X-Man #49

Issue Date: 
March 1999
Story Title: 

Terry Kavanagh (writer), Luke Ross (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Mike Thomas (colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s JL (letterers), Jaye Gardner (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Nate flies through the rain en route back to Dublin when a bolt of energy strikes the ground. He realizes that it is not lightning and goes to investigate. In the wreckage of a building, he finds an alien woman. She does not speak any language, but Nate comes to her aid when three large bug-like aliens appear. They are able to alter their language frequency so that Nate can understand them, and inform him that the girl is a thief. Nate attacks one of them when they identify themselves as her hunters. Nate manages to hold them at bay, when the facility they are in explodes. Nate grabs the alien girl and escapes. He knows they have to put as much distance between them and the aliens as possible, and they start to understand each other when the alien communicates to him that she should leave to protect him. Nate and the alien take shelter in a cave as the bug-like aliens continue to track her down, and in the process, transform into a mega-hunter. The alien tends to Nate’s wounds and Nate recalls the aliens calling her “Doctor” earlier. Without his telepathy, though, he is not able to find out much else about her. They are tired, but the alien reveals that she can speak to him in his language, very basic words, and introduces herself as Sylph, and even makes a joke. Nate is enthralled by the alien, and they embrace. The next morning, they watch the sunrise, before Nate tells Sylph that he knows where he has to take her to “anchor” her to the planet. However, the hunters have learned that as well, and as a weakened Nate trudges through the snow, ice and wind with Sylph at the Arctic Circle, preparing to reach Magnetic North, the alien hunters arrive, and attack. Nate battles mega-hunter for some time, before the bug-like aliens are revealed to just be armor, and inside them, are male aliens like Sylph. One of them grabs Sylph and explains to Nate that she is a mass-murderer - a vivisectionist who killed tens of thousands. Sylph confirms that she did kill thousands of dying people, experimenting on them for a plague that was killing millions. Nate feels betrayed, and will not shelter Sylph from her people. They prepare to transport away with Sylph, but Nate decides that he won’t abandon her, either, so tries to latch on, synching his bio-rhythms to hers, but unsuccessfully, as she vanishes. Nate sees her world - the prison camp - shimmering around him, but falls back to reality, and starts to cry for now he is alone again. Meanwhile, Ness is contemplating his life, when he is approached by Madelyne Pryor who suggests to him that he drop his mysterious persona, only for Ness to ask her what exactly she is.

Full Summary: 

‘Getting there’, the heroic young mutant, Nate Grey a.k.a. X-Man thinks to himself as he telekinetically flies through a storm. Rain pours down around him, while he tells himself that after everything that happened in Latveria that could have happened to the rest of the planet, thanks to him, he really thought that his solo side-trip to London might have done him some good, but he was wrong, as usual. Nate decides that he needs something solid now, secure - the Dublin ground beneath his feet again, a few helpings of Mrs MacAleer’s ham-n-cabbage - and Maddie. ‘Madelyne Pryor. She’s been there for me, whenever, wherever I needed her…since the moment I first fell to this Earth’. A lightning bolt crackles ahead of the young hero, causing him to dart backwards, while thinking ‘Then there’s Ness. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but something about him reminds me of -’ he loses his train of thought as a huge crashing noise booms overhead.

Nate clutches his ears, and decides that it was unlike any thunder he has ever heard, and looking down, Nate sees a stream of pink energy moving towards the ground below. ‘And that ain’t lightning!’ Nate realizes as the pink energy strikes a building in the city below. He decides that something, or someone, has just hit the ground, hard, and flies towards the area where the crash took place. Recalling how he fell to Earth, Nate lands on the ground and decides that this is worse, staring at the rubble before him, he reminds himself that he didn’t bring two tons of machinery on top of himself when he arrived. Examining his surroundings, he realizes that this old sports car facility has been abandoned for years, according to the Macs, so he needn’t worry about any other victims, at least, while his telekinesis makes it easy enough to clear the rubble at ground-zero.

