X-Force (3rd series) #20

Issue Date: 
December 2009
Story Title: 
Not Forgotten: Part Four

Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost (writers), Mike Choi & Sonia Oback (artists), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer and producer), Jody LeHeup (assistant editor), John Barber & Jeanine Schaefer (editor), Axel Alonso (executive editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Magik, Domino and Wolverine wait idly while the Stepford Cuckoos continue their fruitless Cerebra search for X-23. Meanwhile, at the Facility, X-23 removes the adamantium blades from her severed arm, gives them to Agent Morales and shuts her in a sealed room with two flasks of flammable material. Once Morales is safe, X-23 incinerates her arm and sets off the fire sprinklers, which she contaminated earlier with the Trigger Scent. The chemical sends her into a berserker rage, allowing her to easily rip through all the Facility agents who stand between her and her targets, Kimura and Dr. Adam Harkins. She arrives at Harkins’s office but is knocked unconscious by Kimura, who then executes Harkins. Before Kimura can kill X-23, however, Agent Morales arrives, sets Kimura on fire and escapes the Facility with X-23 just as it explodes because of the bombs Agent Morales planted. Once outside, X-23’s bio-signature is detected by the Cuckoos, who send Magik, Domino and Wolverine to retrieve her. Kimura radios X-23 and vows to kill everyone X-23 loves, starting with her cousin Megan. X-23 says goodbye to Agent Morales and departs. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Archangel and Warpath find Wolfsbane unconscious and in the arms of Hrimhari, while in New Orleans, the recently resurrected Cypher is summoned by his new masters for a mission.

Full Summary: 

The Cerebra Chamber. Utopia…

The exhausted Stepford Cuckoos continue searching for X-23. Magik, more bored than exhausted, asks how long they need to remain in the room. Until they find her, the Cuckoos explain; very bad things will happen to them if they don’t.

At the bottom of Cerebro, Wolverine and Domino wait together. Wolverine passes the time by constantly unsheathing and sheathing one of his adamantium claws. Each time he releases the claw, it rips through his flesh and leaves a spattering of blood. Domino tells him that, from now on, the Cuckoos are going to crap themselves everything they see her and Logan. Wolverine considers this a good thing. Domino suggests they get away for awhile—and maybe relieve some tension. Surely the Cuckoos will call them if they find anything. Wolverine refuses. When Domino assures him it isn’t his fault, Wolverine responds that it is. Domino disagrees; Cyclops was the one who pulled Laura into this situation. Wolverine asks her if she seriously thinks he couldn’t have stopped it. Laura will be fine, Domino sighs. Logan reminds her that the kid has never been fine a day in her life. She’s never even had a life. He managed to get her in school, with other kids—and then he took it all away.

He continues mutilating his own flesh with his claw. SLIKT. SNIKT. SLIKT.

Domino reminds him that X-23 is sixteen years old; did Logan really think she’d listen to him? “That’s just it,” Wolverine answers. “She takes orders. From the bastards who made her, from Cyclops… from anyone. That’s what she does. But I’m the only one she actually listens to.” He reminds Domino that the kid is human, no matter how she acts; there is a limit to the amount of hell she can endure. Logan has seen it. He vows to find her and get her back—and when he does, things are going to change.

The Facility…

X-23 asks Agent Morales again: does she understand what she must do? Morales apologizes for her absentmindedness and claims she is ready, but a little fuzzy on X-23's role in the plan. Laura hands Morales two liquid-filled flasks with rags stuff in the top. On the floor between them lies Laura's severed arm, wrapped in a white cloth. Ali takes the flasks and steps backward into the cold unit, the door of which is adjacent to one of the facility's sprinkler control valves.

Outside the laboratory, the Facility’s torch crew continues cutting its way through the metal door.

X-23 tells Ali to stay inside the cold unit until she leaves. There are a lot of guards out there, Ali reminds her. Can she really handle them by herself? She doubts Laura could do it even with both her arms. Instead of answering, Laura kneels down and pulls the adamantium blades from her severed left arm, while Alisande watches in horror. What is she doing?!? X-23 stands back up and hands the blades to Ali, warning her to be careful. They're sharp, after all. Ali just looks at the blades in confusion; what the hell does Laura want her to do with them? "If I survive, I will need them. But if I don't," X-23 says, "you will." She tells Agent Morales to get inside, despite her warning that she's going to be sick. As X-23 closes the door, she thanks Agent Morales for trying to help her.

