Sanctity, Guardian of the
Gray (formerly brown)
Bolivar Trask (father, deceased),
Mrs. Trask (mother, deceased),
Lawrence “Larry” Trask (brother,
deceased), Donald Trask II
(uncle, status unrevealed),
Simon Trask (uncle, deceased),
Donald Trask III (cousin,
deceased), Donald Trask I
(grandfather, status unrevealed)
High Priestess of the Clan Askani
• Telepathy, telekinesis, chrono-skimmer able
to transport her mind and body (and those
of other people) through time and space
Tanya Trask was born to an affluent family in Turner County, South Dakota, the daughter of a brilliant anthropologist, Dr. Bolivar Trask. Everything changed however, when Tanya’s brother Larry and then Tanya herself manifested mutant powers. Larry’s power of precognition became apparent at the age of five when he predicted their mother’s death in an accident. When his wife indeed died shortly after this, Bolivar realized that Larry was a mutant. Hoping to facilitate his son’s life, Trask built him a medallion which suppressed his powers. Sometime later, Tanya also developed mutant powers of a chronal nature. Unlike her brother, Tanya was beyond any help as she was unable to control her ability to phase out of synch with time. Ashamed of his children’s “affliction,” Bolivar concealed their status from the public, while growing increasingly biased against mutants.
Her father was unable to help Tanya and due to her own lack of training, the teenager drifted further and further out of synch with every spell. Eventually, she ended up spending years adrift in the timestream in a near-mindless state. It wasn’t until the intervention of Rachel Summers, a fellow mutant who had been lost in the timestream herself, that Tanya was rescued from her plight. Rachel found Tanya and pulled her “to shore” into a timeline roughly 2,000 years in the future. Now anchored to a fixed timeline, Tanya’s fragmented sanity was restored. However, her new home was far from an ideal place, as it was a world ruled with an iron fist by the despotic mutant known as Apocalypse.
[Note: In X-Men: Phoenix #3, a little girl called Sanctity is shown living in the Askani timeline. This cameo presents a continuity conundrum as it conflicts with the origin depicted in Uncanny X-Men minus 1. There are several possible explanations. The writer John Francis Moore may have been unaware that Sanctity’s origin had already been told. Due to the nature of Tanya’s temporal powers, it could also be the case that after Rachel pulled her to the Askani timeline, Tanya was de-aged. A third possibility is that they were meant to be different characters.]
As a form of resistance against Apocalypse’s tyrannical rule, Rachel formed a clan of freedom fighters, which became known as the Clan Askani. Tanya became Rachel’s most adept disciple and was extensively trained in the use of her chronal and latent psionic abilities. Over time, she also adopted the nom de guerre “Madame Sanctity” while Rachel became known as “the Mother Askani.” The Clan Askani gradually incorporated many religious and philosophical principles. Key among these was a prophecy about the coming of a messiah that would save them all from Apocalypse’s oppression – a man by the name of “Askani’Son.” Initially, Tanya was skeptical about the validity of this prophecy and questioned Rachel’s methods. She wanted the Askani to be more proactive, suggesting that they should travel into the past and prevent Apocalypse from ever coming to power. Rachel, however, was adamant that they should not attempt to tamper with the flow of time, as their chronal alterations could instigate unpredictable ramifications.
Unconvinced, at some point Tanya decided to travel back in time. She was intent on rewriting history by convincing her father not to go forward with his Sentinels program, which in effect became the first organized human attempt at an extermination of the mutant race. Tanya returned to the 20th century, approximately three years before Bolivar’s plan was to be set into motion. At the time, only his blueprint unit, the robot later known as Master Mold, was in the early stages of construction. As intended, Sanctity confronted her father. Having a short time at her disposal, since her chronal displacement was putting a strain on her mind and body, Tanya began her efforts to convince Bolivar to abandon his anti-mutant crusade, still having faith in his humanity. However, Rachel had also followed Tanya to the 20th century, fearing the repercussions of Sanctity’s interventions. As Tanya revealed herself to Bolivar, Rachel interposed and erased the memory of this meeting from Bolivar’s mind, knocking him out. Conceding defeat, Tanya admitted that she had risked this trip not only to rewrite history, but also to see her family one last time. Kissing her unconscious father goodbye, she returned with Rachel back to the Askani timeline.
Unbeknownst to Rachel, Sanctity had, in fact, slightly tampered with the tapestry of time that day. Before she confronted Bolivar in his office, she downloaded the identities of the Twelve into the programming of the Master Mold. The Twelve comprised a list of legendary mutants who were once supposed to cause the downfall of Apocalypse but, according to Tanya’s own words, had sorely disappointed humanity. In fact, it turned out that the Twelve was nothing more than a fable fabricated by Apocalypse himself, to gather twelve powerful mutants together and siphon their powers into himself. Tanya's effort to catalogue their names into the Master Mold may have been an attempt to ensure their eradication by the robot in the future, before Apocalypse would exploit them. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) minus 1]
[Note: Sanctity's list of the Twelve did not match the twelve mutants Apocalypse finally called upon, for reasons unknown. For a fuller explanation of how this plot developed and was resolved, check out this article on the Twelve.]
In the Askani timeline, Sanctity remained by Rachel’s side, becoming a High Priestess of the Clan Askani. Despite her initial reservations, she also came to fully believe in the legend of the Askani’Son, who would rescue them all from Apocalypse’s oppression. Many decades later, Apocalypse learned that Nathan Summers had been yanked into this timeline from the 20th century and was being sheltered by the Clan Askani. Since the prophesied Askani’Son was the perfect vessel to house his essence, Apocalypse ordered the extermination of the entire Clan and the capture of the infant. However, his soldiers captured Nathan’s infant clone instead, which the Askani had created as a failsafe due to Nathan’s techno-viral infection. During the raid, the Askani were all slain by Apocalypse’s forces and there were very few survivors. Among those who survived the massacre was Rachel Summers, who soon lapsed into a permanent coma and died twelve years later, and Sanctity. Now rumored to be the last Askani, Sanctity took any surviving members loyal to the Clan and relocated the organization to a place called Ebonshire, somewhere in Eurasia. She also reformed the Askani as a Sisterhood, where she taught only females and preached about the coming of the Askani’Son. Unfortunately, by that time, Sanctity had grown quite mad after many years of harnessing her psionic powers. She even drained psionic energy from the villagers of Ebonshire who came to pay tribute at the holy shrine dedicated to Mother Askani. [Askani’Son #1-3]
Now obsessed with ensuring that the Askani’Son would both be born and fulfill his potential, Sanctity set about to achieve this. With her power to project her consciousness into different timelines, she found out everything about the Askani’Son’s history, including the circumstances that would lead to his birth. Imitating Rachel’s methods, she pulled Cyclops and Jean Grey from the timestream and sent them back in time to 1859 London. At this precise moment in history, Apocalypse was destined to awaken from his hibernation and meet the physician known as Nathaniel Essex for the first time. This fateful first encounter would precipitate Essex’s transformation into the madman known as Mister Sinister. Sanctity guided Cyclops and Phoenix to Essex’s laboratory, telling them to save the present, so that the future is not harmed. However, what Sanctity dictated them to do was far more than just to save 19th-century England from Apocalypse’s appetite for destruction. Through this mission, she wished to ensure that Essex would become Sinister, the mutated madman who would one day orchestrate the birth of Nathan Summers – the destined savior of the future. By leading Scott and Jean – the father and “genetic” mother of Nathan – to this particular moment in history, she ensured the entire bloodline of the Summers family. Scott and Jean’s mission was successful and Tanya restored them to their proper timeline, after briefly explaining to them the significance of their achievement. [The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix #2, 4]
With Nathan’s birth obliquely guaranteed through Essex’s transformation into Sinister, the increasingly meddlesome Sanctity turned her attention to Nathan’s destiny as the executioner of the Apocalypse, before the latter ever came to power. Using her powers, she sent Ch’vayre, a male priest affiliated with the Askani back to the late 20th century with a specific mission in mind. Ch’vayre arrived in this era in the Swiss Alps and was quickly found and treated by some monks in a nearby monastery. However, as a result of either the time travel or Sanctity’s abilities, though he suffered from amnesia as a result. Shortly after he arrived, Ch’vayre was visited by Sanctity, who projected her consciousness to him and informed him of his mission for the first time. Ch’vayre was to seek the Askani’Son – in this timeline principally known as Cable – and make sure he would one day fulfill his potential, namely to directly confront Apocalypse and kill him, thus ensuring that Apocalypse would never come to power. [Cable (1st series) #52] For the next thirty years, Ch’vayre built a cult dedicated to the Askani in the Alps. Sanctity regularly visited him to keep him focused on his mission. Despite his dedication, Ch’vayre came to despise Sanctity and harbor serious reservations about the ethics of his mission. [Cable (1st series) #42]
In addition to her issuing her directives to Ch’vayre, Sanctity also made random appearances to others in the 20th century, always with some task in mind. Once, she again communicated with Jean Grey to warn her of another peril. Sanctity’s message was cryptic and her projection lasted mere seconds but Jean got the hint: Sanctity was warning her of something Jean herself already suspected, the return of Madelyne Pryor. Jean’s genetic clone – and Cable’s birth mother – had been accidentally resurrected by Nate Grey, the genetically-engineered son of alternate reality versions of Cyclops and Jean. Sanctity’s involvement in this debacle likely stemmed from her interest in supervising (and protecting) the history of the Summers-Grey lineage. [X-Man #25]
Sanctity’s repeated violations of the timeline and her continuous attempts to rewrite history did not go unnoticed. At some point, a group of self-proclaimed chronologists, who existed between the bands of time in a place called the Maximum Secret and were tasked with preserving and protecting the integrity of the timestream, became aware of her chronal abuses. Jacob Sutton, the chief scientist among them, captured Sanctity and then brought Cable into the chronologists’ base. Sutton claimed that he intended to judge and execute Sanctity for her violations against the timestream. In truth, he just wanted to teach Cable a lesson about how the future he wished to avert – the future under Apocalypse’s tyranny – could not be averted and that it would always exist, as part of Nathan’s life experience. Already aware of this, Cable vowed he would remain in the 20th century and fight for a better present. After Cable bested Sutton in a duel, Sanctity was freed and presumably returned to the Askani timeline. [Cable (1st series) #69]
For all her involvement in Nathan’s life, Sanctity had never been properly introduced to him. One day, her favorite disciple, novitiate Aliya, brought Nathan to Ebonshire – though he was still a young man and had not yet traveled back to the 20th century and become known as Cable. Nathan recounted the tale of how he been brought to this timeline by Mother Askani as a baby and Tanya immediately recognized him as the fabled Askani’Son. Nathan was presented to the Askani cult and hailed by everyone as their savior. Shortly afterward, the base of the Askani was attacked by the oppressive forces of the New Canaanites, who wished to destroy the last vestiges of the Askani. Livid with anger, Sanctity lashed out at them with her powers. Cable’s clone and Apocalypse’s heir, Stryfe was present in the area and already aware of Sanctity’s tremendous psionic potential. In the heat of the battle, he faked Sanctity's death and had her brought aboard his ship. Sanctity initially treated him with contempt, confident of her ability to obliterate him without effort. However, she quickly sensed that Stryfe’s psi-signature was almost identical to the Askani’Son’s – unaware of the fact that Stryfe was Nathan’s genetic clone. In her precarious state of mind, she accepted Stryfe’s offer to tutor him in the use of his psionic powers and remain by his side as he ascended into ruling Earth someday. [Askani’Son #3-4]
[Note: Due to the nature of Sanctity’s powers, it is impossible to determine the sequence of her actions after the events of Uncanny X-Men minus 1 with absolute certainty. Her appearances in Cable (1st series) #42 and #52 logically precede her appearances in the Askani’Son limited series, considering Ch’vayre is alive in the former and dies in the latter. Placing all other appearances in precise order is arbitrary, at best.]
Years later, Stryfe traveled back in time, ending up in the 20th century in pursuit of his archenemy, Cable. However, it is unknown what became of Sanctity. She may have died in the Askani timeline given her advanced age. In any case, Tanya may actually have been reborn in a similar manner as Rachel Summers. After Apocalypse’s death in a duel with Cable at the turn of the 21st century, the Askani timeline was apparently erased. Rachel, who was a temporal anomaly and had physically died in that timeline, was temporally “rebooted” and found herself alive and returned to the timestream, the same age as she was when she first entered it. A similar thing could have happened to Sanctity. Only time – in Tanya’s case, an extremely flexible notion – can tell.