‘This is a disagreement. A profound disagreement, yes, but still just a disagreement. Go to one. Go to the other. Or go your own way. But we want you to all choose what you think is best. Because this is about beliefs. And neither Westchester nor Utopia need people who don’t really want to be there. What do you believe? What do you really believe? Think carefully…and when you know, choose. And rest assured, whatever you decide, nether Logan nor I will hold any grudge’ Scott “Cyclops” Summers announced to the residents of Utopia.
Utopia is the island home of the X-Men and the majority of the world’s mutant population. But not for much longer. Wolverine a.k.a. Logan leans against a wall and knocks back a can of beer, holding the remainder of the six pack in his other hands. He enters a room where Bobby “Iceman” Drake is making an ice sculpture on a table. ‘Bobby. I need to talk. You got a minute?’ Logan calls out. ‘Sure. What’s up?’ Bobby asks, to which Wolverine reveals that word has not broken yet, ‘But you know what went down between Scott and me’ Wolverine points out. ‘Yeah’ Bobby replies. Wolverine informs Iceman that he is leaving and is restarting the school. ‘We need a place for kids to be kids…and that place isn’t here anymore’ Wolverine declares.
Bobby’s mouth drops when Wolverine announces ‘I want you with me. I want you there and teaching or…something. We’ll work it out. I haven’t got all the details yet. But I need you there, Bobby’ Wolverine tells him. Bobby looks thoughtful and asks Wolverine who else is with him. ‘No one, yet. I was thinking, “Who’s everything this place isn’t’?” And I thought of you and came right over’ Logan explains. ‘Wow’ Bobby smiles. Logan asks Bobby not to make him beg, and holds up the remainder of the six pack, pointing out that he has two cans let and one is his. ‘You came to me first. You total suck-up. You better be glad you sweetened the deal with beer or I’d kick you out of here’ Bobby smiles.
Shortly, ‘A school? No. Not for me’ Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock telepathically tells Wolverine as she dodges his attack as they train together. ‘Betsy!’ Wolverine replies through his thoughts. Betsy flips backwards and telepathically informs Wolverine that she is with him in his other endeavor, because she believes some things must be done. She explains that she is like that in secret, and that by staying here, she will be the same in public. ‘We have to go forward. The school’s the opposite of that’ Betsy points out as she kicks Wolverine in his side. ‘Okay. Right, but…’ Wolverine replies, before Betsy bows at him, and telepathically tells him that she is with X-Force as long as there is work to be done.
Wolverine leaves the room as Cyclops enters. Both men frown at each other. ‘By the look on Logan’s face, I take it you’re staying?’ Scott asks. ‘You presume right’ Betsy replies as she towels her hair. ‘Good. I want you to lead a team. You and a group of stealth specialists. You’ll -’ Scott begins, to which Betsy interrupts: ‘You mean re-creating X-Force’. She turns to Scott and sternly tells him that she is not going to be in X-Force for him. ‘No. Not that’ Cyclops assures her, before pointing out that their security simply is not good enough. ‘You saw what happened with Kruun. And when that went down, you were the surest hands on the island’ Scott reminds Betsy, announcing that he wants to put the island’s defense in her hands. ‘So…not a hit squad?’ Betsy asks.
‘Correct. No killing unless absolutely unavoidable’ Cyclops assures her, adding that reconnaissance will be as needed, but that the role is primarily defensive. ‘You want me as a spy catcher and a spy…’ Betsy remarks, voice trailing off. ‘If you want to put it like that’ Cyclops replies. Betsy smirks, and tells Scott that if he wants her to spy, she will be a spy.
Outside, watching the sunset, Colossus a.k.a. Piotr Rasputin announces that he has to stay here, that there is no choice in this. ‘Pete! What are you thinking? You loved the school. Is it because of us?’ Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde asks. ‘No, Katya’ Colossus assures her. Colossus does not look at Kitty, despite her staring at him as she asks if it is because of Illyana. ‘Because if it is -’ Kitty begins, while Colossus interrupts, announcing that his sister needs him, but that this is not about her, either. ‘Then why?’ Kitty asks, tapping Colossus’s steel form with her elbow. When Colossus does not reply, Kitty sits down on the ground, and stares up at Piotr.
