X-Men (4th series) #3

Issue Date: 
September 2013
Story Title: 
The Primer (Part 2)

Brian Wood (Writer), Olivier Coipel (Penciler), Mark Morales and Olivier Coipel (Inkers), Laura Martin (Colourist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (Letterer), Olivier Coipel and Laura Martin (Cover), Jennifer M. Smith (Assistant Editor), Jeanine Schaefer (Editor), Nick Lowe (X-Men Group Editor), Axel Alonso (Editor in Chief), Joe Quesada (Chief Creative Officer), Dan Buckley (Publisher), Alan Fine (Executive Producer)

Brief Description: 

Storm and her team land in Budapest after following Arkea there. They have ground transport and have tracked her to a small area, southeast of the city. At the school, the bomb Bling! found doesn’t appear to detonate but, just to be sure, Kitty has Pixie teleport it into orbit. Suddenly, the environmental controls are overridden and they start losing air. Bling! punches through a door to save them only to find holograms of Karima Shapandar waiting. They attack and Hellion shields them. Bling! punches them and they dissipate. Kitty says they need to get to the server room to stop the virus escaping the school. In Budapest, Storm and her team find the building Arkea is in and discuss with Sublime how she came to Earth. Sublime reveals she can possess people with cybernetic implants and that the building they are going in is a hospital that specializes in them. The meteor that brought Arkea to Earth landed a few hundred meters away and Arkea is collecting herself together again. They enter the hospital and soon find Arkea-possessed patients on the upper floors. At the school, Kitty gets to the server room and tries to upgrade the firewall, to no avail. In Budapest, Arkea and the X-Men talk but that quickly breaks down and they start fighting. Psylocke points her telekinetic katana at Karima, who is Arkea’s host body. The rest of the X-Men argue whether she should stab her and possible kill Karima. At the school, Kitty decides to destroy the serves by phasing through them. As she does so, the link to Arkea is broken and Karima manages to take control for a few seconds. She jams her head into Psylocke’s katana, destroying Arkea. Afterwards, Rogue puts Karima in their van and then she and Storm discuss the events. Storm decides it’s best they stay as a group, as they don’t really know if Arkea is completely gone.

Full Summary: 

(Ferenc Liszt International Airport, Budapest )

The Blackbird, piloted by Psylocke, has landed at the airport. She tells says that they are being waved through to a private hanger. She turns and asks Storm if there is any international border crossing that Sabra cannot finesse for her. Storm addresses the rest of the team on the plane. She says they have ground transport but, other than that, they are on their own. She has tracked Arkea to a neighborhood in the southeast part of Budapest, about 12km away. The same area was struck by a meteor about two weeks ago as well. Jubilee seems a little surprised at hearing they are back in Budapest, as well as news of the meteor strike.

Rachel turns to Sublime and says he is sitting awfully close to her. She asks if he is afraid of flying or if there is something else. He stands up and asks her if she really needs him to answer that.

Back at the school, Bling! screams for everyone to watch out and dives out of the way, expecting the bomb she found to go off. But, after a few seconds of nothing happening, she looks at it in surprise. She tells everyone it didn’t go off but Kitty corrects her and says they can’t assume it was a conventional explosive. They have to act as if whatever was supposed to happen when the trigger reached zero happened. She tells them to get it out of there, though, as all the flashing zeroes creep her out. She asks Pixie to teleport it somewhere else, like into orbit. As Pixie teleports away with it, Kitty addresses the rest of the students. However, before she can tell them what to do, she stops and asks them if they felt that. The armored doors in the school suddenly slam shut and the fans shut off. The computer announces the environmental seals have been engaged.

Hellion grabs his head and says his ears feel like they are on a plane. Kitty finds a working computer and discovers that atmospheres are being added. They have twenty seconds of breathable air if the pressure doesn’t crush them first. She says Arkea told her she hacked the personnel files, so she must know how to kill a human. From by the metal doors, Bling! tells her she obviously doesn’t know how to kill her. She tells Kitty she can knock the door off its hinges but she needs her say it’s okay to do it, as the school handbook is pretty strict of vandalism. Kitty yells for her to hurry up and do it.

After a few punches, Bling! bursts through the door, allowing fresh air into the room. She looks down the corridor and asks if the others saw that. She spins around and tells the others there are creepy danger room clones at twelve o’clock. Further down the corridor, numerous holographic duplicates of Karima Shapandar stare menacingly back at them. One of them points an arm cannon at the group and says it is so tedious that they have to keep repeating themselves. They are Arkea.

