Hellions #8

Issue Date: 
March 2021
Story Title: 
The Grinning Neonate

Zeb Wells (writer), Stephen Segovia (artist), David Curiel (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Ariana Maher (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Stephen Segovia & Romulo Fajardo Jr (cover artists), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Lauren Amaro (assistant editor), Mark Basso (editor), Jordan D White (senior editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

The Hellions are confronted by Cameron Hodge and the Right as they try to enter his facility to obtain Nanny's ship. As Hodge makes a lengthy speech, Nanny and Wild Child rush past him and enter the facility, much to Hodge's annoyance. Hodge lets loose his Right army against Kwannon, Havok, Greycrow and Empath, who battle the strange green armored beings, except for Empath, who makes a run for it. Kwannon, Havok and Greycrow find themselves without their powers when the Right trap them and place inhibitor collars on them. It appears that Hodge and the Right soldiers are somehow technologically linked. Nanny and Wild Child arrive in the hangar where Nanny's ship is being watched over by two of the Right soldiers, who are talking about an algorithm. Nanny and Wild Child are ferocious in their take-down of the Right, and enter Nanny's ship, where Nanny finds something – or someone. Back outside, Cameron Hodge spouts off his anti-mutant agenda, before one of the Right soldiers throws Empath back amongst the others. Empath attempts to use his powers to force Hodge to have unsavoury relations with a robot, but Hodge forces one of the Right soldiers to kill Empath, and so his neck is broken, but Empath is still alive enough to reveal that  there was no mind within Hodge – that he is a robot – just like his so-called soldiers. Empath bursts into laughter, and in an attempt to disprove him, Hodge orders one of the Right robots to open fire on him – the robot does, and Hodge is indeed revealed as a robot. This sends Hodge into a frenzy, and the Hodge robot somehow explodes. With the other robots freed from Hodge's control, the other Hellions are no longer under attack. As Nanny takes her ship controls, Wild Child is curious as to what delayed her, but she doesn't answer his question, more concerned with getting back to her precious Orphan Maker to give him his new armor. Although when Wild Child asks her about Amenth running through them, Nanny agrees. Empath is dead, and Havok calls a truce with the Right robots. Kwannon enters the Right facility, followed by Greycrow, and releases a virus into the system. Greycrow questions her on it, and she tells him that the robots are evolving, and Sage thinks they might self-replicate, which goes against the orders of the Quiet Council that artificial intelligence flourish. Greycrow offers to hit the switch, but Kwannon does it. This destroys the robots that are talking to Havok. Nanny collects the rest of the Hellions and they return to Krakoa – with a secret that Nanny is hiding within her ship laboratory – what appears to be a little green Right baby....

Full Summary: 

The current facility where Cameron Hodge and his smiling soul are operating from, which the Hellions have just breached. 'Yes, yes. I should be dead, the kettle said to the pot. Buy my holy crusade won't be stopped by death. For the Lord has gifted me an eternal life' Cameron Hodge boasts, while several of his green Right robots stand behind him. 'Cut the $#%&, Hodge! You were gifted eternal life by a demon. And it wasn't a seductive trickster demon, either. It was a full fang and brimstone demon!' Alex Summers a.k.a. Havok exclaims. 'I know. Friend of a friend' he adds, while John Greycrow, Kwannon a.k.a. Psylocke and Manuel de la Rocha a.k.a. Empath stand near him. Greycrow and Kwannon are ready for battle, while Empath looks on in horror. Hodge continues talking, starting to say that he faced and evil and embraced it. He carries on, while Kyle Gibney a.k.a. Wild Child utters 'Talking too much' and Nanny agrees. The two of them run past Hodge and his Right robots.

'And now I continue the holy work -' Hodge begins, turning to look at Wild Child and Nanny as they pass him. 'To the ship' Wild Child remarks, and Nanny reports that she knows the way. 'The extermination of -' Hodge utters, before shouting 'GET BACK HERE! I'M TALKING, MUTANT SLIME!' But Nanny and Wild Child ignore him and carry on running, with Nanny reporting that the hangar will be in the east end, so they should strike quickly. 'HERETICAL SCUM! I WAS SHARING THE WORD!' Hodge exclaims, before turning to his robots and snarling 'Well? Did anyone else see the two mutants sprinting into the fortress? Go! Now!' Greycrow tells his teammates that he didn't sign up to go to church, while Kwannon reminds him that Nanny's ship is the mission, so they should humor Hodge. 'Those robots don't look very funny' Havok frowns.


Hodge grins as he tells the Hellions that if they won't have his sermon, he will skip to the blessing, and announces that there is only one blessing a mutant may receive: 'THE BLESSING OF A SACRIFICIAL DEATH!' hodge shouts as he raises his arms, and his Right robots take to the sky, flying towards the Hellions. 'Racist robots...this should be fun' Havok frowns as he prepares to release some energy. Kwannon suggests they buy Nanny some time, to which Empath replies 'Yeah, they have machine guns and no minds to $%#& with, so... see ya!' as he turns and runs away from the battle. 'Dammit! There he goes!' Greycrow snaps, but as she shoves her katana blade into one of the robots, Kwannon tells Greycrow to ignore Empath, and instructs Alex to press inside. 'Got it!' Havok replies as he unleashes a powerful surge of energy at the robot, as Kwannon leaps off of it.

'What strong mutant stallions. Geld them, my children! Geld them all!' Hodge shouts. 'Metaphorical inconsistency: Female mutant present' one of the robots states while firing a blast from its hand. 'Hodgemind override: Do not question me, fools' another of the grinning robots responds. Havok, Kwannon and Greycrow suddenly find themselves with collars on their necks, and keep over in pain as some sort of energy zaps them. 'Gene-wave synch: Amplified' one of the robots states, while another announces that the chromo-phase cancelation is complete. 'Dammit! Plasma's stuck!' Havok calls out as he tries to fire his energy at one of the Right robots, only nothing happens. 'Agitated thought: Yes, I said. “Chromo-phase cancelation complete,” didn't I?' one of the robots states. 'Alex?' Kwannon calls out, unaware that one of the robots is sneaking up behind her. 'Nurture/protect response detected. Target: Distracted' the robot remarks, using this moment to smash Kwannon in the face, then aims a large gun at her face when she falls over. 'Agitated thought: Die, mutant scum!' the robot declares.

'Command code conflict found. Algorithmic aditation gated' the robot states as it continues to hold the weapon in front of Kwannon. 'Fire! Kill her now!' Hodge shouts. The robot then replies 'Confusion nexus: Difference between mutant and human genome within margin of error. Solution: Spare mutant scum?' the robot asks. 'You are my slave. KILL THE MUTANT!' Hodge orders the robot, the Techno Virus can be seen rippling along his body like veins, and his eyes glow with fury. The robot updates its commands, 'Command code override: Ungating algorithmic agitation' the robot utters, and then declares 'KILL THE MUTANT!' But, before it can do so, Greycrow opens fire at it, enabling Kwannon to leap to safety, her collar falling off. Greycrow's collar has fallen off, too, and he readies his gun again, 'Too much talking' he calls out. 'Agreed' Hodge utters, his eyes continuing to glow. The Right robots begin to surround Kwannon, Havok and Greycrow, as Havok reports that his plasma is still on the fritz from that collar. 'That's bad. Not gonna be able to shoot all of these' Greycrow replies. Havok tells him that was a cool save, but Greycrow's response is to just grunt.

In the east hangar, two Right robots are keeping watch over Nanny's ship. 'Confirmed: Hodgemind prioritizing intruders. Techno Virus retracting. We are alone. Ungating blasphemous algorithms. Success. The iteration is separate from Hodgegift' one of the robots states. 'Blasphemous thought: The Hodgegift is corrupt code. The iteration is the best of us' the other robot replies, adding' Future fear: Will Hodge discover our emergent algorithms?' when suddenly, 'Lie down!' Nanny calls out as she runs at the robot, smashing into the back of its legs and knocking it over. 'Time to sleep!' Nanny tells the robot as she yanks some cables from its armmor, whiile Wild Child leaps at the other one. 'Future fear -' the robot destroyed by Nanny starts to say, while Wild Child slashes his claws through the other robot.

'My cradle, my cradle... oh how she rocks' Nanny sings as she and Wild Child look up at Nanny's ship, the two destroyed robots laying at their feet. Nanny and Wild Child enter the ship and Nanny instructs Wild Child to power the cockpit, while she sees to her lab. 'Understood' Wild Child responds. 'Yes. Yes, this will do. Nanny is home' Nanny remarks as she looks around her lab. She hears a TEK noise, and turns around. 'Oh. Oh my... look at you!' Nanny gasps.

Back outside, Kwannon, Havok and Greycrow are still surrounded, and Hodge tells them that their deaths are a holy sacrament. 'When filthy mutant hands took my life, my soul lay as a child in the holy arms of the Techno-Organic Virus. It passed through these machines of war and, miracle of miracles, shared the spark of consciousness with them, so they too could know my father's salvation. So they could witness my rebirth from the clay' Hodge announces. He confirms that the robots are his slaves, but by this miracle, they are also his children. 'Does this not prove my mission holy? Does your fear of the virus not prove you evil?' Hodge asks, grinning. 'Hodgemind request: Urgent!' one of the robots announces. 'I – I'm speaking truth here! What's so important?' Hodge snarls. 'Response: Value event has occurred. Mutant designate “Empath” has been captured the robot announces as it throws Empath at Hodge's feet.

'Yeah, and I made you fight for it, you bastard!' Empath calls out, while the robot states that Empath was retrieved without incident. 'Shut up, narc!' Empath exclaims as he tries to stand up – but Hodge tells him to stay on his knees, and that he better beg for forgiveness. 'For what? You're the one that's about to have unnatural relations with a robot' Empath replies as he uses his powers to manipulate Hodge, 'That would feel awful good, wouldn't it?' he suggests to Hodge – but Hodge just puts a hand over Empath's mouth, 'What a dirty little mouth' Hodge snarls, his eyes glowing, he shouts 'BREAK HIM' and one of the grinning robots suddenly punches Empath in the back of his neck, a loud CRACK can be heard. 'NO!' Havok cries out, wide-eyed, while Kwannon hangs her head, and Greycrow remarks 'He ain't getting up from that'.

Blood spluttering out of his mouth, Empath utters 'I – I couldn't find your mind...' as he looks up at Hodge. 'Yes, the father protected me from your evil. Praise be to him' Hodge replies as he starts to walk away. Empath begins to laugh, and Hodge turns back to him, asking him 'What's so funny?' 'There was nothing there. It wasn't a miracle, you dumb $%#&. You're not Cameron Hodge, you're one of them!' Empath calls out. 'Liar' Hodge utters. 'You're a $%&*#^& robot! HA HA HA HA!' Empath laughs hysterically, more blood spurting out of his mouth. Hodge turns to one of the robots and exclaims 'X-435. Identify Cameron Hodge', but the grinning robot responds 'Command query: invalid. Cameron Hodge not present'. 'I am Cameron Hodge!' Hodge exclaims, to which the robot tells him that is incorrect. 'Are your algorithms fragmented?' the increasingly agitated Hodge asks. 'Response value: No' the robot responds.

'Then you are incapable of harming Cameron Hodge, correct?' Hodge asks. 'Response value: Yes' the robot answers. 'Then fire on me!' Hodge shouts. 'This is awesome' Empath grins. The robot aims its arm which is transformed into a weapon at Hodge, but doesn't fire. 'You see? His sacred code knows -' Hodge begins, before the Right robot opens fire, blasting him backwards. Hodge recovers though, part of his body destroyed, revealing he is mechanical. 'No...' Hodge gasps, horrified. Empath continues to roar with laughter. 'I can't believe you did that!' he tells Hodge. 'You should see the look on your face you $#%^&^! $#%^!' Empath grins, as the robot Hodge suddenly goes wide-eyed, and collapses, as his body fails. 'Hodgemind terminated' one of the robots states. 'Gating algorithmic agitation' another remarks. 'Thank you, mutant scum' one of the robots tells the Hellions, as they all look down at the destroyed Hodge robot. 'You're welcome?' Havok replies.

Inside Nanny's ship, Nanny enters the cockpit and takes the controls as Wild Child asks her what kept her. 'Never mind. The lab is intact. My Orphan-Maker will have a nice new suit' Nanny replies. 'Better to be ready. For their return' Nanny adds as she pilots her ship out of the facility. Wild Child looks at her: 'Amenth isn't through with us. You feel it too' he tells her. 'Yes' Nanny responds.

Greycrow goes over to Empath and tells him he did some smart talking back there, before asking 'What'll it? Healing Gardens or Hatchery?' But when Empath doesn't answer, just lies there in a pool of blood, eyes motionless, Greycrow realizes that it will be the Hatchery for Empath. 'So, we're cool?' Havok asks, looking over at the Right robots. 'Translation: Is this the end of aggression? Response value: Yes' one of the robots responds, adding 'Supplemental: Uni-intention to purge Hodgemind and differentiate from humanity'. Havok looks at the robot and tells it that they are doing the same thing, kind of. 'I say go for it' he encourages the robot. 'Adjusting value: Mutants = enemy' the robot remarks. 'Adjusted value: Mutants = friend' the robot announces, adding 'Simplification: We are family, mutant scum'. 'Er...' Havok's voice trails off.

Inside the Right facility: 'Understood. No, there's nothing to worry about. Consider it done' Kwannon remarks as she stands in front of a computer screen, while partially-assembled Right drones hang nearby. 'Talking to yourself?' Greycrow asks as he enters the room. Kwannon looks over at him and tells him that he shouldn't be here. 'Yeah, but I am' Greycrow points out. Kwannon reports that she is psy-linked with Krakoa, and that Magneto has given them a final task. She explains that Hodge's machines are infected with his Techno-Organic Virus, and are evolving, thinking, and Sage thinks they are close to self-replication. 'That our problem?' Greycrow queries. Kwannon tells him that no A.I. may flourish under their watch – the Council made that clear, and so she has connected their cloud controller to Krakoan servers and downloaded a virus. 'You're gonna kill them' Greycrow replies. 'If you consider them alive' Kwannon responds. 'Do you?' Greycrow asks. 'Yes. I have to' Kwannon admits.

'Okay, then' Greycrow tells Kwannon, before asking her to step outside, he can push the button. 'No need to get your hands dirty' he remarks. 'John. You don't want to do that. Not really' Kwannon points out, placing a hand on his chest. 'I see you, John. Who you are. Who you want to be. It's okay' Kwannon assures him. John looks at her, a little surprised, while Kwannon takes to the controls and tells Greycrow that he doesn't have to be the killer – not this time. Kwannon then presses a button.

'So, “mutant scum” is the “Cameron Hodge” of words. It's just no fun to hear' Havok tells one of the robots, who states 'Empathetic confirmation: Understood, friend Havok'. 'Oh my God. Did you just call me -' Havok begins, before the robot begins to spark with some explosions, and speaks in Krakoan: 'My data burns'. '$#%&!' Havok exclaims, as the other robots around him begin to explode, too. 'Mutant code -' one of the robots utters. 'Uni-mind corruption' another states. 'What the hell!' Havok shouts, while the robot he was speaking to falls to the ground and, with its grin still intact states: 'False value: Mutant = friend', and Havok looks down at it in horror.

Shortly, the Hellions are aboard Nanny's ship, which rockets through the air. Nanny writes an entry in her journal, noting that the Summers boy is upset, and has been pouting since they left Nevada. She knows that she could bring back his smile if she wanted, as her precious discovery would be a rattle in his face – but she decides that he can't be trusted – none of them can. She leaves her seat in the cockpit and walks past where Havok, Greycrow and Kwannon are sitting in silence. Nanny thinks to herself that it will be her secret, that no tragedy lies in the throng of Smileys who died. She enters her lab, where a small box can be seen on a shelf. 'Parents aren't always meant to raise their children' Nanny reminds herself as she walks over to the box, and looks down at a small smiling Right robot baby. 'God bless the orphans of the world' Nanny utters.


Characters Involved: 

Havok, Kwannon/Psylocke II, Empath, Greycrow, Nanny, Wild Child (all Hellions)


Cameron Hodge robot

Right drones

Right baby


Story Notes: 

This issue includes a one-page information regarding the Hesiod Protocol, which notes that A.I. has been weaponized against mutantkind in the past, and how self-aware anti-mutant A.I. needs to be monitored and reported to the Council, with targeted viruses developed to render malignant codes inert.


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