Chandilar, the Shi’ar capital planet, where a scientist informs Empress Lilandra that the evidence is incontrovertible. When Charles Xavier went trolling through the royal archives he left a miniscule breach in the cybernetic security wall that the War Skrulls were later able to exploit, with grievous cost to the empire.
Will both those names haunt them forever? Gladiator, Praetor of the Imperial Guard, sears. Lilandra orders him to have a care and reminds him that one of those names is that of her royal consort and her beloved. But the other while masquerading as Charles nearly brought down the empire.
The advisor asks whether they can be sure that when the X-Men came to their aid they liberated the right Charles Xavier. Regardless of what she believes, they have to be sure, Lilandra admits and orders Gladiator to alert the Imperial Guard. Once more they must return to Earth.
Summers Cove Alaska:
Enjoying the beautiful wilderness are Scott Summers and his guest Charles Xavier, who is surprised that Scott invited him here after all that happened, especially with Hank. And very… grateful.
It’s not like he hasn’t made his share of bonehead mistakes, Scott points out. The fact is he is who he is in large part because of Charles. He is as much his family as Alex and Corsair and his Gran. That means they help. Some wounds can’t be healed, Charles replies darkly. But you can learn to live with them, Scott insists.
That moment, Scott’s son Nate joins them, clearly excited, telling them he just saw the coolest thing. A snowball that hits Scott’s head soon makes it clear what Nate is referring to. Namely the arrival of Iceman on an iceslide, together with his girlfriend Opal Tanaka, teammate Archangel and his girlfriend Officer Charlotte Jones (complete with her X-Men uniform). Scott happily greets his friends, glad to see they finally accepted his invitation. Nate happily greets “Aunt” Charlotte, who states when a cop saves a boy’s life, especially on the moon, that makes an unbreakable bond between them.
Warren notes that Charles looks strained. He’s had better days, Charles admits and remarks that Warren isn’t using his image inducer. Warren replies that his friends see him as he is, with his true face, not as he wishes he might be.
As they head to the house, Nate asks Charlotte about her X-costume. Does she also have a codename? Detective lieutenant Foxy? Bobby suggests. His girlfriend Opal playfully warns him.
As they enter, Charlotte remarks that the first time she saw this place was when Scott and she brought Nate back from the moon. She is a city girl but she fell in love with it at first sight. Charles agrees.
Inside, already waiting are Scott’s grandmother, his brother Havok, Havok’s girlfriend Polaris and Starjammers Hepzibah and Sikorsky. They happily great each other when suddenly Nate gets a faraway look and announces he is hearing voices inside his head. They are really angry. They are coming… they are here!
Meanwhile at Xavier’s school, Jean Grey is in a video conference with her teammates Nightcrawler and Rogue. Those two inadvertently went through a power switch recently and are now spending time at Excalibur’s lighthouse, where Betsy Braddock and Kurt are helping Rogue trying to handle her new body.
How is everyone else? Rogue asks. All’s well, Jean tells them. Scott and the Professor are away. Nick Fury commandeered the professor’s office for a conference with Sabretooth. Remy’s in the Danger Room helping Kitty adapt to her claw while ‘Ro and Lockheed are keeping score.
Suddenly, however, all the X-Men at Xavier’s mansion, as well as Sabretooth, ‘Ro and Lockheed, are teleported away to find themselves in what appears to be a spaceship which Kitty and Gambit recognize as the Starjammer. What the devil’s a Starjammer? Sabretooth inquires sourly. A starship sent by Scott’s father and his team of privateers, Jean translates. However, she isn’t detecting any thoughts aboard other than theirs. Either the ship is empty or the crew is cloaking themselves.
Gambit suggests they go to the bridge while Sabretooth snarls those fools better have a good explanation for this stunt. ‘Ro announces she and Lockheed will protect him.
On the bridge, they find Charlotte Jones, Scott’s grandmother, Nate, Opal and Sikorsky. Jean greets Charlotte and Sikorsky quickly explains matters. The Starjammer is submerged offshore within the fjord Summers Cove. The vessel’s tail is masquerading as its local lighthouse; in essence the starship is hidden in clear sight. Why are they here? Jean demands. Sikorsky continues that without warning the Shi’ar Imperial Guard appeared at the Summers family residence and attacked.
