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X-Men The Trial of Gambit Vol 1 1
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Appearing in "When Strikes a Gladiator!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #341.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

Vehicles:




Synopsis for "When Strikes a Gladiator!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #341.

It’s Christmas time and the X-Men are out celebrating on the streets of Manhattan. The group includes Beast, Bishop, Cannonball, Gambit, Joseph, Rogue, and Trish Tilby. Beast is in his human form, thanks to his Image Inducer.

It starts snowing and Hank McCoy, in a verbose way, predicts that they are going to have a white Christmas. Rogue does not understand what he means and asks for an English translation, which Cannonball provides. Hank then points that its Christmas Eve (December 24), and they have all decided to escape the yoke of being mutants and X-Men. In that spirit, he invites everyone to join him and Tish in having dinner.

Gambit is the first to to deny the invitation, claiming to have other plans. Rogue protests that she hoped to have dinner with Gambit. He answers that his father taught him that "three's a crowd". He is referring to the ongoing love triangle between himself, Rogue, and Joseph. He then steps away. Rogue seems pissed, but Joseph intervenes and says the two of them also have other plans. He snatches Rogue away, though it is clear that this is the first time she hears of these plans. He hires a horse-drawn vehicle to take them to their destination.

Bishop is the next to turn down Hank's invitation. He claims that recent events have left him a bit tired, and that he was looking forward to spending the evening alone. He promises to see them all back at the Mansion. He then smiles and steps away. Only Cannonball is left, and Hank expects an answer from him. Sam says that he would love to join Hank and Trish for dinner. But he first has to do some Christmas shopping, buying gifts for his brothers and sisters. Sam pulls out a huge list of items he wants to buy for them, and says he hopes to finish his shopping "right quick". He hopes to finish in about five minutes and promises to meet the couple at the restaurant. Hank pretends to agree to the meeting in five minutes, while whispering to Trish that they are unlikely to ever see Sam again.

The next scene follows Cannonball and his thoughts. Sam is thinking that its only because he is so much into the Christmas spirit that he does not feel depressed. The year that is ending was not a banner year for mutants. He thinks of the depressing events of the year. Professor Xavier went insane, Magneto joined the X-Men (he means Joseph), and Onslaught practically destroyed the world. Most of the world's heroes are dead and gone, killed fighting Onslaught. Two weeks after Onslaught, Graydon Creed was assassinated in front of X-Factor and the whole American nation. Warren Worthington III and Betsy Braddock also went through transformations, and Iceman quit the team in an attempt to bond with his father.

While lost in his thoughts, Cannonball bypasses the Punisher, who is walking the street in full costume. He notices, however, a man dressed as Santa Claus. The man is begging for money to buy food. Sam drops "Mr. Claus" a few coins and the man thanks him. He wishes Sam a happy new year for himself and his people. Sam smiles and replies that "Santa" should believe him that it can only get better than the last one.

He starts thinking that he should not complain. He sincerely misses his his mother, and his siblings Josh, Jed, Joelle, Paige. He even misses his deceased father. But the X-Men are also family to him, adoptive but special. With the exception of all the people who are regularly trying to kill him, Sam feels that he is living a charmed life.

Sam walks into a toy store and finds a chaotic scene with rampaging children and parents desperately trying to put them under control. He tries to stay calm and thinks of the situation as a Danger Room with kids. A redhead woman, apparently working at the toy store, approaches Sam and offers to help him out. He asks her for the first item on his list, but she replies that it was sold out, three months ago (in September). She starts flirting with him, and seems romantically interested in the X-Man. Sam remains oblivious to her intentions.

Suddenly the store fills with bright red light and a spherical object appears. The customers, adults and children, think its some kind of toy store display and are delighted. Cannonball however recognizes the object as a teleportation portal and feels concerned. A flying form eemerges from the portal and flies right at him and the woman. Sam grabs the woman and uses his powers to get her to safety. The form aattacks him in mid-flight. He falls down with his passenger. The woman seems to be safe but unconscious. Cannonball gets the first close look of the stranger and recognizes Gladiator and Imperial Guard. Gladiator also recognizes Cannonball and says he came in search of the X-Men. He says that, for the time being, Cannonball would do as their representative.

The scene shifts to Rogue and Joseph. She is smiling and seems to be having a good time. But points out that Joseph is using his magnetic powers in a non-discreet way and that Cyclops would have both their heads for enjoying themselves like this. Joseph points that Cyclops is not there to see them. The next panel reveals what are they talking about. Joseph's powers keep their horse-drawn vehicle, driver, and passengers flying high above New York City.

The driver starts a conversation with his passengers. He figures the two of them are mutants. He enjoys the flight and does not wish it to end yet. He says he has been following the news reports on the mutants and has reached his own conclusions about them. He thinks that most mutants are trying their best to live their own lives and often go out of their way to protect normal humans. He feels honored to have mutant heroes in his vehicle. Rogue appreciates the sentiment. Joseph asks the driver to drop them off at the World Trade Center.

The scene shifts to the building of 387 Park Avenue South, where Marvel Comics holds its offices. In his office, Bob Harras keeps working in his computer. It is already the night of Christmas Eve and his wife Anne calls him to tell him to stop working and return to their home. He is frustrated and tells her that he would love to come home but he can not. He is working on books that should be shipping in three days and some are not ready for publication yet. He complains that "Scott" (Scott Lobdell) and "Joe" (Joe Madureira) have not even started on their next issue. He tries to end the phone conversation by telling Anne to kiss their boys goodnight. At this moment, Bob sees the flying horse-drawn vehicle pass in front of his window. He decides he has been working too hard and has started seeing things. He tells his wife that he is coming home after all. He ends the conversation, takes a final look out of the window, and leaves the office.

The scene shifts back to Cannonball and Gladiator. Cannonball escapes the grasp of Gladiator, blasts the Gladiator's face with his energy, and tells the "sir" (as he calls him) to back off. Gladiator is in disbelief that the X-Man wants to challenge him. Cannonball starts attacking, though his thoughts reveal that he considers Gladiator to outclass him. He has read Xavier's files on Gladiator. They mention that Gladiator once took on the entire Fantastic Four and won. But Cannonball feels that he has to protect New Yorkers from the alien.

Cannonball quickly takes their fight outside the toy store and away from innocent bystanders. He thinks that this was the first lesson Professor X ever taught him, right in the very first day of school. To always lead the fight away from bystanders. Cannonball has grabbed his opponent and leads him crashing in and out of a building. He is actually surprised that Gladiator has yet to react, and thinks he might be winning this fight. At this point, Gladiator does react. He stops the flight of both of them in mid-air. They are standing still. Cannonball can't believe that someone could stop him in mid-blast and claims that this is not possible. Kallark smiles and informs him that what is "impossible" is only a matter of perspective.

Cannonball starts pushing at his opponent but can't move Gladiator at all. They are still standing still. He asks whether the harder he pushes, the harder Gladiator pushes. Gladiator confirms it and asks Cannonball to surrender. In response, Sam grabs Kallark and redirects their momentum. They start falling from the sky at great speed. Sam informs Kallark that he is using "physics" against him. He them informs him that what he is doing as they fall towards a construction sight is called "praying". They land with a ear-shattering "kaboom".

The scene shifts to the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Joseph and Rogue are standing at the top of one of the Towers. They are alone. Joseph confesses that he has spend several days working on a surprise for her. He denies it is a Christmas present, it is more of a gify for the woman who has showed him so much kindness. The gift consists of the interior webbing of the Z'Noxx Chamber, formerly located in the X-Men's Mansion. Joseph explains that he dismantled it and transported it there. He also modified the equipment to allow it to function in an open-air environment.

Joseph explains that Xavier was more brilliant that everyone suspects. The Chamber was created to both augment Xavier's mental powers and to hide him from the psionic detection of the Z'Nox. It functions as a big filter that can be used in either direction. He continues by pointing that her powers work by allowing her to absorb other beings' memories, feelings, and entire essence. But to do this she has to reach the target's mind. But the Chamber will shield Joseph's mind and make it unreachable to her powers. Allowing them to contact each other without any danger.

He tells Rogue to close her eyes and asks her to trust him. She is afraid to grasp at false hopes again and be disappointed once more. But she does close her eyes and waits for his touch. He gives her a chaste kiss on the forehead. To her surprise, it works. They touched without her powers working. She is at a loss for words. Joseph hugs her and wishes her "merry Christmas".

The scene shifts back to Cannonball and Gladiator, both unharmed from their fall. Gladiator says he came to seek Cannonball and his "mongrel brethen" for a particular reason. That reason did not involve Gladiator suffering affronts by the mongrels. Cannonball blames Gladiator for starting the fight. He the flies after Sam and manages to tie him up in metal. Cannonball is surprised at how fast Gladiator can be and Kallark claims to be faster than the young mutant. Cannonball expands his kinetic field and easily breaks his metal bonds.

The two opponents exchange threats, with Kallark claiming that he will send Sam to the center of the Sun. He prepares to deliver a punch that will supposedly send Sam to outer space. Sam is worried because the records on Gladiator said that the man can do anything he sets his mind to. However, Sam gets to thinking about other information about Kallark and how his power works. He recalls a theory that all this power is fueled by Kallark's confidence. Even his super-human invulnerability is psionically enforced. He decides to use this element of Kallark's powers against him.

He uses his own power to survive the punch and then asks Gladiator if that was supposed to be his best shot. Gladiator's confidence is clearly shaken. He confirms that this was his most powerful blow and yet Sam lives. He says that this is not possible. In an ironic echo of Kallark's previous statement, Sam replies:"impossible is a matter of perspective". He then uses his own fists to deliver a mighty blown to the weakened Gladiator, sending the alien flying towards the ground. Gladiator lands with a deafening sound. At this moment, someone congratulates the apparently victorious Cannonball.

A surprised Sam turns and sees that the one congratulating him is the Beast (with his Image Inducer deactivated). Trish Tilby, Bishop, and Gambit also stand nearby. Beast figures how Cannonball managed the seemingly impossible. All the kinetic energy from Gladiator's killer blow was absorbed by Sam and redirected to Sam's force field. He was not aware, however, that this move was part of Sam's repertoire. Sam admits he was improvising and using his powers in new ways. He asks how long they have been observing the fight, and Beast claims they had just arrived in time to witness its final stage. Gambit compliments Sam on waiting for the exact instant that Gladiator's confidence was shaken and then delivering the "coup de grace".

Bishop does not share in the celebratory mood. He thinks something was strange about this fight. He points that the X-Men have fought Gladiator and his companions before, but it seems out of character for Kallark to attack without provocation. Sam points that Bishop can ask the alien himself, as they observe Kallark rising from the ground. Debris start flying around.

Beast instructs Trish to use him as a shield. He hopes his strength will be enough to protect her from the flying debris. The piece of debris heading for them stops in mid-air without making contact with them. Beast is surprised but then notices that Joseph has arrived and is magnetically lifting the metallic debris. Rogue has arrived with Joseph and explains that they could hear the battle at a great distance. They came as fast as they could.

Since Gladiator is not attacking but kneeling, Rogue safely approaches him. She asks him about his motivations. He confesses that he was responsible for the fight. He wanted to contact them quickly and ask them for a favor. He informs them that the Shi'ar Empire is in grave danger and Majestrix Lilandra has forbidden him to interfere. They are to go in his stead. Rogue says that the X-Men will be happy to help Lilandra, so they will have to contact additional members.

Gladiator says that they don't have the time to contact reinforcements. He lifts five small, glowing spheres. The spheres fly from his hands towards the X-Men. He explains that they are transit spheres. Beast figures they are teleportation devices. The X-Men have no time to react, as the spheres reach and teleport Bishop, Gambit, Rogue, Joseph, Beast and Trish Tilby. Cannonball is left behind.

Cannonball fears that Gladiator has just hurt his friends and threatens to attack again. Kallark tells the "child" to stand back. He explains that the X-Men have been teleported to the royal Cruiser of the Imperial Guard. They are already en route to the heart of the most dire conflict the Shi'ar have ever faced. Cannonball then asks why was he left behind. Gladiator admits he did in on purpose due to Sam's young age. Sending such a youth into danger would be dishonorable. He then claims that if the 6 X-Men are not successful, the Shi'ar Empire will fall and the rest of the universe will follow. The story ends.

Appearing in "-- Did I Miss Something?!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #342.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:


Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:


Vehicles:

Synopsis for "-- Did I Miss Something?!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #342.

The issue opens to the Beast asking "Did I miss something?". He is one of 6 X-Men transported aboard a Royal Star Cruiser of the Shi'ar Empire. The others are Bishop, Gambit, Joseph, Rogue, and Trish Tilby. The latter has effectively been recruited for this mission despite having no powers.

The team figures out that Gladiator teleported them there but are still getting their bearings. Their hanging on from whatever they can, as the Cruiser is speeding on and it effects them. Beast realizes that the ship is out of control. He also says that they have probably been teleported "untold" light-years from Earth.

He next tries to understand what the ship's readings are saying, though he claims that his knowledge of Shi'ar linguistics is rusty. He says that based on the readings, either they stabilize the internal environment of the ship or they will end up as pancakes. Joseph attempts to volunteer to help, but Rogue tells him to stay put. She saysis the one who will help the Beast and says that Joseph should stay out of the way.

Hank starts attempting to take control of the ship. The first button he pushes proves to be a mistake and the effect causes Rogue to fall back into a wall, which starts shattering. Beast next instructs the ship's computer to communicate in the English language. He tries to recalibrate the internal pressure to compensate for passengers. He is an a hurry because the internal pressure is already high enough to start breaking objects. The computer protests that in order to devote effort to "non-mandatory" life support, they would have to compromise the pre-programmed navigational instructions. Beast overrides the previous programming.

The X-Men are now in a stable environment and the ship is under control. Trish expresses her faith in Hank and his ability to handle their situation. But he starts explaining that their troubles are not over yet, they are just beginning. He continues explaining what he found out about their destination. The ship has been programmed to take them to a stargate. Reaching it would allow them to travel light years away, right into Shi'ar space. But between them and the stargate exists an asteroid belt. They are on a collision course with the belt.

Beast then explains that they are facing a dilemma. If they don't hurry towards the stargate, it will close and leave them stranded in an unknown area of space. If they do stay on course, they are likely to be smashed by asteroids. Suddenly Joseph intervenes. He decisively instructs "Dr. McCoy" to stay the course, surprising everyone except Gambit.

Joseph explains that he can offer no guarantee, but he will attempt to use his magnetic powers to deflect the asteroids in their path. He lights up with energy and starts using his powers. Rogue thinks to herself that it is amazing that Joseph is trying to save their lives. A few months ago, as Magneto, the same man was equally likely to let them die in space. She figures that Joseph does not remember his previous, lethal identity.

On the other hand, Beast voices concerns about Joseph's plan. He points that Joseph still has much to learn about his powers and he could do more harm than good. Joseph does not argue against Beast's assessment of his situation, but points that him not trying would result in a far worse alternative for them all. He reminds the X-Men that they took him in when they had every reason not to. He wants to repay the favor by getting them through safely, no matter the consequences to himself.

Joseph's plan works. The ship safely passes through the asteroid belt and reaches the stargate. Beast says they have a choice ahead of them. They can try to turn their Cruiser around and abort their mission, or they can head through the stargate towards an inter-galactic conflict. He reminds his fellow X-Men that according to Gladiator the conflict was serious enough to threaten the existence of the Shi'ar Empire. Gambit jokes that the 6 of them against the universe sounds fair to him. The actual decision to go through the stargate is taken by Rogue, who points that their presence is needed.

The scene shifts to the Xavier Institute. Cannonball has just announced to Cyclops, Phoenix, Storm, and Wolverine that the other X-Men have gone missing. Wolverine seems pissed and accuses Sam of having lost the X-Men. Storm tells her friend to allow calmer heads to deal with the situation.

Cannonball explains that he has not lost the 6 missing X-Men, they were snatched away by the Gladiator. The Gladiator left himself right after the event. The only information the alien shared with him was that Lilandra Neramani has grounded the Gladiator and the Imperial Guard. They have been ordered not to return to the Shi'ar Homeworld. By what the Gladiator said, Sam has concluded that the Homeworld is in danger. Wolverine points that Lilandra wanted the Guard to stay away from danger, but had no problem with endangering the X-Men. He concludes that with friends like the Shi'ar, who needs enemies?

The scene shifts back to the Cruiser. It has passed the stargate but has yet to reach its destination, which confuses the Beast. He thought that "traveling through the stargate should be instantaneous". He stops interacting with the computer and goes to check up on Trish. Rogue replaces him and tries to get the computer to identify their destination. The computer denies access to this information, since it has been classified by Majestrix Lilandra. A frustrated Rogue points that after all the X-Men have done for Lilandra. she is sending them to the unknown.

Joseph approaches Gambit and thanks him for supporting his plan. He says that the support means a lot to him. Gambit tells him not to get "misty-eyed". Remy explains tat they are both untrustworthy members of the team and they have to stick together.

Meanwhile, Beast apologizes to Trish about getting her involved in this mission. She is not an X-Man or a mutant, she was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. She asks him if he has a point in this conversation, while she is actually preoccupied with changing clothes. Hank says that if there was a way for him to get her back on Earth, he would do it. She points that he can't do that. He keeps trying to emphasize how much he wants her safe, and she tells him to stop being "condescenting".

Trish then reveals to him her new clothes. She has chosen for herself a Shi'ar uniform, which Hank recognizes as that of a Shi'ar navigator. The uniform is form-fitting and flattering. It is open in the middle, leaving her with a bare midriff. The uniform comes with gloves and boots, but no headgear. Trish has left her hair flowing freely.

Hank wonder why she chose to change clothes. She informs him that the first rule of being an international war correspondent is to always dress the part. She figured that she is with the X-Men as an intergalactic war correspondent and should follow the rule. Hank thinks that she is treating their situation as a joke.

She smiles but points that she knows this is not a joke. She realizes they are in deep trouble, she realizes they could die, and she is frightened. But she invites her boyfriend to ask whether she would rather be anyplace else in the galaxy, rather than right here by his side. Hank starts asking just that and she shuts him up with a kiss.

