X-Factor (1st series) #46

Issue Date: 
November 1989
Story Title: 
Judgment War, part 4: Exchange

Louise Simonson (writer), Paul Smith (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Tom Vincent (colorist), Joe Rosen (letterer), Daryl Edelman (assistant editor), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

The Beast is training with the Reject Nikoh, watched on by other Rejects, who discuss the current goings-ons, and the upcoming trade of prisoners between the Rejects and the Chosen. Zharkah goes over her suspicions regarding the Beast, and fears that he is a renegade Beginagain, or a dualer spy from the Chosen, and makes a plan to reveal him at the common ground, as she knows that his apparent comrade is up for exchange. Meanwhile, Iceman and Lev discuss the upcoming battle at the Arena in which Iceman will fight Archangel. Princess Seera moves about her fellow Chosen, trying to disguise herself, but she is noticed by at least one of them, and she is unaware that a dualer spy is tracking her as she enters her safe house. Cyclops meets with Ryest and Dykon, his Beginagain rescuers, and they reveals that one of his missing teammates - Marvel Girl - is being taken to the common ground to be exchanged, as her Reject captors believe she is a Chosen. Cyclops is intent on going to rescue her, but the Beginagains don’t want him to go as he will draw the wrath of the Rejects and Chosen to them, but Cyclops doesn’t care, and takes off. Archangel suffers more torment at the hands of Lord Rask, but not without Archangel managing to cut Rask, and swear that he will kill him. Several Rejects begin to take Marvel Girl to the common ground, which the Beast sees, and leaps into action, to rescue his missing friend. All of this is watched by Zharkah, who orders the Rejects to arrest the Beast, confusing him. Seera and ZZ-105 discuss baby Christopher Summers, and the current goings-ons, when Rask and his men arrive, disrupting Seera’s plans. As Beast tries to escape, Marvel Girl wakes from her unconscious state, but displays some personality disorder, confusing the Beast even further. Cyclops makes his way to the common ground, and sees a Celestial on the way, while Dykon soon arrives and offers to help him. Cyclops sees Jean in the distance and calls out to her, promising that he will come for her, and he and Dykon agree to go to the Chosen city. Rask confronts Seera and questions her about Archangel, before promising that if she allies herself with him, he will save her from death which now becomes her. Rask lets Seera see ZZ-105, only her dear companion has had her robotic mind wiped. Seera begins to fight the scientists that did the deed to her friend, but they take her down. Seera is down but not out, and vows to free herself, then Archangel, and find the baby, before the Chosen destroy themselves. Up in space, Ship is still the prisoner of the Celestials, and tries hard to remember his life before Apocalypse, and why the Celestials would have summoned him here.

Full Summary: 

Snatched by the cosmic beings called the Celestials, to this alien world, the members of X-Factor were involved in a battle between the physically monstrous Rejects, and the handsome Chosen. X-Factor was separated and scattered among these warring factions, where the Beast was mistaken for a Reject and is fast becoming a hero among the Djade, one of the many Reject tribes.

While the mysterious Vlon sits high above the Reject city, motionless and silent as ever, Dr. Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast of X-Factor is enjoying a training session with the Reject known as Nikoh, who swings some kind of club at the Beast, ‘Ha! I gotcha, Beast…almost!’ Nikoh exclaims, admitting that the Beast is too quick, and therefore it would be easier to fry him. ‘Perhaps, Nikoh, but in the long run, it serves peace best to take your enemies alive!’ Hank exclaims, while other Rejects, including the tribe leader, Zharkah, watch on. ‘Ha, look at him move!’ one of them exclaims. Zharkah points out that if the Beast’s tribemate, the Archangel, fights half as well, it is no wonder he defeated Vlon’s giant son in the Arena.

‘They say this ‘Angel even resisted the Chosen’s goads!’ another Reject exclaims. ‘An exaggeration surely, my son. No one can resist the goads!’ that Rejects’ parent declares. ‘Except…it’s fairly certain that the Archangel did’ another Reject remarks, looking upwards at Vlon, while another Reject points out that not only did Archangel refuse to kill the giant Agrom, he turned his wing-knives on the Chosen leaders. ‘And what did that earn him and poor Agrom, but more captivity and greater pain?’ another Reject remarks. ‘The Beast has asked for volunteers, Wrakk, to free the Reject prisoners from the Chosen’s prisons the small green Reject announces.

