Above the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, Rogue and Sam Guthrie are on perimeter patrol. Rogue has absorbed Sam’s blasting power, as they fly near each other. ‘Pretty from up here. But you miss it, going so fast’ Rogue comments. Sam replies that there isn’t much choice, as his name is “Cannonball”, not “Hang Glider”. Rogue asks Sam if he is really going to let a name hold him back. ‘You wanna enjoy the scenery, all you gotta do…is slow down’ Rogue declares, before she falls to the ground. Sam drops down beside Rogue and tells her that everyone hates it when she borrows their powers and use them better than they do. ‘How do you make it look so easy?’ Sam asks her. Rogue explains that sometimes it just takes a fresh set of eyes, before agreeing that new perspectives are not always welcome.
Sam asks whether things are still frosty with Wolverine, to which Rogue tells her friend that they can still work together, but that it is all stiff and formal, that he looks at her like he can’t trust her. Sam points out that Rogue made a tough call in a bad situation, and that Wolverine doesn’t like it, but that’s his problem. ‘This ain’t the army. If that’s what we wanted, we woulda stayed wit5h Cyclops’ Sam declares, reminding Rogue that they came here because they believed their students deserve a choice about how to live their lives. ‘Reckon we oughta have the same privilege’ Sam adds. Rogue agrees, but explains that she feels like she is losing people left and right. ‘Ah miss Kurt. He was our heart. Can’t help feeling like if he was alive, the X-Men never woulda split’ she adds.
Rogue hangs her head and tells Cannonball that she hasn’t felt so alone in a long time, and here she is making it worse. ‘Ah always envied you, Sam. Having such a big family…all that kind to turn to’ Rogue adds. Sam replies that it is nice, and that he loves them dearly, but that in a house so crowded, you look for ways to make your mark and stand on your own. Sam points out that Rogue has done that more than anyone else - taking control of her powers, her life, and reminds her that when he first met her, she was, no offense, a mess. ‘Now you’re a leader. What you done for those kids…it’ll be years before they understand all you taught ‘em’ Sam adds. He tells Rogue not to feel bad about carring, as it is what makes her good at this. ‘It’s also why the rough spots hit you harder than most. And I ain’t saying it shouldn’t hurt’ Sam remarks, telling Rogue not to lose sight of the amazing things she has done, either, or the possibility the other guy’s just being a jerk - whether that’s Wolverine or someone else.
‘Thanks, Sam. Ah -’ Rogue begins, before noticing something up in the sky, quickly approaching the school. ‘Incoming!’ Rogue exclaims. ‘I see it. Some kinda missile’ Sam replies, before the two blast into the air, towards the approaching object. ‘We got missiles of our own’ Sam declares, but as they approach the object, surrounded by energy, they can’t see what it is. Rogue tells Sam that they cannot take any chances with the school, and points out that they are invulnerable in flight. ‘Let’s knock it outta the sky’ she declares. ‘Copy. Impact in three…two…’ Sam begins, before Rogue gasps ‘Oh no!’ as she sees what, or rather who, the approaching people are.
Before anything can be done, the four mutants collide on impact. ‘Sam, those were people!’ Rogue exclaims. ‘Gotta catch ‘em!’ Sam tells her as they steady themselves mid-air, before blasting downwards to catch the new arrivals, with Sam pointing out that they are only going to get one shot. ‘Faster, dammit! Faster!’ Rogue tells herself, as she grabs hold of a man clad in red and white, while Cannonball takes hold of a man with large feathery wings. Suddenly, there is an explosion. Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast and Bobby “Iceman” Drake arrive on the scene, and Hank calls out to his teammates, asking them if they are okay. Sam replies that he is, as their blast fields should have protected them, but that the other two look in a bad way.
‘Hank, is that -?’ Bobby begins as he looks upon the new arrivals. ‘It is indeed’ Hank replies, frowning. ‘Calvin Rankin…the Mimic’ Hank declares as his former teammate looks up at him, while Michael Pointer a.k.a. Weapon Omega lies sprawled at Mimic’s side. ‘Hank, Bobby - thank God. It’s Michael. His powers…something’s wrong…please. He’s my best friend…and he’s dying’ the Mimic exclaims urgently. The Mimic picks Michael up into his arms, while the Beast calls out to Michael, asking him if he can hear him. Hank aims some sort of analyzer at Weapon Omega, while Calvin explains that Norman Osborn did something to him. ‘His powers…he’s like an addict. He needs to absorb mutant energy. But he was trying to kick the habit’ Mimic tells the Beast.
