Extermination #4

Issue Date: 
December 2018
Story Title: 
Extermination, part 4

Ed Brisson (writer), Pepe Larraz (layouts), Arid Anindito (penciler), Dexter Vines (inker), Erick Arciniega (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Joe Sabino (letterer), Mark Brooks (cover artist), Mike Hawthorne & Frank D'armata; John Cassaday & Laura Martin (variant cover artists), Anthony Gambino (graphic designer), Chris Robinson & Danny Khazen (assistant editors), Darren Shan (editor) Jordan D White (X-Men group editor), C B Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (president), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Ahab and his Hounds are en route to Searebro to put an end to Cyclops once and for all, while Cannonball arrives at the Xavier Institute with the unconscious Shatterstar and finds chaos, as the X-Men there are just recovering from the attack by Ahab. Cannonball explains that Shatterstar attacked his group, and takes him to Dr Reyes in the hope she can reverse the Hound programming, while Kitty prepares a team to go after Ahab. Domino, Boom-Boom and Warpath launch their attack on the younger Cable, who they blame for killing their Cable. Marvel Girl puts everyone in a telekinetic hold, stopping the fighting. Boom-Boom notices that the time-displaced Angel has organic wings somehow attached to his body and thinks that this Cable is experimenting on them. Cable explains that his older self wasn't doing his job to protect the timeline. He did what he had to so that he could save every one of them, revealing that Ahab is here because one of the time-displaced X-Men dies. He explains that it is Iceman, but it doesn't matter who, all Ahab has to do is kill one of them and he completely re-writes their history, they will never be able to go back in time and fulfil the past in the way they are meant to. Cable offers for Marvel Girl to read his mind, and removes his telepathy blocker. Marvel Girl enters Cable's mind and sees reality play out – without Iceman – leading to an earlier, deadlier end to the X-Men because they refused to go back to their true time. Boom-Boom isn't convinced, and as she helps Angel, Cable explains that he had to restore Angel's organic wings because the X-Men had to return to the past exactly as they arrived, so he took Mimic's wings. Mimic appears, and assures the others that he wanted to help in any way he could. Ahab arrives at Searebro, so Jean and her team begin fighting his Hounds, but Manon is able to to turn Honey Badger and Trinary into Hounds during the fight. Jean sends a distress call to Kitty, who is with her team and now en route to Searebro. Jean, X-23 and Gentle rush to the infirmary to protect Cyclos, but Nightcrawler, also a Hound, teleports in – before he can teleport out with Cyclops though, Cable, Domino, Warpath, Boom-Boom, Mimic and the time-displaced Marvel Girl, Angel and Iceman arrive. Jean learns everything from a telepathic sweep of Marvel Girl's mind. Ahab breaks into the infirmary, and Cyclops opens fire at him, releasing a close-range optic blast. Ahab then throws his harpoon, and spikes someone up against a wall and boasts that the battle is over, the X-Men have lost!

Full Summary: 

High above the Atlantic Ocean, Ahab's flying pirate ship, the Pequod moves through the clouds. Ahab sits on his throne, with the strange mutant children Maxime and Manon at his side, and two of the X-Men – Old Man Logan and Kurt Wagner ak.a. Nightcrawler – both currently transformed into Hounds standing nearby. Other Hounds can be seen on the bridge, as the one at the ship's wheel reports that Searebro is roughly 2,500 meters below their current position. Ahab instructs the Hound to prepare to dive. 'PREPARE TO DIVE!' the Hound shouts. 'Preparing to dive!' other Hounds respond. Ahab smiles and announces that once they have confirmed the death of Cyclops they can finally leave this miserable timeline and the real work of ridding the world of mutants can begin. The massive flying pirate ship then dives into the ocean, creating a massive splash as it submerges deeper and deeper towards Searebro.

Central Park, New York, New York, at the Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach:
Sam  Guthrie a.k.a. Cannonball descends over the mansion carrying an unconscious Shatterstar who had been transformed into a Hound. 'My Lord...' Cannonball gasps as he arrives at the main doors to find the mansion in disarray, with Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman and Warren Worthington a.k.a. Angel helping their wounded friend Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast to his feet. Ororo Munroe a.k.a. Storm checks on someone's injuries, while Hisako Ichiki a.k.a. Armor checks on an unconscious Julian Keller a.k.a. Hellion and Robert “Glob” Herman carries a young blue-skinned mutant who has been injured. Kitty Pryde is at the door as a wide-eyed Cannonball asks 'WHAT HAPPENED?' Bobby reports that Ahab and his Hounds attacked and came for young Hank, but in all the confusion, they lost him to that teenage Cable. Angel helps Hellion to his feet as he explains that the twins the young X-Men found – Maxime and Manon – they were with Ahab and turned Logan and Prestige into Hounds, turned them against the X-Men.

'Yeah... think they did the same to our boy Shatterstar' Cannonball reveals, dropping Shatterstar to the ground adding that he went crazy aboard the X-Wing and tried to kill Marvel Girl. Cannonball reports that it took a good half hour of punching the hell out of each other before he was able to knock his lights out and bring him here. 'That sucker just don't know when to quit' Cannonball adds.

Angel tells Cannonball that he managed better than they were able to, and Iceman explains that both Prestige and Logan left with Ahab, and they have no idea where they have gone. 'We're going  to find out' Kitty announces, before instructing Cannonball to get Shatterstar to Dr Reyes for observation, then he, Iceman and Angel are to rendezvous with her and Storm in the hangar. 'We are going after Ahab' Kitty announces sternly. Cannonball asks Kitty if she thinks Cecilia can undo the Hound transformation, but Kitty tells him that she doesn't know – she hopes so though.

'Let me help you -' Bobby offers as Cannonball picks Shatterstar up and throws him across his shoulders. Cannonball tells Bobby that he appreciates the offer but that X-Force folks like to carry their own. He adds that Shatterstar is surprisingly light. Bobby walks alongside Cannonball as they head towards the infirmary, with Angel calling out 'Wait... if you and Shatterstar are here... where's the rest of your team?'

'You're not supposed to be here!' the time-displaced Cable shouts within his base as he dodges weapons’ fire courtesy of Neena Thurman a.k.a. Domino. The time-displaced Marvel Girl orders Domino to stop shooting. 'Sure. Once he's dead' Domino replies, but Marvel Girl points out that they need to talk to him. Tabby Smith a.k.a. Boom-Boom and James Proudstar a.k.a. Warpath find the time-displaced X-Men trapped in stasis tanks. 'How the hell do you get these tubes open?' Tabby asks. Warpath calls her “Boomer” and remarks that he will take care of them, while she sees to Angel. Cable shelters behind some equipment and reminds Jean that he already told her the time for talking has passed. 'You head the kid. He's got no time for jibber-jabber' Domino tells Marvel Girl, before Cable fires a blast at her, knocking her backwards. 'That's it, you teenage dork' Boom-Boom cries as she and Warpath drop down on Cable. 'You firing on us is all the proof I need that you're not the real Cable' Warpath remarks.

Cable turns and aims his weapon at Marvel Girl: 'You morons! I don't want to do this... you're forcing my hand!'. 'That's... enough!' Marvel Girl exclaims as she suspends everyone in the air in telekinetic fields. Marvel Girl announces that they are not doing this, as running around shooting at each other is how they got into this situation. 'We're going to talk... and you're going to tell us what the heck is going on here' she grits her teeth at Cable.

'You can see what that sicko is doing! Look at Angel – he's experimenting on -' Boom-Boom calls out as she motions to young Angel, who appears to have organic feather wings attached to his back. But Marvel Girl states that she wants to hear this from Cable. Suspending upside down, Cable tells Marvel Girl that there is no time for this. 'Then you better talk fast' Marvel Girl suggests, before asking him why he killed Cable. 'Because he wasn't doing his job' the younger Cable reveals, narrowing his eyes.

Cable continues, explaining that the older Cable was supposed to keep the timeline in order and squash any anomalies, but he gave them a pass, let them stay in this time even though he knew the dangers of doing so. 'If he knew it was dangerous, why not just send us back. If he'd asked -' Marvel Girl begins, but young Cable tells her that his counterpart got soft, sentimental, before pointing out that he didn't kill Cable. 'I am Cable' he exclaims, explaining that he just retired the older, less effective version. 'The same will happen to me one day' he adds. 'Bull!' Domino shouts. 'You might be the same person, but it doesn't make you the same man! Nathan never would have -' Domino begins, to which the younger Cable explains that is why he did what he did to stop him. 'To save every damn one of you!' he snaps, before revealing that Ahab is here because one of them dies. 'Who?' Marvel Girl enquires.

Cable looks over to the stasis tank where the young Bobby is still captive, and reveals that it is him, adding that the truth is, it doesn't matter which one of them dies – not to Ahab. Cable explains that all Ahab has to do is kill one of them – either Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman or Marvel Girl – just one – and he completely rewrites their history. 'You'll never be able to go back and fulfil the past in the way you're meant to' Cable adds. Wide-eyed, Marvel Girl asks Cable why, after everything he has done, she should believe him. Cable tells her to put him down and he will show her. Domino grits her teeth and tells Jean not to, as this could be a trick. 'Kid's probably lying through his teeth' she adds. Jean lowers Cable and he takes out his telepathy blocker, explaining that his defenses are down, he offers to open up his mind to Jean so that she knows he is telling the truth.

