Sabretooth & the Exiles #3

Issue Date: 
March 2023
Story Title: 
Station Three

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), Geoff Shaw & Edgar Delgado (variant cover artists), Drew Baumgartner (assistant editor), Mark Basso (editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Third Eye has taken the Exiles and Sabretooth into the Astral Plane to prevent Orphan Maker's escaped power from spelling certain doom for them and hundreds of mutant prisoners. It's within the Astral Plane that the Exiles discover another Orchis station, Station Three, where Orchis has been conducting astral plane mining, literally mining the energy of strange creatures from witin this realm. When the Exiles set down on the station, they take a physical form, and discover that the Creation, bodyguard of Dr. Barrington, was transported to the Astral Plane with them. Back on Earth, the General Contractor learns of the chaos at the other Orchic station, where he discovers Dr. Barrington is indeed alive. Within the prisoner holding cells, Bab and Herd are confused as to what has happened, but realize they are in danger with energy leaking from Orphan Maker's head. Suddenly, they feel that their powers have returned. In the Astral Plane, Orphan Maker is stressed and lashes out at his teammates, until Melter calms him down by playing along with the fact that Orphan Maker thinks he is the Human Torch. Sabretooth, Toad and Oya begin to explore the facility and are shocked when they find someone trapped inside a strange creature. Bab and Herd begin to free the other mutants when Dr. Barrington makes her way into the prison wing – the lower part of her face has been blasted of thanks to Orphan Maker's power. She is shocked when she discovers her mutant prisoners are now free. In the Astral Plane, Jeffries and Nanny begin building a new armor for Orphan Maker, while the Creation is summoned back to reality by Dr. Barrington, and just in time as the mutants close in around her. Dr. Barrington and the Creation then escape the station as it begins to fall into the lava within the volcano beneath them. Herd uses his powers to influence the other mutants into carrying the still unconscious Exiles so they can leave the station. Back in the Astral Plane, Oya has removed the mysterious person from the strange creature – and the man claims to be Victor Creed.

Full Summary: 

