X-Force (4th series) #3

Issue Date: 
June 2014
Story Title: 
Scratching the Itch

Simon Spurrier (writer), Rock-He Kim (artist), VC’s Joe Sabino (letterer), Rock-He Kim (cover artist), Adi Granov (variant cover), Xander Jarowey (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Mike Marts (X-Men group editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

As X-Force waits for Psylocke in the Amazonas, Marrow trash-talks her, not understanding why Psylocke is with the team. Her day job with the X-Men finished, Psylocke teleports in and gives Marrow a piece of her mind. When the younger woman doesn’t take the hint, Psylocke psychically manipulates her to spout gibberish whenever she wants to swear. Psylocke sent them here because via Cerebra she found a mutant named Antonio Aggasiz, who escaped from Volga who is here. They find a guarded complex and break in. Unwanted mutants are imprisoned there. The prisoners offer to take care of the guards if they release them. When Cable considers the offer, Psylocke puts everybody to sleep and kills the guards herself. She tells the others her reasons for joining X-Force, then they confront the frightened Aggasiz. Before he can tell them anything, Volga himself appears and murders Aggasiz, after which he teleports out again.

Full Summary: 

While Elizabeth Braddock aka Psylocke is still at the Jean Grey School, her X-Force teammates wait for her somewhere in the Amazonas. When Marrow complains, Cable tells her she is free to go.

Back at the Jean Grey School, Psylocke uses the Cerebra chamber.

Marrow asks why they keep sitting around. They know now that this Volga character is whom they seek. Cable tells her they are waiting for Psylocke who’s got intel based on this location. Fantomex chimes in; it’s only polite to wait for Betsy.

Psylocke steps out on a mission with her team of X-Men.

Marrow complains that she doesn’t see why they all treat her like she’s such %$§& royalty. Cable tells her off again and Fantomex suggests she lay off the swearing. Marrow insists: Psylocke acts so superior the whole time when she ain’t that hot. Think about this: She’s this super-assassin ninja chick with a &%$# psychoactive sword and telekinetic power and blah blah blah who refuses to kill people. Assassin. Sword. Nonlethal. One of these things is not like the others. She doesn’t get why Cable recruited her. She doesn’t fit. What’s the %$/ secret, huh? For her sake, he hopes Marrow never finds out, Cable replies.

The X-Men’s mission over, they return to the mansion. Psylocke changes into her X-Force uniform and asks Dr. Nemesis to teleport her in. Moments later, she joins the others in the Amazonas, northwestern Brazil, the middle of nowhere.

My name is Elizabeth Braddock and I am an addict. It has been twenty days since I last weakened.

She takes Marrow aside for a private conversation and warns her not to badmouth her again in front of her colleagues. Or Betsy will fry her language centers, so she sounds like the drooling idiot-goblin she is.

How does she kn--? Marrow begins to burst out. Psychic, Betsy replies. You unbelievable prat. Also MeMe was replaying the whole thing in her earpiece.

Marrow insults MeMe (who is present via floating comm devices). MeMe laughs. Team who shares together cares together.

Marrow can’t let the subject go though. All this “killing’s bad, mmmmkay” $§”%? She doesn’t get why Psylocke’s here and why she has to be such a sanctimonious %&$§/ the whole time…

Betsy tells Cable she is bored with the little monster swearing at her. He can’t say she didn’t warn her.

What the jellymold does she mean by that, cowdunk it? Marrow asks a moment later.

Peering through binoculars, Cable announces there is some sort of structure ahead. What’s the score, Betsy? Yeah, why the foxtinkle are they here, duchess? Marrow adds, causing Fantomex to snort.

Betsy explains she ran a mindsweep on Cerebra, poking about their new friend Volga. So they still think he’s the nipplefrost who caused the Alexandria incident, right? Marrow interjects. Cable guffaws. Marrow doesn’t get it.

MeMe interferes excitedly, showing them data about Volga: more money than God. Sick torture ambition, stole her, hurt her. No powers, no mutant, just human. Got goons, many goons, red faces all around. His biz: mostly arms, guns, bombs kaboom. Friends in high places. Can’t find. Apologies. Sorry.

Betsy tells her not to feel bad. Cerebra didn’t do much better. She got plenty of his mind mentionings from generals, terrorists, bankers. There are rumors the little sod’s launching something new on the arms market. Plenty of excitement about that. But nothing to say where he actually is… until she found Antonio Aggasiz.

He’s a mutant, Brazilian. Brain’s bursting with the name Volga, very scared. He’s some sort of dimensional teleporter. She couldn’t tell much before someone slapped him with a psi-dampener. But he was definitely one of Volga’s captives. Past tense. Except in his case, he was neither rescued like MeMe nor found wandering with his memories buggered like Twinklemouth over there. Fudge you, Marrow spits. So she figures he’s an escapee.

She mentioned a PSI-dampener, Cable remarks. Betsy points toward the fortress-like building ahead. This place is reading dozens of very faint mutant signatures. She thinks they are being deliberately shielded.

It’s a batcrumpet mutant sanctuary? Marrow asks. Cable doubts it, as he looks through the binoculars again. The guards are all facing inwards.

Marrow wants to be sent in and take out the guards. Cable decides they do this the quiet way. Oh come on, for Grimblepixie’s sake! she pouts. She’s so totally the hot squid when it comes to the quiet… Cable and Fantomex break down with laughter and Marrow still doesn’t get it.

Soon Fantomex and Psylocke close in on the guards, quietly and separately. She is never more perfection than when doing le infiltration, he tells her as they separate. It’s la not le, she replies. Shut up and do what you do, you ridiculous bloody fraud!

She climbs up a watchtower and imagines killing the guard with her sword. Instead, she uses her telepathy to put him asleep while Fantomex breaks the neck of his guard. She runs to the next watchtower.

My name is Elizabeth Braddock and I am an addict. It’s been twenty days since I last weakened.

Before she can take out the next guard non-lethally, Marrow impales him with one of her bone spikes.

She tells Betsy she likes her, she really does. She’s really pretty. She likes the elasticity and texture of her skin. And she doesn’t want her thinking she’s riding her puddlejam for no reason. It’s just, c’mon, what business has she got in a team of professionals like them?

Professionals, Betsy mutters, looking at the dying man who manages to set off an alarm button. Aw, croutons! Marrow swears.

Loud way it is, Cable realizes outside. He asks MeMe if she really wants to be part of this. Doc Nemesis is proud of the gadget she’s riding, but nobody can force her to use it. Want to, she replies as they join the others. Enjoy mutant helping, good things. Still learning self skill. New ways, new thoughts, body pattern. Scattered self. New ways to be. Swarmthink. Her floating units separate and fire at the entrance.

Armed guards in psi-helmet attack. Psylocke announces she can’t puppet them. Marrow scoffs.

Psylocke imagines killing the guards. Cable asks why there are so few guards and where is Aggasiz. Betsy strains. She doesn’t know, there’s a null-field.

Fantomex points at the cells and remarks those mutant prisoners are from all over the world, not only les Bresiliens. Marrow asks what that means. Means it’s a damn rendition center. MeMe explains that after the Alexandria incident many nations didn’t want mutants anymore, so they secretly sent them here. She also found Aggasiz and his rendition is underway.

An imprisoned mutant girl in a school uniform addresses Psylocke and explains most guards went in there when the alarm stated. Maybe fifty, all in psi-helmets. Too many for them. Let them out. They are enough to take them all at once.

Marrow and Cable agree with the idea. Betsy does not. Those people aren’t killers. But MeMe opens the cells and restraints. Cable tells their new army to rush the guards. No! Betsy announces and puts everyone including her own teammates to sleep. She draws her sword and walks into the treatment center.

Sometime later, she wakes them up. Sitting in meditation stance, she announces she has something to say to each of them. They were recruits. They were approached and enrolled by a soldier. Cable found them in the wake of what happened in Alexandria when there was no X-Force. She knows why each of them said yes. You can’t hide things from a psychic. They are all so sick with their secrets that they wear them like armor. So they assume everyone does the same.

She turns to Fantomex. He should have asked for her help with his search.

She turns to MeMe. She should tell him the truth. She can’t, MeMe stammers.

And as for Marrow and her… loss… She has nothing to say to her.

Psylocke gets up. She was not recruited. She came to Cable. She sought him out. Does Marrow want to know her secret? Why she is here? She has no secret. She has no reason to be a part of X-Force and every reason to stay away. She tries not to kill. She makes vows. She counts the days that she manages without spilling blood. She tells herself that if she does take lives in the course of doing what’s right… then at least it means other people won’t have to. Like… she’s saving innocent souls. But that’s a lie. That’s lazy guilt-dodging bollocks. The truth is this: she rejoined X-Force because she couldn’t bear to stay away.

My name is Elizabeth Braddock and I am an addict. It has been zero days since I last weakened.

The others look around the room where everyone has been butchered save for the prisoner strapped into a chair who begs Cable to keep her away from him. Antonio Aggasiz, Cable identifies him. How did he come to be here?

Captured, he stutters. He was hiding in the jungle, but—Yeahyeahyeah, that ain’t what he meant, Marrow interrupts. He already escaped from somewhere else before those bozos caught him, right? V-Volga, Antonio stammers.

Betsy tells Cable he’s terrified. She shut off the psi-dampener but they should get him out of those restraints. Negative Cable replies. He’s a jumper. Be gone before they know it.

Volga, Antonio repeats. Tortured him, she bets, Marrow agrees. Made him jump off to other worlds. Volga! he repeats at a louder volume. They wanna know where he sent Antonio, Marrow explains and what he did there. Volga! Antonio shouts. They wanna know where that elaborately carved narwhal pelvis actually lives. VOLGA! he screams. Why’s he keep saying that? Oh no, she realizes.

Zdravstvujtye, sexy peoples, Volga, surrounded by an energy globe shouts, as he enters. One of the energy tendril hits Antonio.

Cable runs towards Volga. Calling him a bastard, he demands how does he fix his daughter?

Very interesting, Volga remarks when he sees him. He should be dead by now.

Psylocke tells him to practice what he preaches and stabs him with her sword, only to find he was an energy projection.

Fantomex remarks he was under the impression the big bad was just human. Not a supervillain. He’s supposed to be, Cable mutters. All the more reason to find him and stick a nuke up his hashtag, Marrow opines. She suggests they grab the patsy and— Betsy opens the restraints and Antonio falls forward. They get a good look at him. He’s dead. Marrow swears.

Characters Involved: 

Cable, Dr. Nemesis, Fantomex, Marrow, Meme, Psylocke (all X-Force)

Jubilee, M II, Rachel Grey, Storm (X-Men)
Genesis II, other students

Antonio Aggasiz

Imprisoned mutants

Story Notes: 

‘Mmkay is a phrase used by the guidance counsellor, Mr. Mackey, on the show South Park.

“Zdravstvujtye” is Russian for “hello.”

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