Sitting in her office at the Jean Grey School, Storm wonders how it came to this. They’ve lost so much already. The X-Men, mutantkind’s place in the world… Scott. She was foolish. She thought things couldn’t get any worse. But she was so wrong. She tried to keep it going. She’s done things she never thought she would just to keep the dream alive. To keep this place alive. But now— now something else has happened, something that changes everything. She cannot afford to wait any longer and she is afraid for what comes next. She doesn’t know how he did this all those years, she addresses Professor Charles Xavier, sitting opposite her. Tell her, is she doing the right thing?
Iceman peeks in, they need her. Who was she talking to? Storm is alone and tells him no one. What happened? He informs her Magik ran into a little trouble in New Delhi.
A man and a woman trying to protect a little girl with mutated arms and wings are threatened by armed soldiers wearing protective gear and a mob. One soldier orders the others to take the girl. They will not allow mutants to spread their sickness here. The parents plead for their daughter. They are pushed away. The soldiers believe they are muties as well. They might have the M-Pox!
A blinding light appears next to the child and, a moment later, Magik appears. Furious, she orders them to get back in Hindi, having used a language spell to learn the language, only to hear the insults the mob and the soldiers toss around. She casts a spell to take them out. Except for the small family.
The parents ask her not to hurt their daughter. Illyana promises to take them someplace safe. She asks the girl for her name. Sapna, she is told. Illyana assures her she needn’t be afraid anymore if she comes with her. The little girl agrees. Moments later, shots strafe Magik’s shoulder. The soldiers have regathered. Illyana teleports herself and the family away.
The Jean Grey School:
Storm and Iceman step outside, walking past busy students. Iceman reports the students are starting to wear down. They are doing their best to keep up with the new arrivals, Storm knows, but they have no choice. They will have to find a way.
Outside there are tents and the students are passing out food and medicine. Has she told them the news yet? Bobby asks. Not yet, she replies. They have enough to deal with.
Magik teleports with the Indian family. She is hurt. Just a flesh wound, she announces, but the girl is ill and needs medical attention. The Terrigen Mists hit her hard.
Ernst and Glob Hermann take care of the family while Magik reports it’s bad out there and getting worse. It wasn’t just a mob after them but the Indian military. They’ve started outlawing mutants. Those people used to fear and hate mutants. Now, after what Scott did, they just hate them. They showed no hesitation in opening fire on her.
Iceman interjects that they can’t keep this up. Illyana can’t do search and rescue by herself and keep this place safe. They can’t do this alone anymore. Storm is silent for a moment, then agrees. If they don’t act now, everything and everyone they care for dies. It’s time. “To me, my X-Men. The war for survival has begun!”
Empire State University, Manhattan:
Jean Grey sits among all the other students, listening to a lecture on changing paradigms of anthropological thoughts. Afterwards, she step out into the rain. A fellow student, Chris, asks if she is coming out tonight, but Jean is unsure as she has too much work. C’mon, she’s only young once, he tries to convince her. That’s what he thinks, Jean mutters. She doesn’t explain what she meant but tells him she’ll see him tonight.
She walks on but then suddenly notices that despite the downpour she is standing in a dry spot. She gets an explanation when she looks up and sees Storm, who informs her the X-Men need her. Jean tosses aside her umbrella and retorts she doesn’t need the X-Men. She told them: she’s done being a superhero. She pulls up her hood. She just wants to be left alone. Iceman erects an icewall in front of her. They don’t always get what they want, he points out. Or at least they don’t always get to pick when things happen.
He can’t be here like that! Jean bursts out. “Like that?” he repeats mockingly, pointing at his iceform. She’s embarrassed to be seen with mutants now? And here he thought she was one of them.
That’s not what she— she reminds them that, after all that happened with Cyclops, she wants to leave that all behind. She’s tired of fighting. She wants a normal life. Can’t they give her that?
Storm reminds her she isn’t normal. She is an X-Man and things have changed, Jean asks hesitatingly if she can… Storm accedes and Jean reads her mind.
Jean sees people hunting mutants and protesting against them all over the world. The Terrigen Mists - the catalyst that gives Inhumans their powers - has been killing mutants since they were released into the atmosphere. Their kind is dying and no new mutants are manifesting.
Jean asks why there are no new mutants born. Storm explains the Terrigen Mists aren’t just killing them, they’ve sterilized mutants as well.
Lake Baikal, Russia:
Formerly the Ust-ordinsky farm collective:
Colossus, now sporting a beard, is working the fields with his superstrength, then he is bailing hay for the sheep. A bear tries to attack, roaring. Colossus roars back and scares the bear away.
The work done, Piotr enters his home and drinks a glass of vodka. She likes the new look, he suddenly hears. He turns around to find his sister Magik has teleported in. The hipster-lumberjack look is still in, isn’t it? She has a hard time keeping up with human fashion. He greets her happily.
Illyana begins she knows he wanted to be left alone to do his hermit-farmer thing, but— Pouring both of them more Vodka, he states there is always a but, isn’t there? What’s going on? He knows about what Storm has been doing? She asks. X-Haven, he agrees. It is good work but he is not needed. He is a brawler, not a humanitarian.
That is not all, she continues. They have news from Beast. Isn’t Henry still working with the Inhumans? Piotr asks. Trying to find a cure for the Terrigen plague? He found something else, Illyana reveals. The Terrigen has sterilized them. There will be no new mutants ever again.
Even so, what can he do? Colossus points out. This place needs him too. This place is not their home, Illyana scoffs, or does he forget so easily… does he not remember what it was really like before Xavier came for them? Does he not remember the days when they had barely enough bread to fill their bellies? Has he forgotten what happened when father first found out who he really was? Does he not remember how he forced Piotr to sleep in the barn like an animal?
He will never forget, Piotr replies calmly. But things have changed. He has changed.
Illyana agrees. Apparently, he has become a coward. Please, he sighs while pouring another glass of vodka. Look at him! she insists. Mutants are dying, scared and alone. The world needs to see they are not all like Cyclops was. They are warriors, not murderers! He was right, he is not a humanitarian, he is a fighter. Time to fight! She swings her sword at his back. He catches it in his steel hands. Now that is the big brother she knows and loves, she grins, then orders him to put the vodka away and get his uniform. Where are they going? he asks. They are going to get his best friend, she replies. They are going to get Nightcrawler.
Somewhere in the sewers:
A giant man with antlers is called via comm. Addressed as Aries, he is asked if he had any luck so far. Not yet, he growls. But he is going to pull the little bastard’s arms off when he finds him.
Nightcrawler teleports in quoting scripture: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” He teleports onto Aries’ back and teleports into the air with him, reappearing above Aries’ teammates Chimera and Coda.
He continues: “and so Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering.” Aries lands on Chimera. “And the Lord saw it was good,” Kurt continues with a grin as he hits Coda in the face. Coda tries to strike him with his sword but Kurt disappears, reappears behind him and kicks him.
He looks around when he hears the voice of a young girl. She is thin, dark-haired and pale. She begins to speak: “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into a lake of fire and brimstone, and he will be tormented day and night forever and forever. Now come to me, devil!” she orders and her mouth grows impossibly large…
Kurt tries to flee but she takes him out. Calling her Azimuth, Aries compliments her on her work. Coda mutters her mouth thing is creepy. Chimera tells him to be glad they got him back. The boss would have flayed them alive if his prize specimen had escaped. These days new test subjects aren’t easy to come by.
Shocked, Jean Grey asks if they are sure. No new mutants? Storm explains Beast is certain. They need to find as many as they can and get them to X-Haven until they find a cure. And they need to remind humans they are not all like Cyclops… that they are not to be feared. Still, there are lots of X-Men they can gather, Jean points out. They don’t need her. Storm reminds her she isn’t just any X-Man. She is and always has been the heart of the X-Men. She is Xavier’s dream. There can be no X-Men without her.
Jean doesn’t want to be any symbol. She fears that, if she stays with the X-Men, she is doomed to die again and again. It can only end in tragedy. Can they blame her for being selfish? For wanting to live her life?
Storm and Iceman share a look. No, she cannot, Storm sighs. She is giving up just like that? Iceman asks. She retorts they need to respect Jean’s choice. She hands Jean a small device, in case she should change her mind. It’s a mini-Cerebro made by Forge, which will allow Jean to contact them at X-Haven if she’s ever in trouble. Though she imagines she can take care of herself. Jean asks where X-Haven is. Maybe she’ll come see for herself one day, Storm replies evasively. The X-Men will always hold a place for her.
They are about to leave when Jean tells them to wait. There is something else they should know. After Cyclops, she telepathically scanned to see who she could find, and there’s someone out there… someone who shouldn’t be there…
Somewhere in the wilds of Canada, a grizzled man with claws sniffs. Moments later, a Sentinel lands. Bad day to pick a fight, the man snarls and attacks. Uncharacteristically, the Sentinel begs him not to hurt him. They are joined by Storm and Iceman. Is that really him? Storm bursts out. Well, that kind of depends on what she means by “really him,” Old Man Logan replies.