‘Been here before, ain’t Ah? Ah was just a little super villain debutante when Ah went up against Iron Man. Mah powers didn’t affect him. Couldn’t get past the armor to touch the man inside’. Rogue thinks to herself as she recalls her first encounter with Tony “Iron Man” Stark, while battling the armoured Avenger in the here and now at the Jean Grey School, in Westchester. Rogue has absorbed the powers of She-Hulk, while Iron Man asks her if she is recalling their first fight, recalling that she ran. He tells her that if she was smart, she would do that again. ‘That was a long time ago, sugah’ Rogue replies. ‘Not long enough!’ Iron Man exclaims as he releases a repulsor beam at close range, while Rogue covers his face with a hand, but she plummets back to the ground below, landing where her fellow X-Men teammates have gathered.
Remy “Gambit” LeBeau, Joanna “Frenzy” Cargill, Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie, Calvin “Mimic” Rankin, Paige “Husk” Guthrie and Jonathan “Chamber” Starsmore are prepared for battle. ‘All right, X-Men. These Avengers invaded our house. Treated us like criminals. Hurt our students’ Rogue tells them. The X-Men rush into action, with Cannonball blasting towards Iron Man, while Mimic confronts Sam Wilson a.k.a. the Falcon, mid air. Gambit throws some kinetically-charged playing cards at Marc Spector the Moon Knight, while Rogue once again engages Jennifer Walters a.k.a. the She-Hulk in combat, while Husk and Chamber search through the rubble for the injured students - Hellion, Glob Herman and Match. ’Let’s show ’em that was a real bad idea!’ Rogue shouts.
As he punches Mimic in the face, the Falcon tells Iron Man that things got out of hand. ‘But maybe it’s not too late to -’ he begins, but Iron Man interrupts, telling him that it is. ‘They see us as the enemy. And frankly, they should’ he declares. Iron Man adds that the X-Men and Avengers are at war, so every place and every person is now an asset, a weapon to be used, or taken out. With that, Iron Man releases a sonic weapon, which causes Cannonball to cover his ears in agony and spin out of control. ‘Damnation. He took one of our heaviest hitters out in seconds. Cannonball’s invulnerable to physical attacks, so he hit him with sonics. Our advantage in numbers is nothing. Iron Man could beat us all himself’ Rogue thinks to herself as she punches She-Hulk hard in the face. Looking up at the Falcon punch Mimic again, Rogue tells herself that she didn’t want to go here, that she put the person she used to be in the rear-view, and was hell-bent and determined to leave her there.
‘But we’re running out of options. So it’s time to get old-school’ Rogue decides, leaving the unconscious She-Hulk amongst the rubble, she flies towards Falcon and pulls him from Mimic, slamming him into the ground below. ’What are you doing to him?’ Calvin asks her as he hovers above. Rogue explains that this is how her powers used to work - that she touched someone, she got their skills and psyche, knocked them unconscious, painfully. ‘Ah’m changing the odds, making their strengths ours’ she adds as she takes Falcon’s power. ‘Same way Ah beat the Avengers back in the day, steal their powers - like Falcon’s ability to talk to birds…and use them against their friends’ Rogue remarks, as a flock of birds suddenly swarms around Iron Man. As she flies over to Iron Man, Rogue tells herself that she hates this feeling, having someone else’s thoughts in her head - it’s like an old wound being torn open again.
Rogue knows that if she lets that hold her back, her friends pay the price - and she isn’t about to let that happen - no matter how far she has to take it. She drops Iron Man off in some woods, and tells Mimic to keep Iron Man busy. ‘Ah’ll be back as soon as Ah can!’ Rogue tells him. ‘He’ll have a long wait!’ She-Hulk boasts as she rushes towards Rogue, but Rogue quickly darts away from her. ‘Hey! Since when can you move like -’ She-Hulk exclaims, but Rogue attacks her from behind and retorts ‘Since Ah took Falcon’s abilities. Like Ah’m gonna take yours’. But She-Hulk tells her that she isn’t going to make it easy. ‘Easy’s the last thing this is’ Rogue replies. She-Hulk suddenly slams rogue backwards into a tree, shattering the tree and knocking it over. Rogue begins to drown inside her own head - so many voices, yammering, like to drive her nuts.
But, she did despite being as mad as hell, her plan worked, and She-Hulk has been depleted of power, reduced to her human form. ‘Rouge? You okay? You look -’ Frenzy begins as she rushes over to the massive Rogue standing before her. ‘Mad enough to smash’ Rogue thinks to herself as she turns and growls, punching Frenzy in the face.
