X-Force (1st series) #85

Issue Date: 
December 1998
Story Title: 

John Francis Moore (writer), Angel Unzueta (guest penciler), Bud Larosa (inker), Marie Javins (colorist), Comicraft’s Emerson Miranda (letterer), Brian Smith (assistant editor), Bobbie Chase (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Imprisoned in a dungeon in Latveria, Skids tries in vain to escape, with Locus being no help as she is under a magic spell. Skids is soon confronted by her captor - a sorceress called Pandemonia. Apparently trapped here for eons, she then puts Skids under her spell. At that moment, Meltdown is searching through some boxes of stuff she collected from her father, when she finds a photo of herself, Skids and Rusty when they were younger. This makes her feel guilty as X-Force have not found their friend since she vanished. Meltdown hears a strange noise downstairs, but finds Siryn, Sunspot and Proudstar unconscious - until Skids appears, apologizing to Meltdown, explaining that she is under Pandemonia’s control. Thanks to Locus’ teleportation power, Pandemonia enters X-Force’s home, and feeds off the energies of the four X-Force members. Meanwhile, Cannonball and Moonstar are out for a run, they discuss Moonstar’s powers, briefly, and Cannonball’s relationship with Sunspot and Meltdown, before Cannonball mentions he is concerned about allowing Bedlam into the team. Bedlam continues to get on Cannonball’s nerves, before they return home, only to find their warehouse transformed into a medieval castle, and their teammates are all dressed accordingly. Pandemonia attempts to put Moonstar under her control, but finds she cannot due to Moonstar’s soul having the mark of Asgard on it, before Pandemonia orders her “servants” to attack. Cannonball, Moonstar and Bedlam manage to escape, knowing they are not suited for a mystical assault. After an unsuccessful visit to an occult shop, they are approached by someone who overheard their dilemma, and suggests they visit Jennifer Kale. X-Force do so, and after Jennifer ascertains who it is they are up against, she accompanies the trio to their warehouse, and while Moonstar, Cannonball and Bedlam defend themselves against their teammates, Jennifer works on her spell, which reverts Pandemonia to her true demon form, freeing X-Force, Skids and Locus from her control. Pandemonia attacks Jennifer, before Moonstar, using her new quantum abilities, counters the attack, and Jennifer banishes Pandemonia back to her own dimension - though she attempts to take Locus with her, Cannonball rescues Locus, who proceeds to argue with X-Force and Skids, before teleporting away, warning them to stay out of her way. Meltdown checks that Skids is okay, while Moonstar continues to sparkle. Meanwhile, Domino continues her investigation of the Aguilar Institute, which has led her to a hospital where the Aguilar Institute has shown interest In a young mutant girl from the town of Almost Reno.

Full Summary: 

Inside a cold, dank dungeon, somewhere in Latveria. Sally “Skids” Blevins, formerly of the New Mutants, currently a college student, has no idea how long she has been held here. The last thing she remembers was being teleported from Las Vegas to a snow-covered mountain during a battle with the space-warping mutant terrorist known only as Locus, who currently lies on the cold stone floor, in a near catatonic state. A rat scurries past, and human bones lay scattered around the creepy dungeon. One thing Sally does know, is that she has no desire to meet the captor who has already reduced the once dangerous Locus into a frightened, scared child.

‘Blast! This door must weigh a ton. I’m never gonna get outta here alone!’ Sally exclaims. ‘No…more…please…no…more…’ Locus babbles, a strange marking on her forehead. Sally spins around and declares that she knows Locus doesn’t want to sped the rest of her life rotting in this godforsaken place any more than she does. ‘You gotta get it together, girl! You’re the only hope we have of getting out of here!’ Sally exclaims. But Locus replies that she can’t. ‘She won’t let me. She has plans for both of us…’ Locus reveals, cryptically.

