Sabretooth & the Exiles #2

Issue Date: 
February 2023
Story Title: 
Chimera Protocols

Victor LaVelle (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Rain Beredo (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer & production), Tom Muller & Jay Bowen (designers), Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer & Frank Martin (cover artists), Iban Coello & Jesus Aburtov; Gerardo Sandoval & David Curiel (variant cover artists), Drew Baumgartner (assistant editor), Mark Basso (editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Sabretooth and the Exiles have reunited, and Oya questions Nekra when she doesn't use the mysterious skull seed on Sabretooth like she was instructed to do so. Nekra tells Oya that they don't know what this does, and so she doesn't want to risk anything at this stage. Nanny is concerned about where Orphan Maker has been taken by Orchis, and Third Eye has the answer, another Orchis station, which he learned about when he invaded Dr. Barrington's mind. At this station, Dr. Barrington is in contact with the mysterious General Contractor, updating him on her efforts, she reveals she has created the Barrington Coil, which will prevent Sabretooth from using his healing factor. The General Contractor isn't impressed with Dr. Barrington and ends the call, before Dr. Barrington turns her attention to Orphan Maker as she attempts to break through his armor. Nanny reveals how she found Peter (Orphan Maker) as a child, being experimented on by Mr. Sinister, who planned to use him as a doomsday weapon, so she took Peter from Sinister, and created his armor to protect the world from his devastating power. The Exiles arrive at another Orchis station, which they begin to explore in an attempt to find Orphan Maker. Madison Jeffries is able to “speak” to the station, where he locates the holding cells where hundreds of mutants are being kept prisoner, experimented on by Dr. Barrington. Two of the mutants, Bab and Herd, recognize Sabretooth from when he was held priosner here, and assumes that he has come to rescue them with heroes from Krakoa. Dr. Barrington finds that she can't break through Orphan Maker's armor, and Orphan Maker tells her the only way to remove the armor is if he personally wants to remove it. Shortly, Dr. Barrington's bodyguard, the Creation, locates the Exiles in the prison wing of the station. Nekra rushes at her, thinking she wants a rematch, but the Creation doesn't want to fight – she's running because she's in danger. A moment later, Orphan Maker enters, energy radiating from his helmet, which has been disconnected from the rest of his armor. Orphan Maker apologizes to Nanny, while the Creation reveals that Orphan Maker killed Dr. Barrington, although Orphan Maker claims she is alive still. Sabretooth suggests they dump Orphan Maker into the volcano beneath this station, but others refuse, despite knowing that hundreds of mutants are in danger, so Third Eye comes up with a plan, and takes everyone into the Astral Plane.

Full Summary: 

