SAGE: Page 2 of 4

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


With the Hellfire Club working together with Magneto, his students, the New Mutants, were invited to attend the regular parties at the Club. During one such occasion, Karma possessed Tessa in order to use the Club’s computer system to gain information about her missing siblings. She was caught by Shaw, who wanted to exact revenge on her, but Tessa asked him not to harm the girl, feeling sorry for her. Also, she revealed that the entire stunt was useless, for she already had performed the same search program upon Magneto’s request, without results. [New Mutants (1st series) #53-54]

Not much later, though, Sebastian Shaw was expelled from the Hellfire Club, the other Lords Cardinal having voted against him. As such, Tessa too was no longer part of their meetings as well. What little love she really had for the Club showed when she was informed of Donald Pierce having been busted out of the facility he was held in. It was clear that the mad cyborg would try to exact revenge on the Inner Circle but, as Shaw (and she) were no longer welcome there, she reasoned that they wouldn’t need to be warned about this threat. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #245] Around the same time, she helped Shaw to keep his many personal contacts with industrialists and politicians, such as Senator Kelly, who he had only gotten to know through the Hellfire Club the first place. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #247]

Things took a turn for the worse for Tessa when Sebastian Shaw was believed killed in an explosion. Tessa stayed at the side of Shinobi Shaw, Sebastian's son, for some time when he tried to assemble his own Inner Circle for the Hellfire Club. This new line-up including no telepath, so Tessa could now use her mental powers more openly, such as when she mentally knocked out Archangel and Psylocke when Shinobi wished to speak with them. [X-Men (2nd series) #29]

[Note: It's unknown at what point Tessa learned that Shinobi was responsible for the explosion that allegedly killed Sebastian, or that Sebastian actually survived the explosion. She may have remained at Shinobi's side out of a sense of duty to the Shaw family, to her original undercover mission, or at the secret request of Sebastian himself while he recovered from the assassination attempt.]

Tessa was less tolerant of Shinobi's maneuverings than she had been to his father. Only shortly after the Inner Circle’s formation, the two Kings, Shinobi and Benedict Kine, fought over leadership. The matter was supposed to be decided with a duel of the Knights, artificial operatives, one party trying to kill publisher J. Jonah Jameson, and the other trying to save him. While the two Kings were busy with each other, Tessa used her telepathic powers to contact the nearby X-Men. After the heroes crashed the fight and her “betrayal” was revealed to Shinobi, Tessa claimed to have been acting in the best interests of the Hellfire Club. To her, it seemed that the only way to stop their in-fighting was by toppling the game all together. [Spider-Man Team-Up #1]

Only a few weeks later, Sebastian Shaw made his public return. Having found a powerful new ally in the mysterious Holocaust, Sebastian summoned Tessa back to his side, needing a telepath to keep the dangerous mutant in check, should he step out of line.

Tessa had no trouble dealing with Holocaust, for on the world where he came from (the Age of Apocalypse), telepaths were rather rare and he was unfamiliar with being mentally controlled. In what seemed like a test run, the trio took on X-Force, kidnapping all members except Cable and Domino and brainwashing them into fighting their former mentor. The strain of mind-controlling all of X-Force was too much for Tessa, though, and eventually Cable freed his students. Still, Shaw and his allies had shown that they were a force to be reckoned with. [X-Force (1st series) #49-50]

Shaw’s plans for Holocaust were thwarted, however, with the appearance of Onslaught. The entity wanted Holocaust for himself and nothing could stop him. Shaw and Tessa’s attempts to resist resulted in their being knocked out within seconds. Struggling to regain a powerbase in the Hellfire Club, Shaw and Tessa were joined by Selene and her apprentice, an amnesiac Madelyne Pryor. Tessa was suspicious and tried to read the sleeping Madelyne’s mind. Learning of her sad fate, Tessa actually felt sorry for Madelyne. The telepathic intrusion shook loose the memories of Madelyne's past and powers, however, and she lashed out in a fury for that breach of privacy. Madelyne's raw power overcame Tessa's vaunted mental defenses and she almost murdered Tessa, only deciding against it because of expediency. [X-Man #15, 20-22, X-Man Annual ‘96]

Unexpectedly, Madelyne and Shaw started getting closer and began an intimate relationship, much to the concern of both Tessa and Selene, who didn’t want to lose her apprentice. When the renewed Inner Circle started to make public appearances, like during a ball at the Hong Kong branch of the Hellfire Club, Madelyne and Shaw presented themselves openly as a couple. Selene decided that was enough and offered to join forces with Tessa in order to keep them apart. [X-Man #28] This proved unnecessary, though, as Maddie soon disappeared from their lives due to other priorities. Likewise, Sebastian soon lost interest in the affairs of the Club, and he resigned from the Inner Circle, taking Tessa with him.

Around that time, one of Shaw’s old sins came back to haunt them. Back when he had first gotten involved with the Hellfire Club, his company helped design the mutant-hunting Sentinels. Of course, their programming contained a special command override not to recognize Shaw himself as a mutant. However, during an encounter between the Sentinel Master Mold and Machine Man, some of the Sentinel’s programming and technology was transferred to the artificial man. Machine Man felt his programming being affected by the Sentinel protocols and, worse for Sebastian, he overcame the directive for not recognizing Shaw's mutant signature. Fearing detection and exposure, Shaw had Tessa hire Mystique’s Brotherhood to find Machine Man, and later other operatives, to destroy him. Unfortunately, all met with little success. Fortunately for Shaw, though, Machine Man eventually got rid of the downloaded files. [X-51: The Machine Man #0, 2-5, 7]

At some point later, Tessa's past work for Shaw caught up with her, as Elias Bogan finally struck and abducted her. She remained his hostage for some time and Bogan took a delight in torturing Tessa. He also left a permanent mark on her. The bleeding eyes signature that usually resulted with being possessed by the villain were still visible on Tessa’s face as black tattoo-like scars. Bogan offered her back to Shaw, if he was willing to ransom all his fortune, but Shaw refused and severed all ties with Tessa. Although she had been a valuable asset, he didn’t deem her worth that much. However, someone else did care -- the X-Man Storm rescued Tessa from Bogan’s clutches. [X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #41] Out of gratitude, Tessa stayed with the X-Men but, afraid of ever being possessed again, Tessa once more turned all of her telepathic power inwards, sealing off her mind. Though this made her mind absolutely unreadable, it also meant that she could no longer use her telepathy.

For the X-Men, Tessa worked as mansion staff alongside Forge, using her analytical skills to monitor the training sequences of the team and to help them improve the use of their powers. She also took part in interrogations of some of the X-Men’s enemies to determine whether they were lying or not – an easy task for someone able to analyze body language and voice modulation. Another attribute that came in handy was the many contacts she had established while working for Shaw. For example, she knew Senator Robert Kelly on a personal basis and, when he was running for US president, she arranged for him and the X-Men to meet, and eventually they succeeded in changing his views on mutants. Unfortunately, the Senator was killed by a fanatical human shortly before the election. [X-Men (2nd series) #102-103, X-Men Annual 2000]

Shortly after the X-Men learned of Destiny's journals, a collection of diaries written by the deceased precog that depicted the future of mutantkind, Tessa took a more active role. Storm decided that the Diaries of Destiny required special attention but, remembering the Onslaught disaster, she did not trust Charles Xavier with such power. Instead, she gathered a select group of X-Men to aid her in searching for the diaries. Among her handpicked team was Tessa, now calling herself Sage, as she was best qualified to decipher the clues in the diaries, a decision that did not sit well with everybody as some X-Men still didn’t trust her. [X-Men (2nd series) #109]