X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #15

Issue Date: 
September 2002
Story Title: 
Final Gambit !

Chris Claremont (writer), Salvador Larroca (artist), (uninked), Liquid! (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Lynne Yoshii (assistant editor), Andrew Lis (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

In the damage Control Headquarters a few of Khan’s scientists discuss an anomaly they have detected on the station. Khan walks in and hears their discussion only to be distracted by his own thoughts of Storm. He thinks the anomalies are Storm’s doing, but his Harem tells him that her injuries prevent her from fully using her powers. Once that the transmission is over, the harem girls attack Storm, as they don’t want her to become queen. Despite her injuries, Storm takes out the entire Harem with hand-to-hand combat and creative use of her diminished powers. Sage makes her way to a control room and she causes security breaches all over the tower, making it look as if there were hundreds of X-Men attacking it. She then goes to aid Storm and escorts her through the air vent tunnels to safety. Storm however has other plans, she has discovered the buildings weakness – a large supply of water at the top of the tower, used as coolant for the machinery. At the same time, Lifeguard, Bishop, and Thunderbird, posing as Royal Shi’Ar and consorts gain access to the Damage Control central. Once in they reveal themselves and force Khan’s staff to leave the room, while they continue to upload Sage’s scrambling data files. While all this goes on in space, on Earth Rogue faces off against Vargas, and his servants Thaiis and Thais. Finally Vargas reveals his motives as he shows Rogue a page of Destiny’s diary that has Rogue stabbing Vargas with his own sword. Rogue distracts him with Cyclops’s optic blast, and Slipstream teleports in, plucks Vargas from the area and takes him above the temple that Gambit is trapped in. Yet Slipstream’s inexperience costs him as Vargas manages to slice across his back with his sword, almost killing him. Vargas crashes into the temple where quickly disperses the entire troop of Khan’s army, and plans to take on Gambit, who finally releases a charged piece of rock he had been hiding in his fist. Outside Rogue saves Slipstream from drowning in the swamps as suddenly the temple collapses, apparently killing Gambit, though saving the universe from Khan’s invasion.

Full Summary: 

D-Day plus two in Khan’s war room. Three people stand around a display console watching and waiting for any sign of a disturbance, while they wait they talk about how Khan is so enthralled with his new trophy. They wonder how long it will take before the Harem kills Storm, because every other of the women dreamed to become his queen. Apparently there is a betting board up for when Storm will die and just for picking the right minute one could become a wealthy man overnight. The monitor the tower’s integrity and predicts that in three hours it will become solid and their forces will have their anchor. As they talk one of them picks up a spike on their display coming straight from the palace itself. Their commander, a Mr. Jellicoe, breaks in to find out what the matter is and he reports that it is nothing more than a ghost and besides no one up top cares about their actions in the pits. Especially when they are running an invasion.

As they continue to argue about the anomaly, Khan walks up behind them and informs Mr. Jellicoe that even the slightest problem can cause big problems later in an invasion if it is not dealt with immediately. Khan relays a message through one of his Harem, asking if Storm is the one who has caused the spike, but the armored female denies the allegation. She explains that although Storm was healed by Khan’s doctors, the damage to nervous system sustained during an earlier attack was considerable, and she is in no condition to use her powers without great stress on her system. Khan informs the Harem member to expect an attack by the X-Men who might want to liberate their leader. He then tells that Jalene is in charge and that it will be her responsibility to take care of Storm.

As Khan walks off from the members of the pit, Mr. Jellicoe has gone disillusional and keeps babbling to himself that Khan was here, and spoke to him, he even addressed him by name. The other workers discuss how concerned Khan seemed for Storm’s safety, and that he even forgot about the anomaly they registered because of her.

In Storm’s room dozens of Khan’s Harem are attacking her. A weak attempt to create a lighting resulted in striking herself, but Ororo fights on. As she takes one out after the other the only thing she can think about is staying alive through the next attack. Storm looks past the pain and uses her powers to their lowest degree by turning the floor to ice and sending electricity through the water at her feet. As the opposition’s number falls the fight becomes harder and nastier. Ororo is bleeding from a wound in her side, but she ignores it and stays focused. In the end though the Harem just were caught off guard. They never thought beyond the fact that Khan chose Ororo as his queen. Little did they know Khan liked her not only because was she pretty, but she was also near par to his greatness in battle as well.

In the Palace Security Control, Sage has taken over the room and defeated its occupants. As she sits in the control chair she relays to Bishop that the Storm in the detention facility is the fake one, while the one in Khan’s Harem is the true one. Bishop asks if Sage will be able to free her, but Sage replies that she does not have to because Storm has already saved herself. Sage asks Bishop where they are located and he tells her that they have made it to the Embarkation Bay but it looks like they are preparing for their main assault. Bishop, lastly asks if the Harem was she had expected, but Sage does not answer him.

Sage walks into Storm’s prison/room and jokingly talks to Storm about the way she makes friends. Storm replies that it is weird to be attacked for a crown she does not even want. Sage analyzes Ororo’s condition and says that her wounds are serious and require immediate attention, but Storm tells Sage that they do not have time to worry about her or her wounds because they have to fight for their planets survival. Storm puts on her pair of special glasses and her and Sage go through an open-air vent. At the same time she sends an order to Bishop to find the Damage Control Headquarters and wreck it.

Meanwhile in Madripoor, Rogue sits atop fallen debris of the battle with Khan’s troops. She faces Vargas and his two cohorts. Rogue begs Vargas to forget about their feud for the moment and to allow her to continue to fight to save the planet. Uncaringly Vargas pulls out one of Destiny’s diaries and explains that the books not only describe the destiny of the human race but also his own. He shows Rogue a picture in one of the volumes that has Rogue fighting and stabbing a man in armor through with the mans own sword. Vargas explains to Rogue that the man is him and he refuses to allow her the opportunity to make Destiny’s predictions come true. Rogue laughingly tells Vargas that he would be smart to recognize that if he never tried to fight her, Destiny’s prediction would not come true. As she turns away from him, Rogue asks why Vargas had to kill Psylocke if it was her he was really after in the first place? “A duel to the death should have no other outcome.” he replies. Looking down at some broken mirror glass Rogue whispers “Davis Now!” Then she fires an optic blast towards the reflective surface, making the blast scatter in many directions knocking her would be attackers off their feet.

In the next instance Slipstream teleports in and grabs Vargas up by the nap of his jacket and propels him over the tower that Gambit is trapped in. Still inexperienced with the use of his powers, Slipstream makes a mistake and lets go of Vargas. As he falls, Vargas manages to hurl himself around and slashes Slipstream‘s back with his sword, causing a near lethal wound.

Vargas crashes through the ceiling of the tower, and Khan’s soldiers are brought to attention by his presence. The soldiers are some of Khan’s best troops and their sole purpose is to protect the “focus” and the name of their charge is Gambit. Vargas looks like an easy fight, the troopers think, sadly for the troopers they are wrong. As Vargas rips through the troopers like they are rag dolls, Gambit tries hard to push the small rock he had charged earlier through the forcefield to knock the building down. Gambit is willing to sacrifice himself and everyone in the tower to save the world. Vargas has other plans though and as he kills the last of the troopers, with blood dripping from his sword, he tells Gambit to make his peace !

Simultaneously in the dimension next door, Lifeguard makes her way down one of the corridors in Khan’s station with what looks to be like two of Khan’s troopers escorting her. Actually the troopers are Thunderbird and Bishop in disguise. The other guards recognize her facial markings and awe at the royal Shi’Ar. Eventually the three X-Men reach the Damage Control Headquarters where they reveal themselves. As he and Bishop fire hundreds of bullets above the workers‘ heads, Thunderbird commands the many occupants of the room to leave for their own safety before the three of them are forced to attack. Actually the occupants leave no time for them to attack as they all run scared away leaving the room empty.