Eventually, Colossus speaks: ‘It’s a school, Kitty. With everything I now carry inside me, I am not safe to be around children’. Kitty continues to look at Colossus, who looks back down at her. Kitty stands up and points a finger at Colossus, telling him that if he needs anything, to call - no matter way. ‘I’ll come running, you big idiot’ Kitty declares, before turning and walking away, brushing a tear from her eye. ‘You really are the biggest idiot’ Kitty whispers.
Elsewhere, Dr Henry “Hank” McCoy a.k.a. the Beast crouches on a computer chair while checking his email during the middle of the night. ‘Hank! Need affection! Immediately! Mangy-body! In here! Now!’ a voice calls out from another room. ‘In a minute, oh beloved of mine. Something’s come up!’ Hank calls back, while reading the message: Avengers Update. Subject: Logan to reopen Westchester School. Hank announces that he needs to make a call, and picks up a phone. ‘Logan. I am, of course, in’ Hank tells his friend. ‘Affection emergency critical!’ the voice shouts. Hank asks for just one more second, explaining that there is one more call to make. On his second call, Hank tells Cyclops that it is gratifying to find himself a pioneer in what he can see has swiftly become a terribly fashionable movement.
Hank returns to the bedroom, where lying in a circle-shaped bed is Abigail Brand. ‘My dear, I’m going to help Logan run a school. By which I mean, I will actually be running the school and Logan will merely have the best office’ Hank announces. ‘Great’ Abigail mutters, asking Hank if this means he is going to cut down on the whining about what Scott’s done to the X-Men. ‘Alas, my beloved Abigail, I suspect the contrary’ Hank replies.
Back on Utopia, Magneto, the Master of Magnetism, uses his power to raise a massive building up from the edge of the island, and tells Rogue that no sooner than they return from the depths of space, they find the world of the X-Men falling apart, before asking Rogue if she has made her decision. Rogue replies that she doesn’t really know, to which Magneto tells her that if she does go to the school, it would at least be possible to visit. ‘Assuming, of course, the Canadian is letting us dangerous influences anywhere near the precious little sanctuary’ Magneto adds. Rogue tells him not to be like that, pointing out that Wolverine is doing what he believes, before asking Magneto if he has considered leaving.
Magneto doesn’t respond, he stares at Rogue, then smiles, before Rogue smiles as well, and they begin to laugh. Rogue wipes tears from her eyes, and remarks ‘Okay. No, I know you wouldn’t’. Magneto points out that it is his life’s work, but that doesn’t mean that it is the only thing he cares about. ‘That almost sounds sweet, Sugah’ Rogue tells Magneto, smiling at him.
At a restaurant, Lorna “Polaris” Dane and Alex “Havok” Summers find their dinner date interrupted by Wolverine. ‘Let me guess. You heard from Rogue that I was fighting my father and you thought, “Ah - an ideal recruit”’ Lorna asks. Wolverine tells his friend that she has this wrong, admitting that he was an inch away from popping Cyclops’s eyeball, but that this is not about fighting. Wolverine points out that Alex and Lorna have been out there in space, a long way from anything they know, and mind-controlled. ‘I figured you’d want to be with tour own people for a while’ Logan tells them, adding that if he was them, he would be looking for a familiar project, a long way away from family who wants to give him orders. Alex asks ‘What do you know about X-Factor Investigations?’ Wolverine asks them. Alex smiles and looks at Lorna.
‘This is the one thing Logan and I agree on completely. It would be better for Idie to be somewhere else’ Cyclops announced.
‘This is my team. Over my dead body!’ Hope Summers shouts as she exits Cyclops’s office, and storms past several of her teammates - Transonic, Oya, Primal and Zero. Transonic aka Laurie Tromette frowns at Hope and watches her leave, before following her friend to her quarters. ‘You’ve taken a pretty broken fourteen year old girl and found a way to smash those pieces even more. She’s going to…’ Laurie calls out as she enters the room, to find Hope lying on her bed in the darkened room. ‘Shut up! She has to be here!’ Hope stammers. ‘You’ve got a problem, Hope’ Transonic replies, holding a weapon behind her back, she suddenly, aims the weapon at Hope’s head, and tells her that she is not going to get away with it anymore. .