They are shown a hologram of Cyclops, Iceman, Archangel, Havok and Polaris fighting the Imperials, while Corsair and Hepzibah are already down. “Let’s give them a hand,” Jean decides but she is held back by a forcefield and a telepathic voice. Charles Xavier, who is also aboard, informs her she dare not show herself to the Shi’ar. As far as the empire is concerned, Lilandra saw Jean Grey die! They know nothing of her resurrection. If Jean reveals herself, they’ll assume the remanifestation of Dark Phoenix and react accordingly. This time, they’ll be sure to destroy their entire solar system.
Why are the Shi’ar even here? Jean asks exasperated. The X-Men saved their empire. She thought Charles was Lilandra’s consort. Charles fears he is at fault. While he was with the Shi’ar he searched their archives for any information that might help combat Mutant Burnout. Apparently, his actions allowed the Warskrulls’ clandestine access – with tragic results for the empire. They require he answer for his actions. But first they must stop the battle before anyone else is hurt. Jean will stay with him and telepathically coordinate things while the rest runs into battle.
They are teleported down. Heard they could use some help, Kitty deadpans. No way, they are totally kicking butt, Lorna replies, though the fact she lies exhausted on the ground belies her words. And with that the X-Men hurl themselves into the fray.
Blind and one-handed, Sabretooth still manages to take out Smasher, meaning that he now has to face the giant Titan who intends to stomp on him and squash him. Iceman freezes Titan’s lower leg to slow him down, telling Kitty she has to get Sabretooth out. Still, he wonders, why he is trying to save a guy who not so long ago was an enemy.
Kitty fights her impulse to use her claw and cut off Titan’s foot. But she decides her claw doesn’t define who she is. She manages to phase Sabretooth free.
Iceman finds himself facing the electrobolts of Flashfire but is saved by Havok’s plasma bolts. Havok finds himself under attack by treebranches come to life as a new member of the Guard attacks him. However, Archangel’s bionic wings cut through the branches.
Striking Gladiator, Cyclops tries at the same time to talk some sense into him, reminding him that barely a month ago the X-Men helped save their empire. Gladiator tells him their quarrel is not with him but with Xavier. He has betrayed the empress. That’s crazy! Cyclops protests. Charles loves her. But is he truly Charles? Gladiator points out. Suppose they have been deceived. How do they know he isn’t a Warskrull in disguise?
Havok warns Archangel who is still carrying him of Flashfire who is firing at them. They dodge but he hits the side of the lighthouse, revealing the Starjammer beneath.
Mrs. Summers tells Nate to stay under cover. Farther behind in the Starjammer, Xavier drags Jean aside. He warns her that she must not be seen and begs her to trust him.
Lilandra herself, accompanied by the telepath Oracle, who advises her it’s not safe, enters the structure. Lilandra retorts she counts on Oracle to protect her, though she should have nothing to fear from the man she loves… is that not right, Charles? she calls out though she does not see him. They are bound. She is no telepath, yet she senses his presence as she did from across the gulf of space even before they first met. Why does he hide from her? This battle has gone on long enough. Innocent lives have been hurt. Please let them bring this to an end!
She is going out there, Jean announces telepathically. Now she is talking like Kitty, Charles admonishes her. From his first student he expected better. She knows that showing herself will make things worse. This is not Jean’s moment nor is it her debt that must be paid…
Can Oracle lock in on Charles’ thoughts? Lilandra asks. She is not sure, the albino telepath replies. She senses a presence, but the psionic power signature is far greater than she would have expected even from Xavier.
They are nailed, Jean fears. They will have to fight! Not this time, Charles decides and wheels outside to meet Lilandra. Telepathically, he tells Jean what happened was his fault. He alone will take the responsibility and pay the price. He asks Lilandra to call off her Guard. He yields. Oracle protest there is someone else hiding but Lilalndra tells her to leave it, they have what they came for.
Outside, the fighting stops as Lilandra and Charles come outside. “Just say the word, boss,” Iceman suggests but Scott orders them to stand down and Charles thanks him.
From the beginning, he has taught them all to have the courage to take responsibility for their actions. It is fitting that the same rule applies for him. Is this why they saved the Shi’ar Empire? Scott asks bitterly, so they can kick the X-Men in the gut? Even heroes must abide by the rule of law, Lilandra replies. The crime may have been unwitting, but lives were lost because of it and must be answered for. Charles is her consort. He will not suffer. But he knows too much about their state – about its secrets and defenses. They dare not allow that knowledge to be seized by their adversaries. He will remain among the Shi’ar and with her from now until the ending of his life.
Is he sure about this? Scott asks Xavier. Will he start an interstellar war to save one man? Charles jokes. They were ready to do it for Jean, remember? Scott points out. Fortunately, the ending of his story is slightly happier, Charles points out. They all knew this day would come. It’s the most basic fact of life. His school and his dream are now Scott’s… he cannot imagine them in better hands.
Kitty hugs him. She knows where the starship’s parked. Maybe someday soon she and Lockheed will drop by for a surprise visit. They can all look up that space whale they rescued. That would be lovely Charles replies.
It is time, Lilandra urges. Charles wheels into the spaceship. Jean telepathically contacts him. Nothing more need be said, he tells her, especially, with so many minds around them. She loves him, Jean telepathically calls after him as the spaceship starts.
Now she and Nate can come out. It was the right call, Scott assures her. Just like Hank, she muses. Just like Logan. It was the only call, Scott insists. Her head agrees with him, but her heart just won’t stop breaking. Not the first time, he tells her, probably not for the last. It is the price they pay for the life they’ve chosen. They are the X-Men They fight for the world and for its future whether humanity likes them to or not.
Shortly after the battle in near Earth space. In a computer hall, a woman in communication with someone announces that she is stepping forward to claim her rightful position on the Consortium directorate. She awaits his report.
The commander explains they are using clandestine operatives within the SHIELD infrastructure to handle the mission. As far as the Americans are concerned, they are working for them. And the station itself? she asks. Trask’s weapons? The mutant neutralizer has been completely destroyed, she it told, as have the Neo-Sentinels. Of them, there is nothing left. The station crew was allowed the opportunity to evacuate. There are some casualties under the care of their medical personnel. Confirmed fatalities include Tony Stark and Hank McCoy. They were aboard the station when it blew.
What about the station? she asks. Total destruction, she is informed. She opens another channel, asking a doctor for good news. The doctor and his medical team tell her it’s a miracle the woman survived. Will she live? the woman asks. Impossible to say at this time but they are doing everything they can. The woman is sure their patient has fought too hard to give up. She requires a full work-up on her specs. She wishes to see precisely what this woman is made of.
Another channel, this time she addresses SHIELD’s G.W Bridge. He asks if she has any orders. She replies she thinks the time has come to remove both Director Fury and those accursed X-Men from the equation, for once an all. Listen carefully, this is how they’ll do it…
And so, in due course… Steve Rogers reads the Daily Bugle’s obituary on Tony Stark. He’s used to death, even the death of friends. But knowing a thing doesn’t make it any easier to bear, he muses. The Beast too, but this is different. He and Stark, Captain America and Iron Man, have been through so much together, he just though the man’s luck would never run out.
That moment, his cell phone beeps. It’s Jarvis’ caller idea. The Avengers’ butler informs him there is a priority call for the whole team.
Steve returns to Avengers Mansion, where Jarvis is expecting him. Jarvis explains that the communiqué came directly from command echelons of SHIELD, Deputy Director Bridge. Anyone call Fury? Steve asks. Given the presence of telepaths among the X-Men, it was felt this might be unwise, Jarvis replies. Changing into his Captain America uniform, Steve asks if Bridge is accusing the X-Men of murder? Jarvis evasively replies that his evidence seems formidable. Does he believe him? Cap asks. He is merely a… Jarvis begins. Don’t give him that, Steve retorts. Jarvis is as much a part of this team as he is. What does Jarvis think? That they need answers. A foolish move now will have tragic consequences.
Captain America joins the team, currently made up of himself, Hawkeye, the second Spider-Woman, Thor, Vision and the mutant twins, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. They have all read the file, Steve begins. If it is to be believed, the X-Men are no longer to be trusted. Like they ever were? Hawkeye snorts. Hank was the only one of them ever to come out in the open and look what they did to him! The Scarlet Witch reminds Hawkeye that many of them have checkered pasts. And have the X-Men ever taken responsibility for it? Quicksilver retorts, they have not! Which is why the Avengers are going to confront them, Cap finishes, to find out the truth and, if necessary, make the X-Men answer for what they have done!