‘Something’s wrong’ Professor Charles Xavier exclaims as he climbs a high cliff-side in the Australian Outback. Remy “Gambit” LeBeau tells Xavier that it is too late to decide they should have gone the long way around. ‘If you’re getting tired -’ Gambit remarks, to which Xavier replies that he is fine, that isn’t what he meant. Xavier tells Remy that if he is right, if Rogue has returned to Maynards Plains like he assumed, then he ought to be able to sense her now that they are so close. ‘You’re saying she’s not out there?’ Gambit asks, to which Xavier, concentrating hard, replies that he doesn’t know. Xavier adds that the psychic landscape seems fractured, distorted, changing from one moment to the next. Gambit suggests they keep going, and as they reach the top of the ridge, he pulls himself up - only to get a huge shock at what awaits.
‘Been a while since I was here, Professor. Maybe some of my memories faded over the years. But I’m pretty sure this is new!’ Gambit exclaims as he and Xavier take in the sights - where once stood a ghost town, no stands a sprawling city of futuristic skyscrapers, accompanied by smaller, current-style buildings, and…dinosaurs, roaming the cliff-sides, and soaring through the air. The former X-Men make their way across the large bridge which connects their side of the cliff with the strange city. Gambit asks the Professor if he is getting anything now, to which Charles replies ‘Rogue. The mind-trace is faint, but she’s here. I’m sure of it. Xavier adds that there are four others here, possibly human. ‘And that’s it? Five people in the whole city?’ Gambit asks. ‘That’s all I can sense’ Charles replies.
Gambit motions to the myriad of other people going about their regular business in the city, and exclaims ‘I’m just wondering if you miscounted somewhere’, to which Charles replies that he doesn’t think so, as he is reading no thoughts from these people. ‘They’re perfect blanks’ Charles remarks that it is hard to know what it means until - Gambit suddenly interrupts, exclaiming that he realized something, why this place seems so familiar. ‘Valle Soleada. Me and Rogue - we used to live here. A Long time back’ Gambit reveals, as they pass a letter box with the name Raven on the side of it. ‘Uff! Watch it, son!’ Charles exclaims as a young boy rushes past him and smacks into him. Xavier grabs the boy, who shouts ‘Let me go! Let me go! He’s coming!’
Gambit begins to ask the boy ‘Who’s coming? What do you -?’ when suddenly, he gets his answer: ‘Multiple mutant energy signatures detected. Unsanctioned life-forms identified. Designation: X-Men!’ states the fluorescent pink robot hovering in the air. ‘NIMROD!’ Xavier shouts, before the Nimrod blasts the boy, ‘Termination mandated by law!’ the Nimrod states as the boy goes up in flames. ‘My God! The boy!’ Xavier gasps as he lies beside the flaming skeleton. Gambit tells Charles to stay back, ‘You got business with me!’ Gambit tells Nimrod as he throws kinetically-charged playing cards at it.
‘Biokinetic energy projectiles. Consistent with known mutant designate: Gambit. No threat to core systems or functioning’ Nimrod states as it initiates a counter-measure, but blasting energy towards Gambit, who jumps over a car to escape from the energy, which smashes into the car. Suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘You know I appreciate the internal monologue and all. But I think we need to get one thing clear, before we take this any further: Keep your stainless steel paws to yourself!’ exclaims Rogue as she flies into view, her form resembling half-Nightcrawler and half-Colossus, she grabs Nimrod by the arm - and teleports it off.
‘Anomalous data. Single mutant entry manifesting multiple abilities and physical identities. Pattern match. Identify. Neutralize!’ Nimrod states as it pushes Rogue against a wall with its one good arm. ‘Rogue!’ Gambit calls out, concerned, but as he runs towards Rogue, Charles stops him, ‘No. Trust me’ Xavier exclaims, telling Gambit that it is not Rogue, and he doesn’t believe that is Nimrod, either. ‘They’re playing out a scene that happened years ago!’ Xavier exclaims. Gambit and Xavier watch as Rogue and Nimrod begin to fade out, and Charles points out that the boy has faded away too. ‘I think I must be missing something here!’ Gambit exclaims. Xavier replies that he believes he understands at least some of what is happening here. ‘I pray I’m wrong, but either way, we have to find Rogue quickly!’ Xavier declares that Rogue’s enemies may be just mere ghosts and shadows, but that the danger she is in is very real.
