matters worse, her love for the man responsible, Forge, remains as strong and vital as her rage at him. Xavier wishes he could do something, but in this instance he is utterly helpless. Ororo’s fate, her future happiness, lies where he thinks she wants them – in her own hands.
He notices that, standing some distance away, Illyana Rasputin seems to be talking to her bag, or more specifically to its contents, Kitty’s pet dragon Lockheed, whom she smuggled along. She tells him to cool it with the smoke or they are both in trouble. Angrily, she thinks about her brother who should be here. Awkward or not, the moment has to be faced. If he keeps acting like such a bozo, he and Kitty won’t even be friends!
The last person along is Rachel Summers, who reads the thoughts surrounding her. The professor told her not to eavesdrop but to her it’s second nature. It’s how she survived in her time. She tries to tell herself those are perfectly ordinary people. They have nothing against her personally but, in her timeline, decent ordinary people let mutants be herded into concentration camps and slaughtered everyone she knew and loved. Kate was the last. She’s still Kitty here, barely 15, but in her future she was twice Rachel’s age, part surrogate mother, mostly best friend. Outside of her folks she misses her the most.
Rachel suddenly gasps when she sees her reflection. The airport is gone and she is dressed in her Hound costume. She is back in her own time. Kate Pryde, who sits next to her, tells her to snap out of it. Rachel apologizes and blames the outfit. Kate understands. They brainwashed Rachel and forced her to use her psi talent to hunt down mutants. Nothing she can say can erase that horror. But what they do here today may prevent any more of their kind sharing that fate.
Rachel doesn’t remember any this ever happening and wonders if her timeshift was only a fantasy. She prays that she is just living through a memory now. She wants to go home! she bursts out. Kate gently reminds her there is no one left to do the job but them.
Dressed in an army uniform and using a cover identity of their old friend. Colonel Carol Danvers, Kate gets them inside the nerve center of Project Nimrod, before they are discovered. Kate orders Rachel to telekinetically scramble the door’s lock behind them, so their foes have to blast their way inside.
Then what? Rachel asks agitated and reminds Kate the lab is shielded against her phasing… they are trapped! She is anyway, Kate agrees grimly. She knew that from the start. This is where they part company, she tells Rachel. Once she knows Rachel is safe, she can deal with Nimrod. Rachel protests she isn’t leaving her. Who said she had a choice? Kate replies and gives the codephrase ”Dark Phoenix,”
Months before that, Rachel used her psi power to temporarily exchange Kate’s psyche with that of her younger self Kitty. They figured it might be possible to do the same with a physical body, travel through time, but never tried. With the words “Dark Phoenix,” Rachel is swept away by forces beyond her comprehension and cast across infinity, as she taps into a power as primal as creation and so vast it beggars description, yet strangely familiar.
“You okay?” a familiar voice asks Rachel. For a moment, Rachel believes she is still in her dreamstate, but it is the present Kitty Pryde who has asked, noting that she looked like she was going to faint. Rachel politely assures her she is okay and watches as Kitty turns to greet her friends.
Grimly, Rachel realizes she got her wish. It was a memory after all. She figures Kate secretly programmed her with a post-hypnotic command. If all else failed, she wanted Rachel as her ace in the hole to save everything in the future by altering the past. She must have scrambled her memories a little too, so she believed the timeshift was her own idea. She realizes this makes her Kate’s and the future’s only hope.
Getting another look at Rachel, Kitty recognizes her. Impossible! Rachel replies. Kitty was unconscious the whole time. And yet Kitty remembers being in the future where Rachel protected her.
In the meantime, Nightcrawler and Colossus close in on what’s left of the house, the site of the impact. Colossus jumps inside the crater, a moment later so does Nightcrawler. The ground is fused smooth as glass. At the bottom, Peter remarks that such a big explosion would make a bigger crater. Everything for miles should have been disintegrated. No sign of the object either. Perhaps it got up and walked away, Colossus suggests.
Nearby, they find one of the trees composed of entirely circuitry elements. Then they find a stag frozen in mid-run just the same. Peter grimly states he has seen this effect before. There is a plant in the house and one of his sister Illyana’s Limbo creatures as well, both transformed by the alien New Mutant Warlock the night he arrived. It’s how his kind consumes food. First he turns living creatures into techno organic beings like himself, then he drains their life energy, making them statures like these. Warlock told the Professor he was fleeing from his father, a more powerful version of himself who had sworn to slay him…
In the broken ruin, Rogue slowly awakes, figuring she’s found the limits of her invulnerability. She tells herself to find the boys. This force might have done Nightcrawler harm.
