A room full of government officials and agents. Agent Henry Gyrich is the speaker, behind him on a huge screen is a picture of Rogue. She is their target, Gyrich begins. She is a mutant, and as dangerous as she is powerful.
While the background shows footage from Rogue’s fight with the X-Men at the Pentagon from some time ago, Gyrich summarizes her powers. Phenomenal strength, invulnerability and the power to absorb the thoughts, memories and physical talents of whomever she touches (in this case, Storm’s). This transfer can be temporary or permanent, depending on the length of contact.
Though originally affiliated with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants Rogue has of late been operating with the X-Men. In all probability, therefore she was not fighting them in earnest, but merely providing a diversion, allowing another teammate to penetrate their prime databanks and erase all reference to the X-Men and mutants in general, from the entire federal computer network.
Their assignment is to bring Rogue to justice. He holds up a weapon and explains that this gun was created by the armorer Forge and is designed to neutralize the superpowers of its target. One good shot will essentially transform Rogue into a normal human being.
Gyrich! shouts Raven Darkholme as she forcefully throws open the door and stalks in. Gyrich coolly informs her that this is a private briefing. She has no business here. She’ll be more than happy to leave, Raven retorts, once she has Forge’s neutralizer!
Valerie Cooper touches her arm and asks her to calm down. The blazes she will! Raven shouts. That project is top secret! Gyrich shouldn’t even know of the gun’s existence, much less possess the only functional prototype!
He has authorization, comes Gyrich’s curt reply. It’s untested! she shouts, calling him a fool. They have no idea what effect it’ll have…
Then this would seem the idea opportunity to learn, Val points out. Raven realizes that this was Valerie’s idea. Val explains that she understands Raven’s feelings but Rogue is a killer and this weapon may be the only means of safely dealing with her. If it doesn’t work, they are no worse off than before. But if it does, think of the ramifications… they’d no longer have to live n terror of supervillains. One zap and their powers are gone, the threat removed.
She’ll protest, Raven announces, looking beaten. Waste of time, she is informed. This policy decision came from the Oval Office.
Meanwhile at Xavier’s School, Storm barges in on a session Professor X has with his latest guest, Rachel. Storm announces that Rogue is gone. Has bed has not been slept in and her closet is empty. She left no note.
After the two step outside, Xavier explains he can’t sense Rogue’s thoughts. That places her beyond the New York metropolitan area. Ororo seems concerned and distressed about this. Why? Storm explains that the past weeks, ever since her encounter with Michael Rossi, Rogue has become increasingly tense and unstable, rebuffing all her attempts to help. Evidently, she managed to hide her condition from Xavier and, since Rossi is away on a mission, she has been unable to get an explanation.
Rogue turned to the X-Men because her powers were driving her insane. They thought she was getting better, but now Storm is concerned she may be suffering a relapse. Xavier decides to use Cerebro to find Rogue.
Alone in Xavier’s office, Rachel muses that Rogue was with the team when they saved her from Selene, but she doesn’t remember her from her time. So what else is new? she asks herself sarcastically. The more she sees of this era, the less her memories mean anything. She hurled herself back in time to save her future Earth from destruction. She never dreamed she’d end up in the wrong past.
She wonders how deep the differences run. She opens Xavier’s address book and finds an entry for Cyclops, though she wonders what he’s doing in Alaska. Knowing that this is a mistake, she nevertheless calls his number, just to hear his voice.
In Anchorage, Scott Summers answers the phone. Rachel doesn’t speak. What’s up? Scott’s wife Madelyne asks in the background. Just a crank or a wrong number, he decides and hangs up. Rachel cries, having heard the voice of her father and of a woman she believes to be her mother.
At the Pentagon, Raven Darkholme walks to a sub-level that is restricted by her to a select few. None work for the government. Their loyalty is to her… namely the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Entering the complex, Raven changes to her normal shape as Mystique. Inside the apartment, Destiny is already waiting for her.
Mystique wasn’t expecting her, but is glad Irene is there. It’s been a brutal day. Irene immediately informs her that Rogue is in grave danger. Pouring herself a drink, Mystique replies she knows. Val Cooper and Henry Gyrich wan to make an example of Rogue to prove the government can handle supercriminals without the aid of heroes. Forge’s neutralizer may give them the means to do it.
What are her intentions? Destiny asks. Mystique admits she is not sure. Rogue’s powers are the cause of all her misery. Might she not be happier without them? She could live a normal life. She’d have her chance at happiness. And, of course, be free, to return to her, Irene observes. Is that so bad? Mystique retorts. She loves Rogue as her own daughter. Her place is with Mystique. This is her opportunity to help, in a way Xavier can’t.
Has she the right to make such a decision without Rogue’s knowledge or consent? Destiny asks. Rogue is a grown woman, well able to take responsibility for he own life. She’s the precog, Raven replies, so tell her which course of action is best for Rogue! Destiny tells her she can’t. These past few days, her perceptions have become jumbled as if the very fabric of time itself has been rent asunder. She is sorry, but the only advice she can offer is that Raven follow the dictates of her heart. Mystique is lost in thought…
A military transport outbound from Washington’s Andrews Airforce Base. Aboard are Gyrich, Cooper and military personnel chosen by Gyrich. Ordinarily, he explains to Val, this sort of mission would be handled by SHIELD. But they are the spearhead of their war with the Dire Wraiths and therefore cannot spare the resources. But his people are the best the FBI and Secret Service have to offer.