Nate uses his telekinesis to toss some of the machinery and rubble aside, but decides that there is too much to sift through, and it might take too much time. He wishes he still had his telepathy, as he would be able to scan for some sign of life - he goes wide-eyed when, after moving some rubble, discovers a woman with golden skin with some tattoos down the right side of her body and bluish-gray hair, her costume torn, seemingly unconscious. ‘She’s… so… unbelievably…’ Nate thinks to himself, when the woman suddenly opens her eyes, ‘Alive?’ Nate gasps. The woman spins around and gets up, and Nate tells himself that she is fast too, even if she can barely crawl yet in her condition. The woman backs up against a wall, and starts waving a hand about. While Nate looks around, believing he spotted some traces of armor in the wreckage around the woman. He supposes that took the brunt of the initial impact, but notices that the whole place is starting to spark and smoke. He tells the woman not to be afraid, and introduces himself as Nate Grey.

The woman gazes past Nate, as three large figures appear behind him. ‘I’m just trying to…’ Nate begins, before realizing the woman has been gesturing behind him, and he looks up, seeing three large black bug-like aliens behind him, one of whom says something in its native alien tongue, before activating some sort of translation system, ‘Pursuit confirmed’ it then declares, adding ‘Stolen frequency-alternator destroyed upon rogue entry into this unauthorized dimensional plane’. ‘Thief targeted and -’ the alien starts to say, before Nate flies up to its face, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, what are you talking about? “Targeted”? Who - what - are you three…who is she?’ he asks. One of the other large bug-like aliens states ‘With no encounter-suit to electromagnetically anchor her to this plane, the Doctor will automatically return to the quantum-mines…’

And another bug alien adds ‘…in precisely 39 hours, 12 minutes, and 14 seconds when her artificially-accelerated vibrational-rate returns to normal again’. ‘Unless…’ another of the aliens begins, but Nate releases some telekinetic energy, ‘Unless what, freak?’ he demands, ordering the alien to talk to him, to tell him who they are and what is going on down here. ‘We are hunters’ one of the other aliens replies. ‘And she is the hunted’ the other remarks, as they both fire energy at Nate, knocking him about. ‘You’re morons!’ Nate retorts, as he gathers himself and blocks their attack with a telekinetic force-field. One of the aliens instructs the others to cease fire, as another states that the interloper’s mentally-generated shields and the hunters’ reinforced carapaces are both impregnable to weapons-emissions. ‘Convert to manual desist-and-detain’ another alien declares, extending its pincers to try and grab Nate. ‘Too late, pest! Firing weapons in a contained space…? Even I know better than that!’ Nate adds, as the alien’s claw is cut off, and Nate flies towards the woman, as the factory around them starts to explode.

‘YAAAHOOEY!’ Nate shouts as he and the alien woman, surrounded by a telekinetic bubble, fly across the city, towards open space. ‘Ah, c’mon, girl…I still have no clue where you’re running from and no real idea what to do about it next -’ he tells her, before crash landing on hillside, they both roll down the slopes, the rain still pouring down over them. ‘But even you gotta admit…that was a blast!’ Nate exclaims as he reaches out for the alien woman, taking her by the hand. Nate declares that those big, bad bugs-in-black were definitely surprised by the explosive reaction to their barrage. He wonders if there is some fundamental difference between the physics of this plane and theirs. They run along the meadow now, over some slopes, as Nate announces that it is still best to grab as much distance as possible now, while they can, just in case. But, after a time, Nate comes to a stand-still, he needs to catch his breath.

More lightning crackles in the darkened sky, while the alien woman turns as if she is going to make a run for it. Nate asks her where she is going, pointing out that she is injured, exhausted and totally lost and alone. ‘Whatever those things back there are, they’re obviously dangerous - deadly - and you can’t…you…that’s why you’re walking away, isn’t it? To protect me?’ Nate calls out. The alien woman waves goodbye, but Nate flies over to her and picks her up, ‘Forget that, fancy-face! Far as I can tell, you don’t know squat about this world - and I’m your best defense against everything out there now. Everything’ he tells her. Surrounding himself and the alien woman in a telekinetic bubble once more, they fly away, as Nate remarks that all this rain, well, they are in Ireland. ‘Get used to it -’ he begins, before a beam of energy strikes him in the leg, and the bubble starts to fall towards another hillside.

