X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #20

Issue Date: 
March 2003
Story Title: 
Schism - part 1: The X-Treme Files

Chris Claremont (writer), Salvador Larroca (artist), (uninked), Liquid! (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Nova Ren Suma (assistant editor), Andrew Lis & Mike Raicht (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

In Rogue’s New Orleans mansion, Sage and Bishop have a very serious conversation about why Sage doesn’t want to return to the Xavier’s Institute. Interrupting their conversation, Storm collapses to the floor above them. After seeing about her well-being, Sage receives a police distress call over her tech-glasses and Bishop and Sage go to investigate it. In Alaska, a Sheriff informs the two X-Men about the horrific killing of seven people, frozen to death on a glacier. After investigating the site, the X-Men head to the victims last known residence. There, Sage finds disturbing evidence of abuse, not of the victims, but by the victims. Following the mutant trace found on the property, they are lead to a cabin where they find more bodies; these, however, have been buried. Digging up a grave, Sage discovers that the bodies here are the ones that were tortured and the two X-Men continue to follow the mutant’s signature to its source. Arriving at the Xavier Institute, where the trail ends, the two X-Men are attacked by the grounds students. After eventually defeating them, Bishop and Sage pull their suspect to the side to try and ask him why he committed the murders. The boy goes by the name of Jeffrey Garret and does not give the two mutants time to question him, as he teleports them away, trying to save himself from his doomed fate.

Full Summary: 

In the kitchen of Rouge’s mansion, Sage and Bishop discuss moving back to Xavier's Mansion. Bishop expresses his desire to move back into the mansion, while Sage explains why she has her doubts. Bishop, turning to Sage, questions why she doubts Xavier. Sage explains that her code-named defines who she is. She explains that she has to analyze and come up with conclusions before she can trust anyone, or any situation. Bishop asks Sage to sit down so they can discuss the matter further.

Sage opens her laptop and a picture of Xavier's head appears. She explains the Xavier started his school on a mission to help mutants everywhere but now questions Xavier and his motives. Xavier’s psychic twin, Cassandra Nova, Sage continues, succeeded in annihilating Genosha and almost destroyed the X-Men, though she was reportedly defeated. Bishop, putting a wineglass to his mouth, asks Sage if she has her doubts about the report. Sage, standing to her feet, tells Bishop that, ever since Cassandra Nova almost defeated the X-Men, Charles Xavier has changed!

Bishop, defending his mentor, tells Sage that the world has changed and so has the global situation. Going on to explain, Bishop tells her that Xavier is just adapting to the world he is in now. Sage, sipping on her wine, tells Bishop that in California the mutants there did not want to learn, they wanted to dominate! Sage explains that what she sees from Charles is a different attitude. His attitude is one of wanting to empower mutants and advancing the causes’ of mutants everywhere. Questioning Bishop, she asks him what about everybody else? Looking down at his arm, Bishop listens on. Sage asks Bishop how he would feel if it was his children that were becoming extinct? Startled by a sudden sound, Sage and Bishop look back, regarding the clump that have just heard. Bishop, asking Sage what the noise was, hears that it was Storm and she has just fallen.

Running up the stairs, Bishop calls out to Storm and asks if she is okay. Sitting below her weight bench, Storm answers Bishop, telling him that she is just fine. Looking at her more closely, Bishop notices she is bleeding. Still asserting that she is fine, Sage explains that she can see that, if she continues at her pace, she is putting herself at a very significant risk. Logan, helping Storm to her feet, tells Storm to slow down before she causes herself some real harm. Bishop asks Logan how Storm is doing. He explains that her pace is better than expected. Storm still agonizingly exclaims that her rehabilitation is taking far to long. Logan, laying her on a nearby table, tells her that she is just paying the price for nearly dying.

Logan questions Bishop about his and Sage’s serious conversation that he was able to hear all the way up the stairs. He tells Logan that he would like to accept Jean’s recent invitation to the mansion, but Sage is extremely paranoid about it. Logan, taking up for Sage, explains that she is just acting within her nature. Bishop questions Logan if he thinks Sage has the right to be paranoid. Logan, massaging Storms back, tells Bishop that she should be concerned, because things seem to be moving too fast. So, they either ride the wave or drown beneath it, Wolverine goes on to say. Bishop, looking back toward Sage, asks Logan what they should do. Apologizing to Bishop, Logan exclaims that the call is not up to him, but it is up to them! Bishop wonders aloud towards Sage why she seems so distant? She explains that she has been watching a police report about a murder… and the killer is a mutant!