The Astral Plane. There is not one wa to see it. To Third Eye, who took his name as a nod to old-school mystics, the Astral Plane looks like a series of strange creatures with large eyes and pathways that lead nowhere. But Third Eye isn't here alone this time, and he doesn't know how the others will take to being here. 'I'm going to puke inside my suit' Eleanor Murch a.k.a. Nanny tells the other members of the Exiles, to which Idie Okonkwo a.k.a. Oya asks if you can vomit on the Astral Plane. Mortimer Toynbee a.k.a. Toad tells Oya that if Nanny spills he will not clean it up, as his days as a Janitor are done. Victor Creed a.k.a. Sabretooth turns back to the other Exiles floating through the Astral Plane and remarks 'You bozos keep yapping about throwing up, meanwhile, we've got a ticking time bomb to deal with'. Madison Jeffries and Nekra Sinclair float alongside Sabretooth, while the mysterious Peter a.k.a. Orphan Maker can be seen holding his helmet in place, as Sabretooth asks Third Eye how bringing them to the Astral Plane is going to keep this kid from blowing up the real world.
'Think of it like pulling the power source out of an IED. No battery, no explosion' Third Eye explains. Chris Colchiss a.k.a. Melter looms over Orphan Maker reminds everyone that Nanny had said the suit keeps Orphan-Maker's powers contained. 'But when he tore off his mask, his power set was unleashed' Nekra remarks. Nanny tells Third Eye that she is not so sure how scientifically sound his plan is, as Peter's body is still alive. 'But perhaps pulling his mind to the Astral Plane like this is like putting him into a medically induced coma?' Nanny asks, pointing out that Third Eye has slowed Peter's functions, including the manifestation of his power. Madison Jeffries suggests that that might buy them enough time to fashion a new armor, and asks Nanny if she built the last one. Jeffries suggest that if they collaborate, she can make him understand how the armor works, then he can shape a new suit for Peter, one with a better fail-safe mechanism. 'Right. We've got a plan. So where do we execute it? Floating here in space?' Sabretooth asks. Third Eye points out that the human mind needs something it understands in order to work best, and that this place warps all understanding. 'That's why Nanny felt sick – she really thinks we're floating in space' Third Eye adds, suggesting that if they want solid ground, the closest thing he can see out here is ahead of them – Station Three.
A strange rig-type structure protrudes from the floating body of a large purple creature. It looks like some sort of oil rig. Third Eye reveals that Orchis has been conducting “astral plane mining” which is what he learned when he dug into Dr. Barrington's mind – literally mining the astral energy of poor creatures like this one. Third Eye remarks that there are no physical constructs on the Astral Plane, which begs the question of how Orchis has a station here at all. But, whatever the answer, Third Eye knows that Orchis lost contact with this station – and even Dr. Barrington doesn't know why, and there is a mystery here that goes higher than her paygrade. 'Whatever it is...let's get grounded...and get to work' Third Eye tells his teammates, all of whom take a more physical form as they step down onto Station Three, when, suddenly, 'You shouldn't be here' a voice calls out.
The Exiles look over and see the astral form of Commander Krueger a.k.a. the Creation hovering above them. 'I shouldn't be here at all' the Creation declares. 'Barrington's bodyguard?' Third Eye calls out, realizing that he must have pulled her through with the Exiles when he made the jump to the Astral Plane. He tells her that he isn't going to send her back, so that she shouldnt bother asking. 'Why not? I'm not going to help you' The Creation responds. 'I send you back and you'll tear apart the bodies we left behind' Third Eye exclaims. 'That doesn't sound like me...' the Creation replies as she steps down onto Station Three, her form becoming physical, she asks about Dr. Barrington, noting that if she is still alive back there, Dr. Barrington will be able to do much worse than what she ever could.
Back in the real world, the mysterious “GC” known as the General Contractor watches Station Two through video footage and calls out 'Dr. Barrington? Dr. Barrington? Oh, what a complete waste of resources and time she turned out to be. This is what I get for making a diversity hire' the GC mutters. Suddenly, something moves on the camera footage, 'I live!' a voice calls out as a hand reaches up through the rubble in Dr. Barrington's laboratory on Station Two. It's Dr. Barrington, who looks up at the video screen and see the GC looking back at her through the shadows of his office. 'Not for long. I've been authorized to terminate your contract' the GC announces. But Dr. Barrington warns the GC that she will not go down so easily, and boasts that from here, she still commands a wealth of resources. The GC turns to a console at his side and presses a button labeled “2” as he declares that evidence of Station Two's existene will be lost in the mouth of that volcano – evidence of Barrington's existence as well. 'Not beaten yet. Not by a long shot' Barrington utters as she hobbles out of her laboratory.
Meanwhile, on Station Two, inside the holding pens where hundreds of mutants are being held captrive. Two human-looking mutants, a young man called Herd and a young woman called Bab, look down at the unmoving bodies of Sabretooth, the Exiles and the Creation. 'That is the weirdest game of puppy pile I have ever seen' Herd remarks. But Bab tells him that they aren't snuggling – she is pretty sure they are all passed out. 'Or dead' Herd suggests, to which Bab tells him that she doesn't think they are dead. There is a sudden rumble and Bab and Herd are knocked from their feet. 'What the hell was that?' Bab asks. Herd suggests that it must have something to do with the volcano that this station is parked on top of, and wonders if they are falling into it. Bab supposes that this has something to do with Sabretooth and the others breaking in here.
They stand back up inside their glass cage and look down at the motionless mutants, with Bab wondering what the energy is coming from the armored guy's head. 'I can't guess. They came to rescue us, but it looks like we'll have to rescue them' Herd replies. 'You're sure that's why they came?' Bab wonders. 'Of course that's it. You've heard of Krakoa, Bnab. Home to all mutants. They'd never leave us here to rot' Herd exclaims. Herd raises his shirt revealing a scar and reminds Bab that they have a thousand mutants to free, but so long as Dr. Barrington's implants are working they can't use their powers. Suddenly, Bab asks Herd if he just felt something, like a switch was flipped. 'It's like a part of me was is finally waking up' she utters.
Back on the Astral Plane, Orphan Maker sits up, energy glowing around him, he exclaims 'Where am I? What is this place?' Nanny takes Peter by his arm and tells him to be calm. 'We're trying to -' Nanny begins, before Orphan Maker swats her aside. 'Oh my!' Nanny gasps, as Orphan Maker stands up and declares that something happened, that he took off his mask and tha.t lady was screaming, everything melted, everything burned. 'Am I in Hell because of what I did?' Orphan Maker asks. Third Eye explains that entering the Astral Plane is a confusing experience, that not many can take it for long, and now Peter's spirit is trying to find its way back to his body. 'And if he does, then this will have been for nothing!' Nekra exclaims. Melter offers to talk to Peter, and tells the others that he has an idea that might calm him.
