X-Corp #5

Issue Date: 
November 2021
Story Title: 
Closing Costs

Tini Howard (writer), Alberto Foche (artist), Sunny Gho (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), David Aja (cover artist), Michael Allred & Laura Allred (variant cover artists), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (production), Lauren Amaro (assistant  editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

The X-Corp HQ has been invaded by Nobelesse soldiers, however the many Madrox dupes have been able to contain the soldiers, trapping them – but not for long, as the soldiers bite down on a small capsule which transforms them into enhanced, physically strong beings, who attack the dupes. At the same time, Angel and Monet attack Fenris, who have just killed the Prime Madrox. Angel and Monet transform into Archangel and Penance, while Jean-Pierre Kol and Sara St John begin slaying more Madrox dupes, before Sara St John enters the X-Corp base, intent on carrying out Kol's revenge on X-Corp. However, she is confronted by Trinary, but then the two women are knocked aside when the transformed soldiers rush past them. Trinary is able to use her knowledge of the workings of the HQ to trap the soldiers. Sara St John explains that she and Kol had come to steal X-Corp's powerful generator. At that moment, Fenris make their way to the generator, but Archangel and Penance follow them and another fight breaks out. Fenris are very clear in stating that they have no problem selling out Krakoans to get what they want. They plan to kill Archangel and Monet, and have timed this perfectly so that their Cerebro backups won't know what has happened. But Archangel and Penance won't let this happen, and fight back against Fenris. Outside, Selene finds Kol, who gets no response from Fenris when he tries to contact them. Selene informs Kol that she has been alive for a very long time. She talks about how supremacists will never come out on top, before she starts to drain his lifeforce – only something goes wrong, as Kol has manipulated the workings of his body using alchemy, and Selene falls sick. Kol is about to throw her off the edge of the floating X-Corp HQ, when a huge slab of rubble falls towards them, and knocks Kol off the edge instead. As Fenris arrives at the generator, the siblings begin to absorb all of the energy from the generator – but as they start to expend the energy, dozens of Madrox dupes absorb that energy before the X-Corp HQ can be destroyed. Later, Selene and Mastermind stand over Kol, who thinks he is continuing to fall to his doom, but really he's just trapped in one of Mastermind's illusions. Madrox Prime is resurrected and reunited with Layla Miller and their son, Davey, and Angel offers Trinary a seat on the X-Corp Board. Trinary reveals that Fenris and Sara St John escaped, and, from a hospital bed somewhere, Sara is contacted by Henry Gyrich, who wants to make her an offer.

Full Summary: 

The lower levels of the X-Corp HQ, where several Madrox dupes have disarmed Nobelesse soldiers and are holding them prisoner. One of the soldiers speaks to the dupes in French, but one of the dupes tells him to shut up. 'We aren't hurting any of you, we're just not letting you hurt us' the dupe points out. The soldier continues to speak in French, to which one of the dupes exclaims 'We speak French! You boarded us and tried to kill us and you're complaining that we kept you in holding for the weekend?' while another announces that they ordered them sushi. One of the dupes looks upwards as a loud booming noise can be heard. 'Hey, I think something's happening' the dupe utters. One of the dupes motions for another to get on comms and see what Doc Madrox is up to. The dupe then tells another to call Trinary, as she will be able to monitor the whole base. 'Doc? You're not picking up. We're down in the holding area with prisoners and -' one of the dupes begins, talking into their phone, before there is a powerful shaking, and the base is shunted about, knocking the dupes and the soldiers about.

'Dupes! Beakers down, weapons up!' one of the dupes exclaims, while another dupe suggests that something has happened to Doc, as he can't feel him anymore. 'Is Doc dead? Wouldn't we be dead?' one of the dupes asks. A soldier looks at one of the other soldiers and in French asks if this is the moment. 'We're not dead. Not yet. Let's just be careful -' one of the dupes suggests, while the soldiers all begin to bite down on a vial. 'Did he just eat something?' a dupe asks, before the soldiers are suddenly mutated, their muscles straining and ripping through their shirts, they lash out and attack the dupes. 'They're enhancing themselves!' one of the dupes calls out. 'Get 'em! Get 'em for Doc!' another dupe excaims as he opens fire at the soldiers.