A techno organic being tells her not to worry about them. Rogue mistakes him for Warlock. She knows his offspring? the Magus states. Upon her transmutation, she will lead him to Warlock. He reaches for her.
Rogue flies out of his grasp, aware that his touch will kill her. Magus snares her legs, but nothing happens. She realizes that he needs to touch his victim’s skin as she does for his power to work. She takes one of the tentacles ensnaring her and tears it apart.
Magus screams in pain. Having a chimney thrown on him courtesy of Colossus, who ‘ports in with Nightcrawler, doesn’t help. He hits him several times till Magus lies still. A moment later, Magus grabs and ensnares him and moves upward and outside. His grip tightens around Colossus, who knows that if he loses consciousness he will be at Magus’ mercy.
Nightcrawler grabs the part of Magus still on the ground. He has never ‘ported part of a being with him before but has to try. He does, causing Magus far more pain than when Rogue tore apart his arm. He releases his captive, whom Rogue catches.
They join Nightcrawler, who also suffered from that stunt. Rogue leaves Colossus with him and flies to another attack while Kurt worries that if she absorbs an alien he process might be irreversible.
Rogue flies through the house, dodging Magus’ blows, with what seems to be the seventh sense Nightcrawler spoke about She notices that Magus’ glow is dimmed and figures he is losing energy. She grabs him and kisses him to absorb his power, a stunt that leaves her overwhelmed and almost kills her. She is thrown out of the building.
The men find her muttering about her new perceptions. Through Magus, she has access to the entire universe! Using Warlock’s idiosyncratic way of speaking, she announces her condition is transitory.
Angrily, Kurt reminds her he is team leader. That means they do as he says. Colossus points out that they have a problem. Above the building, a giant image of Magus appears, informing them they are nothing to him. He could tear their puny star in half with his bare hands. But they fought well. This courage amuses him. Therefore, they may continue to exist. But his patience has limits. Deliver Warlock to him quickly or their world will suffer the consequences! With that ultimatum, he disappears.
Later, after Nightcrawler has called the whole team, they inspect the ruin. Storm muses that if Magus were truly as formidable, why threaten instead of destroying them? Does she think he is running a bluff? Kurt asks. He is team leader, she retorts. Tell her!
What a joke, Kurt berates himself. He didn’t even have sense enough to leave someone to keep watch on Magus while calling them. Wolverine sensibly points out they were all beaten up. Odds are they would have found another circuitry statue. He made the right decision. Kurt replies he was lucky. Logan should be leader. Not his style, comes the reply.
Xavier telepathically warns them of an intruder. It’s a police man who demands to know what they are doing there. Xavier mentally calms the man and creates the illusion of the X-Men wearing street clothes. He assures the cop that they mean no harm. Mollified, the officer informs them this is private property. Xavier assures him they understand. Logan mocks that he thought Charley swore off mucking with people’s heads.
Storm asks Xavier what of Magnus. Xavier replies neither he nor Logan nor their scanners can detect him. Either he is out of range or can cloak himself. They must wait for him to make the next move.
The cop returns to his car, having forgotten the encounter thanks to Xavier. He wonders why he came up here. Entering his vehicle, he wonders if he is going senile. He could have sworn he left the car at the foot of the drive. Of course, then the “car” eats him… or more to the point the shape-shifted Magus does.
Magus is impressed by what he has learned of this world, and its superbeings. In the recent past, they defeated Galactus! And tonight the X-Men almost beat him. He takes on human shape, deciding he must be circumspect in his approach to Warlock. He is impressed by the quality of his son’s allies. He is proud of him. Still he is certain he will not escape again, and eventually he will die!
Some months later, at Columbia University, New York city, shortly before Christmas:
Some students call goodbye to Professor Xavier, who has recently begun offering courses at the university and is quite enjoying himself. He becomes pensive when he passes the tag “Muties die!” on a wall. “Mutie lover!” someone suddenly calls after him. Five young people surround him, though Xavier senses more within the shadows. Some are drunk and hostile. Two are students from his seminar.
Politely, Xavier asks them to let him pass. They don’t want his kind at their school, one of them slurs. Sensing they are ready to attack, Xavier psychically freezes them. But there are too many, their thoughts too chaotic. One of them throws a brick at his head and Xavier goes down.
As the others can move again, they realize he is a mutant himself and begin to hit him, intending to kill him. Their work done, they leave.
From a dark alley, somebody grabs the lifeless and bloody Xavier and drags him away…