S.W.O.R.D. (2nd series) #11

Issue Date: 
February 2022
Story Title: 
Final Frontier

Al Ewing (writer), Jacopo Camagni, (artist), Fernando Sifuentes of Photobunker’s Studios (colors), VC’s Ariana Maher (letterer & Production), Tom Muller (Design), Stefano Caselli & Federico Blee (cover artists), Paul Renaud (alternate cover), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Annalise Bissa (Associate editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in chief)

Brief Description: 

Thanks to Gyrich’s machinations, the PEAK is falling toward Australia. Cable (the only man aboard) and Manifold (in Australia) work together to teleport the station and put it back on its trajectory towards the atmosphere. However, the feat leaves Cable exhausted and weakens his control over his TO virus. On Mars, after separating her allies from the Lethal Legion clones, Storm uses atmospheric pressure to almost kill the clones defeating them and sending their master Orbis Stellaris a message. On Alpha Flight Station, Guardian is disgusted with Gyrich – and warns him Department H will hear of this. Wiz Kid shows his true colors and reveals that all of Gyrich’s-secret schemes will be sent not only to Department H but to the Shi’ar. Gyrich tries to flee and ends up in an airlock. Brand tells him what a failure he is and that she will take his place in Orchis before ejecting him from the airlock into space.

Full Summary: 

Kata Tjuta, Australia:
Eden Fesi aka Manifold looks up in the sky. His uncle Baz asks if this is Krakoan business. Eden agrees. He didn’t want to worry anybody, but he guesses it’s hard not to notice SWORD Station One dropping out of the sky. On them.

He’s got it then? Baz asks. Eden reminds him he is the Manifold. He’s got it. When Baz isn’t quite convinced, Eden points out that he’s got help on the other side, too. Heard of Cable? The metal arm fella?

He was Captain America for a while, Baz believes. That was the Winter Soldier, Eden corrects him. Cable’s the other metal arm fella. The pouch fella.

Cable telepathically sends that he can hear him. Though he admits to being grateful for his assist. They are going to need Eden’s power to make this work. The PEAK’s thrusters are dead. And his telekinesis can’t push a thousand-ton weight out of Earth’s gravity well. All he can do is guide it. And, unfortunately, he has a bad case of techno-organic virus that he uses to keep his TK in check and vice versa. So, when he uses this much TK, things get complicated. And his virus about to spin out of control.

Alpha Flight space station:
The fall of the PEAK is being watched by Henry Gyrich, Guardian and Wiz Kid. Guardian angrily berates Gyrich for dropping the PEAK on Australia. He said it would be a harmless splashdown in the Pacific! He knows, the plan was to give Krakoa a PR black eye, but civilians are going to die because of this. Gyrich admits that wasn’t the plan. He asks Matsuya to explain himself. Taki retorts that knocking a space station out of orbit is an inexact science. He’s not God. Merely godlike.

While he smirks, he calls Brand via techno-telepathy. Did they just blow-up Australia? he asks. The miniaturized Brand retorts that her security chief will have it in hand. Taki reminds her that they didn’t give him a warning. She orders him to stop fussing. All her people were handpicked. And this is exactly what she picked them all for. It’s at that moment when Gyrich shows his hand.

Gyrich decides that things are going a little further than expected, but the plan is still the plan. They are still showing the world the truth: that Krakoa cannot function as the sole voice for a solar system. And they are showing other worlds too.

He contacts Orbis Stellaris and asks about the situation on Mars. Orbis Stellaris replies that the initial testing phase yielded excellent results. They are now in phase two. Even against unexpected resistance, he expects objective completion well within the allotted timeframe. Gyrich asks if he understands that it is just an assassination attempt. They don’t want civil war to break out in the Shi’ar system today.

Of course, the arms dealer agrees. War is so bad for business, after all. He has his word: nothing will happen today that hasn’t been planned for…

On Mars in the Diplomatic Zone:
The surviving Super-Guardians, SWORD members and Storm now face several cloned versions of the Lethal Legion. Gladiator is propped up by Frenzy and Cannonball, as he mutters that five of them nearly slaughtered them. How many are there now? It’s hopeless! They are doomed! he mutters. Cannonball reminds him he has seen Gladiator take on a hundred bad guys without breaking a sweat. Powered by his self-belief, Gladiator reminds him. But his confidence has been literally shattered by the enemy’s psychic weaponry. It’ll take immense therapy on Halfworld before he can even lift a hover bus.

Cannonball contacts Deathbird, who is fleeing with Empress Xandra. Deathbird orders them to buy them time with their lives while she will circle around and take the Krakoan Gate back to Shi’ar space. Xandra forbids it. She can’t run forever. They must have faith in the X-Men! Faith in the goddess!

Storm, who hovers above the battlefield, orders the ones on her side back from the enemy. Frenzy suddenly notices it is getting hard to breathe. Storm is manipulating the air pressure. She orders Frenzy back. And suddenly she switches from high air pressure to a total drop and the bodies of the enemies partially explode. Storm announces they will survive if they get them into stasis. The Shi’ar will take it from there. Hopefully their creator has learned a lesson.

Orbis Stellaris, who has been watching, muses he has learned a great deal. That’s what product tests are for…

Aboard Alpha Flight station, Gyrich calls for Orbis Stellaris to no avail. Looks like he stopped taking his calls, Wiz Kid grins. Gyrich claims it doesn’t matter. Arakko was a side mission. Krakoa will still be discredited when the PEAK falls to Earth. He means when it crashes into a populated area? Guardian asks. He honestly thought this would get his backing? He fouled up - as usual - and now he is committing mass murder on a continental scale. Collateral damage, Gyrich shouts back. An acceptable loss! For the future of their planet! Their vey solar system. And for that he will make any sacrifice necessary!

