X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #16

Issue Date: 
September 2002
Story Title: 
While I Live, You Don't Die !

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

Brief Description: 

Rogue flies into the collapsing temple, looking for her lover Gambit. Despite him still being trapped by the tight red beam and it’s forcefield, he caused the building‘s destruction, hoping that his death would close the portal and save the world. Rogue tries to free him, but ends up trapped by the forcefield as well, as she has absorbed Gambit’s powers in the past, which allows the beam to use her as a conduit as well. Still disguised as Storm, Shaitan investigates reports of a single swordsman killing many if the alien invaders – it is Vargas. Thinking Shaitan to be the X-Men’s leader, he battles and easily defeats “her“. Vargas then approaches the defenseless couple, and rams his sword straight through both Rogue and Gambit. Up above in the destabilizing tower, Storm and Sage are trying to sabotage the water supply system, when suddenly Khan shows up. He easily defeats Sage but him and Storm are too much of an even match. While they are busy battling each other Bishop finishes the job the two X-Men started and
blasts the pipes of the water supply. Both Storm and Khan get caught in the floodwave and are washed away. As they fall Storm grabs a hold of a ledge saving herself and Khan from a long and probably fatal fall. Khan tries to talk her into reconsidering his offer but she denies him leaving her and Bishop to fall the rest of the way down through the tower. Lifeguard though saves the two would be heroes and she flies them to the portal back to earth, where they meet with Sage and Thunderbird. Khan has different plans though, he separates his Warship from the towers head, planning to navigate it through the portal, intending to conquer the X-Men’s world even without his tower. Yet, the five X-Men, now on the other side of the portal back on Earth, quickly fire all their powers toward the ship to keep the ship from fully making the trip. It is still stuck in the portal as it implodes, apparently killing Khan and his troops. Sadly the X-Men have no time for celebration as they find the injured Slipstream, and the lifeless forms of Rogue and Gambit.

Full Summary: 

Inside the temple near Madripoor, Gambit lies trapped in a forcefield, a forcefield that is deteriorating because of him. Gambit is grinning because he knows that the aliens tried to conquer the world by using his power to open a portal through which their forces could enter this dimension, but in the end he used this very power to defeat them. By using a small rock charged with kinetic energy he toppled one of the buildings support pillars, causing the entire temple to give in. Gambit thinks to himself there could be no better way to die, but as a hero.

His sweetheart has other ideas though, Rogue screams to Gambit as she pushes her way through the debris asking him if he is insane? Rogue finds him and Gambit begs her to let him die so that he could guarantee the Earth’s survival. If the temple falls and Gambit dies, Khan can not use the portal anymore seeing as it would no longer have it’s source of energy – him. Rogue tries to get Gambit out of the forcefield, and jumps on Gambit‘s body trying to block the red energy beam from trapping him. Unfortunately for both of them, Rogue had imprinted Gambit’s signature some time ago, so now she too can be used as a conduit. Rogue now too is trapped because of this, and she tells Gambit she would have it no other way because “While I live, you don’t die!” Gambit repeatedly cries “NO” as he hears her words.

The beam is transporting a tower that is a hundred miles wide by twenty-two thousand six hundred miles high. At this time though the download is not complete and surprisingly to the Generals in Khan‘s War Room today their facing for the first time the possibility of defeat. Shaitan, still disguised as Storm, talks to members of Khan’s Harem and he commands them that if they are to redeem themselves from earlier failures, they should help Khan find the real Storm. After he finishes with the Harem he contacts a few of the Generals in the War Room and he commands them to evacuate the landing zone because he does not want to see any more of Khan’s troops dying. One of the Generals responds back telling Shaitan that there is a problem getting them back. That problem turns out to be Vargas, who cuts through some of the last of Khan’s troops with his sword. Thinking the mere swordsman an easy opponent, Shaitan teleports in, intending to get rid of him. There is not enough time to revert to his true shape, but Shaitan thinks that it won’t matter. Yet he is wrong, Vargas thinks he is facing the true Storm so he will hold no quarter in their fight.

In the damage Control Nexus of Khan’s station, Bishop, Thunderbird, and Lifeguard hold off some of Khan’s troops as they are waiting for the next commands of their leader Storm. Bishop notices on a console that on earth all of the invading army is retreating back to the station. He is reminded by Thunderbird to not get excited because the portal is still open, which means they have yet to win. Not following his own advice, Neal gets to another console that displays a disturbance at the top of the tower. Luckily for him, Lifeguard jumps on him tackling him down to the ground just before he is hit by a plasma blast. While Lifeguard lies on top of him, Thunderbird explains that the atmospheric readings the console showed must be Storm’s doing. No one else could cause that much damage but her. Bishop looks at the two of them and decides that they have done their job down there, so they should go find Storm and Sage and help them.

Sage stands on a platform underneath miles of, now frozen pipes, and she thinks that she is now as cold as she would be in the mountains of her native homeland. Sage is firing her recently acquired plasma rifle towards some of Khan’s approaching army. She thinks that the troopers walked right into her ambush and they should not be so easily defeated unless they are up to something. Before she fully finishes her thoughts, Sage learns the hard way that the troops were only a distraction, as surprises her from behind. She tries to land a kick, but Khan gets hold of her foot and then grabs her by the hair. Khan places a knife to Sage’s throat, commanding Storm to show herself or Sage will die. Storm complies, as she stands on the frozen platform preparing for Khan’s next move. She orders Khan to let Sage go but Khan says she is in no position to make demands. Khan asks Storm why she did not want to rule with him? Storm does not answer and she just glares at Khan menacingly.

Right then the other three X-Men arrive and give Khan his answer as they fire at Khan’s troops scattering them and making them flee. Khan uses Sage as a shield until he reaches the end of the platform where he throws Sage off, asking if she can fly? Lifeguard quickly flies down and catches her, telling Khan that she does not have to fly because she has a friend who can. When Lifeguard reaches Sage she asks her if Storm was willing to risk Sage’s life, and Sage confirms her question by saying, “it was an acceptable risk.” Shocked, Lifeguard asks if they are all insane?

Back on the platform Storm jumps on Khan knocking him into an ice wall. She tells him that he is trying to conquer her world and she just asks him to find another way, instead of conquering he should try to build a better world. As both combatants match blow for blow, Khan reminds Storm that both of them are warriors and he could never back down to a challenge. Khan tells Storm that she is naïve because she should know that whomever wins “rules”. As Storm repeatedly attacks Khan, she explains to him that when he is dead, nothing of him will remain, while she fights for a dream that will live on long after her death. Khan, angered by Storms treachery, reminds her that not even a day ago he saved her from death and now he can see her wounds reopening. So their battle will only leave one result, his victory.

Lifeguard lands safely next to Bishop and Thunderbird with Sage in her arms. Immediately, Sage takes the gun from Bishop’s hands. Shocked, Bishop wonders aloud what Sage is doing. She explains what Storm was doing with freezing the water pipes and aims the plasma rifle to the pipe. Already her first blast is a direct hit, but surprisingly pipe does not bust. Sage wonders what was wrong with her analysis, as Bishop explains that it was because the rifle did not have enough energy behind the beam. Bishop places the gun on his shoulder and channels his energy signature through the gun and using his energy plus the gun‘s energy he is able to destroy the water pipe. The torrent of water flows from the pipes, grabbing both Khan and Storm, sending them farther down the corridor under the platform they were fighting on. As Storm goes under she commands the X-Men not to follow her and to save themselves.

Bishop, worried for all their safety, tells Sage and Thunderbird to go to the portal and try to hold it open till he and Heather have retrieved Storm. Sage interrupts saying how that they will need her to find Storm. Bishop denies her request, but Sage seems not convinced, so Thunderbird knocks Sage unconscious and carries her away to the portal. Bishop notes that the usually very reasonable Sage seems to have human feelings after all, and he tells Thunderbird that if things go wrong, he should do what is necessary, namely leaving them behind. As Thunderbird leaves with Sage, Lifeguard asks Bishop how they are going to find Storm. Bishop explains to her that she is half Shi’ar and that makes her a born predator. So all she needs to do is think of Storm as prey.

Back in Madripoor, namely in the Temple where Gambit is, Vargas finishes Shaitan/Storm off with ease. He comments that she should have used her weather powers to make the fight somewhat fairer, though the outcome would have been the same. With blood dripping from his sword Vargas rises up and walks towards where Rogue and Gambit are trapped. Vargas tells Rogue that he has finally come to her. Gambit worried for Rogue’s safety begs her to leave him and fly away. She tells him that she can’t because the beam has taken away all of her strength, so she is truly stuck. Vargas walks up to the two of them and holds his bloodstained sword up to his head in a threatening pose towards the two X-Men.

Storm and Khan have fallen for miles and Storm has been hit many times along the fall. Storm does not give up though and as she reaches out to grab an open ledge she also reaches down to save Khan from falling to his death. Storm’s grip loses strength though and she falls. Luckily for her Khan has no intention of letting her die either. He grabs her and saves her from falling just like she did a couple of seconds before. He begs her to become his queen but she continues to deny him. As they hang there talking Khan is shocked to feel the coldness of a pistol to his head. Khan quickly looks up to see Bishop holding the gun and Khan hurdles Storm’s body at him knocking Bishop down. This gives Khan enough time to get his composure and he easily defeats Bishop knocking him off the ledge and he gets washed away by the water. Khan reaches out to Storm and asks her one last time if she will become his queen and again she denies him. Angry about her treachery he throws her after Bishop into the torrent of the running water.

Many of Khan’s troops are in the War Room and each one of them are screaming different questions. Some wonder where Shaitan is, some begging for direction, and all complain about the tower beginning to crumble. Direction does come in the form of Khan who enters the War Room with three of his Harem following him. One of the soldiers screams to Khan that it seems that they are losing the beachhead. Khan bites back saying that they will not lose because he is going to reestablish the nexus himself. He commands his troops to disengage his Warship from the tower as he intends to take it through the portal and personally stake claim to the entire dimension. This means that either they will be trapped in this dimension or they will somehow be able to save the tower and continue on with their taking over of other dimensions. Either way Khan and his soldiers believe they will conquer this dimension. As he finishes he asks if his followers are willing to come with him? Unanimously they all agree by raising their fists in praise.

Storm is drowning in the cataract of water and as she loses strength she wishes for a guardian angel. Luckily, Storm does have a guardian angel - her name is Lifeguard. Heather raises her from the water and she carries Storm and Bishop, whom she had saved seconds earlier to safety. As the three fly through the corridors they see that Khan has released the docking clamps from the tower to his Warship. Storm understands what Khan’s plan is and tells Heather to rush, they have to reach Earth before him. However it’s not just a matter of speed as she has to fly around innumerable obstacles. Finally the three X-men combine their powers, with Bishop clearing the flight path with his guns and Storm generating a tailwind, to speed their trip back to the portal and to Madripoor.

In front of the portal Thunderbird holds on to the slim hope that his three team mates will come in time for them to reunite and he will not have to leave his friends stranded. Sage is sitting on the ground, weakened by her injuries. She tells Neal to have faith that the others will return. Thunderbird is surprised by that statement coming from her, the ultimate empiricist. When he looks up to see Khan’s Warship heading towards them and he feels awful because he realizes he is going to have to retreat. Just in time though he sees Lifeguard carrying Bishop and Storm and heading towards them at super speed. Right as he tells Sage about it, they are sent hurdling through the portal by the leading edge of Storm’s wind wave front.

The five X-Men emerge out of the portal and as they land Lifeguard excitedly says that they have finally arrived home. Storm reminds her that now is not the time to get excited because somehow they will have to stop Khan’s Warship from entering their world. Storm asks Sage to analyze their situation and give her a defense plan, but Thunderbird says she is injured. Yet Sage is able to perform as requested and explains to Storm that the portal’s Terminus Matrix is wildly unstable, so Khan apparently is counting on his the immense mass of his vessel and it’s own compensators to balance the power load while he bulls his way through. Storm surmises to herself that if they can slow the ship down, maybe the portal will close in on itself destroying the ship. As they see the ship entering their universe Storm commands Bishop and Thunderbird to join her and use up all their energy in slowing the craft. All three of them start shooting at the ship. As Sage watches she commands them to keep using their powers, but Lifeguard points out that all of them are almost spent and using their powers so much could kill them. Sage tells her that their sacrifice will be worth saving the world. Sadly, the three mutant’s powers run out shortly after and Storm collapses in Bishop’s arms.

Yet their efforts were enough, as they look up they see the portal closing. Lifeguard, in a heroic moment, jumps on top of her four friends as Khan’s ship is falling apart. Lifeguard uses her wings to protect them and as tons of debris and sand lay on top of them Lifeguard uses her strength to push themselves out of their sand prison. As the X-Men sit up they all come to the realization that they have won and everyone smiles and congratulate one another. Lifeguard reasons that Khan’s portal imploded in on itself and it must have sent Khan’s tower, ship, and everything else into oblivion. Spotting her brother nearby, Lifeguard runs over to where Slipstream still leans against the tree where Rogue had left him at. She asks Storm why she has not transformed back to being human in appearance? Storm tells her that she has no answers for her question and both of them become aware of the seriousness of Slipstream’s injuries. Bishop says they need to find medics.

Thunderbird interrupts the team by telling them that the sensors of his special glasses have picked up something from down in the crypt. Something awful must have happened there. In the remains of the temple lies Rogue on top of Gambit, with Vargas’ sword skewering the two of them, and blood running from their wounds.

Characters Involved: 

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

Gambit, X-Men ally


Shaitan, disguised as Storm

Khan’s army

Khan’s Harem


Story Notes: 

Rogue absorbed Gambit in X-Men (2nd series) #41, Uncanny X-Men #350, X-Men (2nd series) #83 and most recently in Uncanny X-Men #385.

Against popular belief that the heart is in located the left half of the chest, it actually is more or less in the center, with 1/3 being in the right half of the chest and 2/3 in the left side. The sword is stuck near Rogue’s right shoulder blade, but the following issues will mention that the sword went through the heart. Indeed the exit wound is shown to be on her left breast, meaning the sword did not go straight into her body, but slightly angled.

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