At the entrance level to X-Corp HQ, Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel and Monet St Croix are flying down to the main entrance, where Jean-Pierre Kol and Sara St John stand over the unmoving body of Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man. The von Strucker Twins, Andreas and Andrea a.k.a. Fenris, levitate upwards to meet Archangel and Monet, holding hands, they generate energy which they blast upwards. 'Is Madrox dead?' Archangel asks. 'Yeah. He'll be upset about getting behind on work' Monet points out, while Archangel tells her that Fenris have to be touching to generate those blasts. 'So let's rip them apart' he suggests. 'From one another – or individually into chunks?' Monet asks as she drops down on Andrea, kicking her in the chest. 'If you stick to the mutants, you have my backing to decide for yourself, Madame CXO' Archangel replies. 'Why, Mr Worthington... you shouldn't talk dirty to me at the office like that' Monet jokes as she switches to her Penance form.

'I'll start with you!' Penance exclaims as she lands on Andreas's chest and runs her razor-sharp claws across him. 'Andrea!' Andreas calls out as his sister begins to plummet towards the X-Corp HQ below. 'Andreas, catch me!' Andrea pleads as she free-falls – when suddenly, 'I've got you' a voice calls out – it's Archangel, who swoops down and grabs her. 'No – let go of me, you bastard -' Andrea exclaims, to which Archangel point out that if he lets go of her, it won't be over the base. 'Thankfully, at this altitude you'll pass out or freeze before you hit the ground' he smiles. Suddenly, several dupes appear from an elevator and see Madrox's body. 'Doctor Madrox! He's dead!' one of them exclaims. 'No – you guys, stay back!' Archangel calls out, while asking Monet to warn them – but it's too late, as Jean-Pierre Kol opens fire with a machine gun, striking down the four dupes. 'Now this is a delight! Let's truly see the limitations of mutantkind. How many Dr Madroxes can I kill?' Kol asks.

Andrea re-positions herself and swings her legs up to kick Archangel in the face as she reminds him that she and her brother tried to come to him first, but he is so good that he doesn't want to get his hands dirty with humans – because they do bad things. 'As we can do bad things too' Andrea adds as she once again free-falls towards the X-Corp HQ. 'And we're even better at it than they are! Because we're mutants!' Andrea calls out, while one of Archange's deadly feather-blades strikes Andrea's side. She calls out for her brother to open his arms. 'Andreas!' she exclaims, but gets no response, as Penance is on top of Andreas, punching him over and over. 'Go on. Call for her' Penance tells him. 'Bring her right to me' Penance suggests, before Andrea can be seen above them, she tells Andreas to catch her, then they can blast Penance. Penance punches Andreas in the  face again, before leaping backwards as Andrea lands on her brother. 'Warren, they're gonna touch!' Penance calls out – too late, as there is a massive explosion when the Fenris twins connect.

When the dust settles, Sara St John heads towards the elevator in the X-Corp lobby and tells Kol that she is going in. As he shoots another dupe, Kol turns to Sara and tells her 'Good thinking. Board them'. 'If we can't be here for very long... let's be efficient' Sara suggests as she kics a Madrox dupe in the back of his head, and presses a button on the elevator. 'Did she just get down into the base?' Monet, back in her human form, asks, before telepathically reaching out to Trinary, asking her to talk to the HQ and find out where it tickles. 'I hope you're at your desk' Monet  adds. Trinary is, and red lights flash around her as she reports that she can take the elevator controls before they get moving. Trinary informs Monet that she is worried about the base, but she wants to be clear, the HQ is not an AI, so doesn't have a personality like that. 'But she's a she?' Monet asks. 'I told you, I prefer talking to women' Trinary reminds Monet.

'Hello, Sara. You can call me Trinary' Trinary calls out into the elevator, where Sara looks confused. She is plunged into darkness and shouts 'Kol? Can you still hear me?' but only gets a response from Trinary, who tells her not to panic, as she isn't like her – or hher boss. The elevator doors slide open and Trinary is waiting there to meet Sara. 'Luckily for you, I'm also not like my boss. She is scary' Trinary adds. She folds her arms and smiles as Trinary tells Sara that she can't let her sneak around the base, especially not at a time like this. 'But I'm not going to hurt you. In fact, I don't really like hurting anyone'. Trinary explains that she is non-violent, except under the most dire of circumstances. There is a loud rumbling, and Sara calls Trinary a liar. 'Who's with you? I can hear something coming!' she  exclaims – when a moment later, the muscular, enhanced, shirtless soldiers burst through. 'Je... dois... kill!' one of them exclaims, while Trinary and Sara are knocked aside.