Sally grabs Locus and tells her to snap out of it. ‘I can’t open a trans-spatial doorway the way you can. If I could, we’d be far away from this hellhole!’ Skids exclaims. But Locus exclaims ‘You don’t know what it’s like when she reaches into your mind…there’s nothing you can keep from her…’. Skids tells Locus to get angry, to do whatever she has to do. ‘I can’t…’ Locus mutters. ‘TRY!’ Sally shouts. Locus casts a hand upwards to create a portal - but an instant later, she pulls her hand down, ‘It’s no use. She’s drained the life from me…’ Locus mutters.

Suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘Tsk tsk…young ladies…surely you’re not trying to leave my mountain retreat so soon…’. A woman enters the dungeon, hovering off the ground, white hair flowing behind her, clothed in a red and blue flowing dress. Two large panther-like cats at her side, she declares that compared to the six tedious centuries she has been imprisoned here, the two of them have hardly been here at all. The woman assures Skids and Locus that they will all be leaving the accursed mountain in due time, as their unexpected arrival has given her the means to finally escape Latveria. ‘It has been ages since Pandemonia moved freely among mortals…’.

Skids picks up a large bone lying on the floor, ‘Listen, grandma, there’s no way we’re gonna be part of whatever sick and twisted games you have in mind. So why don’t you leash your kitties and let us exit the way we came’ Skids warns Pandemonia, who remarks that clearly the youth of today have no respect for their elders. ‘But then you mortals have always been an upstart breed’ she adds, before placing a finger to Skids’ forehead, etching her sigil upon the former New Mutant, and remarks that all will change. ‘Your stubborn independence will crumble’. Skids goes wide-eyed, while Pandemonia asks her to tell her about the others like her. ‘I have any army to assemble’ Pandemonia exclaims.

Half a world away, in San Francisco, inside the home of X-Force, Tabitha “Meltdown” Smith is sitting on her bedroom floor, rummaging through her past as she goes through several boxes. Tabitha thinks to herself that it is lucky she left a few boxes of stuff with her father before she moved into the X-Men Mansion, otherwise she would have lost it all - music, clothes, scrapbooks - when Zero Tolerance cleared out the Mansion. ‘Bastion’s mutant-hating fascists would have to take everything’ she tells herself as she goes through a photo album. ‘Man, I haven’t looked at this photo album in ages’ Meltdown tells herself, before noticing a photograph fall to the floor.

Picking the photo up, Tabitha sees that it is of Skids, Rusty and herself. ‘Back in the day. Look at how young we were’ she thinks to herself. ‘Now Rusty’s dead and Skids’s been missing in action since the Reignfire blowout’. Meltdown picks up the phone and begins dialling, telling herself that they did all they could to find Skids, but that there resources are limited these days, especially without a machine like Cerebro. ‘Even though Locus could have zapped Sally anywhere, I still feel guilty we kinda put the search on the back burner’ Meltdown tells herself.

‘I was wondering if you’d heard anything from Sally…she hasn’t called or anything…no? Well, I just want to check in. You’ll call if she shows up?’ Meltdown remarks, before hearing some crashing noises coming from elsewhere in the warehouse. ‘Look, I gotta go. Something weird’s going on downstairs‘.

Running down the stairs, Tabitha calls out ‘Hey guys, what was that racket?’, but as she sees Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta, James Proudstar and Theresa “Siryn” Rourke slumped over the couches and floor, she asks ‘Um…guys? What’s with the silent treatment?’, before remarking ‘Okay, I get it. You’re gas lighting me. This is somebody’s lame idea of a practical joke’. Tabitha asks if this is because she got them thrown out of Zombie Class Reunion last week at the Coronet. But when no one answers, Tabitha exclaims that perhaps she should have kept her mouth shut, but that she couldn’t believe that stupid girl was gonna stay in the house with the slasher.

Tabitha goes over to her boyfriend, Bobby and asks if this was his idea. ‘Very funny. May I suggest you keep your day job?’ Tabitha tells him, but she gets no response, and notices his eyes are glazed over white. ‘Uh-oh. This isn’t an act’ Tabitha realizes, while Bobby manages to whisper her name, ever so quietly. Suddenly, ‘Skids? Is it really you? Where’d you come from?’ Meltdown calls out as Sally materializes beside her, now clad in a flowing dress. Skids points at her friend and tells her that she is sorry, ‘She made Locus bring us here…she knows everything about me and you…she’s inside my head…she’s controlling me…’.