'Who's running this team?' Mortimer Toynbee a.k.a. Toad asks. 'What team? We are wasting time!' Eleanor Murch a.k.a. Nanny exclaims. Idie Okonkwo Oya claims that she can't watch much more of this, as it's brutal, and covers her face with one of her hands, although she peers out between her fingers to continues watching. 'Oh, I don't know. I'm enjoying it!' Chris Colchiss a.k.a. Melter grins as he watches what is transpiring with glee. 'Hell of a crew we've got here' Third Eye mutters as he turns away. 'Humanity at its finest' Madison Jeffries agrees. 'You're not even trying. Or maybe you are. Which is worse' Nekra Sinclair snaps as she smashes her fist into Victor Creed a.k.a. Sabretooth, drawing blood and knocking him backwards, while the rest of the Exiles look on as they stand on the deck of Sabretooth stolen ship, which hovers through the air.
'Nah, you're right. I've taken knocks from a lot tougher than you and barely felt it. But this time... something's off' Sabretooth confirms to Nekra, who asks Sabretooth if something was done to him in that lab. 'Save your tears, Vampirella' Sabretooth snarls as he gets to his feet. Oya goes over to Nekra and grabs her wrist, telling her that she needs to talk to her, alone. They go down to the other end of the deck, and Nekra asks Oya what she needs. 'Doug Ramsey gave you a seed from Krakoa' Oya points out. Nekra holds the small skull-shaped seed in her fingers and Oya reminds Nerka that she was instructed to plan the seed as soon as they found Sabretooth, and that this would be his punishment. 'So why haven't you done it?' Oya asks. Nekra clenches her fist and hangs her head as she reveals that she doesn't know what this thing will actually do, and reminds Oya that she is not in the habit of following the orders of the state. Nekra reminds Oya that they have something else as well – they have left Krakoa behind and they are not going back. 'We can't rely on Krakoa's greatest gift, the resurrection protocols. Meaning...' her voice trails off, as Oya declares 'If we die, there's no coming back'.
Meanwhile, aboard Orchis Station Two, inside Dr. Barrington's lab, where the deranged scientist holds up some small instrument, while speaking into a camera, telling the person she is communicating with that, as she has already made clear in her report, the remote collars she designed were not effective against the healing factor of the mutant known as Sabretooth, and when she removed his liver, she took the precaution of inserting this small instrument, which she calls the Barrington Coil. 'And has this proved any more useful against his healing factor?' a figure sitting in a dark office asks as they look upp at a large holo-screen in their office. Dr. Barrington addresses them as “GC” and reports that they are still collecting the data, but that she believes so. 'Believe so? Why wouldn't you collect that data before reporting to me? That way, you could share useful information' GC snaps. Dr. Barrington scowls and reminds GC that she doesn't report to him, that she is an employee of the Orchis Corporation, and he is just some General Contractor – a middleman. 'I'm the one who hired you, which means you don't work for Orchis. To them, you're some freelancer who lost an entire prison' GC retorts, warning Dr. Barrington not to let the same happen to Station Two, and instructs her to report back about the coil.
'But the coil isn't even why I contacted you!' Dr. Barrington begins to say, but GC ends the communication. Dr. Barrington frowns and asks her companion, Commander Kruger, now known as the Creation, whether she should call him back. The large, imposing Creation suggests that it would not make a difference. 'A man like that won't listen to you' she points out. 'I think the heads of Orchis would listen' Dr. Barrington complains, to which the Creation jokes that she doesn't have their cell numbers. 'Do you?' she asks Dr. Barrington, who tells the Creation not to be snippy. 'They'd grasp what we might accomplish with Orphan-Maker' Dr. Barrington utters, but the Creation suggests to her that they would just say the same thing GC did: 'Call us when you have results'. 'Fine. Let's give them some results' Dr. Barrington replies as she turns her attention to the captive Orphan Maker, who is restrained on a table, while various instruments are attempting to pierce his protective armor.
Back aboard the Exiles's ship, Third Eye stands over a console which depicts a map, and he points out some coordinates, indicating that it is called the Ring of Fire, part of the Pacific Ocean known for its active volcanoes, and that this is where Orchis built Station Two. 'And that's where they took Peter?' Nanny asks. Third Eye explains that when he made contact with Dr. Barrington's mind he saw the location. 'Then let's go! We're all in danger until we get Peter back!' Nanny exclaims. 'Egg Lady sounds scared. She seems loopy, but my gut says to believe her. You want to fill us in on why you're this shook up?' Sabretooth asks.
