‘I keep trying, but - I can’t - it won’t -’ the young mutant called Indra cries out, frowning, energy crackles around him as he attempts to cover his body with armor - he screams, and Rogue tells him to power down. Indra falls to the ground, telling Rogue that it is no use. ‘The - the Yaks has - the Enlightened Ones. They can see how unworthy I am. They’ve abandoned me!’ he exclaims. Rogue tells Indra that nobody thinks he is unworthy. ‘Nobody except you’ she adds, before removing one of her gloves and asking him to let her try. ‘What?’ Indra frowns. ‘Let me borrow your power and see if it works for me’ Rogue suggests.
But Indra tells Rogue that she cannot take this burden from him. ‘The sin was mine, so the karma has to be mine. That’s how it works’ he explains. Rogue crouches down beside Indra and tells him not to do this to himself. ‘It’s a judgment’ Indra replies. ‘If it is, ah think you’re the one who’s doing the judging’ Rogue tells him. A telepathic message to Rouge informs her that Cyclops is waiting for her in the main complex. ‘Ah know he is’ Rogue replies, before telling Indra to let this lie for a while. ‘Ah’ll be back real soon, and we’ll work on it together’ she assures him.
‘Is there any way this could wait?’ Rogue asks Cyclops as she approaches him, standing on the ramp which holds the Cerebra machine. ‘Sorry, Rogue. It can’t’ Cyclops replies, adding that the Cuckoos will explain. The Stepford Cuckoos tell Rogue that when they were fighting the Predator X pack, the Phoenix Force left them. ‘We’ve searched for it since, but we can’t find any trace of it. And something that big is very hard to hide’. Cyclops tells Rogue that she must be able to see the problem. ‘This is a power that swallows suns and splits planets in half. If we can’t control it, at the very least we need to know where it is and what it’s doing’.
‘Mindee thinks active scanning might not work’ one of the girls remarks, explaining that the Phoenix can bend psi-probes around itself the way a black hole bends light. ‘But if we pull our own power levels down low enough, we might be able to detect it with a passive scanning field’. ‘You want to switch your power off?’ Rogue asks. ‘We want to give it you. Part of it, anyway. Just for a few hours, while we do this’ one of the girls explains. Rogue replies that she thinks she could take the same amount of power from each of them so they would stay in synch. ‘Ah’m willing to try, anyway’ she replies.
The Cuckoos all reach out to Rogue, telling her that she won’t just get the power, but the perspective as well. ‘Triangulating on people’s minds from three directions. That might feel weird, at first’ they tell her. ‘At least - it did for us’ they add as they all touch Rogue’s hand. Rogue lets out a little cry, and keels over. ‘Did it work?’ Cyclops asks. ‘It did from our point of view. We’re down to the power level where we need to be’ one of the Cuckoos replies, while another points out that Rogue is experiencing disorientation. ‘Ah’ll be fine’ Rogue declares.
‘You’re sure?’ Cyclops asks. ‘Ah’m certain’ Rogue tells him, adding that this is too important to hold off on while she gets her bearings. Cyclops tells the Cuckoos to get moving. ‘If we can’t find out where the Phoenix went when it left you we’ll have to talk to the Shi’ar. I’d prefer to keep that as a last resort’ Cyclops declares.
Soon, Rogue and Cyclops walk side by side out across Utopia, and Rogue informs Cyclops that she is worried about Indra. ‘Why? I thought he’d gotten over San Francisco by now’ Cyclops replies. ‘No, he just stopped talking about it’ Rogue replies, explaining that now he cannot change into his armored form, that it hurts him even to try. ‘And Ah don’t know if it’s a psychological problem or - …’ Rogue’s voice trails off, as she begins to pick up on many thoughts across Utopia:
‘Could’ve flipped a coin for all the difference’
‘Radiation, convection, and - I know there’s one more, but’
‘Got to be way down lower than 150 now, I’d say, unless’
‘Love that episode where Mal wakes up and finds he’s married to’
‘Seven samurai, seven deadly sins, seven sisters. Nothing comes in sixes except eggs and’
‘Love the way he looks when he’s trying not to laugh and’
‘Never told anyone about that dream because it was so’
‘Started that letter but only got as far as’
‘Kind of miss the Mansion. Life was’.
‘Something the matter?’ Cyclops asks Rogue. Rogue smiles and replies that she is good, before telling Cyclops that Surge asked if she could see her after her gym session. ‘Ah’ll have to catch you later’ she tells him.
Rogue enters the gym, where Surge is waiting for her. Other “Young X-Men” are going about their own training regimes in the gym - Anole, Mercury, Dust, X-23, Loa, Match, Bling! - while Surge tells Rogue ‘It’s my power. It keeps going out of control. Like, I’ll try to make a tiny arc and I’ll get sheet lightning’. Surge releases a small spark and Rogue tells her that it seems fine right now, to which Surge replies that it only happens when Magneto is around. ‘It’s like he’s putting the evil eyeball on me or something’. Surge thanks Rogue for doing this, claiming that she would see him herself, only he is way too scary. ‘Plus he’s seriously got the hots for you, despite being about a million years old’ Surge adds, smiling.
Rogue makes her way back through the crowds of mutants on Utopia, and picks up more of their thoughts:
‘Tell young Summers that I don’t work with children or animals unless-’ Doctor Nemesis is thinking.
‘If you hate your kid enough to name him Mortimer then--’ the Toad thinks to himself.
‘Doesn’t stop hurting but you’re afraid that it might stop hurting and you’d forget what--’ Colossus tells himself.
‘Never get away with Prussian blue underwear unless’ the fashion doyenne Ariel thinks to herself.
‘Then gone and then back again as though I never--’ Rockslide tells himself.
Suddenly, Rogue picks up some very unique thoughts - projected in French. Following the trail, she finds Gambit sitting on some steps near the edge of the island and calls to him. Gambit turns and looks up: ’Rogue. Long time no see’ he remarks. ’Very long time. You must be wondering why Ah’m avoiding you’ Rogue tells him. ’You said you needed time, chere. To think things through. To decide what it is you want to do. I guess you’ll let me know when the time is up’ Gambit replies. Rogue tells him that she will, ’But this isn’t about us. Or - not so much, it’s about you’ she adds. ’What do you mean?’ Gambit asks her. ’Ah’m babysitting some of the Cuckoos’ powers. And Ah keep getting glimpses of things Ah’m not supposed to see’ Rogue explains.
‘Something is inside your mind, Remy. Something that isn’t you’ Rogue declares. ‘Quoi Encore?’ Gambit replies. Rogue puts a gloved hand on her ex-lover’s knee and tells him that it is like there is another him behind the real him. ‘Sitting there real quiet, looking out through your eyes. You gotta tell someone about it, Remy. You gotta get the Professor or Emma to help you’ Rogue declares. ‘So this is why you’ve been avoiding me?’ Gambit asks. ‘No. Ah didn’t even know about that until just now’ Rogue tells him. ‘Then what?’ Gambit asks, pulling back as Rogue puts a gloved hand to his face. ‘Ah’m trying to tell you. Ah wanted to tell you a hundred times, but it’s kind of complicated’ Rogue replies.
‘Since the Professor fixed mah mind, Ah’ve just been making it up as Ah went along. Going on gut instinct. It feels like mah control could slip any second. Like Ah could lose everything Ah just found’ Rogue tells Gambit. ‘If you want my help, chere, you’ve only got to ask’ Gambit replies. ‘Ah know that. Of course Ah do. But don’t you see that you’re the one person who can’t help me? It’s all about control. About reining mah power, making it obey mah will’ Rogue replies. ‘I see that. And I can -’ Gambit begins, as he clasps Rogue’s hand in between his. ‘No, you can’t. Because Ah associate you with loss of control’ Rogue replies. Rogue tells Gambit that she doesn’t mean that in a bad way. ‘You were just always there, inside mah guard, under mah skin. There’s a part of me that’s always been joined with you, even when we couldn’t touch’ Rogue tells him.
Images of Rogue and Gambit in years past flash by, as Rogue remarks that when they could touch, it felt like she could never get enough of him even if she melted into him like snow on wet grass. ‘Like every inch of me needed to touch every inch of you, and even that wouldn’t be -’ Rogue remarks, before Gambit tells her to stop. ‘What?’ Rogue asks. ‘Your memories are a little vivid, chere. Maybe a little too vivid. You’re tele-sending. Broadcasting your thoughts!’ Gambit reveals. ‘Oh no’ whispers a wide-eyed Rogue. And moments later, Rogue hangs her head as she walks past Psylocke, Warpath, Madison Jeffries, Pixie and several other residents of Utopia, all looking at her in a variety of ways.
Soon, Rogue sits with Indra on a crate in a lab, and Indra tells her that it is just going to be the same as before. ‘The power has been taken away from me. I think forever’ he exclaims. ‘Ah think not’ Rogue tells him, adding that she believes he is doing this to himself. ‘And the pain? Am I ding that to myself, too?’ Indra asks. ‘Well, if you seriously want an answer to that - Ah;ve got some of the Cuckoos’ psi-powers. Ah could go inside your mind. Help’ Rogue tells him. Indra stands up, ‘So that I can be repaired, and fight again?’ he shouts. ‘Betray my parents and my religion, again?’ he asks. ‘No, Indra. To make the pain stop. That’s all Ah want to do’ Rogue assures him. But Indra leaves the laboratory, telling Rogue that the pain is the pain he inflicted visited back on his own head. ‘It’s not a punishment. It’s a blessing. It’s to keep me from forgetting and sinning again!’ he declares.
‘Come in, Rogue. I’ve been expecting you’ Magneto announces, hovering inside the generator room. Rogue tells Magneto that it can wait, as he seems busy. The Master of Magnetism lowers himself to the ground, explaining that he is charging the auxiliary generators. ‘The work of a moment’ he boasts, before remarking that he assumes this is about Surge. ‘Surge thinks you might be messing with her power’ Rogue replies. ‘That’s right. I am’ Magneto declares. Magnetism crackles around Magneto as he tells Rogue that it is simple electro-magnetic induction, that he is boosting her to about ten or twenty times her normal energy threshold. ‘Once she learns to channel those power levels, she’ll be able to do it unaided’.
‘Magneto, you can’t do that!’ Rogue tells him. ‘Nonsense. Remember, I was the headmaster of Xavier’s Academy for a long time. This is a training regime planned to meet Noriko’s specific needs’ Magneto declares. ‘Then you explain it to her and get her consent!’ Rogue declares, waving a finger at Magneto. ‘Does Cyclops govern by consent?’ Magneto asks. ‘It seems to me that he forms his own judgment and acts on it’. ‘In battle, sure. When he needs to act fast. The rest of the time, he’s - he’s more -’ Rogue begins. ‘More democratic?’ Magneto asks. ‘Yes’ Rogue replies, as she and Magneto move closer and closer together. ‘I accept that distinction. I’ve seen -’ Magneto begins, before he and Rogue kiss.
‘Pleasant though this is, Rogue, you have to control yourself’ Magneto declares. ‘Uhhhh?’ Rogue replies. ‘I see what’s happening here. To both of us’ Magneto tells her. ‘You’re feeling my attraction to you - then sending it back to me telepathically’ he explains, adding that it is a psychic feedback loop, which intensifies with each iteration. ‘Damn! It’s - it’s the Cuckoos. Ah’m sorry’ Rogue declares, holding her head. Magneto assures her that there is no need to apologize. ‘But bearing in mind what you were saying about consent - this removed it from both of us’ he tells her.
Rogue assures Magneto that she has the empathic part of the power locked off now. ‘That won’t happen again’ she adds, before telling Magneto that he has to back off Surge unless she agrees to accept his help. ‘That seems unlikely to happen any time soon’ Magneto replies. ‘Then work at it. Earn her trust’ Rogue tell him as she leaves the generator room. ‘And yours, Rogue?’ Magneto calls out. ‘Dream big, Shugah’ Rogue replies.
‘What do you mean, scared? I’m not scared of anything!’ Rockslide shouts. ‘I mean, I’m invulnerable for starters!’ he boasts. ‘But it’s how that invulnerability works’ Rogue replies. ‘The fact that you have to blow yourself up and start over’ She tells him that she wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but she heard him thinking about it. ‘So? Lots of stuff goes through your mind. It doesn’t have to mean anything’ Rockslide replies. ‘If it doesn’t mean anything, then fine. But if you’re worried about the regenerative side of your power, maybe you should avoid detonating yourself for a while’ Rogue suggests.
‘It’s not that. It’s more - well, I’m used to thinking of myself as this. This body. Big. Heavy. Solid. It’s too weird, kind of. How I’m really a sort of - ghost’ Rockslide declares. “Ghost in the machine” Rogue tells him. ‘Huh? What does that mean?’ Rockslide asks. Rogue replies that the mind, or the soul, inside the body, it is how Descartes saw all of them. ‘Everybody hits that one and bounces off, Santo. In a way, you’ve got a better handle on where your soul is than most of us’ Rogue tells him. ‘Hah! Guess it do, at that’ Rockslide replies, to which Rogue tells him that she is still reading some of those stray thoughts of his. ‘’Oops. Sorry’ Rockslide mutters.
Rogue walks through a large corridor, where several residents of Utopia are milling about - leading to more stray thoughts:
‘Wish I had an energy power instead of a--’
‘Waiting for a chance to say “X marks the spot”!’
‘Never knew that Benny Hill tune even had a name—‘
‘Told him the angle that subtends towards the vertical is called the--’
‘So if we keep on going west we’ll end up in--’
‘Can’t see why you’d need lip gloss if you--’
‘Nine consecutive strikeouts. That’s one less than Seaver managed in--’
‘Wonder if you even know I’m here, Rogue. Still less how I feel about you. How I burn for you’.
That last thought causes Rogue some concern, and seeing Iceman she quickly asks him what he was thinking about just now. ‘Uhh - sadly enough, baseball’ Bobby replies. ‘Good. That’s good. Fine. Just wonderful’ Rogue exclaims as she walks outside, where Cannonball, Avalanche, Nightcrawler and others are going about their business.
Rogue re-enters Cerebra, as the Stepford Cuckoos inform Cyclops that they have done all they can. ‘There’s no trace of the Phoenix on any psychic wavelength’ they tell him, adding that there isn’t even a residue, that is just seems to have vanished. Cyclops asks them if they got any sense of vector when it left them. ‘Not one that makes any sense. It seemed to get further and further away without going anywhere’ one of the Cuckoos replies. Cyclops frowns and announces that they are switching to plan B, revealing that he has asked the X-Club to come up with some ideas. ‘Whatever happens, we don’t give up on this’ he tells them.
The Cuckoos tell Rogue that they will take their powers back, and touch her, asking if she had any trouble getting used to them. ‘Nothing Ah won’t live down in a couple of years’ Rogue replies. ‘You might find it hard to re-adjust. When you’ve had psi-power, and then lose them - the silence can be a little deafening’ the Cuckoos tell her. ‘Actually, girls, Ah kind of like the silence. Makes it easier to think’ Rogue replies.
Back in the lab, Indra exclaims ’I don’t understand. I’ve already told you, Rogue, I don’t want you to read my mind’. Rogue tells Indra that she cannot do that anymore, so this will be more like him reading his own mind. ‘It’s a sort of a paradox Ah want you to mediate on. It might help you’ Rogue explains. ‘I doubt that. But go ahead’ Indra replies. ‘You’re a Jainite, so you believe in ahisma. Absolute non-violence’ Rogue tells him. ‘Yes. It’s the first and most important of the five duties’ Indra replies. ‘But when your mutant power activated, you chose the name Indra’. ‘So?’ he asks. ‘Indra, the Armorer of Heaven. The God of War. Ah wonder why you thought that was okay’ Rogue tells him. ‘Well - but that’s - it’s only a name’ Indra stammers.
‘Ah know it. Ah jus think it’s a strange name for you to go for. As though you were labelling a part of yourself. Or a potential you saw inside yourself’ Rogue replies. Indra closes his eyes and declares that it isn’t like that. ‘You don’t understand anything’ he tells Rogue, who asks him to explain it to her. Annoyed, Indra exclaims that there is nothing to explain. ‘It was just the first name I thought of. I don’t want to talk about it!’. Indra hangs his head and Rogue asks him if he is running away from something inside of him. ‘Something you saw, and gave a name to, but then backed away from’.
Indra exclaims that he doesn’t want to be a fighter. ‘It’s okay. Ah’m not asking you to’ Rogue replies. ‘I won’t use that - that -’ Indra exclaims, before clutching his head, power swirls around him: ‘This - this isn’t me - it’s somebody - somebody else!’ he shouts as in spectacular display he is covered in armor - and holding two swords, while other weapons point at Rogue, he stands over her. ‘Yeah. Ah can see that’ a wide-eyed Rogue replies.
Rogue sits on the edge of Utopia, the last rays of the sun touching the sky, and Gambit approaches her. ‘A long day, chere’ he asks. ‘Yeah. It sure feels like it was. Don’t know how much Ah’ve got to show for it, though’ she adds. Gambit asks Rogue if she thinks the job Cyclops gave her is the right one. ‘Jury’s still out’ Rogue replies, adding that she has been doing her best to make a difference. ‘Some days it seems to work. Others - it kind of comes apart in mah hands’. Gambit smiles, and tells Rogue that he knows her better than anyone else. ‘Better than you know yourself’ he adds. ‘If you’ve tried to make a difference - then for good or bad - that’s what you’ve done’.
And at that moment, Indra walks past Rockslide, down to the edge of Utopia. He users his power to form a small dagger - and throws it into a rock, slicing the top off of the rock. Frowning, Indra looks at his hands.