They fire at the group, causing Hellion to put up a force field quickly. Bling! is too far ahead of him, though, and she is caught in the crossfire. Kitty yells for her to stay down but she can’t see her through the explosions and Hellion’s shield. Hellion has trouble maintaining the shield and Primal mutters that they are going to die. Kitty tells him they’ll be okay and notices the firing has stopped. Hellion drops the shield and they see Bling! walking towards them. She says she punched the robots and they turned to pixels. She adds that later on that Kitty might hear about her and Mercury fighting in the halls and if she does she can tell Storm and Ms. Grey what she did here.

Kitty tells her she has no idea what she’s on about but adds that it’s two they owe her. She says they have to get to the server room so they can reinforce the firewall to stop this thing from escaping into the outside world. If they help her do that, then she has their back forever. As they continue on, Hellion mutters that the missiles Arkea fired didn’t feel like pixels.

(Szent Margit Institute, Budapest)

In their vans, the team arrives at a building. Storm says the tracking software indicates the signal termination is right inside the building. Rogue asks what they’re waiting for. to which Storm replies she isn’t exactly about to go charging into a hospital. She then asks Psylocke to update them. Sublime leans forward and says it’s just like how he remembers. The meteor impact was a hundred meters from there but he was some distance away. Even so, the energy signature was unmistakable. Why Arkea has returned there, he doesn’t know. He adds this is also where Jubilee found her baby.

In the other van, Psylocke leans back and asks a worried looking Jubilee what’s wrong.

Storm asks Sublime if Arkea landed on Earth as part of a meteor. He corrects her and says on a meteor. She tells him to let her finish and continues by saying she uses the baby as a host, which Jubilee carries half way around the world to their doorstep. Sublime follows her: Arkea gets loose, destroys her school and is now using Karima as a new host. They then follow her back around the world to the very site of her arrival. Sublime tells her it’s correct to which Rachel adds that as incredibly stupid as it sound it is correct.

Everyone goes silent for a few seconds and then Storm simply asks why. Sublime tells her it’s the hospital. If his memory serves him correct, his current host does a lot of philanthropy in the area and the institute is at the forefront of the neuro-prosthetics field. Humans with medical cybernetic implants. It’s likely the infant was a patient here and was implanted in some manner. Karima is pretty much a scaled up militarized version of it. Storm adds that the hospital is full of people Arkea can control. An irritated Rogue asks if they can invade the hospital now. Sublime tells them they are both correct. This is a crucial time, as she is gathering the pieces of herself that broke up on re-entry. When she makes herself whole, even he won’t be able to stop her.

The team, sans Jubilee, enters the hospital and discovers it empty. Psylocke tells them not to be fooled, as the building is teeming with psychic signatures, mostly on the upper levels. Storm tells her they do it tactically. They clear each floor and move up, no casualties. Their target is Arkea. Rogue corrects her and says she means Karima is their target. She then asks how Storm intends to separate the two. Storm tells her they will deal with that when the time comes and then contacts Jubilee, who is in the van with Shogo. She asks her if she has located the floor plans. Jubilee says she’s got them and the ground floor is all open spaces. But floors two and three are all admin and storage, so lots of angles and blind spots.

As Jubilee sits in the back of the van messing with a tablet device, Shogo sits next to her making gurgling noises and playing with his feet. Jubilee notes the word “administrative” and tells Shogo that she knows this is his old hood but he needn’t worry, as no one is taking him away from her. She says that if she doesn’t do it, then Storm or Logan will. She tells him she is Googling the records of when he lived at the hospital. She jokes that she will also reserve a Twitter handle too. She says that for all she knows he might have relatives two blocks away, then how could she keep him. They look at each other for a few seconds and then she starts crying. She tells him mommies cry too sometimes and then wills herself to stop crying. Storm suddenly radios through and tells her they have contact.

Back at the school, Armor attacks a Karima hologram but, when she hits her, she turns to pixels. Hellion unleashes a bunch of telekinetic balls and tells Kitty that they are being generated too fast. Kitty, Surge and Bling! are ducking for cover behind a wall to avoid the explosions. Kitty says she can’t get past but Bling! asks her why she doesn’t just phase past. Kitty says she can’t leave them but Bling! says the danger room has been hacked and the only way to stop it is by getting to the server room. Surge adds that this is what they train them for all day every day. She points to Oya, who is in the battle with the holograms, creating fireballs. Kitty runs into the chaos and tells the others not to wait up. Elsewhere, Pixie teleports way up high, throws the bomb away and then teleports back to Earth.