The bulky Wrakk grumbles, and asks why they should risk their lives so foolishly when they have exchanges, like the one today, to bring their people home. ‘Because it won’t save the prisoners picked to die in the Arena. And they are our best warriors, like Agrom and the Archangel!’ Nikoh exclaims, adding that the Beast says the prisoner exchanges lower the stakes for both sides, and prolong the war. ‘And so, in the long run, more people die. That’s right, Beast, isn’t it?’ Nikoh remarks. ‘So I believe, Nikoh’ Hank tells his companion.

The Beast tells his allies that will only be the beginning, as their final success will lie, not just in physical might alone, but in their strength of mind and purpose. ‘We are self reliant, while the Chosen depend upon their machines, and their power sources’ Hank reminds the Rejects, swearing to them that, in time, they can disrupt the power that services the Chosen’s city, and bring their decadent society crashing down about their ears. The small green Reject remarks that the Beast makes a good teacher, and tells Zharkah that their youngsters instinctively trust and admire him. ‘Yes, he’s a good addition to our ranks…if he is what he claims to be’ Zharkah replies.

‘We know nothing about him, Largh’ she tells the short green Reject. ‘Nor will the Beast himself say where he is from, except that it is “far away”. Large reminds Zharkah that Archangel was caught in a jammer backlash, and therefore he cannot remember. ‘So he says…and yet he recognized the ‘Angel, and has described his other friends’ Zharkah adds, while thinking to herself that Beast “remembers” too much about those forbidden sciences, like genetics, which the Rejects have spurned.

‘Good try, Nikoh!’ Hank exclaims as he dodges another of Nikoh’s attacks. Hank thinks to himself that Nikoh is so eager to battle evil, just like he himself was as a youngster on Earth. ‘As were my teammates…’ Hank thinks to himself, wondering where on this world they are. For while he has found Archangel, which leaves Cyclops and his infant son, Iceman and Marvel Girl. Zharkah watches Beast closely, while reminding herself that the red haired captive of the Njeak tribe is still unconscious, but because of her obvious perfection, she will be a valuable commodity in their exchange for a Reject prisoner.

Zharkah decides that she will ensure that when the red haired prisoner is carried to the Exchange, the Beast is nearby, and if he recognizes her, she will know for certain that he is no true Reject, but one of the renegade Beginagains, or even a dualer spy from the Chosen. ‘And I will do to him what must be done!’.

Meanwhile, Bobby “Iceman” Drake, caught in a psychic jammer backlash during the initial battle, has no memory of his former life on Earth. Instead, Bobby believes himself to be a dualer, one of the Chosen warriors class who possess two distinct forms, such as his - human and ice. And now, he has become a celebrity. ‘The Archangel!’ ‘A statue!’ some of the Chosen gasp as Iceman creates an ice-sculpture of Archangel. ‘What control!’ one of the many Chosen surrounding him exclaim, before Iceman tosses the statue to his companion, Lev, who announces that, in mere days, Iceman will battle the Archangel in the Arena.

Lev uses her flame power to melt the ice-sculpture of Archangel, and exclaims ‘That is how deadly the fight will be! And how quickly it will surely end!’. Lev declares that if any of them care to dispute this, Iceman and she will be willing to cover all bets. ‘Dualer clowns!’ one of the Chosen shouts. ‘Displaying their powers in public!’ another scolds them. ‘They act like Rejects…in form and in manners!’ someone else adds. In amongst the crowd though, hidden with a cloak, is Princess Seera, who realizes that the older Chosen scorn Iceman and Lev, while the younger applaud them. ‘They actually cheer a dualer!’ she thinks to herself, shocked. ‘It seems almost miraculous!’. But Seera reminds herself that Iceman is no dualer, or at least nor a dualer from this world. ‘He’s from somewhere else, I’m sure of it!’ she thinks to herself, adding that it is the same world as the Archangel, whom Iceman is due to fight. ‘The same world as the hidden babe who, even now, awaits me’ Seera reminds herself, wishing that Iceman had not been mentally jammed. ‘If only he could remember!’