‘Norman Osborn. The psycho you guys chose to work for. Who threw Hank in a cell and almost killed him. Why should we lift a finger for you after that?’ Iceman asks, quite rightly. Mimic reminds Hank that it was he who helped him when his powers were out of control, when no one else would. ‘That’s why I came back’ Mimic explains, adding that Michael’s powers are similar. ‘I tried to help him on my own…let him absorb my energy, in small doses, to wean him off…but it didn’t work’ Calvin adds. ‘Please. I know we did wrong. But you don’t know what it’s like…when all you have is stolen. Cheap copies of other people’. Mimic adds that he knows they hurt Hank, and admits that they were stupid, but they wanted to do something that mattered for once in their lives.
Rogue reminds Iceman that she made her share of mistakes when she came to the X-Men, but that she was welcomed, perhaps not with opens arms, but she was given a chance. Hank decides that Rogue is right, and remarks that if ill-advised decisions disqualify one from seeking refuge here, then everyone should leave. ‘Okay, Hank. You’re the injured party. If it’s all right with you…’ Bobby points out. The Beast states that they must act with caution, and reminds the Mimic that he is not a mutant, despite being able to mimic mutant powers. ‘It doesn’t surprise me that feeding off you made Michael ill’ Hank adds, before announcing that he needs to study him in the lab, only the school is full of students.
‘After being deprived of true mutant energy for so long, I fear what the proximity of so many might to do him…even the few of us…could have undesirable effects’ Hank adds. Suddenly, Michael wakes, and energy fluctuates around him. ‘YES! I Can feel them. I feel them all!’ he shouts as he flies towards the school buildings. ‘They never listen’ Bobby mutters on his ice-sled as he follows Pointer, while Rogue and Cannonball fly after him.
Inside Room 204, the Coping with Physical Changes lecture, is being conducted by Jonathan Starsmore a.k.a. Chamber. Among the students are Anole, Rockslide, Glob Herman, Ernst and Bling. Chamber tells the young mutants that he wishes he could give advice that would work for all of them, but the trouble is, they are all different, which is why they are here. ‘What I can offer is a place to speak your mind without worrying about being laughed at by the spandex prom king and queens’. Chamber then asks the kids who wants to start, to which Rockslide raises his hand and asks ‘Why do I still get horny when I don’t have junk?’ ‘Straight into the deep end it is’ Chamber remarks, before telling the kids that he figures a lot of them have sex questions, and that it is a delicate matter which some might wish to discuss in private, or with someone other than him.
‘But, at heart, what you’re asking is if anyone’s ever gonna love you. Wish I could guarantee a ‘yes’. I’m afraid I can’t do that for anyone, mutant or human’ Chamber replies wisely. Chamber tells them that they all deserve it, and if they keep their heart open, no matter how often it gets ripped into tiny, bleeding shreds, they will have a chance. ‘You can’t control anyone else. Only yourself. And I’m telling you from experience…in the end, whether your life’s defined by hurt or hope is up to you’.
The students listen intently, when suddenly, the roof collapses and they are knocked about, as Weapon Omega stands before them. ‘More…please…need more’ he utters. ‘Only ‘cause you said please. Out of my class!’ Chamber declares as he uses his biokinesis to blast Pointer back up into the air outside the building.
‘Got him!’ Iceman calls out as he encases Pointer in a capsule of ice. ‘Don’t hurt him! He doesn’t mean it!’ Mimic pleads as he flies towards them. ‘Right now I don’t care what he means -’ Rogue begins as she prepares to strike a blow, only for Pointer to release his power, which surges over Rogue, Bobby and Sam. ‘Stupid, I’m so stupid!’ Mimic exclaims as he flies up behind Michael, and decides that they need to get him away from the school, as it is driving him crazy. ‘Away. That we can do’ Rogue remarks as she flies towards them, but Calvin tells them to get back, as they are just charging him up, and an instant later, Pointer releases more power, this time knocking Mimic backwards as well.
‘I thought we were done with glowing, flying men!’ Remy “Gambit” LeBeau exclaims on the ground below, as he Joanna “Frenzy” Cargill and Rachel Summers a.k.a. Marvel Girl prepare to join the battle. ‘We’re making him stronger just being here’ Rogue explains as she crashes into the ground where Gambit stands. Rogue asks Rachel to see if she can get into Pointer’s mind, to which Rachel explains that she has been trying, but that it is like grabbing hold of water. ‘I try to force his thoughts a certain way, but they flow in all directions’ she adds. Rogue tells her not to force them, to give Michael a comforting voice, calling his name, as his mind is a swirl of chaos, so he needs a beacon of calm, someplace safe to come home to.