In Khan’s Palace 22,600 miles above Earth, Khan holds Jalene by her throat as she begs his forgiveness. She tries to explain that she only attacked Storm out of loyalty to him. Distracting Khan for a second, one of his troopers tells Khan that Storm has somehow removed her tracking device and they can not detect her anywhere on the station. Khan, who doesn’t even turn to look at her snaps Jalene’s neck, as he listens to three of his commanders worriedly report different disturbances throughout the entire station as if they have been infiltrated by hundreds of enemies. Khan throws Jalene’s body to the ground and he commands the trooper nearest to him to give the rest of the Harem to Shaitan and to tell him to execute them as he wishes. As he walks away he tells the trooper that he will lead the search for Storm himself. Confused, the trooper asks Khan to remember the invasion, but Khan does not care about the invasion anymore he only wants Storm.

Elsewhere on the station, Storm and Sage are walking though a narrow tunnel. Sage asks if Ororo has a plan, but she in return asks for one from Sage. Yet Tessa replies that she has insufficient data to formulate a valid response. Concerned about Storm’s claustrophobia, she asks if Ororo can handle herself, but right then they reach an open space. Storm asks Sage to stay there on the platform to stop Khan, who should be on his way shortly. Sage asks how Storm knows that Khan is coming ? After all she created ghosts in his network and they are invisible to his sensors. Storm replies that Khan is a lot like her and so anything she would think of so should Khan. Sage asks what Storm’s plans are? Storm answers that there has to be a big water supply in the tower, both for the people as well as coolant for the machinery. Piping it up 22.000 miles would be too difficult, so that water supply of approximately the size of an entire ocean must be above their heads. Without that water the station would be paralyzed in just a few hours. Storm climbs the wall behind Sage till she makes it to a pipe where the water runs from. Storm tries many times to use her powers to freeze the pipes and bust them. Many times though the pain is to much and she has to stop to recoup. Below her Khan and his troops have caught up and Sage heroically fights back shooting blasts towards them from a gun she is holding to keep them away.

Several miles below them, in the Damage Control Center, Bishop and Thunderbird are holding off the incoming troops as Lifeguard uploads some files that Sage had given them.

Meanwhile in a swamp in Madripoor, Rogue carries an injured Slipstream to a dry place, and leans him against a tree. He apologizes for his inexperience and Rogue defends him saying that she should have taken Vargas down and not left it up to him. Slipstream in pain, mutters to Rogue that she can leave him to keep fighting the invasion and he promises to not die while she is gone. As Rogue begins to stand Slipstream says that hopefully the troops in the temple have killed Vargas for them. Rogue, who up to this point did not know of Vargas’ location, worries aloud about Gambit’s safety.

In the temple Gambit thinks of Rogue and feeling her thoughts inside his head, he tells her that the charged rock of his is almost loose of the forcefield around him and once it hits the temple pillar it will kill him and stop the invasion. So as the rock slips loose and it does hit the pillar the temple collapses and far away Rogue screams “REMY !“

Characters Involved: 

Bishop, Lifeguard, Rogue, Sage, Slipstream, Storm, Thunderbird III (all X-Men)

Gambit, X-Men ally


Shaitan, disguised as Storm

Khan’s army

Mr. Jellicoe and other workers

Jalene and other members of Khan’s Harem


Thais and Thaiis, Vargas’ servants

Story Notes: 

Mr. Jellicoe is a caricature of writer Chris Claremont. Likewise, Jellicoe's three technicians seem to be caricatures of the characters Byers, Langly and Frohickey, the Lone Gunmen, from the X-Files telivision series and the spin-off series of the same name.

Storm was on the brink of dying after an attack by the Viper in X-Treme X-Men #11.

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