Nowhere….the man known as Exodus hovers, literally nowhere. His clothing in tatters, his life flashes before his eyes.
(Flashback scenes throughout Exodus’ history)
In France, the Queen presents Bennet du Paris with his knighthood.
Later, he leads an army against the Franks.
Much later, he offers mutants in need of salvation sanctuary.
But soon after, the deadly being known as Holocaust wakes and during a battle with Exodus, Avalon is destroyed.
Joanna “Frenzy” Cargill screams ‘Avalon will fall! The exodus begins again!’
Elsewhere, aboard the SHIELD Helicarrier. ‘Somehow, I don’t feel very welcome here’ the X-Man Nathan “Cable” Summers remarks to his teammates Rogue and Raven “Mystique” Darkholme as they make their way down one of the many corridors aboard the Helicarrier. Raven tells Cable that it is just paranoia, adding that it must be almost a year since SHIELD last tried to kill him. Rogue, one of the X-Men’s squad leaders tells Cable and Mystique that SHIELD have other things on their minds now for sure, before motioning to the welcoming committee, suggesting they place this nice and polite.
Rogue introduces herself, Cable and Mystique. Maria Hill, the abrupt Director of SHIELD introduces herself and informs Cable and Mystique that they can keep their weapons, but that is they try to use them, then one of her psi-actives will turn their brains into poached eggs. ‘So, Nick Fury said you could toast your marshmallows on our fire. Tell me why I should honor his promises’ Maria snaps, getting right to the point.
Rogue motions to a table where her former teammate and long serving member of Canada’s former premiere super heroes, Alpha Flight, Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier is lying, unconscious. Rogue tells Maria ever so politely that she should honor Nick Fury’s promise because leaving a job half-finished is worse than not starting it. Rogue informs Hill that after Northstar got brainwashed by the Hand, SHIELD tried to deprogram him using a V.R. rig. ‘And we failed. So?’ Maria snaps coldly.
Mystique, obviously annoyed with Hill, as both woman have similarities in their personality, steps forward and declares that they would like to borrow the equipment. However, Rogue interrupts her adoptive mother and explains to Hill that Cable and Emma Frost have some up with a different approach, and with SHIELD’s approval, they want to try it out on both of the Beaubier twins. Rogue tells Maria that the idea is to make the twins relive their whole lives, from birth, with the hopes of brining Jean-Paul back from the brainwashing, and his sister, from her schizophrenia.
Aggressively, Hill declares that she doesn’t see how this is any responsibility of SHIELD’s, especially as she is up to her elbows in stuff that is the responsibility of SHIELD. Maria shouts that she doesn’t even have time to argue about this, so gives them permission to use the V.R. equipment, so long as they do not get in her way and do not ask for tech support. ‘If I notice you, I’ll throw you out!’ Maria and the other SHIELD officers take their leave, and Rogue remarks that it went better than expected, so she tells Cable to start unpacking.
‘Anna - ‘ begins Mystique, addressing her daughter by her real name until Rogue interrupts, ‘Thought I told you about that, Mystique. As far as you’re concerned, my name is Rogue! That’s all it’ll ever be!’ Raven closes her eyes and replies that she has told herself that, but finds it hard to bear. Mystique reminds Rogue that she came back to the school for only one reason. ‘I know I’ve hurt you. Hurt you badly’. Rogue tells Mystique that she doesn’t want to hear this. ‘You have to!’ Raven pleads.
Raven admits that control and manipulation are part of her nature - a big part of it, and claims that if she has tried to steer Rogue’s life in a certain direction it is because she thought she knew what it would take to make Rogue happy. ‘Happy? If that’s a joke, I’m not laughing!’ Rogue exclaims. Mystique replies that it is the truth, that when she loves someone, she leans on them - hard. Fences them in, make decisions for them. ‘Is there a point to this?’ mutters Rogue. Raven remarks, perhaps not, perhaps it is impossible for them to be close again. She decides that if that is true, then it is better if she just leaves, as there is nothing else to tie her to the X-Men. ‘Fine. Let me know when you’re heading out. I’ll tie some tin cans to the cab!’ Rogue snarls as she walks away from her mother.
Approaching Cable, Rogue asks him how it is going. Cable is standing between Northstar and his twin sister, Jeanne-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora, also a former member of Alpha Flight, and more recently, a brainwashed member of the latest Weapon X incarnation. Cable informs Rogue that he has programmed in the first sequence, with time compression set at 6000, meaning the twins will experience twenty years of their lives in a single day. Rogue looks at Northstar and tells Cable to start the program up. ‘Fingers crossed - too few of us left these days without throwing away the good ones!’
The machine starts up, and on the monitors around the room, Cable and Rogue can see some of the early events that occurred in Northstar and Aurora’s lives, many of the moments when they were respected members of Canada’s former premiere super hero team Alpha Flight.
(In Northstar’s mind / Flashback images)
Jean-Paul witnesses events of his early years - as a troubled teen searching for an identity, and as an Olympic-winning athlete - as well as his time with Raymonde Belmonde, a man who was pretty much his father. Jean-Paul sees Raymonde asking him if it troubles him, being different from others. The teenage Jean-Paul replied ‘Monsieur Belmonde - that’s a really stupid question!’, as when you are different, it gives people a weapon to use against you, a stone to throw. Raymonde told Jean-Paul that people will always find stones. ‘You can’t avoid the stones by keeping you’re head down - life doesn’t work that way!’
Jean-Paul told Raymonde in reply ‘You don’t have to live my life!’, to which Raymonde responded with ‘No. And neither do you. You can always lie and live someone else’s. If that’s what you want to do, my boy. I’ll follow your career with interest!’
(In Aurora’s mind / Flashback images)
Similarly, Jeanne-Marie Beaubier, who has also led a troubled and turbulent life, sees her life flash before her eyes - particularly her rescue from a mugger by Wolverine, her time teaching at Madame Dupont’s School for Girls, and her early years as an orphan there.
‘You look tragic, Beaubier. As though this was no doing of yours!’ a nun, Sister Anne, once told her. Jeanne-Marie pleaded with the Sister, explaining that she didn’t even know where she was. Sister Anne replied that they can infer what she did by the fact that she came back to the school wearing lipstick. ‘Your flesh emblazoned to entice!’
Holding a stick in her hands, Sister Anne told Jeanne-Marie to decide if she thinks that she is innocent, then she will put the cane back in the cupboard. ‘You tell me what to do!’ the Sister offered. Tears streaming down her face, Jeanne-Marie told the sister to punish her. ‘Punish me and make me good!’
(Present / Reality)
Elsewhere aboard the SHIELD helicarrier, an officer informs his commander that there is a craft on some kind of bearing, two clicks form them, with a negative response at handshake, and the craft looks to be a glider. ‘At this altitude? She can’t be!’ the commander replies. The officer replies that he is not reading any engine or power signature. The commander orders him to hail the other aircraft again, but there is still no answer. The commander orders deployment of “Stormcrows” Phalanx, Alpha, Gamma and Epsilon to lock in starboard gun batteries, with instructions to “harry” the intruding aircraft out over water then bring it down.
Several small aircraft are deployed to investigate the approaching intruder, and though shots are fired, the craft is not his. ‘Track and lock!’ the commander orders. However, the intruding craft approaches the SHIELD vessel so fast, that the vibro-shield surrounding the helicarrier takes it out as it slams into the invisible shield, causing the smaller craft to explode. The commander orders his officers to search that sector from the hull inwards. ‘If it was a suicide mission, all well and good. If not - I don’t like surprises. Not even when they involve cake and ice cream!’
Again, elsewhere aboard the helicarrier, an officer informs his sergeant that the missile tube is shaking, as if something is lodged in the bay door. The sergeant replies that it is probably wreckage from that plane and tells the gunner to dismount, when suddenly, a mutant makes his way out of the missile tube - the mutant Marshall Evan Stone III - better known as Random! ‘Sorry, guys! If it’s any consolation - I’m the soft option!’ the former member of X-Factor exclaims as he uses his malleable body to take down the SHIELD agents with ease.
Random contacts someone else, informing them that the beachhead is secure so they can come in. ‘Good. Stand away from the hull’ comes the reply, when suddenly the outer of the helicarrier is torn apart from the rest of the structure, and Exodus appears - along with Tempo and Frenzy!’ Exodus tells Random that he has done well, to which Random replies that it is funny, because he feels like a scumbag. ‘Nobody dies, right? That’s what you said?’
Exodus agrees that it is what he said, before pointing out that he is not God. ‘We do good work, necessary work, and we use the tools that are put into our hands’ Exodus exclaims. Random asks what tools those are, to which Exodus replies that, in this case, the tools are the X-Men. He orders his allies to go to their designated positions as the one they waited for is now here. ‘We must divide and conquer as Machiavelli said - so our first task is to give SHIELD’s formidable defenders something else to worry about!’
Rogue stands watch over the Beaubier twins as they continue to see their lives played out before them:
(In Northstar’s mind / Flashback to Alpha Flight (1st series) #41-42)
‘But that doesn’t mean I don’t love you!’ Kara Kilgrave the Purple Girl told Northstar after she kidnapped him and used her powers on him. ‘Like your father loved your mother?’ Jean-Paul snapped back. Jean-Paul informed Kara that one does not use the people they love, they don’t wear them as accessories or apply them like ointment when life grates against you.
(In Aurora’s mind / Flashback to Alpha Flight (1st series #41-42)
Aurora told her then-boyfriend, Roger Bochs, that if he remains a robot, trapped in his Box armor, that he will lose her, as she has no use for cold metal. But Bochs’ best friend, Madison Jeffries, held an ice-pick out in front of Aurora and told her that she might as well use it on Bochs and put him out of his misery.
(Present / reality)
Suddenly, Rogue asks if something is wrong. Cable urgently replies that someone is hacking into the memory feeds, bypassing SHIELD’s fail safes. Rogue asks if it is telepathy, to which Cable adds that it is also world-class telekinesis. ‘It couldn’t be…’ he begins to say, when he, Rogue and Mystique all turn and bear witness to the “rebirth” of Northstar and Aurora, both wearing the original Alpha Flight costumes, free of SHIELD’s equipment, the French-Canadian mutants hover before their allies.
This isn’t…where I was this isn’t…anywhere I know how did we…get here what are we…doing here oh god which one is me which one is…him I’m not me I’m not me I’m not….Stop it! STOP IT!’ the twins cry, before using their mutant powers to speed past the X-Men at a phenomenal rate, despite Rogue calling out to them and telling them to wait, as they can help them. Cable checks the equipment and informs Rogue that the VR feeds cross-connected, but that shouldn’t - couldn’t - have had this effect, as Northstar and Aurora have undergone a total mind-meld.
Rogue exclaims that it doesn’t matter what caused it, because if Northstar and Aurora are still insane, then they are looking at a massacre. She starts to follow the twins, ordering Cable and Mystique to follow her. ‘we’ve got a fight on our hands!’ she remarks, while Northstar and Aurora speed through the helicarrier, knocking SHIELD agents aside without even trying, thanks to their super speed.
Elsewhere, an officer informs Maria Hill that they have got multiple breaches, and alarms sounding from sectors one, two and four. Maria orders the blast doors to be dropped, the areas to be sealed off and their systems taken offline. She is about to give another order, when Exodus uses his powers to easily carve his way into Hill’s command-center. ‘You could sooner contain the ocean in a cup, Maria Hill!’ Exodus declares before introducing himself firstly by name, then as someone who refuses to be contained.
Hill radios to someone called Decker and asks for psi-protocols, ‘Stat!’. Exodus turns to the door as a trio of human telepaths appear and after acknowledging them, remarks that one of them is giving him suicide compulsions, another is giving him a pain / pleasure loop and the third is attempting to locate his right cerebral hemisphere. ‘Well, even dogs can be trained to walk!’ Exodus mutters before lashing out at the human psi’s. Hill stands up close to Exodus and exclaims that no man could survive an assault like her human psis were dishing out, to which Exodus replies that he is more than a man: ‘I am the way, the road . The coming out of darkness into light - and your flying gunship is now the vessel of my mercy!…Although, my mercy - like God’s - is dark at times, and terrible!’
Rogue flies along the corridor, surrounded by her flame power as she tells Cable to take the hangars and Mystique to take the aft section. She asks them to rendezvous here, or to signal if they have trouble. Cable asks how they are going to signal, as there is static on every frequency. ‘Then I guess we can take the trouble for granted!’ Rogue replies as she flies off, only to find herself in an odd situation as she nears Tempo and Frenzy. Joanna “Frenzy” Cargill asks Rogue if that counts as trouble - ‘Hard to fly right while the tempo is accelerating and decelerating you through time on a five-millisecond cycle!’
Frenzy add that despite all that, Rogue managed to keep her lunch down, which is something. Heather “Tempo” Tucker then tells Frenzy that Rogue is all hers. Rogue unleashes a blast of flame at Frenzy, to remarks ‘That’s the power you stole from Sunfire? Nasty!’, before adding that Rogue was always more of a danger to her teammates than her enemies as she deflects the flame with her steel-hard skin. ‘That’s part of your bad-girl charm, isn’t it?’ Frenzy exclaims as she goes over to Rogue and picks her up by her collar, before tossing her to the ground.
Tempo, wearing a slightly-redesigned version of her classic yellow costume remarks that it is amazing how Rogue is trying to get up. Frenzy mutters ‘They always do’ and adds that you can’t keep a good X-Man down - even the bad ones recur like a half-digested Mexican meal! Frenzy begins to tell Heather to stand back so she can finish Rogue - but an explosion catches the women unaware - Mystique is up on a platform behind them! Tempo wonders if the X-Men all carry anti-personnel devices now, before explaining to Frenzy that it is okay, for she can keep this area frozen so long as her concentration doesn’t slip - but it’s too late, as Mystique leaps off the platform and kicks Tempo hard in the head, followed by another explosion.
In the hangar bay, ‘Nice gun, Cable!’ Random exclaims as he points his own transformed arm at Cable, who in turn is pointing a gun at Random. Random remarks that it looks like Cable went all military again since his powers got scrambled. Cable tells Random that if he is a part of this then he must be mad. Random replies that they thought it all out and picked their moment, that it had to be now, today, while the X-Men were here. Random informs Cable that he doesn’t like this set up much, but that it is about survival. ‘198 is a really low number - and what are the X-Men doing about it?’
‘Right now? Working on 197!’ Cable exclaims as he blasts Random, shooting a hole through his malleable chest. Random tells Cable that was a sneaky move, and begins to wrap his liquid-like form around Cable, who announces that he has a personal force field. ‘Yeah? So does my grandma’ Random replies, to which Cable assures Random that he can kill him if he has to - last warning. ‘Yeah, I bet you could’ Random remarks as he chokes Cable and drops him to the ground. Random stands over Cables body. ‘You are the one he wants, Nathan. The one who had to be here. He needs what’s in your head’.
Elsewhere, the Beaubier twins speed along the corridors of the helicarrier, explosions sounding behind them. ‘Can’t run from…ourselves Jeanne-Marie what are you….afraid of? I’m not you I’ll…never be you I’m just…the piece that fits into your mind we’ll…die if we don’t stop from running it!’ The twins stop in their tracks. ‘Time to look into the…abyss I think so, sister. If you’re….there then I won’t be afraid’. The twins clasp hands, and are engulfed in a brilliant light.
Elsewhere, Exodus announces that they can begin. Tied up, Maria Hill tells Exodus that he is insane, warning him that if he destroys the helicarrier then SHIELD will hunt him down to the end of the Earth. ‘Really? Well, perhaps’ Exodus replies, before informing Hill that this is not destruction - ‘It’s the very opposite’ he claims as he uses his powers to construct something.
Nearby, Rogue still likes unconscious and Mystique kicks Frenzy hard in the face. Joanna tells Raven that she is outmatched. ‘Grid your flesh as much as you like, you can’t harm me. You can’t even scratch my skin!’ Frenzy leaps to her feet, remarking that, once, Mystique might have seen this situation as the Acolytes do, adding that, once, she might have reasoned with her. ‘But when arguments fail - there’s always force. Ultima ratio regum - The last and the strongest argument!’
Mystique corrects Cargill, informing her that it is “the last argument of kings”. ‘I thought your king was dead!’ Angry, Frenzy tells Mystique to ‘Shut your blasphemous mouth! Magneto will return! The righteous will witness it!’ Mystique shifts her form so that spikes grow out of her shoulders and face, and her hands increase in size, warning Joanna that she will not let her touch Rogue. The two women leap into battle, with Frenzy asking Raven how she plans on stopping her. ‘By closing your eyes and making a wish?’
Suddenly, a voice from above Mystique exclaims ‘Sounds like a plan‘, and warns Raven to close her eyes. ‘We’ve got a lot of control over this now, but there’s still some reflected glare. Indeed, there is a blinding flash, and Frenzy is blasted back across the chamber. Her body slams hard against a window, cracking it. Aurora and Northstar come into view. Northstar looks at his former one-time teammate, Frenzy, while his sister remarks that she isn’t even down. Aurora warns Mystique to stay back, ‘You can’t’ Aurora begins to say, ‘Can’t even scratch her?’ Raven asks. ‘Probably not. But let’s see…what gravity can do!’ with that, Raven kicks Frenzy out the cracked window, off the helicarrier, Joanna Cargill plummets to the water below.
Mystique turns to Aurora and tells her that she looks well. Jeanne-Marie thanks Mystique and asks her if she fights with the X-Men now. ‘Perhaps I’m still dreaming!’ Northstar picks up Rogue, the two share a very special friendship which extends many years. Rogue regains consciousness and smiles, telling Jean-Paul that it is good to have him back. Northstar replies that he believes he has her to thank for that. ‘This is our fight too - let’s finish it!’
Back in the command chamber, Hill asks Exodus what he has done, ‘What have you done to my ship?’ Exodus replies that the X-Men sent him into the dark, and that he lived there for a long time. ‘Long enough, almost, to despair’ He claims that it was his testing, but that he saw visions there, and the visions brought him back. Exodus declares that the Decimation was a disaster greater than any other save for Genosha. ‘Millions of mutants stripped of their birthright. My race - the crowning splendor of this earth - all but annihilated’.
Exodus reveals that he cannibalized Hill’s ship to make a machine - the perfected, future version of the Cerebro scanner. Exodus informs Hill that in their time, it detects only active mutants, but Nathan Dayspring Askani’Son will not be born for centuries yet - and by then, the range of the scan will take in potentials as well as actives. Exodus puts the new Cerebro helmet on his head and tells everyone to be still, warning them that if his concentration slips, then he may erase every mind in this room.
Exodus is able to see all over the world, ‘Yes, perfect. That’s perfect’ he exclaims before wondering where they all are. ‘How can this be?’ Suddenly, he is brought back to reality by the arrival of the X-Men, Northstar and Aurora, Random and Tempo. Cable tells Exodus that he could have asked them that question in the first place and it would have saved them all a lot of trouble. Exodus asks Random if he should take this as his resignation, to which Random replies ‘Negatory, chief. Nathan’s got relevant information!’
Cable declares that Exodus knew about Decimation, and that almost all of Earth’s mutants had lost their powers. ‘What were you hoping to find?’ he asks him. ‘You know the answer. I see it in your mind!’ Exodus replies. ‘The children!’ Cable exclaims. ‘Exactly!’ Exodus exclaims, pointing out that there should be thousands, hundreds of thousands of new mutant births by now. ‘This ship - so impregnable, so very deadly - was to be my ark!’ He announces that he would have brought the children from among their enemies to a new Genosha.
‘But you didn’t find any, did you? Not a single one!’ Rogue exclaims. ‘You knew?’ Exodus asks in shock. Rogue replies that of course they knew, as they have the original Cerebra, and the most powerful telepath on the planet. Rogue exclaims that the Decimation altered the entire human genome, that the X-gene isn’t appearing anymore - out of a hundred million live births, not one mutant. ‘Then we’re doomed!’ Exodus declares, exclaiming that this is a sentence of death upon the mutant race. ‘Ours will be the last generation of homo superior!’
Cable points out to Exodus that they have taken down the Acolytes, and suggests he surrender and stand down, as there doesn’t have to be a fight. Exodus replies that their thoughts are transparent to him, that they are afraid to fight him because the humans would be caught in the crossfire. ‘Imbeciles! Don’t you understand? I’d end them all to save a single mutant!’ Exodus shouts as he unleashes a burst of power which blasts the heroes back.
Exodus creates a hole in the helicarrier and exclaims that now there is no point, before calling to his Acolytes to come with him, that they will retire and consider. ‘This does not end here. It must not!’ exclaims Exodus before he takes his leave with Tempo and Random.
Rogue begins to set Maria Hill free and tells her that on behalf of the X-Men she is truly sorry for their part in what happened here today. ‘If there’s anything we can do’ Rogue begins, to which Maria snaps ‘You’ve done enough!’ Hill declares that this is what comes of allowing the X-Men to operate under their own auspices. ‘”Allowing”?’ Rogue asks. Maria tells Rogue to get off her bridge and off her ship. ‘And take your people with you!’ Rogue turns to her allies and mutters that they have their marching orders. ‘Let’s hit the road!’
Making their way down the corridors, Rogue thanks Northstar for his assistance earlier, remarking that she would have been dead if Jean-Paul hadn’t headed Frenzy off at the pass. Northstar agrees that he and his sister helped dispatch Frenzy, but that it was Mystique who held Frenzy at bay, and incapacitated Tempo. ‘You owe your life to her, not to myself and my sister’. Rogue closes her eyes. Jean-Paul tells his friend that it is a conundrum, as he knows how she feels about Mystique. ‘But perhaps there’s a place in the heart where such things balance out’. Rogue replies that perhaps there is, and she just hasn’t found it yet.
Later, in Antarctica, at the forcer ice-station Sierra-Bravo. Exodus is flanked by his three Acolytes, but as they approach the ice-station, he tells them to wait here. ‘Suppose you need back up?’ Random asks. ‘If it comes to a fight, Marshall Stone, I doubt that the three of you will make a difference’ Exodus replies disappointingly.
Exodus uses his powers to open the door and enters the ice station. Entering a chamber, a voice greets him. ‘Don’t worry, Bennet du Parris, If I found this visit unwelcome, you wouldn’t have gotten this far. I’ve watched your struggle from a distance, with some interest - even sympathy. Exodus approaches the figure in the shadows who declares that he has given some thought to the problem they face and believes he has seen a solution. ‘But give me your obeisance first, as is right and proper!’ Exodus kneels before the man he came to see, ‘And then I’ll tell you how the mutant race is to be saved’….so speaks Mr. Sinister!