Eden tries to reach Cable abord the PEAK, asking if he is ok. Self is fine, Cable replies and gets ahold of himself. He is fine. Just get ready to catch self.

Baz nervously asks if Eden has got it.

Eden focuses and opens a portal sending the station back into space. He’s got it! He sinks down, exhausted. He nearly didn’t have it. He talks to space. This was a big ask! He’s gotta lie down a moment.

Cable telepathically informs him that now he has got it. It is much easier to push with the momentum than pull against it. He can get the PEAK back in orbit form here. That said, it wasn’t without cost. His techno-organic arm hangs limp. Eden asks how he is, and don’t say “self is fine”- he is asking him. As he drags back the tendrils into his TO arm, Cable calms him that he can now focus his telekinesis on controlling his techno organic viral load again. His first-person singular is back on track. But is he all right? He guesses they’ll see. Over and out.

On Alpha Flight space station, Guardian warns Gyrich, this is over. Three Shi’ar delegates dead—from a scheme Gyrich devised – and they are lucky those are the only casualties. Department H is going to hear all about this!

Gyrich chides him for being naive. Extreme measures are justified in the face of Krakoan expansionism. Orchis understands how dangerous this new mutant nation is.

“You’re damn right we are dangerous!” Wiz Kid announces, dangerous to people who murder their guests on their watch! Or did he think he was going to keep on smiling about that?

Gyrich is surprised: Matsuya blew up SWORD. He’s blown up a lot of things, Wiz Kid retorts. Here’s a fun fact: Charles Xavier can’t design hover chairs. This thing is not made for tight corners. But it is made for smuggling in everything he needs to hack Gyrich’s systems. Too bad he was scanning for Krakoan tech – his is better. He’s just finished downloading everything. Every dark secret. Every dirty deal… He is right though. He doesn’t think Department H will do much with it. That’s why he is sending it straight to the Shi’ar! He tells him to start running, which Gyrich does. He tries to contact Dr Devo of Orchis, demanding immediate extraction. He finds himself in an airlock while he learns that Devo won’t take his call. The doors close around him, courtesy of Wiz Kid. He can’t keep him trapped on his own station! Gyrich rages.

Outside Abigail Brand informs him: for the record, it was her station first. Gyrich doesn’t seem surprised. Brand explains that she told Wiz Kid to concentrate on backing up the data – that Gyrich was running to trigger a deletion protocol. They both know he was only running to save himself, but it will keep Woz Kid busy for a few minutes. Plenty of time for the two of them to talk.

What’s there to say? Gyrich demands. Mutants stole Mars from humanity. They are trying to conquer the solar system. This path mutants have chosen is putting them all in danger. Kraoko isn’t built for the stage they’ve put it on.

Surprisingly, Brand agrees. It’s not ready at all. He turns around surprised. Brand continues that she has no problem with him and Orchis taking out Krakoa. It’s what needs to happen - and soon! But she has a problem with him being so bad at it. Making Wiz Kid his man on the inside? He was an Avenger for two minutes. He’s been a mutant for life. Like she’s been a spacer all her life. She might have mutant DNA, but she was born and raised on Axus.

Nobody on Krakoa’s ever asked, of course, she mutters. They don’t even know what her name is. “Brand” is her codename, because her hands light up. This defines her in mutant culture, apparently. As though mutants aren’t just another flavor of earther, she mutters. She needed Krakoa for a little while, to make the Sol system a serious player in the great game, but now… like he said, the stage is a little too big for Erik and Charles and all their drama. Or poor sweet Hank. Trying so hard to be the necessary monster. Storm maybe… she’s got some steel, Brand muses but if she’s still respecting Arakko’s customs instead of imposing her own… No, she thinks, Sol is better off if she gets rid of them all and runs things herself.

Anyway, time for him to leave them. She presses a button and the doorway to space opens. Gyrich pleads for his life. The X-Men have laws! “Kill no man!” She doesn’t play by rules she doesn’t respect, Brand retorts. She has made it look like he pushed the button himself. And don’t worry about his spot in Orchis, it is in the best possible hands.

And as Gyrich dies, Taki calls Brand, asking what he is reading there. An airlock is open. The readings say Gyrich has left the station. What happened? There is no reply…

Characters Involved: 

Commander Brand
Cable, Forearm, Frenzy, Manifold, Random, Wiz Kid
Xandra Neramani
Fang, Gladiator, Manta, Neutron, Titan (Guardians)
Henry Gyrich
Death Grip, Electric Head, Half-Bot, Mr Eloquent, Orbis Extremis (Lethal Legion)
Orbis Stellaris

Story Notes: 

Text pages:
An after-action report by Orbis Stellaris revealing that he is originally from Earth, that his deal with Gyrich was useless and that he needs to look for another silent partner on Earth

A private record by Brand for herself in case she gets resurrected and loses knowledge. It reveals that the station falling worked for her either way. This way Cable’s TO virus is less under control. If the station had hit Australia, it would hurry along the downfall of Krakoa, which she wants to happen. Guardian is in her pocket now.

Further notes
This is the last issue. The storyline continues in X-Men: Red (2nd series).

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