Meanwhile, in Dublin, the rain pours down there, also, as a man with long hair is perched on a rooftop in the city. Lightning crackles over him as he thinks that Dublin is truly magnificent, old and new, tradition and progression, side-by-side - so many people, so many stories, so much history, still intact. ‘Almost…palpable to one like myself - with eyes to see, ears to hear - but there are no such others living here on the outside. Not for millennia now’ the man thinks to himself, recalling that he gave up home and haven to save all from the worst that Nate Grey could be. He knows he can never return to the nest again, that this is his new world now, just the tip of his new world, whether he likes it or not - and he can’t even begin to imagine where to start.

Suddenly… ‘Well done, “Ness”…you’ve wormed your way into Nate’s life enough to earn a room at MacAleers’ b’n’b at least’ Madelyne Pryor remarks as she hovers in the air around Ness. Her pink cloak flowing behind her in the wind, she adds that it is too bad Ness drove their mutual pal out of town at the same time. ‘Hiding in the shadows, Madelyne…as usual?’ Ness replies, without turning to see her. ‘What, no startled leap backwards…no shocked misstep from your precarious perch…? Not even a hackle raised in fear?’ Madelyne asks. ‘You knew I was here all along?’ Madelyne realizes. Ness replies that he knows Madelyne doesn’t like to be alone too long, nor does she like to let the boy out of her sight at all, if she can help it. ‘Neither do you, I’ve noticed’ Madelyne replies, before pointing out that Ness just lost him, anyway.

Madelyne suggests to Ness that he try a little honesty with him, and to drop the air of mystery and all that. ‘Worked for me, after all…like a charm’ Madelyne remarks, while Ness drinks some rain that falls into his hand. Ness announces that he is hellbent to join Grey at a moment of the collective destiny, that he abandoned a wife and lost a cousin, forever. ‘Knowing any more would endanger you both now…and it is none of your business’ Ness points out, before telling Madelyne that the real question still remains: ‘what exactly are you?’ before Ness suddenly vanishes, leaving Madelyne hovering in the rain.

At that moment, ‘What…what is she doing…’ Nate asks himself, as the alien woman leans down and kisses him. ‘Oh. Just sharing air - splitting her oxygen supply with the needy’ Nate realizes. Recalling how Maddie had to do the same for him at the edge of the atmosphere a few weeks ago. The alien woman goes wide-eyed, and pulls away. ‘But not like Maddie, that’s for sure. Nothing like Maddie’ Nate thinks to himself, while telling his strange companion that the last thing he remembers is getting pegged from below trying to steer them into the softer bog lands to cushion their landing, then passing out. He supposes that the hunters were close enough to see them come down, and realizes that the alien woman must have kept he and her hidden underwater until they passed by, despite the added risk to herself in staying behind. ‘Wow’ Nate utters.

At the same time, one of the bug-like aliens reports that they have lost visual contact. ‘Field-carapaces damaged by unexpected energy-eruption, unsuitable for present terrain. Land search inadequate’ one of the aliens announces, before authorizing mega-hunter protocol. The aliens then start to combine.

‘Doctor. They called you “Doctor”, didn’t they?’ Nate asks as the alien woman looks at his wounded leg inside a cave. ‘Laser-wound self-cauterized, from what I can see, and caking mud will help - no doubt about it…but we can’t hang here long, Doc’ Nate remarks. The alien wipes her face with a cloth as Nate tells her that there has to be someplace safe for her, someplace they have to reach before the thirty-nine hours are up. He adds that without his telepathy, he has no way to know where or what that place is yet, or how much time they have already lost. Nate clutches his head and starts to stumble, before indeed collapsing to his knees. ‘And look at you… you definitely don’t have the same glow you were sporting when I first found you… looks like your body’s losing some sort of battle’ Nate remarks, before he falls backwards.

‘Trust me, I can relate’ he tells the alien, informing her that he is burning out on his own power, so much power, he doesn’t expect to see twenty-one. ‘Be surprised what I can do actually…when I put my mind to it’ Nate admits, while the alien goes over to him and leans down. ‘So tired just now, though…little weak from blood loss…’ he tells her. ‘That why we / me stayed’ the alien declares. Nate goes wide-eyed, ‘You…you can speak?’ he gasps. ‘You talk, me talk’ the alien tells him. ‘Sure, sure - whatever’ Nate tells her, before asking her what her name is. ‘You talk, I talk’ the alien replies. ‘Okay, right - right - got it’ Nate mutters, while the alien wipes his face with the cloth, as Nate tells her that he has to call her something, something that speaks to her touch, so soft, her light, her appearance in his life here, now - out of nowhere. ‘Almost like some sort of fallen -’ he begins, before the alien states ‘Sylph’.