Meltdown is distracted by her lost friend’s unexpected reappearance, missing the static charge that builds behind her as a spatial gateway opens. Meltdown asks Sally to slow down, ‘Who did this?’ she asks her, only to be ambushed by Locus for a second time in as many months. ‘Surrender to Pandemonia!’ Locus calls out, knocking Tabitha out. Pandemonia, with her panthers at her side, enters X-Force’s base through Locus’ portal, and she tells the space-rending mutant that she has done well. ‘For the first time in centuries, I walk the Earth free’. Pandemonia announces that this new world excites her, that it is positively teeming with millions upon millions of new souls to claim for her own.

Using her powers, she levitates Tabitha, Theresa, Bobby and James off the ground, remarking that she had forgotten the lovely variations of human flesh and spirit. Pandemonia declares that these children are far more powerful than the frail and diseased humans that sustained her in times past. Teeming with power, she grins as she remarks that her long exile left her weak, but now they shall make their mistress stronger than she has ever been!

Meanwhile, south of San Francisco, on the Californian Coast is the eclectic and eccentric college town and surge mecca of Santa Cruz, whose beach and boardwalk have today attracted Samuel “Cannonball” Guthrie and Danielle Moonstar, who run past other beach-goers, treading in the sand and surf, Cannonball tells his long-time friend and fellow former New Mutant that he doesn’t know, as this is all so unreal. ‘I never imagined I’d end up in California!’ he exclaims. ‘Don’t give me that “Ah’m just a poor boy from Kentucky” rap, Sam. You’re no country bumpkin’ Dani replies, telling Sam that he has done more and travelled farther as a teenager than most people do in a lifetime.

Sam admits that Dani is right, and remarks that he is still unsure whether he belongs with X-Force anymore than he does with the X-Men. He adds that this is not the team he helped found, and that things are different now. ‘Tabitha and Bobby…’ he comments, but Dani tells Cannonball that if he was that hot for Tabitha he would never have left in the first place. ‘You can’t dwell in the past’ she tells him. The dup run up a set of stairs as Sam suggests they talk about the present, and asks Dani if her psionic abilities have returned yet. ‘Barely’ Dani replies as she follows Sam, adding that she talked briefly to Jean Grey, who told her the X-Men’s battle with the Shadow King severely damaged the Psionic Plane, and now every telepath and telekinetic on the planet is operating at diminished capacity.

Sam and Dani stop and rest against a railing where they do some stretches, while Cannonball asks Dani about any complications from her encounter with Arcadia. Dani replies that whatever Arcadia did to her in the farmhouse, was temporary, as she is fine. ‘Next subject’ Dani tells Sam, who knows that she is avoiding the issue and tells her so. ‘Yes I am. Don’t you think it’s time we got back to the city?’ Dani replies.

Shortly, they arrive back at where X-Force’s car is parked, and see Jesse “Bedlam” Aaronson leaning against it. Sam whispers to Dani that between the two of them, he is not sure it is wise letting a complete stranger into the group. Dani replies that Domino has vouched for him, before calling out to Jesse, asking him if he has found out anything about his missing brother. Aaronson replies that he hasn’t, as the hacker who promised he could tap into the Federal Witness Relocation Program database turned out to be some ex-hippie burnout. ‘I should have known he’d be useless. The best hackers are all under twenty’ Jesse mutters, before asking Sam and Dani if they are ready to go, or if they intend to run another marathon.

