X-Factor (1st series) #49

Issue Date: 
December 1989
Story Title: 
Judgment War, part 6: Power Struggle

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: 

Lord Rask stands proudly over the re-captured Archangel and Seera, who is powerless thanks to a jamming device placed on her. The Chosen notice more and more space gods - Celestials - landing around their city, while Lev continues to take bets on the upcoming battle between Archangel and Iceman, when she notices Seera being strung up on a platform above the Arena, so she flies to Iceman and informs him of the new stakes in the upcoming battle - and is shocked when Iceman kisses her. The Beast, along with Agrom and several other Rejects, make their way into the Chosen city, and soon encounter Cyclops, Dykon and several other Beginagains. Reunited, Cyclops and the Beast discuss what has happened to them, and join forces in a plan to rescue their remaining friends - though their Reject and Beginagain allies are somewhat cautious of each other. Palik meets with Archangel moments before the much-talked battle is to take place, and, as Palik knows Rask is up to something, blinds Archangel with his powers so that Iceman, fighting for the side of the Chosen, will win, not a Reject. Palik’s blinding of Archangel is witnessed by a dualer, who had shrunk his form, and races to Lev to reveal the shocking turn of events - only moments too late, as Archangel is thrown into the Arena, and Iceman enters seconds after him. The battle begins, while a shocked Lev can only watch in horror. Archangel flies blindly - literally, while Lev takes in the surroundings, and wonders what to do - before she can take action though, the Beast, Agrom and Dykon burst through the Arena and take control of the situation - to the horror of Rask and Palik. Rask rushes up to the platform to kill Seera - but Lev, somewhat reluctantly, intervenes, saving Seera, and freeing her of the jamming device, while knocking Rask into the Arena, where Beast is trying to help the amnesiac Iceman regain his memories - which he suddenly does when Seera uses her telepathy to cure him of the jamming. This only causes Rask to order his guards to kill the Rejects, as Archangel. Iceman, Beast, Agrom and Dykon loom upon him. Up above, in space, Ship makes the conscious decision to go to the planet and rescue X-Factor, while back on Earth, Apocalypse monitors the strange goings-ons in the super-villain community, when he is visited by a strange being, asking him to join forces in his Acts of Vengeance….

Full Summary: 

In a galaxy not his own, Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel is strung up, imprisoned, while his newfound ally Princess Seera of the Chosen, sits beneath him, hands bound, and a strange device clamped to her ears. Their captor, Lord Rask of the Chosen, stands before them, and reminds Seera that she was destined from birth by her physical perfection to someday rule the Chosen. Rask tells Seera that though she has transgressed against her people, he still might save her. ‘Accept me as your all, Seera, or lose everything!’ Rask warns the Princess, who replies ‘Never! Mind-locked though I am, Rask, I’m finally truly free!’

Seera exclaims that she is free from the lies their people tell themselves about who they are, and their place in their war-torn world. Seera declares that she only regrets she failed to free Archangel so that he could slit Rask’s lying throat. ‘But, one way or another, you will die!’ Seera exclaims, leaning towards Rask, she attempts to use her powers - but the device clamped to her ears prevents her, and she slumps back down. ‘Alas, my dear. Another failure. As you see, the mind lock blocks even your formidable psychic jamming power!’ Rask explains to Seera.

Rask declares that Archangel hangs, bound and drugged nearly insensible, while she is locked to his will. Rask motions to the other end of the chamber and orders Seera to wait for him there, while he talks to her hero. Seera proceeds to cross the room, as Archangel utters ‘Hurt her, Rask, at your peril’, wearily. ‘Spare me your empty threats, Archangel, and listen to me. Listen well!’ Rask retorts, informing Archangel that Seera will be displayed in the Arena so all will know that even the most perfect can be punished for treason. Rask warns Archangel that his battle with Iceman will follow Seera’s presentation. ‘Defeat Iceman - kill him - and I will let Seera live - at least for now. Lose or spare the Iceman’s life, and I will strangle her before your eyes!’ Rask declares smugly.

