Zero Gravity Mobility 101, instructed by Rogue and Rachel Grey a.k.a. Marvel Girl. As several of the Jean Grey Institute students are thrust about in the Zero Gravity unit, Rachel exclaims to Rogue: ‘You’re kidding. You and Magneto haven’t even spoken since we got here?’ and asks her how they left things. Rogue replies that they didn’t spell it out - they never spelled that much out, which is what she liked about it.
Turning her attention back to the students, Rogue calls out to Mercury and tells her that she has the right idea, but that she has to focus harder to stay solid, and suggests to her that she try a pair of wings. Rachel tells Rogue that playing it by ear is fine when you are on the same tiny island, but that when you’re on opposite sides of the continent, it gets tricky. ‘Ah noticed’ Rogue replies.
Rachel inquires as to whether Rogue wants to end it, just break away clean, to which Rogue replies ‘No’. Rachel asks Rogue why she doesn’t call Magneto. Rogue tells her that the phone works both ways, causing Rachel to point out that from Magneto’s point of view, it was Rogue that chose to leave him and come here. Rachel reminds Rogue that Gambit, the guy she used to have an epic romance with, also happens to live here, and looking out the window to where Gambit and Frenzy walk side-by-side across the school grounds, she remarks that she wonders how Magneto feels about that.
‘It was a mistake’ Remy “Gambit” LeBeau tells Frenzy a.k.a. Joanna Cargill. Frenzy frowns, while Gambit tells her that it was the adrenaline from the battle and too much of that cheap local beer. ‘Will you relax?’ Joanna declares, telling Gambit that it was one kiss and that she is not expecting a ring. ‘We did a lot more, back in the day, and gave it less thought’ she points out, while telling Remy that she knows his heart is elsewhere, and that so is hers. Gambit looks up to the Zero Gravity room where he can see Rogue, before turning back to Frenzy and tells her that they feel the same. ‘Sure. It happened. It’s over’ Joanna declares, before turning and walking away in the other direction. ‘We move on’ she calls out, glancing back at Gambit.
Back in the Zero Gravity room, Rogue assures Rachel that she didn’t leave Magneto and nor did she follow Gambit. ‘Ah chose the path Ah thought was right’ she explains, pointing out that Cyclops is preparing those kids - everyone - on Utopia for war, and that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. She declares that she left because she wanted to teach kids how to live, not how to die. Rachel agrees, but points out that Cyclops would say not preparing them to fight is teaching them to die. ‘Magneto would, too’ Rachel adds. ‘We’re both teaching ass-kicking and algebra. Difference is where the emphasis lies’ Rogue declares, adding that Cyclops wants them to survive, but she wants them to be happy - which is a hell of a lot harder.
Two floors below, several of the Jean Grey Institute students are walking through a corridor. ‘Excuse me, I’m sorry. Do you know…’ Blindfold calls out, to which Trance exclaims ‘NO!’ as she walks alongside Anole. ‘I mean, I don’t want to know, okay? Just don’t tell me’ Trance clarifies. Anole turns to Blindfold and tells her that it is nothing personal, but that when she says things, they have a nasty habit of coming true. ‘And some of the kids think you’re not just predicting them. They think you’re making them happen’ Anole explains, telling Blindfold to keep it to herself. The corridor quickly becomes empty as the kids rush away from Blindfold, who calls out ‘No. Yes. I’m sorry’, and remarks that she just wanted to know the math assignment. ‘Oh’ she adds.
‘That’s the meat of the problem’ Rogue tells Rachel. ‘Me and Magneto, how we disagree on how life oughta be’ she explains. Rogue adds that Magneto looks at Cyclops and sees the heir to his legacy, that Magneto would follow Cyclops to the gates of Hell, and Cyclops is not about to change course for nobody. She tells Rachel that if Scott wasn’t so obsessive about this, she might be able to convince Magneto - her voice trails off, and declares that the point is, she chose to come here, while Magneto chose to stay there. ’Being the first one to call feels like…admitting the other person’s right’ Rogue explains. Rachel slaps her forehead and asks Rogue if she could make it any more complicated. ’You want to know how he feels. Where he wants to go from here. You’re a grown woman. Call him and ask!’ Rachel orders.
Rogue explains that she doesn’t want to give Magneto the wrong idea, to make him think she would change her mind, because she won’t. ‘Maybe Ah should just let it end. Ah mean, if neither one of us can get past politics enough to pick up the phone and say -’ Rogue begins, when suddenly, ‘Hello’ Blindfold calls out as she rushes into the room. The young precog announces that someone is coming that he brings their salvation. ‘Excuse me. I’m sorry. Destruction’ she corrects herself.
