The deadliest of crises appear not on the horizon, moving slowly and inexorably toward you, giving you time to consider your response. Instead, the deadliest of dilemmas are those that appear on your doorstep completely unannounced, having been building while you were unaware. So too was the one-man crisis known as Bastion.
Acting as was their lot in their mission to protect a world that hates and fears them, two X-Men known as Bishop and Gambit stopped a runaway train, destroying a railroad track in the process. Not sticking around for the explanation, the two X-Men left the humans who investigated the incident to determine what had happened on their own. Their sole explanation, it turned out, was that mutants were responsible. The motives or whys or wherefores were unimportant. When federal agents inspected the ruins afterward, their investigation was commandeered by a shadowy figure, whose authority clearly superseded their own. The data they had accumulated was but one piece in a larger puzzle he was assembling in the shadows. The name of the man in question was Bastion. [X-Men (2nd series) #52]
Bastion’s intervention into the affairs of other authorities even extended to the local level, where he chided Detective Charlotte Jones for releasing the mutant team known as X-Force after they had been taken into custody. While it was not an official reprimand, acted through proper channels, Bastion did feel confident enough in his position to warn a police detective over whom he had no definitive authority. [X-Force (1st series) #54] The source of Bastion’s confidence lay in the importance of the position he held in an organization he himself had masterminded. Conceived as an international organization, it served to consolidate the formidable resources of multiple nations in their investigation into the threat of the emerging mutant race. Its name was Operation: Zero Tolerance.
The X-Men first learned of the existence of both Operation: Zero Tolerance and Bastion when they were warned by Senator Robert Kelly. Once a staunch anti-mutant politician, Kelly’s views had begun to evolve as well, until he found himself questioning that view altogether. Warned by the Senator of a meeting at the Pentagon regarding mutants, two X-Men, Jean Grey and Gambit, went undercover to attend. There, they first learned about Operation: Zero Tolerance and its driving force: Bastion. [Uncanny X-Men #333]
However, who was the “blank slate” who held this position controlling an international cabal? Months later, as the power and authority behind Operation: Zero Tolerance grew, more would ask this question. As a lifelong journalist, J. Jonah Jameson had taught himself to ask the tough questions about those in power. When Jameson’s investigation into the rising power of presidential candidate Graydon Creed drew the concern of Bastion, the head of Operation: Zero Tolerance invited the newspaper mogul to lunch, whereupon he, via a veiled threat, urged Jameson to stop. Rather than doing so, the threat galvanized Jameson and set his sights on Bastion as well. [X-Men (2nd series) #57]
Months later still, as Operation: Zero Tolerance was in full swing, Bastion learned how much his attempt at intimidation had driven Jameson. When Bastion arrived at Jameson’s office late at night, to provide information regarding the X-Men that he had decrypted from their captured files, Jameson not only declined, but showed Bastion that he had been investigating him for months. During that time, he had realized that Bastion was a man without a past – who didn’t even seem to exist on paper. Destroying the information that Bastion had brought, Jameson promised to learn everything there was to know about him… [Uncanny X-Men #346]
However, Jameson would never have been able to suspect the truth behind Bastion’s lack of a past. The truth was that he did have a past, two in fact – they were just not his own.