Meanwhile, the magnificent city of the Chosen is surrounded by several mighty, colorful space gods - Celestials - who have arrived at this place where the self-proclaimed battle of the century will soon begin. Within the Arena, the Chosen warrior Iceman will face the Reject Archangel in a fight to the death. However, nothing about this match is what it seems, for the amnesiac Iceman a.k.a. Bobby Drake and Archangel are, in reality, members of X-Factor, mutant humans transported here from Earth by the Celestials, who are, even now, beginning to surround the city in great numbers.

Though troubled by the giants’ unusual behavior, the Chosen still throng to the Arena, desperate for the emotional release which this battle will bring them - the boldest even dare to joke a little…. ‘See, even the space gods have an interest in this match!’ one of the Chosen remarks to another as they make their way to the Arena in hordes. ‘Do you suppose they, too, wager on its outcome?’ another asks.

Inside the Arena, on the balcony reserved for the perfect and the head scientists, the thrones remain empty. Most perfect Palik will occupy one of course, ‘But who will take the perfect Seera’s place?’ asks someone standing on the balcony. ‘Lord Rask? They say he engineered Seera’s fall!’ someone remarks. ‘Impossible! He’s not one of the perfect. Far from it, I’ve heard’ another replies. Ranked according to their physical perfection, the less-than-perfect Chosen begin to settle down in their sears above, while the farthest tier of seats from the balcony of the perfect is occupied by the form-shifting dualer class, who are continuing to make wagers on the battle.

‘Twenty thousand says even a Reject can beat you dualer scum!’ one of the other Chosen calls out. The fire-casting Lev replies ‘So say the odds. Twenty to one for the Archangel - so we dualers who back the Iceman are bound to lose - are we not?’. ‘Look! The perfect Seera!’ someone shouts, motioning to a platform above the balcony, where Rask stands proudly beside Seera, who is being displayed to all. ‘Bound! Mind-locked!’ ‘Led here by Lord Rask!’ ‘…nearly a giant…!’ ‘…they say Rask has a birthmark…’ ‘…but he’s wealthy. He bought the loyalty of the scientists!’ ‘Now, they say, he’ll buy the throne!’ are the mutterings from the crowd.

Someone informs Lev that Iceman has arrived and that he is in the chamber beneath the Arena, and is asking for her. Lev replies that she must go to him. ‘But fear now, ye rich and powerful among the Chosen. Septus will accept your wagers…in the name of the dualer caste!’ Lev exclaims, motioning to a companion as she takes flight. Watching Lev fly away, one of the Chosen exclaims ‘That flaming hussy is deliberately flaunting her second form, as if it were something to be proud of!’ she adds that, since the Iceman won his practice bout against Rask, the dualers have becoming increasingly bold. ‘Next they’ll be - touching - or worse. They’re half-rejects. Animals - the lot of them!’ another Chosen declares, adding that the scientists should never have let them live.

Lev arrives at the chamber beneath the Arena, where the handsome Iceman is lounging back on a sofa, cooling a glass of water with a small ice-beam. Lev tells Bobby that he will not believe the excitement out there, and informs him that the betting is twenty to one against him, and the dualers have combined their funds to cover the wagers. ‘When you kill the Archangel, we win big! You, me, all of us…and Rask has shown us how wealth can no purchase status!’ Lev exclaims excitedly. Iceman replies that he is uncomfortable killing someone - even a Reject - simply to amuse the Chosen.

Lev asks why, and reminds Iceman that he is a dualer - a Chosen warrior - and that Archangel is a Reject. ‘We’re supposed to kill each other. It’s always been that way!’ she exclaims. Lev tells Iceman that sometimes the way he thinks and the things he says seem so odd. ‘As if you were from another world!’ she adds. Bobby takes Lev by the hands as Lev tells him that he knows there is more at stake than entertainment. ‘So much more!’ she exclaims, telling Bobby that he has united their people as no one has ever done, that he has made them proud to be dualers. ‘Your victory will purchase our equality - now and for all time!’ Lev exclaims. Bobby pulls Lev into him and tells her that he swears for all their sakes, he will kill the Angel if he can. Lev goes wide-eyed when Iceman puts his lips to hers.

