X-Men (6th series) #9

Issue Date: 
May 2022
Story Title: 
The Rule of Three

Gerry Duggan (writer), C.F. Villa (artist), Marte Gracia (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer & production), Tom Muller (designer), Pepe Larraz & Marte Gracia (cover artists), Lenil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho (Promo variant cover artists), Natacha Bustos (Stormbreakers variant cover artist), Ron Lim & Israel Silva (Carnage Forever variant cover artists), Lucas Werneck (Trading card variant cover artist); Lauren Amaro (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

The Quiet Council meets to discuss whether or not to launch a full-scale attack on Orchis, with those against the idea winning the vote. Orchis meanwhile sets about increasing their brainpower by freeding MODOK from prison and having him join their organization. Gambit and Rogue arrive at Oblitus, a patchwork moon forged from scavanged ships and space stations in an attempt to find out some information about Gameworld. There, they encounter Destiny, and while Rogue and Gambit fight several aliens in a bar, Gambit and Destiny speak, with Destiny making her dislike of Gambit very clear. Gambit tells Destiny that Rogue will always chose him over her because his love does not have any strings attached. Destiny professes to hate Gambit. Rogue and Gambit leave after finding no information about Gameworld. On Arakko, the Great Ring is in session to discuss whether or not to return to Amenth on Otherworld. Storm is present but distracted by thoughts of Redroot the Forest who refused to battle during the tournament on Otherworld, and now remains a prisoner. Storm remarks that if anyone wished to call a rescue mission to issue, it would get her vote, however no one does. Storm then visits Sunfire, who has built a home on Arakko after claiming some of the land for himself. Sunfire then shows Storm something interesting to a tree he planted – Redroot the Forest's image has appeared in the tree, and Storm tells Sunfire that Arakko is asking him to help her find her voice.

Full Summary: 

Krakoa, where the Quiet Council are meeting. 'We have a sworn duty to protect Krakoa...and it is with a heavy heart that today's matter is presented' Professor Charles Xavier begins.

On Phobos, one of the moons of Arakko, where Feilong declares that there can be no gray area, no indecisiveness – there can only be one or the other.

And on Arakko, formerly the planet Mars, where Isca the Unbeaten announces that it will be war or peace.

Back on Krakoa, Xavier tells the Quiet Council that Orchis is dedicated to the destruction of mutantkind, and that unlike their past foes, they are hitting with both hard and soft power. He explains that Orchis knows about the resurrection protocols from their numerous casualties against them, and that it seems Orchis are intent on using their achievement to drive a wedge between mutantkind and humanity. 'Should Orchis be successful in the future, will this council be complicit through inaction?' Xavier asks. Kate Pryde frowns as she remarks that a vote to declare a secret war on a human organization will have extremely negative consequences. 'Ha! Who cares what the humans think?' Sebastian Shaw asks. 'Katherine was talking about what happens when it gets out among our people and our allies' Emma Frost explains to Shaw. 'Perhaps the less we know, the better?' Colossus suggests. Nightcrawler folds his arms and announces that he will not raise his hand if it results in the death of another, to which Magneto pauses, before uttering 'I eat my meat rare, as a reminder of the great cost of my survival'.

On Phobos, inside an Orchis space station which has been established on the moon, where Doctor Stasis declares '...and understand: That is exactly what's at stake: our survival'. Dr Killian Devo approaches Doctor Stasis and tells him that sociology and modeling was conducted on the mutant resurrection causing panic by now. 'Do we have an update on -' he starts to ask. 'All in good time' Doctor Stasis responds, adding that they have had a delay, nothing more, and that information will hit for maximum effect – and soon.

Abigail Brand stands nearby, while Doctor Stasis motions to an image of a brain on a monitor and claims that he has had an epiphany about the mutants' greatest vulnerability, explaining that recently, the post-human construction known as MODOK unveiled a synthetic drug that triggers a highly aggressive fight-or-flight response in the human brain. He states that he has some of the science from the bodies MODOK has dropped, but that he would like to free MODOK from prison and enjoin him to their cause. 'MODOK? Are we sure that's necessary?' Abigail Brand asks. 'We all agree this is a war, right? Who wouldn't want a machine designed only for killing?' Doctor Stasis exclaims. Out of the shadows emerges Nimrod, who announces that he would like to meet this killing machine. 'Well...I take it my motion carries?' Doctor Stasis asks.

A short time later, at Area 51's above-top-secret detention facility Nimrod blasts his way into the facility, while guards are useless to stop him. 'I told you my pets would come for me!' MODOK grins from his cell where he is retrained. Armored guards stand in front of MODOK, one of whom notes that comms and cameras are down. 'Should we surrender the prisoner?' the other guard asks. Nimrod suddenly bursts through the wall into the cell. 'Stay back!' the guard warns Nimrod, before the advanced Sentinel grabs the guard and tosses him aside with ease. 'The area is secured, Doctor' Nimrod reports. Doctor Stasis appears, 'Helloooo' he calls out as he approaches MODOK, who is chained up in the cell. 'MODOK, so nice to meet you, ah – I'm sorry, is it Doctor MODOK? Mister MODOK? Or just MODOK?' Doctor Stasis asks.

'I am MODOK – but who are you?' the large head responds. Doctor Stasis introduces himself, and his associate, Nimrod. 'No witnesses, Nimrod' Doctor Stasis declares as Nimrod holds up one of the guards – and then tears him in two with ease. 'Nice to meet you' Nimrod remarks. Doctor Stasis begins to cut through the shackles that bind MODOK and informs him that they are  early adopters in Orchis. 'Perhaps you've heard of us?' he asks, stating that he was impressed with that nasty little toy MODOK tested on that cruise ship. MODOK blasts upwards once free from the shackles and grins, as he tells Doctor Stasis that he didn't count on the X-Men arriving so fast. Doctor Stasis then informs MODOK that he wants to offer him a position, but not to worry, as it isn't long-term or even full-time. 'We have a goal, and when we're successful, not only will you get to kill many people, you'll also help remake the planet. Life is too short to spend all of it fighting mutants, right?' Doctor Stasis declares. MODOK grins again as he admits that he is intrigued, and asks Doctor Stasis to tell him more. 

The Great Ring is in session on Arakko. Regent Ororo Munroe a.k.a. Storm sits at the table and remarks 'The question to be determined is...will Arakko return to Amenth and resume making  war?' Storm points out that there seems to be guilt from some quarters over Planet Arakko, and reminds the others at the Great Ring that this  world was dead until mutantdom wielded their gifts – and “weapons”. She adds that the Arakkii can be sure that there are forces out there that will hate them for this success. 'War will find you...you have no need to go looking for it' Storm declares, before announcing that she has no patience for games today, and asks to know what the Unbeatable One's vote is.

Holding a weapon in one of her hands, Isca the Unbeaten answers by stating that she abstains, but that she is interested to see who among them misses the old ways. Lodus Logus and Tarn the Uncaring sit nearby and both of them smirk in response. Storm stands up and announces that she votes no, before asking the rest of the Great Ring what they have to say. Arakko once had a mighty voice, but it was lost inn Otherworld. The voting is loud and fast but Storm does not hear a word of it. Her attention is drawn to the sacred land she stands upon, the land which speaks to her. Several vines writhe around her ankles, producing some beautiful flowers. 'What say you, Arakko?' Storm asks as she sits back down and picks one of the flowers, tucking into her hair behind her ear. 'Did you hear us, Storm? The vote is deadlocked with one abstention, so -' Isca begins, to which Storm interrupts: '- as Regent I cast my second tie-breaking vote – for peace'.

'Like Redroot, the Forest, who did not want to fight in the Otherworld tournament but did so reluctantly and only because Arakko was in jeopardy. And so the Great Ring recognizes Arakko by adding Redroot's plight to our agenda' Storm comments. 'Oh, I suppose Arakko is talking to you like she did Redroot?' Tarn snarls. 'She would not be the first planet to whisper to to me...' Storm utters. She recalls Redroot going to the tournament, and how the fates saw her trapped there, perhaps forever. 'I suspect there are not many rescue missions in the history of Arakko...so I won't call for a vote' Storm adds, while Redroot the Forest is trapped in the Crooked Market, in possession of Mad Jim Jaspers himself. Storm then tells the rest of the Great Ring that if anyone here wishes to call forward the issue, it would have her support and both her votes, if necessary.

'If an Arakkii cannot escape captivity, they are no longer of Arakko' Tarn grins, adding that in his personal experience, the Arakkii are well suited to prisons. The manifestation of Arakko suddenly lashes out at Tarn, slamming his back with a large, thick tree vine. 'AARGH!' Tarn cries out. 'Do any of you require further translation from our host?' Storm asks. 'No? Then... until next time... go carefully' Storm smiles as she walks away from the Great Ring, the leaving Idyll the Future Seer and Xilo the First Defender behind her.

Meanwhile, on Obitus, a patchwork moon forged from scavenged ships and space stations, a place of pirates – and worse. Rogue and her husband Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit step through a Krakoan gateway, Rogue carrying a tray of donuts, and Gambit holding a bottle of vodka. 'Sorry about Knowhere $%^&!# the bed and tumbling into a black hole, Cosmo' Gambit calls out. 'We brought you some treats from home. Who's your pal?' Rogue calls out to the spacesuit-wearing dog called Cosmo. A chimp in an orange spacesuit clings to Cosmo's neck, as Cosmo telepathically speaks to Rogue and Gambit, introducing them to Albert, and revealing that Albert helped him escape Knowhere to Oblitus. 'Albert welcomes you. Rogue can live here. He has to go' Albert grins, also communicating telepathically, before Cosmo tells him to shush. Albert begins to drink straight from the vodka bottle, while Cosmo informs Rogue and Gambit that he doesn't know where this Gameworld is, but he knows who might. 'The other mutant arrived just before you two, so she may already know' Cosmo remarks. “Other mutant”? Gambit and Rogue both repeat in unison, looking concerned.

Gambit and Rogue walk into another area of Oblitus, where various aliens are going about their business. One alien with purple skin begins two beverages to a table where Irene Adler a.k.a. Destiny is sitting. 'Dammit' Rogue mumbles when she sees Destiny. 'Is that really my mother-in-law over there?' Gambit asks. 'Yep' Rogue confirms. 'Ah. Better late than never, you two. The answers you seek are not in this den of inequity' Destiny tells her daughter and son-in-law, before thanking the alien who brought the drinks over. 'Of course. Let me know how else I can serve you' the alien responds. Rogue greets her mother: 'Hello, Destiny' and informs her that they were hoping to sow play their inquiry into Gameworld. 'Buy a couple of rounds, see if we coulda loosened the lips on some of these scoundrels' Gambit smiles. Destiny's cold mask stares back at them as she tells  Gambit that when she wishes for his input, he will be well aware. She then tells Rogue that the sooner this silliness with the X-Men ends, the sooner she can return to Krakoa with her and Raven, as they will need her at their side in the ordeals that will likely come to pass.

'You call me scoundrel? Bad man. But nice coat. I'll have it, Terran' a purple-skinned alien with horns on his head remarks as he approaches Gambit. 'Appreciate it, but -' Gambit starts to say, before the alien declares that he is “not asking” and punches Gambit hard in the face. Rogue then comes up behind the alien and knocks him to the floor. 'We were gonna do it the nice way. We were gonna buy drinks and sweet-talk and we were both gonna bat our eyelashes – but that's over. Somebody knows where Gameworld is...and somebody is gonna talk' Rogue shouts, causing all of the aliens in the bar to turn to her. 'Tsk. This is always the way with the X-Men. No nuance. No subtlety' Destiny remarks as she stands up and walks away from the fight, while Rogue and Gambit defend themselves from a half-dozen aliens who surround them. Destiny takes a seat at the bar and comments that she has already read to the end. 'But you insist on plowing forward as though you can somehow wish the outcome you desire into existence. Nobody has that power' she utters as she takes a sip of her martini.

'You know, Ma... Gambit and I haven't had much time to ourselves these days' Rogue calls out as she tosses one alien into another. 'Bull's-eye, baby. That's what this is really about, isn't it?' Gambit asks as he throws a kinetically-charged playing card at a large alien that creeps up behind Destiny. 'Nonsense. The world doesn't revolve around you' Destiny responds, not even flinching as the alien looms over her – before it explodes when the playing card blows up. 'I'm simply trying to correct your trajectory' Destiny claims. Gambit moves closer to Destiny and holds up his staff as another alien approaches him. 'You know, Irene... for our supposedly  greatest precog, you were dead a helluva long time – really quite an accomplishment, actually' Gambit remarks. 'You know, Remy... when I learned Rogue married a bumpkin from the bayou... I asked them to kill me again' Destiny responds.

Gambit steps back as an alien with a knife lunges at him. Gambit responds by shoving the end of his staff into the alien's chin. 'I'll bite. Whaddya got against me, anyway?' Gambit asks. 'There's not enough time in the world, or alcohol in this bar' Destiny responds as she looks down at her drink. She then tells Gambit that he is her disappointment made flesh. 'On your right' she warns him. Gambit turns to his right, too late though as two aliens lunge at him and grab him. 'Sorry, I meant my right. The future. So fluid' Destiny claims, before asking “Mr and Mrs X”? She looks over as the aliens attempt to push Gambit's face down onto a broken glass on the bar counter. 'Is that what my powerful, independent daughter has been reduced to in my absence? The wife of a cutthroat thief, assassin and horrendous gambler?' Destiny asks. 'Ah take offense to that!' Gambit retorts as he touches a martini glass on the counter, kinetically charging and throwing it backwards at another alien who approaches. 'Ah'm an exceptional gambler!' Gambit boasts as he flips the alien holding him down over his shoulder.

At the same time, Rogue flies upside down towards the ceiling, taking one of the aliens with her and slamming their head into the ceiling. Rogue drops down to the ground, and calls out 'Well... you were right, Irene. These bums didn't know squat' she then suggests that they get going. Gambit presses a cold bottle to his head and turns to Destiny: 'We both love her, Irene...but the difference is, my love don't come with no strings attached' Gambit smiles as he walks away from Destiny. She watches him leave, then her hands begin to shake as she utters 'Hate. You'.

Later on Arakko, a shirtless Shiro Yoshida is using his powers to burn through wood as he builds himself a traditional home on the Red Planet. Storm drops down from the purple sky above and tells Shiro that this is beautiful, but warns him to be prepared. 'If you're claiming this land as yours alone, our cousins may challenge you for it – as they challenged Feilong' she adds. 'Indeed' Shiro agrees. 'They are over there, if you wish to pay your respects' Shiro smirks, motioning to where three graves are marked by the Arakkii mutants' weapons. Shiro tells Storm that he practically begged them not to fight, but that after he killed the one in the helm, they stopped coming. 'I guess...I am the guy in the helmet now' he adds. 'It seems you are' Storm remarks, before asking Shiro if he is staying here. Shiro drinks from a water sack and tells her that for now he is, but that eventually, he wants to keep going. 'With my gifts...I can travel through space. I want to see how far I can go' he reveals.

'Good for you, Shiro' Storm smiles, before Shiro points at the flower in Storm's hair and tells her that it is familiar, and asks her where she got it. 'You've seen it too?' Storm asks. Sunfire tells Storm to come with him, as there is something she should see. Shiro leads Storm away from his home and tells her that he brought a Mizunara oak sapling with him back from Japan and planted it the night he was elected to the X-Men. 'Arakko has given it...special consideration' Shiro explains. 'By the goddess...' Storm utters as she sees the tree, particuarly striking for the fact a face has appeared on the trunk. 'It seems our hostess is asking for help' Storm points out. Storm tells Sunfire that he said he wanted to “keep going” but points out that it doesn't get much farther or more dangerous than Otherworld. She adds that right now, the way is closed, but that if it can be reopened, she thinks Arakko is asking Sunfire to help find her voice.

Characters Involved: 

Rogue, Sunfire (both X-Men)
Colossus, Destiny, Exodus, Emma Frost, Magneto, Mystique, Nightcrawler,
Idyll, Isca, Lodus Logus, Tarn, Xilo (all Great Ring of Arakko)


Prison guards
Assorted Kate Pryde, Sebastian Shaw, Storm, Professor X (all Quiet Council)

Abigail Brand, Feilong, Dr Killian Devo, MODOK, Nimrod, Doctor Stasis (all Orchis)

(in flashback)
Redroot the Forest
Mad Jim Jaspers

Story Notes: 

The X-Men defeated MODOK in X-Men (6th series) #8.

This issue includes a page outlining the Orchis Protool, and indicates the direct strategies, which are research and develoment, headed by Alia Gregor, infrastracture and influence, headed by Abigail Brand and operations and offense, lead by Feilong. The oblique strategies are culture and narrative, sociology and modeling and human resources. Human resources is headed by Dr Stasis, the heads of the other two strategies are redacted from the Protocol. All strategies feed into the central column, headed by Dr Killian Devo.

First appearance of the talking chimp, Albert.

Destiny was killed in the classic Uncanny X-Men (1st series)  #255.

“Mr and Mrs X” was the name of a twelve issue comic starring Gambit and Rogue after they were married.

This issue includes a text-only page referring to Bishop, one of the Captains of Krakoa, who has been lobbying for the Quiet Council to provide a directive for mutantdom to confront the Orchis threat with extreme prejudice. The note refers to the “hawks” on the council presenting the matter as an existential threat to mutantdom's existence, while the “doves” won the vote, hoping to kill Orchis with kindness. While Destiny wanted to destroy Orchis, she knew that the Quiet Council would not provide a path forward, so abstained. Mystique, Sinister and Xavier also abstained. Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost, Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus voted no, while only Sebastian Shaw, Magneto and Exodus voted for directly attacking Orchis.

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