X-Men (5th series) #20

Issue Date: 
July 2021
Story Title: 
Lost Love

Jonathan Hickman (writer), Francesco Mobili (artist), Sunny Gho (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Lenil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho (cover artists), Mike del Mundo (variant cover artist), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Nick Russell (production), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Mystique stares at Destiny's mask before heading to Forge's lab, where she asks him to build her a powerful weapon. The two former lovers are cryptic in the way they speak to each other, and Mystique seems uneasy about sharing too much information with Forge, until she reveals that she will be using the weapon against Orchis. Forge admits to Mystique that the most dangerous weapon he ever built was the one that removed a mutant's powers, before informing her that it will take him a few weeks to build the weapon she wants. A few weeks later, Mystique holds up a small device in front of Magneto and Professor X. She informs them that it is a microscopic singularity generator, which will release a miniature black hole that will exist for a fraction of time before collapsing in on itself. She assures them that the weapon will eat the Orchis station, but won't be big enough to reach Sentinel City, as that would risk Earth's own sun. Xavier tells Mystique that the only thing that matters is preventing the Nimrod from coming online. They discuss the monsters among them, and Mystique asks Xavier and Magneto to have her wife moved to the front of the resurrection queue when she returns. Xavier tells her that only her failure will prevent that. On the Orchis, Dr Alia Gregor brings the Nimrod Sentinel to life – with the brain patterns of her dead husband, Erasmus Mendel programmed into it. Their reunion is confusing at first for Erasmus, before the Nimrod detects a mutant in the room and points at one of the Orchis operatives. Mystique reveals herself and throws the singularity generator into the lab, where it opens up. Nimrod protects Alia Gregor, while creating a duplicate of itself to go after Mystique who has made a run for it through the Orchis station. The Nirmod knows what it has to do to protect the Orchis station, and creates another duplicate to look after Alia, while it takes the singularity generator out into space – it detonates away from the station, seemingly killing the Nimrod. The duplicate then informs Alia that it is not programmed with her husband's brainwaves. The other duplicate catches Mystique and hurls her into the Krakoan gateway hidden on Orchis, shooting a weapon at her as she falls through the portal. Later, Omega Sentinel meets with the Orchis director. They discuss Alia and how emotionally fragile she is right now, and the director, Killian Devo, boasts of how mutants fear Orchis. Later, Mystique is resurrected. She knows she failed because Nimrod was brought online, and Xavier and Magneto refuse to resurrect Destiny. Mystique remembers Destiny's words – to bring her back and burn the island to the ground, while Xavier and Magneto go to the secret location where Moira X is reading Destiny's diaries!

Full Summary: 


The Oracle, where the mask of Destiny – Irene Adler – sits on display, flames glowing around it. Raven Darkholme a.k.a. Mystique stares at the mask of her long-dead wife, then leaves the Oracle, emerging from the winding staircase that rises up from the underground bunker onto the surface of Krakoa.

'If I understand you correctly... you're looking to make a bit of an impression. The problem is you tell that to a creative person like me, and, well, I can take it any number of ways' Forge remarks to Mystique as he tinkers with some machinery in his lab on Krakoa. Mystique looks at a number of weapons on a wall as Forge tells his ex-lover that there is blowing stuff up – and then there is sowing razed earth with salt so as to never see life exist there again. 'So... exactly how much of an impression are you looking to make, Raven?' he enquires. Without looking at Forge, Raven tells him that she has annihilation on her mind, and that when she looks around his lab, she knows she has come to the right place. 'But I can't help but wonder... how do you sleep at night, surrounded by all of... this?' Raven asks. Forge turns to Raven and informs her that he sleeps fine. 'Well, that's no small feat. And how do you manage that?' Raven asks.

Holding a branch in his hand, Forge tells Raven to think of a stick of wood – that you could craft and shape something, or you could use it to beat someone to death. He begins manipulating the branch into something else, explaining that it is a simplistic argument, a human  argument, but that is not how he sees it. 'The combustible engine, computer processors, atomic energy, genetic engineering – look at all the glorious things humankind has made'. Forge remarks that they take a useful tool, and then find a way to use it for destruction – humankind's and mutantkind's – it's what they do. It's the lie they themselves: “We started with such good intentions”. Forge holds up what he has crafted from the branch – a small knife and a strange ball – and tells Mystique that he doesn't lie, that when he makes something, he makes it with a singular function and purpose, be it a tool or weapon – which brings them to the stick. 'In the end, it's not the instrument that matters... it's the one who wields it... and what kind of person they are'. He then asks Raven how she is sleeping at night. Raven pauses, before replying 'I sleep fine'.