It seems to work, as Michael goes from being angry and frustrated, to surprised and confused. ‘Where…oh no, not again’ he exclaims, before dropping his surging power, he announces that he is sorry, and asks if anyone was hurt. ‘Ask again in a minute’ Frenzy warns him, but Rogue tells her to take it easy. ‘Michael! You’re okay!’ Calvin exclaims, to which Michael replies that he is in control for the moment, and explains that the mutant energy he absorbed, he discharged all but what he needs to stay even. ‘But I can feel the hunger building up again. I’m not trying not to take any more, but can’t help it. We need to go’ he tells his friend.
The Beast bounds towards Pointer and announces that he would prefer to analyze him first. ‘I have a reinforced sub-basement lab. It’s constructed to act as a type of faraday cage, not allowing energies in or out. It should block you from absorbing any external mutant power’ Hank explains, pointing out that they need to determine what is wrong with him. Hank asks Pointer if he can control himself long enough to get there - five minutes, perhaps. ‘I know I’m pretty wretched, but I can still keep hold of myself for five minutes’ Michael replies, before asking if they can hurry, please.
Soon, in the Beast’s lab, Pointer lies on a table, all sorts of scanners around him, while the Beast, Rogue, Iceman, Marvel Girl and Mimic stand in an observation room several feet away. The Beast points out that Michael is agitated, and so he would like to keep him calm the way Rachel did, but that having too many mutants in with him might skew the readings. Hank asks Calvin if he could copy Rachel’s powers and assist him. ‘Me? I…I mean, couldn’t she do it from here?’ Mimic replies. Marvel Girl explains that the faraday cage blocks psychic energy as well, and tells Calvin that it is all right, she doesn’t mind, unless he thinks it would overwhelm him. ‘No, it’s not that…all right, I’ll do it. Just give me a…’ he begins, before uttering ‘Oh. Oh, wow. I always forget what it’s like. Feeling all those minds…the connection to something so vast…it’s beautiful’. Rachel agrees, but admits that she has come to take it for granted.
‘Sorry to tush you, but if we could start…?’ the Beast calls out as he leads Calvin into the chamber. Rachel remarks that the Mimic is like a new man, and asks Rogue why he was so reluctant to borrow her powers, and why he doesn’t just mimic whoever’s in range. Rogue explains that because sooner or later, they are out of range, and then you are stuck being yourself again.
Inside the faraday cage, Michael asks what the verdict is. ‘Oh…oh, no…’ Calvin utters as Hank examines a monitor. ‘It’s wrong! Run the tests again!’ Mimic exclaims. Hank tells Calvin that he did not give him permission to read his mind, and points out that he is scaring Michael. ‘Kindly take your hand off me so I can tell him what you already know’ the Beast declares, while Michael asks ‘What is it?’. Hank points out that Calvin isn’t a mutant, that he simply mimics their powers, but that they are artificial. ‘When you absorbed the energies from his body, it did something to you. Changed you’ Hank states. ‘Just now, when you fed off so many true mutants, all at once…it sparked a reaction with the energies inside you’. Hank tells Michael that he is sorry, and that unless they can find a way to stop it, the power will release explosively, killing him, and quite possibly, everyone here. Inside the booth, Iceman, Rogue and Rachel all look at each other in shock.
Moments later, Bobby, Rogue and Rachel rush into the chamber, and Bobby points out that they have a school full of students, so they need to get them out of here. ‘To where? You wanna risk blowing up Manhattan?’ Rogue asks, while the Beat announces that his machines are all that are keeping Pointer sable, and that he cannot be safely moved. Rachel announces that she is evacuating the kids, and points out that they are used to it, and that it won’t take long, before pointing out that Hank is right, this far underground is probably the safest place for Pointer to be. ‘Fine, that’s settled. But Ah think y’all are forgetting something. What are we gonna do for Michael?’ Rogue adds. ‘Only one thing’ Michael declares. ‘Let me die. Lock me in a vault, or…I don’t know, teleport me to the moon’ he tells them.
