SWORD #2

Issue Date: 
February 2010
Story Title: 
Aliens Go Home
Staff: 

Kieron Gillen (writer), Steve Sanders (penciler), Craig Yeung (inks), Dave Lanphear (letterer), Matt Wilson (colors), John Cassady with Laura Martin (cover artists), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

S.W.O.R.D. co-commander Gyrich begins his new policy of alien repatriation by having his agents capture several Earth-base aliens. These include Adam X, Hepzibah, Karolina Dean and Noh-Varr. He then visits Unit and asks for advice on how to pacify some higher profile targets with minimum collateral damage. His fellow co-commander, Abigail Brand, has her hands full with Death's Head, alongside Hank McCoy and Lockheed. They manage to escape from his ship with Lothi, but he hasn't quite finished yet. The team returns to The Peak where Abigail discovers that her half-brother does indeed have the artifact that Death's Head requires. She has Hank deliver it back to him. Hank then receives information from Cyclops and Emma Frost that Hepzibah has been taken by S.W.O.R.D. Hank is most upset and is even more so when Gyrich apprehends Abigail in order to have her leave Earth along with the other aliens.

Full Summary: 

(California, 8:12am PST)

The Kree warrior and ex-Avenger Noh-Varr is running from S.W.O.R.D. ships, fast. He dodges blast after blast, remaining totally focused on his objective, as is the Kree way. The air around him twitches as a teleportation lock targets him. But you can't lock onto the wind, surely? he figures. Noh-Varr is wrong. He suddenly finds himself, along with the ground beneath him, on board The Peak. S.W.O.R.D's orbital platform. The computers localize his body and energy envelops him. “Oh, you have to be kidding me,” he thinks. The atmosphere is ejected and the gravity stabilizer is activated. Watching from the control room, an agent named Cecelia quips that there goes the teleportation budget for this month. Gyrich thinks it's worth it. Noh-Varr is one of the biggest fish and he's been landed. She can now start working down the list. It needs completing by the time Co-Commander Brand returns from whatever distraction is keeping her away.

Meanwhile, on Death's Head's ship, the big guy isn't too pleased that Abigail Brand, Hank McCoy and the annoying little dragon have joined him on board. "Look what you've done to my ship!" he bellows as he blasts away. Hank grabs Abigail and drags her to safety. Abigail once again asks Hank to call her Commander Brand when they're in the office. Hank replies that he loves her when she's so frightfully formal and/or not being shot at by an enormous robotic bounty hunter. Death's Head corrects him. The polite term is mechanoid, not bounty hunter. He blasts once again, and Hank apologizes as he leaps back and forth until he is head height with the giant. He asks what the correct terminology should be. How about “freelance peacekeeping agent,” he suggests, adding that if Death's Head keeps discharging his ordinance, their entrance's teeny rupture will be the least of his vessel's problems. He should think of the resale value.

Death's Head replies that it's a tax write-off; just the cost of doing business. And he's not a freelance peacekeeping agent. He's a personal recovery spec... He pauses a moment, deciding he likes the sound of Hank's suggestion after all. "Thanks squishy," he says, as he raises a massive spiked fist above Hank's head. Abigail grabs her gun and fires off a round which hits the bounty hunter square in the right eye. He reels from the impact and clearly feels pain. Hank realizes that if he can feel pain, then they can vex the living hell out of him. Lockheed makes a suggestion in his native tongue but Abigail tells him that his idea is against every intergalactic accord and acceptable standard of decency. She then changes her mind and asks Lockheed to go teach him a lesson. Lockheed flies up to Death's Head's face and unleashes a burst of flame. The robot reels and this provides Abigail the opportunity to go find her half-brother, Lothi, while Hank and Lockheed hold the fort and prep them an exit.