The door shuts. Through the small glass window, Alisande Morales watches as X-23 bows her head, drops a flaming flask of volatile chemicals over her severed arm and waits for her enemies to arrive. They won’t be long; the molten incisions of the blow torches near the final corner of the rectangular incision.

Outside the lab, beneath the blast door, the pinned and bloody Kimura shouts orders to her subordinates. If they don't get her out from beneath the door in 60 seconds, she vows to start shooting. Her smoking handgun and the nearby soldier lying on the ground, however, indicate she's already begun. Suddenly, the facility's sprinklers activate in response to the fire X-23 started in the lab. As green-tinged liquid begins pouring down on her face, Kimura puts in a call to her subordinate Ryan and asks what the hell is happening. Agent Ryan explains the targets are still held up in Section 28. Kimura asks what is burning. Ryan doesn't know; he assumes Agent Morales and X-23 must have triggered the fire alarm. He claims it doesn't matter, though, as they will be inside the lab in two minutes. Suddenly growing worried, Kimura asks what they keep inside Section 28. "Hi, Agent Kimura," another Facility agent says, interrupting the conversation. "This is Mill—"

"If you finish that sentence I'm going to open your personal file and kill everyone I find with your last name," Kimura snaps. "Now tell me what's inside that #^&%@*$ lab!" The terrified agent lists off the chemicals it holds: Sarin gas, Ricin Vapor, Ricin Powder, Tetrodotoxin solution, Compound 1080, Trigger Scent, Amatoxin oil, mercury... "Trigger Scent?" Kimura interrupts, her eyes widening. She suddenly orders her men to stop. However, she's too late; they finish cutting their way through the door just as Kimura gives her new orders. They ask her to repeat, and although she once again commands them to not open the door, the more pertinent noise they hear is the unsheathing of X-23's adamantium claws.

Laura bolts out of the newly made doorway and slices her way through the heads of the Trigger Scent-soaked Facility agents in the hallway. She glides over the canopy they create, leaving behind a path of severed craniums. After she clears the first cluster of enemies, she hits the ground and rests in the gathering pool of water for a moment. The Trigger Scent permeating the hallway once again activates her nose. Laura looks up and beholds yet another battalion of soldiers, each one of them aglow with the chemical that sends her into a berserker rage. The squad leader orders his worried men to kill her, but he's too late; X-23 springs to her feet and slices her way first through their heads. She takes a few rounds of rifle fire, but her massacre continues otherwise unabated. Dropping to the floor, X-23 swings her adamantium-tipped foot in a roundhouse arc that separates the guards from their feet. More men approach. X-23, her eyes red with murder, screams and confronts them too, sending torrents of blood to mix with the chemical slurry coating the corridor floor.

Angel's Aerie. The Colorado Rocky Mountains...

Light from the full moon pours in through the gaping hole in Warren Worthington's roof. He asks aloud what the hell happened to his house. Warpath is pretty sure it wasn't the wind. He asks Warren if he plans on going all ‘Fourth Horseman’ on him. Archangel says he just might; does Warpath have any idea what repairing this place will cost him? "I grew up on a reservation, jackass," Warpath tells him. "In a trailer. So forgive me if I don't get too misty for you." He crouches down and searches for clues. The snow, however, has covered everything, including tracks and scents. If Wolfsbane is there somewhere, they're going to have to search for her.

Suddenly, a large, furry beast leaps in through the hole in the ceiling and lands on the creaky hardwood floor. Archangel and Warpath turn to face the intruder, instinctively readying their weapons. Instead of a threat, they behold a weeping, bare-skinned, muscular boy holding the unconscious Rahne Sinclair in his arms. He asks if they're the X-Men, and says he needs their help; he seeks the one called Elixir. Warren and James are too shocked to respond.

The Facility...