How will they locate her? Val asks. With Forge’s scanner? No, its range is too limited, Gyrich explains. This model is what the Avengers used to track Rogue when they fought a while ago. The girl’s physiology is a synthesis of human and alien. Her hybrid metabolism generates a unique energy aura, this picks it up. They’ve already got a general fix on her position. The closer they come, the more they’ll refine the contact, until they’ve got her nailed. She wants her alive, Val reminds Gyrich. But he refuses to make any promises.
Mystique, in the meantime, has chosen to contact Forge in her Raven Darkholme persona and inform him about matters. He is furious, reminding her that their deal was that his weapons were not to be used, until he released them. Val changed the rules, she replies. She protested and was told in effect to mind her own business. Doesn’t she realize it’s untested? he asks. The impression she received is that Val doesn’t much care. Her only concern is capturing Rogue.
Forge warns her that he has no idea whether the gun removes powers temporarily or permanently or what the repercussion could be. It might even kill. That’s why she phoned, Raven replies. No one in authority will listen to her. She’s hoping he’ll have better luck. If he doesn’t, he promises grimly, while racing up to the roof to his private jet, the government can find itself another inventor! While taking off, he demands to speak to the President.
Meanwhile, in Caldecott County on the banks of the Mississippi, Rogue is swinging from a tree into the river Tarzan-style. A group of men on a boat cheer at her performance. She bows jokingly, flattered. Afterwards she lies down in the sun to tan.
Suddenly, a shadow falls over her. She opens her eyes to see her teammate Storm who asks if she may join her. Rogue is skittish and warns her not to come too close due to her powers. Ororo remarks this is a lovely spot. Rogue reminisces that she used to hide out here when she was a kid and the world got too tough. She’d watch the boats go by and imagine she was Mark Twain piloting them up to Sanchez and St. Louis or South to New Orleans. This tree and her have been through a lot, good and bad.
This is where she first learned about her powers. She and Cody Robbins were fooling around. She kissed him and he fell over. She thought she killed him. Then she thought she was going crazy. She heard voices in her head, saw memories that weren’t hers. They were Cody’s. She tried to shut them out but she couldn’t. So she ran and ran and ran. And, after a while, the voices went away and she was herself again. In a way, she’s been running ever since.
Storm assures her those days are past. She need no longer fear what and who she is. Rogue scoffs. She’s been at Xavier’s school for months and nothing’s changed. She still can’t control her powers. Heck, she’s worse off, since she no longer knows where her loyalties lie –with the X-Men or Mystique!
They are her friends, Ororo insists. Is there nothing they can do? Rogue laughs and reminds Storm that she was the X-Man ready to quit rather than let her join the team. With a smile, Ororo admits that’s true. Carol Danvers was a friend and she could not forgive what Rogue had done to her. She’d give anything for that not to have happened, Rogue states. She knows, Storm agrees. Her sense of honor and decency is stronger than she cares to admit.
Angrily, Rogue asks her to give her a break. Because of what she did she’s gotta spend the rest of her life as two people – Danvers and Rogue! She’ll never be herself, she’ll never have any thoughts or feelings that are purely her own. Decency’s got nothing to do with how she feels, the cruelest sadist in creation couldn’t have thought of a worse punishment! Is it any wonder she is so full of anger and hate? She’s got to admit though, it sure fits the crime!
Why does she lash out? Storm asks. Does she trust no one? How can she? Rogue asks and jumps up. How can anyone trust her for that matter, when the slightest physical contact might destroy them?
Has every exercise of her power been an act of violence? Storm asks. Has no one ever given himself of his own free will? Don’t be stupid! the girl scoffs. It’s a living death! Nobody wants that. She recalls that’s not quite right though. There was Wolverine last year in Tokyo. To save her life, he let her absorb his healing powers.
Storm offers her hand. Would Rogue like to see the world through her eyes? She takes off her glove. Rogue shouts no! Does Storm remember what happened at the Pentagon last time? She nearly tore the place apart.
Storm reminds her she was fighting her back then, with every ounce of her being. Today, she gives of herself freely without reservation. Suppose something goes wrong, Rogue stammers, like with Carol? She is prepared to take the risk. Storm offers her hand again and Rogue takes it.
Ororo collapses in her arms. Goddess! Rogue exclaims a moment later, as energy gathers around her. She never imagined the world could be so beautiful! She perceives the sun and air and water as patterns of energy resonating within her own being. She feels… aware of every living thing around her. She notes her voice is changing, becoming a blend between her own and Ororo’s. A wind has sprung up because of her transformation and she gently calms it down. She remembers that Storm creates little rainstorms to water her plants. She tries the same. A bolt of lightning from the mini cloud hits her. She tells herself playtime is over and disperses the cloud.
Full of joy and excitement, she kneels down next to Ororo, wanting a little more. Then she shrinks back, realizing this would mean breaking Ororo’s trust. Her dilemma is cut short when a blast hits her in the back. Screaming, she falls as Gyrich announces they are federal officers and have a warrant for her arrest.
Rogue feels as though her nerves turned to acid fire. She wants to curl up and die, but realizes that Storm is helpless. She must draw the feds away from her. She can barely fly and falls back on Storm’s speech patterns. She falls into the shrubbery, noticing that the branches hurt. The energy blast has affected her powers.
From the tree, she can see the posse heading her way. She flies onwards, wondering how extreme her power loss is. Her own abilities seem the most affected. Storm’s psyche is gaining ascendancy. She finds herself reacting and thinking as she would. She wonders what if the effect is permanent? Could she become a normal person?
Gyrich fires again while Cooper urges him to keep after her. Over the river, Rogue evades the blasts. She uses Storm’s elemental powers to create a small tornado, hurling the feds’ cars at them.
Unfortunately, innocents are also affected, as the tug boat nearby gets caught up in the hurricane and calls for a mayday. Rogue realizes the hurricane has turned worse than she intended. She realizes her emotions, her rage at the feds, is the case. No wonder Ororo has been going squirrelly, if this is what she has to live with, her every emotion echoed by the weather!
As far as she cares, the feds can drown, but she needs to help the tugboat crew. She flies upwards, intent on saving the innocents. Now if that reaction isn’t pure Ororo, she doesn’t know what, she mocks her heroism. She again tries to see the gale as patterns of force and finds she can’t, Storm’s special perceptions are gone.
The reason why becomes clear the next moment, as Storm joins her. She disperses the gale and explains her awareness began returning when Rogue was last on the beach. She felt the lightning strike. Rogue realizes her thoughts about the crew were her own then. Storm tosses her the tunic and notes Rogue looks happy. Just coming to terms with herself, the girl explains, conceding Storm may know what she’s talking about. Perhaps she’s not as rotten as she’d like to think. There’s hope for everyone, Storm replies. What’s their next move? Rogue asks. Storm states they must tow the foundering tug ashore.
The tug’s crew is astounded to see the two heroines coming to their help. Wimmin’s lib they figure.
Rogue wonders aloud why the feds are suddenly after her after leaving her alone for so long. Storm explains they believe her to be responsible for the murder of a SHIELD agent during her rescue of Michael Rossi.
That’s crazy! Rogue protests. She didn’t kill anyone. There was a dead guy in Rossi’s cell but he’d been whacked by his partner. She’s being framed! They better make tracks while they have the chance. The feds’ve got a weapon that cancels out superpowers. And they are bringing in reinforcements. She refers to Forge’s plane that is about to land nearby.
Storm informs her she is aware of the Neutralizer. Mystique told her of it, when telling her where to find Rogue.
Company! one of the feds informs Cooper, while Gyrich states the muties are heading right for them.
Storm tells Rogue the current is too swift and the water too rough. If they abandon the vessel and it sinks, its crew may drown. Their powers and presence placed these men in danger. So they must save them.
Gyrich, in the meantime, decides to go from the Neutralizer’s minimal setting to full power. Forge jumps at him, trying to tackle him while Gyrich fires.
In the air, Storm shoves Rogue aside and gets hit in her stead. There is an energy discharge from her body as she screams in agony. The lightning hits the tug and Rogue. Rogue lands in midchannel and is swept along with the current whereas Storm falls nearer to the bank.
Horrified, Forge runs into the river, seeing no sign of Rogue. He figures Rogue caught the full brunt of Storm’s power discharge and the secondary explosion of the tug’s fuel tanks. It would be a miracle if she survived. He swims towards the unconscious Storm and drags her ashore.
The feds, in the meantime, help the tug crew who miraculously are relatively unhurt. Gyrich offers Forge a hand but the inventor slaps it aside, shouting he hopes Gyrich feels proud. He just shot the wrong woman!
She was aiding and abetting a fugitive! Gyrich shouts back. Forge reminds him of what they’ve seen. The two X-Men were trying to save lives. They could have escaped but they didn’t. Whatever Rogue did, she and especially Storm are supposedly innocent until proven guilty. That’s the law. Only for Storm’s a trial’s superfluous. Thanks to Gyrich she is already condemned. He stripped her of her powers. He destroyed her! His stupidity may have single-handedly turned the X-Men from humanity’s defenders to their deadliest enemies!
As Gyrich takes in Forge’s words, the pair is unaware of the fact that they are being watched in a mystic scrying pool, by the Dire Wraiths. They have become interested in Forge as his mechanism is the foremost threat humans have so far created against them. The Neutralizer is a primitive analogue to the Neutralizer used by their archenemy Rom. As yet its power cannot harm them, but it is derived from similar principles. Given time, its creator will inevitably evolve it into a Terran version of that Galadorian weapon. Every human soldier will then have the means to banish them to Limbo. That they cannot allow, for it would mean their defeat and doom. Therefore, Forge must die!