As Orphan Maker smashes into part of the platform everyone is standing on, Melter approaches him: 'Hey, hey! Orphan Maker – you remember me?' he calls out. 'Johnny Storm?' Orphan Maker replies, turning to Melter. 'That's right' Melter responds. 'How did the Human Torch get here?' Orphan Maker enquires. 'I came to find you. To keep you company. And to keep you calm' Melter claims. Orphan Maker sits down on the platform and sits cross-legged, informing “the Human Torch” that he has a question, lots of them, actually. 'What's Doctor Doom like in real life? I mean, when he's standing right in front of you?' Orphan Maker asks. 'Hmmm. Well, you want to hear something funny?' “the Human Torch” asks, before telling Orphan Maker that Doctor Doom's suit clanks when he walks. 'No!' Orphan Maker exclaims. 'Yup. Like the Tin Man' “the Human Torch” jokes. 'Hah!' Orphan Maker laughs, while Nanny, Jeffries and Third Eye watch on, surprised. Nekra looks around and notices that Oya is missing.
Indeed, Oya, Sabretooth and Toad make their way down a corridor, and Sabretooth tells Oya that she is shaking, and asks her if she is scared to be alone with him. 'I'm not scared. I set you on fire once – I'm happy to do it again' Oya replies. 'Besides, it's this whole base that's shaking. Like the station is shivering. Or breathing' Toad remarks as he climbs along a wall. Sabretooth turns to Toad and tells him to forget the spooky stories, and reminds him that they have never squared up about what went down when they acquired that information about the Orchis Forge. 'You were loud, you were slow, you got caught' Toad replies as he frowns at Sabretooth, suggesting that if not for Sabretooth's failure maybe there never would have been a Pit. 'I'll show you how loud I can be!' Sabretooth snarls as he leaps towards Toad, who retaliates by opening his mouth and flicking his tongue towards Sabretooth – only his tongue has morphed into some monstrosity, with numerous tongues wrapping around the surprised Sabretooth. 'Holy hell! I didn't know you could do this!' Sabretooth exclaims. 'Me neither!' Toad thinks to himself.
'Looks like I got some new tricks of my own here on the Astral Plane. Beast mode!' Sabretooth exclaims as large teeth stick out from his mouth and his slices his way through Toad's many tongues, leaving him with nothing more than a few inches remaining. '$#%&!' Toad exclaims, while Oya turns to them and asks them to cut it out. She points down the corridor and asks Sabretooth to come and look at this and tell her what she is seeing. 'I hate this stupid dimension' Sabretooth mutters as he and Toad follown Oya down the corridor, where they find a strange monstrous creature with many eyes and mouths, some sort of large blob-like being, a pod of jelly or some other sort of liquid sticks out from the creature, and a figure can be seen in the jelly. The figure turns and look at the new arrivals with red eyes glowing out from the liquid. 'Well done, Creed. It heard you. Once again, you're too loud. And once again, you put me in jeopardy as a result' Toad complains. Oya walks closer to the creature and asks 'What if we don't assume it's hostile, Toad?' and suggests that they might be able to communicate with it. 'Good luck with that' Sabretooth calls back as he and Toad turn and rush back down the corridor. 'Thanks, gentlemen. I guess I'll have to handle this myself' Oya mutters.
Back on Station Two, a portal begins to form in Bab's body, and she exclaims that her power is working. 'How?' Herd asks. Bab wonders if it has something to do with those passed-out maniacs and why they're out of commission. 'But who cares, let's use it to our advantage' she suggests. Herd asks Bab if she is sure about this, to which Bab tells him to pass through her gate and find his freedom. Herd pokes his head through the portal, but what he sees on the other side is the lava beneath Station Two. 'Uh, I'm going to pass on this offer' Herd responds as he pulls himself back into the prison cage. 'If I can see the place I'm sending you, it's less hazardous' Bab explains, before looking down towards the motionless mutants outside the cages and Bab tells Herd to pass through the wall to freedom and then she will start on the other cages. Herd passes through this time, to where the Exiles lay motionless beneath the prison cells.
Nearby, 'He thinks his project is the only one of value. But I am not beaten yet. I'm not done' Dr. Barrington declares as she approaches the prison cells. 'Not while I still have all this mutant livestock at my disposal – NO!' Dr. Barrington exclaims as she arrives sees that all of the mutants have been freed from their cells. 'Yes' Bab and Herd respond as they and hundreds of other mutants stare back at the doctor – the lower half of her face disfigured from encountering Orphan Maker's powers, her skin is missing below her eyes and nose.
Returning to the Astral Plane, '... and that's how you're able to inhibit his power? This is so impressive, Nanny' Madison Jeffries remarks as he and Nanny work together to construct a new armor for Orphan Maker, while Third Eye stands nearby. 'About time someone acknowledged that I'm more than just a good mother!' Nanny replies as she welds the armor together. Third Eye rubs the back of his head and asks how they are doing for time, as keeping them all on this plane is starting to wear on him. Jeffries reports that they are ready, and asks where the rest of the group is. At that moment, the Creation hears a voice – the voice of Dr. Barrington. 'Can you hear me?' the voice calls out. The Creation leaps off Station Three, reverting to her astral form, while Dr. Barrington informs her that the power inhibitor coils are offline, and that the animals have escaped their cages. 'I need you here' Dr. Barrington announces. 'Here I come!' The Creation responds.
On Station Two, the mutant prisoners begin to surround Dr. Barrington, and Herd warns her that if he wanted to, he could use his powers to make his friends here tear her apart. 'Violence comes naturally to you people' Dr. Barrington responds. 'You've spent months cutting us to pieces, but you calll us violent' Bab exclaims. 'I did that for science!' Dr. Barrington claims. 'You've been doing this kind of thing for a long time, I'm guessing, Barrington' someone remarks. 'You can't grasp what we were working toward, the importance of all our sacrifices!' Dr. Barrington responds. 'Our sacrifices?' one of the prisoners retorts, while The Creation's astral form returns to her body, and she sits up. 'Looks like my ride is here' Dr. Barrington grins.
There is another explosion on the station, which tilts above the volcano. 'Where will we go?' The Creation asks as she leaps out of the station and flies above the volcano, carrying Dr. Barrington with her. 'Station Four. I know a back door in' Dr. Barrington responds. 'The babies?' The Creation asks. 'Yes' Dr. Barrington confirms, adding that their mistake was experimenting on the mutants too late – they need to get them young, but that with the coils malfunctioning on the station, she doesn't know what nightmare they are going to find there.