‘Enough gawking’ Seera tells herself, knowing that she has to hurry, as the child is screeching. ‘It cries so much’ she tells herself, worrying that she hasn’t gotten the baby adequate food, while her companion, ZZ-105 insists that the baby is just teething. ‘Whatever the reason, the constant need to hide his distress from the city’s telepaths is exhausting!’ Seera tells herself, while she yearns for a good night of rest. ‘I begin to understand now why robots now rear the Chosen’s young’ she tells herself, before being noticed by one of the Chosen: ‘Good day to you, perfect Seera’ the Chosen exclaims.

‘So much for my attempts to travel incognito’ Seera tells herself, thinking that it all seems so hopeless, so impossible, and wonders if she should surrender the baby to the scientists after all, while passing the Chosen who greeted her without saying anything to him. ‘And a guard was badly jammed right over there while patrolling the abandoned part of this city!’ a member of the Chosen remarks to another, which Seera overhears. ‘They say the Rejects -’ begins another of the Chosen, but the first interrupts, ‘Impossible. They can’t have tried to infiltrate our territory. It’s like someone had a grudge against him…’.

‘What would they say if they knew that I, the perfect Seera, jammed the guard?’ Princess Seera wonders to herself as she makes her way into a damp corridor beneath the complex. Seera recalls how the guard intercepted her, as he was a telepath and almost learned about the baby. ‘What could I do?’ she asks herself, thinking that, if anyone finds out what she has done and why, even she will have to answer for her crime - perhaps with her life! Overhead, some flies, spying on the unwitting Seera. ‘See the perfect fool…skulking surreptitiously…up one deserted corridor…down another…searching for a spy every turn…and yet…so strong are her taboos against the public use of powers that it does not occur to her to look up…to see who might be soaring overhead!’.

Meanwhile, a wide and tumbling river separates the Chosen territory from that of the Rejects, and in a cast system of tunnels beneath this river that the Beginagains make their home. The Beginagains are a coalition, a group of mystics who believe that the Rejects and Chosen must put aside their animosities and begin again to live in harmony, or the space gods, known to some on Earth as the Celestials, will destroy their world. It is with the Beginagains that Cyclops, the leader of X-Factor, has settled to begin his search for his missing friends.

The Beginagain known as Dykon turns to Scott “Cyclops” Summers and tells him that his father, Ryest, has learned little of Scott’s son, or most of his missing friends - ‘though everyone now knows of the extraordinary Archangel and his battle in the Arena’ Dykon remarks, to which Scott exclaims that is why he must go to the Arena. Dykon replies that his father will be disturbed to hear that, as he fears that any direct attack on one side will demand the retaliation by the other, and intensify the warfare, which will draw the attention of the space gods. Dykon tells Cyclops that his father’s fear of just such a reaction has spurred his search on Scott’s behalf.

Dykon reveals to Scott there is some news, and as they enter a large chamber, where his father is, Dykon tells Scott that his father will share the information with him. ‘News? What is it, Ryest? You have searched the thought-ways? Have you found more of my friends?’ Scott asks, anxiously. The elderly Ryest replies that, unfortunately, he can no more read the alien mind patterns of his friend than he can his, and adds that most of the Chosen are shielded. Ryest then reveals that he has been able to access some of the Rejects’ thought-ways, and motions to a crystal globe sitting on a nearby table.

‘Jean!’ Scott shouts as he looks at the crystal globe, which depicts Jean “Marvel Girl” Grey being carried away by a Reject. ‘Is that the woman you’re searching for?’ Ryest asks, before telling Scott that she is in the hands of the Reject Njeak tribe and that they think she is one of the Chosen’s most perfect. Ryest reveals that Jean is due to be taken to the common ground to be exchanged for some Reject prisoners. ‘She’s unconscious! Where’s my son? I thought she had my son safe with her!’ Scott, agitated, exclaims. ‘What have they done to her? I have to save her!’ Scott shouts, but when he tries to run away, Ryest calls out to his son, ordering him to stop Cyclops.

Dykon blocks Scott’s exit, and Ryest tells him that if he intervenes in this, then he will be mistaken for one of the Beginagains, and will draw the wrath of both Chosen and Reject upon them. ‘So you counsel me to do nothing, while my friends languish in prison…or maybe die?’ Scott asks. ‘You know that the space gods are here to judge you…but you don’t know what criteria they’ll use!’ Scott adds as he shoves Dykon aside. ‘And so you’re afraid to move, for fear of offending them!’ Scott tells Ryest, shouting that the space gods have offended him. ‘They’ve kidnapped us to this planet and lose us here among warring strangers. They’ve terrorized us and this world for far too long!’ Scott exclaims, storming out of the door, he tells Dykon and Ryest to hide here in their tunnels and let the world pass them by. ‘I’m going to free my friends…and then I’m going after the space gods themselves!’