Abigail soon finds Lothi trapped in a tank. She tells him that breaking him out of anything sound-impervious goes against every instinct she possesses. However, she creates an opening in the tank and Lothi gets himself free. They soon return to Hank who informs her that there's a problem. It's a boarding torpedo which they arrived on, not an unboarding torpedo. It's not big on reversing! Death's Head ejects his flaming eyeball and tells them that they owe him an eyeball. Hank quickly tosses Lothi, Lockheed and Abigail a canister each and says he has a plan. "A good one?" asks Abigail. "A terrible one," Hank replies. He wanders over to where Death's Head is standing and begins some amateur dramatics.

Death's Head is impressed. Even after his little dragon creature toasted the inside of his head, he's found a way to rile him even more. He aims a massive gun at Hank and pulls the trigger. The blast rips straight through the hull of the ship and the three S.W.O.R.D. agents and Lothi are sucked out into the cold, dark void beyond. Once outside, the canisters activate, surrounding them with a personal air-filled forcefield. Abigail asks if everyone's in one piece. Hank replies that he's merely singed. Lockheed is okay and Lothi... Lothi's well-being isn't particularly high on Abigail's priorities at the moment. She calls Stiletto One for an immediate pickup, and hopes Gyrich hasn't made a total mess of thinks while she's been away.

(New York State, 12:27 PST)

Spider-Woman apprehends the Skrull, Jazinda, with fatal force. Jazinda is apprehended whilst regenerating.

(The Peak, 12:30 PST)

During Operation Grace, both extraterrestrial and Brand loyalists begin to be placed in custody to minimize the chance of disruption in the adjustment periods. Sweeps aimed to cause minimal profile internally means Gyrich's teams take individuals as they step off duty. Agents are led to cells on board the space station by their fellow colleagues.

(Empire State University, New York, 12:34 PST)

'Joe Ego' is apprehended. He is Shi'Ar and working at the university as part of an exchange program with the Shi'ar Empire. His visa is revoked.

(The Peak, 13:01 PST)

Beta Ray Bill, the Korbinite cyborg and oathbrother to Thor is taken peacefully into custody due to his fellow Korbinite, Ti Asha Ra, also being apprehended.

(location classified, 13:33 PST)

Adam X, a Shi'Ar hybrid currently incarcerated by the U.S. government, is transferred to S.W.O.R.D. custody along with several other governmental xenoprisoners.

(San Francisco, 10:18 PST)

Hepzibah, a Mephistisoid affiliated with the X-Men, receives communication from James Proudstar, otherwise known as her significant other, Warpath. The communication turns out to be a fake, and S.W.O.R.D. agents take her down using a cocktail laced with pheremones.

(Alaska, 10:07 PST)

Two members of the S'Thalin family, Z'Nox defectors, protected by the S.W.O.R.D.'s resettlement program which resettled them in exchange for information on Z'Nox operating procedures, are taken down physically by a strike team.

(Los Angeles, 10:25 PST)

Using a heightened pheromone especially tailored for the Majesdanian psychology which is released into the locale, Karolina Dean heads off to investigate and is separated from her fellow runaways. She is peacefully apprehended.

(later)

Gyrich and Cecelia head to the Brig, knowing that Abigail Brand is on her way back. Gyrich asks for progress on neutralizing her power base. Cecelia informs him that the last few detentions are underway. ETA is about half an hour maximum. He asks her to leave Brand alone until then. The last few will be the worst. He'll start on the bigger problems. He enters the Brig and finds Unit standing there. He congratulates the robot on his pheromone formulas. They worked, and his psych-profile was useful in locating the Kree. Unit replies that he's pleased and likes to make himself useful. Gyrich informs him that his opportunity is here.

A screen lights up with several images, including Warbound and Warlock. He asks Unit, if he had to locate, isolate and pacify the targets shown with the absolute minimum of collateral damage, how would he proceed? Unit looks over the screen and is a little surprised. Not only does Gyrich have a 'transdimensional genomanipulated Kree warrior' running around, but he has a cross-species Warbound gladiator unit and a machano-organic transmutor too? And still he is locked up there? A more sensitive machine may have his feelings bruised, he adds. But, still, he might have an idea or two...