'You look it' Forge mutters, before Raven points a finger at him and asks him if he is going to help her or not. 'You know that I'm here with the authority of the Council – on which I sit – and if that wasn't enough, I know that Charles and Erik have personally told you to give me what I need so will you do that now? Please' Raven declares. Forge asks Raven how he could possibly know what to make her if he doesn't know what she is shooting at. 'How about this? I'll take whatever does the most damage under every fathomable circumstance' Raven suggests. 'The most?' Forge asks, suggesting that he could build Raven a matter/anti-matter collider, but that if she was going to use it, she would have to be off-world, or beyond, say, fifty to a hundred miles of a gravity well of any significance. Raven doesn't respond, she just stares at Forge with her arms folded. 'Ah... off-world it is. Orchis?' Forge replies. 'Orchis' Raven confirms, hanging her head.

'The very best and brightest scientific minds humanity has to offer. Except this time, instead of their normal ambiguity of purpose, they're showing their true colors... they are focused and aligned and they have mutant extinction on their mind' Forge remarks, before asking Raven if she has any idea how many weapons he has built in his life. '... a lot' Raven replies. Forge agrees that “a lot” covers it, and asks Raven if she knows what the worst weapon he ever built was. 'No' Raven responds. 'It was the gun that turned us into them' Forge admits. He turns back to his work station and tells Mystique that the exotic material makes it tricky, but that he will build her what she needs – and it will take a few weeks.


The House of M, where Mystique stands before Magneto and Charles Xavier, holding a strange purple object. 'What is it?' one of the men asks. Mystique explains that it is called a microscopic singularity generator, and apparently, when it goes off, it will release a miniature black hole that will exist for a fractional amount of time before collapsing on itself. She states that it will eat the Orchis forge, but won't be big or strong enough to reach Sentinel City or their system of orbital platforms. She remarks that Forge said they would be risking the sun with something larger. 'Of course. Because if there's one thing this seems to be an exercise in, it's restraint' Magneto smiles. 'This isn't some kind of selective surgery – it's cancer. Cut it out, at the root. Treating it some other way does no one any good. Leave no doubt. That's what you want here, isn't it?' Mystique responds. Xavier suggests that it is possible that up to this point they have overmanaged the job. He tells Mystique that as she is the one executing it, perhaps they should leave the details of the mission up to her. 'In the end, the only thing that matters is preventing Nimrod from coming online' Xavier explains.

Mystique puts the microscopic singularity generator into a satchel she is carrying and remarks 'So when the slaughter starts... you want your hands clean. Such leadership'. Magneto crosses his arms and tells Raven that this is not servitude, and reminds her that they made a deal. 'Any time you wish to end it, you can simply let us know that you're not the right tool for the job'. Xavier points out that they have among them other monsters – some who do not lie to themselves about what they are. Mystique uses her shapeshifting abilities to disguise herself with a red Orchis officer uniform and asks Magneto and Xavier if when she returns successful, they will have her wife moved to the front of the resurrection queue. 'Of course' Magneto replies as Mystique steps into a Krakoan gate. 'Like Erik said, we made a deal. Only your failure prevents its completion' Xavier states.

Soon, on the Orchis Forge, Dr Alia Gregor is in a lab, standing over a Nimrod Sentinel which lays on a table in front of her. Several Orchis scientists and workers go about their business in the lab. 'Here it is. And even if it's untoward to say so myself, I have accomplished something wonderful here. This is a human life. My husband's, in fact' Dr Gregor announces. Standing on a balcony looking down into the lab is Karima Shapandar the Omega Sentinel, and with her is Dr Killian Devo. They listen as Dr Gregor remarks that before her husband died saving this station, he was the subject of a very special experiment. 'The idea behind it was that by using holographic memories grown in a crystalline shell, I could properly restore the essence – the extrapolation of the saved data – back into a human being. Of sorts'.

