X-Men (2nd series) #199

Issue Date: 
July 2007
Story Title: 
Condition Critical, part 3

Mike Carey (Writer), Chris Bachalo (Penciler), Tim Townsend (Inker), Studio F’s Antonio Fabella (Colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit (Letterer), Will Panzo (Assistant Editor), Andy Schmidt (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher

Brief Description: 

The X-Men do their best to battle the Hecatomb, including crashing the Conquistador into it, before Iceman freezes it. Cable, with his regained telekinesis tries to attack the Hecatomb, with the help of the Mummudrai Urizen who has bonded with him, but in the process, loses his telepathy and Urizen is absorbed into the Hecatomb. Desperate, Cable calls out to Rogue, and wakes her from her coma - but her absorption powers are out of control and she kills one of the medical staff looking after her, before joining her teammates in battle - and flying into the Hecatomb, absorbs all of the lives that the deadly weapon had destroyed. Iceman freezes the weapon at a temperature of minus two hundred, before Cannonball and Karima shatter it. When the ice clears, it seems that Sabretooth has escaped, and Mystique tries in vain to reach out to Rogue, who is clearly in a dangerous and delicate state of mind.

Full Summary: 

The island nation of Providence, where the dreaded monstrosity known as Hecatomb. The frightening creature remarks things in its own language and English, before declaring ‘Vector determined. Range determined. Assimilation proceeds!’ Civilians scramble for their lives as the giant creature destroys them, while several members of the X-Men - Bobby “Iceman” Drake, Raven “Mystique” Darkholme, Regan “Lady Mastermind” Wyngarde, Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie and Karima “Omega Sentinel” Shapandar do what they can to help the innocent.

Iceman calls out to Karima, instructing her to land the Conquistador, as people all around them are dying. Karima replies that is trying, but that Sabretooth has somehow gotten free of his containment cell and locked her out, as she cannot access any of the Conquistador’s systems. ‘You said this thing isn’t pure psi-energy?’ Mystique asks as she loads one of her weapons. ‘No, it’s got a solid core’ Karima replies. ‘Then we fight!’ exclaims Mystique as she begins blasting the Hecatomb with her weapons, ‘Hit it with everything we’ve got. It must be vulnerable to something!’ Raven remarks.

Iceman begins covering the Hecatomb in ice, while Mystique continues to blast away at it. Karima flies up to it’s mouth and unleashes her arsenal into the creature, who suddenly exclaims ‘Psi-stream polluted by digital algorithms. Recalibrate and apply filters’. The creature does so by attacking Karima, who screams as she is forced back down to the ground, landing in a pile of snow.

Aboard the Conquistador, which floats nearby in the air, Victor “Sabretooth” Creed watches the turmoil down below on a monitor, drinking a bear he exclaims ‘Man, this is better than the movies’, and remarks that there has been enough build-up already, now he wants to see some blood and sweat, when suddenly, he is knocked off his seat as the Conquistador is flipped upside down.

Iceman wonders if Creed had anything to do with that, before turning to Lady Mastermind. ‘If this is something you’re doing…’ he begins, to which Regan snaps back ‘It’s real. A hundred-and-fifty-thousand tons of real!’ Mystique asks how the Conquistador is powered, to which Iceman replies that there is a fusion core, and that if it blows, well, they are going to know what the surface of the sun feels like. Raven asks Bobby if he can handle it, to which he replies that he guesses they will find out. Suddenly, Mystique puts her hands on Bobby’s shoulders. ‘Robert - luck’ she exclaims, before he returns to his human form, and the share a passionate kiss, while the Conquistador comes crashing down around them in a massive burst of flames.

‘Hey, I got my sleeve singed, Mister Tastee-Freeze!’ Lady Mastermind exclaims. ‘What are you good for?’ she asks, only to look around and see everything around them literally covered in thick solid ice. Raven watches Bobby with concern as he holds himself up on the ground, continuing to ice-up their surroundings. Karima exclaims that she cannot believe Creed sacrificed himself, when suddenly Nathan “Cable” Summers appears hovering in the air before them, ‘He didn’t’ Cable exclaims, before revealing that it was he who brought the Conquistador down, apologizing that there was no time to warn them.

One of the X-Men is shocked to see Cable flying, and exclaims that his telekinetic powers are gone, to which Cable replies that are back now, a gift of the Mummudrai Urizen. Cable turns to Karima and orders her to get the wounded out of here, as this is far from over. ‘”Gift”?’ Karima asks. Cable replies that he and Urizen mind-merged, to which a shocked Karima exclaims ‘There are deals with the Devil, and then there’s flat-out -’ Cable interrupts her, ‘I said leave!’ he exclaims, before remarking that he thought a big enough explosion would destroy the Shi’ar munition at the heart of the Hecatomb, but that he was either wrong, or they have simply not found “big enough” yet.

Cable asks Urizen if he sees it, to which Urizen replies that they are one, so he sees all that Cable sees. Staring up at the Hecatomb, Cable asks Urizen if he thinks they can fight it. Urizen replies that Cable is strong, and with both of them together, even stronger, which is why he chose this place to turn and fight after centuries of fleeing. ‘Still, the best answer I can give you is “perhaps”’. Cable thanks Urizen and remarks that he will take those odds, as he thinks they are the best they have, and flies up towards the Hecatomb while Urizen tells him he made an exquisite stroke, and that he needs to twist the knife, drive it deep. ‘Easy for you to say, seeing as It’s me who’s the designated driver!’ Cable replies.

Hovering inside the mouth of the Hecatomb, Cable and Urizen are greeted by the hoards of beings consumed by the Hecatomb. ‘They are two. Two minds melded. We are eight billion!’ the Hecatomb shrieks. ‘Captured minds are expendable’ the Hecatomb remarks, before uttering a combination they can use to break the mind meld. Cable cries out as he and Urizen are forced out of the Hecatomb. Back on the ice-covered ground, Cable tells his teammates to stay back, as the Hecatomb is using living minds as weapons, and there is nothing they can do. The Hecatomb attacks Cable and Urizen again, while Urizen warns the struggling Cable that if they are separated, then the Hecatomb will pick them off at its leisure. ‘Then God forgive me - I’m going to try - try to set up - a diversion!’ Cable exclaims.

Cable’s thoughts are heard psionically throughout the corridors of the hospital, as he calls out to Rogue, telling her that he knows how thin a thread she is hanging from, and asks her to believe him when he says he would not do this if they weren’t desperate, ‘We need you. We need you now!’ he cries into Rogue’s mind, when suddenly, Rogue sits up, woken from her coma, she pulls out all of the tubes attached to her body and asks where her clothes are. One of the medical staff calls out to the doctor, exclaiming that Rogue is awake, before telling Rogue that she needs to lie down until the doctor has examined her.

Rogue replies that she is fine and warns the medical officer not to touch her. ‘You’re not fine. You have a high fever and you need to -’ the woman remarks before putting a hand on Rogue’s arm, then falling to the ground. ‘No! I said, don’t touch me!’ Rogue exclaims as she gets to her feet, and tears streaming from her eyes makes her way out of the room, while a doctor examines her colleague and announces that there is no pulse. ‘Margaret Riley. Age 29. Divorced, no kids. Moved here from Jackson Heights, Queens, eight months ago’ Rogue exclaims, revealing that she has absorbed Margaret, that she is in here with her, all her thoughts, all her life!

‘It’s worse than ever!’ Rogue exclaims. ‘Pandemic. He did this to me!’ A doctor approaches Rogue and tells her that exertion is going to spread the infection around her body much faster, and warns her that if she walks out of here, then more people are going to die. Rogue gets dressed into her costume, replying that someone put a picture in her mind, a distress call of her team facing down some monster, so she has to go and help them. ‘But I never said anything about walking!’ A moment later, Rogue bursts out of the hospital, flying with a streak of flame behind her.

Cable and Urizen battle the Hecatomb, while Lady Mastermind asks her teammates if they are just going to stand around and watch this. Iceman reminds Regan that they heard what Cable said, that he is fighting the Hecatomb mind-to-mind, so they can’t help him. Regan replies that is not what she meant and suggests Iceman make with the instant ski-slope so they can all hit the road. ‘That thing crossed half the galaxy to get here. Where are you going to run to?’ Mystique asks. Lady Mastermind just scowls.

Suddenly, Cable vomits while Urizen exclaims that he is dying, and pleads with Cable not to let the Hecatomb take him. But it’s too late, and Cable lies on the ground as the Hecatomb looms over him, declaring that the merged minds have been dismantled and the psionic entity has been consumed. Before Hecatomb can reach Cable though, Cannonball blasts onto the scene and lifts up his former mentor, despite Cable protesting that they have to go back - ‘And die?’ Cannonball asks. ‘Sorry, Nathan. I don’t think so’. The Hecatomb begins to follow Cable and Cannonball, and approaches the other four members of the X-Men. ‘Told you would should’ve run!’ Lady Mastermind mutters, when suddenly, there is a mighty burst of flame in front of them, blocking the Hecatomb from reaching them.

‘So what’s this guy - besides ugly?’ Rogue asks motioning towards the Hecatomb. Iceman tells Rogue that she is a sight for sore eyes, before warning her that she cannot let this thing touch her, as it is a Shi’ar weapon and absorbs minds. ‘That so? Well then, this one - kind of writes itself, don’t it?’ Rogue asks before taking flight towards the Hecatomb, while Mystique cries ‘Rogue! No!’
Rogue can hear various things said by those that the Hecatomb has consumed: ‘We were only just married and then they called him to war. I begged him -’, ‘-On my Birthday so I could see where the ships -’, ‘Told her to stay in school and take the advanced course, because you can’t -’. ‘- never trust the Shi’ar, they’re the most treacherous -’, ‘- my babies, oh my sweet babies, my sweet, lost -’. Rogue then screams as the Hecatomb takes her, it attempts to acquire her ‘Determine…determine…’ it exclaims, before Rogue falls from it with a thump, landing hard on the ground - and the Hecatomb is gone.

Mystique rushes over to her daughter, while Cable calls out to her, warning Raven not to touch Rogue as her power is out of control. ‘I don’t care!’ Raven shouts back, to which Cable tells Raven that if she touches Rogue, then she will die instantly, ‘That’s how she won this fight!’ he exclaims. Standing over Rogue, Cable remarks that this is his fight, as he called Rogue here, and now she absorbed eight billion lives - all the casualties of a long-gone war - and now they are churning in her mind right now. ‘Cable - if she dies, I swear, I’ll -’ Raven begins, to which Cable tells her to ‘Save it’ as the lights coming from the device inside the Hecatomb - the actual weapon - are on a countdown sentence.

Cable explains, that, even stripped of its captured minds, the Hecatomb is still a weapon, and it wants to detonate. Sam asks him how long they have got, to which Cable replies probably twenty or thirty seconds. ‘Not enough time to punt it into space’ Sam remarks, before asking Cable to read his thoughts. Cable replies that he wishes he could, before explaining that his telepathy died with the Mummudrai and asks Sam to tell them all what he has on his mind.

Moments later, Mystique and Lady Mastermind are carefully carrying Rogue to safety, while Cable explains to Iceman that he must take the metal in the Hecatomb past its stress tolerances, and asks him how close to absolute zero he can get. ‘On a good day, inside of spitting distance’ Bobby replies as he unleashes tons of ice, and telling Cable not to worry, as he can control the temperature gradient to within a half a degree, so they won’t feel a thing. ‘We’re running out of time!’ Cable exclaims.

Iceman replies that he is doing the best that he can, and announces that they are at minus one fifty. ‘Where you start having a sip of oxygen instead of breathing it!’ Soon, Iceman reaches minus two hundred, which is the superconductivity threshold, and Cable tells him that is enough. ‘You worried about the repair bill?’ Bobby asks. ‘Yes’ Nathan replies. ‘Then give them the high sign - and start praying!’ Iceman exclaims.

Up in the air, high above the island where Cannonball and Omega Sentinel are hovering, they see the sign. ‘Finally!’ Sam exclaims, before he and Karima fly down towards the island at phenomenal speeds, and with an instant, shatter the ice with a devastating effect - and also the Hecatomb. When the ice settles, Cannonball and Karima find their way back to the surface, and Cannonball calls out to Bobby, telling him that anytime he wants to turn the heat back up, he can, as they could catch their death around here. Sam then turns to Karima and asks her if she is okay. ‘I’m alive. That’s good enough’ Karima replies.

Mystique turns to Rogue, who has regained consciousness, but she is clearly not stable, as she clutches her head, and can only utter parts of sentences, one of which can be translated as ‘Mama - make them stop!’ But when one of Raven’s gloved hands sweeps the hair from Rogue’s face, Rogue exclaims ‘Oh. Yeah. It’s you’. Rogue tells Raven that she is really thrilled to see her again. ‘You can kiss me on the cheek if you like. Pretend it’s Mother’s Day’ she mutters sarcastically. Raven takes a step back as Rogue puts her cloak on and Cable asks her how she is.

‘How should I be feeling? I’m fine!’ Rogue exclaims. Cable replies that is good, before suggesting they get her back to the Mansion and have the White Queen check her out. ‘Emma can go peep through someone else’s windows and you can back the Hell off!’ Rogue snaps back, before holding her gloved hands out and exclaiming that they are itching all over, like there is ants crawling all over them. Clenching her hands into fists, Rogue snarls that she is going to need to touch something - real soon.

Iceman whispers to Cable that Rogue doesn’t sound right, to which Cable asks Bobby what he expects, as Rogue is traumatized, or perhaps worse than that - she is drowning. Cable points out that Rogue is still infected with Strain 88 and now on top of that she is infected with a world full of alien minds, so they need to consult with the White Queen and the Beast, but until then, they must watch her, that is all they can do.

Mystique watches Rogue walk away, while Cable, Iceman and Lady Mastermind stand together, and inside the wreckage of the Conquistador, Karima remarks that there is no sign of Sabretooth, that it looks like he survived the crash somehow and walked away without a scratch. ‘Yeah? Well I guess that makes one of us…’ Sam remarks.

Characters Involved: 

Cable, Cannonball, Iceman, Lady Mastermind, Mystique, Omega Sentinel, Rogue, Sabretooth (all X-Men)

Doctors and other staff at Providence Island

Other civilians



Story Notes: 

Rogue was infected with Strain 88 in X-Men (2nd series) #196.

In the cover corner box, this issue is titled “Red Data” part 3.

Issue Information: 

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