Within the Chosen city, beneath the Arena, is a training area for the Reject gladiators. Warren “Archangel” Worthington is brought to a specially secured section, and a guard throws him to the ground in front of Lord Rask, telling him that Archangel is drugged and unconscious and bound in steel. ‘But he’s a fighter. If he gets loose…’ the guard begins, but Rask, standing with his hands on his hips, exclaims that he plans to remove the restraints, otherwise how will Archangel be able to practice? Warren realizes that his reaction time has slowed thanks to the drugs, which have made him weak. He tells himself that his body feels heavy, like it’s made of lead. ‘Can I move? Get at him?’ Warren wonders, before Rask tells him that he must practice.

Rask motions to some hoops and tells Archangel to fly through them and slash them before the hoops slash him. ‘Perfect the accuracy of your wing knives!’ Rask exclaims, telling Archangel that he must be at his peak, as he will be given the signal honor of slaying one of the Chosen. Suddenly, Archangel bursts free of his restraints, and taking flight, he swoops towards Rask, exclaiming that he can kill one of the Chosen here and now! ‘You try my patience, Reject!’ Rask booms, unleashing a powerful energy blast from his fists, which knock Archangel to the floor.

Keeled over, Warren realizes that Rask was ready for that, that he set him up. ‘Expecting it, sees me collapsed. Thinks he’s beaten me to the ground. Thinks he’s proved who’s boss’ Warren thinks to himself, deciding to let Rask think that for a second longer. Rask informs Archangel that his opponent will be a dualer. ‘You will fight him and, when you win, there will be no mercy!’ Rask exclaims. ‘Look at me, see how I cringe…how I’m beaten. Come closer, sucker…!’ Warren thinks to himself, watching Rask out of the corner of his eye.

‘You will kill the arrogant upstart…or I will see you dead in his place!’ Rask warns Archangel, as he walks towards the fallen mutant. ‘Just a little closer…’ Warren thinks to himself, and indeed, Rask steps that little bit further, so Warren suddenly unsheathes one of his metal wings, slicking diagonally across Rask’s right thigh. Rask shouts out in pain, and a security guard rushes to his aid, ‘Cage him!’ Rask shouts, and instantly, a metal cage falls down over Archangel, trapping him. ‘Don’t worry, Rask. I’ll beat your dualer for you. I won’t let anyone kill me. I’m staying alive ‘til I can get at you!’ Archangel proclaims.

Meanwhile, the sun is waning in the Northern sky when the Chosen prisoners are driven through ground-level muck toward the exchange point. Jean Grey, still un conscious, is carried on a planks of wood, while watching from a balcony, is Nikoh and several other Rejects. Nikoh explains to Larrs that the captives of the Njeak clan are being taken to the common ground to be traded for captive Rejects. Larrs, motions to one of the prisoners and exclaims that it is the red-haired telekinetic who was jammed by Skak. ‘Red-haired telekinetic? Where?!’ exclaims the Beast as he bounds over to the balcony, and instantly leaps over it, ‘JEAN!’ he shouts, all while being watched carefully by the one-eyed Zharkah.

Literally running down the tower wall towards the procession of Chosen and Rejects ready to trade, Beast keeps calling out to Jean, while on the balcony, one of the Rejects asks what happened to her. ‘She was jammed - mind-damaged - during the last battle. It’s a miracle that she awoke!’ someone explains, as the Beast sets eyes upon the unmoving Jean, causing the procession to stop. Hank grabs his dear friend as Zharkah booms ‘Arrest him!’ The Rejects surround the Beast, while Hank asks Zharkah ‘Why?’ before warning the Rejects to stand back, telling them that he doesn’t want to have to hurt them.

Meanwhile, in her hideout on the outskirts of the Chosen city, Seera feeds the baby stranger and plots her next move. Seera’s companion, the robot ZZ-105 points out that, soon, the scientists will notice the missing nutrient and search for a reason as to why it is missing. ZZ-105 reminds Seera that the crèche has produced few healthy infants as of late, and informs her that the scientists have begun to look for a scapegoat to divert the attention of the Chosen. ‘Then we must make certain, ZZ-105, that the scapegoat isn’t us!’ Seera replies as she feeds baby Nathan Christopher Summers. Seera tells ZZ-105 that, as soon as it is dark, they must move the baby even further away from the city’s center, then she can find some way to release the Archangel. ‘I owe him that!’ Seera exclaims, adding that Archangel is so dangerous, and hates the Chosen so much.