Nearby, in a tunnel half-filled with water, Dr. Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast, and Agrom of the Rejects, along with three others, trudge onwards. The Rejects eschew the notion that the reproduction of their kind should be managed by scientists. In the eyes of the Chosen, the unimpeded mingling of their mutant genes has produced monsters. But it is among the Rejects that the Beast has found friends - Whilge who can see through solid objects; Agrom the super-strong invulnerable giant; young Nikoh, an incendiary; and Nikoh’s father, Boomer, who can make things explode at will. It is these friends that the Beast now leads beneath the Chosen city.

‘Another space god landed as we entered the sewers’ Boomer tells his companions. ‘Yeah, Dad. The Chosen are braver than I thought! Everyone has gone to the Arena in spite of them!’ Nikoh exclaims. Boomer tells his son that through the space gods strike dread into men’s hearts, unless he is beneath one when the next lands, there is not much to fear from them. Whilge points out that, so far, the Beginagain prophets say the space gods are here to judge. ‘All the more reason, then, to accomplish our goal and be away from here quickly’ the Beast tells his new friends.

Agrom announces that the power station should be right above them, but as Whilge uses her powers to look through the wall ahead, she announces that there is someone on the bridge overhead - scientists and a guard. ‘What…not at the Arena? Where’s their sporting sense?’ the Beast asks, before telling his friends that they can turn this to their advantage - and, as they reach the end of the tunnel, the turn to the bridge above. ‘Take them!’ Hank exclaims, only to exclaim ‘Scott?!?’, as he sees his teammate Scott “Cyclops” Summers, dressed as a scientist. ‘Hank?’ Scott replies.

Hank leaps onto Agrom’s fist, pulling his friend backwards, but it’s too late, as Cyclops views this as an attack, and unleashes an optic blast, which strikes Agrom’s first. ‘Scott, hold back! He’s a friend!’ Hank declares. Agrom and Scott stop battling as Agrom sees someone he knows: ‘Cousin Zank? You’re not one of the Chosen…you ran away and joined the Beginagains!’ Agrom exclaims. ‘Agrom? What is a Reject band doing here?’ Zank replies. ‘You might have warned us, you know!’ the Beast remarks as he and Cyclops smile. Hank tells Scott that they planned to take out some of the Chosen and take their uniforms so they would be less conspicuous. ‘But as you see, we got here first!’ Scott points out, before telling Hank that it is good to see him again. ‘I was beginning to be afraid you were lost for good’ Scott admits.

X-Factor’s leader has been befriended by the Beginagains, mystics who believe Chosen and Rejects should put aside their difference and work together for the preservation of their kind. After introductions have been made, although the Rejects and the Beginagains continue to watch each other carefully, while Cyclops and the Beast converse as old friends. ‘…and so we planned to find and rescue Jean and my son. After that, there’s Archangel and Iceman…and we’re together again!’ Cyclops declares.

Agrom announces that he knows where the baby is, revealing that the scientists have him in the hall of genetics, along with the female telekinetic. Hank informs Scott that Jean was attacked by jammers, who twisted her mind, and now she is mad. ‘She is indeed…though she remains quite powerful’ Agrom confirms. ‘Mad or not, she’s one of us’ Scott replies. ‘Look, you came for Jean and Christopher, our primary goal was to create a major power disruption…and in the ensuing confusion, Archangel and the other Reject prisoners would be released’ Hank remarks, to which Scott replies that if they join forces, they can accomplish their goals more efficiently.

Dykon of the Beginagains suggests that they hurry, as Iceman and Archangel will soon be engaged in a fight to the death. Scott tells Dykon that he doesn’t understand, explaining that Iceman and Archangel know each other, they are friends. ‘You don’t understand. There’s no way they’ll hurt each other!’ he exclaims, to which Agrom declares that it is Cyclops who doesn’t understand, and reveals to him that Iceman was caught in a jammer backlash, and he is amnesiac, believing himself to be on of the Chosen. ‘He’ll kill the Angel if he can!’