‘If you’d been In the situations we have, you’d know you can’t rely solely on your mutant power’ Sam tells Jesse, adding that you need to be in top condition to survive the kind of dangers they have faced. ‘I don’t know, Kentucky. Seems to me you’ve got your priorities mixed up. If my mother were sick like yours…I’d be helping her instead of playing iron man on the beach’ Jesse replies. Sam shoves Aaronson up against the car, ‘Are you intentionally trying to tick me off?’ Sam asks. ‘Listen, pal. You barely know me, so don’t tell me how to deal with my family’ Sam warns Jesse, who claims that he didn’t mean anything by it. ‘It’s not worth it. Thanks for ruining my day’ Sam mutters as he walks away from Jesse. ‘Nice going, Jesse. If you keep going at this rate, you’ll alienate everyone in X-Force by the weekend’ Dani scolds him.

Later, Sam, Dani and Jesse stand outside X-Force’s warehouse, ‘I said I’m sorry, Sam’ Jesse exclaims, but Sam tells him that he doesn’t want his apology. ‘We have to work on your social skills’ Dani suggests to Jesse, before the three young mutants step into the warehouse - only to be overwhelmed by a cold wind and a sudden rush of gnawing dread - as the warehouse has been given a medieval make-over - pillars with demons line the walls, while candles light the halls. ‘Are you sure this is our place? Looks like somebody redecorated in early Temple of Doom while we were out’ Jesse remarks.

Sam ignores Jesse’s comment, and asks Dani if she is getting the same bad feeling he is, to which Dani replies that she is, and that this place reeks of magic. ‘Magic? As in supernatural magic? You’re kidding, right?’ Jesse exclaims. Sam replies that he was a non-believer once, too, until a good friend of theirs gone bad dragged he, Dani and the rest of the New Mutants into Limbo. Dani adds that there are forces at work in the world that defy rational explanation, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. ‘And if you want proof of that, look in front of us!’ she exclaims.

Indeed, Pandemonia sits on a throne, with Skids and Locus at her sides, and the two panthers at her feet, while Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath and Meltdown stand on the ground, all dressed in similarly appropriate costuming to match the new décor, and all with the sigils on their foreheads. ’Greetings, children, I am Pandemonia, Queen of Chaos!’ the sorceress proclaims. ‘Your companions have already surrendered their bodies and souls to me. Join them!’

‘The witch has put our friends under her spell!’ Dani exclaims. Sam admits to Dani that he has never felt very comfortable dealing with this kind of threat, and wishes Illyana was still alive as she would know what to do. Jesse exclaims that he would like to help, but his powers only affect machinery and electronics. ‘So I was thinking, maybe I’d go grab a burrito and catch up with you guys later’ he exclaims, while Pandemonia flies towards them, telling them that they cannot escape her, and that they are destined to serve as her subjects and sustenance. Pandemonia wraps her eldritch energies around Moonstar, ‘You are powerless to resi -’ she begins, before screaming as she receives a backlash of energy.

‘Your soul is protected by the mark of Asgard? How can that be?’ Pandemonia asks. Dani reveals that she used to be a Valkyrie, which she has always considered a mixed blessing, but that right now she is pretty lucky to have been part of that sisterhood. Pandemonia reveals that an eons-old accord between the House of Chaos and the Lord of Valhalla exists which prevents her from feasting on Moonstar’s soul, her mortal shell is still vulnerable to an earthly assault. ‘Subdue her for me!’ she orders those under her control.

‘Bow before our mistress!’ Meltdown exclaims as she throws her plasma time-bombs at her free-minded teammates. ‘Serve her!’ Siryn shouts. ‘On your knees!’ Sunspot declares. Sam, Danielle and Jesse dodge their teammates’ attack, while Aaronson asks how they are supposed to deal with their teammates. Sam tells him that they cannot hurt them, but points out that they are not pulling any punches under Pandemonia’s control. Dani suggests that they retreat and regroup, and Sam agrees, telling Dani and Jesse to fasten their seatbelts and hold on, as he grabs them, ‘You’ve got a one-way ticket on the Cannonball Express!’ he exclaims as he blasts through the warehouse wall to safety outside.