The scene shifts back to the Mansion. In a communication room stand Cannonball, Cyclops, Storm, and Wolverine. Phoenix does not seem to be with them. Cyclops has tried and failed to contact the Shi'ar through the Mansion's Shi'ar Communications technology. He figures that something is wrong with the Shi'ar. He has tried every conceivable frequency and nothing works, as if there is nobody there to reply. As if an entire section of the universe just stopped. He claims that should not be possible. Wolverine suggests traveling out to space and look for "them", though it is unclear if he means the missing X-Men or the missing Shi'ar.

Storm argues that they can not leave Earth, as there are matters "closer to home" that concern them. She reminds them that Professor Xavier is in government custody, while Archangel, Psylocke, and Iceman are all in a Leave of absence. Meanwhile the average normal human is craving revenge for the assassination of Graydon Creed and the Legacy Virus crisis keeps getting worse. Cyclops asks whether she is saying that the few remaining X-Men would do more good by staying on Earth. She does not answer directly, just says that Scott has heard her arguments and the decision is his to make.

The scene shifts back to the Cruiser. Bishop stands alone and contemplates the direction his life has taken. It seems only yesterday to him when he was an officer of the X.S.E.. He was fighting to police mutants in an effort to protect both humans and mutants. Today he fight by the X-Men, the legends of his youth. He would have once considered this a dream come true. But he actually feels out of place, living decades in his own past. He has been among the X-Men for many months and he still has not made any friends. He thinks that perhaps Shard was right. She has always believed that her brother is destined to be alone. Rogue reaches him and asks whether he wants some time alone. He replies he does not want to be alone.

Rogue senses he is troubled and invites him to talk to her. Bishop says that he feels directionless after Onslaught. He has spend his whole life believing in Professor X. He first heard the legends then met the reality of the man. Now he has lost faith in him and does not know what to believe in. Rogue suggests a life lesson she learned the hard way, that you can't change some things but can change how you feel about this fact. He says he feels nothing. She touches his hand in an effort to make him feel something.

He is surprised since the skin of their hands touched and no absorption of mind and powers too place. She replies that this is because of the Shi'ar uniform she chose for herself. It is a mining uniform and includes a low-grade force field. She can use it to touch people through the force field without making actual skin contact. She still can not control her powers, but she is able to surprise Bishop. He admits to be pleasantly surprised by their entire conversation. Their conversation ends as the Cruiser finally reaches its destination.

The X-Men start gathering and Gambit complains that he can not see anything. Joseph offers a somewhat complex explanation for this. The speed of light in hyperspace is twisted and affects the Cruiser's sensors, which onlt begin to decipher subspace transmissions. Gambit asks how a man with amnesia can know this, and Joseph says he does not know. Beast realizes that they are about to make visual contact with the Shi'ar Empire's busiest docking facility.

Beast is shocked to see the facility is huge but lies in ruins. He asks the computer to identify the facility. It identifies it as Starstation A'sura Tarrel, with a permanent staff of 700 people and capacity to hold 3,212 humanoids. Beast instructs the computer to search for any biological signs of occupation. The computer scans it and finds no one aboard. Beast figures there is no one left alive.

Soon enough the X-Men start exploring the "derelict space station". Rogue has partnered up with Beast. She wonders what could have caused this carnage when the Shi'ar Empire is the preeminent force in the galaxy. They have found corpses but are still unclear who or what killed them. Beast deduces from the condition of the remains that the massacre occurred some time ago. Rogue suspects that their search is futile, but Beast argues that they should look for clues to the identity of their new opponent.

Rogue changes the topic of their conversation. She asks whether the time is after midnight. He replies "yes" and she says it is Christmas Day (December 25). They wish each other Merry Christmas. Beast then searches for the station's power core and finds that someone or something has stolen it.

The scene shifts to another duo of X-Men, Gambit and Joseph. Joseph finds it embarrassing that his magnetic powers seem to be useless, they don't work on "this alien metal". Gambit suggests that the obstacle ahead of them might not be metallic in nature, but made out of some kind of polymer. He uses his powers over kinetic energy and a good kick to open the way.

Joseph comments that "Remy" is full of surprises and Gambit comments that his partner does not even know half of it. He thinks to himself that he hopes that Joseph never finds out about the full package of surprises, his mysterious past. Joseph reports to Trish Tilby, who co-ordinates the various groups as their communications officer, that they have found nothing on Deck 23.

Trish is still aboard the Cruiser, alone. She is glad that there is some static on the lines, so that nobody can hear her teeth chattering. She feels scared but does not want Hank to find out. She had a hard time convincing him not to worry about her. She contacts Bishop, who is searching alone aboard the station.

Bishop is surrounded by corpses, but Trish informs him that her study of the Shi'ar readings suggests there is another life-form in the chamber with him. He thinks she has misunderstood the readings but agrees to search for one. He lifts debris and finds a barely alive Deathbird. She identifies herself as the sister of Majestrix Lilandra Neramani and "commands" Bishop to help them. The story ends.

Appearing in "Where No X-Man Has Gone Before!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #343.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

Vehicles:

Synopsis for "Where No X-Man Has Gone Before!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #343.

The issue opens to the image of a comatose Deathbird and narration from the Beast. He is recording events in a "doctor's log". He and the X-Men have been in space for nearly a week, shanghaied by the Gladiator. The alien had said that they were needed to combat a force that poses a threat to the entire galaxy. Judging by the sickbay's lone occupant, Gladiator was not exaggerating. She is Deathbird, Regent of the Shi'ar and one of the fiercest warriors in the galaxy. She has been in a coma for three days. Beast continues by saying that Deathbird was the only survivor of a massacre with about 4,000 victims. Their Cruiser's automated med-station is keeping her alive, though Hank can't figure how.

Bishop, who is observing Deathbird, has heard this assessment. He comments that according to the Beast's assessment, she should have died. Beast answers that if Deathbird was human, she would have been dead as a doornail. He adds that due to the physiology of the Shi'ar, they can easily be though of as mutants (Homo superior). That is a slight variation of the classic Homo sapiens with more powers. But this would actually be a false assumption. This alien race is more Avian (bird-like) than mammalian, and they differ from humans in several areas.

While Beast was speaking, Deathbird regained consciousness. She touches Bishop's hand and asks the first thought that came to her mind: "What happened to my people?". Bishop immediately tells her that they are all dead, every living being on the Starstation A'sura Tarrel was slaughtered by an unidentified source a week ago. Deathbird recognizes her saviors as X-Men and thanks the "Terran" she has never met before for his honesty.

Bishop finds her gratitude misplaced. He points that she is the lone survivor and he finds this to be "curious". He actually means "suspicious" and indirectly accuses of being behind the massacre. She is enraged at the accusation and reacts by slapping him. Beast, still in the room with them, comments that Bishop "definitely" has to work on his bedside manner. Deathbird, still enraged, identifies herself and points that the "Terran" dares to accuse the Regent of the Shi'ar Empire for massacring her own people. She vaguely recalls that this Terran rescued her, and this is the only reason she does not kill him for his innuendo.

She is interrupted by what seems to be Gambit. He and Joseph have come to check on the patient. Beast points that the two of them are late in returning from the Starstation and asks whether they found another survivor. Gambit replies that they did not. Bishop asks whether Rogue checked in with the two of them at the previously arranged time. Gambit smiles but evades the question. He says that Bishop should not worry about Rogue who is perfectly safe "where she is". He is more interested in questioning Deathbird about what she remembers.

Bishop says that Deathbird is too agitated for an interrogation to take place but Gambit insists. At this moment, Deathbird steals Bishop's weapons. She quickly starts firing at Gambit and Joseph, calling them "lifeless, soulless, spacescum". She wants them to die in the name of everyone who suffered at their hands. Despite multiple apparent wounds, the two are still standing. They are not Gambit and Joseph at all, they are members of the Phalanx who have taken their forms. Deathbird manages to eliminate "Gambit" and Bishop eliminates "Joseph".

Deathbird then accuses the X-Men of being like blind men being led to the slaughter, having failed to recognize the Phalanx members among them. Bishop answers that the Phalanx are shapeshifters, the X-Men did not recognize their old foes. He wants to know how Deathbird knew what they were. She replies that she recognized them by the scent. All humans, including mutated ones, have a unique scent. These two lacked a human scent. Bishop wants to know what happened to the real Gambit and Joseph.

The scene shifts to a transport vessel controlled by the Phalanx, docked in the remains of the Starstation. The two captured X-Men are in station pods and are being transported by their captors. Two of the Phalanx are conversing. One of them is concerned that they could be located by more X-Men and points that they are formidable foes. The other one, Oralis, is much more confident.

Oralis points that the defeat of the Phalax expedition on Sol III was only a setback. The Phalanx collective have learned from that experience. Their subsequent invasion of the Shi'ar Empire has been more successful and is only a step in the conquest of the universe. The Phalanx are within reach of achieving their "manifest destiny". What difference could a few X-Men make?

Oralis is then interrupted by Rogue's attack. Oralis is injured, but the other Phalanx organize a counter-strike. One of them asks Rogue to surrender. She attacks again with brute strength and further injures the Phalanx. One of them warns Rogue that all of them have the collective knowledge of past encounters with the X-Men. They are well aware of her absorption powers and can counter her familiar techniques. She is hardly intimidated and points that she can use new tricks as well. She privately thinks of Professor Xavier who drilled into her the ability to adapt to new combat situations.

She questions why these Phalanx units do not resemble the ones she fought on Earth. Meanwhile, she opens a communication channel, so the reply can be overheard by the other X-Men. One of the units points out that the units active on Earth were "transient units", called Foreguardians. She is now facing the pure, true form of the Phalanx. This unit manages to immobilize Rogue and starts infecting her with the Transmode Virus.

While Rogue starts being absorbed by the Phalanx, the unit observes that her though patterns are also being incorporated into the Phalanx. He has access to her thoughts and finds them fascinating. As her former existence is ending, she grasps onto an emotional connection with an obstinate strength. He invited her to speak and express her last organic memory. She is actually thinking of Gambit, and voices how she always loved him. As is on call, Gambit appears and frees her.

He explains that while every Phalanx unit was distracted with Rogue, he escaped his restraints. Feeling it is too late for her, Rogue calls on him to get out and preserve his own life. Remy replies that without his "girl", he does not have much of a life. She tears up. An explosion arranged by Gambit destroys the Phalanx but almost eliminates the X-Men as well. The duo are helped to safety by Joseph, who has also escaped his stasis pod.

Gambit calls Joseph "Magneto". Joseph asks him to stop calling him by his former name. He says he no longer has any connection with his past life, but Gambit expresses his doubts. Joseph turns this around and asks whether "LeBeau"'s suspicion of him reflects Gambit's own guilty conscience in a "it takes one to know one" situation. In other words, whether Gambit thinks they both have a lot to hide.

A litter afterwards, Rogue recovers from her ordeal and seems to be no longer infected by the Virus. But she is still shaken by the experience. She says that for an instant she was one of them and had access to the Phalanx's thoughts. She saw what they did to Chandilar, she has seen the forces they have gathered and all the civilizations they swallowed whole. She now knows what they intend to do with the Shi'ar and their plans for the Earth.

The scene shifts to Earth, at a facility of Operation: Zero Tolerance. An aircraft arrives and several agents arrive to meet it, among them is Harper. He recognizes that the aircraft is Bastion's private aircraft and that its appearance is never a cause of celebration. Bastion himself comes out of the aircraft and says he has "hot cargo" for processing. Harper asks whether Bastion has captured a live specimen.

Bastion names his live specimen as Jubilation Lee. The girl is seen held in stasis. Bastion explains that he was investigating Emma Frost's connection to Charles Xavier's Mutant Underground and came across this young mutant. He wants her processed and then he will be taking her to the lab. Harper comments "may heaven help her" and Bastion seems to take offense at the sentiment. He says that if heaven wanted anything to do with Jubilation, they would never have made her a mutant.

The scene shifts back to the Cruiser, which is currently approaching the orbit of Arsturo 'Kle, the prime moon of the Shi'ar Throneworld. Trish Tilby asks her boyfriend whether his plan is going to work. He explains that it can't be that hard. First, they get their ship in full view of a Phalanx Cruiser which patrols the farthest port from the Throneworld. Second, their Ship gets blown up by the Phalanx Cruiser. Third, the X-Men use the ship's debris to surf their way towards a transporter hut on the moon's surface. It is a risky plan and the two lovers admit that they are scared. Trish says that if she was going to get blown up in outer space with anybody in the universe, she would like that someone to be Hank. He is flattered and then instructs the ship to go on auto-drift.

Elsewhere on the Cruiser, Gambit and Rogue are preparing a life pod for take-off. Bishop is transporting a still weak but enraged Deathbird. She wants him to unhand her and threatens to use her talons on him. Gambit tells "D" that this attitude is the reason she does not have any friends. She tells Gambit to shut up if he does not want to be next in her target list.

Deathbird insists that hiding from the enemy is the coward's way and she is no coward. Bishop is tired of hearing her protests. He expresses in no uncertain terms that the alternative would be to allow the Phalanx to feed on their organic matter. He next points that she has witnessed first hand how the Phalanx broke through the Shi'ar Empire's most powerful defenses. Finally he ties her up with a safety belt and tells her to shut up. He then secures his own safety belt. The two of them shit in silence, though they both seem frustrated. They are soon joined by the rest of the X-Men.

Aboard the Phalanx Cruiser, Vokech reports to the First Peer (apparently a ship's captain), that the Shi'ar ship does not respond to their hailing frequency, there are no life support readings on it, and no evident propulsion residue. He concludes that the Shi'ar Cruiser is derelict. The First Peer instructs him to destroy the Shi'ar ship which he feels is among the last vestiges of the Shi'ar, carbon-based life-forms that thought themselves rulers of an empire.

A beam of concentrated photon energy slices up the Shi'ar Cruiser and the rest of it is destroyed by the resulting explosion. The Phalanx start laughing, their laugh being "a scratching, hissing noise". They are celebrating their victory. The life-pod with the X-Men is mostly unharmed and hidden among other debris. Joseph starts directing the pod by using his magnetic powers. They land safely on Arsturo 'Kle, at the docking bay of an abandoned mining station. They are using information from Deathbird, who reportedly used this station as a safehouse while operating as an enemy of her sister Lilandra Neramani.

Rogue voices her distrust of Deathbird. They can not be be certain that this whole situation is not a set-up by Deathbird herself, their old foe. Deathbird points that they can not be certain of anything but invites them to find out together. The team of 7 teleports away and the story ends.

Appearing in "Casualties of War"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #344.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:


Vehicles:




Synopsis for "Casualties of War"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #344.

The issue opens to the image of a bound, bleeding, and apparently tortured Lilandra Neramani. A Phalanx unit acting as her captor is puzzled that she still survives. He finds her "obstinate" (stubborn). As an explanation of her survival, Lilandra reminds him that she is the Majestrix of the Shi'ar Empire.

A narrator explains that the Empire is the preeminent force in the galaxy, controlling a galaxy with hundreds of planets and thousands of races of sentient beings. For uncounted generations the Shi'ar have maintained their supremacy, quelling unrest swiftly and with minimal bloodshed. Now the Empire seems to be experiencing its last hours.

The next scene reveals that the Phalanx have taken over Lilandra's main throne room. Many Shi'ar corpses fill the room, with Lilandra apparently being among the last survivors. A hidden Gambit observes the scene and starts making his observations. He views Lilandra's words as "brave", "royal", and "empty". What is left of the Shi'ar ruling class is on its last limb, dying. The Phalanx see every carbon-based lifeform as organic fodder that must be absorbed into their collective. If the X-Men fail to stop them here, they are unlikely to ever be stopped.

He then points that their group only has 7 members: Gambit himself, Bishop, Joseph, Rogue, Deathbird, Beast, and Trish Tilby. Beast tells him to stop with the "woe is me talk". Hank says that the X-Men have dedicated their lives to protecting a world that fears and hates them, Earth. Now they are broadening their horizons into attempting to overthrow pan-galactic warlords.

Bishop observes that there is something strange about the Phalanx's behavior. They are taking their time with the captive Shi'ar. Why haven't they killed everyone and finish the job. He likens their behavior to playing with their food. His words make Deathbird realize something, that the Phalanx are after the Shi'ar's children. Rogue observes that there is no sign of any children, and Deathbird clarifies that she is speaking for the royals yet to be born. The Phalanx are aiming to assimilate the Shi'ar offspring, an entire of her race. Gambit realizes she is talking about the eggs of the Shi'ar. He says that the Phalanx are in the "hen house" with their claws on the eggs.

The X-Men have to decide what to do and everyone turns to Rogue for leadership, which surprises her. (She has actually served as the unofficial leader of this group for a while). She consults with the Beast on whether they can spare to send Bishop and Deathbird on a mission. He replies that seven or five against a universe, what difference can it make? Rogue tasks Bishop and Deathbird with rescuing the eggs. Deathbird expresses her gratitude and says that they have admirable courage, considering they are nothing more than humans.

The scene shifts to the New Mexico desert and the former Hulkbuster Base. The narration explains that the Base is currently operated by Operation:Zero Tolerance, a shadow-army seeking to protect mankind from mutants. A few vehicles and personnel of the Base are seen from the distance. Within the base is Henry Peter Gyrich, who has championed the Operation's cause for years. His efforts have been decried as fascist but he sees them only as part of his duty to his country and people. Now this patriot feels doubt.

Gyrich is approached by Senator Robert Kelly who expresses similar doubts about the Operation. Kelly says that the two of them may have unleashed a force than can no longer be stopped. He himself has long fought to ensure that humanity has a suitable defense against mutant agression and lost his wife to this cause. But this is no longer about defensive plans. He sees around him an army mobilized for combat and equipped with advanced technology. They seem fully prepared to declare war on United States citizens. He questions if this is what the two of them wanted.

Gyrich replies that it may be too late for regrets, since Bastion has grown too powerful to stop. The Operation has yet to be officially sanctioned by Congress. But Bastion has allies in the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and every other ruling party in the world. Bastion has used to his advantage the spread of the Legacy Virus to the human community, the near-destruction of planet Earth by Onslaught, and the assassination of Presidential candidate Graydon Creed. Neither Gyrich, nor Kelly could prevent any of these events. Kelly argues that the two of them were trailblazers and that Bastion follows the trail they opened. But if he follows that path to its end, the result may be the disintegration of human society.

The scene shifts back to Chandilar, specifically to "the nest" of the planet. It is a collective womb where all the eggs (offspring) of the Shi'ar race are incubated, nurtured, and protected. It is the most sacred place in the Empire since it is connected to both the dawn of life and the very power of creation. Deathbird and Bishop arrive to the nest and are embraced by the womb.

Bishop has never seen this place before but is impressed by its beauty. Deathbird explains that this is the very heart of Shi'ar society, and the only spot where there is no class distinction. Here both the Shi'ar ruling class and the lower caste are equals. Noting that her words sound romantic, Bishop comments that they are somewhat strangely coming for a persistent claimant to the imperial throne who has kept trying to usurp it. Deathbird sees no contradiction in these facts. She does believe that she alone deserves to rule the Shi'ar Empire but still cares about the rights and liberties of its myriad of worlds.

Bishop wishes to end their conversation, since this is no time for a philosophical discussion. He wants them to concentrate on preparing to face the Phalanx. Deathbird agrees but comments that she was wrong about Bishop not being a warrior. He seems different to her from his "callow" (inexperienced and immature) teammates in the X-Men. He seems to actually have a true warrior's instinct. She asks why.

He replies that he spend his formative years in the X.S.E., a mutant peacekeeping force that exists 80 years in the future. She is surprised to learn that he comes from the future and even more surprised that 80 years later the Empire has yet to annex the Earth. The conversation is interrupted by a scream by Deathbird, which reminds Bishop of the sound of a wounded eagle falling out of the sky.

Bishop checks a suddenly weakened Deathbird for wounds. He discoverers that she has no fresh wounds, but one of her older wounds has opened and she is bleeding. He realizes it is a wound from the battle with the Phalanx at the derelict space station. He chastises Deathbird for not giving herself enough time to heal from her wounds. She protest that there is no time to heal, and argues that only a coward would spend time in convalescence amidst a crisis. She is no coward.

He wants to transport her to safety, but she would rather die in defense of the nest. She claims it is the only thing that has ever been important to her. She asks what he would have done in her place. The scene shifts to Joseph. He is experiencing a flashback to Magneto's childhood memories from World War II and the Holocaust. The flashback has been triggered by observing the Phalanx performing genocide on the Shi'ar.

The flashback depicts Magneto being transported with other prisoners in a military vehicle. He seems to be the only child among them. The prisoners are soon slaughtered but Magneto survives, the sole survivor. He hides from the German guards. The flashback ends.

Gambit instructs Joseph to ignore his memories and turn off his feelings. He says that Joseph has got to do it for Beast's plan to work. Joseph protests that the Sh'ar are living, breathing, and sentient beings. He hates seeing them perish. Gambit says that the plan will eventually allow the X-Men to rescue them. Joseph thinks to himself about avenging the Shi'ar and that someone has to pay for all this death and for victimizing those unable to defend themselves. His allies are blissfully unaware that Joseph is thinking in a Magneto-like way.

Beast carefully explains his plans to the X-Men. He is working on a device that will find the right frequency to separate the techno-organic Phalanx to "techno" and "organic" components. He needs at least five minutes to do so and wants them to maintain their low profile. At this moment Joseph can take it no longer and snaps. He steps in at the protector of the surviving Shi'ar civilians and reveals his presence and status as Homo superior to the Phalanx.

Rogue decides to go join Joseph, and Gambit follows her. Beast and Trish Tilby stay behind to work on his plan. As a battle begins, a Phalanx unit attempts to execute Lilandra. The execution is prevented by Joseph who uses his magnetic powers on the unit. Lilandra is surprises. She says she expected reinforcements from Earth, but she was expecting her love Professor Xavier and the X-Men, not Magneto. Gambit uses his own powers to blow up the Phalanx unit. Lilandra recognizes him as an X-Man and thinks that the X-Men came after all.

While Gambit, Joseph, and Rogue continue to fight the Phalanx units, Gambit privately starts to worry. For the time being Joseph is part of the solution, but Gambit thinks he may be their next problem. This traumatic experience seems to be reverting him back to his Magneto persona. Seeing Joseph/Magneto in full combat mode and taking out the Phalanx, makes Gambit wonder how the X-Men managed to beat this man over the years.

Rogue fights alongside Joseph and asks him if he knows what he is doing. He says he only knows that he can not sit idly and let "it" (genocide) happen again. He recalls making a vow: "never again". His next blast of magnetic energy is stopped by the Phalanx, who have found a suitable frequency to counter his magnetism. A unit warns the "humans" that their actions mark them as unworthy vessels for the Phalanx Dominion. Instead of being assimilated, they will be sentenced to oblivion.

A unit attacks Joseph but Rogue leaps to his defense. She is captured instead of Joseph, and starts struggling to escape. Gambit can not help her since the Phalanx have found a way to counter his kinetic energy. Other Phalanx are chasing Beast and Trish Tilby. Trish asks why are they running away from them, and Hank says it is only a strategic withdrawal. They are trying to keep the units after them from shifting their focus to Rogue or realizing what is actually happening.

The scene shifts to the nest, where Deathbird and Bishop are fighting a large number of Phalanx. The Phalanx units fall to their energy blasts but more of them keep arriving. Bishop thinks that the Phalanx's currently inept strategy is giving him and Deathbird an advantage. The Phalanx units keep throwing themselves at them and die before having time to adapt to their energy blasts.

Deathbird notices that her ally's energy storage is falling low. He confirms this is true but says once his energy powers are gone, he is ready to take them apart with his bare hands. She invite him to leave right now, since this is not actually the human's fight. He is firmly against this solution, something which impresses Deathbird.

Suddenly, the Phalanx are starting to change. Something tears them apart, separating their technology from their bones and organic components. They die en masse without even screaming. The duo realize the X-Men have managed to stop the invaders.

In the throne room, Trish Tilby is celebrating their victory over the Phalanx, pointing they just defeated an entire intergalactic army. Around her surviving Shi'ar and other citizens of their empire seem dazed, Lilandra helps one of the wounded, and Joseph is brooding in silence. Gambit takes one look at the scene and says he does not feel like a victor. The story ends.

Appearing in "Moving On"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #345.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

  • Unnamed metallic creature.

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

  • A book on Shi'ar historical records.

Vehicles:

  • Maria de la Joya's car.
  • A Shi'ar transport vessel.
  • A mammoth spaceship of unknown origin.

Synopsis for "Moving On"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #345.

The story opens in Guatemala. A car seem stuck and its car horn is honking loudly. The driver of the vehicle runs on foot. She hopes that someone may hear that horn and come to her aid. Otherwise she is a dead woman. The narration identifies the running woman as Maria de la Joya.

The one pursuing her is soon revealed. It is an an unnamed metallic creature in what seems to be an armored form. Its nature is not explained. "He" (actual sex uncertain) compliments her for being a resourceful woman. But waerns that she is going to tell "him" her secret and then she will die. Maria claims to have no secret, and to only be a humble servant of God. She explains that she works at the Holy Sepulchre Orphanage, near Las Lisas. While she speaks and distracts her enemy, Maria grabs a rock.

"He" clarifies that "he" speaks of the man Maria nursed to health some months ago, the man who fell from the starts. "He" wants to know where is this man. She says that her orphanage only houses children and not grown. She claims that "he" has her confused with someone else. She finds herself close enough to use the rock to hit "him".

Privately, she realizes that "this terror" is looking for Joseph. She does not know "his" reasons for the search. "He" recovers quickly from her attack and seems furious. He leaps towards her and prepares to kill her. At this point two giant slugs (Eany and Meany) appear and start feeding on "him", burrowing through the metal of the armor and into the flesh beneath the armor.

"He" collapses and possibly dies. Maria wonders what manner of creature has the power to do such a thing. At this point the two slugs return to their master, Maggott. The newcomer points that the sight before her is disgusting. But then smiles and adds that it is not worse than what "he" had in store of Maria. Maggott compliments her on using her car horn to summon help, as he would not have managed to locate her otherwise. But then asks about her friend Joseph and his whereabouts. He is apparently after Joseph himself.

The scene shift to Chandilar. Lilandra Neramani observes her people attempt to rebuild their heavily damaged capital city. She recalls all the recent events caused by the Phalanx: the carnage, the explosions, and the near eradication of the Shi'ar race. She wonders whether she brought this carnage on herself and her people. Whether it was her penance for the mistakes of her past, since she is far less than the perfect monarch. Or was it merely a reminder that even the most worthy dreams must be torn down and be rebuilt to greater heights.

Her thoughts turn to her beloved Professor Xavier and she summons an image of him. She draws parallels between their respective situations. He has suffered his Onslaught and she has just experienced her own "Onslaught". He paid for what he did to Magneto and she paid for what she did to the Kree. She then points that despite the great distance between them, his dream has helped save her own dream. And so long as the X-Men continue to fight for their co-existence with the society that spurns them from their differences, Xavier's dream will live again. She ends the image, steps away, and prays that they will share in that success.

Later that night, the Shi'ar stage a celebration with Lilandra as the center of attention. She pledges on behalf of the House of Neramani to usher in a brighter dawn for all peoples Shi'ar Empire. The crowds cheer. Rogue and Joseph also attend the celebration. Rogue is impressed with Lilandra's ability as a ruler. Joseph feels disgusted, thinking that they should be mourning their dead instead of celebrating. Rogue points that the Shi'ar are honoring their dead, by not letting the traumas of their past get in the way of their future. They are honoring them by moving on.

Joseph asks what happens if they can not move on. Some of the families around them may have no reason to go on. They have lost fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, and sisters. The dead are never coming back. How do they cope with a tragedy like that, when they know that the same forces that took their loved ones still exist?

Rogue changes the subject to what seems to be real cause of his outburst. Not how the Shi'ar are coping, but how does Joseph. He asks what if the original Magneto, the man he once was, tried to deal with such a loss and could not. Could his soul have been so lost and empty, that he would become a monster. Rogue responds that she does not know. Privately she thinks that this has been troubling Joseph since he found out he was Magneto, the X-Men and humanity's greatest nemesis. Rogue asks Joseph if he trusts her, and he replies that he does. She then promises that when they return to Earth, she is going to tell him everything about Magneto.

The scene shifts to Gambit, who is not attending the celebration. He is outside the city's perimeter, digging a mass grave for the dead. He toils long and hard, seeking reconciliation with his own past. The narration explains that his teammates know nothing of his darkly checkered past. But this is the same past which he can never forget. The event he can not forget, is his unholy alliance with a most Sinister foe of the X-Men and his shameful role in one of the greatest tragedies Homo superior has ever endured. If his teammates ever find out, Gambit fears that he would likely be counted among the most reviled men in history.

Gambit takes a break from his digging. He turns to the sky and says he is sorry. Sorry for all the stupid things he did as a puppy, all the lies and the betrayal to himself and his own people. He says he will always be sorry. His break ends and he starts digging again.

The scene shifts to Beast and Trish Tilby. The celebration has just ended and they are walking to their rooms. Beast says that he really enjoyed spending time with her. She agrees and asks how often does a simple newscaster go to the other side of the galaxy and fight aliens with her bouncing, blue-furred ex-boyfriend. Beast tries to tell something about their status as exes to each other, but has trouble expressing himself. He finally says that he wants to restart their relationship and he wants the two of them to never go in separate ways again. He sounds as if seriously wanting to deepen that relationship.

Trish says that she has seen every corny, tear-jerker film ever made. In fact she once aspired to become a screenwriter, prior to becoming a journalist. She claims to know what would happen if the two of them agreed to pick up their relationship where they left off. But that is not going to happen. The first two acts of their relationship have not made for such a well-paced story. They should not rush into act three just yet. She kisses him goodnight. Hank says he loves her, but Trish does not seem to reply. Behind the closed door of her room, Trish seems much sadder than she let on. She knows that Hank loves her, and she loves him too. But she apparently does not want or does not dare to deepen their relationship.

The following morning the 6 X-Men rise and prepare to return to Earth. Rogue asks where Gambit was the previous night. He claims to have tended to personal things. Beast claims that Gambit smells bad. Lilandra greets them and presents them with the best transport the Shi'ar Empire has to offer. in appreciation for the help, the Shi'ar also offer them the best escort to ensure their safe passage: Deathbird. Lilandra watches the 7 of them depart and comments that Charles (Xavier) should be proud of this generation of X-Men.

The next scene opens to Bishop's bedroom aboard the ship. He is partly dressed and reading. He is trying to learn about the myriad beings of this era, 80 years before his birth, through a Shi'ar book. He is reportedly learning about one being in particular. He finds it fascinating that hers is a truly mystifying history.

His reading is interrupted when someone requests entry in his room. He invited them in, whoever it is, and is surprised to see Deathbird. She is dressed in a green dress rather than a combat uniform. She says that a warrior can at times divest her armor and slip into something more comfortable. He compliments her appearance, saying she looks as stunning in the dress as she looks in combat. He reveals that he has been studying Shi'ar historical records and they include her own history. He finds that her martial experience is unparalleled in the House Neramani.

She warns him to be careful of what sordid chronicles he might find. She is, however, impressed that Bishop is reading in the original Shi'ar language of the text. She receives the book and invites him to join her in the Ship's holovid chambers. She assumes he is familiar with the technology, since it has been incorporated into the Danger Room. He counter-offers to discuss historical accounts with her, since there is so much written about her. He recites a passage: "And so for her crimes, the wild one was stripped of her title and banished forevermore from Chandilar... Her true name banned from Shi'ar tongue for all time, she shall heretofore be known only as Deathbird."

Reacting to the painful memory, Deathbird shouts enough and destroys the book. A shocked Bishop accuses her of destroying ancient knowledge, and asks whether Deathbird would discard her own past. She replies with a resounding "yes". She explains that those stories have made her a pariah among the Shi'ar. And that she was little more than a child when banished. Bishop replies that she should not ignore the past because it is prologue. She will repeat her oast mistakes if she tries to ignore them, while she can instead learn from them and move on.

Their discussion is interrupted when Beast summons the two of them to the ship's bridge, where everyone else has already gathered. Beast reports that they have encountered a spatial anomaly. Deathbird arrives and recognizes the anomaly as an energy signature. She says they were caught in another vessel's wake. Beast soon locates the other ship. It is a "mammoth ship" which dwarfs their own and travels at a higher speed. Beast recognizes that the mystery ship is moving nearly at the speed of light, yet it only uses part of its thruster capacity.

Deathbird recognizes that the mystery ship is heading towards the same stargate as their own, and that leads to only one planet: Earth. An explosion seems to affect the Shi'ar cruiser which is caught in the mammoth ship's gravitational pull. Beast tries to move what remains of their cruiser towards the stargate, trying to surpass the mammoth ship. The mammoth ship reaches the stargate first and seems to crash on it. There is a wake of destruction which affects both the gate and the two ships. Beast screams and the story ends.

Appearing in "“The Story of the Year!”"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #346.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

Vehicles:




Synopsis for "“The Story of the Year!”"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #346.

The issue begins with a photograph of Spider-Man fighting the Hulk. J. Jonah Jameson instructs his staff to take a look at the picture. It manages to capture the whole story in a single image. It captures the pain, the pathos, the sound and fury, the rage, and the arrogance. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one is worth two thousand. It was the story of the year.

But Jameson then dismisses the issue where the photo appears, saying that was last year's story. This year and this day are all about Mutants, Homo sapien superior. An hour ago his staff saw the news on CNBC. At 7:00 PM, Operation:Zero Tolerance attacked the X-Men. When someone observes that according to the news the X-Men attacked first, Jameson rejects the report. He says that the first rule of journalism is to not believe what you see or hear from anyone else. Least of all from television news.

Jameson continues. He says he did not become publisher of one of the nation's largest-selling newspapers by reporting what he saw on T.V. As they are reporters, it is up to the Daily Bugle to get the story. That is the real story, not what some idiot with make-up and blow-dried hair tells us is the story. This means the Daily Bugle staff will do the research, will separate the fact from fiction, and make sure every word they print is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That, claims Jameson, is why he became publisher and that is what he lives or dies by.

Jameson admits that he would be happy if every super-powered yahoo in a mask and cape fell into an open volcano. But he says that Bastion is a lunatic and his internationally-endorsed Zero Tolerance is about something completely different. It is about witch hunts, scapegoating, and violating civil rights. He then informs them that reporter Nick Bandouveris disappeared when he got too close to the Operation's connection with Graydon Creed. He reminds them that Creed was a presidential candidate and they may want to note that he is dead now. He concludes that something about Bastion and his holy crusade stinks. They have gone this far and there is no reason to assume that they are going to stop. Nearby Joseph Robertson thinks about his evaluation of Jameson. The man may be an arrogant, hot-tempered, judgmental son-of-a-gun. But Jameson should be credited for standing up for what he believes in.

Jameson starts handing assignments. He informs them that Ben Urich is already on his way to Washington, D.C., to find out what the American elected officials are doing about the situation and why some of them support Bastion. Jameson knows the codenames of two captured X-Men, called Cannonball and Storm. They are being held somewhere by Bastion's men. He wants his staff to locate them.

Jameson wants Ken Ellis to get some reaction on this story. He should find the Thunderbolts, if they are at home. He then must head to Avengers Mansion to see if there is anyone of the Avengers still there. He should even squeeze a statement out of district attorney Blake Tower.

Jameson wants Angela Yin to contact with "egghead" Dr. Evan Swann at Empire State University. She should consult him on the authenticity of the Operation's satellite transmissions. He finds it a little too convenient that the images started only after the alleged attack of the X-Men. He comments that people are afraid of the X-Men and that is fine. He personally thinks that they should be afraid of them. But when he sees a military operation like this, he feels it is their duty to get all the facts. Various voices add their support to his statements, though no faces of the staff are seen.

Jameson ends the staff meeting and sends everyone on their way, reminding them that they have a newspaper to put out. He then asks "Robbie" (Joseph Robertson) for the location of photographer Peter Parker. Robertson explains that Parker is already on assignment. He has personally send him to get a photo of Henry Peter Gyrich, the special federal agent attached to superhuman activities. Jameson agrees with Robertson's initiative and says that is why he pays him the big money. Robertson says that they are going to need a new headline and asks Jameson for any preference. Jameson suggests: "Declaration of War".

The scene turns to Peter Parker, still in civilian clothes, who is walking on a wall. He take this assignment on Operation:Zero Tolerance personally. He thinks of the X-Men blasted out of the sky like common criminals, which he finds disturbing. He finds even worse the "awful lot" of people who are happy about it. They are so scared of mutants, that they automatically assume that all mutants are dangerous. If they stand for this now, what is next? He thinks of registration and relocation camps. He fears that they will come after him as well. What is the difference between being born with special powers and gaining them through radiation?

Parker locates Gyrich's car, comes down to street level, and silently waits for an opportunity to get a photo. A lowered car window allows him to get a clear photo of Gurich from the distance. He thinks about Gyrich being a special agent of National Security Council and a mouthpiece for Zero Tolerance. Yet he notices that the man seems to depressed. He decides to change into Spider-Man and keep following "H.P.G."

Spidey knows that the X-Men are good people and can not stand around and watch while they are hunted down like animals. He is not unfamiliar with being hounded and called a menace. But he can at least take off his mask and just be Peter Parker. He can change identities whenever he wants. But what happens when one is born with wings or with an optic blast that fires every time he/she opens their eyes? That person can not even go to the grocery store without praying that nobody notices.

Suddenly, his Spider-sense goes wild, warning him about something. He immediately sees something moving underground fast, tearing up the street, much to the horror of the passers-by, heading right at Gyrich’s limo and knocking it over. Gurich's bodyguards, Agent Boyd and Agent Mathers exit the wrecked vehicle and prepare to face the threat. They speak in robotic voices, indicating the duo consists of Prime Sentinels.

Spider-Man helps Gyrich out of the wrecked car and comments that his bodyguards do not seem to care about his safety. The attackers identify themselves as Marrow and Callisto, representatives of Homo superior. Since Operation:Zero tolerance effectively declared open season on mutants, the two of them hold its representative Gyrich personally accountable and want to assassinate him.

The scene changes to "somewhere far away". Gambit drinks water from a small lake, amidst a strange-looking wasteland. He notes that the X-Men were knocked off course by the mother of all spaceships. He notes that this is what he gets for being Gambit the X-Man, instead of Remy LeBeau the thief. All for wanting to repay a debt. He asks himself when will this debt be repaid and when will he get back to his own life. He then realizes he is not alone, as the water reflects the image of a horse-like figure. Grovel is standing right behind him.

The scene shifts back to the Daily Bugle. Jameson is talking on the phone with Senator Robert Ralston. He can't believe what he is hearing. Some Senators have thrown their support behind Bastion, a man with a messiah complex and no past. Ralston offers no comment on the situation. Jameson reveals that Bastion may have had one of Jameson's reporters killed (Nick Bandouveris). Ralston suggests that Jameson should speak to Senator Robert Kelly. Jameson replies that he already tried since the "mutant crisis" has always been his cause. But Kelly has been conspicuously silent during the current situation. On hearing Ralston's reply, Jameson gets angry. “Very eloquent, Senator. Can I quote you on that?” He threatens to vote the Republicans in the next election and hangs up the phone.

Jameson then notices that Bastion has entered his office and asks how. Bastion jokes that it is always questions with Jameson. Today Bastion has come to offer him answers. Jameson accuses him of trying to rule the world with his stormtroopers. Bastion claims he is not concerned with ruling the world, he is concerned with preserving it and keeping 3 billion of its human inhabitants safe from extinction. He offers Jameson a deal and tosses a data disc on Jonah’s desk. He suggests that Jameson should not speak too harshly before he sees what is on that disk.

The scene switches to Callisto, who is attacking Gyrich. She disagrees, however, with Marrow. They are not there to kill anyone, they only want their voices to be heard. Spider-Man stops her attack. He also suggests that if they want their voices heard, they should try reaching people through "talk radio". Callisto recognizes Spidey and insists that he should be fighting on their side, not against them. She points that, like them, Spidey knows what it feels like to be hated, hunted, and spat upon just for being different. Spidey replies that this is all the more reason to not give in to anger.

Marrow leaps into the air to evade attacks by the Agents. She disagrees with Callisto and her attempt to use words to get their point through. She insists that the time for words has passed. She adds that all that surface-dwellers understand is death. She throws four stake-shaped bones at Gyrich. Spider-Man uses his Web-Shooters and their fluid to stop the attack and rescue Gyrich's life. Marrow approaches the stunned Gyrich in an attempt to personally finish him. Spidey jumps at her to stop her from performing the act. He points that murdering Gyrich would not promote genetic harmony between the races.

Callisto is left alone. She contemplates that this is not going well and Marrow is getting out of control. When Sarah encountered Cable and Storm, Callisto thought she had been freed of her demons. Now Callisto fears that she had been deluding herself.

The Agents, fully transformed into Prime Sentinels approach Callisto. They say that their sub-programming has been triggered by the mutant attack. The two of them have become Prime Sentinels: Nimrod Battalion. They will serve as her executioners. Meanwhile police officers arrive and their arrival serves as a distraction for Spider-Man and Marrow. The Agents decide to take advantage of their lack of attention and fire at them.

Callisto tries to protect them, reasoning that she has witnessed too many deaths and lost too many of her own kind. She stands as a human shield and takes the blasts herself. This surprises Marrow. Gyrich realizes that Callisto is wounded but still breathing. Spidey hopes they can get her to a hospital. With a weak voice, Callisto urges them not to worry about her and end this now.

The scene shifts back to the Daily Bugle. Bastion explains that the disc includes all the available information he has managed to gather and decrypt on the outlaw X-Men and their associates. He is working on translating even more vital information. He tempts Jameson with being able to out the civilian identities of "the monsters" feared by the general public. He suggests that this is the story of the decade, Pulitzer Prize material. He wants Jameson to print it. Jameson contemplates the offer.

The scene turns back to the battle. The Agents realize their cover identities have been discredited. Their left with no alternative but to initiate their "scorched earth" program. Which involves eliminating all witnesses, including Gyrich. Marrow thinks that these "humans" are turning on their own kind and calls them vulgar. Spidey uses a "webbing shield" to protect himself and Gyrich but the Sentinels' blasts prove too strong for it. He starts trying to retreat, taking Gyrich with him.

He asks Gyrich if he knew that his bodyguards where some new form of Sentinels. Gyrich denies any knowledge and points that these two were considered two of their best agents. He realizes these were the same two agents who guarded Graydon Creed during his assassination.

Spidey and Marrow team-up to face the continued attack of the Agents. She asks why is he doing this, since this battle has nothing to do with him. He tells her that "a long time ago", he learned that with great power there must come great responsibility. Sarah finds this to be a foolish motto to live by. The Sentinels prepare to annihilate them, but they are soon shot full of bullets. Spidey and Marrow have been saved by Gyrich and the unnamed police officers.

Spidey thinks Gyrich has killed the Agents and seems shocked. Gyrich doubts if all this ammo was able to kill them. At best it should keep them down until his people arrive. He comments that these Sentinels were as much of a threat to public safety as the mutant they nearly terminated. Marrow takes this as an insult to Callisto and is enraged. She jumps in to attack him again. She claims that mutants spend years trying to hide and to fit it. But those days are over. A police officer comments that this is what they get for spending all their bullets on the Sentinels.

Spidey uses web-fluid to stop her and slam her into a nearby wall. He points to Marrow that her friend is hurt and he knows that this is bad. But Callisto was hurt trying to save Marrow's life. He will not stand by and watch Marrow throw this life away. Marrow does not get what he is saying and threatens to kill him.

The scene turns back to the Daily Bugle. Jameson says that he has already been working on his own story for quite some time. Ever since Bastion tried to scare him off of the Creed story. The story is called "Bastion". He invites Bastion to see what he has got on his computer. Bastion sees nothing. Jameson find this telling, since there is not a single page of reference about this person.

Jameson points that Bastion has managed to ingratiate, intimidate, and dominate his way into a position of power in over a dozen countries. Yet there is no evidence of his existence. To Jameson this means the greatest story to follow is Bastion himself. He implies that Bastion was behind the disappearance of reporter Nick Bandouveris. And this means Bastion would kill to keep his secrets. He starts burning the data disk.

Jameson declares that he has every intention of learning everything there is to know about Bastion, about his reason for hunting mutants, and about the X-Men. But not by taking the word of a murderer. He insists that the Daily Bugle's soul is not for sale. The printed word has tremendous power and it comes from the truth, not from someone's ability to twist the truth and manipulate it for his own end. He wants Bastion out of his office and warns that he will see him charged with Nick's murder.

The scene shifts back to Spidey and Marrow. He tries to reason with her. He claims that if killing him would prevent her from hurting other people, he might let her do it. He points that she is not the first person who has been hated for being different. He informs her that even before he became Spider-Man, there were very few people who genuinely cared about him. He reminisces that he got s wrapped up in himself that he lost everything. There is a flashback scene with Spidey confronting the Burglar. He then says that he does not want this to happen to Marrow as well.

Marrow asks what happens if she has nothing to loose and nothing to begin with. Spidey insists that there is no such thing as "nothing". Gyrich attempts to arrest Marrow at gunpoint, insisting that this woman is a terrorist. Spidey points that "Pete" can not arrest anyone with his weapon out of bullets. He knows about it since his spider-sense indicates no danger coming from Gyrich, though he neglects to inform him about the source of his knowledge.

Spidey insists that Marrow should be left free. She has learned something this day and he is giving her the benefit of the doubt. If she tries to assassinate anyone again, Spidey vows to bring her in personally. Marrow meanwhile, lifts the wounded Callisto in her arms. A police officer informs the woman that her friend needs a hospital. Marrow replies that Callisto needs to recover among people who can help her. She departs through a nearby sewer. She promises that she will be back. Spidey leaves as well and hopes the world she will return to will not be so miserable as the present one.

The scene shifts back to the Daily Bugle. There is a fire at Jameson's office and Robertson uses a fire extinguisher to put it out. He asks Jameson what is this about. Jameson is silent and brooding. When Robertson asks again, he replies it is about nothing. The story ends.

Appearing in "Big Night"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #347.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

  • Spat's spear.

Vehicles:

  • Royal Shi'ar spacecraft, "Fireclaw", personal transport of Deathbird.

Synopsis for "Big Night"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #347.

The issue opens to Gambit being hit by the giant tail of Grovel. The narration informs readers that Gambit though he was light years away from Earth. He now realizes that he has returned "home".

The next image reveals that Grovel has a large stick in his mouth, apparently inserted there by Gambit. He complains that he is going to be swollen for a week. Gambit blames Grovel for sneaking up on him and startling him. He thought he was on an alien planet and recognized Grovel too late. Gambit says that he does not know how he returned to Earth, but he has to make sure that his teammates have returned as well. He asks Grovel to allow him to look for the X-Men. He points that they are old friends.

Grovel denies they are friends, though he agrees that they once knew each other. He destroys the stick with a snap of his mouth. He informs Gambit that their former relationship will not get in the way of their consignment. He considers Gambit captured. Gambit is surprised that he is the target of a bounty hunter like Grovel. At this moment Spat reveals herself and points a spear at Gambit. She is Grovel's partner and informs Gambit that they are both bounty hunters.

Spat steps on Gambit and points her spear right at Gambit's face. She is angry at him, claiming he is stupid. She informs him there is a steep price on his head. And she is dying for an excuse to bring them just the head. Gambit asks whether she still sore about what happened in Madagascar. She replies positively.

Gambit explains how he got there from space and finds meeting them to be a coincidence. Spat points that, in their line of work, there is no such thing as a coincidence. Gambit tries to convince his former associates to let him go, because he is worried about the safety of the X-Men. Spat notes that she hears real concern coming out of Remy LeBeau. She asks whether he has actually learned to care about someone other than himself. Not that it makes a difference to her, since there too many riches at stake to let him go.

Nearby, what remains of the Shi'ar spacecraft carrying the X-Men passes the stargate and crash-lands in a strange environment. Beast and Trish Tilby emerge from the cockpit. Trish asks Hank where are they, how they got there, and what happened to the others. He answers all three questions by saying he has no idea. He soon comes up with a hypotheses. The "mammoth ship" that they met damages the stargate. It was supposed to transport them back to Earth's Galaxy but landed them "here". He hopes their friends have also landed nearby, instead of being scattered across the cosmos.

Hank recalls that when he had turn to Deathbird for advice concerning their situation, she had already disappeared. Trish concludes that Deathbird had "abandoned ship". Suddenly Beast stops feeling well. He raises a hand to his head, his voice gets weaker, and then he falls unconscious while standing up. Trish holds him before he lands on the ground, though she struggles with his weight.

The scene shifts to the Alley. Marrow is in considerable pain due to her powers. She struggles not to scream, because giving in to the pain is shameful. Nearby is Callisto, wounded, bandaged, and with herbs on her chest area. She claims that the pain only gets worse when someone is trying to deny it. She points that "Sarah" is denying more than her pain. She is denying who she is and the way she looks. She is aware that the younger Morlock is concentrating and trying to prevent the constant shifting and regeneration of her bones. But this is going against the nature of things.

Sarah denies that the "natural order of things" is a good thing. It is what separated humans from mutants, and what forced the more hideous mutants to hide beneath New York City. The Morlocks survived by relying on the refuse of surface-dwellers. She claims that she will always fight against the "natural order of things". Callisto tries to explain to Sarah that life is about so much more than the fight. Her words are interrupted by intense coughing, which worries Sarah.

When she recovers, Callisto points that "Marrow" is much like they way Callisto used to be. So young and so angry. Determined that if she can not change the world, she will burn it down. But then claims there is more to life, there is hope. She instructs Sarah to try to remember a time she believed in something more than the hurt. Sarah stares at a blood-stained mattress nailed to a nearby wall. She has a flashback to her childhood and to the source of the blood. In the flashback, the wounded Angel is chained there and the child Sarah finds him beautiful. But asks if he is dead. A voice instructs her her to leave. The flashback ends.

Sarah informs Callisto that she has to go. She wants to attack and kill the people of Operation:Zero Tolerance. Callisto asks her student to stop with the killing, though Sarah protests that they deserve it. Callisto points that she does not care about what they deserve, she only cares about Sarah. All the suffering Sarah causes others ultimately comes back to her. She asks Sarah to help the X-Men instead, claiming that they depend on their victory.

Sarah declares that she is going, though she leaves vague her destination. She claims that things are bad and she will do whatever she can to make them better. She says she will try not to kill anyone. She whispers that she will not, unless she has to. Callisto does not believe her and demands a solid promise. Sarah leaves without promising anything. Callisto prays to a God she gave up a long time ago. She pleads to God to keep Sarah safe... from herself.

The scene shifts to Rogue, who wakes up from a sleep. She discovers that Joseph is sleeping next to her, though their skins do not touch. They are next to a brook. She is thankful that she did not accidentally absorb his powers and memories. She is curious, however, what she would see inside his head. She muses that she could see the traumas that once turned him into Magneto.

She wakes up Joseph and informs him that they have to locate the others. She flies up and slams right on an invisible barrier in the sky. She falls towards the ground, and Joseph catches her in his arms. She wonders if she collided with a force field. Joseph decides to cast his electro-magnetic field around to see what he can reveal about their whereabouts. As Joseph casts wide his electromagnetic bio-field, Rogue worries at the display of Magneto-like power.

The alien world around them fades away, and Joseph declares it was nothing more than an illusion. They find themselves in a large cave, surrounded by its walls. Rogue realizes they are back on the Big Blue Marble (Earth). She questions why would anyone bring them there and then try to fool them into thinking they are somewhere else. Joseph finds these caves familiar, though he does not know why. Three miles away Trish and the unconscious Beast are also surrounded by a cave. Two miles away, Gambit, Grovel, and Spat are also surrounded by a cave.

Joseph encounters a person kneeling on the floor of the cave. He asks for his identity and learns that his codename is Landscape. He is a mutant and his power is the creation of holographic environments. He points that Joseph's electromagnetic attack took the wind out of him. Joseph asks him what was the purpose of the alien environment. Landscape says he was simply hired to create this illusion. He does not get paid enough to question the reasons of his employer.

Elsewhere, Gambit recognizes the elaborate illusion was the work of Brett, who calls himself "Landscape". Spat confirms it. Gambit claims she used to be above using a low-caliber freelancer like Brett. He tries to charm her into working with him again. She throws a knife next to him and warns him to stop trying to pull her into his dark red eyes. He has lost the right to speak about partnership and friendship when he went to work for "him". He claims that people make mistakes. She answers that not everybody's "mistakes" cost other people their lives. Then she runs away.

Gambit is left alone with Grovel. He asks Grovel whether Spat is getting worse. Grovel replies that she is getting younger every day, due to taking a bolt meant for Gambit. She was okay with it when the curse started. But then she about what Gambit did and "what went down". The implication is that Spat no longer feels her sacrifice was worth it. Gambit claims that he feels worse than anybody else about what happened.

Grovel does not really believe Gambit. With a bump of his head, he urges the bound Gambit to keep walking. He wants to end the job and wash the stenchy smell off of himself. Grovel claims that Gambit was always a bum, but any one of his allies would have laid down their hides for him. Because at that time, Gambit was at least a bum with honor. Gambit claims that this reputation was a rumor that he started himself. Grovel fails to see a dagger held in Gambit's hands.

The scene shifts to Pine Bluff, South Carolina. Maggott is there looking for Joseph, who was there months ago. The trail is cold and Maggott is disappointed. He is confronted by a group of violent locals who hate strangers. They heard about him asking questions about another stranger and troublemaker. They hate strangers who ask questions even more. Maggott is threatened with a beating. He smiles and unleashes his slugs. Eany and Meany devour one of the locals' trucks in seconds. The terrified locals asks whether the slugs eat humans as well. Joseph claims that they love eating humans. The slugs chase away the locals, who run screaming for their mothers. Joseph pets his "girls" and says they are one step closer to finding Joseph.

The scene shifts back to the cave. Rogue walks while casually holding a captive Landscape. Brett desperately tries to convince her and Joseph to let him go. He claims that he is not like the X-Men, meaning a "save the world and free the whales" type. He actually has to work for a living. Joseph is fed up with the verbose prisoner and instructs him to silence himself. Landscape keeps speaking and accidentally reveals that the plan of his fellow bounty hunters is to turn over Gambit to his employers.

Rogue is enraged and grans Brett by the throat, demanding answers. At this point, their group meets Gambit, Grovel, and Spat. Gambit points that Brett does not know any answers, because he is a low man on the totem. Rogue is surprised to see him bound. Gambit takes this as a cue for an escape attempt. Remy kicks the legs of Spat from under her. Then releases his hands and places the dagger on Grovel's throat. It is charged with enough energy to cut it. The former prisoner now has the upper hand.

A happy Rogue flies to Gambit's side. He asks her about the locations of Beast, Trish, Bishop, and Deathbird (in that order). Rogue answers that they are still searching for them. Spat concludes notices the sexual tension between them. It is clear to her that Rogue has a thing for Gambit. She question if Gambit is actually in love for the first time in his life. She wonders if Rogue knows "what happened".

Meanwhile Joseph attempts to violently interrogate Brett. He reasons that Brett led them to Gambit, so he might lead them to the rest of their friends. Nanny claims that "Magneto" is home. And she is going to make sure that he never leaves her alone again. Which sounds like a threat. The story ends.

Appearing in "Because, I Said So"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #348.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Villains:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:


Vehicles:

Synopsis for "Because, I Said So"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #348.

The issue opens to Gambit, Grovel, Joseph, Rogue, and Spat preparing for an attack by Nanny. Grovel sarcastically notes that he used to think Remy LeBeau had hearty fun as a thief, but as an X-Man, it seems, the fun never stops! Kinetically charging his knife and prepared for combat, Gambit replies that this is one way of putting it. Magnetically charging himself, Joseph replies that he sees nothing remotely “fun” about this experience. Their lives have not been their own since the moment they were transported into the heart of the Shi'ar Empire. Their return here – wherever here might be – has not been any more pleasant. Rogue agrees with Joseph: this is not a good thing they are staring at here. Spat comments that no way is she getting paid enough to deal with this.

The next moment they are are attacked by an army of cyborg monsters under the control of Nanny. Joseph recognizes her and calls her by name. Gambit points that his teammate knows the one that called him "Magneto". He concludes that "Joe" knows a lot more than he is letting on. Joseph argues that he still has little access to his memories of a prior life. He simply has the "vaguest recollection" of Nanny. He calls her an "entity" and a monstrosity. Nanny chastises "Magneto" for name-calling and forgetting his manners due to his long absence from "home". Spat asks whether Joseph used to live here. Nanny points that her "little boy" created this place. She welcomes them to the lair of Magneto.

Joseph threatens that if he created this place, he will also gladly tear it apart. He prepares to use his magnetic powers to do just that. But suddenly Gambit, Joseph, and Rogue get depowered. Gambit concludes that Nanny has the ability to put a whammy on their mutant powers. Spat jokes that her old associate is still "the master of the obvious".

Rogue questions how is this possible. The records of the X-Men point that when the team was held captive by Nanny, she used neural-inhibitors to negate their powers. The inhibitors were part of their restraints, and now there are no visible restraints or inhibitors. Gambit concludes that Nanny or someone else did some serious upgrading. He suggests that, if they do not want to bleed on the floor, they play along with her. He surrenders and drops his knife, while robots restrain Joseph, Rogue, and Spat.

Nearby, Trish Tilby observes the captivity of her teammates from a hiding spot. She thinks that Nanny is an android with a voice like sugar dipped in honey, but in need of an attitude adjustment. Her instincts urge her to follow the captives, but her logic urges her to return to the Beast. Her boyfriend is not only the best-looking mutant on Earth, he is also one of the smartest men on the planet. She thinks that this would make an incredible story, but only if she makes it back to civilization alive. She leaves and does not notice a cyborg bat following her.

Trish wonders why she could not locate Bishop and Deathbird. Hank has wondered if they even returned to Earth, but she wonders where else could they be. The scenes shifts to an abandoned outpost of the Shi'ar Empire. Its name has been stricked from the history books of the Shi'ar. Its current owner is Deathbird. She informs Bishop that there was a "tragic accident" while they were en route to Earth, and all his comrades are dead. He himself was severely wounded and crippled. She has brought him here for rehabilitation.

An incapacitated Bishop, os connected to numerous tubes, wires and devices. His mouth seems tied. Deathbird claims that his bones were crushed during the decompression of the cabin, before she managed to teleport the two of them to safety. She claims Bishop fought valiantly to save his teammates and that they all faced death with courage. The two of them are the only survivors. She wants her "brave warrior" to not feel fear. He never truly belonged with those weaklings. He is here to mend and become stronger as a result of his trials. She promises that in time the two of them will rule an Empire. She then leaves him alone. Bishop silently tears up, though it is unclear what he makes of her words.

The scene shifts to Magneto's base. Gambit, Grovel, Rogue, and Spat are chained in a cell, with Joseph nowhere to be seen. Grovel blames Spat for not listening to him and trusting their mysterious employer. She realizes that she should have said no to the employment offer, but she could not resist the thought of hunting Gambit. She personally blames Gambit for getting them into this mess. She asks whether Gambit has managed to use his lock picking skills on his chain. It is obvious he has been trying for a while, but it is no use. He claims that Nanny has learned from her previous experience, when Storm used her own lock picking skills to escape.

Rogue suddenly releases a deep growl. Gambit is worried and crawls to her side to check up on her. He thinks she is not feeling alright, and assures her that Beast and Bishop will help them. He lets his hand reassuringly on her shoulder. Suddenly Rogue turns around and she manifests a Sabretooth personality. Her eyes have changed color and are now cat-like. Her teeth manifest as fangs.

"Sabretooth" tells the "punk" to take his filthy hands off his/her person. She continues that Nathaniel Essex paid Gambit "big time" to do his job, and he has already done the job. "He"/she orders Gambit to back off or "he"/she will gut him. Gambit finds the words of Sabretooth familiar. They have been echoing in his head every night for the past several years. He realizes she has been completely overwhelmed by the memories of the original Sabretooth.

Rogue returns to her original personality and her eyes become green. She says that her powers are negated, but that the memories she has absorbed in the past are still there and are resurfacing. She asks whether she said anything strange to Gambit. He lies and responds that it was nothing she needs to worry about. Remy presses her face on his chest and comforts her. Spat observes the scene with interest.

The scene shifts to the chained Joseph. He is several levels above the other prisoners, frantically pounding on the glass walls of his cell. He realizes that the impenetrable walls are not mere glass. Nanny arrives to offer "Magneto" a meal. He grasps at the use of this name. He informs her that he is indeed Magneto, her creator. And this gives him the right to demand the release of himself and his fellow X-Men.

She finds his imperiousness to be "precious", but she denies his request as it is against the rules. He should know the rules, since he wrote them himself. And they say that no mutant ever leaves the base. She instructs him to eat his meal, as he is going to need his strength.

Joseph overturns the tray and spills the meal to the floor. He is furious at being as a petulant child who is need of supervision. He demands to be released and starts threatening her. She grabs him by the throat and stops him from speaking further. She warns him to not take that tone of voice with her and seems angry herself. She claims she is only doing all this for his own good, and executing the directives Magneto himself programmed into her.

She then informs "Magneto" that the world outside the walls of the base is a very dangerous place and that it is getting more and more dangerous every day. She wants to demonstrate something about this world to him and summons a number of large monitors in the cell. The monitors display news broadcasts from several television channels. They are all about various aspects and events of Operation: Zero Tolerance.

In one channel, a spokesman of the organization informs the viewers that the Operation has started with a vengeance. Another channel broadcasts scenes of the X-Men Blackbird being shot down. A third channel reports that there is still no word of the fate of the mutant survivors. A fourth one reports on the recent team up of Marrow and Spider-Man. A fifth one shows an image of Dr. Moira MacTaggert and reports that the Nobel-winning has called for an immediate to the Operation.

Nanny thinks that she has made her point. She asks how can she release "Magneto" before he is prepared to properly deal with the current events. Joseph replies that the X-Men are needed more than ever, and that she can not keep them confined forever. She replies that she will do it anyway and asks him to clean up his room. She pretends to leave but actually observes him from a distance. She finds something odd about him. Meanwhile, Joseph stares intently at one of the monitors and feels a new emotion. He is staring at the face of Moira and feeling a need for vengeance, though he can not explain why.

The scene shifts to the loft apartment of Archangel and Psylocke in SoHo. The owners return to the apartment after an adventure. Warren flies inside and transports Betsy in his arms. They are shocked to find their apartment is wrecked. Warren stares at the melting pieces of ice among the broken furniture. He concludes that Iceman was in the apartment. He comments that he is happy his insurance for the apartment covers water damage.

Warren kneels and finds spent bullet shells on the floor. By their number, he concludes that somebody emptied an entire gun in the apartment. He wants to contact the X-Men at the Mansion, but realizes that Betsy is not listening to him. He turns around and discovers that she has vanished.

The scene shifts to the Beast in Antarctica. He is concerned about the direction of his love life, and finds it a wonder that he dates at all. He went for a simple date with Trish ans somehow ended here. He worries than anyone who falls in love with him by their own consent must be damaged goods in her own right. He then explores the place and realizes where he is. He has been here before, trapped by Nanny and Magneto. He wonders at the condition of this place. He was here when it was destroyed by molten lava, and yet here it stands again. He suspects Magneto is behind its mysterious restoration. But finds that it would defy logic if Magneto was the one who drew their spaceship to this very spot. He wonders: if Magneto was not the one responsible, then who was it? He does not notice two figures standing behind him.

The scene shifts to the cell of Gambit, Grovel, Rogue, and Spat. (Which actually is designed differently in this scene, suggesting a possible relocation of the prisoners). Grovel sleeps and Gambit sulks silently. Rogue and Spat are trying to escape their chains. Rogue asks why was Spat hunting Gambit, pointing that the answer might help the group. Spat refuses to answer. She also points that she is not working to help the group, Spat is simply trying to help herself.

Rogue complains that Spat's attitude is not productive. Spat points that it is Rogue's sulking boyfriend who is not being productive. Rogue claims that Gambit is not her boyfriend. Spat starts crawling around, trying to see how far from the chain-pole she can go. Gambit grabs her in a threatening manner and starts questioning her. He wants to know who hired her and why. She claims that he already knows why he is a wanted man, because of what he did. As to the identity of her mysterious employer, he would not believe her even if she told him about it.

Gambit's attention switches to Rogue, who seems to be in emotional pain. She demonstrates the personality of Gambit himself and her eyes have turned red. "Gambit" is comforting little Sarah (Marrow) and telling her that no one is going to hurt her. "He"/she says to Sarah that "he"/she is sorry. Gambit recognizes his own words from the past, and repeats that he is sorry.

The touching scene is interrupted when Gambit and Rogue are zapped by energy. It is the way of Nanny for chastising them. She claims that they are up way past their bedtime. She says that this time she will let them off with a simple warning. But threatens that if they disobey her again, they will not like her punishment. She then leaves them.

Gambit tries to comfort Rogue. She has come back to her original personality and realizes these memories were Gambit's. She absorbed when they once kissed. He confirms these were his memories. She asks him to tell her the meaning of these memories, because she can not make sense of them. They seem to be horrible, but are buried so deep in their minds. He refuses to answer and asks her to simply trust him.

Gambit then points that with her powers negated, they can make this their one night. Their first and last night. They then embrace, finally touching each other without danger.

Appearing in "The Crawl"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #349.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:


Vehicles:




Synopsis for "The Crawl"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #349.

The issue opens at the World Trade Center. Maggott is there, experiencing memories of other people and overhearing their conversations. One memory involves a gorilla. Another features an elderly couple, Maryanne and her husband, who discuss how they are going to get through a difficult situation. A third one involves a young boy looking through his binoculars, and his father instructing him that they can see their house in Canada from there. Which the boy finds silly. These random flashbacks have no meaning for Maggott.

Then Maggott finally locates a flashback about the man he is searching for, Joseph. In a scene taken from Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 341 (February, 1997), he sees Joseph kissing Rogue on the forehead. He is wishing her Merry Christmas. The memory ends and Maggot is confused. He recognizes the man but not the woman in the flashback. He questions what did Joseph do that was so great for her.

One of his two slugs lets out a sound of impatience and attracts Maggot's attention. He asks the "girl" to wait a minute before they do their thing. He asks whether the slugs are capable of thinking. The two of them were able to lead him on Joseph's trail and devoured anything that stood in their way. But now they are looking at New York City, which Maggott thinks is "the biggest city in the world". Are they capable of looking and dreaming? As if in answer, the slugs merge with him. He glows with energy and his skin seems to shift in color.

Maggott gazes down into the city below. He thinks that it was not so long ago that he lived a life of indentured servitude in a place far away from this metropolis. Then he changed, something began to grow inside him. Then came the slugs. Sometimes he wishes that things could go back to the way they were, and that very thought both frightens and shocks him. His thoughts turn back to Joseph. He is confident that they are getting closer to their target and that they are going to meet him face to face. Then things will get better and Maggott may finally be free.

The scene shifts to Antarctica. Trish Tilby looks behind her back and thinks of how she got there. She recalls going on her own to search for other survivors from the crash-landing of their spacecraft. She did find survivors but could not help them when they were carted away by unfamiliar forces. She is trying to get back to the Beast in hopes that he can help. She fears for her own safety while walking these dark tunnels. Suddenly, a hand grasps her from behind.

Two hands cover her eyes and voice asks her to guess who. She recognizes the voice of her blue-furred boyfriend. Hank says that she is close to the truth, but still incorrect. He is her boyfriend but no longer blue. She turns and is surprised to see Hank without his fur, in a completely human form. She claims it is only twenty minutes since they last saw each other, and wonders what happened to him. His hypothesis that a device within these caverns has left some of his own DNA sub-structures dormant. He is temporarily depowered and became a common human, rather than a mutant. He clarifies that there is nothing wrong with that.

The scene shifts to the base of Magneto, built above the caverns below. Gambit sits prisoner alongside the snoring Grovel. He thinks that this should have been the happiest day in his entire life. He and Rogue were finally able to touch each other with no fear of her dormant powers and for the first time were able to fully express their love for each other. Remy is however brooding and thinks this was a mistake. After all he has done, Remy still tried to convince himself that he deserves to be happy. He now faces the fact that this is never going to happen, either for him or for Rogue. He has to face his past once and for all.

Rogue touches him gently from behind. She thinks Remy is brooding over failing to find a way to escape and tries to comfort him. She says that she does not care about anything but the two of them. She thinks back to their first ride on his bike and how she could feel that Remy was a person who actually cared about her. Remy was a person who loved her and a person that she could love. She declares that she does love him, but Gambit protests. He claims that Rogue can not love him because she does not really know him.

Rogue acknowledges that Gambit has his secrets, but she hopes that in time he will share them with her. He is certain that if this happens she will be unable to forgive him. He quickly gets away from her by jumping to the other side of Grovel. A surprised Rogue attempts to follow him, but Spat intervenes and yanks the chain attached to Rogue's neck. Spat stops her from following Gambit and wants to talk about the memory flashes Rogue is having since her powers turned off. After their talk she wants to see how eager Rogue will be to chase after Remy.

The scene shifts back to New York City. Maggott attends an art exhibit and thinks that he can not figure humanity. This exhibit supposedly celebrates what is different in this world. Meanwhile the people involved in it go about their lives and ignore Operation: Zero Tolerance. The Operation is rounding up mutants because they are different and these people do not react. He thinks there is no figuring some types. A voice from the shadows responds to his thoughts, and proclaims that Maggott himself is one of the types that are difficult to figure out.

Maggott is alarmed and prepares for a fight. He challenges his unseen opponent to show himself and allow them to throw down like real men. His opponent turns out to be a woman, Psylocke. She attacks with a series of kicks to his face, which break his glasses and draw blood from fresh wounds. Maggott touches his face and explains that he already figured he would encounter the X-Men types. But judging from their reputation, he expected them to be a bit more reasonable.

Psylocke points that she usually is more reasonable. But she senses a great darkness within him. She introduces herself and finds his codename "Maggott" to be suspicious in itself. She became aware of his existence only moments ago and she is there to prevent him from hurting her fellow X-Men. Maggott seems to transform, as his black skin turns blue and his clothes are torn from raw muscle. He seems pissed and unleashes his slugs. He threatens that "harm" does not even begin to define what they are going to do to her. She is surprised to see the slugs as she did not sense them before.

The scene shifts to Archangel, who is flying above the city and looking for Psylocke. He thinks about the recent changes in his lover, and that she is no longer the same person. His only clue for her whereabouts is that she was last seen staring at the World Trade Center, though he figures it could be something random. He listens to someone screaming about mutants and "giant worms", and decides to respond to the call for help. He comments that he is still getting used to dating "a telepathic ninja".

The scene shifts back to Antarctica. Grovel is awake and has noticed Gambit brooding by his side. He admits that among Gambit's old allies, he is not the one who loved him most. But his race, the Klyruvians, do not like seeing anybody with a sad-on. He encourages Gambit to tell Rogue his secret. He loves her and she loves him, and things like that do not happen every day. He points that Remy can not keep outrunning his past forever.

Gambit tells the "old man", that this is really simple. If he does tell Rogue, he will lose her. Grovel tells the "kid", that this is simpler than Gambit thinks. If Remy does not tell her, he will not lose her. But only because she was never his to lose. The thought seems to get to Gambit.

On the other side of Grovel, Rogue is speaking to Spat. She admits to having had to share her mind with many people over the years. She says this started with Cody Robbins, continued with Carol Danvers, and has since included anybody that she ever touched. But she does not know how to handle the memories from Gambit, which are different than the others. They have left a scar in her own memory but she has failed to make sense of them.

Spat asks Rogue what she remembers seeing in these memories. Rogue responds that she remembers mostly "shadows". A flashback reveals a number of shadowy figures, with none of them recognizable. One figure seems to be kneeling on the ground, and another seems to be towering above it. Others are standing nearby. Rogue theorizes that the kneeling figure is Gambit. Spat instructs that these should be eight people and that Gambit is arguing with the towering figure. (By implication these are the original Marauders and the towering figure is probably an unnamed Sabretooth). Rogue says that she can not hear what the shadowy figures are saying, and the flashback ends.

Spat concludes that Rogue can not listen to them, because she is afraid of the truth. Spat then falls silent, as do Rogue and the listening Grovel. Gambit adds that the truth is subjective and means different things to different people. Their conversation ends when Joseph breaks into their cell, breaking walls. He proclaims that their personal drama is insignificant and informs them of Operation: Zero Tolerance has launched a dull-scale offensive against their mutant comrades. He wants them to break free and go help them.

Gambit wants to know hod did Joseph manage to break free of his own cell and get in their cell, passing through several levels of his own old base. Joseph wants to know if Gambit is still suspicious of him and implying something about his escape. Rogue breaks up their confrontation with a vote of confidence for Joseph. She then notices that Gambit has escaped his own chains and is working on releasing her from the chains. She asks whether Gambit could have freed them at any time before Joseph's arrival. Gambit replies that before they had no plan, now they do.

Gambit released Rogue and works on releasing Spat next. Someone instructs him to leave the bounty hunters behind, as they have no time to waste. (The speaking balloon points at Spat, but the words seem to be Joseph's instead. This is probably an error). Gambit disagrees and points that he is not not going to abandon them in the middle of Antarctica. Spat seems puzzled by his intentions to help her.

The scene shifts to the area of the World Trade Center, where Maggott's slugs are devouring the remains of the art exhibition. Maggott continues to fight Psylocke, although he claims that he does not actually want to hurt her. This is why he has not send his slugs against her. Psylocke finds his attitude condescending, but points that she does not care about what he wants to do. She simply intends to take him down. Maggott feels that she talks too much and is not impressed with her fighting techniques. Psylocke prepares to use one technique that he has not seen yet.

Psylocke strikes Maggott with her psi blade, which cleaves through an individual's mental defenses, disables the brain's higher functions, and briefly bonds her target with her own mind. However she finds that this mind is already tethered elsewhere, connected with his slugs. The slugs seem enraged at the attack and one starts roaring. Psylocke starts feeling the effects of the incomplete bonding, looses focus, and seems dizzy. Maggott is still conscious but looses control of his slugs. He pleads with Meany to not attack, but "she" does anyway. Archangel appears and batters "her" up with a pole, rescuing Psylocke from the attack.

Warren addresses Betsy, pointing that they have more things on their plate. Members of the X-Men have been captured by Bastion and they have to find them. Other members of the X-Men have disappeared into space and they have to figure out ways to contact them. He asks whether she actually needed to go in search of a different threat. Psylocke, who has recovered, claims that Maggot is much more than simply a threat. She looked within him and all she saw was a great darkness. The two lovers look at Maggott's unconscious body and Warren comments that this can not be good.

The scene shifts back to Antarctica. Gambit, Grovel, Joseph, Rogue, and Spat have escaped and are making their way through the caves. Gambit doubts that their captors are going to let them leave that easily. For the time being they are simply following their "savior", Joseph. Joseph finds Gambit annoying and asks him to shut up. He points that Remy's other option is to stay there, wallowing in self-pity for the unspeakable crimes he has committed. Joseph himself has grown tired of being manipulated by events beyond his control. Rogue complains that Joseph is being too harsh with Remy, but he denies it. Spat sarcastically asks whether the X-Men always get along this well. Both Joseph and Rogue answer "no".

A sudden explosion of light and sound right in their way prevents the five from continuing walking. The others seems shocked, but Joseph seems enraged. He wants an end to this "nonsense" and challenges whoever is responsible to step forth from the shadows and confront them directly. Nanny steps forward, with an army of cyborgs and robots standing behind her. She points that Joseph sounds cranky, and she offers a solution. It is time for their nap, their final, eternal sleep (death).

Gambit points that they are outnumbered and overpowered. He says this is exactly the situation he was hoping to avoid. He concludes that they should not have left their cell until they knew what was actually going on here. A mysterious figure watching them from a monitor, the new Erik the Red comments that none of them have the slightest clue as to what is going on.

Nanny claims that she has tried being nice to them, being kind, being patient. But they wanted to play. She proclaims that play time is over. As she speaks, Nanny transforms. The familiar features of the feminine robot in a french maid's uniform change to those of a combat robot. Her eyes glow, her artificial hair are replaced with long sharp tacks, her arms are now metallic fists with spikes, and her lower party is transformed to a giant mace-like Wheel. She seems deadly.

Rogue asks her fellow escapees if any of them have any powers. In turn, Joseph, Gambit, Spat, and Grovel answer that they do not have powers. Nanny prepares to kill them all, but she is suddenly decapitated. As she "dies", the powers of the mutants return. She has time to tell that the foolish children only delayed the inevitable and that the trial has only begun. Gambit realizes that the device keeping them powerless was built within Nanny herself.

Joseph wonders who rescued them, as he can not see who destroyed Nanny. Gambit uses energy to shed a light at the area next to Nanny. The light reveals that the killer of Nanny and their rescuer is Trish Tilby. Trish holds a crowbar in her hands. She greets them and explains that she was only the muscle in this rescue plan. "Blue" (the Beast) provided the brains. Hank appears next to her.

Beast examines what remains of Nanny's head. He claims that he did not attempt to destroy Nanny himself, not because he was a coward. He figured that a regular human like Trish would be able to approach their target without being noticed, staying under the radar. Trish asks the gang to not get used to being rescued by her. She is the superheroine of the day, but she fully intents to return to her career as a news anchor.

Beast points that they still have a mystery to solve. Joseph was not the one who recreated Nanny and upgraded her with the technology necessary to negate mutant powers. But they still do not know who was responsible. They also do not know why they were brought here, Or what drew them into this place. Rogue points that there are more important questions in need of answers. She figures Gambit can provide them with some answers.

She asks her lover what he has been hiding from them all this time. He refuses to answer, but also proclaims that he is also tired of hiding, tired of running from his past, and tired of living with shame. He turns himself in to the bounty hunters, with Spat tying up his arms. He asks Rogue to forgive him, as he will never forgive himself. As Gambit, Grovel, and Spat step away, the story ends.

Appearing in "Trial and Errors"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #350.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

Vehicles:




Synopsis for "Trial and Errors"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #350.

The issue opens with Gambit in chains. Then immediately switches to a flashback taking place in "a night long ago". The setting is Seattle and a younger version of Gambit is waiting for someone within an old church, situated in a bad neighborhood. Remy is thinking about the recent negative events in his life. His people have disowned him, his wife Belladonna died well before her time, and he has gained a lot of enemies. He estimates that he has more enemies than the legendary Kingpin, despite the fact of Remy's years in the crime game representing 1/10 of the Kingpin's years in the field.

Remy then considers the positive aspects in his life. He has become the best thief in the whole world, and his power to charge things with energy gives him an edge over competitors. Once he receives his payment, he will never have to take a job that will eat away at him. He wants to see if he is going to win or lose this game, and lets his cards decide. He draws a single card from his deck of cards, feeling it would give him an answer. The card is the ace of spades, which Remy takes for an ill omen. The voice of a newcomer in the church observes that the ace of spades is supposed to be the card of death.

Remy replies that it may mean the death of not himself but the one speaking to him. He charges the card with energy and uses it as a throwing weapon against the source of the voice. The card reaches the upper levels of the church but fails to find a target. Its explosion only scares away a couple of birds. The newcomer then reveals himself to be Nathaniel Essex and to be standing right behind Gambit. Essex is standing far from where his voice was coming, confusing Gambit. He asks how is this possible, though his target refuses to answer.

Essex comments that he is impressed with Remy's skills and his superior work, and he points that he is not a man easily impressed. Remy ignores the compliment. He says that Essex paid him to round up some "bad folk" (villains). He only did what he was paid to do. He does not need any compliments, he needs their debt settled. Essex offers Remy a strange vial, which apparently contains Remy's payment. Essex finds Remy's requested fee to be "most peculiar", but reasonable for him to pay. He asks whether Remy is satisfied, though a rather hostile Remy refuses to answer.

With his payment in hand, Remy voices his curiosity about something. Essex tasked him with gathering Scalphunter and other men. But he still does not know why they were worth this much to Essex, and why his employer was willing to pay a high price. He believes that a man like Essex could have located them and gathered them up himself. In other words, Remy was not necessary in this operation. Essex's only answer is an enigmatic smile.

Realizing that no explanation is forthcoming, Remy decides that it may be for the best. He points that some things are better left unknown. Remy then issues a declaration that he is severing ties with Essex. This job was supposedly the last in their business relationship, and never wants Essex to call him or write to him again. Remy explains that he believes in the cards (and their ill omen) and wants out of this game.

Essex does not accept Remy's resignation. He says that Remy will only be "out", when Essex decides to let him exit the game. He reveals that he has one more job for Remy. His new associates require Remy's specific talent for insinuating (manoeuvring) himself in places where he does not belong. Remy wants to deny the job offer and claims that Essex can not afford hiring him again. Essex is unimpressed, and answers that every man has a price to charge. And he thinks he knows Remy's price. The flashback ends and Gambit is thinking of Essex's words. He concludes that every man has a price to charge and a price to pay.

The scene shifts to an advanced snowmobile, making its way through the wilderness of Antarctica. Aboard it are Gambit, Grovel, and Spat. Grovel observes that Remy has been silent since the three of them left the X-Men. Spat finds it peculiar as well, since Remy usually talks too much. Remy speaks only to let the bounty hunters know that he has got nothing to say. He privately thinks that he can not stand his own resurfacing memories. He compares them to the gas effects his Aunt Charity's cooking had on him.

Spat finds Gambit's behavior suspicious and figures he is planning something. She leaves the steering of the snowmobile to Grovel and decides to check up on their captive. Grovel points that he still does not know where they are heading. Spat replies that the protective field around them and the destination of the snowmobile are the responsibility of their employer. Grovel just has to keep going straight. He agrees to that.

Spat explains to Remy that she still hates him, and blames him for her condition. She is getting younger every minute. But she also finds it curious that he had a sudden fit of responsibility and decided to surrender to them so easily. Remy explains that when they were all held by Nanny and lost their powers, he felt something that he never felt before. It was something good. Unconvinced, Spat asks what could turn a devil (like him) into an angel. Remy answers that the difference is that now he cares about something. He declines to explain further.

He has a flashback involving Rogue during their recent captivity. He decides to examine what the emotion he is feeling actually is, love, angee, or regret. In the flashback Rogue has noticed Remy turning his back on her and asks him what is wrong. He replies that he wants to tell her but there is a wall up inside him. She points that she thought they brought their walls down the previous night. Rogue wonders if what he is keeping secret and not telling is that he loves her. If so, she points that this is okay to say. She actually wants to hear him say it. She them offers him a playing card, the queen of hearts. She instructs him to carry it and think of her in times when they are not together, though she hopes those will be few. He replies that he also hopes so, and the flashback ends.

Spat notices that Gambit is holding a playing card in his hand, the queen of hearts, and figures it is a weapon. She grabs it and tosses it away. He claims that the card represents his heart. She responds that Remy would not be needing it where they are going. Their conversation ends when their snowmobile starts shaking. She asks Grovel what is wrong, and he responds that something is pulling them underground. She frantically instructs him to pull up, but its no use. The snowmobile and its passengers are pulled underground. Only the playing card is left behind in the ice.

The scene shifts to the Beast. He is holding Nanny's decapitated head and reciting the Yorick-relevant monologue from "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare. He ends his recital and further breaks the head into pieces. He mentions that he paid his respect to the Bard and to his days in a college drama club, but now he has a land skimmer to create out of the remains of their wrecked Shi'ar space shuttle.

Beast is approached by Trish Tilby and Joseph. Trish has abandoned her Shi'ar uniform and is wearing civilian clothing. She hopes that Hank will soon finish creating a vehicle for them, because she is freezing even in her new clothes. Beast wonders where she got new clothes in the first place. Joseph responds that he created the clothes, by having reconfigured the clothes worn by Nanny's robotic children. He offers to create some clothes for the mostly naked Beast, though Hank is not interested. Hank instructs Joseph to instead focus on maintaining the magnetic field around them which protects them from the cold.

Privately Beast contemplates Joseph's powers and situation. The new ways in which Joseph is using his powers, suggest to Hank that these powers are waxing. Joseph is increasingly more powerful. He theorizes that this is affected by the strong polarity of Antarctica. He wonders however if these means that the other personality of Joseph, that of Magneto is also rising. This place used to be Joseph/Magneto's sanctuary. Beast considers the amnesia of Joseph to have been a blessing. A blessing for the world which keeps it safe from a madman. And a blessing for Joseph himself which gave him a chance to change his life and escape his past sins.

Beast finally realizes that Joseph's powers and creativity can help him fashion a new vehicle. He asks for his help. Joseph expresses his eagerness to get back to New York City to get to work on facing the chaos caused by Operation: Zero Tolerance. Beast points that the vehicle they will be creating out of this scrap head, will not really be able to leave the continent. They will simply skid their way across Antarctica until they find a base and manage to radio for help. They are joined by Rogue, who points that she wants to free Gambit first. Even if he is too stupid to realize that he needs rescuing.

The scene shifts to the World Trade Center and its vicinity. Eany and Meany have cornered Archangel in a narrow alley. Warren asks Psylocke to come and help him face the slugs. She is not interested in helping him, focusing all her attention to the unconscious Maggott. She points that Warren is a hero, so he can save himself while she is busy.

Psylocke proclaims that there is something dark about Maggott. Warren is not impressed, reminding her that this is the third or fourth time she repeats this statement. So the man is dark, what does Betsy want to do about it. She answers that part of Maggott is missing. She feels compelled to discover what it is within him that attracts her. Her shadow powers start working, teleporting Psylocke and Maggott through the floor of the alley.

Warren is shocked that she used the term "attracts" in relation to Maggott. He quickly escapes the slugs, and moves towars Betsy's remaining shadows. He starts teleporting too, while calling for her to wait for him. He complains that his lover can not leave him behind with the slugs. He disappears. Eany and Meany chase after him, enter the shadows, and disappear as well.

The scene shifts to a dark location, where Gambit regains consciousness. He seems to be alone. A loud voice announces that Gambit is being held there until his trial. Gambit finds the voice too loud and orders whoever it is to lower his voice. The voice answers that traitors have no right to bark orders. Gambit asks the man to show himself but the voice pays no attention to his demands. The voice threatens Gambit with a fate fitting the coward's crimes.

Gambit thinks that the voice belongs to Sinister and starts threatening his former employer. A blast of energy shocks Gambit and knocks him to the ground. The voice says that Gambit is guilty and will be found guilty in due time. But that there are still other plays who have yet to arrive.

The scene shifts to the new vehicle of the X-Men, traveling across Antarctica. The others are inside the vehicle, but Rogue rides outside it and is exposed to the elements. She is surveying the area for signs of Gambit. She secretly feels vulnerable and withholds her tears. One reason she stands apart from the others is that she wants to avoid embarrassing questions. She would rather look strong outside the vehicle, than weak inside it.

Suddenly Rogue feels something. It is the heightened "Seventh Sense" that she absorbed from Ms. Marvel, dormant for several years. It is now singing like a fiddle string, alerting her to something in the seemingly empty wilderness. She instructs Beast to stop the vehicle. He points that they actually have no choice but to stop, since the vehicle is malfunctioning. Trish points that it is not Hank's fault and that he did his best. Suddenly Joseph begs them to stop. He seems to be in pain and holds his head, then collapses. The vehicle stops and Beast starts tending to Joseph.

Outside the vehicle, Beast mentions a saying of his grandfather. It is basically that you can change the external appearance of something without changing its nature. (In their case they changed a wrecked spaceship into a new vehicle, but it remained a wreck). Joseph distances himself from the vehicle, kneels on the ground, and proclaims that someone is here. He then collapses head first into the ice.

Rogue goes to check on Joseph's condition. Beast worries that if Joseph is unconscious, they will all freeze to death. Rogue discovers the queen of hearts right next to Joseph. She thins that the someone Joseph was talking about is Gambit. She identifies the playing card as the one she herself gave to Gambit the previous day. Their vehicle suddenly explodes, leaving all four passengers (Beast, Joseph, Rogue, and Trish Tilby stranded.

Joseph seems to have regained consciousness. He proclaims that someone is here and uses his powers to raise an entire giantic base out of the ice. Beast is surprised and asks what is this building and how did Joseph manage to raise it. Joseph has no idea how or why he managed that, as confused as the rest of them. He asks what should they do. Rogue (the de facto leader of this group) decides that as X-Men, they should charge right on into the unknown and save their missing member. She instructs everyone to get going.

The scene shifts to a group of the original X-Men (Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, and Marvel Girl). They surround Professor X and speak to him, though he does not react. They are asking where is he, point that someone else is here, and question why has the Professor left them. A narration points that at this point in his life Xavier was still young, and had the simple dream of helping mutants by providing a school for them. He was teaching them to control their powers. What held this man together was his original group of students.

The scene shifts. Professor X is now older and is surrounded by a different group of X-Men. They are Cyclops, Banshee, Colossus, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Wolverine. They are speaking to him, but he does not respond. They say that someone is here again, they ask for the Professor's help, and ask where the Professor is. The narration explains that these were his "all-new, all-different students". At this point in his life, Xavier still cared for his school and students, but his priorities had shifted. What held this man together was his love for Lilandra Neramani, a beautiful princess from another world.

The scene shifts. Professor X is in considerable different clothes and his wheelchair has been replaced by a Hoverchair. He is still surrounded by X-Men, but a different incarnation of the team. They are Arhangel, Bishop, Cannonball, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Joseph, Phoenix, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, and Wolverine. They are talking to him, but he does not respond. They are saying that someone is here again, and are asking why did the Professor leave. The dream version of Gambit stands out from the others. Remy claims that he already knows why and he can tell them. The real Xavier wakes from this dream screaming "no" before Gambit speaks further.

According to the narration, these last group of X-Men represent the recent past of Xavier's school. They were many and adjectives were inadequate to describe them. But what held Xavier together was apparently falling away, leaving him trapped in an onslaught of emotions. Emotions that only now is he beginning to understand. The narration asks whether the dream is still alive within Xavier. Or whether he understands too late that these emotions are locked away in a vault or a prison without a key. The images accompanying the narration reveal that Xavier is held in a cell within a prison facility, apparently the same one where Bastion placed him.

The scene shifts to Antarctica. The seemingly impenetrable walls of the giant base open with no effort on the part of the four X-Men (Beast, Joseph, Rogue, Trish Tilby), allowing them entry. Beast asks whether Joseph opened the doors, but Joseph claims to know nothing of this place and how it works. He only knew its location. Rogue wants to find out who opened the doors. The X-Men come across a giant statue Themis, the Titans of Justice. Beast recognizes her and finds its presence revealing. He thought the base could be a forgotten mystery of the Savage Land, but finds blind justice to be "a far more northern concept".

Rogue proclaims that whoever owns the place holds Gambit, and that she wants him back. Rogue then decides to split the group and search the place. She mentions the possibility of trouble around, but is immediately interrupted by Trish. Trish bitterly observes that this is not a mere possibility, there is always trouble when all the X-Men are involved. Joseph volunteers to search the basement, though he feels ill. Rogue offers to let him sit this one out, though he declines.

Privately, Joseph muses that the more he remembers of his past as Magneto, the less well he feels. He finds the corridors ahead of him strangely familiar. He wonders if he built this base and whether he used to live here, as the Beast suspects. He finds his memories closer to him in this place, as if they hover beyond his body.

The scene shifts to another area of the base. Psylocke has teleported herself to Antarctica, but has no idea where she is. She wonders where is Maggott. She muses that ever since the Crimson Dawn altered her powers, they have become unpredictable. This includes this "unsettling" teleportation. She almost feels like a stranger to her own body. The last time she felt like this when she switched from her original British body to the new Asian one. She looks around her and notices books. She decides this is a library, but notices that it reeks of the same cold and oppressively heavy darkness that she sensed in Maggott. She examines an open book. It is the code of Hammurabi, but finds a peculiarity in the book. It is made of iron and the letters on it are written in rust.

The scene shifts to another location, probably a part of the base. Archangel teleports there and lands ungracefully on the floor. He feels angry at Psylocke. Thinkins she is around, he starts speaking to her, He wants to know why was she trying to leave him behind. He says he does not appreciate that, and observes that she has been acting weird since she received her shadow slipping power. He also observes that he just felt her shadow spaces and does not like the feel of them. He wants her to consult Nightcrawler about them. He finally looks around him and realizes Betsy is not there. He then notices an execution device with a prominent noose, waiting for someone to hang. He finds this to be an ill omen.

The scene shifts to the third shadow, Maggott and his slugs. He is also in the base and is happy that they ditched Psylocke. He notices the slugs have started eating again, feeding on nearby metal chains. He berates them for their sickening obsession with food, but then Joseph arrives and defends them. He says that one can not easily supress one's appetite. Eany and Meany perceive the newcomer as a threat and start to attack, but Maggott stops them. He explains that Joseph is a friend. Joseph and Maggott shake hands.

Joseph finds Maggott familiar, though he does not know where or when they met. He believes, however, that they are less than friends. But Maggott expresses gratitude for what "Magneto" did for him and says he will always call him a friend. Joseph explains that he is no longer called "Magneto", and that now he is only Joseph. Suddenly, a new voice proclaims Joseph to be an abomination and energy blasts him. Joseph falls unconscious and the shadowy figure grabs him by the hair.

Maggott recognizes the newcomer, and the newcomer recognizes Maggott. Maggott is confused, but the newcomer instructs him to trust him through what will come next. Maggott claims that the newcomer has never lied to him. The newcomer assures him that he shall never lie to Maggott. He asks Maggott to cooperate and promises he will be free.

Elsewhere, Beast and Trish Tilby have partnered up in the search. They come across two stone tablets with writings on them. Trish does not recognize the writing system but suggests that these are the Ten Commandments. Hank jokes that they are not here to fight Charlton Heston. A sound of "sckk" is heard and Trish notices it. She asks Hank about it, but he has not heard anything. He thinks she is nervous and hearing things. He instructs her to calm down, observing that this place is melodramatically court-like but they have yet to encounter anything hostile.

While Hank speaks, metallic tentacles appear. One wraps around the mouth of Trish, preventing her from speaking. The tentacle makes a sound of "sckk". This time Beast notices the sound. He turns around and sees an entire group of tentacled robots, and they all make the "sckk" sound. He struggles with them and calls the name of the disappeared Trish. He is outclassed and easily captured.

The scene shifts to Psylocke. She has apparently left the library, searching for Maggott and Archangel. She knows Warren should be around, as she sensed he was with her in the shadow-plane. She encounters two statues, representing figures unfamiliar to her. She theorizes that these are monuments but questions who they commemorate. A voice informs her that they commemorate those who deserve monuments, the fallen. A hand surrounded by energy then appears and the voice announces that Psylocke is about to join the fallen. She seems to recognize the newcomer and is surprised, claiming that it can not be him. As she apparently falls and darkness covers her, the voice comments that "they always say that".

The scene shifts back to Archangel. He flies around the base and has realized that this base is enormous. He thinks that he could search all day and still fail to see another soul. He also found this place to be weird, room after room seems to resemble abandoned television sets. He wonders what is this place and how did Betsy know about its existence.

Warren starts calling to his lover. He is somewhat irritated at the possibility that she dumped him to spend time alone with Maggott, and starts threateningly explaining what he is going to do about it. A new voice proclaims that Warren is going to do nothing. Energy blasts Warren and he falls to the ground. The newcomer explains that Warren is a victim. He finds Warren's presence quite unexpected but appropriate. He says Warren is the perfect man to serve a role in the coming drama, and that this role would otherwise have gone uncast. Robots appear and the voice instructs them to take Warren into custody. He wants them to transport Warren into a chamber for the trial is about to begin. The robots all make the "sckk" sound.

The scene shifts to Rogue, who is still searching the base. She opens a door and discovers a depressed-looking Gambit. He is alone and curled up on the floor. He speaks to her and she realizes that he is close to crying. He says that he will not cry, as this would ruin his reputation. He asks her to leave, as her love has awakened an unfamiliar part of him, his conscience.

Rogue proclaims that she is not going anywhere and that she is here to help him. He asks her to kiss him and use her powers on him. He wants his memories stolen and he can not live with them any more. Rogue is shocked, and Remy changes his mind. He says his memories would doom her as well. She explains that Spat helped her remember some of his stolen memories. He orders her to get out and claims that he never loved her. He is ready to face his destiny, and he wants to face it alone. Rogue uses her super-strength to lift him from the ground. She says that he will not be alone and that points that she does not believe what he just said.

She explains that she has just found Remy, and does not plan to lose him. She realizes that something is eating at him, but they can work through that together. Preferably far away from this base. Rogue instructs him to put his hands around her. She wants to fly them out of this cell, locate the other X-Men, and leave before the base's owner confronts them. Remy denies her request, claiming that he deserves to stay.

An increasingly desperate Rogue points that Remy does not understand, and explains that she loves him unconditionally. Remy is unmoved and says love is not always enough. She claims otherwise, but he instructs her to stop. He explains that he built a house of cards and now it has come down on him. He always knew it would. He now has to face the consequences. Rogue is in tears. She claims that never did anyone manage to touch her heart like Gambit did. She wants to have that and be happy, she wants him to spend his life with her.

At this moment, the two of them are confronted by the new Erik the Red, who says that he can not allow that. Erik is accompanied by an aggressive-looking Grovel and a spear-wielding Spat. Erik explains that all his months of preparation and planning shall now pay off. He says Gambit no longer deserves the life he leads, and that he now faces a day of retribution. He instructs Grovel and Spat to deal with Gambit and Rogue. Spat uses energy from her spear to knock out Rogue. Gambit surrenders but asks the bounty hunters to not hurt Rogue. Spat claims that Rogue can not be hurt more than the way Remy has already hurt her.

The scene shifts to Pennsylvania where an aircraft formerly owned by Operation: Zero Tolerance is flying. The aircraft has been "borrowed" by the X-Men and contains 6 of them (Cannonball, Cyclops, Jubilee, Phoenix, Storm, and Wolverine). Five of them are comfortable in their role, while Cannonball feels out of place. He is somewhat jealous of Scott and Jean, who have been through so much together and keep on going. The married couple is having a private conversation while Sam is standing next to them, making him feel like he is invading their privacy.

Cyclops is in considerable pain, because he has a nano-tech bomb inside him. Jean is using her psychic powers to hold his body together and keep him alive, though she can not end the crisis. Scott begs her to let him die and claims that the effort is too much of a strain of her. Jean compares their situation to when she held an entire space shuttle together, right before the Phoenix Force assumed her identity. She claims that back then Scott gave her the strength to rescue herself and the X-Men. She is going to return the favor by keeping him alive or die trying.

The scene moves to Storm and Wolverine at the cockpit of the aircraft. Logan has noticed that Ororo keeps looking at the skies outside the aircraft, and asks her if there is someone chasing them. She answers that she is looking at the skies themselves and gives a rather poetic description of their beauty and anger. Logan questions whether Ororo is in love again. Because he has not heard her sounding like this since she was dating Forge. She replies that she is in love... with planet Earth.

Sam Guthrie, who has moved himself next to the cockpit, overhears their conversation. He feels jealous and out of place again. He thinks Logan and Ororo treat each other like family, while he is only a late-comer with limited ties to his fellow X-Men. He contemplates that no matter how much he ever goes through with the X-Men, he can never really be one of them. A concerned Jubilee notices Sam standing alone and asks the "Hayseed" what is wrong. He claims that nothing is wrong and that he was only thinking. She instructs him against thinking too much, because this will get him in trouble every time.

The scene shifts back to Antarctica, in what seems to be courtroom. A robot called Ferris announces that Erik the Red has arrived for the prosecution. Erik informs Ferris that he stands ready. Ferris proceeds to introduce the other constituents of this court. He first points at Gambit, whose head is placed in a guillotine. Ferris explains that he is the accused, and that he is known as Remy LeBeau or Gambit. Remy claims this is not necessary, but Ferris instructs him to speak only when addressed by the court.

Then Ferris introduces the jury of this trial, who are mostly shackled with with metallic manacles. The jury consists of five people: Beast, Maggott, Rogue, Psylocke, and Trish Tilby. Ferris identifies everyone by codename, except from Trish who is referred only as "a human woman". Remy wonders who Maggott is, but Ferris orders him to stop talking.

Ferris next introduces the defender of this trial, Archangel. Warren is also trapped and his wings are restrained. Warren is confused. This is the first time he hears he has been appointed defenders, and does not even know wht this trial is about. He demands to be released by his restraints and calls this "trial" idiotic. Ferris instructs him to speak only when addressed by the court. A smiling Erik speaks to Warren, explaining that Archangel is the perfect man for this task. Warren points that he is shackled and is actually given no choice. He wants to know who is going to judge this trial, since there does not seem to be a judge. Erik cryptically remarks that they all judge each other in their own ways.

Erik asks for lights to turn on, and their light reveals the presence of additional statues of the fallen. Erik explains that they represent souls swept away in an unforgivable "holocaust". Many of their victims had their names lost in their massacre and forgotten. But he introduces the names of these two statues of victims who suffered brutal deaths: Prism and Scaleface. He accuses Remy LeBeau of causing their deaths, and then extends the accusation to Remy causing the mass murder of the Morlocks.

Archangel interrupts Erik. He wants to know who this "Erik the Red" actually is. He notes that this identity is not real, it is always as a cover identity for someone else. He recalls it was created by Cyclops and first used by him. He questions whether this "Erik" is Scott (Summers), who has finally snapped and went insane and evil like Professor X. Warren points that Scott always followed the Professor's lead. Warren then starts defending Gambit. He says every X-Man has had doubts about Gambit, but Gambit is an X-Men. And the X-Men do not let their own people fall.

In response, Erik starts angrily accusing the X-Men and their methods. He says the X-Men have failed to protect their own kind (mutants). They shelter one or two mutants in their precious school, while leaving hundreds of others to fend for themselves. Erik then points how do the X-Men choose who they are going to help: they choose the most attractive and powerful ones. While leaving the deformed and destitute Morlocks to live beneath the streets of New York City. The Morlocks were allowed to ingest the refuse of humanity for decades, then the X-Men stood idly while the Morlocks were exterminated.

Gambit interrupts Erik, questioning who is actually on trial, the X-Men or Gambit himself. Erik takes the point and turns his attention back to Gambit, who he calls "boy". Gambit protests that he is an adult man, not a boy. Erik answers that Gambit does not act like a man, and that a real man would confess his crimes and accept his punishment. Gambit "confesses" that he has done some things which he is ashamed for, but claims that the people present are not the ones who need to listen his apology. Erik angrily points that the people who needed this apology are now dead, killed at Gambit's hands. Therefore the people present will serve as witnesses for Gambit's "atrocities".

Rogue and Beast, members of the jury, start speaking to each other. She notices that there is someone unaccounted for, who actually should be here. Beast had not noticed before, but realizes who is missing. They both note the apparent absence of Joseph, and suspect that he is Erik the Red. Rogue turns to Erik and calls him "Joseph", asking him what is this trial all about. Erik is surprised at her conclusion and asks her not to confuse him with Joseph. He claims that Gambit is the one on trial because his crimes are so more abhorrent, but otherwise it should be Joseph who should be accused.

Erik asks Ferris to show Joseph, "their pathetic accomplice", to the members of the court. Two robots making the "sckk" sound transport Joseph into the room. He seems tortured and his uniform is torn. His body above the waist is naked, his pants are torn enough to reveal the flesh of his legs. He is partly conscious and bleeding from the mouth. The robots drop him face-first into the floor. Erik explains that Joseph is sickening, because he has renounced who and what he truly is and then embraced his mortal foes. He became one of them. Joseph tries to speak but Erik does not allow that. Erik continues, claiming that Joseph has already been judged. He was found unworthy and this esteemed court will not waste its time with him.

Erik approaches Gambit, grabs his jaw, and asks him to confess the crime he has committed. Taking note of the vagueness of the question, Gambit asks which one of his crimes. Erik clarifies that he is not interested in Gambit's petty larcenies, only in his "blood betrayal". He calls Gambit's betrayal the blackest moment in Remy's long line of blasphemous actions.

Gambit speaks and admits that he was working for Sinister. He admits to having had a heart of ice back then. Belladona was dead, and Remy did not care if even himself lived or died. He figured he would never love again, so he cast his fate with whoever came his way. And that person turned out to be "someone Sinister". Sinister wanted him to assemble a number of mercenaries to break into an impenetrable community. Sinister had something (the vial) that Remy needed badly, so Remy agreed to follow orders. The mercenaries he gathered were big, ugly, and mean. Remy did what he was paid to do.

Beast seems genuinely shocked, and points that Gambit worked Mr. Sinister and failed to tell the X-Men. Rogue seems hurt and asks whether Gambit was really "in bed" with one of their greatest enemies. She asks Remy "for how long" did this happen. Gambit avoids a direct answer to the question. He only says he was never proud for what he did, and that once he joined the X-Men, he put all his villainous actions behind him. He points that Rogue herself used to be a villain and put her past behind her when she joined the X-Men.

Erik angrilly interrupts him, claiming that one can not set aside his own past. Because a man's character is the sum of his actions. Archangel voices his agreement with this phrase of Erik, but gives it a much different meaning. Warren says that men can change who they are by changing their actions. This is a way to escape the darkness within their own souls. He starts naming examples: Warren himself managed to reclaim his soul from Apocalypse, Joseph has managed to turn his own life around, and Gambit... .

Erik interrupts Warren and calls him a fool. He claims that Gambit is directly responsible for the darkness that befell Warren. He claims that Warren is quick to defend a man who permanently scarred him. Archangel is confused and does not know of what scar Erik is talking about. He asks both Erik and Gambit for an explanation, though Gambit claims he has none to offer.

Erik asks Gambit to identify the mercenaries that he so efficiently assembled. He wants Gambit to tell the X-Men how much evil he managed to gather in the name of greed. Gambit protests that his crime was not motivated by greed. He also declines to offer any details for it, saying that "Erik", whoever he is, already knows these details. Erikcan tell the X-Men himself and get it over with.

Psylocke intervenes and claims that she knows some of these details. Erik calls on her to testify as a witness for the prosecution. A flashback begins. The mercenaries are revealed to have been the Marauders, though Betsy claims that she knows only a few of their names. She names Arclight, Scrambler, Scalphunter, Vertigo, Harpoon, Riptide, and Sabretooth. Betsy claims that they were all evil beings with intention of becoming Marauders of the Underground and destroy any Morlocks they found there. All because Sinister deemed their existence to be scientifically useless. Betsy explains that these memories have been locked away in her mind for months, since she mindlinked with Remy. The flashback ends.

Gambit starts defending himself. He does not deny the truth in Psylocke's words. But claims that a man can change. He does not want anyone to forget what he has done, but he wants them to forgive him. He says that he suspected Psylocke knew this secret. He could have killed her to silence her forever, but he did not. Because he is no villain.

Archangel no longer wants to defend Gambit, and is in no mood to forgive him. He is enraged and struggles with his restraints. He accuses Gambit of creating the Marauders and consequently costing Warren to lose his original wings. He blames Gambit for the loss of the wings and its consequences. He also feels betrayed that Gambit has stood by his side for so long, pretending to be his friend, and never said a damn word about his guilty past. He sees Gambit as a traitor and threatens to personally use that guillotine to execute him.

Warren next turns his anger to Betsy. He accuses her of knowing this all this time and never telling him. She seems hurt and defends herself, claiming that the memories were locked away and only now came back to the surface. She reminds her lover of what she has recently experienced, but he stops her from speaking about it. He casts his head down and resigns from his position as defender. He invites Gambit to defend himself, as he would like to see him try.

Gleefully, Erik notes that there is no defense for Gambit. But claims that what they have heard so far is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, or in their case glacier. He accuses Remy of failing to cooperate with the court. He next calls a special witness for the prosecution, Rogue. An energy starts moving Rogue towards Gambit, though she is clearly unwilling and asks Erik to get out of her head. Erik instructs her to kiss Gambit, to steal all his secrets, and to share them with the court. Spat protests that Rogue does not need to touch Gambit to remember the secrets, because she already does. Spat made her remember. Grovel, however, disagrees and notes that Rogue is not accepting the truth.

Rogue is in tears and protests against the instructions. But Gambit asks her to go ahead and feel no responsibility for it, since this is not her doing. He only pleads with her to forgive him for what she is about to see. She grabs Gambit and kisses him on the lips. She starts experiencing Gambit's Marauders-related memories in a flashback. Gambit shows the Marauders the way into the Morlock Tunnels. He is scared himself, because he knows something bad is going to happen. He watches the start of a massacre and is horrified at the presence of so much blood. He tries to stop them, but a bloodthirsty Sabretooth attacks Gambit and nearly kills him.