After the noise outside settles down, Agent Morales unlatches the door and slowly opens it. X-23's adamantium blades rest safely in her boot strap, while in her hands, she carries her explosive chemical vial and her handgun. Ali urges herself to keep moving, but the scene she sees in the hallway stops her in her tracks. Everywhere she looks, she sees the blood-soaked bodies of dead Facility soldiers.

Elsewhere in the facility, Dr. Adam Harkins maintains contact with Kimura from his computer. She reports back on X-23’s activities throughout the building. When she informs Harkins that the girl has flooded the water tanks with Trigger Scent, he asks her to shut up and find her before she loses her again. Kimura tries to warn him again of the danger, but after Harkins assures her he is already flooding the system, he orders her to quit screwing around and search for the girl.

A scream from outside his office catches Adam’s attention. He fears X-23 has arrived. The body of a Facility agent hurled into his office’s bulletproof glass confirms this impending danger. However, the glass does not break, and for a protracted moment, Harkins just stares at the crack. He calls out to Kimura for help.

Unfortunately for him, X-23 arrives before Kimura. She comes crashing through the reinforced glass, her blood-soaked claws leading the way. Harkins falls back into the wall and stares into X-23’s crimson-colored eyes. Please stay away, he begs, cowering pathetically against the wall.

Laura’s murderous rage dies down. She stares at Harkins and instead of seeing a man soaked in Trigger Scent, she sees a regular guy; flushing out the sprinkler system did the trick. Laura even seems to take his pleas for mercy to heart. However, a familiar smell enters the air and gets her attention. Before she has time to react, the butt of a handgun comes slamming down on the back of her head. She falls to the ground.

“The sprinkler earns you a gold star, X. I’ll pin it on your coffin,” Kimura says to X-23, who regards her in disbelief. Harkins, meanwhile, asks Kimura what took her so long—and what happened to X-23’s arm. He told her to get him a blood sample, Kimura says. Harkins reminds her he wanted a pure gene sample, not a dismembered limb. Besides, the girl can still be a valuable commodity once she’s been mind-wiped. “No,” Kimura says. “She can’t.” She fires two rounds into Laura’s legs.

Harkins thrusts his gold-tipped cane under Kimura’s chin and tells her he has had enough. Does he need to remind her of the permanent nerve damage and limp he has because of her? Kimura insists that wasn’t her fault; it was Emma Frost’s. Harkins doesn’t care. He reminds Kimura she serves the Facility, and therefore must do what he says, even when it comes to X-23. Right now, he wants her back in the white room—and he wants her in one piece.

Kimura stares at him for a moment—then refuses. X-23 has already killed three Facility heads, she says; she must die. Harkins asks what she means by three. He begins to tell Kimura her figure isn’t correct, and that X-23 has only killed two Facility heads, but before he can finish his thought, Kimura puts a bullet in his brain.

Turning to X-23, Kimura tells her that she really liked Harkins. “He was a sadistic $%@# who loved money, monsters and torture,” Kimura says. “But he doesn’t know you like I do.” Laura tries to explain herself, but Kimura interrupts her. She. Broke. The. Rules. For that, Kimura is going to scramble her brain—and then she’s going to eat it. She puts her gun to Laura’s head.

At that moment, Agent Morales bursts into the lab, gets Kimura’s attention and hurls the flaming flask at the back of her head. It hits Kimura and sends her tumbling into the computer, totally ablaze. Ali grabs Laura and tells her they need to move, but Laura reminds her that the fire won’t kill Kimura; it won’t even hurt her. It will keep her busy, Ali says—at least long enough for them to escape.

Meanwhile, Kimura screams out in a mixture of fury and pain. She can’t see, for the fire has seared her eyes. She continues screaming out to X-23, but the collapse of the roof silences her.

Ali hoists Laura’s arm over her shoulder and helps her off the ground. As she leads her away from the fire, she tells her they don’t have much time; she’s been busy.

In the fuel reserves, a flaming Erlenmeyer flask rests on the ground near a tipped-over barrel of flammable liquid. The pool slowly spreads toward the flame.

Near the Facility’s natural gas lines, another flask sits alight.

In the weapons and explosives storage room, a burning, rag-stuffed flask sits on the countertop next to a dozen live grenades.

Meanwhile, in the Facility’s exit corridor, Agent Morales makes one last flaming flask airborne as she and X-23 rush toward the exit. The fire burns behind them, spreading flames throughout the hallway. The two women rush outside just as the entire Facility erupts in a ball of flame.

And, on Utopia, the Cuckoos finally get lock on X-23’s signature.

Back at the Facility, Agent Morales and X-23 lie amidst the flaming wreckage. Doing her best to ignore the pain, Ali sits up, looks over at Laura and asks about the Facility people. Are there more of them? There are, Laura tells her. In that case, Ali vows to go back to S.H.I.E.L.D. and clear Laura’s record. She wants to erase every file they have on her.

Their moment is interrupted when Kimura calls them over the radio. Although she’s still on fire, she lets Laura know that she is never going to stop—never. She swears she’ll find Morales, Laura’s little X-Men classmates, her telekinetic boyfriend, and that she’ll kill them all. She vows to kill everything Laura loves—and the first person on her list is Megan. “Do you hear me? That little bitch is @#$%ing dead!” Kimura screams.

The transmission ends. “What a psycho,” Ali says with a grin on her face. Laura doesn’t think so; after all, Kimura’s right. She won’t ever stop, and there’s nothing Laura can do. She falls to her knees and begins to bawl. There’s nothing she can do about it!! Ali kneels down next to her and puts her arm around her shoulder. “It’s okay… it’s okay,” she assures her, while in the distance, the Facility burns.

Domino isn’t so sure things are okay. She says as much as she puts her gun to Agent Morales’s head. While Domino asks X-23 to move away, Wolverine tells Agent Morales she has one second to start talking. Laura stands up and tells them she’s ready to go now. Wolverine asks if she’s okay; she repeats that she’s ready to go. He asks about the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Laura tells him that Agent Morales is her friend.

Turning to X-23, Ali hands her back her adamantium claws and claims she can help her. Laura refuses her help; she can’t anyway. Besides, right now, all Laura wants to do is go home. Alisande Morales watches as X-23, Wolverine, Domino and Magik disappear into Magik’s stepping discs. She’s left standing alone, one woman silhouetted against the hellish flames of the Facility.

Prologue. New Orleans…

A blond-haired boy examines his hand, focusing primarily on the Techno-Organic circuitry running through it. It’s in his neck, his face—even his eyes. From his point of view, he sees the world in repeating binary code, interspersed with a simple command: 01010OBEY01010…

Suddenly, the door to the darkened room opens. “Boy,” a figure says to him. Cypher, the blond-haired teenager in the yellow and black uniform once worn by Charles Xavier’s New Mutants, turns to face the figures standing shrouded in the doorway. “It’s time.”

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Domino, Warpath, Wolfsbane, Wolverine, X-23 (X-Force)

Magik, the Stepford Cuckoos (X-Men)

Hrimhari (former Wolf Prince of Asgard)

Agent Alisande Morales (H.A.M.M.E.R.)

Kimura (The Facility)

Dr. Adam Harkins (The Facility)

Various Facility Agents

Cypher (former New Mutant, current agent of Selene)

Selene’s Inner Circle (as silhouettes)

Story Notes: 

Magik, formerly of the New Mutants, sacrificed herself at the end of NEW MUTANTS (1st series) #73, but was recreated by Belasco and joined the X-Men after the end of the X-INFERNUS miniseries.

Emma Frost wiped away Kimura’s only pleasant memory, reprogrammed her mind and sent her to assassinate the high-ranking members of the Facility—specifically Dr. Adam Harkins—in NEW X-MEN (2nd series) #36.

The two Facility doctors X-23 killed were Dr. Martin Sutter in X-23 (1st series) #5 and Dr. Zander Rice in X-23 (1st series) #6.

This is the first living, on-panel appearance of Douglas Ramsey, a.k.a. Cypher, since his death in NEW MUTANTS (1st series) #60. He was resurrected by Eli Bard last issue.

This story continues in X NECROSHA #1.

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