ZZ-105 points out that Archangel is not as dangerous as Lord Rask, and reminds Seera how ever since Archangel saved her, Rask has been watching her like a predator. Seera replies that Rask is strange, a schemer and mad for power, adding that he is too large, and that people say he actually has a birthmark on his shoulder. ZZ-105 points out that in that regard, in earlier times, the scientists would have rejected him before birth. ‘A pity, in some ways, that times have changed’. Seera replies that it is not just her physical perfection that Rask envies, but he wants the status that perfection brings, and an alliance, so that he someday might rule through her.

Seera reveals that Rask frightens her too, just a little, and fears that if he finds her, he cannot own her, and he will destroy her. ‘But I am perfect, and Chosen society will protect me, really…what can he do to me?’ Seera asks, unaware that Lord Rask and several guards are standing outside the doors to her secret hideout. Rask tells his guards that his dualer spy has confirmed the scientists’ suspicions, that Seera is inside, with an infant stolen from the crèche. ‘Take her!’ Rask orders his guards, and instantly, the burst through the outer wall to Seera’s safe house.

‘No!’ Seera screams, leaping to her feet with the baby in her arms. ‘Rask’s guards!’ ZZ-105 points out. Suddenly, Seera spins around, and uses her telepathy on two of the guards. ‘She’s a jammer! They didn’t tell us!’ one of them exclaims. ‘Stop her -’ the other shouts, but it’s too late, as Seera takes them down. Unfortunately for Seera, a third guard appears behind her, and clamps a device on her head, rendering her unconscious, causing her to drop the baby to the floor. ‘As Rask reports, robot is malfunctioning. Dismantle it!’ Another guard fires a weapon at ZZ-105, who shouts ‘No! Stop! You mustn’t -’ but it’s too late. And Christopher begins to cry….

Miles away, across the river, Hank has Jean over his shoulder as he bounds through the mass of Rejects attacking him. Leaping over the Rejects, the din of battle rages on for the Beast, but, suddenly, a baby’s cry, no longer blocked by Seera’s power is heard by a very special person - ‘What…?’ Jean whispers as she suddenly wakes thanks to Christopher’s cry. Instantly, power erupts around Jean, as she knocks the Beast and the Rejects backwards, while screaming ‘What is this madness? Away from me…all of you!’.

‘She’s awake!’ one of the Rejects shouts, before several of them attack Jean with their powers - only Jean throws a telekinetic force field up to protect herself. ‘Never has one of the Chosen demonstrated this breadth of power!’ one of the Rejects exclaims, while other jammers and telekinetic attack Jean. ‘NO!’ Jean screams once more, while one of the Rejects points out that all of them together can hold her, but barely, though they can no longer read her mind. Two Rejects grab hold of the Beast, who calls out to Zharkah, asking her why she is doing this to him and Jean.

‘Because your loyalties have betrayed you. She is one of the Chosen, and you are their spy, sent among the Rejects to lure their finest to their deaths. ‘Your scheme of infiltration and rescue is madness. And when it fails, it is my people who will pay with their lives!’ Zharkah exclaims, before calling out to her tribe, telling them to contain the Chosen woman and continue on their way to the common ground. ‘Awake, she will buy back many captives - maybe even old Vlon’s giant son!’ Zharkah exclaims.

‘Zharkah, you don’t understand!’ Hank exclaims, while calling out to Jean, asking her if she is all right. ‘Jean…? There is no more Jean…!’ a strange-acting Jean replies, eyes glazed. ‘what? Then who - Phoenix…? Madelyne…’ Hank asks, worried. ‘Sometimes. Not always. We share this body now. Guess again, fuzzy, third time’s the charm…’ Jean grins wickedly.

Back in her hideout, a tearful Seera is being questioned by several of the Chosen scientists, one of whom asks her who the baby is and where she got him from. Seera reveals that she found him. ‘Please, tell me, is he -?’ she begins, until she is interrupted by another of the scientists, who declares that it is they who will ask the questions, and proceeds to ask her why she hid the child. ‘How did you manage? Was it the robot’s idea?’ he asks. Seera replies that she forced ZZ-105 by threatening her with repair. ‘Liar!’ exclaims one of the other scientists. ‘You hid so many things…the child, your burgeoning jammer’s power. What secrets have you kept?’ he asks.

‘Such effort we put into your creation. It seems a pity to destroy you…’ one of the scientists remarks, before Rask informs Seera that is the price she must pay for her folly, and her betrayal. Rask orders the scientists to leave them so he can talk to Seera alone. The scientists depart, and Seera covers her face with her hands as she exclaims that she should have known Rask would be in on this, before asking him by what power he commands scientists. ‘By virtue, my dear, of unimaginable wealth. In part, the profits from the Archangel’s most recent battle…due to be doubled again in the next bout…in which the Iceman will surely die!’ Rask replies.

‘But what is a dualer’s death to you, perfect Seera, when your own death is so imminent?’ Rask asks. I’m one of the perfect. They wouldn’t dare!’ Seera retorts. ‘Perhaps not, my dear, perhaps they offer something worse than death’ Rask tells her, before announcing that he can save her, if she will ally herself with him. Seera wipes her tears away, thinking that she should refuse, that she should spit in Rask’s face, but she knows she is in terrible trouble. ‘I was created to rule, but now, it seems, my statue was illusory. What a botch I’ve made of everything!’ Seera tells herself, before informing Rask that she will consider his offer, before asking to see ZZ-105, as she needs her. ‘Very well, Seera. An interview with your robot will, I think, make plain the generosity of my offer’ Rask replies, before calling out to the scientists, ordering them to send ZZ-105 in.

Elsewhere, Cyclops leaves the Beginagains’ tunnels to begin a race against time toward the common ground. Passing a waterfall, Scott tells himself that the exchange is to happen just over the rise, in the valley beyond. ‘Jean will be carried there, unconscious, a prisoner…’ Scott thinks to himself, and as he continues on his journey, wonders if what he heard behind himself was the echo of his own footsteps, before seeing some dust and realizing that someone is following him, a large party he believes. Scott knows that he could stay and fight, but that the exchange will take place soon, so speed is of the essence.

‘Cyclops, wait!’ calls Ryest as he and Dykon emerge from behind the waterfall. But when Cyclops ignores Ryest, Ryest orders his son to stop Cyclops. Scott soon finds himself tumbling over for no apparent reason - until he realizes that it was Dykon, who caused the earth to shatter. ‘Dykon - keep back!’ Scott shouts as he swings around and unleashes a powerful optic blast in the direction of the Beginagains. ‘His optic blast strikes with the force of a physical blow!’ one of the Beginagains exclaims as the power knocks him back. ‘What you feel is nothing! He can punch through rock if he so chooses! Dykon reveals.

‘That was to make you listen, Dykon!’ Scott shouts, announcing that he is going for Jean, and warns the Beginagains that if they try to stop him, the next shot will go right through them. Dykon holds his arms up in peace and walks towards Cyclops, assuring him that they did not come to stop him. ‘And some of us, despite my father’s wishes, will join you, if you will have us’ Dykon reveals. ‘We will help you free your mate…and you will help us drive off the space gods’ Dykon declares, telling Scott that it is a fair bargain, only the Beginagains will have to wait.

‘No, Dykon. I’m done with waiting!’ Scott retorts, when suddenly, Dykon asks ‘Are you?’ and motions for Scott to look behind him, where beyond the exchange parties, a space god appears. ‘It looms over the exchange…between us and the common ground. We’ll have to go around it!’ Dykon tells Scott, who replies that he can’t, as Jean will disappear into the Chosen city, and he will lose her. ‘Then we’ll go to the city for her, my friend’ Dykon assures Cyclops, adding that they will have a better chance at that than to approach them over the plain.

‘JEAN!’ Scott shouts. ‘Don’t worry, Jean, I’m coming for you!’. Across the plain, Jean hears this as she finds herself once more captured by the Rejects. ‘Scott, darling…?’ she asks wearily. ‘…are you indeed…?’ she asks wickedly, her demeanor changing.

