BIOGRAPHY: PAGE 2
With the gatherers scattered or arrested by the Syndicate, Xi'an chose not to rebuild the Arcology, and focused on leading the X-Men. He wasn't pleased when half the team ran off to New York on a whim, leaving the strength of his leadership in question. [X-Men 2099 #4]
Xi'an began experiencing visions of his younger self, the Lawless biker. He found that he could not leave his past behind so easily, and this hallucination began appearing regularly, mocking the new life of selfless brotherhood he had adopted. Despite these unsettling "talks," Xi'an brought his wayward X-Men back together in search of a woman named Mama Hurricane. Fifty years ago, Hurricane had been a runner for MUSE, the Mutant Underground Search Engine, which had shuttled mutants between safehouses during the Great Purge, where seekers and Nimrods hunted them under the genetic purity mandate. MUSE supposedly ended at Avalon, the ultimate safe haven for mutants, and Xi'an wanted to learn what happened to their brethren of decades past. [X-Men 2099 #6]
Mama Hurricane had been running anti-corporate pirate broadcasts which Meanstreak traced to Iron Horse, Arizona. In Iron Horse, the X-Men were accosted by a group of DeGen highwaymen called the Freakshow. Their leader Breakdown had a transmutagenic touch with a capacity for destruction that equaled Xi'an's power. The street-fighting brought out Mama Hurricane, who told her Freakshow to stand down while she agreed to speak to Xi'an. Mama told Xi'an about the MUSE and her contact, the Driver, who was allegedly the last conductor on the way to Avalon. She was able to provide the X-Men with a list of contact points where she connected with the Driver, continuing their quest for the lost mutants of the Great Purge.
This information wasn't without cost, though -- one of the Freakshow named Contagion infected Metalhead with a crippling virus during their initial fight. Even Xi'an's healing touch could only stop the virus' spread, not reverse it. Deformed and weakened, Metalhead chose to leave the X-Men and recuperate with Mama Hurricane and the Freakshow. As the X-Men began to drift apart under his leadership, Xi'an's hallucinations of his past self continued to plague him. [X-Men 2099 #6-8]
Meanwhile, Xi'an had sent Krystalin to contact Victor Ten Eagles about sightings of a winged flying man in the deserts. The X-Men received word to meet them at a secluded ranch, only to discover Krys and Ten Eagles under the mental domination of Master Zhao, leader of the last generation of X-Men, believed dead since the Corporate Wars. Zhao was renowned for his spirituality and as the Master of Mindfire, but a psycho-active amplifier he concocted to boost his dwindling abilities drove him to paranoid delusions. Zhao had murdered his X-Men and gone into seclusion, recreating the original X-Men through Beta mutants genetically accelerated to become his Chosen. Zhao now intended to force Xi'an's team of Alpha mutants to replace the Chosen at his side in the name of mutant supremacy.
Xi'an's ego seethed at the idea of Zhao taking the X-Men from him, but a surprise attack by the Chosen and their brainwashed friends quickly overcame Xi'an and the others. After restraining them, Zhao entered Xi'an's mind to overwhelm his will on the astral plane. His mindscape took the form of Saigon, as Zhao began pursuing Xi'an through the plaza where he nearly died a year ago. Xi'an encountered his other half in the mindscape, who finally convinced Xi'an to let him back in. The newly aggressive and vengeful Xi'an was stronger than Zhao on his own mindscape and unleashed a wave of psychic energy that shut down the Master of Mindfire, rendering him a vegetable. [X-Men 2099 #9]
Xi'an's ruthless transformation did not go unnoticed by his fellow X-Men as he boasted over Zhao's inert form. His explosive temper and cruel streak quickly drove a wedge between him and the remaining X-Men. The new Xi'an demanded obedience from his friends when the old Xi'an would have asked for unity, and balked at the idea of justifying anything about his behavior to others. Xi'an quickly chose to abandon "the dream" and pursue his own selfish goals without having to be accountable to others. He was joined only by Timothy Fitzgerald, who had been experiencing his own mental instability since an encounter with the Theatre of Pain days earlier. [X-Men 2099 #10]
Xi'an still had an interest in the Driver and the mutant survivors of the Great Purge, so he needed to find a lead on their whereabouts. His renewed arrogance led him to contact Broken Haiku in El Paso, asking a favor of her despite leaving her to die when they last saw each other. Haiku had retreated from the outside world, cast in an iron maiden of neuro-circuitry so that she only interacted with others on cyberspace. She nearly burned out his retinas when Xi'an first showed up, but agreed to process the data he got from Mama Hurricane to identify the Driver's probable location. Haiku also took the opportunity to warn the Driver that Xi'an was coming, however, leading her old "friend" into a trap. [X-Men 2099 #11]
Fitzgerald had hooked up with Junkpile and La Lunatica, the Theatre of Pain's former slave, while Xi'an was busy with Haiku. This Xi'an had grudge with Junkpile over the Synge fiasco, and was cocky enough to think he could dismantle Junkpile again at any time, and so invited him along. With Haiku's analysis, they found the Driver's Garage in the desert and managed to enter. Unfortunately, the Driver wasn't what Xi'an expected. After trapping the crew behind a laser grid, the Driver explained the true secret of Avalon. Because mutantkind was so hated and feared, the Driver used a genetic accelerator to break down mutants into digital code, storing them in his computer system. According to the Driver, on the day mutants no longer needed to fear humanity, there would be a glorious mass resurrection. The fact that he had never tested the reconstitution process had apparently done little to deter the Driver from effectively killing over two hundred mutants in the accelerator with no assurance that they could ever be revived.
Xi'an and the others were fated to be deconstructed by the Driver "for their own good" before the "lucky" arrival of Brimstone Love, grandmaster of the Theatre of Pain. Brimstone had been hunting Lunatica since she escaped the Theatre, and was intrigued by the potential he saw in Xi'an. After overriding the accelerator, he made an offer to Xi'an to join the Theatre of Pain. A melee broke out between all the parties present, and Junkpile inadvertently destroyed the accelerator in what followed, costing the Driver (and Xi'an) any data or chance of reviving the mutants encoded on its systems. Seeing the Driver and Avalon as a dead end on his search for power, Xi'an turned on Fitzgerald and Luna before accepting Brimstone Love's offer. They teleported away together, with Brimstone giving Luna a reprieve thanks to her unintentionally leading him to such a promising new recruit for the Theatre. [X-Men 2099 #12-13]
Xi'an soon returned to Zhao's ranch as an initiate in the Theatre of Pain. He and two operatives snuck in by cover of night to retrieve Zhao's body and the surviving Chosen that had been placed on ice. Unfortunately, Shakti's mutant sensitivity warned her than Xi'an had returned, and he was forced to knock her unconscious. Taking their prize, Xi'an and the Theatre left a thermionic detonator behind to cover their tracks. Perhaps he rationalized that the 59 minute timer gave Cerebra and the others time to escape the blast, but Xi'an was clearly willing to let his former comrades die if it meant his advancement in the Theatre. [X-Men 2099 #17-19]
As he prepared for full initiation into the Theatre of Pain, Xi'an appeared in their arena before Brimstone Love and his lieutenants, Charon and Felicity. Xi'an only saw the Theatre as an opportunity to fuel his own self-interest, but he became reluctant as Brimstone described the initiation process as more of a cult's indoctrination. It was too late to back out, however, and the ritual began. One after another, Xi'an was teleported to key locations from his history to face ghosts of the past. He traveled to Aspen, Nogales, Saigon and the Arcology, seemingly facing Chainlink, Gearbox, Quickdeath and Noah Synge each time. In reality, the Norn pit-fighter Felicity was holographically disguised as each opponent, while the Controller-Prime Charon psychically unearthed Xi'an's bitterest memories to make the encounters more vivid and tormenting. The entire grueling process broke him down mentally and physically until he collapsed under the weight of his mistakes and the extent of his injuries. In a reverse of last time, Xi'an's peaceful self appeared in his mind and offered support. However, while the moral savior accepted help from the outlaw biker against Zhao, the biker refused to do the same when the situation was reversed. This Xi'an's pride cost him, and his mind seemingly fell to the Theatre. He was baptized into their graces as Controller-X. [X-Men 2099 #22]