'They're gonna rip us apart! Oh god -' Sara utters, while Trinary asks her if she can't stop them. 'Didn't they come here with you?' she adds, before instructing the HQ to seal off the south corridor elevator. A panel slides across, blocking the enhanced soldiers from reaching Trinary and Sara. 'No -!' Sara begins, while Trinary tells her to move. 'Going down. Thank you for choosing X-Corp' the HQ's computer remarks as the elevator with the soldiers moves down. Trinary takes Sara by her hand and leads her through the HQ. 'Why are you saving my life?' Sara asks. 'You said you couldn't stop those men, and they looked ready to rip both of us limb from limb' Trinary replies. Sara explains that it is a clinical effect of their Nobelesse emergency pharmaceuticals. 'We weren’t going to send humans to steal your generator without enhancements' she remarks, explaining that the enhancement increases their bodily strength but does sacrifice some critical thinking. They stop at a computer console which Trinary connects with, and Sara tells her that the soldiers merely see movement and strike out against it. 'You need to demand better from your products. They all seem to have terrible side effects' Trinary declares. A wall slides away behind Sara, and Trinary tells her that is the last advice she gives her for free. 'But you can follow me to the surface for safety. From there, you're on your own, Mss St John. Choose wisely' Trinary adds.

Back outside, Fenris glows in a ball of energy as the siblings hold hands. Monet tells Archangel that Fenris is headed for the core – the bandwidth generator. She adds that she has no idea what their plans are, but they are focussed on the IBG. She suggests that Kol and Sara are probably wearing psychic dampeners, and reports that she is sensing some scattered, angry mental presences from within the base. Monet supposes that it is the mercs, that they must have overpowered the guard dupes, and there is now no Madrox around to organize them. '$#%&. It's always everything at once' Monet complains as she and Archangel watch Fenris descend into the core of the X-Corp HQ.

'How long will it take for us to synch with the energy signature once we arrive?' Andreas asks his sister as they continue to drop down into the core. Andrea tells him that it won't be long, and that they are almost there – when suddenly, Penance and Archangel drop down in front of them, and Penance separates the Fenris twins. She tells them that they had a board meeting, and decided that even their bad sides are better than the two of them on their best days. Andrea points a gun upwards to where Archangel hovers above her and exclaims 'You idiots said it yourselves: only mutants can handle this technology!' Archangel releases some more feather-blades which drop around Andrea as she calls out 'You Krakoans think you're working together at something new – my brother and I have always known we were stronger together. And smart enough to put ourselves first!' She opens fire, at Archangel and Penance, before she and Andreas hold hands again, and glow in energy that radiates around them.

Andrea explains that they just wanted to build an empire on the bones of human companies too – just like X-Corp and Xavier did. Andreas declares that they didn't want to share with X-Corp, as they had made it very clear – not all mutants get along. 'We're happy to sell you all to the highest bidder and fiddle while you burn' Andreas boasts. 'You're going to blow up our base? Juvenile. Thuggish. What else to be expected from such -' Archangel begins, before Penance tells him that she doesn't think Fenris want to destroy it. 'Just keep them apart!' Penance exclaims as she leaps onto Andreas, and Archangel grabs Andrea, tearing her away from her brother. Trinary's voice can be heard over the comms-system, she informs the CXOs that she is getting a massive energy signature pulse from the IBG core, but it is coming and going, like something is trying to photocopy the IBG.

'Was it worth it, Strucker trash!?' Penance asks as Andreas swings his sword towards Penance – cutting off some of her spiked hair. 'As your last act alive?' Penance asks as she smashes her claws into Andreas's face. Andreas boasts that he is not afraid to die. 'When it suits me, I am Krakoan!' he exclaims. As Archangel and Andrea exchange punches, Andreas tells Penance that they will rob from her, die by her side in the base's destruction and come back by her side, as fellow Krakoans. Andreas pulls back his jacket and reveals a strange device strapped to his chest. He explains that they will synch to the IBG's exact energy signature and send all the info they need back to their base. He grins as he reveals that they made sure they timed this before Cerebro's backup, so Archangel and Monet won't remember a thing – but Fenris won't forget they did this – as simple as leaving themselves a note.

'But you'll forget. You too, Warren' Andrea smiles as she goes over and rubs her hands on Warren's chest, telling him that the miracle of resurrection is imperfect, so none of them will remember a thing about what happened here. 'Kol and Sara will die – who cares, they're humans. Those of us who matter will come back. We'll be sure to tell the Council we've changed our ways' Andrea exclaims. 'You're both fools!' Archangel shouts as he slams Andrea against a wall. 'It won't take what happened here for me to know that if you ever set foot on Krakoa again... you'll beg the Five to leave you dead!' Archangel warns Fenris as he prepares for another fight. Monet bares her claws as she tells Fenris that she and Archangel were two of the first to come back the new way – that they chose death knowing that the reward was not promised. 'But now you've provoked us into staying alive just to hurt you!'

Topside, Kol walks across several Madrox dupes, whose bodies litter the ground. He radios for Fenris, but gets no response. 'I know those simpering suits didn't defeat you. And I pray that you didn't get talked into something stupid. I don't trust any of you' kol exclaims. Suddenly, 'Jean-Pierre Kol. There you are!' a voice calls out. Kol spins around and opens fire with his machine gun, a dozen or so bullets striking Selene. 'What? Don't be stupid. That can't hurt me' Selene remarks. She explains that she was just in her office trying to get some work done when she felt the whole base rock under her feet. Selene claims that she usually likes to mind her own impressive and massive business, but then she heard two familiar voices – Andrea and Andreas Strucker. She uses her powers to pull Kol's machine gun away from him and tells him that she will be clear: 'I have been alive for a very long time. I have seen some terrible warlords. But the von Struckers and their Nazi ilk are truly some of the most repellent. They industrialized genocide' Selene declares.

Selene tells Kol that she understands he would find that aspirational, and informs him that Fenris don't care about him. 'Listen, you can hear it for yourself' she tells him as she plays a recording of Andrea saying 'Kol and Sara will die – who cares -'. Selene then grabs Kol by his throat and holds him up in the air as she tells him that he chose the side of supremacy, but didn't realize he was dead weight. 'Those Strucker $#%&! don't hate being mutants, they love it – because it makes them more powerful than you. But we don't need liars and betrayers like that' Selene declares. 'You – Gallio. People know about you – killer -' Kol begins, referring to Selene by her last name. 'Yes! You know that I am a killer! And yet... you provoke me anyway' Selene grins, moving her face closer to Kol's. 'I'm a very sick man -' Kol utters. 'You're all sick Selene tells him. 'Very sick -' Kol grins, when suddenly, Selene is surprised, and drops Kol to the ground.

'What... is in you? Draining your life... it's like poison' Selene utters, clutching her chest after collapsing to the ground. Rubbing his throat, Kol tells Selene that it isn't poison. 'Perfected. A modern alchemist who has used my work to make my body a perfect thing'. Kol boasts. He goes over to Selene and starts to drag her to the edge of where the ground has broken away  at the edge of the floating HQ. Kol claims that he never cared about the money, but that mutants were born with so many advantages. 'And I am supposed to be kind for it?' he asks. Selene struggles to get free from Kol as he reveals that he was a sick little boy, and that hard work made him sicker – but weakness made him cleverer then others. 'Let them underestimate me. Like you did' he points out. 'Let... go of me -' Selene begins, as Kol starts to push her over the edge of the broken HQ, ready to push her off into open air. Kol tells Selene to shush, and that he knows what she really is – a vampire, a taker of life. 'My life is chemical. My blood is synthetic. I am human, but not flawed' he claims.

'You can't... kill me... idiot' Selene snaps, while Kol boasts that he is a walking pharmaceutical experiment, and that Selene is too far from human. 'You forgot – we will literally poison ourselves to see you fail' Kol remarks, when suddenly, part of the ground that was cracked and raised upwards breaks apart – and falls straight down towards Selene and Kol – it lands with a massive WHAMMMM, slamming into the edge of X-Corp HQ and knocks Selene back onto safe ground, while Kol is shunted off of the floating HQ. 'Non!' he cries out as he falls to certain doom.

Inside the HQ, one of the Madrox dupes radios the CXOs. 'This is the lab crew, we've been sheltering in place' the dupe explains, adding that Miss Trinary gave them some info about the energy signature, and that they think they have a contingency for this. 'With your permission?' the dupe asks. 'Do it! Do whatever you have to. We can rebuild. We can do it all again' Monet replies, as Fenris move towards Archangel, blasting some more energies. The dupe can be heard over the comms system: 'If Miss Trinary is listening, please shut down all the fire doors except for where marked on the sent image' Trinary touches her goggles and suddenly, doors in the HQ slam closed. 'Done!' Trinary announces. Trinary reports that emergency stairs A through X are wide open for the dupes, and that everything else should be sealed off.