Michael announces that he appreciates all they have done for him, but that from the moment his powers manifested, all he has ever done is hurt people, kill people. ‘It’s best for everyone if I’m just…gone’ he adds. Rogue suddenly punches him in the face and exclaims ‘Now you listen to me. Ah been where you are. Lived most of my life with ghost of other people screaming in my head. Ah couldn’t touch anyone without hurting ‘em. Maybe killing ‘em. Ah wanted to die. Desperately’. Rogue tells Michael that someone always believed in her - Irene, the X-Men, so she couldn’t let them down, and put one foot in front of the other, even when it was agony. ‘And now Ah can do this. Without anything happening. You ain’t gonna give up, Michael, ‘cause I believe in you. And you won’t let me down’ Rogue adds as her bare fingers touch Michael’s face.
‘Hold on. I know you didn’t use your powers on him just now…but what if you did?’ Mimic asks. ‘What if I micked your absorption powers…and we both did?’ he suggests. ’Maybe we could drain enough energy to save him! Split it into thirds…discharge it safely!’ Mimic declares. Bobby asks Hank if that would work, to which Hank replies that it could, in theory, but that there is no way to test it, as this is a form of energy they know nothing about, and it could just as easily prove fatal. Rogue declares that she hasn’t heard any better ideas, and suggests they do it. The table that Pointer is strapped to has moved so that he is now in an upright position, and he tells Mimic and Rogue that he will not let them risk their lives, too.
Rogue tells him to stop it, that she knows it is hard to see other people laying down their lives for you, especially when you’re not used to it, and don’t think you’re worth it. ’But we’re gonna do this. Ah figure it stands a lot better chance of working if you don’t fight us. So stop. For out sakes, if not your own’ Rogue adds. Bobby and Hank turn and look at each other, while Rogue and Mimic look up at Weapon Omega, who asks them to be careful, before thanking them.
Soon, the Beast, Iceman and Rogue have entered the reinforced sub-basement vault theta, while Mimic helps Weapon Omega into the room. ‘Thick as you can get, Bobby. I’ll need a minute to set up this force field generator’ Hank tells his friend as Bobby covers the room in a thick sheathe of ice. Pointer asks if that will contain the blast if things go wrong, Hank replies that he doesn’t know, but that it is the best they can do in the time they have.’ So do try to make it unnecessary, hm?’ Hank adds, when suddenly, Gambit rushes into the vault, calling out to Rogue. He goes over to her and asks her if this is as risky as it sounds. ‘No more than fighting demons or angry gods’ Rogue replies, to which Gambit tells her that he has something he wants to say.
‘Remy…don’t. Please’ Rogue replies, telling him that she has been okay up to now, partly because everything is happening too fast for her to think about. ‘But Ah can’t…. Ah think Ah might fall apart if -’ Rogue begins, biting her lower lip, Gambit just frowns and tells her to hush, and that he just wanted her to know he is here. ‘Whatever happens…I’m gonna be here’ he adds. Rogue puts a hand to Gambit’s face, then they embrace. Beast and Gambit leave the chamber, where Frenzy is standing at the vault door. ‘If you would?’ the Beast asks her, and she uses her incredible strength to pull the vault door shut.
Rogue, Mimic and Weapon Omega stand together, and Rogue holds out her hand. ‘Guys, wait. I…I don’t deserve this’ Pointer tells them. Rogue replies that he hasn’t done nothing she hasn’t, or easily could have. ‘Stop punishing yourself, Michael. We’ve all been where you are. Someone helped us when we needed it. Now it’s time to pay it forward’ Rogue adds. ‘So shut up…and take our hands’ Rogue declares, as she and Mimic takes hold of Weapon Omega’s hands. ‘You’re hurt! Let go!’ Pointer exclaims as Mimic cries out in agony. A brilliant glow of power surrounds them, and Rogue tells him that it is nothing, and assures him they will see this through.
The power shines brighter, and an instant later, the vault door opens. The Beast is standing there, and Rogue calls out to him: ‘We’re alive. It worked. Hank, tell me it worked’ she calls out. ‘Give me a second to…oh’ Hank utters in reply as he looks into the vault. ‘I…I’m so sorry. I didn’t see…Michael’s energy has become self-sustaining. Instead of dividing it, the two of you have only replicated it!’ Hanks announces, wide-eyed. ‘What are you saying?’ someone calls out. ‘The cause is complex, but the effect is horribly simple…we had one bomb. Now we have three!’ Hank declares, as Rogue, Mimic and Pointer all stand in the chamber, glowing with power…and ready to explode!