Longer ago than you’d think…
A group of the alien Phalanx were on Earth, attacking humans. One Phalanx thinks to itself that it was never alone. It does not even recall what it was like being initiated. Other beings know that they are finite and conjure up heavens to avert hat terror. They had no need. Its friends of Phalanx Strain 264 Theta would never leave it. And while the humans were struggling now, they knew they would be new friends, once they were gathered into their mind. They always struggle against their embrace, not knowing the pleasure of cold metal, warm flesh and simply being. Afterwards, there are never complaints when they are one with the Phalanx. The Phalanx is what happiness aspires to.
They came to this green blue orb to share that. It doesn’t know what happened to its friends but it was captured by Mr. Sinister.
Later, it awoke in a lab, captured, alone, separated from the mental assembly of its people. Truly alone for the first time in memory, almost grateful when its captor returned.
Sinister commends it, telling his prisoner they are a magnificent species. He looks at it and its beautiful hive-mind and thinks: Want! A shared consciousness, reorganizing and recombining without an ordering principle. That lack of structure is a problem for his purpose, but he’ll wager the “how” can be used for something distinctly different. Let’s see if he’s right…
He experimented on the Phalanx, cutting it, causing it pain. In the years that follow, the Phalanx learns much it would rather forget…
Eventually, Sinister had what he wished of it and left it in a great storage unit. The Phalanx could sense other life nearby and tried to communicate, but for years there was no response.
Recently, Sinister reappeared after his fight with the X-Men, muttering to himself that the X-Men are really growing up. Still reasonable enough for a first engagement. He decides he no longer has a use for this lab and presses a button to dispose of lab waste and exhausted samples. With that done, he leaves again.
The Phalanx experiences a white light, then nothing. Sometime later, it finds it is still alive, although there is barely anything of it left. Lying in the ground, it converts and absorbs worms that touch it. No minds, but necessary substance and so it grows slowly.
When it thinks itself ready, still consisting of little more than a hand and a head, it starts to climb to the surface. It can see the stars but doesn’t sense the presence of any other Phalanx. It realizes that the species repulsed the Phalanx, rejecting their gift. It decides that its strain is somewhere out there. It needs only be strong enough to call them.
A little girl finds it and carries it home and hides it in her room. The Phalanx looks forward to them being able to join and being a true friend to her.
During a night, the Phalanx begins the process of converting the sleeping girl by infecting her with the techno-organic virus. By dawn, it is horrified. Its consciousness resides now in the girl’s body. It has taken her flesh, but her mind is gone. It has killed her.
That moment, the mother discovers the Phalanx. It feels it has no choice and converts the parents, thus killing them. It absorbs their meat, thus growing, but again their minds are dead.
It realizes now what Sinister has done to it, slicing away the best part of it. It can absorb flesh and metal, but not create the communion any longer. Sinister had tested its ability to form a hive mind to destruction, leaving it a eunuch, alone forever!
Still, the Phalanx tries to believe its strain can cure it, and so it continues, convinced it has to reach them. And therefore it needs to be more, in order to become the transmitter to call its people, to form a Babel spire.
It didn’t enjoy killing them, considering it a waste. But it knows that the blinkered thing they call life is nothing compared to the panorama of a hive mind and so it keeps on killing and absorbing people, the homeless and others. It tells itself it will bring all the humans into Strain 264 theta. To make them part of the Phalanx haven is worth more than a few bodies, everybody will agree afterwards. It needs to be strong to save them all. It is obsessed, not even thinking about revenge against Sinister. It is interested in life, not death, so it has to grow, with effects it hadn’t anticipated. It automatically opens an energy vent, releasing excess energy. It immediately closes it again, but knows it carries the energy signature of its people and knows it will soon be hunted.
Aboard the PEAK orbital platform, SWORD commander Abigail Brand is informed of a probable Phalanx incursion.
Realizing it is running out of time, the Phalanx abandons subtlety and reaches out all over the town.
Soon, a Blackbird with the X-Men’s Extinction team (with Psylocke subbing for the White Queen) arrives. Magneto, Danger, Storm and Namor fly downwards on their own.
“No!” Cyclops mouths as he gets a good look at the town, where everybody and everything is frozen, turned into techno-organic waste. It’s like Pompeii, Betsy states while Hope exclaims this is horrible.
Cyclops gets a grip on himself and warns the others the real horror is that unless they stop it; it’s just a prologue.
The Phalanx has decided it has everything it needs. It grows a giant body.
Cyclops shouts at the X-Men to engage it with everything they’ve got. While Storm keeps it busy with lightning, Cyclops orders Hope to take the Blackbird’s controls and provide air support. Magik teleports the rest of the team down.
Magik asks her brother not to take up the Juggernaut’s power. He doesn’t need it. He agrees, but this creature killed a town! He doesn’t need the power. He wants it! He attacks with magically enhanced super strength, hitting and tearing at the creature. When it is about to engulf him Magneto attack with his magnetism, forcing the creature to adapt. Adapt to this! Hope mutters as she sends explosives at it.
Foolish, literally selfish the Phalanx announces. If they knew what it knows, they wouldn’t fight so hard. But they will learn! Storm urges it to talk instead of fight. Does it think anyone wants this?
The Phalanx begins to build the Babel spire. It is seconds from calling home! And then it has won. The small minds can destroy it, but enough fragments would remain. When its strain comes, they would recreate it from such scrap. They will be calling out to solitary souls. It merely has to reply.
It calls out, but finds no signal. A gap in the heavens were the systolic heartbeat of its people should be. A hole in the heavens. A hole where its people should be. It is not separated from its strain. It is the last of its strain! It reforms into a moving body. It has only one body and cannot express what it feels. It would need the voices of its dead friends to give voice to its cries. It is a Phalanx of one. It will never be anything else!
Madly, it lashes out in a suicide attack, wishing for it to end. It lowers its shields and the X-Men’s collective attack destroys it.
This is not their finest hour, Storm announces. Cyclops reminds her it killed a town. But it could have wiped out a city or the world. It’s uncomfortable to think like this but, on the scales they are playing at, this still counts as a win.
Storm muses that the Phalanx said they didn’t understand… Could they have ever understood each other? Is there anything they shared or was it just too alien? Scott admits they will probably never know.