'Whatever it is, Madroxes, make it quick!' Monet exclaims as the Madrox dupes arrive in the core, and rush to surround Fenris, who are standing next to the core device. 'I'm ready' Andrea smiles at her brother. They clasp hands, and energy begins to glow. 'We're ready' Trinary's voice can be heard over the comms system. The dupes begin to hold hands, 'Like Doc practiced with us. Let it ride and the replication will come, gotcha' one of the dupes remarks. Energy spreads from Fenris as they attempt to “copy” the core. One of the dupes tells the others to get hit, to let another dupe come and then fade out, and they will soak up any blast this base might need to take. 'It might seem scary, but we have to trust it's going to work, because the science says so. That's the patented Madox workflow! Over and out!' The energy ripples through the Madroxes.

'You've murdered me, X-Corp! I hope the whole world turns out to fight you, Krakoa! I hope you're tried and sentenced to death, every single one of you!' Kol calls out as he continues to fall to doom – soon asking how long he must fall for. In truth, Kol is flailing about on the edge of the X-Corp HQ, the sun setting in the distance, while Selene and Mastermind stand over him. Selene tells Mastermind that it has been hours, and points out that they are going to drive Kol mad – although she does like watching him squirm. Mastermind tells Selene to go and get cleaned up, as he can do this all evening – it's nothing. 'I do always appreciate your help, Jason' Selene remarks, while Kol continues to scream. Mastermind tells Selene that of course he would come to her aid – as the two of them share an understanding about the importance of swift action and preservation of image – and that even the heels like the two of them must defend this dream.

Later, in the Hatchery, Angel states that, thankfully, they generate a truly exponential amount of power when they are in the air, so the base has enough stored power to keep communications up and running while visiting Forge for repairs. Angel admits that it was a great test of their systems, and couldn't have been better PR – despite some serial footage of the attack, no one said their service even had a blip. He adds that no other telecom company can survive a direct attack, for sure. 'That's incredible!' Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man remarks as he stands up in the egg he has just hatched from. Trinary gives him a blanket to cover his naked body, while Sofia Mantega a.k.a. Wind Dancer stands nearby. Monet stands next to Angel, while Layla Miller stands in front of Madrox, holding their son, Davey, in her arms. 'And the dupes did their part without me even there, huh? I didn't expect that. But I guess that's good to know' Madrox remarks. Angel assures Madrox that his dupes were indispensable, and that and his family can be very proud. 'Your dupes saved the base'.

'As soon as you feel ready to return to work, X-Corp would -' Angel begins, but Madrox takes his son in his arms and interrupts Angel by saying 'Yeah, yeah. Soon, promise. I'll probably send some dupes in while I rest up, though. Just for a day or two...'. Monet and the others begin to leave, with Monet telling Jamie to take as long as he wants. 'You know he didn't even want his board seat' Trinary utters. Angel smiles at her and tells her that she is right, and that it should be hers, supposing that it is better Madrox stay in the lab when he does come back, anyway. Monet addresses Trinary as “madame boardmember” and tells her that she hopes she agrees that they need her to head up the search for Fenris. Monet remarks that she doesn't know how Fenris escaped, and that she was looking forward to seeing Charles put them in the hole.

Trinary tells Monet that she is way ahead of her, and explains that there was a SWORD prototype device on board that had limited teleportation capabilities, so she will start with questioning it as a witness. Trinary adjusts her glasses and smiles as she informs Angel and Monet that Sara St John got away in the blast, too. She wonders if Sara escaped swith Fenris, although she hopes Sara wised up and got away from them. 'Even if she did, Trinary – she's shown how valuable she is. And this is business. Someone is bound to come buying...'.

Elsewhere, Sara St John sits up in a hospital bed, laptop open in front of her, she has a video-conference underway with someone who tells her that they are sorry she had to waste her time with that J.P. Kol gentleman. 'If my organization had known how impressive your work is...I would have called much sooner'. The screen comes into view, and it is revealed that Sara St John is speaking with Henry Gyrich, of Orchis....

Characters Involved: 

Angel,  Madrox, Mastermind, Penance, Selene, Trinary, Wind Dancer (all X-Corp)
Layla Miller
Davey Miller

Jean-Pierre Kol
Sara St John

Henry Gyrich
Noblesse soldiers

Story Notes: 

Final issue of this X-Corp series. 

This issue includes a one-page diagram explaining the “Buckyball Protocol” with Doc Madroxes notes on the procedure.

Although she appeared via video monitor in X-Corp #3, this marks Layla Miller's first physical appearance in the Krakoan era – however she does not speak in any of the panels she appears in.

This issue includes a press-release, announcing X-Corporations' Board of Directors – Monet, Selene, Trinary, Mastermind and Angel, as Chairman.

This issue finally reveals Trinary's real name, Shilpa Khatri, which is mentioned in the press release.

Written By: