X-Men (3rd series) #34

Issue Date: 
October 2012
Story Title: 
Subterraneans 1 of 2

Brian Wood (writer), Roland Boschi (penciler, inker), Dan Brown (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Jorge Molina (cover), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor), Jeanine Schaeffer (editor), Nick Lowe (group editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

The sample of proto mutant DNA that Storm gave to her allies in Mutantes Sans Frontieres was stolen. Cyclops wants nothing to do with it, but tells Storm her team needs to handle it right away. They receive some intel from Sabra who points them toward a religious cult called the Heavenly Path who are headquartered on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. They decide to plant Psylocke and Domino on the ship to pose as cultists and Pixie is charged with the transportation. Once onboard, Psylocke is “noticed” by their leader, the Loving Elder. He brings her into his office to discuss his plans for perfection, and she soon realizes just how crazy he may be.

Full Summary: 

A pair of surgically gloved hands handles the sample of proto-mutant DNA that was absconded from Mutantes Sans Frontieres. The sample is placed in a foam-filled suitcase, which is then secured in a Global eX shipping box overflowing with packing peanuts.
Once the package is sealed it’s placed in the trunk of a car and driven to a nearby airport. The driver, a bald, middle-aged man wearing shades and a trench coat, drops the package off at the Global eX desk. From there it is loaded onto a plane along with a full load of Global eX packages.
After the plane lands all of its cargo is placed onto a conveyor belt where the package is intercepted by a man dressed for cold weather. He tosses it into the passenger seat of his car and takes off.
The driver makes his way to a dock where he parks his car along the water’s edge. When he gets out he has the package with him. He walks over to a docked ship and finds a man waiting for him on deck. He tosses the package to this man, the ship’s captain, who immediately makes ready to sail.
After some time, the ship reaches its intended destination, a topside submarine. The ship slowly approaches the sub and the package is handed off one more time. Then it’s brought down below and handed from crewmate to crewmate until it reaches their leader. With eager hands he opens the box and releases the latch on the briefcase. He removes the vial from its containment unit, pops the cap and prepares to drink the contents.
45,000 feet over the Mediterranean

Storm is in a conference call with Cyclops regarding the missing proto-mutant sample. Scott is not surprised in the least that Storm has encountered a major problem with her “rogue” mission. When Ororo attempts to defend her decisions, Scott cuts her off, reminding her she didn’t include him in what she was doing and took her assignment too far. He reiterates how dire this is, a ticking time bomb anyone can use to destroy the mutant race.
With gritted teeth Cyclops tells her to deal with it and fix it and report back to him when she’s done. As Storm reaches for the console she sarcastically tells Scott they’re still on the same side, and then presses the cut off switch with her thumb. She lies back in her chair and drapes her hands over her weary eyes.
Out in the conference area, the rest of the X-Men are gathered, most of them relaxing in their chairs. The only one standing is Colossus, who’s reviewing the footage from their encounter with Dr. Gray. Domino complains that it’s the tenth time he’s watched it, but Colossus says he likes to be thorough. Psylocke says they “thoroughly failed” and to run with that assessment.
Pixie argues they didn’t fail, they stopped David Michael Gray. This earns her a grimace from Colossus. He kneels down beside her, face to face, and brings up the dozen proto mutants who died at Gray’s hand, and the sad fact they needed to cremate their remains to prevent further abuse of their DNA.
There’s still another sample of their DNA out there in play, Domino interjects. Enter Storm, fresh from her call with Scott. She tells them recovering the sample is priority number one, that David Michael Gray’s death did not end their mission. She then orders Colossus to open a secure line to Sabra as she has something to tell them.
Piotr punches it in and Storm tells Sabra they’re present and listening. Sabra starts off by explaining the software they developed to track international package shipments in the hopes to locate black market weapons, WMD’s, fissile devices and biological weapons. She says they received a ping earlier in the morning and just received a full report. It turns out the mutant DNA is now in Punta Arenas, Patagonia, more specifically in the hands of the Heavenly Path. Domino smiles, recognizing the name of the religious cult.
Storm thanks Sabra and asks her to update them if she receives any more information of worth. Once the transmission is ended Storm asks Domino what she knows about this cult. Blaming her late nights trolling the Internet, Domino explains they’re led by a eugenics-obsessed rich guy. He turned an old cruise ship into his worshippers’ stronghold to avoid any country’s jurisdiction, she continues. Once a month they bring more “pilgrims” aboard and estimates have their population at around 500, she finishes.

A bright pink flash appears in the air, and immediately after, the X-Man Pixie emerges from it. She spies the Heavenly Path’s ship down on the ocean below. It’s huge, she remarks, and then tells her team she’s heading for a closer look. Not too close, she’s warned.
Hovering about 1,000 meters above, Pixie is asked if she sees any obvious security. Pixie sees nothing, but reiterates how huge the thing is, saying she could probably drop down and play some shuffleboard and nobody would notice. “Storm says ‘good,” Psylocke tells her, but Pixie has no clue what she means by that.

Back on the jet, Storm is asking Domino a few more questions about the Heavenly Path. She’s interested in what their objective is and Domino tells her they seek ultimate perfection. They eat weird stuff and meditate a lot, she adds, and their leader is supposedly a Bosnian war criminal.
Storm wonders aloud what he would want with the sample. Colossus has an answer for that. He assumes this man may believe humans are moving too slow toward their objective and the sample is a means to an end… or he’s just crazy.
Thinking things over, Storm tells Psylocke to bring Pixie back. She’s afraid this guy may just be a middle man and wants the ship and sample locked down. She then turns toward the stairs and tells her team she’ll be in the cockpit. Not to call Scott, Colossus asks, taking a dig at Storm. She tells him Scott wants nothing to do with it until it’s done. She then says he can ask Scott if he wants to, after all, the communication log shows they’ve been communicating a lot.

Later that night, the same flash of pink appears in the air, but this time Pixie is joined by her teammates, Domino and Psylocke. Pixie drops in low, just above the water’s surface with her friends hanging on to each arm. You both are heavier than you look, Pixie remarks, much to Domino’s chagrin.
As they get closer to the hull Psylocke asks if they’re not approaching a bit low and fast. Domino tells Psylocke to make her slow down. Pixie tells them both to hush and stop messing with her concentration.
Sure enough, just before splattering themselves, Pixie pulls a near perfect 90 degree vertical lift. Once they reach the top Pixie drops off her wayward passengers and disappears. “Now what?” Domino asks. Psylocke says they blend in as Betsy and Neena, followers of the Heavenly Path. Domino says she’ll go steal them some clothes.
As the sun begins to rise in the east the cultists, all wearing white robes, begin their trek to the ship’s deck. Amongst their number are Psylocke and Domino. They sit next to each other and get into a meditative pose. “Now what?” Domino finds herself asking again. A blonde-haired woman sitting next to them says they meditate and listen to what the Loving Elder has to impart on them. Psylocke telepathically tells Domino to play along and after they learn the schedule they can go snooping around, but she definitely wants to get a look at this Loving Elder guy.
Right on cue, the Loving Elder comes onto the stage wearing a similar frock and sunglasses. He’s not alone as a quartet of security guards take position at each corner. The Loving Elder begins his sermon talking of beauty and its short life, that it’s a gift from the creator and the sins of the world rot it away. He tells them those sins are buried deep within their soul.
While the Loving Elder continues his diatribe, Domino telepathically connects with Psylocke and says she doesn’t like where this is going. They all do, Psylocke replies, referring to the masses around them.
Meanwhile, the Loving Elder is now talking about cutting out the uncleanliness from each of them. He says it will be ordained by the heavens and it will be clean. He asks his followers if they are ready to evolve, to become the perfect creations they already are deep down inside.
The people are roused and excited. The Elder tells them to meditate and ponder these truths as they eat breakfast. He tells them the workshops will begin at 10:30, and then leaves them, his security crew following close behind.
Domino wonders how long they have to wait and sit there. Psylocke’s just about to answer her when a bald security guard approaches and asks Betsy to join the Loving Elder for a private audience, that she’s been requested. He calls this an honor. She guesses aloud he notices women often. The guard brushes off her comment and reiterates what an honor it is. He tells her not to be belligerent.
The guard holds out his hand for Betsy to take. He orders her to come now, right now. Psylocke takes his hand and telepathically tells Domino the schedule has moved up. She then asks the guard if her friend can join, but the guard says she “wasn’t noticed” and takes Psylocke by the elbow and escorts her away.
The crazy, blonde lady next to them turns to Domino and tells her how lucky her friend is. The mere mention of “luck” sends Domino on a tirade. She calls it fickle, unrelenting and impassionate. She says it cuts both ways and the Elder will be lucky to survive her friend. The blonde lady is taken aback. What did you say? she asks, completely incredulous.
Domino smiles widely and lies that she’s jealous of her friend. Of course you are, the woman agrees. Domino gets up to leave and the woman asks why she’s leaving group meditation. Domino tells her to cover for her, but the look on the woman’s face says that won’t be happening.
Loving Elder’s office

Psylocke is sitting alone in the Elder’s office, waiting for his grand entrance. She contacts Domino and tells her she’s picking up a lot of ex-military personnel wandering around nearby, plus she believes there’s a submarine following them just underneath the cruise ship.
The telepathic communiqué is interrupted by the Loving Elder’s voice speaking to Psylocke through a P.A. system. He asks if she’s comfortable and apologizes for speaking to her from outside the room. Betsy acts ok with it and the prophet continues. He asks if she’s new to the ship as he’s never noticed her before.
No, Betsy lies, saying she usually keeps to herself. The Loving Elder says he wants to share something with her, but wants to properly prep her before he comes in so she understands just what it is they do there.
lower levels

Meanwhile, several levels below, Domino is tracking down the security and taking them out. She takes down a pair of men with some tranq darts and contacts Psylocke that she’s patched into their comms.
Loving Elder’s office

The Loving Elder says they are building a better human race. Betsy questions “better” and is told “more perfect.” How? Betsy asks, and is told it’s gene therapy, selective breeding and population control. “Sounds…” Betsy starts, then pauses as the Loving Elder makes his entrance.
“…appealing,” the Elder finishes for her. “Criminal,” Psylocke corrects him. The Loving Elder doesn’t seem put off by her comments, instead telling her that on this vessel he is the law. He then takes a seat at his desk directly across from Psylocke.
Resting his head on his hand the Loving Elder tells Psylocke he’s come into possession of a formula, a solution of sorts. He reaches to remove his glasses telling her it has done wonders. Betsy covers her mouth in shock as she stares transfixed at his vein-bulging, glowing eyes.
The Loving Elder is oblivious to his condition admitting he hasn’t looked at a mirror yet. He adds that he can feel the years dropping away and can’t wait to hear what she has to say. “…is it perfect?” he asks, telling her he can’t wait for her to try it.

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Domino, Pixie, Psylocke, Storm (all X-Men)

Loving Elder (Heavenly Path leader)
via monitor

Cyclops, Sabra

Story Notes: 

Storm gave a sample of proto mutant DNA to the Mutantes Sans Frontieres, a group of scientists she trusted. They were running tests on the sample because she wasn’t sure she could trust Scott with it. This led to a confrontation between Storm and Colossus, who felt she betrayed Cyclops.

Issue Information: 
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