Meanwhile, high overhead, X-Factor’s sentient Ship orbits, caught in a tractor beam of Celestial devising. The space gods have spoken not a word, and yet, the Ship knows that there is but one escape. It must remember: who and what it was. How it came to be as it now is. And so, Ship begins with its most recent memories - and works backwards towards a past obscured by time…and something more…. ‘I am X-Factor’s Ship because I choose to be!’ Ship declares, explaining that X-Factor won him from the arch-fiend Apocalypse, who was ready to destroy him, but X-Factor freed Ship from Apocalypse’s influence.

Ship explains that it was in Apocalypse’s hands that he developed awareness, but Apocalypse shackled his mind and forced him to his will. ‘He said it was his right, because he had made me. But Apocalypse lied!’ Ship declares. ‘Apocalypse had merely found me, had he not? In the ancient time of my preconsciousness…when men were hardly men at all and I was a simple data-gathering machine, artificial, yes, but not intelligent, not yet’. Ship exclaims that Apocalypse defied the Celestials, ‘You, my real masters…and he stole me!’ Ship realizes, before asking ‘What came before? Why were you on Earth? Why did you call me back to you? Will Earth become what this world is now?’ he asks the Celestials.

Back in the city of the Chosen, which depends upon the artificial intelligence of its computers and its robots - only, not all of the robots are mere mindless servants. Such is ZZ-105, who, through interaction with the Chosen, has grown a conscience, and uncharacteristically for a robot, has chosen the right path in spite of certain danger. However, this is her reward… ‘Here is your robot, perfect Seera!’ one of the scientists exclaims as ZZ-105 enters the room, and crashes into a table. ‘Clik - programs reorganized - clik - perfect one - clik - serve the scientists…’ ZZ-105 states. ‘NO! Zee-Zee!’ Seera screams. ‘What have you done to her?!’ Seera demands to know, leaping to her feet and rushing over to ZZ-105.

The scientist replies that they repaired the robot of course, for only a badly damaged machine would have followed her hare-brained orders. ‘MONSTERS!’ Seera screams as she unleashes a psychic blast against the scientist, who “catches” it in some small device, replying that there is no monster more terrible than an ungrateful child, and releasing Seera’s energy back upon herself. ‘If you must blame someone for the robot’s present incapacity, perfect Seera, blame yourself!’ the scientist declares, before reminding Seera that what they have done to the robot, they can easily do to her.

Seera drops to the floor and weeps, while ZZ-105 mechanically declares ‘Guard you - clik - perfect one, must not escape - clik - escape - clik - escape…’. Seera exclaims that ZZ-105 was the only mother, the only friend she has ever known. ‘And I believed in the sanctity of Chosen society. I hated the Rejects. I scorned the rumblings of the dualers and the Beginagains’ Seera thinks to herself. ‘I was so safe and isolated on the peak of my perfection. So protected and impervious. And oh…so foolish. I never thought, never questioned anything’ Seera admits.

‘But Rask is strong…and a realist. Perhaps he’s had to be. He knows how our society really works…we judge our progeny by their physical perfection. We drive our captives to slaughter one another for our amusement. They destroy Zee-Zee, maliciously, with impunity, to punish me!’ Seera thinks to herself, before telling herself to stop snivelling, as Zee-Zee can no longer help her, but she does have power of her own. ‘Not keyed to my lost status…but implicit in my being. I can help myself!’ Seera tells herself, thinking that her mind took the first step when the Archangel held her in his arms, and her heart followed when she held the baby. ‘And now, with all my soul, I’ll free first myself…and then the Archangel. I’ll tell him where to find the child. Then let the Chosen face his wrath…and may he destroy us utterly!’….

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all X-Factor)

Nathan Christopher Summers


Lev, Lord Rask, Princess Seera, ZZ-105 and others (all the Chosen)

Largh, Larrs, Nikoh, Vlon, Wilghe, Wrakk, Zharkah and others (all the Rejects)

Dykon, Ryest and others (all the Beginagains)


Story Notes: 

This storyline began in X-Factor (1st series) #43.

Archangel defeated Agrom (Vlon’s son) in X-Factor (1st series) #45.

Seera jammed the guard in X-Factor (1st series) #45.

Error: On page 11, Lord Rask is incorrectly called “Lord Raak”. Jean was mind-jammed in X-Factor (1st series) #43.

Archangel saved Seera in X-Factor (1st series) #43.

X-Factor rescued Ship from Apocalypse in X-Factor (1st series) #26.

The letter page of this issue is replaced with a guide to the characters in the “Judgment War” storyline.

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