China, ‘It’s amazing!’ Rogue exclaims as she looks out over a barren landscape, where Bobby “Iceman” Drake has constructed an intricate ice-sled, glistening in the sun. Illyana Rasputin a.k.a. Magik, one of the Phoenix Five, drops down beside Rogue and remarks ‘Isn’t it, though?’, as she explains that the ice will melt slowly, irrigating the land without overwhelming it - meaning no mudslides, no flash floods. ‘Simple but elegant’ the young mutant adds. ‘Ah meant all of it. What we’ve been able to do. Ah’m not surprised by you and the others who split the Phoenix’s power, but the rest of us…’ Rogue remarks. ‘Ordinary X-Men like me and Iceman, making such a huge difference in the world…it kinda blows my mind’ Rogue adds. Magik agrees that it is remarkable what they can accomplish when they are not constantly fighting for their lives.
Magik looks at Rogue and tells her that she has been a key part of that, because of her ability to replicate powers, each X-Man can be in two places at once. ‘I know we must be running you ragged. You’ve barely had a minute to sleep, let alone -’ Magik begins, but Rogue smiles and declares that she finally feels like she is done making up for past mistakes, that she is moving forward instead of looking back. ‘This is Heaven’ Rogue adds. Iceman slides down to Rogue and Magik, and calling Magik “boss” tells her that he is sorry to keep her waiting. ‘For the hundredth time, Iceman, I’m not your boss. This is not a hierarchy. Mutantkind is unified and equal’ Magik replies. Rogue asks Bobby if he is sure he can spare her some of his power, to which Bobby smiles and replies ‘To help the big easy? Anytime. Spring break at mardis gras is all that got me through accounting school’.
Rogue presses her bare hand to Bobby’s neck and asks him if he believes this. ‘Seems like yesterday we were just trying to keep our students alive, and now -’ she begins, while Bobby declares that he knows. ‘Remember that old hippie bumper sticker, “visualize world peace”?’ and states that this sure looks like it to him. ‘And the X-Men did it. We finally made a dream come true’.
Soon, Rogue arrives in New Orleans, and using Iceman’s powers, she has frozen a large lake. Soldiers look up at her from where they stand on the lake’s damn, and she tells them that the ice should hold long enough for them to make repairs. ‘But if you need it reinforced, just holler’ she calls out. Rogue drops down onto the damn and one of the soldiers thanks her. ‘With those storms bearing down on us, well, you’re a godsend’ he adds, before asking her if she has a Mississippi accent. ‘Caldecott County, sugah’ Rogue replies. The soldier adds that it is even better having a local help out. Handing her a small box, he declares that he knows it isn’t much, but thought she might like some catfish. ‘What do you say…little taste of home sound good?’ he asks Rogue. ‘Honey, you got no idea’ Rogue smiles.
Rogue sits on the side of the lake and eats the catfish. ‘Home. Can’t remember the last time someone outside the X-Men made me feel Ah had one’ she tells herself, while deciding that this must be what it’s like for the Avengers - or what it used to be like, before they declared war on the X-Men. Rogue doesn’t know why the Avengers can’t just let it go. She had concerns about the Phoenix Force too, as the X-Men know better than anyone how dangerous it can be. She knows that the power getting split into five parts must have made it easier to handle, and remind herself that it isn’t just the Phoenix Five doing this, it is all of the X-Men. ‘We made this peace together. And we’ll keep it together’.
‘Ma’am?’ the kindly soldier calls out as he approaches Rogue, he tells her that he is sorry to bother her, but that they have picked up a distress call, a navy copter had engine trouble and made a forced landing in the marshlands of the Jean Lafitte Preserve. The soldier adds that it doesn’t sound serious and no one is hurt, but more than anything, it is going to be tough to get the crippled copter out of there. ’But with a storm coming, since you’re here, I thought -’ he begins, to which Rogue tells him to say no more, and once again creates an ice-sled as she takes to the sky. As she streak skyward, Rogue knows that the bottom line is this is what the X-Men fought their whole lives for, what folks they love died for. ‘Sure, we took a chance. All it takes is one look to see it worked’. Rogue supposes that is the difference between the X-Men and the Avengers - the world already look pretty good to the Avengers, and they fought to keep it as it was. ‘We fought to make it better. And by God, we’ll fight to keep it that way!’
‘Ah mean, Ah get how they must feel. They were the ultimate authority, and all of a sudden it ain’t their world no more’ Rogue thinks to herself as she continues onwards. She tells herself that the Avengers are scared and confused, and looking for a target to take it out on. ‘Target…’ Rogue thinks to herself, before realizing that she has sled over a fair part of the marshlands, and can’t find any trace of a copter. Suddenly, a voice calls out to her ‘I know what you’re thinking’, and Rogue turns to see Carol Danvers a.k.a. Ms Marvel flying towards her. ‘There is no copter. Listen to -’ Ms Marvel begins, but Rogue believes this to be an ambush, and encasing her arms in a thick covering of ice, she punches Ms Marvel, hard, knocking the long-time Avenger backwards, and sending her crashing to the ground.
Shards of ice fall around Carol, while Rogue decides that part of her knew it would come to this. Rogue lands on the ground, ‘Of course they’d send her after me. We know each other inside and out. Ah accidentally stole her powers and her mind for years. Near ruined both our lives’ Rogue recalls, reminding herself that they have fought a dozen times since, but put the personal vendetta behind them. ‘But Ah reckon this ain’t personal. We’re at war’ Rogue tells herself. Carol takes to the air, ‘Damn it, will you -’ she calls out to Rogue, but Rogue makes a prompt response but firing a huge chunk of ice at Carol, and Rogue reminds herself that she doesn’t have Ms Marvel’s powers anymore, just a fraction of Iceman’s, that she is far from an expert at using.
Rogue chases after Ms Marvel, who is kneeling in a pool of melted ice, firing energy blasts at the continuous stream of ice chunks that Rogue throws towards her. ‘But Ah can change that. Give myself something a little more…familiar’ Rogue decides, as she reaches out to Carol, and with a bare hand, presses it to Carol’s face. ‘How DARE you?’ Carol screams, more than angry. ‘You went there with me? You went there? After what you did to me?’ she shouts, knocking Rogue back with a powerful punch, sending her straight into a tree, breaking it in two. Rogue isn’t down for long though, and flies straight towards Carol, grabbing her, she forces her upwards to a series of power lines. ‘You set up an ambush. We’re at war, sugah. All’s fair!’ Rogue replies.
‘Rogue, please do us both a favor…and STAND DOWN!’ Carol orders as she smashes her in the face with her own cosmic energy, in spectacular display. Rogue begins to fly away from Carol, who announces that she just wanted to talk. ‘There’s this invention called the telephone. You might’a heard about it!’ Rogue calls back as she fires some energy blasts at Carol, who pursues Rogue and continues to fire her energy blasts also. Carol explains that she couldn’t risk calling, that it had to be in person, without the angry “firebird gods” listening in. ‘Do you really not see it? How dangerous they are?’ Carol asks. The two women keep blasting at each other with the energies, and Rogue replies that she sees hungry people getting food, wars ending, and things getting better.
‘Sure. But the power that could do that…so much, so fast…it doesn’t come without a cost’ Carol points out. ‘Your teammates…the ones who got the Phoenix power. Are they really the same people they used to be?’ Carol asks, when suddenly, Rogue streaks forward and slams into her, ‘Ah ain’t, thank God. You ain’t. People change’ Rogue points out. ‘That’s not what I mean and you know it!’ Carol exclaims, while Rogue continues to force her through the air, towards nearby buildings. ‘Right now they remember what it’s like to be regular people. To suffer. To dream. To try and fail. What happens when they forget?’ Carol asks, the two women turning swiftly as they near a building, narrowly missing it.
They fly downwards with full force, as Carol asks Rogue what happens when people find something new to fight about, what happens when they start acting ungrateful and irrational and selfish - because that is what people do. ‘Are they going to be patient with us, because they remember what its like? Or will they start rewriting minds? Or worse?’ Carol asks, as the women strike the paved road beneath them, shattering it. Ms Marvel emerges from the rubble and stands over Rogue, and declares that there is an old Twilight Zone episode about a kid with godlike power, and everyone had to do what he wanted. Because if they didn’t, he would “wish them to the cornfield”. ‘How long before your friends start wishing people to the cornfield? Or have they already?’ Ms Marvel asks.
Ms Marvel tells Rogue that on some level, she knows this. ‘You’re fighting angry, undisciplined’ she adds. ‘I get it. I do. You have the life you always wanted. You’re accepted. Useful. A force for good in the world. But it hasn’t been earned. It’s a lie’ Carol points out. She adds that it was given too easily, and the people who gave it, can take it away. Rogue frowns, and grabbing some exposed electrical wires that were uncovered when the road broke up, she shouts ‘Shut UP!’ and leaps up, punching Carol hard in the face, Rogue then takes Carol by her ankle, and pulls her into the air as she takes flight. Rogue declares that the Phoenix Five have done nothing but good since they got that power, that they have solved problems the Avengers haven’t been able to do anything about.
‘But let’s for a minute say you’re right. This ain’t five people with the Phoenix power fixing the world. It’s the X-Men. Together’ Rogue adds as she flies away from the city, still holding Carol by her ankle. ‘If something goes wrong…if they start losing touch with their humanity, start hurting instead of helping…we’ll stop ‘em. I’ll stop ‘em!’ Rogue declares as she throws Carol into a lake. ‘Because we’re X-Men, and that’s what we do’ Rogue calls out as she begins to freeze the water. ‘No matter what the odds’ Rogue replies as she stands on an ice-sled and continues to pour ice down onto the water below, while Carol looks up, frightened. Rogue knows that there is no way she will beat Ms Marvel with her powers. ‘Ah’m using them like a comfortable old shoe, while she’s been getting better’ Rogue thinks to herself.
Rogue knows that she will never use Iceman’s powers as well as him, but with a little help from mother nature, it might just be enough. But, an instant later, Carol bursts through the thick covering of ice. ‘Damnation…the woman won’t stop fighting’ Rogue thinks to herself. ‘You got a whole body of water on top of you, girl. Give up!’ Rogue thinks to herself, annoyed, continuing to make ice to trap Carol, who just punches her way through it. Suddenly, ‘Thank goodness…not sure I could’ve take much more than that’ Rogue decides as she finally encases Carol in an iceberg. ‘Fighting angry, huh? Angry like a fox’ Rogue declares, before going over, and melting the ice around Carol’s face and shoulders. Rogue radios Magik, and announces that she has a prisoner. ‘Get here soon as you can’ Rogue adds.
Carol ask Rogue to listen to her, and assures her that it wasn’t an ambush. ‘I don’t hate you. I haven’t in awhile. In fact, I’m impressed with how far you’ve come’ Carol announces, adding ‘I know you better than any of the other X-Men. And I just wanted to talk to someone on the other side who would really hear what I had to say. I thought that was you. I still hope it can be’ Carol declares. Rogue frowns, ‘Ah reckon you said your piece’ she tells Carol. ‘Yes. But I don’t think you really listened’ Carol replies, adding that she knew coming here and facing Rogue was a risk, but that it will have been worth it if it means Rogue will think about what she said - now, or later.
Rogue turns away, but glances back at Carol as the renowned Avenger asks her to keep an eye on the Phoenixes, to watch for sings. ‘I think they’re already there’ Carol adds. ‘If you see the same things I do - we do - keep your promise. Do something about it’ Carol asks rogue, telling her that she needs to open here eyes, she needs to see it. ‘Before it’s too -’ she begins, when suddenly, there is a blinding light, ‘We’ve got company’ Carol announces as Magik appears in a flaming portal. ‘Well done, Rogue. Well done. This one’s too dangerous to be running around loose’ Magik remarks. ‘Me? From what I hear you already had a pretty intense dark side before you powered up. My money’s on you to go crazy first -’ Carol replies, before Magik casts a spell, and a clamp appears on Carol’s mouth, preventing her from speaking.
‘Not to mention loud. Let’s put her where she can’t cause any more trouble’ Magik decides. Rogue replies that she isn’t sure the brig on Utopia can handle her, to which Magik announces that there is a new facility, one she made herself, and that some of Ms Marvel’s teammates are already in it. Rogue looks surprised and asks Magik if she is sure putting a bunch of Avengers in the same prison is a good idea. ‘No offense, Ah know you built it, but -’ Rogue begins, until Magik smiles and interrupts, explaining that she didn’t say she built it, but brought a piece of Limbo here to Earth. ‘And one does not easily escape Limbo. Trust me. I know’ Illyana exclaims.
Shortly, another portal opens over a volcano in the Verkhoyansk Mountains, Russia, and with Carol still encased in ice. Magik transports her to the open mouth of the volcano. ‘I promise you, Rogue, no site on the entire planet is more secure. So you can stop looking so worried’ Magik tells Rogue. They hover over the open crater, and Magik drops Ms Marvel into it. Demons are flying about, flames flicker below, and Ms Marvel falls into an organ-like pouch - her “cell”. ‘Everything is fine’ Magik states, but Rogue looks very, very concerned….