The infamous bout between Archangel and Iceman is about to begin. In the Arena, Rask awaits behind Seera’s throne - not even he would dare to occupy it yet. Beneath the Arena though, most perfect Palik is enjoying a private talk with one of the gladiators, who throws Archangel to the ground. The guard explains to Palik that the drugs that have kept Archangel quiescent will soon wear off. ‘Beware of him…he’s dangerous!’ the guard adds. Palik replies that he will keep his distance, before ordering the guard to leave them. When the guard departs, Palik tells Archangel to listen to him, as he has something of grave importance to say. ‘I know, as Rask knows, your true origin. The head scientist has confirmed what you claimed all along!’ Palik begins.

Palik continues, remarking that Archangel is indeed from another world, as is the Iceman whom he is doomed to fight. Palik points out that, philosophically, it means little to him which of them win the battle in the Arena, but, politically, he cares a lot. Standing over Archangel, who is still on the ground, Palik declares that Rask has engineered this farce. ‘And you are Rask’s creature. Each time a wager is made for you, Rask grows richer. Should you win, Rask win, Rask will buy the throne…and his ascent will destroy the Perfect!’ Palik declares, before an energy beam is emitted from one of his fingers, which he casts into Warren’s eyes. ‘And so…you must be unable to win!’ Palik exclaims.

Archangel drops his whole body to the ground as Palik exclaims ‘The Iceman must defeat you! You must die. A pity. But this is the way it must be!’. Palik declares that Rask will lose his fortune, and with it, the collusion of the scientists. Palik adds that an autopsy will confirm that Archangel has been blinded, and dualers will be blamed, after all, they have the most to gain from Iceman’s victory. Palik boasts that the dualers will fall, lower than they were before, and the Perfect will continue to rule, as they have always ruled. A shocked Archangel holds a hand up to his face and asks ‘And Seera? Palik…what about Seera? Rask…will kill her!’ Warren exclaims.

Palik replies that Seera is, unfortunately, expendable, before calling out to the guards and announcing that he has exhorted Archangel to fight, and now he wants him taken away and ready for battle. Suddenly, a small man dressed in green jumps off of Archangel’s shoulder, unseen by all, he thinks to himself ‘When Lev bade me hide in the Angel’s cell and listen, she expected some trick by Rask to artificially enhance the Archangel’s power. Never did she suspect Palik…nor that his fear of the dualer’s growing power would run so deep!’ The tiny green man rushes past the guards and around a corner, where his size increases to that of a normal man. He tells himself that he must hurry and reach Lev, and tell the Iceman before the battle starts - before it is too late!

The guards drag Archangel along the ground, towards the Arena. One of them remarks that the drug wears off in fifteen seconds, so they need to hurry, as Iceman is entering from the other side of the Arena. Archangel thinks to himself that he is half-blinded, that everything is a blur, and realizes that Palik might be worse than Rask. He tells himself that Rask and Palik think that they are pawns, fighting for their benefit. ‘But I have…plan of my own. Reach Iceman. Wake him up…if I can!’ Warren tells himself. Suddenly, the guards throw him into the light - the massive Arena.

Warren tells himself that his head is clearing and reflexes are returning, which is good, for half-blind as he is, he will need them. ‘Yes, Palik’s a cold-blooded creature, he’d sell his soul for the glory of his caste. But Rask’s in it for himself. And if I can stay alive long enough, it is Rask who will die!’

Across the Arena, Lev informs Iceman that Archangel has been thrust into the Arena, and wishes Bobby luck. ‘For all of us!’ she exclaims. ‘Trust me!’ Bobby replies as he transforms into his ice-form and speeds away on an ice-sled. A moment later, the man in green arrives, calling out to Lev, he tells her that she must stop Iceman. ‘You were right…there’s trouble! Things are the opposite of what we thought!’ he explains, confirming to Lev that Iceman and Archangel are friends - teammates - from another world. The man in green informs Lev that Palik blinded Archangel, and that he wants Iceman to win. He adds that if Iceman kills Archangel, the dualers will be lost.

Lev cries out a warning, but her shout is lost in the audience’s welcoming roar. Lev can only watch, shocked, horrified as the game begins. Iceman and Archangel have faced each other in practice bouts since they were teenagers. Each knows how the other thinks and can predict the other’s moves as they know their own - it goes beyond knowledge, into the fire of their beings. However, much has chanced since those early days - Archangel’s powers have been enhanced by the archfiend Apocalypse, he is faster and deadlier - but that is no proof against an ice barrage he cannot even see. Iceman hovers over Archangel on an ice-sled, and drops massive ice boulders down upon Archangel.

‘ICEMAN! NO!’ screams Lev, while thinking to herself ‘Poor Seera. Chained above them. It serves her right. This is her fault. Chosen snob…! And yet…she stood against the Chosen. She actually tried to free the Archangel’. Lev decides that Seera hasn’t got much brains. ‘Look where it got her’, she thinks to herself, before admitting that Seera has got more courage in her little finger than all of the other Chosen. ‘And if she can move openly against them, can I do less?’ Lev asks herself as she watches Archangel take flight.

Meanwhile…from his secret laboratory on Earth, the archfiend Apocalypse monitors some unusual - and disturbing - events. On a long platform, the deadly mutant stands before several large monitors and declares that something odd is happening among the villains and heroes throughout the United States. ‘A contest appears to have developed among them for dominance. Images of several villains appear on the monitors - Magneto; Mandarin; Kingpin; Juggernaut; Hobgoblin; Madcap; Dr. Doom; Red Skull; Wizard. Apocalypse remarks that there are some interesting alliances - Magneto and the Red Skull, the Kingpin, Dr Doom and the Wizard. ‘Does this signal that the Armageddon that I have long anticipated is about to begin?’ he wonders solemnly.

Back on the far away planet, in an open mall neat the hall of science, is a map of the city as it once was, and as it aspires to be again. Huddled over the map, Cyclops, Beast, the Rejects and the Beginagains make their plans…. Cyclops tells the Beast to take Agrom and Dykon and to disrupt the fight in the Arena, where they must snap Iceman out of his amnesia if they can, but if they can’t, just stop him and they can deal with the amnesia later on. Cyclops announces that he will take Whilge, Nikoh, Boomer and the others, and rescue Jean, Christopher and disrupt the Arena’s power source. ‘And the Reject prisoners will be freed, and X-Factor will be together again!’ the Beast declares.

‘But you still can’t go home to your world…can you?’ young Nikoh asks, before Agrom points out that, although they are strangers here, they have earned a place among his peoples. Cyclops thanks Agrom for his hospitality, before explaining that they still hope to free their Ship from the space gods who have stolen him, and then find a way home. ‘If we can…’ the Beast adds.

High overhead, in the infinity of space, X-Factor’s sentient Ship hides in the skirts of the moon, watching as scores of Celestials fly towards the surface of the planet far below. Ship has done the impossible, has broken free of the Celestial’s tractor beam. It should be filled with pride, and yet Ship feels that the Celestials let him go - drained him of information. But he knows that he too has learned much in the exchange, for he now knows what he is, where he comes from. ‘And I understand that I know. I think…I feel…as no other of their mechanisms is capable. I know, too, that I am strong…powerful by the standards of Earth. But that my strength is nothing compared to theirs. So I know that they released me. Why?’

Ship knows that the Celestials are headed for the planet below, gathering their to judge the denizens of that world, to allow them to continue to life, to evolve - or to destroy them. ‘Do I dare try and stop them?’ Ship asks himself, knowing that his intervention is sure to anger them. ‘How easily they can destroy me!’. But, Ship streaks across open space, headed for the planet, declaring that he knows now that this life is his to sacrifice as he chooses. ‘And dangerous as it is, I must go below to that planet. My friends…X-Factor…are trapped there. And no matter what becomes of that world, them, at least, I must save!’

In the Arena, Archangel soars through a blur of sound and motion. Several times, half blind, he’s flung his wing knives, steel-hard “feathers”, edged with paralysing neural disrupters. Once they almost hit Iceman, but Bobby threw up an ice-shield to deflect them, but barely. Now, Archangel is tiring - and his patience is wearing thin. Warren calls out to Bobby, asking him if he remembers when they were kids, training in the Danger Room. ‘I said I’d fight you blindfolded!’ Warren exclaims as he declares that it is like that now. ‘Bobby, listen to me! You’re not one of them. Remember who you are!’ Warren pleads.

But Archangel’s words are lost in the dizzying roar of the crowd, and he knows he cannot go on forever, even as Bobby once more casts ice-boulders at him. Lev continues to watch in horror, thinking to herself that, thanks to Palik, Iceman will win. ‘He knows we’re counting on him, he’s trying so hard. But he can’t succeed! He can’t!’ she tells herself. Up on the platform, a pained Seera watches also. ‘Something’s wrong with the Angel!’ she exclaims, realizing that he is flying as if he were blind. ‘Help him! Please…someone help him!’ she pleads. But, down below, a motionless Rask stands behind a smirking Palik, neither respond to Seera’s cries.

Drugs an inactivity have taken their toll on Archangel, and now he has grown angry - frustrated - and increasingly afraid of his own impulses. He crashes into an ice-wall which Iceman erects, before falling to the sand-covered ground below. So far, Warren managed to keep his distance from Iceman. The deadly razor sharp wings, transformed by Apocalypse, are linked to the darkest passions in his soul…and he dared not approach too closely - for Iceman was once his friend. Now though, that choice has been taken from Warren, as he tries to be rational, to review his remaining options as he was taught so long ago. He can make Iceman remember - or die himself. Or, ‘The wings throb, echoing the frenzy of the crowd…or you can stop the fight…end it now, in a spurt of ice and blood. End if the only way you can!’ Warren tells himself, as the crowd shouts on.

‘It will be murder…whichever of them dies. They aren’t from here, it’s not their fight!’ Lev thinks to herself, when, suddenly, ‘WHAT?’ shouts Lev, as the earth inside the Arena begins to rise, sending boulders thrusting into the air. It feels to the crowd like an earthquake that shakes the foundation of their world - and so it is, for, Dykon of the Beginagains has gone against the precepts of his people, and has taken an active part in the global war. Dykon has used his seismic power to split the infrastructure of the Arena, and now Agrom and other Rejects bypass the protective grid surrounding the Arena, and enter from below.

Iceman hovers overhead on an ice-sled, as the Beast tells Agrom and Dykon to help Archangel, but to be careful of his wings, as they are sharp. ‘I’ll deal with my old buddy Iceman!’ Hank exclaims as Dykon tosses him upwards. Dykon and Agrom find Archangel, and Agrom calls out to him, explaining that they have come with the Beast to save him. Such an event as what transpires is unprecedented. The crowd recognizes Agrom the giant and goes wild. The Beast slides down to the end of Bobby’s ice-sled, and kicks Bobby up into the air, telling him that he may not recall this, but that he has been rising ice trails with him for years.

Up on the balcony, Palik gets to his feet in horror: ‘Agrom the giant! You traded him, Rask, in the last prisoner exchange. What is he doing here?’ Palik demands to know, before asking who the others are, and declaring that they will spoil everything. ‘Rask - do something!’ Palik orders. ‘Indeed I will’ Rask replies as he takes his leave, and thinks to himself that it appeared Archangel was losing, but he knows better, as he has seen Archangel, apparently beaten, only to rise in battle again. Rask recalls how he, too, underestimated Archangel, and approached him too closely, barely living to tell the tale. ‘Iceman would have died. But now -!’ Rask thinks to himself.

The crowd is in an uproar: ‘No one bet on this contingency!’ someone shouts, while another weeps that he is ruined. ‘Kill them! Kill them all!’ someone suggests, while a female Chosen declares that they all lose now, their credits forfeited to the scientists. ‘Never would I have thought that Rejects would risk all to save a friend!’ someone else remarks.

Lev wishes that she could reach Iceman and the others through the grid surrounding the battle ground. ‘If only I could do something!’ she shouts, knowing that at least Seera will be glad the fight has stopped and that her Archangel will be spared. Suddenly, ‘No! Look!’ Lev exclaims, as she sees Rask arrive behind Seera, and blast her with energy, declaring that he is ruined, his fortune is forfeit, as Archangel has triumphed against him. ‘But that will not deliver you!’ Rask shouts as he continues to pour energy upon the chained Seera. This causes Lev to take to the air, transforming into her flame-form, Lev calls out to Seera, and flies straight into Rask, toppling him off the platform, Lev declares that, at least she can save Seera.

