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Gerry Duggan (writer), Kevin Libranda (artist) David Curiel (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten & David Curiel (cover artists), Alanna Smith (assistant editor), Tom Breevort & Daniel Ketchum (editors), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Avengers created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Rogue wakes from a dream about joining the X-Men that turns into a nightmare involving the Red Skull taking Xavier's brain. The Red Skull is at the former Avengers Mansion with his daughter, Sin, annoyed that he has not been able to put Rogue under his hold yet. But, he has Quicksilver, so puts the next part of his plan into motion, telephoning Quicksilver and using his mental control over him to force Quicksilver to capture his teammates. Doctor Voodoo is searching for his brother when he is captured, and the Human Torch flies to Liberty Island supposedly to meet Spider-Man – but Spider-Man isn't there, and he is beaten by Quicksilver. Synapse is returning from the boxing gym when Quicksilver finds her in the street and apologizes to her before punching her out. Rogue, Cable and Deadpool are at the Unity Squad's theater headquarters, discussing the nightmare Rogue had, when they get a call from the Wasp who warns them that she is under attack from a speedster. Cable fears the speedster may come to them net, and prepares for their arrival – but his plan doesn't work, as a wall is blown open, and Quicksilver appears. Quicksilver takes Cable out first, before he lunges at Rogue with a syringe, which ends up getting stuck in Deadpool's arm. The Red Skull orders Quicksilver to return with Cable, so he does. Rogue and Deadpool assume the concoction in the syringe was a Terrigen solution, and discuss their options for what to do next. Rogue decides that she is going after the Red Skull, and instructs Deadpool to sit this one out. Rogue arrives at the former Avengers Mansion, where she attacks the Red Skull, only to discover that was an illusion, and she has nearly strangled the Human Torch to death. The Red Skull appears before Rogue, and a moment later, he is shot through the head by Deadpool. Rogue believes Professor X is back – that she has saved him, unaware that she is simply under the Red Skull's thrall.
Years ago, at Xavier's School for gifted Youngsters, where Rogue sits on an armchair, sobbing. Storm, Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde stand nearby, while Professor X sits in his wheelchair. Storm tells the Professor that Rogue tried to kill the Avengers, and asks him how it will look to the rest of the world if they take her in – not to mention she could betray them at any moment. Rogue covers her face with her hands, tears falling between her fingers as she explains that she turned to the X-Men, even though they are enemies, because they are her last hope. Ariel yawns, while Nightcrawler and Storm look suspicious. Charles Xavier tells Storm that he hears her concerns, but that it is decision to make, and he is admitting Rogue to the school as a provisional X-Man. He smiles as he points out that if they help Rogue today, they may not have to confront her tomorrow. Rogue looks up, smiling, the tears drying up, she thanks the Professor and tells him that she won't let him down.
'What were you saying about not letting me down?' the Professor asks, strapped to a table in a laboratory, his head cut open – and the Red Skull laughing as he bites down into Xavier's brain. Rogue suddenly sits up in bed, screaming. She gasps and covers her face as tears fall from her eyes.
At Avengers Mansion, once home to Earth's Mightiest Heroes and now...a theme hotel, the Red Skull sits on a chair outside, while his daughter, Sin, stands nearby. Guests dressed as Storm, Thor, Spider-Man, Medusa, Wolverine and Dr Strange move about on the lawn. The Red Skull tells Sin that he almost had Rogue this time, but her psychic defenses are formidable – Charles Xavier was a paranoid genius. 'High praise coming from you, father' Sin remarks. She reminds her father that he has Quicksilver enthralled, and that he will be enough to help them destroy the Unity Squad. 'True, but if I can win Rogue, then I will wield a living weapon capable of eradicating both mutants and Inhumans' the Red Skull boasts, while holding a nut-cracker with a walnut lodged into it. The Red Skull decides that Rogue is powerful enough to challenge the gods that will oppose them, and remarks that it is a shame Steve Rogers was forced to disband the Unity Squad when he did, as he could have used more time to condition Rogue to his side.