Cable tells Marvel Girl that the X-Men are so obsessed with fixing the future that they are willing to change the past without a thought to the consequences.

An image of another time appears where the time-displaced Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Angel and Beast fighting a Sentinel. The past – where the original X-Men, without Iceman, battle Magneto. More recent times, where as the original X-Factor, Marvel Girl, Cyclops and Beast found themselves up against Apocalypse, and Angel who had been transformed into Archangel.

Cable tells Marvel Girl that it is not just the big battles that matter, but the ripples in the pond – every moment, every fight matters.

Another even more recent time, were the time-displaced Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Beast and Angel fought alongside Old Man Logan Storm, Colossus, Fantomex, Psylocke, Nightcrawler, Rogue and X-23 when she was known as Wolverine.

More images, of skulls atop spikes in some desolate future. Cable tells Marvel Girl that once they pull away the facet of the past, undo everything that one person has done, everything changes – and not for the better.

Another image, of Ahab and his Hounds patrolling a mutant prison. And another, nineteen years from now, where the time-displaced Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Angel and Beast are blown away by a Sentinel. Another – the bodies of dead X-Men lie strewn across the ruins of the X-Mansion.

'Battles you'd won are now lost. Because you are no longer a whole. And those losses turn society against you in a way that is irreparable' Cable explains, revealing that man turns against mutant sooner, which gives an earlier and stronger rise to the Sentinel program and then the Reaver Virus. That damns mutantkind and brings about an earlier, deadlier end to the X-Men – all because they refused to go back to the past.

'Oh my God...' a horrified Marvel Girl gasps as she releases the others from her telekinetic hold. 'Nuh-uh. Not buying it. Look at this house of horrors he's got set up here. The real Cable wouldn'ta done this' Boom-Boom exclaims as she tends to the unconscious Angel. 'For the last time, I am Cable!' the young Cable declares. 'Whoa, not so fast there, Slick' Domino remarks as she puts a gun to Cable's head. Cable explains that this “house of horrors” is the simplest solution to fix all of the changes that have been made to the young X-Men. He points out that he can't send Angel back with cosmic fire wings – everything has to be the same as when they first left. 'Warren needed his wings back, so I took Mimic's' Cable explains. 'And Mimic was cool with that?' Boom-Boom asks, holding onto Angel.

Another stasis tank opens and Calvin Rankin a.k.a. Mimic emerges from it. 'He didn't have time to ask. He showed me what we're up against, like a dream in my head' Mimic explains, adding that he would have preferred Cable asked, but that he wants to help in any way he can.

Meanwhile, inside Searebro, 3,000 feet deep within the Atlantic Ocean, Jean Grey sits at the bedside of the time-displaced Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops, who slowly wakes up. He calls out to her, and Jean tells him that she is here. 'What happened... all I remember was...' Scott begins. Jean tells him to shush and that the important thing is that he is okay. 'I don't know that I could have stood to lose you again...' Jean remarks, when suddenly, Honey Badger rushes into the infirmary: 'Jean! You need to see this... someone's coming!' she exclaims. X-23, Gentle and Trinary are in another part of Searebro and look out into the ocean as Ahab's massive ship looms before them.

Suddenly, there is a teleport signal, and Ahab arrives inside Searebro with Old Man Logan, Nightcrawler, Prestige, Maxime and Manon and a host of other Hounds. 'You know...there's something very poetic about having to take to the ocean to find my white whale. Thank you for giving my hunt the literary flair it needed' Ahab grins before ordering his Hounds to find Cyclops and bring him to him.

Jean frowns and tells the X-Men to protect Cyclops at all costs. X-23 pops her claws and boasts that she is going to vivisect Captain Ahab here for what he did to Logan. The X-Men and the Hounds rush towards each other. 'Finally someone my own size to pick on!' Honey Badger calls out as she lunges towards Maxime. 'Manon! She's going to -' Maxime calls out, scared, before his sister steps in front of him and boasts that she has it under control as she touches Honey Badger's head, turning her into a Hound.

'Welcome to the pack, little one' Manon remarks, as Honey Badger growls and lunges at X-23. 'Gabby – what the hell have they done to you?' she asks, shocked. Gentle steps between X-23 and Honey Badger, and tells the younger girl that he is sorry, as he slams a fist into her and knocks her aside. Gentle then grabs Laura, who wants to continue to fight, looking over to where Old Man Logan looms over Trinary, as Manon turns her into a Hound as well. 'Are you kidding me? Let me go, Gentle! There are a couple of porcelain-skinned twits that I need to skewer!' Laura exclaims, but Gentle tells her that there are too many Hounds and that they need to get to the medical bay and focus on saving young Cyclops.

In an X-jet, Kitty pilots while trying to radio Searebro. Storm, Bobby, Angel, Cannonball, Glob and Rockslide are with her, as Kitty reports that they have Searebro's distress call and are on their way. 'Please respond' she calls out.

'Kitty?' Jean's voice can be heard, as she slams two Hounds back with telekinesis. She reports that they are under attack by Ahab and his Hounds and that they are being overwhelmed and somehow are turning her team into Hounds. Jean looks up as Old Man Logan leaps towards her, so she quickly telekinetically tosses him aside, slamming him into Trinary. Kitty informs Jean that it is the twins, that she isn't sure how, but they turned Logan as well. 'I’m well aware' Jean replies, adding that she is trying to reach into their minds and shut them down, but it is a mess in there and will take her some time and she isn't sure how much time they have. 'We'll be there as soon as possible' Kitty responds.

'SCOTT!' Jean shouts, rushing into the infirmary, where Scott sits up in bed. Jean informs him that Ahab is here and that they have to leave. 'This door isn't going to keep them out for very long' X-23 remarks as she and Gentle try to keep the door closed. X-23 starts to ask Jean if there is another way out, when suddenly, Nightcrawler teleports into the infirmary: 'You will not escape again, mutant! This time, we die together!' Nightcrawler shouts, but before he can teleport away with Cyclops, something is fired into his chest and he collapses to the ground. 'There... that'll keep him out for a couple of hours' a voice announces.

Jean, X-23 and Gentle turn to see the younger Cable has arrived with the time-displaced Marvel Girl, Iceman and Angel, Warpath, Domino, Boom-Boom and Mimic. '... isn't he supposed to be the bad guy?' X-23 asks. 'No. turns out he's just an overly hormonal teenage boy who doesn't know how to talk about his feelings Boom-Boom replies. 'Boom-Boom!' Marvel Girl exclaims. 'Tell me I'm wrong' Boom-Boom asks, arms folded.

Jean goes over to her younger self, to tell her that she can explain it later, but Jean tells her she doesn't need to, as she can see it – everything that they showed her. 'So you know? We have to go back' Marvel Girl points out. 'That's not going to be easy' Jean replies. 'Bobby...you're okay!' Cyclops smiles. 'I was shot and stuck in a tube, but other than that... yeah, just peachy' Bobby mutters. 'Hey, Scott' Mimic calls out as he goes over to Scott. Scott appears confused to see him, but Mimic tells him to sit back, as they have this under control. 'No. I'm not letting Ahab get away again. Not after what he did to Bloodstorm' Cyclops frowns.

Suddenly, an explosion at the door sends X-23 and Gentle careening backwards. Ahab enters, flanked by Manon and Maxime and several Hounds including Logan, Trinary and Honey Badger. Ahab declares that where he comes from, the mutant plague is an epidemic, that there isn't a family who hasn't lost loved ones, a war that hasn't been fought because of mutants. 'And finally... finally, I am able to bring them peace. Bring an end to the chaos' Ahab declares, grinning wickedly.

'You're not hurting anyone else!' Cyclops shouts as he leaps into the air and fires a close-range optic blast at Ahab. But the diabolical Ahab stands his ground, and raises his harpoon. 'A valiant effort, Cyclops. But it's too little, too late' Ahab replies as he then hurls his harpoon forward.

The harpoon strikes, pinning its victim to the wall, blood trickles down, the victim hanging off the ground. 'The battle is already over. And you've lost' Ahab declares. Warpath, Boom-Boom and Cable look on in shock. 'Scott?' Marvel Girl calls out. 'No' a wide-eyed Jean gasps....

Characters Involved: 

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all time-displaced original X-Men)
Honey Badger, Gentle, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Storm, Trinary, X-23 (all X-Men based in Atlantis)
Iceman, Prestige, Kitty Pryde (all X-Men based at the Xavier Institute)
Angel, Beast
Old Man Logan
Boom-Boom, Cannonball, Domino, Shatterstar, Warpath (all former members of X-Force)
Armor, Glob Herman, Hellion, Rockslide (all X-Men students)

Cable (time-displaced)

Manon & Maxime

in psychic projections:
Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Marvel Girl (all original X-Men)
Beast, Cyclops, Marvel Girl (all original X-Factor)

Colossus, Nightcrawler, Old Man Logan, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine III (all X-Men)
Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Marvel Girl (all time-displaced original X-Men)
Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Marvel Girl (all time-displaced original X-Men, 19 years in the future)


Story Notes: 

The cover to this issue pays homage to X-Men (1st series) #137, the classic issue in which Jean Grey / Phoenix is killed.

The Reaver Virus was explored in X-Men: Blue #33-36.

“White whale,” like the name "Ahab," itself refers to the classic novel Moby Dick by Herman Meville.


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