Seera drops to her knees as Lev calls out to her, before asking ‘You knew, didn’t you? Knew all along, Iceman and the Angel, they’re both strangers from a far off world!’ Lev exclaims, before using her powers to remove the jamming device on Seera’s head. Lev remarks that Seera is a very powerful psychic jammer, and asks her to use her powers to free Iceman’s mind. ‘He must know the truth!’ Lev exclaims. A forlorn Seera replies that she can’t, as she has never used her powers to free anyone. She adds that she is dizzy from Raks’s attack, and can hardly think. ‘Try, at least, please, try!’ Lev pleads. ‘Stop this battle before the Iceman’s killed, or he kills his friends!’. Free from the jammer, Seera replies that she will try.

Down below, on the battle field, the Beast, Archangel, Agrom and Dykon surround Iceman. ‘Listen to us! You’re not from this world! You’re from far away!’ Agrom exclaims. ‘Enough of this Reject nonsense. My fight is with the Archangel!’ Iceman retorts, claiming that he has gone easy with him so far. ‘For they say we dualers are half brothers to you, but you try my patience!’ Iceman exclaims, before telling the others that they cannot save Archangel, too much is riding on his victory over him.

‘Leave here now…or I’ll freeze you to the - huh?’ Bobby begins to say, until a blast of energy stops him in his tracks and knocks him backwards. Hank calls out to his friend, asking him if he is okay, he bounds over to him. ‘What is it, fella?’ he calls out. Archangel swoops down to Bobby too, who now rubs his head: ‘Hank? What’s…going on…? I thought I was on a war-torn world with giant…judges. I was fighting Warren…trying to kill him…now, wasn’t that the craziest…dream?’ Bobby asks, before looking up at his surroundings.

‘It’s no dream’ Archangel, now hovering overhead, declares, before he, Iceman, Beast, Agrom and Dykon all turn their attention to Rask, keeled over several feet away. Agrom declares that he thinks Rask’s worst nightmare has just come true. Glancing over his shoulder at his opponents, Rask shouts ‘Ignorant fools! You’ll die this day more horribly than you can imagine!’ Rask calls for the guards to destroy the upstart Rejects. ‘Let them learn that the will of the Chosen is not to be mocked!’….

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Apocalypse ponders the screens and tries to find some meaning in the various and bizarre imagery of an earthly villainous uprising. Apocalypse declares that most of the evil masterminds would not, of their own wills, associate with each other, and realizes that they behave oddly, so much out of character - in some cases as to be even baffling. Apocalypse decides that someone else is behind this conspiracy, someone whose motives are quixotic and strange - but whose will - and powers - are overwhelmingly strong.

Examining the screen of faces, Apocalypse sees one man, a link between them - unobtrusive, diffident, who appears to be no more than a servant. ‘Yet, his is the mantle of power and his aura brands him as one not of this Earth. A being who forces man to play the fool…has no business meddling in the affairs of men!’ Apocalypse exclaims, when, suddenly, the man in the monitor that apocalypse is referring to begins to talk back to him: ‘Indeed, my friend! Earth can go to the Devil for all I care!’

‘Interesting…you can speak!’ Apocalypse replies, to which the man in the monitor replies ‘And you - you are a man of insight! That rare being of power who knows a God when you see one!’. The man in the monitor smiles, dressed in a green suit, with hair slicked back, he declares ‘And so, Apocalypse…because of your insight…because of your power…because of your nearly godlike potential for destruction…’ he begins, as he emerges from the monitor, and into Apocalypse’s fortress, ‘…I offer you the opportunity to join with me…to lead my Acts of Vengeance here on Earth…!’ he exclaims, extending his hand. Apocalypse just stares back, motionless…for now.

Characters Involved: 

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

Nathan Christopher Summers



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

Agrom, Boomer, Nikoh, Vlon, Wilghe, Zharkah and others (all the Rejects)

Dykon and others (all the Beginagains)



On Video Monitors:

Dr. Doom, Hobgoblin, Juggernaut, Kingpin, Madcap, Magneto, Mandarin, Red Skull (all super villains)

Story Notes: 

X-Factor were transported to this planet in X-Factor (1st series) #43.

Thanks to Monolith for identifying Madcap.

Written By: