Three months ago, aboard the Peak, the orbiting headquarters of SWORD. ‘He loves you’ the Skrull posing as Dum-Dum Dugan utters those infamous words: ‘He loves you’, before an explosion rips through the large orbiting space station. ‘We’ve got explosive decompressions on all decks! Main shields down. Hull integrity failing!’ an office exclaims, while another orders him to open the cells. ‘Are you insane?’ the first officer asks. ‘You heard me. Open the cells!’ the second officer snaps back. ‘You think they’re gonna survive in hard vacuum? What difference does it make?’ the first asks.
The second officer addresses the first as Stokes and replies that it makes a difference to him, on account of being a jailer, not an executioner. ‘Maybe they die, but they don’t die by my custody in a ten-by-ten box!’. ‘Hell with you, Nandi! Spend the last minutes of my life massaging your consciousness!’ Stokes replies. ‘On manual. Power’s down!’ Nandi exclaims as he and Stokes begin to turn the large metal wheels to open the cells. ‘I know the frikkin power’s down!’ Stokes mutters.
A cell opens, and Stokes calls out to the person inside it who sits in darkness. ‘Okay. You’re free. Bad news is we’re about to run out of air and gravity, so make the most of -’ he doesn’t get to finish his sentence, as some sort of spear is shot from the cell, through his stomach. ‘Oh, dear God!’ Nandi gasps, before telling the figure approaching him that they have the right to be angry. ‘But you can survive this, right? Re-entry isn’t going to bother someone like -’ he also doesn’t get to finish his sentence, as the former prisoner kills him with ease, and his body thuds to the floor, while the former prisoner walks free.
New Orleans, today, ‘So why me? I mean - apart from all the obvious reasons’ Remy “Gambit” LeBeau asks his former leader, Professor Charles Xavier as they sit across from each other in a restaurant. Xavier replies that he was hoping the obvious reasons would be enough. ‘Was I wrong?’ he asks. Gambit tells the Professor that he has got to have honor among thieves. ‘I’m a man of my word, most of the time’ Gambit adds, before taking a sip of wine and remarking that the last time he saw Rogue she told him she had some things to think through alone. ‘She asked me not to follow her. I got to assume that still stands’ Gambit explains.
‘I made a promise to her, too. A long time ago’ Charles remarks. ‘To help her control her power’ Gambit states as he finishes his drink. ‘Exactly!’ Xavier exclaims, admitting that he blithely committed to something he couldn’t do. ‘Lied to her, in effect’ Charles remarks, before revealing that, of all the debts left unpaid, this is the one that troubles him the most. ‘So you want me to help you find her’ Gambit remarks. ‘I believe I can do that for myself’ Charles replies, explaining that he wants Gambit to help keep him alive when he is there. ‘A bodyguard? You come all this way to hire some random muscle?’ Remy asks. ‘Of course not’ Charles tells him. ‘Alors. You want me because I’m someone Rogue might open the door for’ Remy realizes.
Charles reminds Gambit that Rogue said she didn’t want to see him. ‘But what if she needs you?’ he points out. ‘What if she can’t get through this on her own?’ Charles asks, before motioning to a table and telling Gambit ‘I assume you know that those gentlemen by the door are here to kill you?’ Gambit gets to his feet. ‘Bella Donna. Hah! That woman never forgives, never forgets!’ he jokes, before telling Charles that he will give it some thought. Xavier tells Gambit to think fast, as he is leaving tonight. ‘All things in their season. Can’t leave without settling the tab’ Gambit smiles as he reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls from it a playing card, which he kinetically charges.
Meanwhile, at the Maynards Plains in Australia, Rogue sits atop a cliff, in a meditative posture, while someone else is nearby, watching her through a scanner. ‘How long will you sit like this, Anna?’ asks Mystique, hovering besides her daughter. ‘At least until you stop asking. Probably a while longer’ Rogue replies, to which Mystique mutters that she didn’t choose to be here, inside Rogue’s mind. ‘Course not. You’re just a ghost. An echo of the real Mystique, that got left inside my mind after I touched her’ Rogue remarks, telling Mystique that they both know she is not real. ‘But I’m still talking to you. See the problem?’ Rogue asks.
‘You’re trying to drive me out’ Mystique remarks. ‘Yeah’ Rogue replies calmly. ‘Why?’ Mystique asks. ‘Do you hate me so much that even an echo of me is too much to live with?’. Rogue turns to Mystique and declares that if she gets control of her power, if she gets to the point where she can turn it off and one and be around people, but until then she is stuck out here, talking to ghosts. ‘That hurt!’ Mystique snaps before striding off. ‘No, it didn’t. You don’t even exist. The real Mystique is still out there somewhere!’ Rogue calls back. ‘It’s not pleasant to know that’ Mystique replies, before noticing something shinning down in the valley below. ‘Are you aware that we’re being watched?’ Mystique asks, turning back to Rogue. ‘If you know it, I know it. Cause this is all just me talking to myself’ Rogue replies, before telling Mystique that her mysterious watcher has been down there for three days now. ‘Must be shy, I reckon. What do you think?’
After their plane arrives in Sydney, Gambit and the Professor make their way through the airport, and Gambit asks why Rogue would come here, and how the Professor knows about it. ‘The second part is obvious, Gambit’ Charles replies, explaining that Rogue left a trail in other people’s minds, a trail of memories which he has been able to follow. Charles remarks that he doesn’t believe this was the end of Rogue’s journey, that he believes it was just a staging point. ‘Maynards Plains!’ Gambit exclaims. ‘Or Ayres Rock. She may be seeking Gateway’ Xavier remarks, but Gambit is sure it will be the ghost town. ‘That’s where the X-Men were living when Rogue finally freed herself from her mind link with Carol Danvers!’
Back at Maynards Plains, an apparently human woman walks through the ghost town, searching for water, she finds a trough which horses would have drunk from, but putting her hand in there, all she brings up is sand. ‘Hah!’ she exclaims, when a voice exclaims ‘Truth to tell - ain’t too many horses been through here lately’. The woman turns and sees Rogue, dressed in a new yellow and green rendition of her costume, standing on a seat nearby. ‘If you want water, it’s about a ten-mile walk south to Woolagarra Creek’. Rogue tells the woman that the creek will be dry, but that if she digs down a foot or so she might get lucky.
The woman adjusts her round glasses and thanks Rogue, apologizing if she looked started when she first spoke, as she wasn’t expecting to find anyone here. ‘No?’ Rogue asks. ‘No’ the woman replies, to which Rogue asks her what she was expecting to find. ‘A dead mining town preserved by zero rainfall and zero humidity’ the woman smiles, revealing that she is a social historian and that the study of places like this is her life’s work. ‘Who publishes you?’ Rogue asks. ‘Melbourne University Press’ the woman replies. ‘What was your last book called?’ Rogue asks. ‘Post-Urban Landscapes’ the woman replies, before asking ‘Are you interrogating me?’. ‘Sure looks that way, don’t it?’ Rogue replies, arms f folded.
The woman remarks that she had no idea anyone was living here, and points out that this is publicly owned land, so she has a right to pursue her research. Rogue stares at the woman for a moment, before telling her to go ahead, as she turns and walks away. ‘I promise I won’t get in your -’ the woman begins to reply, to which Rogue informs her that she is staying in the Desert Rose hotel here. ‘You get the run of every place else’ Rogue tells her as she enters the hotel, closing the door behind her. ‘Well thanks. Thanks a whole big heap’ the woman replies.
Meanwhile, in deep space, aboard the Shi’ar salvage vessel the Boneyard Dog, a strange multi-limbed alien called Horse asks the female member of the crew, Glitter, for a little taste. ‘I’m begging you!’ he exclaims. ‘Medicine cabinet’s closed!’ Glitter replies, holding some sort of drug in her hand. ‘I don’t want medicine, I want happy!’ Horse replies. ‘One dose a day. Sovel’s orders!’ Glitter reminds Horse, who claims that he is dying. The man wearing green and sitting at a console calls out to Sovel, who is looking at a magazine. ‘You’d better take a look at this!’ he exclaims. ‘What is it, Jat? Another Skrull derelict?’ Sovel asks, before Jat gasps ‘Sharra and Kythri!’, and motioning to the computer console, Jat tells everyone to check it out. ‘This is tech I’d kiss with my mouth open. Level seven, peaking into eight. Enough to bankroll this whole sally!’
‘But the world’s stone age!’ Glitter points out as she examines the monitor. Sovel points out that is old data, and that it is chemical / nuclear now. ‘I think I’ve even heard of it. Terra. Terra…’ he begins, ‘Where’s the poetry in your soul? Jat asks his captain, declaring that the former Majestrix Lilandra kept herself a boyfriend on this world. ‘Some guy Emperor Vulcan wanted so bad. A nice bit of pre-sentient rough trade for weekday afternoons’. Sovel tells Jat to set a course and asks Glitter to run a weapons check. ‘And everybody hush now. Let’s go on - what is it?’ he asks. ‘Silent running’ Glitter tells him. ‘Exactly! Silent running!’ Sovel orders. ‘So we can hear the money jingle jingle jingle!’
Back in Australia, ‘We’ve run out of road, Professor!’ Gambit exclaims as he and the Professor drive across the Outback, headed for Maynards Plains. Charles suggests they get the climbing equipment out, and tells Gambit that it would be good to reach the hills before nightfall. ‘Wouldn’t it have been a whole lot easier to have Nightcrawler or the little Welsh girl teleport you in?’ Gambit asks, to which Professor X replies that his current relationship with the X-Men does not allow that, and adds that, in any case, this falls under the heading of private business. ‘If she doesn’t want us, we turn back. That’s understood, yes?’ Gambit asks Xavier. ‘Whatever this means for you - it’s Rogue who gets to set the agenda here’ Remy adds. The Professor says nothing, so Gambit calls out to him again. ‘Agreed’ Charles replies after putting his pack on. ‘I’m not here to impose my will on anyone, Gambit. I’ve learned the hard way where that leads’ he admits. Xavier declares that nothing is more important to him than Rogue’s privacy, and that he won’t trespass on it further than she allows.
Inside the Desert Rose, Rogue sits in the dishevelled restaurant and bar part of the building, as the historian woman enters. ‘Can I trouble you for a moment?’ she asks Rogue. ‘Didn’t I make myself clear?’ Rogue retorts, not bothering to look around at the woman. ‘You can do what you like here so long as you stay out of my sight!’ Rogue reminds the woman. Holding up a strange helmet and attachments, the woman declares that she has one question. ‘This town was abandoned in 1912. But I’ve found some mechanical debris that seems a lot more recent. Do you know how it got here?’ she asks.
Rogue’s memory drifts back to when she and the other X-Men lived here - the battles with the Reavers - who the equipment belonged to - and the baseball games on the street. ‘No idea’ Rogue tells the woman casually. ‘Really? Heck of a long pause for no idea’ the woman tells Rogue, who suddenly spins around and shouts ‘You’re the anthropologist, not me. If ya’ll aren’t leaving, I will!’ Making her way across the room, Rogue tells the other woman not to come near her again, and slams the swinging doors open. The other woman just smiles.
The Boneyard Dog and its crew suddenly burst into Earth’s atmosphere, and Sovel congratulates Jat on a nice jump. ‘Yeah it was, wasn’t it. But our target’s on the move!’ Jat remarks. ‘That’s just annoying. Spike it, Glitter!’ Sovel replies, adding ‘Umm - without lowering its salvage value, of course’. Glitter replies that is the junk-man’s bible, chapter one, verse one. ‘What?’ Sovel asks. “First, do no harm” Glitter replies, quoting the book. ‘Or at least, none you can’t afford to pay for’ Glitter adds.
Back outside the Desert Rose, the woman rushes out after Rogue, calling out to her. ‘Damn, I knew it!’ Rogue exclaims. ‘Knew what?’ the woman asks. ‘How big a fool do you take me for, anyway?’ Rogue asks. The woman replies that she just wanted to talk, and tells Rogue that she thinks she can help with one of her projects. ‘Yeah, I’m sure’ Rogue mutters, before asking the woman to show her real face first. ‘I’d - prefer not to’ the woman replies, before Rogue grabs her scarf, exclaiming that all she wanted was to find a way to get her head back together and to get her power under control. ‘Ain’t it enough I got you inside my mind? You gotta stalk me, too?’ Rogue shouts.
‘I’m not who you - wait! What’s that? Sounded like thunder, but -’ the woman begins to reply, as a loud noise sounds overhead, then the Boneyard God appears, flying low over Maynards Plains, it opens fire on the woman. Rogue and the woman drop to the ground, and the woman’s mouth opens far wider than is humanly possible and her voice changes - robotic - she tells Rogue to stay back as she will deal with this.
The Boneyard Dog makes a turn, as Rogue remarks ‘I thought -’ ‘What?’ the other woman interrupts. ‘I thought you were my mother’ Rogue tells her. ‘Because I was wearing a false seeming? No. That trick is not limited to Mystique’ the woman replies, as her form suddenly changes. ‘I was a holographic suite before I was anything else. And I needed to observe you before I made my move!’ she announces. The “woman” is none other than Danger - formerly the X-Men’s Danger Room. She stands her ground as the Boneyard Dog flies down towards her. Danger tells Rogue that she has plans for her, and Professor X too. ‘I have chosen you as the conduit for my revenge. Once these fools are dead…I’ll show you!’ And a shocked Rogue can only look on and await the imminent clash of Danger and the approaching vessel….