Back at the school buildings, ‘Kitty! Open up!’ Paige exclaims as she and Chamber help the kids to a window. Chamber is carrying the badly injured Hellion, while Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde phases through the side of the building, explaining that the school is locked down, but she can phase them through. She does so, while Paige explains that Glob Herman and Match were just stunned, but she thinks Hellion’s eardrum has burst. Paige offers to take Hellion to the med-bay. Kitty asks how bad it is out there, and Chamber tells her that it is going pear-shaped, that Iron Man is making mince-meat out of the X-Men. He tells Kitty that Rogue has pulled out the stops, but if he was being honest, he doesn’t know that Rogue can handle it. Shadowcat tells Chamber to stay here and make sure the kids don’t do anything else stupid. ‘What’re you gonna do?’ Chamber replies, and as she dives through the wall, Kitty replies ‘Whatever it takes’.
While still battling with Moon Knight, Gambit calls out to Rogue, telling her to listen to his voice, assuring her that she can handle this. Walking out of the woods, Rogue tells Remy that she is okay, but she knows she is only barely okay, as she had no idea that She-Hulk keeps that kind of rage suppressed. Rogue hasn’t done anything like this in ages, and is not sure how long she can bear it. ‘Gotta end this fast’ she knows, and flies towards Iron Man, who is firing a close-range repulser beam at Mimic. ‘Before Ah’m more of a threat to mah own people than the Avengers’ Rogue tells herself as she suddenly cracks Iron Man’s hand.
‘Pay attention, Gambit. Your students were better disciplined than you’ Moon Knight exclaims as he kicks Gambit hard in the face. But Gambit recomposes himself quickly, and slams Moon Knight with his staff. ‘You ain’t fighting children now, homme’ he replies. ‘Good point’ Moon Knight remarks as he releases some sharp blades attached to his knuckles. ‘Let’s break out the grown-up toys’ Moon Knight declares. ‘Your call. Your funeral’ Gambit replies as he throws a series of kinetically charged playing cards at Moon Knight, knocking the mysterious Avenger backwards. Remy goes over to him, and tells Moon Knight to give up, as he doesn’t want to hurt him more than he has to. ‘Oh, it hurts all right…but it was the fastest way to show some skin!’ Moon Knight declares, revealing his now bare arm.
Moon Knight then leaps into the air, and tackles Rogue. ‘You want Avengers in your head? Have a I got a bonanza for you!’ Moon Knight tells Rogue as he shoves his bare arm against her skin. They then drop to the ground, although Rogue lands on her feet. ‘Guess the rumors’re true - he is crazy. Just giving me his powers like that’ Rogue thinks to herself. She isn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth, when suddenly, she clutches her head, overflowing with voices. ‘Too many lives at stake’. ‘I’m the best there is at what I do’. ‘On your feet, soldier’. ‘Smash you ALL!’ she hears, before dropping to her knees, ‘Shut it! Shut up!’ she cries. Gambit rushes over to her. ‘What did he do?’ Remy calls out. ‘Crippled her’ Iron Man exclaims as he flies in between Gambit and Rogue.
Iron Man explains that Moon Knight has multiple personalities, and that he manages to keep them controlled - barely - through years of practice. ‘I’d imagine it’s considerably harder for her’ Iron Man adds. ‘You heartless - gloves are off, eh?’ Gambit declares as he shoves his staff into Iron Man’s chest. Remy then leans back, dodging one of Iron Man’s blasts, although it does tear a hole through Gambit’s trench coat. ‘Impressive. You’re faster than my targeting computer’ Iron Man remarks, before retaliating by widening his energy beam, dowsing Gambit, and knocking him back. ‘Remy!’ Rogue calls out from where she is still on the ground nearby. More voices rush through her head: ‘Fly, why can’t I fly?’. ‘Forget him, eyes on the enemy -’. ‘He hurt Remy. Make him pay’. ‘MAKE YOU HURT!’ Rogue exclaims as she gets to her feet, and with her She-Hulk strength slams her fist into Iron Man’s chest. ‘Wait- doesn’t he need his chest-plate to live?’ Rogue thinks to herself. ‘Yes! That’s why you hit it! Now, before he recovers. Do it again!’ another voice inside Rogue.
But Rogue tells herself that she can’t kill him. ‘But if Ah don’t control mahself Ah could -’ she realizes, while Iron Man fires another blast at Gambit, and Shadowcat rushes over to Frenzy, asking her if she is okay. Getting to her feet, Joanna explains that she was just stunned, caught by surprise. Frenzy tells Shadowcat to go back to the school, that it is chaos out here. ‘I don’t think handing out detentions will do much good’ Frenzy adds. But Shadowcat replies that disrupting Iron Man’s systems might, which is what happens when she phases through technology. Kitty asks Joanna if she has been here long enough to know what a Fastball Special is. ‘I’m strong. Not stupid’ Frenzy mutters as she picks Shadowcat up and tosses her towards Iron Man with ease. Right on target, too, as Kitty phases through Iron Man, and tells Tony Stark that this is her school, and he is expelled, while his circuits short out.
‘You didn’t think I’d have countermeasures for something like that?’ Iron Man retorts as he forces Kitty from his armor, causing her to smack into the ground. Kitty calls out to Rogue, asking her if she can hear her, explaining that they need her. ‘Can’t - Ah’m a section eight’ Rogue replies, while thinking to herself ‘That wasn’t me talking. Ah’m losing myself, just like the bad old days…’. But the rage continues to build inside her: ‘It’s her fault! Make the pain go away! Smash!’ she hears, while urging herself not to lose control. Kitty goes over to Rogue and tells her that the Iron Man armor is empty inside, that she saw it. ‘What? We’re fighting a…a drone?’ Rogue asks. Kitty suggests that it is probably just one of Tony’s older suits, running on an artificial intelligence program, possibly remote control. ‘The point is…there’s no person in there’ Kitty tells Rogue.
But Rogue covers her face and declares that she hit Frenzy, that she could still lose it and go after Kitty, or the students. Kitty replies that she understands, and tells Rogue that she has to do this. ‘Nobody else can stop him!’ she exclaims. Rogue hears more voices inside her: ‘Crush her. She’s lying -’. ‘Psy-ops. She’s trying to get into your head, ignore it -’. ‘The ythink you’re crazy. They’ll lock you up if you don’t take them all down -’. ‘Call for back up!’ ‘No. Don’t trust anyone!’ the voices calls out. ‘All’a y’all…HUSH!’ Rogue exclaims as she gets to her feet. ‘Ha!’ she declares as she approaches Iron Man, who has a hand around Frenzy’s throat. ‘Hey. Remember me?’ Rogue asks as she taps Iron Man on the shoulder. ‘AH’M ROGUE!’ Rogue exclaims as she punches a hole through the uninhabited Iron Man armor.
‘Ah’m an X-Man. This is may house. And you’re trespassing!’ Rogue declares as she continues to punch the Iron Man armor. ‘SO AH’M GIVING YOU THE BOOT!’ Rogue screams as she tears the armor apart. The armor falls to the ground, energy crackling from it. Shadowcat helps Frenzy up, while Gambit rushes over to Rogue, who still resembles She-Hulk, and asks her if she is okay, if she knows who she is. ‘Hrrr….hrrrr…hrrr…Like Ah told him. Ah’m Rogue’ comes the reply. ‘And Ah just beat the Avengers. Again’ she boasts as she picks up the Iron Man helmet and crushes it with her bare - green - hands.
Later, Shadowcat phases out of the Quinjet, and tells Rogue, Gambit, Frenzy, Cannonball and Mimic that the autopilot will take the Avengers home. I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you this isn’t the end. We just lost any chance of staying neutral’ she explains. Rogue tells Kitty that was never an option, that they were fooling themselves to think it was. ‘Iceman was right’ she adds, remarking that there is no sitting on the sidelines in this one. She tells her friends that what has come before doesn’t matter, that it is about their future now - the difference between having one and not. ‘We let fear of the past tie our hands, we’re taking that choice away from ourselves before anyone else even gets the chance’ Rogue states. She turns to her friends and tells them to call Rachel and Iceman and let them know they are in.
Kitty turns to Rogue and points out that was just a skeleton crew of Avengers - that the real Iron Man in his current armor won’t go down as easily. ‘Good thing Ah’ve had practice, then’ Rogue replies. Gambit asks Rogue if she doesn’t want to switch back to normal, to which Rogue replies ‘Not unless you want the Avengers to wake up and turn that Quinjet around. It’s okay, Remy. Ah got the hang of it’ she assures him, explaining that it is like riding a bicycle, down a mountain, perhaps, but she can manage. Gambit suggests to Rogue that she could stay here, as he knows she doesn’t want this. Rogue replies that it isn’t the fight she was afraid of, but it was herself, in her past, coming back to haunt her. Rogue tells Gambit that he was right, that she was afraid of losing what she has got, what she has achieved. ‘But if Ah spend my life looking over mah shoulder, Ah ain’t got nothing’ she tells declares. Rogue frowns, determined, as she announces that this is their future, and she is ready to start looking forward.