‘Pretty - like those air-elementals from the fairy tales Forge used to spin around the campfire back home…’ Nate recalls, before taking Sylph by her hand and telling her that she is shivering now. Nate knows that if he could peek into his her head, this language would be way behind them already, and he would know exactly where she needed to go, precisely how long they have to get there, and he would know how close the hunters re. ‘Not to worry, Nate Grey…hunters good keepers, not finders’ Sylph smiles. ‘A joke…?’ Nate replies, before they laugh, and Nate utters ‘Wow’ as Sylph drops into his arms. But she pulls back, ‘Don’t…please don’t pull away yet…you’re still shivering…trembling…we’re both hurt…’ Nate tells her. ‘You talk, Nate Grey… I listen. Please’ Sylph asks, as she puts her head on Nate’s shoulder. Nate replies that it feels like he has lots to say all of a sudden, a lot to share - about being a stranger in a strange land.

At that moment, the rain continues to beat down as the alien hunters, in their combined form, fly towards a village, and crash into a building. There is a computer in one room, and the aliens shove a pincer into the hard-drive.

Later, Nate wakes and finds that it is morning already. He looks out of the cave, to where the sun is rising over the water before him. He doesn’t feel exactly one hundred percent yet, before wondering where Sylph is, although he soon sees her, standing outside the cave, holding herself as she watches the sunrise. Nate tells himself that Sylph is just trying to keep warm in the sun, taking it all in for the very first time, and walks towards her. ‘Awesome, isn’t it?’ Nate calls out. He puts his jacket around Sylph and tells her that there is so much more he can’t wait to show her, to really share with her. ‘I know this won’t be enough to stop the cold, nothing seems to be enough yet, but -’ Nate begins, before Sylph turns to Nate’s wound, and Nate tells her that it is healing nicely, thanks to her mud-and-herb packs, specifically, and he is controlling the bleeding telekinetically. Nate adds that it s taking a considerable amount of conscious effort on his part, seriously limiting the rest of his psionic. Nate informs Sylph that he figured it out, during the night, what to do next. ‘If you need to be magnetically anchored here, to this Earth, somehow - and the hunters said as much themselves - then I know where we have to go now’.

In the village, ‘What the h-’ a man gasps as he enters the office and finds it ransacked. ‘No idea, boss…office was as quiet as a church mouse when I left last night, same as always…’ a blonde woman announces. The boss tells her not to touch anything, and reports that he is calling the Garda. Turning to a computer, the blonde woman tells her boss that he should do that, and that he might want to suggest they start their search in the vicinity of 77 N latitude, 102.3 W longitude - in the heart of the Arctic Circle, which is the co-ordinates showing on the computer.

At that moment, Nate and Sylph have arrived in the Arctic Circle. ‘C’mon, girl, c’mon can’t stop now. We’re running out of time’ Nate tells Sylph as he helps her along, trudging through the snow, a telekinetic shield around them. Nate had no problem holding them together and getting them north until the weather god bad, then badder, finally demanding telekinetic shields. He realizes that there is nothing of Sylph’s glow left now, and at the rate he is going, the amount of power he is expending - externally and internally - without resting, refueling, neither of them will make it much further. Suddenly, Sylph goes wide-eyed, ‘Here…we / me here Nate Grey…your North Pole’ Sylph announces. ‘Magnetic North, actually’ Nate explains, adding that it is the single most concentrated focus of magnetic force on Earth, strong enough to exert its pill on every directional compass on the planet.

Nate tells Sylph that he thinks it is also the only possible hope they have of stabilizing her current vibrational-rate naturally, organically, and permanently in synch with his plane’s, before it is too late. The snow stops falling around them, and Nate remarks that it is weird, like the calm at the eye of the storm and wonders if it is some bizarre side-effect of the magnetic-field here, when suddenly, ‘Mega-hunter protocols effected / effective! Quarry and accessory sighted / targeted!’ the combined alien, in their “mega hunter” form starts firing at Nate and Sylph, who screams ‘AMBUSH!’, while Nate declares that he knew it - if the aliens came all this way to hide under the ice and wait for her, then they must be on the right track.