Soon, after determining their possessed teammates have not followed them, Sam, Danielle and Jesse enter an occult bookstore. ‘What are we looking for - “Demonology for Dummies”?’ Jesse asks. Sam admits that it is a long shot, but that since they don’t have Doctor Strange’s home phone, they need to start somewhere. He adds that none of them are prepared to take on a supernaturally powered menace, so they need to find backup. A woman with pale skin and long black hair stands behind the counter, and introduces herself as Kruella, before asking if she can be of assistance, while behind her, a rather plain looking woman is watching an episode of Bewitched.

Sam tells Kruella that what he has to say may sound weird, but that their friends have been possessed by a witch or possibly a demon, and they need to get in touch with someone with serious mystical muscle to free them. The plain woman interrupts, announcing that she is a High Priest of the Mephistolean Church and therefore she can perform a full exorcism and purification ritual for two hundred dollars a possession. ‘Yeah, right. This “Dungeons and Dragons” geek’s a real wizard like I’m Bill Clinton’ Aaronson mutters, while Kruella declares that the true power of magic is often dismissed by those too close-minded to believe. ‘You want to talk about magic? I’ll show you some real magic’ Jesse exclaims as he uses his powers to destroy the television. ‘Mommy!’ the plain woman cries out.

Soon, ‘That was productive’ Cannonball mutters as he, Dani and Jesse leave the occult store. ‘Yeah, but it sure felt good’ Jesse mutters, when suddenly, an elderly man in a suit calls out to them, introducing himself as Benchley, he reveals that he is a dabbler in the mystic arts. ‘Allow me to make a small suggestion concerning your current paranormal dilemma…’ he declares.

Soon, the address the strange man gives to the three mutants leads them to an old Victorian mansion in San Francisco’s Russian Hill District. ‘Hello…is anybody home?’ one of the three calls out, when a voice replies ‘Come on upstairs’. Sam leads the others up the staircase, while Jesse exclaims that this is crazy. ‘Your long time friends are in the thrall of the wicked witch, and we’re running all over the city on the say-so of some eccentric old man we just met’. Moonstar tells him that sometimes you have to take a leap of faith, while Sam tells Aaronson that if he has a better idea he is willing to hear it. ‘No? Ah didn’t think so’ Sam declares, warning Jesse not to blow up any more appliances, as they are guests here.

‘Well, this looks more promising’ Dani declares as they enter a room, to find a blonde woman, about their age, levitating in the center of the room, with a book hovering beside her. She introduces herself as Jennifer Kale, and remarks that they must be Dani, Sam and Jesse. Born into a family In which every generation is touched (or cursed) by the supernatural, Jennifer’s unpolished mystical aptitude brought her to the attention of the near-immortal Atlantean sorcerer, Dakihm, who took her as his apprentice and trained her in the forgotten mystic arts of that lost continent. ‘You know our names? Do you read minds?’ Cannonball asks.

Jennifer drops to the floor, replying that she doesn’t, but Benchley does, and he helps her out every now and again, kind of like an eccentric old uncle, who, depending on how much wine he’s had, will tell you that he is either a fallen angel or a repentant demon. ‘Catching up on the latest Clive Barker?’ Aaronson asks, motioning to the book that hovers above them. Jennifer replies that she has been doing some preliminary research on their problem. ‘Our world is a pivotal part of the Nexus of Realities’ she reveals. ‘You wouldn’t believe how many other dimensional demons, sprites and wraiths make their way into our reality’.

Jennifer asks X-Force to describe the creature they faced, to which Sam explains it was human in shape, female, white haired with a gold mask and a middle European accent. Dani adds that Pandemonia said something about needing “Servants and sustenance”, while Bedlam reminds them of the mark she has put on every one’s forehead. ‘Kind of like a tipped pyramid with wings next to a scalloped half circle’ he explains. Jennifer tells Jesse that he has a nice eye for detail, which helps narrow her search. ‘Let’s consult my handy demonic concordance’ she declares, and her book immediately flies down to her hands. ‘Whoa!’ Sam exclaims, moving back out of the books way.

Jennifer finds an entry in her book on Pandemonia, and explains to X-Force that Pandemonia is the succubus daughter of a lesser Chaos Lord who terrorized central Europe in the middle ages, and that she feasted on the life forces of her servants and transformed villages into her own version of Hell. Jennifer reveals that Pandemonia’s reign of terror finally ended when a gypsy sorcerer imprisoned her on Mount Sorcista in Latveria. ‘That sounds like her, but how’d she get off the mountain?’ Jesse asks, to which Dani explains that Locus’s portals must have provided the means for her to leave her mountain prison.

‘The important question, Miss Kale, is - can you help us stop her?’ Sam declares. ‘Absolutely’ Jennifer replies, adding that Pandemonia is probably weak after centuries of isolation, but that she won’t be vulnerable for long, not when she has the life energies of the rest of X-Force to feed her powers.

Which is exactly what Pandemonia is doing right now, ‘Mmm…my long exile without sustenance had rendered me wraithlike - but no longer. Soon I shall be as powerful as I ever was!’ the sorceress boasts as she feats on the energies of Proudstar and Meltdown. Suddenly, Pandemonia’s panthers growl. ‘What is it, my pets? What do you sense?’ Pandemonia asks, when suddenly, ‘Okay, witch! Give us back our friends!’ Cannonball shouts as he blasts into the warehouse, with Dani, Jennifer and Jesse running behind him. The three members of X-Force now dressed in their costumes.

Dani tells Jesse to hang back with Jennifer, as they don’t want to tip their hands just yet. Bedlam replies that is fine with him, and he doesn’t care what kind of spell Jennifer cast over them, he just doesn’t want to end up as some Latverian demon’s zombie pet. Pandemonia smiles, ‘So, the remainder of the unusually gifted children return. Good. You’ve saved me the trouble tracking you down!’ she declares, before ordering Siryn and Sunspot to show their friends the error of their rebellious ways. ‘You…will…burn…for…your…insolence…’ Sunspot utters, while Siryn unleashes her sonic scream as she tells them to get down on their knees and beg for mercy.

Bedlam is knocked over by Siryn’s sonic scream, and he tells himself that he never imagined how powerful. Proudstar moves towards Dani, and tells her to give it up, but Dani tells James that he doesn’t want to do this, as they are friends. Moonstar realizes that talking is doing no good, as James is too far gone to reason with him. She wishes that her psionic powers were working at full capacity, then she could break the mental hold the witch has on her friends. Her psionic powers manifest, but all she can manage to maintain is a psionic dagger, which she suddenly shoves into James’ chest, telling him that she is sorry to do this, but that she needs to shock him back to his senses.

Danielle grabs James by the ascot he is wearing around his neck, and tells him that she cannot do this alone, that he has to fight. ‘I’m…sorry…you… don’t…know…how…strong…she…is…’ James replies. Pandemonia sees this, and declares that Moonstar is becoming a nuisance. ‘And although I cannot feed on your life essence, I’ll certainly be more than happy to destroy it!’ the sorceress declares, as she casts energy towards Dani, who suddenly glows. Dani doesn’t know what is happening to her, and fears that this is not Pandemonia’s doing, as she feels strange and light-headed, like in Kentucky.

Cannonball blasts past Sunspot, and knocks his best friend over, relieved that Bobby’s reflexes are not nearly as fast as usual under Pandemonia’s control. Sam tells himself that there is a part of him that has been wanting to do that to Bobby since he found out that Tabitha and Bobby had become involved. But the reality of fighting an old friend, even one that has done him wrong, is a lot different. ‘Hope I figure Bobby’s descent right. Jennifer said she needed a distraction’ Sam tells himself, just as Bobby lands near Pandemonia. ‘Fool! You nearly struck me!’ the witch exclaims.

‘That’s my cue!’ Jennifer declares, as she begins a spell: ‘By earth and sea, moon and stars…let all that is not of this world stand revealed…’ Just then, ‘What have you done to me!’ Pandemonia cries out as she is transformed into her true demonic form - as are her cats. ‘You’ve destroyed my glamour with your Atlantean spells, little sorceress - but your antediluvian bindings cannot contain one whose family engineered that continent’s destruction!’

‘Ugh…what happened…wait…Pandemonia…she was inside my head…’ Sally exclaims, now free from the sorceress’ control - as are the rest of X-Force. ‘Inside all our heads, Sally, but not we’re back in control’ Theresa exclaims, adding that Pandemonia must be hurting more than she is acknowledging. ‘That still doesn’t mean we can stop her’ Tabitha remarks, while Aaronson declares that right now their best hope is not looking too good, as Pandemonia pours energy towards Jennifer, ‘Insolent little girl, I have feasted on the corpses of a thousand sorcerers better than you - you are not strong enough to withstand the power of pure, unbridled chaos!’

‘I don’t know who the blonde is, but if she’s ticked off that demon, she needs our help!’ Skids exclaims as she tries to extend her force field around Jennifer, ‘But I’m not sure it can withstand a mystical assault!’ Sally adds, while Siryn urges her to keep trying. Jennifer exclaims that she doesn’t know how much longer she can hold out, as she can’t finish the incantation while having to defend herself. Suddenly, Moonstar, still glowing, tells Jennifer to hold on. ‘That monster’s gonna have to get through me to get to you!’ she exclaims as she blasts Pandemonia, overcome by the strange new energies that course through her body, she acts instinctively knowing that she can release the energy in a concentrated blast.

Pandemonia screams, while James asks ‘Is that Dani? What is she doing? Where did she get that kind of power?’. ‘Who cares as long as she’s making that demon hurt’ Locus declares, while Siryn remarks that it must be related to what Arcadia’s reality warping powers did to her back in Kentucky. Jennifer remarks that she did not know Moonstar could channel that kind of ethereal energy, but that she has bought her the time she needed, adding that the Latverian gypsy was able to bind Pandemonia, but now able to banish her to her own dimension. ‘I’m not making his mistake’ Jennifer declares as she opens a portal. ‘Buh-bye!’ she tells Pandemonia, who is sucked into the portal. ‘Nooo! I’m being drawn back to the Chaos Plane!’ the sorceress screams, before managing to reach out of the portal, ‘Don’t think you can keep me there forever, humans - not when I take the opener with me!’ she snarls, reaching out for Locus.

‘NO!’ Locus shouts as she tries to lurch away from Pandemonia, only for Cannonball to swoop down and pick her up. ‘No way you’re getting another chance at coming back here!’ Sam declares, though Pandemonia’s final words are ‘I’ll be back. I’ll be…’ before the portal closes around her. Locus looks at Cannonball, slyly, telling him that he can put her down. ‘I know I’m hard to resist, but I am way out of your league’ she tells him. ‘It wasn’t your winning personality that made me save you, Locus. You’re just the lesser of two evils’ Sam replies.

Locus turns to Skids and tells her not to think that she owes her anything for the rescue. ‘You people are pathetic, wasting your mutant abilities fighting for peaceful coexistence’. ‘Instead of behaving like a homicidal lunatic’ Sally snaps back, but James tells her to save her breath, as Locus will never listen to reason. ‘Not from you girl scouts. I suggest you stay out of my way, or I’ll finish what Reignfire started’ Locus warns X-Force as she exits through a portal.

Tabitha calls out to Sally, asking her if she is okay. ‘We were so worried…’ she begins, but Sally replies that not she is not trapped on some mountain in Latveria, she is fine. ‘We tried our best to find you, but…’ Tabitha begins, before Sally tells her not to worry about it. ‘I think the person we should be concerned about - is Dani Moonstar!’ everyone looks to Moonstar, who is still glowing, and looking very puzzled.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the remaining X-Force member, Domino, calls out to Dr Leonard inside a medical center. ‘I’m glad you could make it. Um…I’m not sure how to address you’ Dr Leonard replies. ‘Domino’s fine’ comes the reply, before Domino remarks that Rebecca Schuyler said that he had some information about the Aguilar Institute. Dr Leonard replies that within the medical community, the Aguilar Institute maintains a very low profile, and with good reason. He explains to Domino that they have been involved in some extremely questionable biotech weaponry development, including human experimentation.

Dr Leonard takes Domino to a window, and motions inside, to where Selena Ciscernos, an eight year old, is sleeping. Dr Leonard explains that she was in an automobile accident, and both her parents were killed. He tells Domino that they went to great efforts to keep representatives from the Aguilar Institute claiming custody over her. Domino asks why they are interested in a little girl. ‘Watch’ Dr Leonard tells Domino, when suddenly, Selena’s hand transforms from a little girls hand - into that of a strange creature! ‘My God!’ Domino exclaims, while Dr Leonard reveals that Selena is just one of a larger test group in a town called “Almost Reno”, in New Mexico, and Domino’s eyes go wide….

Characters Involved: 

Bedlam II, Cannonball, Domino, Meltdown, Moonstar, Proudstar, Siryn, Sunspot (all X-Force)

Skids (former New Mutant)


Jennifer Kale

Dr Leonard


Kruella and another shop assistant


Selena Ciscernos


In Photograph:

Boom-Boom, Rusty, Skids (all X-Terminators)

Story Notes: 

Skids and Locus were teleported away in X-Force (1st series) #80.

Zero Tolerance cleared out the X-Men’s Mansion in X-Men (2nd series) #70. X-Force were residents of the Mansion at that time.

Rusty was killed by Holocaust in X-Men (2nd series) #42.

Rusty’s hair is miscolored blond in the photograph, it should be red.

Any effort X-Force made to find Skids was not shown on panel.

Error: On page 4, when thinking about Skids, Meltdown says Even though Locus could have zapped Tab anywhere, I still feel guilty we kinda put the search on the back burner’ - of course name is Tab, so what she meant to say was Sally.

It is unknown who Meltdown was ringing to enquire about Skids, as those closest to Skids are either dead (mother, Rusty), or currently uninvolved in X-team mutant affairs (Rictor, original X-Factor).

Zombie Class Reunion does not appear to be a real film.

Meltdown was recently ambushed by Locus in X-Force (1st series) #78.

Cannonball joined the X-Men in X-Force (1st series) #44, but after finding it was not all he expected it to be, he rejoined X-Force in X-Force (1st series) #84.

The Psi-War took place in X-Men (2nd series) #77-78.

Arcadia used her reality-warping powers on Moonstar in X-Force (1st series) #84.
Cannonball learned his mother was ill in X-Force (1st series) #83.

The good friend Cannonball refers to who dragged he, Dani and the New Mutants to Limbo is of course Illyana Rasputin, the original Magik, deceased during this time.

Dani became a member of the Valkryor in New Mutants Special Edition #1, not New Mutants Annual #1 like mentioned here.

Siryn’s hair is miscolored blonde on page 12 and 20.

Since when have Cannonball and Co worried about ringing Dr Strange in advance? In New Mutants (1st series) #77 they rocked up at his door when they were having problems with Dani.

Jennifer Kale is one of Marvel’s lesser-known magicians, though she has been around for a long time. She has had notable stints in series like Adventures into Fear, Man-Thing and Ghost Rider (3rd series), among other appearances. She makes several appearances in X-Force (1st series) up until #100.

Clive Barker is an author (among other things) who has written numerous fantasy and horror novels, and director of the 1987 film Hellraiser.

Pandemonia has not reappeared since this issue.

This marks Locus’ final full appearance. She next appears in Weapon X (2nd series) #1, as a candidate for the new Weapon X team, only Sabretooth got to her first, and killed her. Interestingly, her brief appearance in Weapon X (2nd series) #1, she has gone back to her long blonde hair and lost her tan.

This marks Skids’ final appearance until X-Treme X-Men #42, where she has rejoined the life of mutants fighting for peaceful coexistence as a member of X-Corporation Los Angeles, along with other former New Mutants, Sunspot and Magma.

X-Force accidentally visited the town of “Almost Reno” in X-Force (1st series) #77, prior to any knowledge about the Aguilar Institute.

Written By: