New Exiles #9

Issue Date: 
October 2008
Story Title: 
Soul Awakening- part 3 of 4

Chris Claremont (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Vicente Cifuente (inker), Wilfredo Quintana (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Anthony Dial (production), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (senior editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alex Garner (cover)

Brief Description: 

Rogue tests the mettle of Force-X before agreeing to allow them into battle. They put up a good fight, but Rogue proves herself their superior. They do pretty well though and later gather with the Exiles to determine how best to save Britain. Meanwhile, the French have stepped up their efforts to locate and capture the queen. The Admiral knows if they don’t get the Queen’s surrender within 24 hours the Atlanteans will intervene and put a stop to things. On the ground Morph and Sage put up whatever resistance they can, most recently busting up a cordon and search. They also have the Queen with them who tells her people to do what they can to protect their families while they handle the fighting. Half a world away Ogun trains Psylocke in the ways of combat. Using science and magic they alter time itself to accomplish a lifetime’s work in a few short hours. The end of the training session focuses on swordplay and eventually Psylocke defeats him. Now she’s ready for Slaymaster and has accepted her role as Lady Mandarin. Back in Manhattan, the French have threatened to destroy a highly populated building if the Queen doesn’t surrender. The Queen decides she can’t take the risk and gives up, allowing herself, Sage and Morph to get captured. While in the Crystal Palace, Blink struggles to save the Omniverse. Sabretooth offers advice on being a hero and going with her instincts, but Cat still seems unsure of herself.

Full Summary: 

Unknown Earth

Frost School of Gifted Youngsters

Not more than 30 miles north of Manhattan sits Frost’s School for Gifted Youngsters. It is at this school, home to some of the most gifted students in the country, that a select group of pupils are trained to be agents for the Crown’s clandestine super-being action team, Force-X. In charge of it all is the wheelchair-bound Dame Emma Frost (head of Department X). Gathered here as well are Rogue and Mystiq with the intention of recruiting help in repelling the French invasion.
Rogue takes a look at the five teenagers before her and isn’t impressed. Mystiq makes excuses for Rogue’s rudeness, but she’s insistent on getting proof on how good these kids are. Dame Frost smiles and tells her students to show the Exiles what they can do.
Starbolt (Summer Scott) fires an optic blast that takes Rogue by surprise and sends her flying backwards. She then orders Bobby (Aurion) to put her on ice. Aurion does as told and encases Rogue in a block of ice. Puma (Hank McCoy) growls that the ladies get to have all the fun. Spider (Peter Parker) is a bit more pessimistic and warns his teammates to remain on guard.
Spider’s right as Rogue easily busts through the block of ice and kicks Aurion in the face. She then throws a chunk of ice at Starbolt’s head. Starbolt blasts the ice block before it makes contact, but that leaves her open to receive an overhand right.
Rogue moves on to Puma, grabbing him by the jersey and tossing him at the telekinetic Sunspot (John Grey). That leaves one member remaining and he strikes first nailing Rogue with some webbing. Spider wraps her up a few times and swings in for a kick. Rogue ducks, timing it perfectly, as Spider gets nailed simultaneously by Starbolt’s optic blast and Sunspot’s telekinetic attack. Then Rogue grabs those two by their heads and smashes them together. They drop, but now Puma’s back in the fight. Just as Rogue is about to proclaim the fight over and easily won, he leaps and socks her in the face.
The battle is ended prematurely with a giant lightning bolt crashing down from above. ‘Ro-‘Ro and Gambit have arrived and they remind the crew below there’s a war going on and they’re losing. ‘Ro apologizes for her teammates’ actions, but Gambit says he’s pulled stuff like that before and tells her it’s no big deal. He adds Force-X did pretty well and they may have more of a chance to save the kingdom than he originally thought.
Later, gathered together in what appears to be a study, Force-X, the Exiles and Dame Frost discuss the current situation. ‘Ro reports most of the city has been captured by the French super-powered troopers. Frost chimes in they haven’t announced the capture of the Queen, which is a good. She then moves on to complimenting Rogue on her battle performance in the lower level. Frost adds that her students aren’t used to being beaten like that. Rogue, not one for social pleasantries, says she was just doing what comes naturally.
Gambit makes excuses for Rogue saying she’s not big on being friendly. Emma smiles and says that’s a pretty tempting challenge. Gambit is curious as to what she’s talking about, but Dame Frost tells him it doesn’t concern him.
Mystiq pipes up that her students are pretty good for their age. Emma says she was the same way when she entered the service for the Crown. She then orders her students to gather around so they can plan out how they’re going to save the Queen and the realm.
New York Harbor

The Admiral receives a report from his fellow seaman, Alan. It appears as though the entire island is secure with the local law enforcement taken into custody and the French only facing sporadic resistance. The report on agent Havok’s assault has the core of the British super-powers being neutralized. Alan offers the Queen might have been killed in the blast.
The Admiral wants to know Havok’s whereabouts. Alan reports he’s been recovered, but unconscious and their telepaths are unable to access his memories. The Admiral tells him to assume the Queen still lives and to make that the top priority. Alan reminds the Admiral the population is over 1 million. The Admiral points out if they don’t find the Queen all is lost because within 24 hours the Atlanteans will intervene and without the Queen’s abdication they will be forced to withdraw.
Above the city a French helicopter patrol scours for the Queen. After Armand cracks a joke saying she’ll be the one wearing a crown the conversation turns serious. The other two crew members argue over the Atlanteans. Armand thinks they should be going after the “fish people”, humanity’s true oppressors. Sam argues they provide power to billions of people and have kept the world at peace for centuries. Armand says they treat them like children. Sam says maybe it’s because they keep acting the part.
Down below on the streets the French infantry continues their search for the Queen, clearing building by building. Needless to say the ordinary citizens aren’t pleased with how they’re being treated. They complain, but the soldiers warn them to behave or there’ll be trouble. They also tell the Britons if they surrender their Queen it’ll all be over.
A poster along the brick exterior of one of the apartment buildings, featuring a bald albino cricket player, disagrees with the French soldier. When the Frenchman turns around puzzled he receives a bat to the face. Morph is angry and tells them they can’t act like kings, busting into people’s homes, killing those that don’t listen.
The remaining troops turn to face their threat and that’s when Morph turns into a giant gorilla and goes on a rampage, knocking soldiers to and fro. With half the soldiers out for the count Sage joins the battle simultaneously kicking and disarming a soldier of his crossbow. She takes her new weapon and butt-strokes another Frenchman in the face. A third adversary takes a stab at her with his fencing sword. Sage dodges the attack and picks up a sword from the ground. The two seem evenly matched so Sage draws him in close and blasts him with a left hook to the face.
The soldier goes down and Sage realizes this isn’t how she’s used to battling, dealing with things. She feels as though putting all her focus on keeping her mind under control has set another part of herself free. There’s part of herself, she’s aware of, that considers all of this a wonderful adventure and actually finds it fun.
With the French soldiers taken care of the citizens have time to react and are surprised to find that their Queen is right alongside them. She tells her people to get to their homes and stay off the streets where they can keep their families safe. She urges her subjects to leave the fighting to them. Morph is a bit taken aback by her words as he doesn’t think the three of them can defeat an army. Sage jokingly asks if he doesn’t like the odds. Morph counters saying that’s his line. The Queen interjects that they have assets that haven’t entered the playing field yet as well as a time limit until the Atlanteans intervene. Sage still thinks it’ll easier said than done.

Psylocke stares at herself in a full-length mirror and struggles to find her inner balance. She knows thinking in Mandarin is wrong, yet it seems so natural and she can’t even remember the other language she should be speaking. She looks at her clothes and knows something’s off. She knows she has friends and responsibilities, but can’t make herself care. She also notes the Crimson mark is where it should be, yet it shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Ogun enters and tells her to find a way to get rid of the mark then. In fact it will be simple, he tells her, just defeat him in combat. Ogun takes his red demon mask from off the mantle and places it on his face. Psylocke quickly changes her attire for the battle as well. Ogun draws his sword and tells Psylocke to use the weapons of her mind.
Psylocke draws a psychic katana with her left hand and her psychic sword with the right. Ogun moves to strike first, which Psylocke easily blocks. Ogun remarks on her skill and tells her he’ll make her even better. He then delivers a powerful kick to her stomach that knocks her off balance. Psylocke fires a telekinetic blast his way, which Ogun dodges. He tells Betsy she is yielding to her temper. Ogun compliments her on her powerful mind, but reminds her it’s still limited by the body in which it resides. He strikes her once more and Psylocke goes limp.
Later, the two warriors sit facing each other in meditation poses, Ogun sans the demon mask. Ogun explains they’ll be using science and magic combined to alter the passage of time itself, allowing them to accomplish a lifetime’s work in a few short hours.
They begin and the two appear as if they’re somewhere outside. Ogun tells Psylocke she must re-master the fundamentals of combat. With that, they begin some Tai-chi. Not long after they begin fighting, Ogun telling Psylocke her thoughts and actions must be as one and she must always be one step ahead of her adversary.
Later still, the two are in the middle of sword training, Ogun with the demon mask back on. He tells Psylocke she gets better with every exchange, her parries, attacks and even her speed. Psylocke tells him he’s thinking too much and manages to get a hold of his feet telekinetically and bash him against the ground, then somersault him through the air. Ogun lands in a crouch, disarmed, but ready to show her who’s boss. Unfortunately for him Psylocke’s retrieved his sword, and crossed perpendicular with hers has him by the throat. Ogun, calling her Elizabeth, says she’s made him proud, his best creation yet. Psylocke asks if he must insist on calling her that hated name. She wants to be called Lady Mandarin.
New York Harbor

One of the French super-beings, Salvo, fires an energy blast from his hands, targeting a skyscraper under construction. It’s a direct hit and the entire thing collapses. The Admiral is pleased and tells Salvo his next target is the Imperial Tower, at one point the tallest building in the world. He tells Salvo to make sure it’s packed with people so the Queen understands the full price of defiance.
The Queen gets the message and appears at a nearby dock with Sage and Morph. Both of the Exiles aren’t happy with her decision, but the Queen insists she can’t take the risk they’ll follow through on their threats. “Game’s over, my friends,” she finishes.
The Admiral sends three of his flying para-normals to retrieve the Queen. He tells them to imprison the other two with her. He reminds them it’s all for nothing until they get her abdication.
Force-X and the remaining Exiles witness this from a nearby rooftop. Gambit wants to know why the Atlanteans don’t intervene at this point. Dame Frost answers they don’t care what happens on land, they’ll just seal off the harbor, shut down the power and let the British and French duke it out. Frost fears the battle will turn Manhattan into a charnel pit and tells her team, Force-X, the fate of the Empire is in their hands and that they have to stop it right there and now.
Crystal Palace

Cat’s still at the controls trying to save the Omniverse when Sabretooth joins her. Cat worries time is running out, but Sabretooth hopes they have a long way before it all ends. Cat points out he used the word “hope” and Sabretooth takes her point.
Cat asks Sabes what they should do. He doesn’t really offer any help, telling her the best they can, they’re heroes after all. Cat asks if that’s supposed to mean something. Sabretooth asks if she has any heroes where she comes from. Cat looks sullen when she says, “Not anymore.”

Sabretooth tells her that’s too bad and delves deeper into what being a hero means. “You take a stand. You figure what’s right – what brings the most benefit to the most people, what does the least harm – what ultimately leads to the best future.” Cat asks who’s future, theirs or ours. Sabretooth tells her there’s no “right” answer, you just have to live with the consequences. Cat says that’s a lot of thinking. As he starts to leave Sabes tells her he follows his instincts. Cat asks if he ever gets it wrong. Sabretooth says no. Cat asks if he’s had any regrets. Sabretooth pauses before answering, a shadowy darkness crossing his face, and then gives her a “nope.” Cat says she’ll keep that in mind.

Characters Involved: 

Cat Pryde, Gambit, Mystiq, Proteus/Morph, Psylocke, Rogue, Sabretooth, Sage (all Exiles)
Unknown Earth

Aurion, Professor Emma Frost, Puma, ‘Ro-‘Ro, Spider, Starbolt, Sunspot (all Force-X)

Purge, Salvo, three unidentified (all French para-normals)

Alan (Admiral’s right-hand man)

Armand, Marcel, Sam (French helicopter pilots and crew)

French soldiers

British citizens

Story Notes: 

During the situational meeting with Force-X and the Exiles it’s this summarizer’s opinion Frost was making a joke about entering Rogue’s mind and making her more pleasant.
Sage’s thoughts on this “new part of her being set free” will be followed upon next issue.
Psylocke’s mind is at war with this reality’s Lady Mandarin, which is why she seems confused looking at herself in the mirror.
Ogun is training Psylocke to avenge his apprentice’s death at the hands of Slaymaster. Psylocke already has a score to settle with him anyway as he’s been traipsing through the Omniverse killing alternate versions of herself.
Cat’s history is still unknown at this point, but clues keep pointing to something disastrous having happened that’s really affected her. Either Cat caused something horrific or she had to take drastic measures that have scarred her deeply.
“Lady Mandarin”, as Psylocke refers to herself, answers the letters this issue.
As revealed in next issue’s “Tallus About It” the cover artists were incorrectly labeled as Alan Davis, Mark Farmer & Guru eFX, but instead should have been Alex Garner.

Issue Information: 
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