The mega-hunter traps Sylph in some sort of energy, ‘Quarry contained. Neutralizing’ the alien states, while Nate calls out to her, Sylph tells him to run like they planned, to go deeper into the magne-zone. Nate starts to run, before the alien realizes that it has actually trapped Nate Grey. ‘Error! Delay. Error! Delay. Accessory telekinetically disguised as quarry’ the alien states, before tossing Nate aside, it starts to pursue Sylph, who is running as fast as she can. The alien re-engages pursuit, and tells the Doctor that she will not escape. ‘We’ll see about that, sucker’ Nate declares as he stands behind the alien, remarking that their little diversion already bought the real Sylph enough time to draw the alien into the zone, and put him in the position he wants to be - as he unleashes a powerful telekinetic blast, striking the alien, who convulses, and throws its limbs about, striking Sylph in the process.

‘Small minded fool! There is no back or front to the Mega-Hunter!’ the alien exclaims, boasting ‘Me / we are all weapon!’ The alien declares as it starts firing at Nate, who is taken by surprise, but starts to fly up, as the alien falls forward, ‘Not enough to take me down, tin men, not by a long shot!’ Nate declares. ‘No, please…’ the alien calls out, as the alien is revealed to be simply armor, and from the bug-like armor, Nate pulls humanoid aliens like Sylph, but male. ‘There are only moments left until the vibrational-charge wears off…and I can’t be here in the condensed-field, unprotected - magnetically anchored to this dimension - when it happens…or I’ll never return home!’ one of the aliens informs Nate. ‘That’s the idea, blood-sport’ Nate replies, readying a punch, packed with telekinetic fury, he adds ‘Unless you agree to forget about Sylph, once and for all - to allow her to stay here and -’, but one of the other aliens instructs Nate to release the Commander, and points out that the Doctor is already theirs, as he and his teammate have captured Sylph.

One of the aliens explains that the Doctor is a criminal, a convict escapee from the prison-world labour camps she was rightfully sentenced to - one of the most dangerous in their universe, the bloodiest mass-murderer of all. He adds that she is a vivisectionist who killed thousands, tens of thousands. ‘Ridiculous!’ Nate calls out. ‘She’s couldn’t’ he tells the aliens as he reaches out to Sylph, but when their hands touch, ‘Couldn’t possibly…lie to me?’ Nate asks Sylph. Sylph tells Nate that he has to understand, that she killed thousands of dying people, experimenting on a cure for a plague that was killing millions. ‘And I never lied to you’ she adds. ‘Never’. Nate announces that he doesn’t understand, and doesn’t care what Sylph’s motives for murder are, how she justifies them or rationalizes them, but he won’t shelter her from the justice she deserves now - he won’t keep her here in the safety-zone.

The Commander goes over to the hunters and tells them that the Doctor is fluctuating, as expected, that the vibrational-shift begins already. ‘Prepare for full transition’ the Commander announces, as he, the hunters and Sylph start to fade. ‘But I won’t abandon you either. Not now…not ever. I’m going with you!’ Nate calls out to Sylph as he rushes over and wraps his arms around her. Nate adds that here, outside the zone, he can almost feel his magnetic bio-rhythms synching up with hers. Nate tells Sylph that he is well aware of all he is giving up here, all he is leaving behind on this mudball - the feelings he has for Maddie, the hope of somehow, someday, seeing Threnody again. He will miss it all. ‘Believe me. But I promise you, Sylph… I’ll never, ever regret it’. They all vanish, then, suddenly, Nate falls to the snow.

‘NOOOO!’ Nate screams, ‘No! No! No! Her prison world - the labour-camps - so horrible, shimmering into view around me…like nothing I could have imagined. So shocked I let go of Sylph’s hand for a moment - broke contact physically instantly snapping back to his own speed, and back to here - with no way to find Sylph in all of reality, no place to even start. Nate starts to cry, and tells himself ‘Alone. Again. Just like her…’

Characters Involved: 


Madelyne Pryor




The Hunters

Office workers

Story Notes: 

The Garda are the Irish Police.

Issue Information: 
Written By: