New York, some time ago. The Master Mold was holding Rogue captive and was in the process of rebuilding itself. No matter how hard the X-Men hit it, it refused to die. Behind them, the Siege Perilous was looming. Rogue tumbled both of them through the portal, figuring they’d be reborn elsewhere. As she fell through the portal, it felt like she was blown to bits. Then, just as startlingly, terrifyingly she is put together again.
She takes a look around to find that she is in her room in the X-Men’s headquarters in the Australian Outback. Apart from being naked and feeling a little weaker, she doesn’t feel different. As she grabs a shirt to cover herself, she wonders if all that talk abut cosmic balances and a fresh start was just a crock. Or doesn’t she rate a makeover?
Looking around, she realizes that the TV is on and someone is using her shower. Her attention is drawn to the TV set, as the news report about a recent shooting at Freedom Force headquarters. On TV, Valerie Cooper tells the press that Mystique has been assassinated by parties unknown. The investigation will be headed by Cooper’s newly appointed deputy, FBI Inspector Jacob Reisz.
Unbelieving, Rogue listens only to learn that a short time before, Freedom Force members Destiny and Stonewall also perished. Finally able to move, Rogue grabs her costume and calls the X-Men to come – they have a job to do! While still in shock over her foster mother’s death, Rogue jumps out of the window and is in for a rude awakening, for her powers don’t work and she falls hard.
She smarts and realizes that, impossibly, she seems to have lost the powers she absorbed from Ms. Marvel way back. “Hi there,” a voice suddenly states and Pretty Boy asks if she needs a helping hand up. While he plays the gentleman and his fellow Reavers keep an eye on Rogue, Bonebreaker calls their leader, Donald Pierce, in his lab to inform him of Rogue’s appearance. Busy working on what’s left of Cylla Markham, he allows Bonebreaker to fill him in.
Lady Deathstrke, in the meantime, addresses Cylla, of whom little more than a head and a torso are left. Was this what Cylla had in mind, when she accepted Pierce’s offer to become his new Skullbuster? Deathstrike asks. Heckuva time for second thoughts, Cylla jokes. Deathstrike agrees that she is mostly machine now, a cyborg. She shows Cylla the Skullbuster deathhead mask and urges her to be sure. Is this what she wants?
With her functioning arm, Cylla reaches for the lightening bolt scar in the mask. Tracing the same scar on her forehead, she informs Deathstrike that for a chance to be complete again, she’ll dance with the devil.
Pierce reminds Bonebreaker of his standing order. The only good mutants are dead mutants, so they are to kill Rogue.
Crying shame, Bonebreaker figures, as he trains his weapon on her. On the other hand, considering the nature of her powers, Rogue might be better off dead. He never gets to fire the shot, as suddenly Ms. Marvel tears into him. Carol turns to Rogue, remarking that they have unfinished business. Panicked, Rogue runs and shouts that Carol is finally free, so they are quits, while Ms. Marvel handles the Reavers.
Rogue runs towards Gateway and asks him for help. When he doesn’t react, she kisses him. Absorbing both his powers and his knowledge, she now realizes that he is under a geas, binding him to this place and the Reavers’ service. Using his bullroarer, she creates a gateway, promising Gateway she’ll be back.
Carol comes flying, shouting at her not to leave. She flies into the portal after Rogue. The portal disappears and Gateway is left alone.
Meanwhile, in a galaxy far away, on a space station on the fringes of the Shi’ar Empire, Shi’ar guards in the service of a masked lord are searching for their quarry, Lila Cheney. The lord finally joins the hunt himself, ensnaring Lila with a PSI-web. When brought before a guard, Lila shoots him. The shot ricochets and breaches the station wall. Lila is sucked into space. She smiles before using her teleportation power to transport herself to safety.
On Earth, Rogue finds herself in the Savage Land, making the most of it. She and Carol got split up; that is the good news. But the bad news is that she now only has her human strength and wits to rely on, but she figures she will be fine. She hopes Carol is having as much fun.
Carol finds herself on Muir Island. A strangely changed Moira MacTaggert greets her. Carol notices the difference in the woman and demands to know why Lorna Dane is shackled to the wall. Lorna shouts a warning and asks her for help. Despite remembering Lorna as a villain, Carol decides to trust her and tries to bust her loose.
Amanda Sefton uses her magic to stop her. A telepathic image appears of Legion, half David Haller himself, half his Jack Wayne personality. Panicked, Legion admits that this is his fault. He just wanted to play with everyone’s heads. Moira made him use Cerebro to look for the X-Men and that’s why the Evil One found him. Suddenly, his psychic form is torn apart to reveal the Shadow King.
Back in the Savage Land, time passes and Rogue has no idea how long she has been there.
On Muir Island, Carol tries to attack the Shadow King in vain. He observes that the split between her and Rogue also seems to have halved her basic strength. Even so, Carol has proven a match for Amanda. Mutating into a monster, he tells her that he is in a different league altogether. He has spent his lifetime unveiling the mysteries of the mind. As he has claimed everyone on this rock, so shall he claim her. Carol struggles, but it is a battle she is losing. Helplessly watching, Lorna vows that someday she will find a way to make him pay.
Back in the Savage Land, Rogue has reached the village of Nereel’s Untied Tribes to find it in ruins. She looks at the sigil the X-Men left, finding bloodstains on it. Someone died defending it. She was counting on finding Nereel or Ka-Zar and figured they could help her back to the mainstream world. So much for that idea. She begins to cry as she figures that, while she was gone, the whole world’s been turned upside down.
Unbeknownst to her, she is watched via some scanners that clearly identify her. Suddenly, the scanners tell the mystery man that another contact is approaching fast.
Rogue tells herself to shape up and stop whining. Mystique and Storm taught her better than to fold. Suddenly, she notices a wind. Someone is heading her way fast. That someone is Carol Danvers, now looking like little more than a decomposing corpse. Carol “greets” Rogue with a punch.
Surprisingly, Rogue not only survives but displays super-strength of herself by lifting a log. She realizes that, when they are in close proximity, they share their powers. She tosses the log at Carl, who mocks, if that is the best she has, she might as well yield the life-essence to her. Rogue follows up with a punch, disgusted by Carol’s corpse-look. She realizes though that she is decomposing as well. When she gains the upper hand, however, Rogue begins to look normal again whereas Carol looks worse than ever.
Rogue toys with the thought of finishing Carol off with her knife. But that’s the way Bonebreaker talked. She puts Carol down, remembering that she took her life once when she absorbed her psyche in San Francisco. She can’t do it again; perhaps there is away to cure her.
Carl mocks her mercy as she attacks again, going for Rogue’s throat. She explains that there isn’t enough life energy to sustain both of them. As one of them prospers, the other rots and that won’t be her. Carol begins to look healthy as Rogue decomposes. Carol cries that it took precious time, almost fatally so tot find her, but the Shadow King finally tracked her. And once Rogue’s powers are added to hers, she will be able to serve him that much better. The battle is over, she exclaims, their story finally done. A moment later, both are hit by an energy blast and fall unconscious. The stranger remarks that she probably spoke more truly than she knows.
Later, Rogue awakes on a slab in Sauron’s citadel. Apart from the fact that she is tied down, she feels great. The next moment, she wonders where Carol is and what happened to her. How did she get here? A voice announces that Rogue has nothing to fear from Carol Danvers or himself. He gestures and Rogue is freed. Rogue again asks where Carol is. The man replies that he did what had to be done to save a life. Only one of them could survive. He chose her, Magneto states.