Nanny reveals that Mr. Sinister discovered her Peter and kept him as a promising experiment, that he meant to use Peter as a kind of doomsday weapon. When all else fails, blow everything up. Sinister assumed he would skirt away unharmed to plan and scheme again – but he was wrong. Because Sinister didn't grasp the level of Peter's destructiveness – extinction level. Once Sinister had discovered the scale, he decided it was easier to eliminate the boy – but Nanny didn't take kindly to that. 'Since I'm a better scientist than Sinister, I came up with a solution that would save the baby' Nanny reveals, recalling how she created the armor to house Peter, before explaining that if Orchis get him out f that armor, they will all find out what is so terrifying that it even scared that stinker Mr. Sinister.
Orchis Station Two is positioned above the opening of a volcano. Fiery molten lava can be seen under the circular station, which is held in place by large clains extending from the volcano's edge. Aboard the Exiles' ship, Madison Jeffries reports that he is technokinetically requesting that the station ignore them, and as a hatch opens, the ship floats into the docking bay thanks to Madison, who explains that the station has agreed to let them use the hangar. Nekra takes command, telling the others that they are to get in and find Orphan-Maker, but that she also wants to understand the scope of what Orchis is doing with these prisons. Sabretooth wipes the blood from his face and remarks that that means they will need to do some intelligence gathering, but none of them have more experience with that than him. 'You're just going to betray us again, right? I mean, you'll leave us behind or sell us out' Oya snaps. 'You're smart and you're right. Never trust me. But at the moment, my goal and yours are the same. So I'm on yout side, for now' Sabretooth retorts as he leers down at Oya. 'At least he's honest' Third Eye remarks. 'I can't believe we are giving a snake credit for admitting he's a snake' Melter mutters, to which Third Eye tells him that snakes don't deserve that comparison.
Back in her laboratory, a frustrated Dr. Barrington asks why Orphan Maker's armor is so impossible to crack. The Creation rubs her wrist after failing to tear the armor off no matter how hard she pulled, and reminds Dr. Barrington that her eye beams didn't penetrate it, either. 'That's because Nanny designed my armor. There's only one way it can ever come off' Orphan Maker announces. Dr. Barrington spins and looks at him, asking him how long he has been awake. 'The whole time' Orphan Maker replies. The Creation asks Orphan Maker why he didn't just tell them the armor wouldn't come off. 'Nanny taught me not to speak to strangers' Orphan Maker explains. Dr. Barrington reminds Orphan Maker that he said there was only one way the armor could come off, and asks him what that is. 'I can take it off, but only if I want to' Orphan Maker reveals.
The Exiles have begun walking through the Orchis Station. Sabretooth turns to Madison Jeffries and remarks 'MJ, you seem to have a special relationshup with this base. Is it manned or automated'. Jeffries reveals that the base is fully automated, and tells Sabretooth not to call him “MJ”. Sabretooth asks if the station can tell Jeffries where the people are, like trace the heat signatures. 'I'll ask' Jeffries responds, to which Sabretooth replies 'What do you mean ask? Don't you control machines? Can't you tell it what to do?' Jeffries replies that he could, but he won't. 'Well, aren't you a big wall of virtue' Sabretooth mutters. Nekra tells Jeffries to ignore Sabretooth and to just ask about the heat signatures. Jeffries closes his eyes for a moment and falls silent, before looking up and pointing down a corridor: 'That way' he announces.
Orphan Maker sits up on the operating table as Dr. Barrington suggests they try this from a different perspective, and asks Orphan Maker if he ever wants to take his armor off. 'I keep telling you that Nanny made me swear I never would. She forbids it' Orphan Maker replies. 'She sounds like my...General Contractor. Lots of commands, but he never listens to me' Dr. Barrington remarks. 'That's right. That's exactly how it is' Orphan Maker exclaims. 'They think their title earns our deference, but what have they ever really done except keep their boot on our throats?' Dr. Barrington asks, before announcing that GC is not going to dictate the trajectory of her career, or her life – no one is master over her. 'That's the spirit! You tell him!' Orphan Maker cheers. Dr. Barrington turns to Orphan Maker and, calling him Peter, tells him that he is right. 'I am going to tell him. I'm going to do what I want to do!' Dr. Barrington exclaims. Orphan Maker pauses, before remarking 'Do what I want to do. Maybe I want to know what that feels like too'.
Back in the corridor, 'That tofu-colored broad turned me up pretty good. Taking everything I got just to keep upright' Sabretooth thinks to himself as he leans against a wall, whole holding a wound on his abdomen. He knows that Barrington put something in him and that it is scrambling his gifts – healing factor is gone, so has his sense of smell and hearing. 'And there's something else...can't even keep the claws steady' Sabretooth realizes, before deciding that he can't let these bozos know. 'This is it. Look alive' Sabretooth calls out as he presses a red button which opens the doors to the prison cells. Sabretooth tells the Exiles that he can't protect them all of this fight gets hairy. 'Oh hell' he then utters, while the Exiles gasp as they enter the the prison and find dozens and dozens of mutants, most of them with some physical mutation, living in cramped see-through containers as if they were lab rats -which, to Dr. Barrington, they are.
'Look, someone's here!' a young mutant with dark skin wearing a red scarf tells his cellmate, a woman wearing a blue jumpsuit, who mutters 'Just some new torturer'. The young man calls her Bab and tells her that he thinks she's wrong, as that isn't the doctor. Bab calls her cellmate Herd and tells him to stay quiet, or else he'll be noticed and put under the knife again. But Herd begins to tell Bab that he knows one of them, the big guy. 'SABRETOOTH!' Bab exclaims. 'The kids love me' Sabretooth grins as he turns to the Exiles, causing Nekra to groan and cover her face with her hands. Suddenly, 'Get out of my way! Out of my way!' The Creation shouts as she bursts through a wall and into the prison. 'I've been hoping we'd get a rematch' Nekra smirks as she raises a fist, which she shoves into the Creation's stomach, knocking her backwards into Nanny, who topples over. 'Rude!' Nanny calls out. 'You idiots! I'm not trying to fight!' The Creation calls out, while Sabretooth frowns and tells Nekra that he doesn't need any special senses to tell what is going on – it's obvious that she is scared. 'Of what? What happened?' Nekra asks as she holds a foot down on the Creation's chest, keeping her on the floor.
The Creation doesn't need to answer, as Orphan Maker suddnely appears, energy glowing from around his helmet. 'Peter! Oh my boy!' Nanny exclaims. Peter drops to his knees in front of Nanny and tells her that he made a mistake, that he should have listened to her. Nanny assures Peter that it will be okay, and asks him what he did. 'He killed her!' The Creation shouts, pointing at Orphan Maker. Orphan Maker clutches his helmet as energy continues to radiate from it, and he claims that he didn't, that she isn't dead, but that he took his helmet off and she was standing right in front of him. Nanny turns back to the Creation and informs her that if her companion did not die, then she has, at the very least, been exposed to an unimaginable power set, and that if they don't do something quickly, Peter's helmet will utterly fail and they will be exposed, too – as he's having a meltdown.
'I'm making an executive decision that we dump this kid in the volcano and the eight of us get the $#%& out of here' Sabretooth announces, but Nanny declares that she cannot leave Peter behind. 'You can burn too. I don't care' Sabretooth tells her. Oya confronts Sabretooth, telling him that they aren't leaving anyone, none of them, nor none of the mutants trapped in the cages here. 'Fine, fine. We'll let the kid blow up and kill everyone. I'll survive, at least' Sabretooth mmutters. ' won't. You can't heal like you used to. He blows and you die too' Oya replies, causing Sabretooth to frown. Sabretooth then suggests that they treat this like a nuclear reactor meltdown, and suggests that they need to cut off this chain reaction, that they have to introduce something that can interrupt the process, like a reset button. 'Who's got ideas?' he asks.
Third Eye begins to glow as he annnounces that he can think of one way, a way to shift them, but that he has never done it with this many people. 'Shift us where?' Melter asks, blocking his eyes from the glow. 'A place where reality can be rewritten' Third Eye reveals, suggesting that they take this to the Astral Plane, as he begins to lift the psychic essence of the rest of the Exiles up towards this other plane of existence....

Characters Involved: 

Madison Jeffries, Melter, Nanny, Nekra, Orphan Maker, Oya, Third Eye, Toad (all Exiles)

Dr. B. Barrington
Commander Kruger/The Creation

Graydon Creed

Bab, Herd and other Orchis prisoners

(in flashback images)
Mr. Sinister

Story Notes: 

This issue includes a memo from Dr. Barrington to anyone who will listen regarding transplants and her device the Barrington Coil.

Written By: