- Peace does nothing to test -- to INCREASE -- mutants' strength. To force them to evolve into the strong.
- -- Apocalypse
Appearing in "You Say You Want Some Evolution?"
- Unnamed guards for the Right
- Cyclops' Visor
- Smile-Face Armor
- Power jamming helmets
Synopsis for "You Say You Want Some Evolution?"
Continued from last issue...
With their wards captured by the Right, X-Factor has tracked the anti-mutant group to the Arlington Interactive Museum of Science, a front for the operation. Knocking out the security guard, X-Factor breaks in through a skylight. Beast grabs a security guard and demands he reveal the location of the children. However, a explosive charge inside the guard explodes, preventing him from talking. When Beast smashes through a door setting off the security alarm, everyone begins to note that since Beast wast infected by Pestilence, his strength appears to be increasing while his intelligence is beginning to decrease.
Down below, Cameron Hodge has Rusty, Skids, Rictor, Boom-Boom, Artie and Leech all strung up to devices for to torture them into doing his bidding. He tells them that there is a war going on between mutants and humans, a war that the Right intends to win for humanity. When the security monitors go off showing X-Factor storming their base, Cameron Hodge goes off to join the fray, telling the lone security guard he is leaving behind to kill the young mutants if he doesn't return within 10 minutes. Left alone, the kids decide that without their powers they should try using their minds in order to think of a way to escape before the 10 minutes elapses, just like Beast instructed them earlier.
While levels above them, X-Factor continues to fight their way through the hordes of Right soldiers, including a number of their Smiley Face warriors. Just then a large barrier made out of ruby quartz closes down around them. When they find that their powers cannot get through the barrier, they are visited by a holographic projection of Cameron Hodge. Cameron admits to manipulating X-Factor for his own anti-mutant ends and that now that he has "fired" the team, he plans on murdering them. When they all seemingly collapse from being exposed to gas, Cameron has the barrier lifted. However, X-Factor was playing possum (having had Jean protect them with a telekinetic shield) and they fight off the guards who have come to detain them. Beast grabs one of the soldiers and throws him at a power generator providing electricity to the facility.
While high above, in Apocalypse's cloaked ship, has has his Horsemen battle each other to determine who will lead them. His new warrior Death manages to defeat all his comrades, easily incapacitating Pestilence with his razor sharp feathers, breaking the devices in War's armor that allows his mobility, and knocking out Famine, securing his position as leader of Apocalypse's Four Horsemen. Witnessing the battle raging below, Apocalypse muses how Cameron Hodge and the Right are testing X-Factor to see if they are worthy to face his Horsemen.
While below, Beast's actions had killed all the electricity in the facility, allowing for their young charges to escape from their bonds. Unable to remove the helmets that inhibit their powers, they manage to knock out the guard left to kill them and Rictor -- having had training with firearms from Central American rebels -- takes his gun and uses it to destroy the devices that were used to torture them. They manage to find their teachers, as they continue to fight off the Smiley Face soldiers. Despite Cyclops's warnings, Iceman risks using his powers even though they are out of control. However, the Right were ready for this and clamp a power dampening belt onto him, negating his powers and allowing him to be easily over powered.
Watching the course of the battle, Cameron Hodge decides to enter the fray wearing a suit of armor made of ruby quartz. Battling Cyclops, he tells them that growing up and going to school with Warren Worthington made him jealous of Worthington's wealth and power, and he formed the Right to prevent mutant kind from supplanting humanity. As they fight, Cameron's battle turns in the favor of X-Factor: Iceman finds that the belt was designed using data on his previous power levels before they were boosted by Loki and instead of inhibiting his powers out right, the belt allows Iceman to control his abilities. He gives Scott a helping hand by freezing Cameron's armor, causing it to crack enough for Cyclops to damage it with his optic blast. However, as the armor blasts open, X-Factor finds that it's not really Cameron Hodge inside, but a robot duplicate that he has been controlling from afar. He warns X-Factor that they have not seen the last of his agency and that he would not put himself at risk when he has so much left to accomplish. He warns them that he will destroy them some day soon, and the robot explodes.
Freeing the children, X-Factor notice that the building is about to explode and so Jean uses her powers to pull them all out before the Rights base destructs. Outside, Cyclops uses his optic blast to remove the inhibitor helmets the children were forced to wear. Just then, Apocalypse decides that it is now time for X-Factor to face his minions and teleports X-Factor. For Rusty, Skids, Boom-Boom, Rictor, and Artie, they recognize the teleportation effect as being similar to that used by the Horsemen of Apocalypse, and wonder what will become of their teachers.
This story is continued in X-Factor #24....
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