Sin looks at her cellphone and tells her father that the muties on that team will not rest until they have recovered Xavier's brain from him, and suggests that they get on with it. The Red Skull supposes that sin is right, so Sin holds the phone to his face as he greets the person on the other end of the line: 'Hello, Quicksilver. It's time'.
Quicksilver holds his phone to his head, his eyes are rolled towards the back of his head, and tears stream down his face, while blood trickles from his nose, and he listens to the Red Skull tell him that he is gene trash, not even the garbage that he thought he was, that nobody loves him, and his sister is the one person who understands him, but she hates him, too. The Red Skull remarks that Synapse makes Quicksilver's heart sing, but he can't even talk to her, and that Steve Rogers fired him. 'Kill. Worthy or worthless? How will you be remembered? You're a worthless brother-father-Avenger. Ich kann dich retten. Redeem yourself. Ich werde dir den weg zeigen. I can save you' the Red Skull utters, while Quicksilver struggles to speak.
Meanwhile, in New Orleans, Jericho Drumm a.k.a. Doctor Voodoo materializes outside a bar, where an old man pokes his head out the door and tells Voodoo that he hasn't seen any sign of his brother, or the servants of the Hand. Voodoo calls the man an old friend and thanks him. 'Use my digits if anything turns up' he asks. 'Course!' the old man responds as he closes the door to the pub. 'Pietro?' Voodoo asks as something speeds past him. A moment later, the old man pokes his head out of the bar, 'You know, I just had another thought that might help you, Jericho' he calls out, but Voodoo is nowhere to be seen. 'It can wait, I reckon' the old man tells himself.
In New York, Johnny Storm the Human Torch flies towards the Statue of Liberty. 'Sorry I'm late, Spidey!' he calls out. 'If you wanted to meet about returning to the Unity Squad – I have some bad news' the Torch begins, but can't see Spider-Man anywhere. He does notice a security guard lying motionless on the ground, so drops down towards him. 'Hang on, pal, I'll get you to an emergency room in -' the Torch begins, when suddenly, 'WHOA! What's going on?' he calls out, as he sees a blur circle around him repeatedly. 'Quicksilver? Is that you? Cut it out!' the Torch exclaims, but Quicksilver gets faster and faster, sucking all the oxygen away in a funnel, the Torch is unable to switch to his flaming form, he drops to the ground, 'Quicksilver! You created a vacuum -' he utters, before gasping for breath, as the funnel continues, and then subsides as quickly as Quicksilver appeared.
Elsewhere, Emily Guerrero, who goes by the name Synapse, is walking out of a gym, when Quicksilver suddenly appears before her, wide-eyed, and tears streaming down his face, he utters 'Fo-forgive me, Synapse'. Emily looks at him, she can see something is wrong, and senses that his stress levels are off the charts. 'Wait – what the hell?' she utters, going wide-eyed, she shouts 'Who are you?' but before she can act further, she is knocked to the ground as Quicksilver punches her in the face.
At the theater which the Unity Squad calls home, Nathan Summers a.k.a. Cable, Rogue and Wade Wilson a.k.a. Deadpool are in the kitchen, sitting around a table with hot drinks. Rogue tells her teammates that it is a recurring dream about what the Red Skull did to Charles, and when she wakes up, she feels better for a moment – and then she feels worse. 'Because the nightmare is exactly what happened' Cable tells Rogue, putting a hand on her shoulder and suggesting that maybe it isn't a simple nightmare. 'May I?' he asks, to which Rogue tells him to go ahead. Cable enters Rogue's mind, and finds the Red Skull lurking. Cable informs Rogue that the Red Skull is probing her psychic defenses while she is at her most vulnerable – when she is sleeping. 'Exactly like Freddy Krueger' Deadpool remarks. 'The old man's an evil genius' he comments, before Rogue answers her phone.
'This is Janet! I'm in trouble!' Jan van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp exclaims urgently, while firing her wasp's sting at a rapid rate, she announces that she is in a fight with a speedster, but she can't tell who, as they are moving too fast. She starts to give her location, when suddenly, she screams, as the speedster grabs her in his fist – it's Quicksilver!
Deadpool leaps to his feet and holds up a gun as he reports that he has Wasp's position, so they should go, but Cable stands up and tells him that it is already too late. He grabs a bow and arrow that are attached to a Hawkeye costume that is on display nearby, and fires it at the wall. A rope is attached to the arrow, and it creates a series of ropes that go from wall to wall. Cable remarks that if they are up against a speedster, whatever is going down will be over in seconds, not minutes. 'This sucks. I just put this place back together' Deadpool mutters, while Cable explains that what he is doing will slow the attacker down for a moment. 'Be ready!' he tells Rogue and Deadpool, when suddenly, 'DEADPOOL!' Rogue shouts when a wall is blown inwards and knocks Deadpool back. Quicksilver speeds into the room, 'Pietro!' Cable calls out, before realizing that this is the Skull's work. 'Fight him! Listen to my voice!' Cable tells Quicksilver – who speeds over and places something on Cable's bionic arm. 'What are -' Cable begins before a surge of energy knocks him out.
Rogue drops down in front of Quicksilver and starts to strangle him as she shouts 'Red Skull! Ah know it's you – release Quicksilver!' But the possessed Quicksilver holds up a large syringe and grins, 'Xavier taught you well, Rogue' he remarks as he tries to stab Rogue with the syringe. 'Get out of my friend!' Rogue exclaims. Quicksilver takes another stab at Rogue – but Deadpool puts his arm between Rogue and the syringe, which is stabbed into his arm. 'I'm impressed the drooling, possessed Quicksilver remarks as the Red Skull speaks through him, boasting that even as his control of Xavier's powers has increased, Rogue has still resisted every psychic trick in his book. He reports that he is at the old Avengers Mansion now, if she wants to talk it over. The Red Skull then telepathically commands Quicksilver to be a dear and bring Cable to him at once. Quicksilver moves away from Rogue, who shouts 'NO!' as Quicksilver races towards Cable, then disappears.
With the syringe still in his arm, Deadpool tells Rogue that he supposes this is going to remain the holiest building in New York, adding that at least the building contractors are on retainer. 'What did he try and stick me with?' Rogue asks as she pulls the syringe from Deadpool's arm. Deadpool supposes that it is a Terrigen solution, and Rogue discovers that the needle is adamantium. 'I'm surprised Skull's in favor of free health care' Deadpool jokes. Deadpool asks Rogue to be honest with him as he enquires as to his rules of engagement. He explains to her that Captain America had his safety on at all times. 'But if I have a kill shot on the Skull, do you want me to take it?' he asks. Rogue replies that she isn't sure, and as she looks at Deadpool's arm, notices an Avengers watch on his wrist, and asks him how long he has had it there. Deadpool tells her that he has had it for a couple of weeks, since Cap suggested he stock some Avengers merch in the store downstairs – but “Earth's Mightiest Wristwatch” wasn't exactly a big seller.
Rogue informs Deadpool that she experienced something back in Pleasant Hill – and shhe just realized what it means. She tells Wade that she needs him to do something for her, but it won't be easy for him. 'Name it' Wade replies. He tells Rogue that if it is to kill the Skull, she doesn't have to ask – and in fact, maybe it's better she doesn't ask. 'If you're not explicit, you have deniability and you can let me do what I do best'Deadpool points out. 'I need you to sit this one out' Rogue explains. 'Scuse me?' Deadpool asks, removing his mask. Deadpool reminds Rogue that whatever is wrong with his head means the Skull can't put the telepathic whammy on him – so he was built for this. 'I know' Rogue replies, hands on hips. Deadpool begins pacing back and forth as he remarks that he is already paranoid that the Red Skull is mucking around in people's minds – and now Rogue is scared that he is compromised.
But Rogue tells Deadpool that she doesn't have time to argue. 'Lord only knows what he's doin' to our friends right now' she remarks, before hovering near the gaping hole in the building, Rogue exclaims that she has to go, and that she knows Wade is angry. 'Hopefully we won’t need it, but I need you to go for help anyway' Rogue asks Deadpool, instructing him to find Gambit and Magneto. 'You want me to form a team...of your former boyfriends?' Deadpool asks, grinning. 'You idiot' Rogue replies. She points out that Charles had cards to play when he needed them – he deployed Nightcrawler, Sunfire and that whole team of second generation X-Men when his first class fell. 'You're my ace, Wade' Rogue smiles. But Deadpool shrugs, and points out that he is not Xavier – nobody will follow him. As she starts to fly off, Rogue tells Wade that hopefully it won't come to that, but he is wrong – they will. Deadpool frowns as he watches Rogue fly away.
At the former Avengers Mansion, hotel guests dressed as Nova and Thor drag Cable up the front steps, as Sin asks her father how long he is going to keep these hotel guests around. 'Indulge me. They amuse me' the Red Skull replies, before telepathically instructing the guests to take Cable to his suite, and warns them to be ready – as Rogue will be here in moments. Suddenly, as if on cue, 'Yer outta time!' Rogue shouts as she drops down and grabs the Red Skull by his throat. Rogue lifts the Red Skull up off the ground, 'AH CAN'T BELIEVE THE HORROR YOU'VE UNLEASHED!' Rogue screams, before furiously telling the Red Skull that she won't let him desecrate Charles for another second – but suddenly, Rogue looks horrified as she realizes that she is actually strangling the Human Torch. She lets him go, 'Ah nearly – oh, God' Rogue utters, as the Red Skull appears, and stands over the Torch's fallen body.
'Acch, I almost had you again' the Red Skull grins, adding that he had to try, and that it would have been hilarious to watch Rogue kill a teammate. 'How can you trust anything you see, Rogue?' the Red Skull asks. 'We're going to play -' the Red Skull begins, when suddenly, his head explodes as a bullet is fired through it. 'Been a while since Ah had a guardian angel watching over me' Rogue remarks, turning around, she looks over to a nearby rooftop, where Deadpool is waving at her. 'Merry Christmas to all!' he calls out. 'Ah knew he just couldn't stay out if it' Rogue smiles. 'That didn't go like Ah planned, but we got him!' Rogue calls back to Deadpool – but at that moment, 'Yes. I'm so proud of you, Rogue. You saved me' Professor X utters as he materializes before Rogue. 'I promised I wouldn't let you down, Professor Xavier' Rogue replies, but as Rogue stands next to the Professor, he tells her that together, they have much work to do – and not much time to do it in, while smirking. 'Ah'm with you all the way' Rogue replies.
Cable, Deadpool, Doctor Voodoo, Human Torch II, Quicksilver, Rogue, Synapse, Wasp (all Avengers Unity Squad)
Guests at Avengers hotel
in Rogue's nightmare:
Ariel I, Nightcrawler, Storm, Professor X (all X-Men)
Rogue tried to kill the Avengers in the classic Avengers Annual (1st series) #10, and joined the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #171.
Captain America disbanded the Unity Squad in Uncanny Avengers (3rd series) #14, but Rogue reformed the team in #17, even though most of the team didn't know about the disbanding, and they were still working together anyway.
Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch learned of their true origins, that they were not mutants, in Uncanny Avengers (2nd series) #1-5 after discovering that Magneto was not actually their father in Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #7.
Spider-Man was only briefly a member of the Unity Squad, joining the team in Avengers (6th series) #0, and leaving in Uncanny Avengers (3rd series) #1.
Deadpool references Freddy Krueger, one of the most famous horror film icons who appeared the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” film franchise.