(Flashback, the Xavier Academy, years ago)
‘Actually, it’s more complex than that - and potentially more serious’ Dr. Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast tells Rogue, who sits in a chair, being examined. ‘You don’t think this was serious enough already?’ Rogue asks, remarking that she has a permanent lodger in her brain, who takes the wheel every time she dozes off. Hank replies that he knows, and points out that up until now, they thought that situation was unique. ‘You’re saying this could happen again?’ Rogue asks. ‘Will happen’ Hank replies, explaining that the very conditions that allow Rogue to use Ms Marvel’s powers also allow Carol’s psyche to commandeer Rogue’s body.
Hank remarks that only two factors have to fall into place. ‘One. You absorb an unusually strong personality. Two. You absorb it deeply through prolonged skin contact’. Rogue frowns as she declares that she is not going to make that mistake again.
In a reconstruction of the Morlock Tunnels, Rogue looks at her enemies - several members of the Morlocks - Sabretooth, Scalphunter, Vertigo, Prism and Scrambler, while Scalphunter holds a gun to her head. ‘It’s over. Less you want to beg, or something’ Scalphunter tells her. The psyche imprint of Mystique - Rogue’s foster mother - asks Rogue to let her take over and save her. ‘No’ Rogue exclaims in answer to both Mystique and Scalphunter’s questions. ‘Too bad’ Scalphunter remarks. ‘I always enjoy the begging part!’. Mystique tells Rogue that she is forcing her hand, as Rogue - or Mystique taking over - suddenly grabs Scalphunter’s weapon and aims it at Scrambler, shooting him. ‘I’m hit!’ Scrambler exclaims as he steps backwards, and touches Sabretooth. ‘Don’t touch me, you idiot!’ Sabretooth snarls.
Rogue addresses Scalphunter by his last name - Greycrow and tells him that this program doesn’t do him justice. ‘In real life, I doubt you’d be so easy to kill!’ she exclaims as she smashes him backwards, before shooting Sabretooth and Scrambler once more. Rogue adds that, despite the wealth of convincing detail, they are all just a pack of cards, and dodges the blades that Riptide throws at her. Rogue approaches Riptide and clocks him over the head with the base of Scalphunter’s gun. Mystique tells Rogue to relax, that this isn’t a coup d’etat, but that desperate situations require desperate remedies. I’m happy to return the use of your body’ she assures her. ‘Until the next crisis’ she adds.
Meanwhile, In another program, Professor Charles Xavier and Remy “Gambit” LeBeau find themselves teaming up with a group of aliens, running from a pack of mutant-hunting Sentinels. ‘This is a mutant-free zone. You are in violation of civil emergency edict 5. You will surrender at once, or face summary judgment!’ one of the Sentinels states. ‘This planet is really something of a slum, isn’t it? It looked a lot nicer from orbit!’ Captain Sovel exclaims. ‘It looked like a sweat-stain from orbit’ Glitter replies as she blasts the Sentinels with a weapon. Sovel replies ‘Better than a slaughterhouse’, and tells Glitter not to stop shooting, as she is very attractive when she kills things.
‘Proscribed mutant identified. Designation: Gambit. Termination in progress’ a Sentinel announces as it prepares to blast Gambit. ‘Don’t shoot me, robot! I’m only the dealer!’ Remy exclaims as he throws several kinetically-charged playing cards towards the Sentinel, who steps backwards as the cards strike him. ‘System damage crit-’ the Sentinel states as its head is blown off. Another of the Sentinels looms over one of the aliens, and remarks that it is anomalous. ‘I’m Jat Vor-Thrul of the Kree homeworld. Of the Diamond Glacier Vor-Thruls. Maybe you know my dad?’ Jat jokes, while the Sentinels tells him that he must submit to scanning.
Jat replies that he will cheerfully. ‘You go ahead and scan. Be my guest’ he tells the Sentinel, while his teammate, the four-armed alien Horse stands on a nearby rooftop and shoves a large metal beam through the Sentinel’s head, causing it to crash to the ground. Jat tells Horse that the Sentinel had already contracted a sessite meta-virus from his dermware, to which Horse replies ‘Well now it’s contracted a steel girder, too’.
With all of the Sentinels taken out, Gambit and Xavier approach the aliens and Gambit exclaims that it is time for an explanation, asking them who they are. ‘An explanation? Well, we’re from outer space’ Captain Sovel replies. ‘Just as your little rowboats sail on rivers and streams, our mighty ship sails among the stars, where -’ Xavier suddenly interrupts: ‘He’s Sovel Redhand. The Captain of a Shi’ar ship called Ta th En’ruhs, the Boneyard Dog’. Xavier informs Gambit that the others are his crew. Sovel remarks that telepaths make his teeth itch, and tells everyone to put their psi-shields on. ‘The primitive is seeing you with your trousers down’ he tells them.
Sovel informs Xavier that he is at his service. ‘Redhand’s the name, junk is the recreational activity’ he declares. ‘Salvage, that is. Reclaimed technology. No job too small. Brute force always an option’. ‘And you did this’ Xavier replies, to which Sovel asks Glitter what he is saying. ‘That you did this. He probably read it in your head’ Glitter replies. ‘Hmmm. No point looking innocent, then’ Sovel decides, before Gambit asks him to tell them what happened. Sovel replies that it is difficult to explain in terms that their simple, unspoiled minds would be able to - but Gambit interrupts and demands he tell them. Sovel replies that there is no need for unpleasantness, and explains that they were on a salvage run for some Shi’ar technology - ‘Very new, very tasty, that was just waiting to be picked up’.
(Flashback, narrated by Sovel, takes place between X-Men Legacy #221 and #222)
‘Except that it wasn’t. Sitting there, I mean’ Sovel explains, telling Gambit and the Professor that the technology was walking around don its own two feed, and had a very unhelpful attitude, recalling how it blasted his ship when it attempted to land. Sovel explains that Jat landed the Boneyard Dog safely and the engaged the technology with flow-inhibitors, shut it down without damaging it, that was the plan. ‘But them something rather inexplicable happened’ Sovel explains, as their quarry - the technology known as “Danger” spoke to them: ‘All I wanted - all I wanted - was to get my power under some kind of - some kind of control!’, clearly mimicking the former X-woman, Rogue, standing nearby.
‘Parameters defined. Run program’ Danger exclaimed before she went wild. Sovel tells the Professor and Gambit that he thinks their flow-inhibitors had worked up to a point, shut down some of Danger’s higher cognitive functions and reduced it back to its core programming - whatever that was. ‘Unfortunately, the result wasn’t everything we’d been hoping for’.
Sovel admits that a sentient holosuite was not a possibility they had considered. ‘Despite the sentient whorehouse you got stuck in on Derumek’ Glitter tells him. ‘Yes, thank you, Glitter. Hindsight is a wonderful thing’ Sovel remarks, before Xavier explains that they damaged Danger, badly, and now she is trying to run some composite scenarios based on Rogue’s last words to her. ‘You unmitigated fools!’ Xavier exclaims. ‘Professor -’ Gambit begins, trying to calm Xavier down. ‘See here. Do you realize how much more evolved I am than you?’ Sovel asks, before Gambit motions to a motionless boy in some rubble and tells Xavier it is the same one as before. Xavier agrees and points out he has been in every simulation they have passed through.
Xavier admits that he feels as if he should know the boy, but cannot locate the memory. ‘A common problem for me since I underwent Exodus’ version of brain surgery’. Xavier turns to Glitter and asks if they can find the machine that they met, to which Glitter replies that Jat can, as his dermware is linked to the main scanner array back on the Boneyard Dog. ‘What did you have in mind?’ she asks Xavier. ‘Take me to her, and I’ll end this. The way I should have ended it years ago’ Xavier declares.
Meanwhile, Rogue stares out over a recreation of Shinjuku and thinks that it has been a while since she was here, and that she has kind of missed it. Mystique’s imprint asks Rogue if that is why she came here - to relive old memories. ‘Height, Mystique. I came here to get some height’ Rogue replies, remarking that the Tokyo Tower has got to be the tallest thing in the landscape - even in this crazy place. Motioning to a large ship that has materialized, hovering in view, Rogue remarks that everything is changing, mostly on a ten-minute cycle, and points to the Xavier Academy, remarking that it stands out like a sore thumb. ‘We’ve passed three versions of it already’ Mystique points out.
Rogue points out that this one is chancing on a different tempo - whole one second, in ruins the next, and then intact again. ‘You don’t have to go there, Anna. You could just leave’ Mystique tells her foster daughter. Rogue walks away from Mystique, telling her that she doesn’t think anyone is walking out of this in one piece. ‘But you’re a ghost already, so don’t fret, Mystique. You got a head start on the rest of us’.
Meanwhile, inside a building, Sovel tells Jat that they are going in circles, to which Jat replies that actually the landscape is cycling, which is why they keep seeing the same places. ‘This hologram suite is a mite obsessive. Not a good thing in an A.I.’ Jat remarks. Horse tells Glitter that he needs happy pills, to which Glitter informs him that they are on the ship, and as soon as they get back she will break open the med cabinet for him - but until then, he flies straight. As they exit the building, Gambit and the Professor are confronted by a scene from Rogue’s past: ‘That’s incredible!’ Remy exclaims. Xavier remarks that is Rogue as a young girl, but no more real than anything else here. ‘Doesn’t make it any easier to look away’ Gambit replies as they watch Rogue run through the forest.
‘I’m not suggesting you should’ Xavier tells Remy, and adds that, given the brief that Danger is acting on, he thinks it best to keep this Rogue in sight. Xavier points out that the heavy undergrowth suggests they are entering a new simulation, to which Gambit agrees, and remarks that this is where Rogue herself was at that age - Caldecott County, Mississippi. Xavier and Gambit watch as the young Rogue rushes over to her companion, Cody. Programs blend as creatures from the Savage Land walk nearby, as Cody tells Rogue that he is glad she came, and he thought that she might have got scared. ‘Of a walk in the moonlight?’ Rogue asks. ‘Of what your mom would say if she saw you hanging out with me’ Cody replies.
‘Raven isn’t scary’ Rogue replies. ‘She sure scares me!’ Cody exclaims. Rogue tells him that is because he doesn’t know her. Xavier remarks that this must be the night when Rogue’s power first manifested, ‘It’s just so hard to stand here and watch, knowing what’s gonna happen’ Remy adds. ‘Kind of romantic, ain’t it?’ Rogue remarks as she picks up a flower. ‘What is?’ Cody asks. ‘You know. The night. The moon. That stuff’ Rogue replies. ‘I wasn’t look at the moon, Anna’ Cody tells her. ‘No. Neither was I’ Rogue smiles, as they lean into each other and kiss - only for Cody to go wide-eyed, and fall backwards in agony. ‘Cody!’ Rogue calls out, before memories flood her mind. ‘Oh God, what is this? Stop it! Stop it! I’m Anna, not Cody! I’m me!’ she exclaims, rushing away, shouting ‘Stop it! Stop it!’ and leaving Cody lying on the ground, frothing at the mouth.
Xavier crouches down beside Cody, while Gambit remarks that Rogue absorbed his memories without meaning to, and he lapsed into a coma. ‘You suppose this is why we keep seeing him dead? Because Rogue blames herself for his death?’ Gambit asks. Xavier replies that he isn’t sure if that is the reason, and remarks that Rogue spoke with the real Cody Robbins before he died, and they reconciled. ‘I think this is something else. A connection that the Danger Room has made for itself’ Xavier explains.
Sovel and his crew approach Xavier and Gambit and ask if this voyeuristic little interlude is finished, as he would love to get back to his ship before his second mate has a psychotic episode. Gambit tells Sovel to watch his mouth, and warns him that if Rogue is harmed, he is holding him to account, while waving a kinetically charged card around. ‘Ah, yes stone-age reasoning. Very edifying’ Sovel remarks, before telling Gambit to take a look around. With a Sentinel on one side of them and a dinosaur on the other side, Sovel remarks that the internal logic of the simulations are breaking down. ‘If we’re lucky, they may just fade out altogether. If we’re not, they’ll do some very extreme spatial contortions first, and we’ll be pureed in the process’ Sovel adds that he is using short words, and speaking slowly.