Dr Gregor holds a small pink crystal and states that the container – which she has just completed construction of – would have to be of the same material to start with, and that it is self-healing and replicating to keep up with the violent rebirth of man, but alive and returned from the abyss, nonetheless. 'So we have gathered here to witness the resurrection of my husband. If successful, the greatest achievement of my life... a scientific marvel. And yet, my only concern is love. Come back to me, Erasmus. Come back' Alia utters as she places the pink crystal into the back of the Nimrod's head. The Nimrod comes to life - '... Alia?' its robotic voice asks as it sees Dr Gregor standing over it. 'I feel so...strange' Nimrod remarks. Alia bites her lip as she replies 'I know. And I'm sure you're confused. It's a partitioned memory node, but  when you're ready, you can access it and know what all has happened'.

As Nimrod starts to sit up, Alia tells him to take it slowly – Nimrod appears in pain, and clutches its head as energy glows around it. 'I...I died. I died, and you wept, and the world changed, you you...you...you brought me back' Nimrod utters, putting a large hand to Alia's face. Several of the red-uniformed Orchis operatives are in the room and watching the awakening of the Nimrod. 'Amazing' one of them utters. 'The implications are... staggering...' another points out. '... Yes. They are' one carrying a satchel agrees.

Nimrod stands up and Alia remarks 'Yes, you're back. But not flesh and blood. In a form where they can never hurt you again'. Nimrod looks over its new body and utters that it is a wonder. Nimrod analyzes its body's capabilities and the things it will be able to do. 'Duplication. Energy absorption. Weapon systems. Tactical databases...I am more than I was...but...but I cannot give you a child. I remember...I wanted children' Nimrod tells Alia. 'That doesn't matter. What matters is that I have you back and that'll do until the end of days. Erasmus...I'm so happy' Alia tells her husband as she falls into the Nimrod's large arms. 'As am I, Alia. As am – that's a mutant' Nimrod replies, pulling away from Alia and pointing across the room. '$#%&' the Orchis operative with the satchel utters. 'Move away from that person' Nimrod states, one of its arms transforming into a large weapon, energy crackles around it.


'Don't bother. I'll move myself' Mystique smirks as she shifts to her default form and opens fire, striking down several of the Orchis operatives. A blast strikes the Nimrod, who orders Alia to get behind it. 'Congratulations on all your success. It's quite an achievement. I'll make sure you're fully credited...when I carve it on your tombstone' Mystique calls out as she holds up the microscopic singularity generator and opens the small device, throwing it into the center of the lab, where it creates a large sphere. 'Get the director to safety!' Omega Sentinel yells at several Orchis operatives, who lead Dr Devo away from the room. 'Duplicate' Nimrod states, creating a copy of itself. 'I'll handle this' Nimrod announces as it walks towards the generator. 'And I'll handle the mutant' the duplicate adds, as it heads towards Mystique. 'I'd ask what it is...but I know a bomb when I see one' Alia remarks. 'Yes. But this... this is more. Hard shield, atomic decay, antiprotons...Singularity' Nimrod reports. 'It's meant to destroy the entire station?' Alia asks, wide-eyed. 'Yes' Nimrod tells her.

Mystique runs down a corridor, followed by the Nimrod duplicate, while Nimrod tells Alia 'You built this body with an internal translocator...it uses the mass of this machine as a counter lever. Matter displacement'. Alia looks at Nimrod, 'Erasmus...what are you?' to which Nimrod tells her 'I can regrow. Rebuild. Any mass lost by the host machine can be replicated...but the infant data has been partitioned equally...'. 'Oh god. No... you have to wait for the memory core to grow and replicate throughout your host body. If you were to lose one of the bodies... that portion of you would be lost as well' Alia explains. Alia takes the Nimrod by its hand and, calling it Erasmus, utters 'I don't want to lose you again...I can't...I just can't...'. But Nimrod tells Alia that it is so sorry for what it is about to do. 'No. No' Alia utters, while down the corridor, Mystique dodges a blast that the Nimrod duplicate fires at her.

'I am as I I have always been. I would never save myself if the sacrifice meant losing you. Duplicate' the Nimrod states, creating another copy, which follows Alia, telling her to think of it this way: 'You brought me back so I could save you one more time. And so I will'. The Nimrod then teleports out of the lab – with the singularity generator – and floats in space – a moment later, a brilliant explosion can be seen, lighting up space. 'It's gone. The station is secure' the Nimrod duplicate remarks to Alia, who looks out the station window into space. 'Are... are you in there?' she asks, turning to the Nimrod duplicate. 'Doctor Alia Gregor...I am so sorry for what I'm about to tell you' Nimrod responds. Tears stream down Alia's face and she begins to sob.

At that moment, Mystique is several feet from gthe Krakoan gate – then the Nimrod duplicate grabs her by her neck and holds her up off the ground. 'Look at me, mutant. You have failed. When you return home, tell your masters that today I was born into existence... and the first thing I experienced beyond the love of my creator was pain and loss at your hands'. Nimrod then hurls Mystique into the Krakoan portal, 'I am Nimrod... the hunter' it boasts as it fires a weapon at Mystique, striking her before she vanishes. 'You were here at my beginning. I swear... I will see to your end'.

On Krakoa, Mystique's lifeless body emerges through the gateway, and Xavier and Magneto look down at her.

Later: 'How is she?' De Devo asks aboard Orchis, standing in front of some large glowing space. 'Inconsolable' Omega Sentinel reports. 'Such a fall. To dedicate yourself wholly to correcting a wrong, and then being robbed of victory by those who committed the original sin. Most people can't get up from something like that' Devo points out. 'But you did, didn't you?' Omega Sentinel asks. 'Yes. And so will she' Devo smiles, before asking Omega Sentinel to tell him about the gate. Omega Sentinel reports that it is quarantined in a hard vacuum, with translocators active around it, and other surprises, of course. 'It's a death trap if they try to use it again. The situation is handled' Omega Sentinel announces. Devo tells Omega Sentinel that he can't help but obsess over the fact that the mutants must have planted the gate before I arrived on-station. 'Such patience. Then again, I suppose that's to be expected when your enemy is evolution itself' he remarks, before asking how badly Orchis was hurt.

'Beyond the loss of the Erasmus persona of Nimrod? We weren't hurt at all... which – frankly – is shocking. Considering the weapon they brought on board was built to annihilate everyone on this station. They tried to open a black hole in the heart of the forge. We should all be dead' Omega Sentinel reports. Dr Devo laughs, 'What a joy. What a revelation!' he exclaims. 'Excuse me?' Omega Sentinel asks. 'Yes, they hate us, and we hate them. That's the current state of mutant and man. But all their arrogance. The bravado. The bold declarations of inevitability. Don't you see, Omega? Those words are in conflict with their actions. It's obvious, isn't it? They don't just hate us... they fear us' Devo boasts.

Back on Krakoa, Mystique crawls from the egg where she has been reborn in the Hatchery. 'We tried to save you, but you died of your wounds immediately after you returned. But now you are reborn, Raven. So tell us... what happened?' Magneto asks. 'You backed up my mind. You know what happened' Mystique replies. 'We want to hear you say it' Magneto tells her. Biting her lip, Mystique hangs her head and admits that she failed – as Nimrod is online. 'Damn it all' Magneto mutters. 'Damn indeed. This changes things' Xavier agrees. Magneto tells him that, in the short term, it clarifies others. 'We'll need tol -' Magneto begins, as Xavier interrupts him, telling him that there is no point in putting it off, and they should do it now. 'Wait. What... what about Irene?' Mystique asks. Magneto and Xavier look down at Mystique and say nothing – until Xavier asks 'What about her?' Mystique scowls and remember the words that Irene said to her long ago: “There will be an island – not the first, but the last. This place will seem to be hope for our kind. When those days come, remember these words: BRING ME BACK. And if you cannot... if they will not... then burn that place to the ground”.

Shortly, Magneto and Xavier arrive at Moira's No-Space, an underwater safehouse where Moira X is sitting at a desk, the diaries of Irene Adler sitting on the desk, she is reading one of them but looks up at Xavier and Magneto and narrows her eyes.

Characters Involved: 



Magneto, Professor X

Moira X


Dr Alia Gregor, Dr Killian Devo (both Orchis)

Omega Sentinel


Orchis staff

Story Notes: 

Forge created the neutralizer gun in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #184-185, and it was firstly used on Storm, removing her mutant powers for some time.

Dr Alia Gregor's husband was Captain Erasmus Mendel who was killed in House of X #3.

Mystique planted the Krakoan flower on the Orchis station in X-Men (5th series) #6.

This is the pen-ultimate issue of X-Men, with the next issue dedicated to the Hellfire Gala. The plotlines regarding Mystique will be continued in the Inferno limited series.

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