On the McKenna Glacier, a half-day drive up the coastal highway from Anchorage, Alaska, seven people are huddled together, dead, naked and frozen. A police officer tells his sheriff that the victims are frozen together and they may need blowtorches to cut them out. The Sheriff commands his deputies to set up a shelter and check the weather to see if they can work through the night. Also, he commands them to call the state police to have them send their best forensic team out. One of the deputies looks up to see a helicopter flying towards them. He explains that he thinks the forensic team is in that helicopter. The sheriff tells the others that it is not the forensic team, but it is the federal agents.

Bishop and Sage step off the helicopter and, immediately, Bishop greets Sheriff Mulder and introduces him to Sage. The sheriff explains that the crime is local and they can handle it on their own. Bishop, flashing his badge, explains that, since he heard the perp was a mutant, it pretty much mandates his involvement. Sage, questioning the Sheriff, asks him how he plans on dealing with this murdering mutant after he or she is found. Quietly, Bishop asks Sage to ease down on her tension. After, Sheriff Mulder asks the two of them if they can do better, Bishop explains that capturing mutants is their job, so no disrespect is meant to him and his associates.

Sage explains to the Sheriff that his recent reports are sparse on the details about the crime. Sheriff Mulder, talking to Bishop, exclaims that Sage seems low on her tact. Mulder explains that the situation is very delicate and involves a very prominent local resident. He also explains that the resident was not home when his guests and employees of the house were killed. As the sheriff walks away from the two X-Men, he tells them to stay away from that resident for their own sakes! Sage, calling to the sheriff, asks him to give them more details about the murder. Not looking back, he tells Sage and Bishop to talk to his deputies.

Turning towards the victims, Bishop asks Sage to give him a rundown about the victims. She explains that there are seven victims; four men, three women. One of them a host, three of them guests and the others are locals. She explains that their approximate cause of death appears to be extreme hypothermia. Bishop and Sage, wearing their red-tech glasses, look over the situation. Bishop, looking over the bodies, wonders aloud if the crime was premeditated or an act of passion. Sage explains that she has insufficient data. Bishop asks her if he should blast them out with his mutant power but Sage tells him that they should keep a low-profile and not freak out the local police. Bishop, taking off his glasses, exclaims that he wishes there was another way to help the victims, because the housemaids look barely seventeen, while another guy seems to be positively ancient.

Miles away, at the scene of the crime, a couple of police officers explain to Bishop that the only bodies found were at the scene where they had just come from. He goes on to say that there are no bodies in the mansion where the people were from. Looking at the house, it seems to be destroyed within and without. One officer explains that the perp did a thorough job. He explains that the perp soaked the interior with gasoline and somehow found a way to torch the main oil tank and the propane tank as well. Apologizing for the darkness, the officer explains that the lights were destroyed in the fire. Finishing, or at least thinking he is finishing his tour, he tells Bishop and Sage that he will see them tomorrow when the sun comes back out. Bishop and Sage continue towards the basement, telling the deputy that they can manage on their own. The deputy turns to the other officer, complaining, telling him that he hopes they don’t take much longer. The other officer wonders aloud how they can see in the dark with no light?

Looking through their glasses, the two X-Men use them to make their way through the pitch-black basement. Bishop asks Sage to share the information she is gathering. Sage, looking with her glasses, sees what used to be shackles and now is just a big pile of molten metal. Sage tells Bishop that somebody went to a lot of trouble to hide the shackles. Sage explains that there are multiple sets of shackles and each one of them contains multiple traces of fresh blood. She goes on to say that the bodies they found frozen to death had no visible wounds. She tells Bishop that people were imprisoned here and removed before the fire. Looking at a pile of clothes, Bishop asks Sage what she thinks about them.

Outside the mansion, as the police officers get into their vehicle, Bishop notices two more sets of clothes; a tuxedo and an evening gown lying on the grounds of the estate. Searching a nearby car, they notice more clothes. After making their rounds through the mansion, they find more clothes in the mansion’s pool. Sage mentions that, if they checked the victim’s lungs, they would probably find traces of water. Bishop explains that the victims seem to have been dumped in the pool before deposited on the glacier. Sage tells Bishop that the perp was extremely thorough, because who knows someone might have survived on the glacier but, being naked and soaking wet, their fate was sealed!

Later and a few miles north of the crime scene, Bishop and Sage look out and watch the Aurora Borealis, Bishop marvels at the beauty of it. Bishop, changing the subject, asks Sage if her analysis of the crime has given her any more information about the subject, except the fact that he is a teleporter? Sage explains that none of the DNA they found on the clothes matches any of the blood they found on the shackles.

The two X-Men draw closer to a cabin where Sage believes a teleporter has been. She explains that she can see the unique signature that a teleporter gives off through her high tech glasses. Bishop wonders aloud about the contrast between the lodge and mansion and how the people that lived here lived close to the poverty line. Walking towards a family burial-lot, Sage exclaims that the ground is frozen solid, yet someone took the effort to dig fresh graves. Asking for Bishop’s help, Sage tells him that they need to exhume the bodies. Using his mutant power Bishop plasma blasts through one of the graves. While Bishop blasts through the snow and the dirt, he tells Sage that, after he is finished, she owes him a good explanation. Looking down into the grave Sage tells Bishop to consider what he sees as the first installment. In shock, Bishop asks, “my God what happened to them?” In the grave, the two X-Men see a skull, mummified.

Lowering Sage into the grave, Bishop asks if she's sure about what she is doing. Sage explains to Bishop that she needs to analyze, to make sure that her suspect is the one truly responsible. Bishop leans over the grave, watching as his teammate crouches over the coffin of the recently dead. Sage’s eyes widen in shock and horror, as she is barely able to mumble out, my God! Bishop pulls his colleague out of the grave and she tells him that she has what they need. Bishop tries quieting Sage, as he can see that she is visibly shaken. Trying to hide her shock, she tells Bishop that she is only trying to focus her attention on finding the true suspect and his/her reasoning behind the murders.

In the jeep, Bishop pulls out a thermos full of coffee and offers some to Sage. She tells him that she has seen worse than that before. Bishop tries to ease Sage’s ego, telling her that she is only a human reacting like one. Sage tells Bishop that she cannot function as Sage if she isn’t in complete control. Bishop, looking towards her, asks if being Sage is worth the price. Sage, visibly shaking, tells Bishop that, at moments like now, absolutely, it’s worth the price. Bishop leaves the jeep to place the dirt back over the grave. He places the tombstone back up as well.

Getting back into the jeep, Sage explains that the bodies showed markings of being tortured. Sage tells Bishop that whomever killed them at the end was doing it out of mercy, not in anger. Bishop, thinking aloud, wonders if the other deaths were out of revenge or self-defense? Sage explains to Bishop all that she was able to gather from family photographs and the victims DNA. She tells Bishop that the suspect is a sibling of the tortured victims and the tortured victims were also latent mutants. She tells Bishop that they seemed to have been used by someone who wanted to catalyze their abilities. Bishop tells her that the information she gathered gives their suspect a plausible cause for what he has done.

Sage tells him that what is sad for the suspect is that he couldn’t have picked a tougher person to make angry than Elias Bogan, who owns the lodge the suspect attacked. Sage tells Bishop, as she looks down in deep thought, that the guests that were killed were intimate friends and associates of his and he will take it very personal. Bishop leans over Sage, as he sits in the driver’s seat, preparing to leave, and tells her that it seems she knows Mr. Bogan far to well! Sage tells Bishop that she knew him a long time ago but, right now, the two of them really need to find their suspect. Bishop asks her if she has any ideas of where to look for him. Answering his question, she asks him where would he run to if he was a mutant on the run?

The next day, on the other side of the continent, the two X-Men pull up outside of Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning. The two X-Men approach the mansion’s gates and call out to the mansion’s security their identity and ask it for entrance. Bishop, after not getting a reply, yells at the security box that they are X-Men, so they need to have the damn gate open now! Sage, teasing Bishop, asks if yelling at the gate makes him feel better. Bishop tells Sage that he thinks Emma is playing games with them. If she is the one in control, answers Sage. Bishop blasts the gates open, as the two X-Men discuss if their suspect even knew what he/she was doing when his/her family was killed.

The two X-Men walk up to the front door steps and Bishop comments that he thought they would have engaged more resistance by now. Sage, teasingly, suggests that Bishop may have scared the children away with his power. Bishop opens the door to the mansion… Surprised, Bishop and Sage’s eyes are opened and they both realize that they are still in front of the mansions gates. Bishop begins to laugh at how easily they were tricked, but Sage does not see the humor in it. Preparing to reenter the gates, Bishop tells Sage that he will have some rough things to do to the person that just duped them when he finds them!

Opening their eyes again, they realize they did not move. Sage, commenting on their predicament, says the two of them seem to be running in a maze, thanks to whoever their attacker is. Behind the two X-Men, a black, fog-like mist begins to surround them and Bishop warns Sage of the oncoming attack. The two X-Men go into a crouching position near their car and Bishop cries out that he can’t see!

In the shadows, camouflaged by the estate bushes, the students of the school congratulate each other on their attack on the two X-Men. Five students watch as Bishop and Sage cower in fear around their car. One of the children, congratulating Gloom on his scaring tactics, tells an elephant-headed student, named Tantra, to attack them next and make Ms. Frost proud. The mutant seems to send sparklers out of his hands towards the X-Men. Entranced, Bishop begins to “make-out” with a nearby tree, per Tantra’s bidding.

A young boy named Zach begins to pet a rodent of his and he tells the others that it is his turn to torture the intruders. Twin girls watch as Zach releases his rodent, commanding, “SQUEAL,” as he releases his pet. He talks about how Ms. Frost told them that, whatever they did, to save something special for the lady. The rodent begins to grow in size and glow a light-green color. The rodent attaches itself to the back of Sage, with Zach explaining about his powers to the others. He says that he will use his powers to overlay his pet's characteristics onto his target. Sage crawls over to Bishop, squealing like a rodent, seeming trapped by Zach’s mutant powers.

Coming out of the bushes, the students, over ten of them, laugh at how easily they were able to defeat the two intruders. The children all say in unison, “We ROCK! We RULE! We own XAVIER’S SCHOOL!” Bishop, while kissing the tree, mutters to Sage that he is bored of playing the victim and he seriously wants to start kicking tail. Sage, continuing to squeal and act mouse-like, tells Bishop that they only need to act like victims till they know Emma is bored, to give them a perfect opportunity to strike. She tells Bishop that another good thing is that they are able to gauge the students of Xavier’s abilities for further information.

Inside the mansion, Emma telepathically watches as Sage and Bishop humiliate themselves. She seems to be unaware of their ruse and orders the students to deposit the two intruders on the other side of the gates, away from the mansion. A young girl with the ability to stretch her body wraps herself around Bishop, preparing to deposit him over the mansion’s gates. Bishop, stopping his ruse, tells the young girl that she isn’t going to hurt him, as he begins to tie her around a nearby tree. Sage grabs a hold of Zach and another mutant, telling them that their attack is now over. One of the mutants named Silicon attacks Sage, telling her that they cannot hold him. Bishop, stopping the battle, wraps his large jacket over the mutant.

After the battle, Bishop tells the other kids that the two of them played nice with them, but if they get out of hand again the two of them will not go so easy on them another time. Sage, trying to get Bishop’s attention, tells him that if he is done scaring the children, she has found their suspect. Bishop and Sage converge on the young boy. Bishop asks the child his name and he answers that it is Jeffrey Garrett! Sage, looking towards Bishop, tells him that his mutant signature matches that of the teleporting trail they have been following.

Garret tells them that he does not know what they are talking about and is surprised when Bishop tells him that they were just at the McKenna Glacier in Alaska. Waving his hand in front of him and his eyes glowing, Garret causes Bishop and Sage to disappear, leaving their clothes behind. He screams out that Ms. Frost said he’d be safe here at the school and he will not let them take him! Standing above the two X-Men’s clothes,Jeffrey watches as the smoke from their departure hisses.

Characters Involved: 

Bishop, Emma Frost, Sage, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Glob Herman, Gloom, Jeffrey Garrett, Silicon, Tantra, Zach & unnamed students (all student of the Xavier Institute)

Seven human victims that were Elias Bogan’s friends and employees

Sheriff Mulder and a few of his men

Story Notes: 

Storm was hurt and partially paralyzed by Viper in X-Treme X-Men #11.

Wolverine agreed to see Storm through her recovery in X-Treme X-Men #19.

Jean offered the X-Treme team the chance to rejoin the X-Men in X-Treme X-Men #19.

Sheriff Mulder is a pun on the character FBI Agent Fox Mulder from the X-Files television series.

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