Shortly, Wolverine a.k.a. Logan joins Rogue and Marvel Girl as they walk through the school, with Rachel telepathically telling all of the students to report to safe rooms immediately, and not to stop and gather belongings. Wolverine asks Blindfold what she can tell him about this guy, to which the young mutant replies that he looks like an angel, a mad, scary, angel. Rogue asks Blindfold if she saw his powers and what he can do, to which Blindfold replies ‘Anything he wants’. Rogue and Wolverine glance at each other, before Wolverine announces that they are at Defcon One, all defenses are to be on high alert. Bling, Indra, Graymalkin and several other young mutants rush about the corridor, while Wolverine remarks that Blindfold keeps saying that this opponent is going to “destroy” them. ‘I want everyone set to strike on my signal. We’re guns with safeties off and triggers cocked’ Wolverine declares.
‘Copy. Everyone’s been briefed’ Rachel reports, while Wolverine asks how long they have got. Rogue explains that Blindfold has trouble with time, and that the best she can tell is “soon”. ‘Excuse me. I can be more clear. Now’ Blindfold exclaims as she motions out a window, where a blaze of flame can be seen. Rogue, Wolverine and Marvel Girl race outside, where they are joined by Frenzy, Gambit, Bobby “Iceman” Drake, Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast and Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie. ‘Hellfire and damnation!’ Rogue gasps, as hovering before them is one of the X-Men’s most powerful foes: Exodus! ‘Greetings, X-Men. The fact that you still live should prove I am not here as an enemy’ Exodus announces.
‘Rachel?’ Rogue asks, but Rachel replies that she cannot read Exodus’s mind, only keep him out of theirs. Exodus states that there is no need to invade his thoughts, nor, he hopes, for him to intrude upon theirs, and offers to explain his intentions plainly: ‘I have come to save mutantkind’ he reveals. ‘You’re a day late and a dollar short!’ Frenzy shouts to her former leader, adding that he has a hell of a lot of nerve coming here at all. ‘Last time I saw you, you were running off like a pouting kid taking his ball and going home!’ Joanna exclaims. ‘Throwing away everything you believed in. Everything we believed in!’ she declares. Exodus remarks that Professor Xavier persuaded him that mutantkind could no longer survive divided, that fighting amongst themselves was suicidal. ‘I saw the truth in his words. Left to ponder my place in this new world. Then the news reached me’ Exodus reveals, exclaiming that his people have again been torn apart by internecine conflict, fatally weakened.
‘It was then I divided my purpose, to unite the lost tribes. To make us whole again…and so save us all!’ Exodus announces. He lowers himself towards the ground as Rogue tells him that it is not quite that simple. ‘What is simpler than survival?’ Exodus asks, telling the X-Men that they must reunite, and that they will. ‘Maybe someday, but not ‘cause you asked us!’ Rogue frowns. Exodus tells Rogue that she misunderstands - that it was not a request. ‘If you will not change your minds…I shall change them for you’ he states. ‘He’s trying mind control!’ Rachel alerts everyone, and the X-Men spring into action as Wolverine shouts ‘Cannonball, NOW!’ and Sam blasts forward, where he strikes Exodus, only for Exodus to teleport away as Cannonball flies around for a second attack. Exodus reappears behind Cannonball, and fires a blast of energy at him, causing Sam to drop out of the sky.
‘Long as he can teleport we can’t lay a finger on him!’ Rogue exclaims, while Rachel declares that she is trying to pierce his defenses, but can only skim surface thoughts. ‘Yes!’ she suddenly calls out. ‘There!’ she declares. Gambit throws some kinetically charged playing cards at Exodus, but they do him no harm, while Rogue rushes forwards, she leaps up at Exodus, and pierces his force field, touching his neck. ‘What? Stupid child. My powers are far too vast for you to steal!’ Exodus declares as he smacks Rogue aside. Wolverine, Frenzy and the others rush towards Exodus, as Rogue tells him ‘Got that right, Sugah’, and that she just needed one of his powers. ‘What?’ Exodus utters, as Rogue prepares to teleport away, and the rest of the X-Men all “dog-pile” on Exodus, attacking him together.
Exodus releases a burst of energy and knocks the heroes back, while remarking that all of them, Rogue has come the farthest, taking one of his powers. ‘Bravo’ the tells her, adding that he doesn’t need that power, and will not let her touch him again. Frenzy punches Exodus in the face and tells Rogue that she has got this. ‘I’ll be back soon’ Rogue replies as she teleports away. ‘Take your time’ Frenzy tells her as she punches Exodus once again.
An instant later, Rogue reappears beside Paige “Husk” Guthrie, who is at a console, while Match, Glob Herman and numerous other students are lined up in the room. Husk tells Rogue that as soon as all the students are inside, the room will shunt itself to a neutral dimension, then she can back Rogue up. Rogue tells Paige that it is okay, that she can go with the kids and keep them safe. ‘Ah just need to see one before y’all leave’ she explains. Rogue goes over to Kid Gladiator and asks him if he has the same powers as his father, as she needs to borrow them for a bit. ‘Halt! I am sworn to let none lay hands upon the royal person without his consent!’ Kid Gladiator’s protector, Warbird declares as she steps forward.
Hands on hips, Kid Gladiator remarks that Rogue is attractive for a primitive. ‘Perhaps if you agree to join my harem…’ he begins, but Rogue declares that she hasn’t got time for this. ‘To reach him, you must got through me’ Warbird exclaims. ‘Thanks. I’ll just go around’ Rogue replies as she teleports and reappears behind Kid Gladiator. ‘Coward! Prevaricator!’ Warbird shouts. ‘Best you’re gonna get, jailbait’ Rogue tells Kid Gladiator as she kisses him on the cheek. ‘I’ll behead her! I’ll eviscerate her!’ Warbird shrieks, but Kid Gladiator just smiles and rubs his cheek as Rogue teleports away. ‘I pardon her by royal decree’ he announces, and suggests that they look into that harem thing.
Back outside, Frenzy is still pummelling away at Exodus, who declares ‘Joanna. No one was more dedicated to our cause than you. How can you betray something you once felt so -’, before casting her back in a force field, and telling her that her thoughts make it plain. ‘The heart is the ultimate betrayer, is it not?’ Exodus remarks. ‘Let me go, you cowardly son of a -’ Frenzy calls out, before Exodus draws her closer to him, and states that he blames himself for this, for leaving her alone, without purpose. ‘But I cam remove the confusion…the doubt and pain. Make you the woman you once were’ he tells her as he touches her head. ‘Never…I’ll die first!’ Joanna retorts. ‘We ALL would!’ Rogue shouts as she teleports in overhead and slams herself down with the fury of Gladiator, striking Exodus hard in the back.
Exodus gathers himself and in mid-air, spins around and attacks Rogue with optic blasts. ‘We made a choice. One of the hardest of our lives. You got no idea what it cost us’ Rogue calls out as she attacks Exodus with a surge of energy. ‘What we sacrificed. ‘Cause we believed it was worth it!’ Rogue exclaims as she forces herself at Exodus, crashing him down to the ground. Wolverine, Frenzy and the other X-Men gather around as Rogue stands over Exodus and tells him that there is no way in hell that he is going to take that away from them. ‘No…that is unacceptable!’ Exodus declares, as he releases a surge of energy, knocking the X-Men backwards. ‘You would truly force me to slay you rather than subvert your petty desires for the good of your people? It defies comprehension!’ Exodus exclaims.
‘Not comprehension. Understanding’ Rogue corrects Exodus, telling him that he doesn’t get why they did this. ‘And Ah don’t think you will…unless we show you. Look into my mind’ she tells him. Rachel reminds Rogue that once Exodus is inside, she can’t protect her, but Wolverine decides that Rogue is right. ‘Go on, Exodus. Take a peek. I ain’t gonna fight ya, either’ he remarks. Exodus steps forward: ‘Very well. But I cannot imagine anything that would justify rending your species asunder…risking our very survival’ he states. ‘We were risking it by staying. See for yourself’ Wolverine tells him.
Exodus enters Rogue’s mind, and he sees images flash before him - Wolverine an Rogue standing over the body of the slain Nightcrawler. Beast arguing with Cyclops about his actions. Hope Summers. Cyclops and Wolverine arguing, and the schism that would eventually tear them apart.
‘Madness!’ Exodus exclaims as he once more hovers in the air. ‘The child…Hope…is the prophesied savior of our people. And Cyclops risks her in battle?’ ‘All the kids. Ask me, we can’t afford to lose any of ‘em’ Wolverine replies. ‘But yeah…her especially’ he adds. Exodus apologizes to the X-Men and tells them that he was wrong. ‘You were entirely justified in your actions’ Exodus announces. Energy flashes from his eyes as he declares that he has sworn to save mutantkind. ‘My course is clear’ he announces as he flies away, stating that he shall remove the obstacle, and then mutantkind will be as one again.
‘Um…did we just get Cyclops killed?’ Rogue asks as she turns to Wolverine. ‘Damn it’ Logan mutters, as he, Rogue, the Beast, Iceman, Gambit, Frenzy and Marvel Girl rush after Exodus.