X-Men: Search for Cyclops #3

Issue Date: 
February 2001
Story Title: 
Book Three: Am I Evil?

Joseph Harris (writer), Tom Raney (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), John Babcock (letters), J.C. (colors), Peter Franco (assistant editor), Mark Powers (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Scott’s nightmares continue as he and Anais currently find themselves in Farafirah. Anais leaves the recently awoken Scott to secure them transportation to Akkaba, where all his questions shall be answered. Unfortunately for Farafirah, they’ve been hit with a deadly plague recently and the body pile is mounting. Bearing witness to this are Cable and Jean who are hot on Scott’s trail. Jean’s attempts at a telepathic contact prove fruitless so they go about their search the hard way. They come across someone who rented a room to them and when Jean tries another mind contact it works for a brief moment and the trail is hot once more. Scott, meanwhile, is kidnapped and dragged into the sewers by Pestilence, horseman to Apocalypse. All parties, including Anais and Gauntlet converge in the sewers for a final showdown. A partial collapse of the tunnel ends the hostilities, leaving Scott and his fellow X-Men separated. Scott takes off for Akkaba knowing he’ll finally get the answers he’s been searching for. Cable figures out where his father must be headed thanks to a dropped train ticket with the destination printed on it.

Full Summary: 

The blazing desert sun beats down as yet another morning begins. A lone shadowed figure off in the far distance begins his march towards Scott. As the figure looms closer still Scott digs deep inside only to be horrified by what he finds. The individual finally makes his way to Scott and, stepping forward, reveals the infamous lines surrounding his lips and jaw line, the trademark look of Apocalypse.
Scott throws up his arm in defense, but Apocalypse merely smiles. En Sabah Nur tells Scott it’s time. Scott denies this, but Apocalypse assures him the moment is near for him to be reborn… in Scott.

Scott pleads for him to get away and then wakes up screaming those exact same words. He bolts upright in his motel bed, revealing a white bandage slung across his eyes, tied in a knot in the back. He yells to be left alone, denying Apocalypse’s claims they are one and the same.
Anais places her hands on Scott’s shoulders and begins rubbing them softly, telling him it was only a dream, that they’re still in Farafirah. Scott’s voice is ragged, telling Anais he can’t take it anymore. He can feel someone inside him, scraping at his skull and wanting to get out. He also knows if he allows it many people will suffer. Anais tells him not to fight the urge, to let it free. Scott coughs, and tells her he can’t.
Scott turns, sensing Anais getting out of bed. He wants answers, answers Anais promised him as to who, and for that matter what he is. Anais looks out the window, her finger opening a small gap in the blinds. She reminds Scott she already told him he was a mutant and a host to a power beyond comprehension. Anais tells him the pain it causes is a blessing. She then explains they’ll be heading to Akkaba at night where the remainder of his questions will be answered.
Anais, still looking out the window, tells Scott to stay in the room while she secures them safe passage. She remarks on how precious the cargo he holds inside him and she won’t let him ruin it for himself. “…or for me,” she whispers, her eyes turning cat-like.
Meanwhile, outside, two villagers drag the body of yet another dead victim of a mysterious plague that showed up just recently. Women nearby are praying to Allah to ease their suffering. A husband and wife approach the group and ask if anyone’s seen their daughter. One of the body draggers tells him to shut up and check beneath the freshly dead behind him.
While underneath the village grounds, Bibi and Abdul are busy cleaning out the sewers. Abdul stares at the mess all around him and questions Bibi as to how he can keep going at this job with the plague running rampant. Bibi tells him to quit whining for he chose to take this job. Abdul argues they have no idea where the sickness is coming from. Bibi counters it will only get worse if the sewers are not kept clean.
The sound of wet footfalls begins echoing through the tunnel. Adbul holds his lantern up, reaching it outward and asks who’s out there. Bibi suddenly reels back in pain, coughing and complaining of a burning sensation along his body.
Whoever is making his way through the tunnel appears, shadowed from view. Abdul asks for his help in treating his friend. Instead, the mystery man takes off running in the opposite direction. It’s at this point Abdul also keels over, coughing, ultimately succumbing to the pestilence.
Back above, Jean and Cable are standing in an alleyway watching the villagers, most covering their mouths, as they go about their day. Cable tells Jean the epidemic started a week ago and nobody has any idea what disease it is or how to treat it, which is why everyone is trapped under quarantine. Cable’s sarcasm isn’t lost as he remarks on the “fantastic” trail they’ve picked up. He’s not really surprised, though, not when it involves Apocalypse.
Cable tells Jean he doesn’t think they’re going to find Scott there. Jean tells him to stop being so negative and to focus his telekinesis on filtering the air from any pathogens while she performs another mental scan.
Unfortunately, Jean doesn’t get anything. She then wonders what Scott would be doing in a place like this. Cable reminds her Ozymandias was Apocalypse’s lackey and as far as he’s concerned he trusts nothing that guy has to say. Puzzled, Jean asks what he’s getting at. Cable talks about Apocalypse’s propensity to destroy his enemies through whatever means necessary and he just wants to make sure they make it back alive. After all, he continues, Ozymandias had already sent someone else after Cyclops before them.
The two X-Men depart from the alley joining the rest of the villagers milling about. Another figure standing just around the corner stands revealed as the cowl on his robe droops back exposing the face of Gauntlet.
Train station

The man sitting behind the ticket counter doesn’t bother to look away from his newspaper to tell Anais nobody is leaving or entering the area. Anais strongly emphasizes she will have two tickets, as she had already said, for a train that will leave that night. She begins to transform into her cat-form and asks the man behind the counter if he really means to refuse her. The startled look on his face says it all. He quickly asks where she wants to go, stuttering a bit. Anais pulls the metal bars apart and sticks her head inside the booth and tells him Akkaba.
Nearby, Cable and Jean are speaking with a man who rented a room out to Anais and Scott. The portly fellow explains they had money and he saw nothing wrong with it… at first. He further explains they must have gone out the window in the hopes of avoiding the final bill. Cable asks if he’s certain it was the man they’re looking for. The landlord assures him not many people come around with bandages over their eyes, hunched over like an opium fiend. He then comments on the awful noises he would hear at night coming from the room.
The landlord mentions the plague and guesses it has something to do with this fellow and the woman he traveled with. Jean looks disheveled and tries once again to telepathically reach her husband. “Scott… where are you?” she calls out. Scott, hunkered down in an alley, hears her voice. In a weak reply he asks who is invading his head. Before he can get a fix on the voice a little boy approaches him from behind and asks for some food. Scott doesn’t answer, merely pulls down his bandana revealing malformed glowing eyes. The boy takes off running from whence he came.
Just what they needed, Jean senses Scott’s mind for an instant. Cable asks if she’s certain. Jean tells him she momentarily felt the psychic rapport and then takes off like a bat out of hell. Cable tells her to wait up, doing his best to follow. Jean doesn’t care. She knows Scott’s nearby and nothing’s going to slow her down.
The landlord steps out from the open door and takes a long look at the two as they leave for parts unknown. Head sunken, he asks no one in particular who is going to pay for the room. While right above him, through the open window, Anais slinks out.
Nearby, Scott stumbles and then takes off after the boy, telling him to stop. The boy continues to run screaming for help. Scott asks him to come back because he doesn’t want to be with Anais. He realizes she brings out the worst in him.
A manhole cover is pushed aside, glowing yellow eyes peering out. Scott hears this, but his eyesight is still so bad that he has no idea what’s happening. Seconds later he’s snatched and dragged down into the murky depths.
Later, Scott is sitting up, arms folded over his knees. He calls out to whoever’s down there with him admitting he’s practically blind down in the darkness. Scott tells his mysterious kidnapper he can hear him. Pestilence steps forward from the shadows and asks if his master does not recognize his servant, his horseman.
Elsewhere in the sewage tunnels Cable asks Jean if she still feels it. Jean says she saw him, that Scott is there. Cable grabs her by the shoulder to stop her for one second. He tells Jean they’ll go as deep into the sewers as necessary, but they need to remain careful. Cable points out that if her psychic rapport with Scott isn’t active she needs to understand it may be Apocalypse they find waiting for them. Jean agrees and apologizes for being hasty.
Mere moments later Anais turns the corner and continues following Jean and Cable’s trail. Not long after, Gauntlet rounds the bend in close pursuit of Anais.
Meanwhile, Scott’s busy telling Pestilence he’s wrong, as he’s nobody’s master and definitely not responsible for the current plague. Then a flicker of brief understanding crosses his mind and Scott asks Pestilence if he knows him.
Pestilence looks worried and confused. He tells Scott he is Apocalypse, his lord. Pestilence says he knows his scent and has followed it for days. But now, he admits, there are two scents to him. Pestilence suddenly realizes who Scott really is, but before he can tell him Anais leaps from her hiding spot, claws unsheathed.
Anais wants to know what Pestilence stands to gain by coming for his master. Pestilence admits he has nowhere else to go. Anais calls him a liar and slashes his face. She accuses Pestilence of wanting what all of his lesser servants want, but she will stand in his way. Anais rushes over to Scott and grabs his face. She tells him he is Apocalypse and she will guard his rebirth and nothing will prevent her from completing that task.
That’s when Jean and Cable make their grand entrance. Jean warns Anais to step away from her husband. Scott can’t help but wonder who belongs to that voice, but Anais tells him to wait and turns quickly for a confrontation.
Cable, meanwhile, confronts Pestilence, calling him by his other name, Caliban. He asks Caliban if he remembers him. Caliban tries telling Cable he is Pestilence, horseman of Apocalypse, but the words can’t seem to make it out. Then his eyes go wide as he finally does recognize Cable, calling him Cable-Nathan.
Things all come to a head as Scott watches from the sidelines. The last player to the equation finally makes his entry almost sniping Cable in the head. Luckily, Caliban’s hyper-keen senses realizes what is about to happen and pushes Cable out of the way, the blast connecting with the wall mere inches from his head.
The tunnel starts to shake and debris begins falling all around. Jean tells Cable to try and keep it together with his telekinetics. Caliban spots the would-be assassin up in the shadows and reaches for him, grabbing him by the neck. Caliban starts to choke the life out of Gauntlet, but a timely dose of nerve gas hidden up Gauntlet’s sleeve takes the fight out of the big guy.
Unfortunately for Gauntlet he’s not out of the woodworks yet. He turns to find Cable and his psimitar poised to strike. Cable recognizes him as one of Apocalypse’s servants. He surmises this was all a plot to get them out in the open and take them all out. Jean yells at Cable to focus his efforts on keeping the tunnel intact while she continues trying to reach Scott.
Cable brings the psimitar to Gauntlet’s throat and tells him to pass a message to Ozymandias that Cable will be coming for him. Gauntlet smiles and tells Cable he’s got it all wrong, and to check his friends as well as his enemies for it wasn’t Ozymandias who sent him, but instead someone a lot closer to Cable.
Jean continues working her magic to make a connection with Scott, but still no dice. Scott gets up and approaches Caliban. With his eyes malformed and glowing once more he places his hand on Caliban, calling him Pestilence. He tells Pestilence that as a result of his loyalty he releases him from his duty. With that, a blinding flash of purplish lights fills the tunnel. Scott stumbles back, smoke emanating from his eyes and hands, Caliban no longer a horseman.
A worried look crosses over Jean’s face. She tells Scott not to run. Instead he picks up a train ticket from off the ground and then looks Jean in the face. He says he knows her, but before a better connection can be made the wall of the tunnel collapses separating Jean from her husband.
In the confusion Anais, Caliban and Gauntlet slink away. Scott leans against the rocks staring at the ticket in his hand. Anais told him there was a place where all would be revealed and he knows he must go there because time is short. He then takes off running.
Jean stares at the rock pile in manic disbelief. She is extremely frustrated having seen Scott right in front of her and to have him taken away once again. Cable eyes something on the ground and picks it up. It’s the other train ticket to Akkaba. He tells Jean he knows where Scott’s going… Akkaba, Apocalypse’s birthplace.

Characters Involved: 


Cable, Phoenix IV (all X-Men)
Abdul, Bibi (sewer cleaners)

local villagers
Cyclop’s dream


Story Notes: 

This mini-series explains what happened to Cyclops after he merged with Apocalypse during the Twelve crossover.
Caliban is next seen in X-Force (2nd series) #4 when both Wolverine and X-Force (led by Cable) rescue him from the hands of the nefarious Watchtower.
The person who hired Gauntlet will be revealed in the final issue of this series.

Issue Information: 
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