(Falchion One, S.W.O.R.D. flagship in transit to the Peak)

A crew member informs Abigail that the robot bounty hunter is signaling. Hank, removing the remains of his safety bubble, says he is a mechanoid. "There's no need to be uncouth." Abigail ask him to punch the 'Michael Bay nightmare in the size-300 clown shoes' through. "Or maybe there is," whispers Hank. Death's Head's image appears on screen and he says hello. Abigail tells him that if Hank is correct, then while they cannot find him while he is immobile, as soon as his ship moves at any vaguely useful speed, they will find him. In other words, he's no chance of pulling off another extraction caper.

So, she adds, is he doing the sensible thing, giving up and going home? Death's Head replies that he's on a day rate. He can wait. Abigail asks for the signal to be cut. She turns to Lothi and orders him to give Death's Head whatever he's after, but Lothi insists that he hasn't got it. Abigail calls for a psychic and wonders where the hell Sydren is.

(The Peak's diplomatic conference room 1)

Sydren is at the table with three Drenx pirates. He assures them that Abigail will be back shortly, and offers them more tea. One replies that the hot liquid he has served has filled his gut to bursting, and he now needs to vent his watery bowels into a waste disposal unit.

Back on board the Falchion, Brand realizes that she can't pull Sydren out of the Drenx negotiations. She wants to get back to the Peak so she can use the damn robot.

(soon)

Abigail, Hank and Lothi enter the Brig to speak with Unit. Unit reckons he's quite popular today and tries to exchange pleasantries, but Abigail gets straight down to business, and tells him that her half-brother claims he doesn't have some kind of alien artifact. Unit asks why he would say such a thing. It's in a bespoke smuggling cavity in his abdomen! Abigail grabs Lothi and pulls her gun from its holster. "He's lying," cries Lothi, but Abigail points the gun at his face and snarls, "He's a machine created solely for the purposes of lying, and I still trust him more than you." She informs him that it's a ludicrously high-tech gun so it doesn't have anything that makes a handily intimidating noise, so he should imagine a “cllllick” at this point. Lothi tells her that he can explain, but Abigail replies that she can shoot him through the head. Isn't the universe of free action a wonderful place? She wonders who can manage it first. Lothi decides to spill the beans.

(flashback)

Lothi explains that Tinas V is a dead world, scoured clear in a very old war. Death's Head's employers won and they keep the world as an unliving memorial. People can go and study, but nothing leaves. His employers lost that war. In doing so, they lost a bauble of import, too. It's an imperial family knick-knack... she knows the sort of thing. Anyway, he worked there and sneaked something off. They realized this and sent Death's Head after him. "The end!"

(present)

Hank reckons that his story doesn't really explain anything. Lothi replies that it really was an enormous amount of money. Abigail says that it explains it, but it doesn't excuse it. They can go and see if they can't close another sorry chapter in Lothi's biography. As they walk, Hank asks Abigail if there's any chance of an elaboration on that 'machine created solely for the purpose of lying' thing. Abigail reminds him that she said she'd explain later.

They head back to the room where they spoke to Death's Head and contact him again. He's in the middle of some accounting. It appears they owe him one alien, one artifact, one eyeball and whatever it costs him to refit the gaping hole in the side of his ship. Abigail replies that he owes S.W.O.R.D. for damages to the peak. Just because they're rebuilding it, doesn't give him license to blow it up again. This isn't Avengers Mansion. "Or the X-Men's" adds Hank. Abigail wants to clean the slate. She has the artifact and she'll hand it over in exchange for free passage for Lothi. Deal? Death's Head finds that perfectly amicable.

Abigail hands Hank a gold band and asks him to deliver it to Death's Head. She then calls Sydren and asks how the Drenx are. He replies that they're getting a little terse. He's not sure how long exactly he can stall them for. Abigail assures him that she'll be there soon, but before she hangs up, Sydren informs her of another mysterious spooky signal. "M.S.S.," replies Abigail. They have the three-letter acronyms for a reason. Sydren quips that it should be T.L.A., but Abigail replies, "That's F.U. Empath Sydren. Brand out." Sydren apologizes to the Drenx for the interruption, but adds that there's a further delay returning to business. There's really no imaginable situation where they can “hand over all the Earth women.”

Meanwhile, Lothi takes a photo of his half-sister and Hank for prosperity. As soon as he has the shot, Abigail tells him to get the hell out of her space station and solar system. She's billed him for all S.W.O.R.D. expenses on this total waste of time. As he climbs aboard his ship, she adds that next time he passes this way, he can bring enough to settle up or she'll toss him in the Brig and throw away the key... and the life-support. "You remain a total bitch," he replies. "Believe it," she says, "See you around, bro." Hank places an arm over her shoulder and asks her if all her family are as irksome. Abigail reckons he's not so bad. The fact that he exists stops her from being the black sheep of the family. She then asks him to remove his arm.

Hank then receives a priority message from the X-Men and he has it patched through. Cyclops and Emma Frost appear on screen. Hank tells Scott that he's not really in the mood to speak to them right now. Emma decides to speak for them. "Hank," she says. "You know that ivory tower you enjoy your little holidays to? Well as a biologist, you understand what sort of people collect ivory..."

Abigail turns to other matters and asks for everything they have on the M.S.S. She is interrupted when Hank shouts, "What!" at the screen. He rushes over to Abigail and asks what kind of fascist insanity she has tethered him to. Abigail doesn't know what he's on about, but Hank explains that Hepzibah was taken this morning from San Francisco by S.W.O.R.D. forces. Apparently, all extraterrestrial life is being repatriated. This is not what he signed up for.

Abigail turns to an assistant and asks where Gyrich is. He tells her that he's in his office. Another assistant informs her that Lothi is signaling for help again. Death's Head started to pursue him. She asks him to tell Lothi that she has work to do. "Tell him to run. Every second counts." She storms to Gyrich's office and calls him a bureaucratic smear from the bowels of a Brood Queen. Is this true? Is he really doing this? Gyrich sits back, smugly, and asks if she means the fact that they're sending all the aliens home? Yes, he adds, it's quite true, every single, solitary one. Several troops appear and lock their weapons onto Hank and Abigail. Gyrich then tells Abigail that it's been great working with her.

Characters Involved: 

Abigail Brand

Beast

Lockheed

Sydren

Henry Peter Gyrich

S.W.O.R.D. members of staff including Cecelia

Lothithanrianiaxus

Drenx Diplomats

Death’s Head

Unit

Noh-Varr

Spider-Woman

Jazinda (Skrull)

Unknown prisoners of S.W.O.R.D.

Joe Ego (Shi'ar)

Beta Ray Bill

Ti Asha Ra

Adam X

Hepzibah and bar customer

Two members of the Z'Nox race

Karolina Dean, Molly Hayes, Victor Mancha, Nico Minoru, Klara Prast and Chase Stein (all Runaways)

(as a hologram)

Ti Asha Ra and a S.W.O.R.D. agent

(on screen)

Cyclops and Emma Frost (both X-Men)

Death's Head

Warlock

Members of Warbound

(in flashback)

Lothithanrianiaxus

Story Notes: 

The Runaways make a one-panel cameo in this issue. Chase is back with the team, so it looks like he gets better after being run over in Runaways (3rd series) #14.

Joe Ego looks very similar to Mentor from the Shi'ar Imperial Guard.

Warbound is a team found primarily within the pages of Hulk. Members include Korg and Elloe Kaifi.

Ti Asha Ra first appeared in Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #3.

Jazinda is the Super Skrull Kl'rt's daughter.

Adam X was arrested in Dark Avengers #7 and taken to Alcatraz.

Michael Bay is a movie producer and director whose films include Armageddon, The Rock and Transformers.

Avengers Mansion and the X-Men's Westchester headquarters have regularly been destroyed and rebuilt over the years.

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