Gambit is still conscious and adds a few more details to what Rogue is saying. Remy did not know the purpose of the mission, and he only thought it would be something illegal. He did not know the purpose would be so awful. That night changed him. The flashback continues and it is unclear whether it is Rogue or Gambit narrating. He almost died in there and sometimes he wishes he had. He could not stop the Marauders so he decided to help whoever he could, helping them find a way out. He managed to snatch one little girl (Marrow) and transport her to safety. But this was all he could do that night. The flashback ends.

Erik is not impressed by the memories. He notes that Gambit saved just one life while so many others perished. And the one he rescued was a single survivor in a genocide that Gambit himself set in motion. He sarcastically asks whether they should applaud him for a single act of kindness, and reward him for being the kindest of the war criminals. He insists that Gambit should be put on trial for his crimes, and this should be followed by a trial of Sabretooth and by other trials.

Erik is interrupted by Rogue, who now has Gambit's energy powers. She charges a playing card with kinetic energy and throws it at him. She accuses Erik for violating her and mentally raping her. She now has a new personality, and it is the exact one she wanted to get to know as a real, normal woman. With a move of his head, Erik evades the card. He says that Rogue is not a normal woman, because she is a mutant as are they all. (Erik includes himself among the mutants). And they are mutants disgusted with the acts of one of their own people. It is easy for him to avoid her ill-aimed shot, but not easy for mutants to turn their heads from the barbarity of their fellows.

The playing card which Erik evaded falls in one of the Beast's manacles and the energy destroys, releasing one of his hands. Beast informs "Red" that Rogue was not aiming for him to begin with. Hank claims that Erik has underestimated the X-Men and their ability to hold together. Eeny and Meany appear and start devouring the metallic restraints of Archangel. He is free and questions who should he punch first. The still bound Gambit notes that the card who released the Beast was Rogue's queen of hearts.

An enraged Rogue punches Erik. She threatens that he is going to pay for what he has done, that he is going to suffer like he made her suffer. And claims that no jury in the world would even find her guilty for doing it to him. Erik recovers quickly and claims her anger is misplaced, she should be angry at Gambit. He invites the X-Men to judge Gambit and let the guilty man to suffer a life sentence, to live his life knowing that he has betrayed his race, his friends, the love of his life, and in doing so himself. He instructs Ferris to go to his chambers.

Erik uses energy from his hand to shatter the ceiling of the courtroom and the building seems about to collapse. Beast decides it is time to evacuate. A released Psylocke calls on everyone to gather around her and let her shadows teleport them. Rogue ignores Betsy and tries to release Gambit from his restrains though he asks her to let the walls come down on him. Rogue claims that she will not leave him there to die and that self-pity does not suit Remy.

Rogue transports Gambit out of the collapsing room. He points that Psylocke is elsewhere, but she answers that they are not going to follow Psylocke. Remy thanks Rogue for believing in him and promises that he has changed. What he was does not define who he is. Once they reach the ice outside the base, Rogue lets Gambit fall down. She says that she does not believe him. She reminds him that she said she would not leave him there to die. Out here, it is up to Gambit himself whether he lives or dies. Rogue does not care anymore. In other words, she plans to abandon him in Antarctica.

Gambit claims that he does not care if she leaves him there, but asks her to understand. She angrily points that she does not understand him. Changing his tune, Gambit accepts that he has earned her hatred. He only asks her to transport him somewhere else, in a place that will give him the chance to return home. Rogue shows him the queen of cards and informs Remy that he no longer has a home, at least not with her and the X-Men. She instructs him to fend for himself, like he has done so well in the past. He claims that he loves her. She throws the playing card at his feet, and points that love involves being honest with the people you love. The implication being that the secretive and dishonest Gambit is incapable of loving. She then leaves for good, leaving Gambit alone in the wilderness of Antarctica.

The scene shifts to a flying vehicle, transporting Erik the Red and Ferris. Ferris informs his master that they have achieved cruising velocity and that nobody is tracking them. He next informs Erik that there are only two lifefoms remaining in the vicinity of the base, and asks for instructions. Erik says that for the time being he only desires to get rid of this ridiculous armor. Ferris curiously asks why was the guise of Erik the Red needed at all. Ferris helps his master undress, while Erik starts to answer. He has learned that victory is best measured over time. A minor win can trigger greater victories in the future. For the time being he is interested in careful planning, aimed at the gradual erosion of the forces set against him and the deliberate construction of the society he desires.

With a single move of his hand, Erik summons a familiar helmet, Magneto's Helmet. He continues by saying that this is how a world is built, one stone at a time, each put in its proper place at the proper moment. Ferris asks whether he should dispose of the Erik the Red garments. Erik instructs him to keep them, because he might need them again. He finds there is something liberating in moving among his enemies completely unknown. He might walk in this path once more. He claims that he has never been one to hide behind masks, but Magneto is no longer the man he once was. Erik has changed costumes and he is now revealed to be Magneto. The story ends.

Appearing in "Games of Deceit & Death - Part 1 of 3"

This story is a reprint of the comic
X-Men Vol 2 #62.

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Synopsis for "Games of Deceit & Death - Part 1 of 3"

This story is a reprint of the comic
X-Men Vol 2 #62.

The X-Men find help in Shang-Chi to fight Sebastian Shaw, who they think has ties to a cure for the Legacy Virus.

Appearing in "Games of Deceit & Death - Part 3 of 3"

This story is a reprint of the comic
X-Men Vol 2 #64.

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Synopsis for "Games of Deceit & Death - Part 3 of 3"

This story is a reprint of the comic
X-Men Vol 2 #64.

As the X-Men, Kingpin, and Sebastian Shaw fight for a possible cure for the Legacy Virus, Storm is forced to destroy it from letting it fall into the wrong hands. On the way back to the Xavier Institute, they are attacked by Bastion and his Operation: Zero Tolerance.

Appearing in "I Had a Dream"

This story is a reprint of the comic
X-Men Vol 2 #-1.

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  • Professor X's Wheelchair

Synopsis for "I Had a Dream"

This story is a reprint of the comic
X-Men Vol 2 #-1.

Stan Lee gives a parodic tour of the Marvel bullpen. He introduces a flashback to a time before the formation of the X-men.

Xavier and Amelia Voght are living at the Weschester estate. They discuss his ambition, and anticipate the need to resist Magneto.

On Asteroid M, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff debate about their host. Magneto rationalizes his supremacist outlook, and prepares for a trip to Earth.

They travel to the preserved site of a Nazi concentration camp, where Xavier is waiting. The former friends confront each others' intentions, but Magneto cannot be swayed. They leave as enemies.

Appearing in "The Boy Who Saw Tomorrow!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #-1.

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Synopsis for "The Boy Who Saw Tomorrow!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Uncanny X-Men #-1.

The story begins where Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 #345 ended, with an explosion affecting the spaceship of the X-Men. Stan Lee comments on the action and says he loves explosions. Because you don't have to write any dialogue for explosions. The next panel reveals that Stan is observing the action in space through a giant machine. He explains that he is sitting atop the Marvel Building in New York. The machine is the most powerful telescope in the known universe.

Stan shifts his attention to what seems to be another planet. He thinks he has discovered the lost planet Zenn-La, home to Silver Surfer. He then realizes the "planet" is only a speck of dust on the lens. Stan steps away from the telescope and invites the "True Believers" to join him in the hallowed halls of Marvel.

Stan introduces the readers to giant statues of the Marvel characters. On one side stand Black Bolt, Namor, the Hulk, and what seems to be the Vision. On the other side stand Captain America, Spider-Woman, Spider-Man, Daredevil, and what seems to be the Black Cat. More statues stand in the shadows. Stan warns that readers are expected to recognize each and every one of them. Or else Marvel will send them back to its competitors.

Stan then steps in front of statues of Photon and Captain Britain. Workers appear to be working on a statue of the Thing, with only the fist visible. Stan explains that they are redesigning the statues of the Fantastic Four, but first they have to figure what the Four look like. Stan jokes that the Four change more often than the diapers of a baby, meaning that they are always changing. By comparison. He mentions that Superman has been known to change his costume.

Stan then addresses the readers who are mad about mutants, and points them to to the "head honcho" who started it all. He clarifies he started it next Jack Kirby and Stan himself. The statue he is pointing to is that of Charles Xavier. Stan introduces him as the guy who proved bald can be beautiful.

Stan next introduces the original X-Men: Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl. They are standing opposite from a statue of Wolverine, though that is not mentioned in the narrative.

Stan starts a short reminder of the X-Men changes through the years, while pointing to the respective statues. The original 5 X-Men were created in the early 1960s. The late 1960s introduced Havok and Polaris. The mid-1970s introduced Colossus and Nightcrawler. The 1980s brought us a team featuring Longshot and Storm. He finishes with three more recent X-Men: Rogue, Gambit, and Bishop.

Stan then warns the readers that they do not know the true origin of the X-Men. He then starts a flashback tale. It begins in Annandale-on-Hudson, a sleepy college town. In particular in one house, the Grey's House. It is a quiet house along a tree-lined street. It is a place where content people live, thinking content thoughts and living quiet, uneventful lives.

John Grey is particularly content. Several months ago he thought he lost his 11-years-old daughter Jean forever. Now she is returned to him. John enters his daughter's bedroom to check on her. He finds her still awake, which mildly surprises him at this hour of the night. She is on the floor kneeling and explains that she was saying her prayers and got carried away thinking about Professor Xavier. After what happened to Annie Richardson and what happened to Jean's head, Xavier helped make Jean normal again. And she is grateful for it.

John begins to tuck Jean in bed and starts calling her "Princess". Jean interrupts him and points at the window of her room. There seems to be a falling star out there, which she sees as a good sign for her recovery. She asks if she is better and John answers that it is hard for him to tell. To her father, Jean always seemed perfect and nobody can get better than perfect. Jean smiles and points that her "Daddy" always says the same thing. He points that he says it because it is true. He then instructs her to get to sleep, as tomorrow is her first day back at school. Jean hugs her teddy bear and falls asleep.

John starts thinking about Jean's situation. When she witnessed her best friend Annie die, it was as if Jean's heart died with her. He consulted so-called specialists on his daughter's extreme state of depression and they all insisted that her case was hopeless. Everyone except Professor Xavier. It seems to him as if Xavier managed to reach in and pull her out from inside her own mind. John feels that he owns the man a debt which he can never repay.

The scene changes and follows the "falling star". It is already flying over Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. It lands nearby and is revealed to be a human being. It is a time-traveling Rachel Summers. She once made her home in the 20th century, but now has managed to make a life for her herself 2000 years in the future. She time-traveled back 2000 years and feels as if coming home. Though she is not happy about it. She comments to herself that when she chose to follow "her" through the centuries, she was not sure where they were going or why. She judges from the structure around her that she landed in the latter half of the 20th century.

Rachel attempts to use her fraction of the Phoenix Power to get some answers. She illuminates the South Dakota-barn she is in and finds herself staring at a partly-constructed Master Mold, the first of the Sentinels. The narration explains that in approximately three years' time, the Sentinels will roam the streets and search for mutants. But for the time being, there is only one of them. Rachel figures out why "she" came to this specific era and knows that "she must be stopped".

The scene shifts to Lawrence Trask, who is having disturbing visions of the future. His current vision involves the X-Men: Angel, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Storm, and Wolverine. He says they are are dark, threatening, violent, different from "us", and deadly. But trying to help "us" all, which he finds strange.

The vision changes. He sees Destiny attempting to assassinate Robert Kelly. Shadowcat intervenes and fights Destiny. Lawrence says that "Others" want to kill humans, a particular human. He is a politician, a man of power. A human that can make a difference.

Bolivar Trask instructs his troubled son that this vision is only in his mind. He wants him to calm down, to listen to his voice, and to follow it home. He thinks that Lawrence's visions are clairvoyant glimpses to the future which for his son are real. Only the amulet which Bolivar constructed is able to stop the constant onslaught of visions. He knows his son will wake with no memories of this incident. Only Bolivar will bear the burden of knowing that Lawrence is a mutant.

He thinks back to what happened to his wife and daughter. Lawrence had predicted the very hour of his mother's death but Bolivar failed to believe him and took no measures to prevent it. Bolivar now questions if he is to blame for the death. The narration explains that Bolivar has an extraordinarily secret shame. He thinks that both his children were different than most people (actually they were mutants). He understood that and worked tirelessly to protect them.

Bolivar thinks he is still uncertain from whom the danger to them is coming. From themselves, from humans without their special powers, or from other mutants who might try to exploit their abilities? Despite all his efforts, he failed his wife and daughters. He looks at an old picture of his family (depicting Bolivar himself, Mrs. Trask, Tanya, and Lawrence) and thinks about how much he misses Tanya. He fails to notice a female figure watching him from a distance.

Bolivar's thoughts turn to the fate of mankind. His studies and research, and the "ramblings" of Lawrence that he recorded has led him to one conclusion. People like Lawrence (mutants) represent the next step in humanity's evolution. At this moment Lawrence comes to his senses and asks if he had another spell. Bolivar lies to him, claiming Lawrence simply passed out due to working for such long hours. Bolivar thinks that he hates lying to his son, but the truth about his blackouts would devastate him.

Lawrence says that he needs to pull his weight around here, instead of being a burden and pulling his father away from his life's work. The two of them go to check on their Sentinels, which are still only non-functioning mechanical parts that need to be assembled into full robots. Bolivar complains that it is not only his own life's work but that of Larry's also. The Sentinels may well prove to be humanity's last stand against what Bolivar believes will be a natural corruption of the gene pool in coming generations of humanity. He imagines a world overrun by genetically-gifted humans who are unable to control their abilities.

Lawrence comments that while the rest of the world is sleeping, he and his father toil and prepare for the day their government acknowledges the need for Sentinels. Lawrence reassures his father that the government will soon understand. Bolivar instructs him to go get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow they are meeting Henry Peter Gyrich. The meeting will bring them one step closer to gaining official support, a support that is necessary for their part in the Genetic Civil War which simmers on the horizon.

Lawrence steps outside to head to his bedroom. He fails to notice Rachel observing him. She is using a fraction of her psionic powers to make him ignore her presence. She is tempted to rearrange his thinking and realign his "misguided" priorities. With such a little effort, she could prevent a thousand tragedies. But she does not dares, for she knows that once time is altered more damage can take place.

Rachel's thoughts are interrupted by Tanya Trask's mental accusations. She thinks Rachel's thoughts are mere rationalizations of her cowardice. Tanya attacks Rachel with pure, raw psionic energy. Tanya says that Rachel should not have followed her there, nor forced their confrontation. She reminds Rachel of their first meeting. Tanya was in a near-mindless state after years spent adrift in the time stream, where her untrained mutant powers had sentenced her. Rachel managed to rescue her. But they both knew they would ultimately confront each other.

Tanya explains that she can not sit back and watch as these two great men, father and son, help destroy a world through their genius and zeal. She returned to the eve of destruction to turn them away from the conflagration that will consume them all. Rachel tries to reason with "Sanctity", claiming that she would damage the sacred tapestry of time. She also reminds her of their relationship. They found each other and bonded in the time stream, though Tanya was all but insane. She should know how wrong this is.

Tanya is too enraged to listen and attacks again. She claims that what is "wrong" is what Apocalypse the "Dark Lord" is doing in their future. "Wrong" is that humanity waited so long for the Twelve and they sorely disappointed them all. And what is "wrong" is that Rachel is slowly gathering an Askani Sisterhood to prepare for the coming of the Askani'son, a mythological being.

Rachel displays the Phoenix raptor and breaks free of the attack. She tells Sanctity that she understands her pain, just as much as Sanctity must understand that Rachel cannot let her do this. Rachel attacks Sanctity, but discovers that the woman before her was nothing more than a psionic ghost of her "best friend". She realizes the whole fight was a mere distraction.

The scene shifts to Bolivar Trask's laboratory. Bolivar is still working but notices the presence of a stranger and invites whoever it is to come out of the shadows. He figures the stranger is a mutant who has learned of his efforts and is here to try and stop him. When she steps into the light, Bolivar is surprised to see that the stranger is his missing daughter. They embrace.

Tanya asks if he remembers when she first manifested her genetic mutation. She would phase out of synch with time. Each spell found her away longer and longer. She says she found a friend, another mutant, who pulled her to shore in the future. So far into the future. Bolivar says that what is important is that Tanya has returned home. Tanya explains that her time here is short. The strain of maintaining a grip here in the past is taking its toll on her mind and body. But first she has to convince Bolivar and Lawrence to abandon their crusade.

She continues to speak but notices that Bolivar is not listening. Rachel has taken control of his mind, and explains that she will erase the memory of the father-daughter meeting. Tanya admits that Rachel is her mentor in the use of her psionic and chronal abilities. She can't stop her in a fair fight. Rachel chastises her and asks "what were you thinking". Tanya tries to explain her reasons, though she is uncertain of them.

Outside, Lawrence has found physical evidence of their fight in the form of property damage. He takes it a sign that Bolivar's theories on mutants are correct and that they walk among them. Inside, Rachel instructs Tanya that is time to leave. Tanya asks for a moment to say goodbye to her unconscious father. She tells Bolivar that his daughter loves him.

As they leave, Rachel feels that there is something about her friend's actions that she missed. Bolivar regains consciousness and Lawrence arrives. He asks whether his father is still alive, half-believing that he is wounded. Bolivar thinks he simply passed out due to exhaustion. Lawrence wants his father come to see the courtyard, where there is proof of their previously unseen threat. They both fail to notice a nearby computer which is connected to the Master Mold. Tanya has programmed it with a new program, called “The XII”. It is programmed into the Master Mold and then all references are deleted.

Stan wraps up the shooting of the story, as if he is a film director. He hopes that the readers paid attention to all the details. There might be a surprise quiz. They didn’t do all this research for their health. He has to go now, as there are more flashback issues for him to mess up. If people wonder why he has been working hard lately, it is mostly because the pay isn’t great, but the perks are. Where else can he dress up like Uatu the Watcher? Now he must go, for mutants are born every day and he has to sign them up before the Distinguished Competition gets to them first!

Appearing in "Undeadpool"

This story is a reprint of the comic
X-Force Annual Vol 3 #1.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

Vehicles:

Synopsis for "Undeadpool"

This story is a reprint of the comic
X-Force Annual Vol 3 #1.



Notes

See Also

Footnotes

  1. First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks



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