In Budapest, the team comes across a number of cybernetically altered patients. They shuffle towards the team and tell them they do not belong there as they are Arkea, the superior species. Rogue gives them an Earth history lesson and says that people who often says that find themselves obsolete and fast. Storm tells them they can’t possibly hope to win but they tell them they call themselves mutants yet they are accidents. For every one of them that is granted flight or augmented strength, millions of their kind die from hunger every day. Arkea says that they are mutation, a living example of what billions of years of specialized development can produce. This was their planet once and it will be again.

Storm says she won’t allow it but Arkea tells her they’ve already lost. Sublime tells her not to make him laugh, as he seems to recall kicking her off the planet once. She may have grown up but so has he and he has friends. He tells her to get out of Karima’s body so they can… but Arkea doesn’t listen and fires an energy blast at him. Psylocke fires one back and the two sides begin fighting. Storm says to ignore the patients and to focus on Arkea.

In the server room at the school, Kitty can’t believe how fast the virus is moving. As she kneels down next to an open panel, on one of the servers she says she must protect the firewall to stop the virus leaving the building. The circuit board she has out suddenly explodes and she loses her temper and says she’s trashing the whole grid. A group of students guard the door to the server room from and hoards of Karima holograms. As Kitty runs through the exploding servers, she comments on how expensive it will be.

Back in Budapest, Psylocke has her telekinetic katana pointed right at Arkea’s head. Rachel yells for her not to do it but Storm says she must take Arkea out. Rachel angrily asks if Storm’s insane and tells her it will kill Karima. Storm says maybe it will but maybe it won’t either. Maybe there is a bit of Karima that will survive; something they can bring back. But they will not survive Arkea. Psylocke shouts that she needs a consensus and asks if Rachel can find a glimmer of Karima in there at all. Arkea calmly asks Sublime if he associates with these weaklings. Sublime tells Arkea that she has come back to Earth to settle accounts with him, he understands. He then asks if the host consciousness still lives inside her. He asks her to answer it honestly, sister to brother. Arkea says that their silence ensures the X-Men’s weakness. Their weakness means that Psylocke won’t act. She’s analyzed the weapon and it can harm her.

At the school, Kitty finishes destroying the servers as more and more holograms advance on the students. Suddenly, the entire power grid goes out and the school is plunged into darkness.

In Budapest, a weak voice comes from Karima. It asks if she should sacrifice herself. Rogue picks up on it and says that’s the first thing she said that didn’t sound like it was coming from the Borg Collective. Karima yells that she isn’t Arkea and grabs Psylocke’s katana. She says she can do it and end Arkea. Someone yells no but she thrusts her head into the katana and her world goes dark.

After a short while, the team goes outside. Jubilee asks what happened as the comms died after the attack started. Rogue tells her to shove over and then places the limp, yet conscious, body of Karima inside. Jubilee is shocked but Rogue tells her to relax, as Arkea is dead and this is Karima. Rogue says they have to get her back to Hank quickly, as she’s in bad shape. She doesn’t even want to know what happened in there. Karima looks at Shogo and weakly asks who it is. Jubilee says he’s hers one hundred percent and his name is Shogo Lee.

Storm asks Rogue if she thinks Arkea’s dead. Rogue says she doesn’t know, as they have never had to deal with someone like her before. But they dealt with it and they can’t lose sight of that. Rogue asks if she thinks Rachel would agree, as it got a little dicey back there. Storm tells her she’s right and they dealt with it. Not a bad first outing for a team that’s not even a team. Even Rachel can see that. Rogue asks if she thinks it’s all over with Sublime and Arkea. Storm says it’s safer to assume not and that they had better stick together until they are sure. With that, she asks Rogue to take them home.

Characters Involved: 

Jubilee, Psylocke, Rachel Grey, Rogue, Shadowcat, Storm (all X-Men)

Armor, Bling!, Genesis, Hellion, Oya, Pixie, Primal, Surge (all students)

Omega Sentinel

Arkea (possessing Omega Sentinel and patients)

Shogo Lee

John Sublime

Hospital patients

Story Notes: 

An “atmosphere” is a unit of pressure equal to the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere at sea level.

Bling! and Mercury were fighting in the halls in X-Men (4th series) #1.

Twitter is a popular social networking site and Google is an internet search engine.

The Borg are an alien threat in the Star Trek franchise. They capture various races and add cybernetic implants to them, over-riding their consciousness so they become mindless drones. They share a hive mind and often talk in the third person.

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