Hope edges backwards on the bed, before looking away from Laurie, and asks ‘I never told you about my Dad, did I?’ Laurie continues to hold the weapon to Hope’s head, while Hope explains that he wasn’t her dad-dad, but he raised her, protected her, and took her to the end of time and back. Hope tells Transonic that her “dad” taught her how to punch, to break a guy’s nose, and how to be cut without crying. ‘Anything worth teaching, he taught me’ she announces. Hope looks back up at Laurie, and reveals that her “dad” died in front of her, two months ago.
Hope lies back on her bed, while LAurie still holds the weapon up. ‘Him and a bunch of other people. All because…I dunno. They thought I was some kind of messiah. That I could save everyone’ Hope tells Laurie. She announces that she thought it was insane, that it was stupid. ‘I mean…me? A messiah? No way’ she declares. ‘Look at the way I act. I’m no messiah’ . She turns to Transonic and states that she comes back and the Lights all appear, that she touches them and they are all cured, then they are bonded together. ‘And I thought…my dad must have been right. It’s all for a reason, like fate or something’ Hope declares. ‘Hope, this isn’t about you -’ Laurie declares, still aiming the weapon at Hope’s head, but Hope ignores her friend, and tells her that it has to be for a reason.
‘Because if I’m not the messiah, my dad died for absolutely nothing’ Hope announces, looking out to the darkness. ‘We’re together for a reason. We have to be’ she tells Transonic, who lowers the weapon, then steps backwards into the shadows, and drops to her knees. ‘Oh God, Hope. I didn’t - you’re so strong and together and -’ Laurie utters. ‘A total bitch. Yeah, I know. I know’ Hope replies. Transonic looks up, and asks Hope ‘You want to save people?’, and tells her that there is only one person she can save for sure.
‘Idie should go’ Hope tells Wolverine as she enters a kitchen, where Logan is sitting at a bench, drinking beer. Idie aka Oya remains silent as Hope pushes her towards Wolverine. ‘Take better care of her than I did’ Hope asks Wolverine. ‘Hope…I will be there for you. When you need me’ Idie tells her friend. Hope replies that she knows, and tells Idie that she is sorry.
Outside, Danielle Moonstar a.k.a. mirage approaches Cannonball and Husk, a.k.a. the Guthrie siblings Sam and Paige. They are relaxing on a rooftop and Sam tells his sister that he thinks it is the right move. ‘…yeah, me too. I’ll go get packed’ Paige replies, before walking past Dani. ‘Hey, Dani. There’s something I…oh, forget it. Can’t remember’ the young mutant mutters, before telling Mirage that she supposes they will speak later. ‘She’s flaky’ Danielle tells Sam as she goes over to him. ‘She is. She made a joke about it: “In every way imaginable”!’ Sam replies, before telling Mirage not to sit down. ‘Huh?’ Dani asks as she turns to the chair, and sees some of Husk’s skin, flaked on the chair. Sam remarks that he thought less “flaky” and more “coming apart at the seams”.
Sam tells Mirage that Paige’s powers are off, that she is molting everywhere, and they don’t know what it means. Sam looks out to the orange-colored sky as he tells Mirage that it seems it is a bad time for the Guthrie family generally, what with his head and Paige’s powers, they are in a bad place right now. ‘A big of a scenery-change might do us good’ he announces. ‘You’re going?’ Mirage asks, sitting down. ‘Uh-huh’ Sam replies, before handing Mirage a can of drink and telling her to come, as he will miss her. ‘Sure you will. And I’ll miss not kicking the asses that clearly still need kicking’ Danielle replies, pointing out that those asses have not gone away, and she couldn’t do anything else knowing they were out there, un-kicked.
‘Never change, Dani Moonstar’. Sam tells his friend as he knocks back his drink. ‘And do change, Sam Guthrie’ Moonstar tells him, before grabbing him by his shirt and pulling him to her, planting a kissing on his lips. Sam goes wide-eyed, before Danielle pulls away and smiles, telling Sam to get better. She adds that if whatever is going on in his head had an ass, she would kick it to hell and back for him.
In San Francisco, Dazzler a.k.a. Alison Blaire has been joined by Cyclops at a café. They are sitting at a table out on the side-walk, and Dazzler informs Cyclops that she was thinking just about leaving, as she doesn’t really fit into the whole “Army of Scott Summers vision-thing”. Alison adds that as good as she was in class, it is not where her heart has ever been. Scott replies that he understands that, and asks Alison if she is still doing that residency in San Francisco. ‘Oh yeah. Me and a stage. Once a week. You gotta love it’ Alison smiles. Scott tells her that he was thinking about something similar, and explains that his attention is going to move to the world-scale, but that they need to keep up their work in San Francisco. Cyclops tells Dazzler that he wants someone to run the street teams - a couple of experienced X-Men and a few of the recruits. ‘Dazzler and the X-kids, basically’ Scott adds, before declaring that he needs someone to take the kids and make them stars. ‘Oh, Scott. You are so cheesy’ Dazzler laughs.
Back on Utopia, many of the island’s young mutants have gathered at the baseball diamond. ‘You’re fooling yourself. Just because you go to a school, don’t think that the world will let you be students’ Prodigy announces. Standing behind him are Pixie, Surge, Armor, Crosta, Primal and Zero, while facing them are Hellion, Anole, Mercury, Dust, Rockslide, Blindfold, Bling, Match, Graymalkin, Trance, Indra and Glob Herman. Nezhno stands in between the two factions. Hellions raises a baseball bat with his “hands” and replies ‘Say what you like about Westchester, but I didn’t have to hand in both of my hands as part of a homework assignment’. He tells the others that if they stay here they are just meat in the grinder.
Prodigy begins counting on his fingers: ‘One: more kids died at the school than here. You’ve got a bus full of dead friends you’re forgetting. Two: you’re under threat everywhere. At least here we get a chance to do something about it’. Prodigy declares that Wolverine wants them all to be children, which is a nice dream, but that none of them have been a child since their x-gene kicked in. ‘You’ve been a target. And if I’m going to be a target, I want to be a target who shoots back’ Prodigy adds. Hellion tells the de-powered Prodigy that he will not get his x-gene back by overcompensating.
The two move towards each other, ready to fight, until Rockslide steps in between them, telling them to cool it, before quietly telling Hellion that he is not wrong. Nezhno steps forward between the two groups and exclaims ‘Hellion is Hellion, David. And you are you. You forget the real truth here: Everyone is themselves and everyone is different’. Nezhno tells Prodigy to consider Pixie, who has travelled through time and space, and is now among the first Cyclops calls when trouble comes. ‘She is an X-Man. Conversely, some just wish to live’ Nezhno declares.
Nezhno points out that he cannot control the world, and that he cannot even truly control himself, but that the first step in making the world they would wish it to be is to act as if it is the world they would wish it to be. ‘Hey, enough philosophy!’ Rockslide calls out, before calling out to Blindfold, asking her where she is going. ‘Westchester, but -’ Blindfold replies, to which Rockslide shouts ‘See! She can see the future. Anyone who doesn’t go to Westchester is fighting fate itself!’ Rockslide declares, to which several of his friends throw things at him.
All around Utopia, the residents are interviewed. Namor the Sub-Mariner stands in the ocean and announces that he admires those who would fight for their people, and adds that Atlantis is going nowhere.
‘Of course I’m going back to the school! I’ve been in space forever! I didn’t even know we left the school!’ Rachel Summers exclaims, smiling.
In the brig, Danger stands in front of the cell containing Scalphunter and announces that her interest is in the rehabilitation - or not - of criminals, so she will remain here because this is where the criminals are, primarily. Quentin Quire states that Utopia is the place for him, before asking ‘What are those chains for?’ . Barely looking up from his microscope, Doctor Nemesis asks what the lab facilities are like at Westchester, before declaring ‘Actually, no. this experiment is at a very delicate stage. A move is unthinkable. In fact, why are you disturbing me? Be gone! Scurry! Science stalks this night!’
‘Is there any other choice?’ X-23 asks as Wolverine stands over her.
Back in the brig, Magik points out that she is a prisoner, but that even if she wasn’t, she suspects she would find it just as difficult to leave. .
Matha Johannson obviously cannot speak, but Celeste of the Stepford Cuckoos reveals that Phoebe thinks they should go, while Irma thinks they should stay. ‘I get the deciding vote’ Celeste points out. She declares that Quentin Quire is going to be at Westchester, and that him being on the other side of the continent is not nearly far enough, but it will have to do.
‘Can’t see Frost pawing Cyclops from the East Coast. Easier to keep food down. Advantage Westchester’ Frenzy announces.
Gambit flicks a couple of kinetically-charged cards up and remarks that he has found all the trouble there is to find here, so he may as well head east.
At his bar, Avalanche points out that his mutant power is not bar-teleportation. He adds that being associated with Utopia has all kinds of protective benefits, even for anyone who is not on the team.
‘Logan! Let me come!’ calls out the Toad. Wolverine doesn’t turn around, he simply replies ‘You don’t get to call me that, Toad’. The Toad leaps towards Wolverine and asks him ‘What do I call you?’. Logan simply tells Toad that he doesn’t call him anything. ‘You get to quit bugging me’ he adds. Carrying a box of beer, Wolverine informs Toad that he is restarting the school. ‘You only went to the school to attack it. And the only job you’ve pulled off is punching bag’ Wolverine declares. Toad quickly announces that there is nothing here for him. He reveals that he is just going in circles and it is driving him crazy. ‘I’ll do anything. Anything!’ he pleads, adding that he will even be their janitor. ‘Hmmm…’ Wolverine smiles.
‘Scott, don’t turn this into an embarrassment’ Storm a.k.a. Ororo Munroe tells her long-time friend and teammate while she packed her suitcases. Ororo tells Cyclops that she has never been entirely aligned to his direction here, and points out that X-Force in theory and practice was an abomination. ‘Even if you don’t believe in Xavier’s dream anymore, I do’ Storm declares. But Cyclops asks Storm to not go, and tells her that he needs her. Storm turns to Scott and tells him that she knows what he is planning, and that he doesn’t need her. ‘You need my power’ she points out. But Scott tells Storm that she doesn’t understand. ‘Hank left. Kitty’s leaving. Bobby’s leaving. Look at who’s going to be at my side: Magneto. Namor. Danger. Doctor Nemesis. Emma. Even Peter and his sister…’ his voice trails off, and declares that this can’t go wrong, that he needs someone to make sure this doesn’t go wrong. ‘They don’t need you. I need you’ Scott tells Ororo, who frowns.
Cyclops enters his quarters which he shares with Emma “the White Queen” Frost, and informs her that Storm said yes. Emma holds a wine glass in her hand while Scott announces that he needs Storm to be his field second, as she has led the X-Men before, so people will follow her. ‘Are you okay with that?’ he asks. ‘You presume I’m going to be here’ Emma replies, before reminding Scott that she loves children, that she is a teacher and longs to rock that blessed world-ruling cradle. ‘I’ve sacrificed so much of what I love to be here with you’ Emma tells Scott. ‘We teach here -’ Cyclops begins to reply, but Emma interrupts, declaring ‘A little. But we mainly train. The difference is of paramount importance’.
‘And most of all, I don’t like being taken for granted’ the White Queen declares. Scott tells Emma that he is so sorry, and claims that he wanted her to look after the recruits, apart from what to do when a Nimrod shows up, he hasn’t a clue what the kids should know. ‘That’s you. No one’s better than you at that’ Scott declares, before assuring Emma that he cannot do this without her. Emma smiles and tells Scott that he will have to if he carries on with such unconscionable wetness. ‘Please, cease your groveling. It’s undignified’ she tells him. Scott asks Emma if this means she will stay, to which Emma points out that with Warren Worthington away, Utopia needs funding, and while her corporation is not quite enough to swallow the running costs of Utopia, she will set her army of accountants to task.
Emma sips her wine and tells Scott that her accountants believed by dissolving her corporate holdings, she should be able to bankroll Scott’s little endeavor for the foreseeable future. ‘I did consider cutting my stylist’s budget instead…but, you understand, some sacrifices are simply unthinkable’ Emma announces, before revealing that she dissolved her corporate holdings yesterday. ‘This better be worth it, Summers’ Emma warns him. Scott tells Emma that she is an incredible woman. ‘That I am’ Emma replies as she touches Scott’s chest, adding that she will be wincing every time someone decides it is a good time to crash one of the Blackbirds.
The White Queen sits down on their bed and remarks ‘So…the sides have chosen themselves. What now? After, of course, the first of the many back-rubs you owe me’. Cyclops tells Emma that the two factions will go their separate ways, with as few hard feelings as they can manage, and then deal with whatever is out there. ‘Oh, Scott. You really are delightful. Do you really believe that?’ Emma asks. She gets no response, so calls out to him again. ‘Scott? Do you really believe that?’ - but she still gets no response. ‘Scott?’ Emma asks. No response.
And with that, mutantkind goes their separate ways. Whose side are YOU on?