Back inside, Bab and Herd look down at the unconscious Exiles, and Bab wonders why Barrington's friend woke up, but the others are still asleep. Herd tells Bab that he doesn't think that matters, and that they just need to get them clear. Herd reminds himself that he can influence people to do things, but that only if it is something they are open to doing. 'Everyone here wants to survive...' he realizes, and so uses his powers to instruct several of the other prisoners to take the Exiles with them and carry them to the hangars. 'Let's move!' Herd shouts.
Back in the Astral Realm, 'You left her where?' Nekra screams as she suddenly grabs Toad and Sabretooth by their hair and begins dragging them down a corridor. 'I will kill you both in every dimension that exists if anything happened to Oya!' Nekra warns them. As they arrive back in the room where Sabretooth and Toad left Oya behind, everyone goes wide-eyed, as Oya announces that she is okay. 'He wasn't a threat. He was dying. But he talked to me first. Told me his name' Oya explains as she sits next to the figure whom was trapped inside the bubble within the strange creature. The figure is thin and appears weak – and then Oya reveals that his name is Victor Creed!

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

Victor Creed (alternate)

Issue Information: 

Toad refers to being a janitor, he held this position at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.
Orphan Maker has been mistaking Melter, in his new form, for the Human Torch since Sabretooth (4th series) #5.
The situation with Toad and Sabretooth and the Orchis Forge took place in House of X #1.
This issue includes a memo from the General Contractor to Feilong.

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