‘Muir Island. Wonderful. Guess I know what’s coming next’ Rogue - the real Rogue - mutters as she finds herself “on” Muir Island, Scotland. Rogue hides in a tree, while a mind-controlled search party, consisting of Wolverine, Colossus, Siryn, Multiple Man and Guido look for her. ‘Doesn’t Moira want her brought in alive?’ Colossus asks. ‘Not this time, Peter. Hunt to kill is what she said. Which is just the way I like it!’ Wolverine exclaims. Cowering in a tree, Rogue is suddenly visited by the Mystique, in her mind. ‘Anna -’ Mystique calls out. ‘Oh, Lord! Could this keep until another time? My dance card is full right now!’ Rogue tells the imprint of her mother. Mystique notes that Rogue is wounded, to which Rogue replies ‘A spaceship fell on me. Tends to leave a bruise!’. Mystique tells Rogue that if she is going to win this - or even survive it - she has to let her personality take over, just like she once let Carol Danvers take over.
Rogue replies that that will not help, and tells Mystique that she knows she has the killer instinct, but killing is not the way out of here. ‘I could knock these fake X-Men down a hundred times, and they’d still keep coming back. It’s all make-believe. Shadow-puppets’ Rogue exclaims. ‘But you have a real enemy’ Mystique points out. Rogue replies that she does, but if only she could find her. ‘Let me fight her for you. Let me do what your scruples will stop you from -’ Mystique exclaims, but Rogue ignores her and leaves the safety of the tree, only to be spotted by one of the Madrox dupes. ‘There! There she is!’ he exclaims, while another Madrox shouts ‘X-Men, our fox is out of cover! Take her down!’. Everyone pursues Rogue quickly, but they aren’t quick enough, as Rogue jumps down a ventilation tunnel….
….only to find herself in the sewers of New York. ‘Oh no!’ Rogue gasps as she realizes things have gone from bad to worse, realizing she is in the Morlock Tunnels, at the time of the Morlock Massacre - orchestrated by the deadly Marauders, some of whom stand nearby - Sabretooth, Vertigo, Arclight, Blockbuster, Scrambler and the savage Scalphunter, who declares ‘Hi there. We’re the Marauders. We kill mutants. Who’s next?’
Nearby, Xavier and Gambit continue to walk through the city, only to realize that the landscape has changed, and that they are walking through a replica of Genosha. Xavier points out that, specifically, it is Hammer Bay, the Capital City, but before the revolution - when the Magistrates were still in control, and mutants were still a slave caste. Gambit motions to a boy running nearby, and asks Xavier if he sees him too. Charles replies that he does, and that it is the same boy who died before, which he finds interesting. ‘If he’s from Valle Soleda, why is he here in -?’ Charles asks, before being interrupted, as a Genoshan Magistrate, flanked by several others, strolls nearby, announcing to the citizens of Genosha that a curfew is now in force. He tells everyone to stay in their homes until the mutant threat is dealt with.
‘This reminds me of a nightmare I once had’ Gambit exclaims as the Magistrates walk past. ‘Really? It reminds me of something else. A lot closer to home. A Danger Room scenario!’ Xavier replies. ‘You think someone built a Danger Room in the Australian Outback?’ Remy asks, to which Charles replies that he actually thinks the real Danger Room. Gambit is confused, to which Xavier replies that he will explain later, as right now, they have more urgent business to attend to. Xavier stands outside a building and informs Gambit that it is in the Danger Room’s memory banks for a reason. ‘Just a while guess, but is this a prison?’ Remy asks. ‘Where Rogue was held - and beaten - the first time she went to Genosha?’
‘That’s exactly what it is’ Xavier replies, before announcing that the four minds he mentioned before - the city’s sole inhabitants, apart from Rogue - are inside here, just on the other side of the wall. Charles adds that it is possible these four might know what this is all about. ‘Lucky I brought my lock-picks. Let’s go say “hi”!’ Gambit exclaims as he holds up a set of lock picks.
In the fake Morlock Tunnels, Scalphunter remarks that they are up against the X-Men, not just a Morlock. ‘Hot dog! Some real competition!’ Prism, who has joined his teammates, exclaims. ‘Wait!’ Sabretooth announces, stopping the Morlocks in their tracks as they trudge through the sewers. Sabretooth scoops up some of the water and drinks it, telling the other Morlocks to fan out and blocks the exits. ‘She’s right in here with us!’ he snarls, unaware that Rogue is hiding on some pipes overhead.