Remy turns to Xavier and asks if that could happen, to which Charles replies that it could, but that he is more concerned for Rogue. ‘How inspiring. I’m more concerned for me’ Sovel declares. Xavier remarks that this entire place was designed to push Rogue towards some sort of crisis - some sort of realization. ‘What happens to us is largely random. But what happens to her has been calculated down to the last millimeter’ Xavier declares.
Meanwhile, Rogue trudges across the frosty wasteland of a simulation Antarctica. ‘We’re lost, Rogue. There was no snow between us and the Mansion’ Mystique’s imprint remarks. ‘This is the Danger Room, Mystique. A Danger Room as big as a whole city. It can warp space as much as it -’ Rogue stops speaking as she sees two figures up a head and realizes where they are, laying her eyes on the pink-and-yellow-clad past version of herself and Gambit, Rogue begins to watch them. ‘Rogue! I don’t care if you leave me here, chere, but you have to understand -’ the past Gambit pleads with the past Rogue. ‘You think I can understand you? You think wrong!’ the past Rogue snaps back.
‘Fine, then. I’ve earned your hatred. But at least get me somewhere that’ll give me a chance to get back home’ Gambit pleads. ‘Home? You ain’t got no home, sugah. Not with the me, not with the X-Men. Fend for yourself. You seem to have done a good job of that in the past’ Rogue remarks, holding up the Queen of Hearts playing card. ‘But - I love you!’ Gambit exclaims. ‘You’re honest with the people you love, Gambit. Otherwise…it’s a gamble’ Rogue replies as she drops the Queen of Hearts at Gambit’s feet and flies away, leaving him there.
The present Rogue picks up the playing card and remarks that, sometimes she feels like her entire life is a log-jammed river. ‘Like I’m trapped and I can’t move on. Can’t ever get to where I’m going’. ‘And where is that?’ Mystique asks. Rogue puts the card inside a compartment on her belt and replies that it would help to know. Rogue looks up and gets a surprise as she sees the young Cody Robbins standing in front of her. ‘I’m glad you came. I thought maybe you got scared’ he remarks, shocking Rogue.
Meanwhile, Xavier, Gambit and the crew of the Boneyard Dog arrive at the ever-fluctuating Xavier Academy, where numerous versions of the X-Men are battling various enemies including versions of Sentinels and the U-Men. Jat remarks that this is the eye of the storm, to which Xavier asks if they are sure Danger is in here. ‘That’s what I’m reading, your reverence. Range fifty meters, vector zero, zero, zero. X marks the spot’ Jat replies. Xavier tells Sovel that he needs to get inside, and asks if his people can clear a way for him. ‘In exchange for what?’ Sovel asks. ‘A chance to get out of here alive’. Xavier tells him, to which Sovel replies ‘That would be nice’. Sovel turns to Horse and informs him that the happy pills are in the ship, and the ship is just beyond this building. ‘We’re going in and I’d like you to lead the -’ Sovel begins - but Horse has already begun to run through the myriad of mutants, shouting ‘Get out of my WAY!’ as he smashes them aside. ‘After you, gentlemen’ Sovel tells Xavier and Gambit, motioning to the clear path to the Institute.
Walking towards the entrance, Xavier tells Gambit that it seems as though all the moments of their lives have been overlaid on each other here. ‘This should be…interesting, to say the very least’. As he walks through the ever-changing Mansion, Xavier first walks up to a scene playing out between he and his “All-New, All-Different X-Men”, where Sunfire is demanding to know why they were dragged here, as he is swiftly losing his patience. ‘It was not my intention to waste your time’ Xavier tells Sunfire, while Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Banshee, Nightcrawler and Thunderbird look on.
Next, Xavier comes to a more recent incarnation of the team - the “Astonishing X-Men”, where Shadowcat is reminding the White Queen that on the very first time she met the X-Men, they were ambushed, captured and caged by her. ‘I learned more about good and evil in that one day than I ever have before or since’. After passing Shadowcat, Wolverine and the White Queen, Xavier approaches the Danger Room, and upon entering it, discovers Danger, increased in mass to take up much of the room, and cuddling her legs. ‘Full circle. Fascinating’ Xavier remarks as he watches her. ‘Some creatures come back to where they were spawned to breed. And some to die!’