Publication Date: 25th Sep 2020
Written By: Peter Luzifer, Ruth and Monolith.
Image Work: Peter Luzifer and Dean Clayton.


Most of the past of the woman called Sage (sometimes known as Tessa) is shrouded in mystery. As she traveled a lot in her youth, it is unknown where she originally comes from, though she apparently hails from a war-torn area. Even as a young girl, part of her powers seemed already developed, as she had a photographic memory and was as logical as a computer. Tessa spent some time in, or may originally be from, Afghanistan. Living by herself in the Hindu Kush, Tessa tried to keep out of the conflicts between the rebels and the government, though she was willing to use her guns and other weapons on any threat. One day, she felt herself called to a cave which was considered haunted by the locals. Tessa felt a voice in her head and it guided her deeper into the cavern, until she found an American, stuck beneath lots of debris. The man was Charles Xavier, whose legs had been crushed during his battle with the alien Lucifer.

Xavier immediately sensed that the girl was a mutant like him and explained to her what that meant. Tessa helped Xavier and tried to get him to a hospital, but, during their journey down the mountains, they happened across a UN relief convoy that had been attacked by robbers, who raped and killed the UN workers. Tessa exacted revenge on their behalf and killed the men in return. Afterwards, however, she despised herself for being that brutal. [X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #44] 

While in Afghanistan, Tessa and Xavier also met a young Sebastian Shaw, who was working with the relief efforts. Xavier and Shaw embraced each other as friends, and Tessa also saved Shaw's life, just as she did Xavier's. She and Sebastian bonded during their encounter, and Sebastian was apparently the one who first named her "Tessa" -- her true name remaining a mystery. Tessa saw great potential in Sebastian, but she warned him that her calculations saw him chasing wealth and power at the expense of his own nobility. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #453-454]

Tessa’s early years continued to be filled with chaos. On one occasion, she found herself hunted by a group of soldiers in a Balkan village. On another, she was sold to a harem, though she managed to escape. The details of these incidents have yet to be revealed and it’s still unclear whether they happened before or after her time in Afghanistan. [X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #9, 14] 

Eventually, under circumstances unknown, Tessa met Charles Xavier again, around the time he was collecting his first generation of X-Men. Perhaps because her powers made her the most suited for the task, or because he had seen her kill, the Professor asked her to become an undercover agent meant to watch Sebastian Shaw, who had indeed drifted from the path of nobility and was a potential threat to the X-Men. The decision to make her a spy rather than an X-Man drove a wedge between Tessa and Xavier, as she later always wondered what he saw in her that made her "unworthy" of being a hero. [X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #3]

Tessa watched as Shaw gathered other mutants around him, like his lover, Lourdes Chantel, Harry Leland and Emma Frost, and how he was admitted into the Hellfire Club. However, as it turned out, his mentor and friend, the White King, Ned Buckman, actually was a mutant-hater. Tessa and Lourdes had tried to warn him several times, but only when they were attacked by a Sentinel did Shaw realize that Buckman had been plotting his death. It was Lourdes who died in his stead, though, and Shaw’s people took revenge by killing the Club’s Council of the Chosen, replacing them as a new group under Shaw's control, the Inner Circle. [Classic X-Men #6-7]

There was only one individual left standing in the way of Shaw’s rise to power – Elias Bogan. The ranking Lord Imperial of Hellfire, he was one of the Club’s most important and powerful members, and having him as a patron guaranteed success. Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost dared Bogan’s agent, a man named Oliver Ryland, to a wager – a game of poker. If Shaw lost, Emma would belong to Bogan. However, if Ryland lost, then his fortune would be turned over to Shaw. Although Bogan had never lost a game before, the impossible happened, mostly due to Tessa’s advice and analytical skills. Bogan honored the wager, but ever since he carried a grudge against Tessa and waited for an opportunity to exact his retribution. [X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #41]

While outwardly the dutiful assistant of Shaw, Tessa attempted to help others whenever it was possible. For example, when Betsy Braddock started visiting the Club on a regular basis and was in danger of being sucked too deep into their dark schemes, Tessa warned her to stay away. Xavier’s training paid off again, for she easily deflected a psi-attack from the telepathic Betsy, who then heeded her words and ran away. [X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #3]

However, due to circumstances unknown – probably because Xavier was away in space and the X-Men were believed dead, until it was too late – Tessa was unable to warn the X-Men about Phoenix’s corruption at the hands of Mastermind and the Hellfire Club. [X-Men (1st series) #132] The events that led to Phoenix’s suicide may be a possible explanation as to why there didn’t seem to be any further communication between Tessa and Xavier. After all, Tessa didn’t warn the X-Men of an ensuing attack by the Hellfire Club a few months later either. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #151-152]

Sometime later, Tessa and Xavier were both imprisoned by renegade Hellfire Club member Donald Pierce, who intended to kill all mutants, starting with the fledgling New Mutants and, after that, all the mutant Hellfire Club members. Unfamiliar with their powers and with one of his hired goons betraying him, Pierce was eventually defeated and his prisoners released. With one of the New Mutants injured, Xavier had no choice but to leave Pierce with Tessa. Though she promised that the Hellfire Club would take care of Pierce, Xavier didn’t trust her. [Marvel Graphic Novel #4] Nevertheless, Tessa kept her word, as Pierce was locked up at a secure location of Shaw Industries in Kentucky.

In the time that followed, Tessa seemed to be totally loyal to Shaw, who found his position in the Hellfire Club endangered by the candidate for the title of Black Queen – Selene. Tessa immediately sensed Selene’s formidable powers and, when she presented an enslaved Rachel Summers as a gift to show her respect, Tessa even hoped that Shaw would accept it and use Rachel to destroy Selene. However, it didn’t come to this, with the girl rebelling against Selene’s mental hold and the X-Men arriving in time to aid her. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #189]


On the other hand, Tessa also seemed to be a calming influence on Shaw. In a three-way battle between the Inner Circle, the X-Men and Nimrod, the mutant-killing Super-

Sentinel from the future could only be defeated by the assembled mutants joining forces. It was Tessa who offered the X-Men temporary sanctuary at the Hellfire Club, as neither group could afford to be found at the battle site by the local authorities. This gesture eventually led to lasting truce with the Club inviting the X-Men, represented by Magneto (and Storm), for membership. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #208-210, New Mutants (1st series) #51]