A Magistrate keeping guard patrols the prison, walking back and forth along the prison corridor, only for a grate in the wall to be smacked into his face, knocking him to the floor. ‘Okay. That was the easy part!’ Gambit exclaims as he emerges from the vent, telling the Professor to stay in there while he checks for alarms. Xavier informs Remy that there is an electrical junction box at the corner. ‘I’ve studied this scenario in some depth’, Xavier reveals, to which Gambit, while taking apart the junction box, remarks that if this place isn’t real, then neither is the gun that Xavier is holding. Charles replies that it is real to the other characters in the simulation, which is probably as real as they need it to be.
Gambit announces that the infrared down across the whole floor, but it doesn’t know it’s down, while the camera’s are showing a loop from five minutes ago. Making their way past the cells, various inmates reach out between the bars, ‘Help us! Please!’ they call out. ‘Professor -?’ Gambit asks, confused. Xavier tells Gambit to annoy them, as they are just part of the programming, like everything else in here. Gambit pauses at one cell, for lying on the floor, covered with a blanket, is Rogue. Charles assures Remy that she is not real either. ‘But - I just can’t -’ Gambit replies as Xavier leads him away. ‘You must. Somewhere in this insane kaleidoscope, the real Rogue needs our help!’ Charles exclaims.
Xavier turns to another cell and announces that this is the cell they need to concern themselves with. Moments later, the door is blown apart by Gambit’s kinetically charged playing cards. Inside the cell, Xavier and Gambit find the four other real people - or, to be exact, aliens, chained to the wall. ‘Ah! Earth people! Let me deal with this!’ the leader remarks in his native Shi’ar, before, speaking English and exclaiming ‘We come long way across big-fella sky. You set us free, we give you beads and plenty strong liquor!’. Unimpressed, Gambit holds a charged playing card close to the Captain’s head, causing the Captain to remark ‘Hmm. Does anyone speak any of the other Earthish dialects? I don’t think this charming young man has quite got my drift’.
In the fake Morlock Tunnels, Prism tells the other Marauders to keep their eyes open, as she has to be around here somewhere. Indeed, she is, as Rogue swings down from the pipes and wraps her legs around Scrambler as he passes underneath her. Scrambler lets out a grunt, which Blockbuster hears. ‘You say something, Scrambler? Sounds just kind of get swallowed up in this place’ he remarks, before Rogue smashes Scrambler into Blockbuster. ‘Yeah. I remembered that!’ Rogue declares as Blockbuster falls over. Rogue remarks that she knows none of this is real, but so long as the Marauders are playing by the rules, she reminds Blockbuster that Scrambler’s touch took away his strength.
Rogue kicks Blockbuster in the chest, while Prism runs up behind him. Rogue tells Blockbuster that without his strength, he is nothing but dead weight, and punches him hard enough that he falls backwards - ‘No!’ Prism gasps as Blockbuster’s massive form lands on him, thudding to the watery ground. Suddenly, shots are fired from Scalphunter’s weapon, but Rogue darts out of the way just in time, remarking that, after what the Marauder’s did to her last time they tangled, this is kind of cathartic. The sultry Vertigo approaches Rogue and remarks ‘The last time? You must be dreaming, X-Man. We’ve never even met you before!’, as she casts a disorientating blast at Rogue, who screams, as she keels over.
Rogue gathers herself, just in time for Sabretooth to lunge at her, exclaiming ‘And for most of the people we meet - one time’s the charm!’ as he slices her arm and back. Rogue falls over, and Scalphunter remarks ‘Hat’s off to you, X-Man. You gave us a good run for our money’. Scalphunter raises his weapon, telling Rogue that it is over. ‘Anna, please!’ Mystique calls out to Rogue. ‘Unless you want to beg, or something?’ Scalphunter asks. ‘Let me in. Let me save you!’ Mystique pleads. ‘No!’ Rogue exclaims, with Scalphunter’s weapon in her face. ‘Too bad. I always enjoy the begging part’ Scalphunter remarks, before a loud BOOM can be heard throughout the tunnel….