X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #44

Issue Date: 
May 2004
Story Title: 
Prisoner of Fire - part 5: Liberation

Chris Claremont (writer), Igor Kordey (artist), Adams, Rapmund & Florea (inked), Liquid! (colors), Rus Wooton (letterer), Stephanie Moore & Cory Sedlmeier (assistant editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (president)

Brief Description: 

The mutant known as Sage travels through her memories, remembering her first encounter with her mentor, Charles Xavier. Elsewhere, though, her teammates fight off the mysterious telepath, but to no avail, each one of them passing out with her psychic attack. Awaking, they find themselves along side Sage. They see her murdering guerilla insurgents and realize why she keeps so many secrets. Bogan is with Sage, trying every step she takes to make her his pet. Thanks to the words of her friends, Sage is able to break free and they all awake in the catacombs of Bogan’s lair. Mysteriously, though, the telepath is gone. After rescuing Sage, Shadowcat and Rogue travel through a jewel to take on Bogan face-to-face. While in his dimension, they find the telepath and are able to break her free from Bogan’s control. Traveling back to the catacombs, the team realizes that the telepath was Rachel Summers, their former teammate and friend.

Full Summary: 

Bogan talks to Sage through their mental contact. Bogan tells her that he will make her his pet. She tells him that he is welcome to try.

The Astral Plane:

Around twenty years ago, in the Hindu Kush, a young woman we know today as Sage looked out into the mountains. She was dressed in the standard desert attire, with light clothes and a scarf to protect her face from the desert sand. Winter was close by and Sage knew that the Kabul Government would be attacking the nearby insurgents. As helicopters neared her position, they let loose with gunfire on insurgents that were below. This did not startle the young woman, but what did was something strange. Her blossoming mind grasped the fact her eyes could not see a presence near her, but her mind told her that someone was nearby.

Hearing a voice in her head, she chooses to follow it. Already, she knew that she could remember anything corporeal that was shown or told to her, indefinitely. She remembered the stories of her elders, about the mountains she was being drawn to and how her elders taught them that they were haunted. Sage sank into a shadowy cave and, armed with her automatic rifle and a flashlight, she came upon a man, crushed by great stones. The man was Caucasian and bald, he looked extremely weak, but in spite he still grasped to his pistol at the incoming presence of Sage.

On the physical plane:

In the catacombs of Bogan’s lair, the X-Men have seemingly defeated Bogan’s pet telepath, as Bishop has her in his grasp. Bishop tells her that she should have known that he has taken on telepath’s before. Seemingly in agony, the woman writhes, as Bogan talks through her. Bogan tells Bishop that he is not fooled often. Struggling, the young telepath is able to take control and, with a burst of energy, hurls Lucas towards his allies, knocking Gambit and Rogue down to the ground.

Shadowcat seizes the opportunity and hurls her body at the telepath in attack. The telepath seems to know Kitty’s plan, asking if she plans on using her phasing powers to disrupt her central nervous system? Kitty does phase through the telepath, but only she writhes in pain, as the Pryde of the X-Men falls to her knees in shock. Kitty stutters out that she recognizes the telepath. Kicking towards the fallen X-Man, the telepath tells her that her revelation is something she will have with her in the grave!

Luckily, Gambit steps in and, using his Bo, he is able to stop the force of the telepath’s attack. He teasingly asks why she would want to take away all nine of Kitty’s lives, when she has only just begun her first one? Swiftly maneuvering, the telepath calls Gambit the other deceiver, while Remy boasts that she may turn his head with talk like that. Moving in unison, Rogue and Gambit attack the telepath. Kitty shouts out a warning, but it is too late, as the telepath uses her mental powers to attack the two lovers, stopping their attack.

Back on the Astral Plane:

Sage knows that the American she found should be dead. She also hears him tell that his name is Charles Xavier. Announcing his injuries, he tells her that his legs are crushed from mid-thigh down. She thinks that his will must be extraordinary to keep himself from screaming, as she helps to splint his legs. She asks Xavier what business he has in these mountains; is he is a drug smuggler or a spy? He tells her that he is neither. She replies that he must be a fool to venture into the caves, knowing that they are haunted. Xavier tells her about meeting the demon of the mountains, commenting that she will not have to worry about him again.

When Xavier asks Sage how she found him, she tells him that she heard a voice in her head and followed, till she met him, a person that speaks, but without words. He explains to her that he is a mutant; he also states that he believes she is as well. Sage asks what it means to be a mutant? He tells her that it means she is unique. Smirking and picking her gun up, she tells Xavier that she is not unique. He retorts that she is a girl that sees everything and remembers it all. She places the gun to Charles’ head and asks is her is stealing her thoughts. Xavier explains that the core of her mind is protected from intrusion, but the way she acts and the way she presents herself, those are the things that tell him what she is. He tells her that there is no crime in needing help. She tells him that needing help means you are weak, while the weak die in the mountains. He tells her that he needs her help. She smiles at the American, stating that he is not weak, just injured.

Minutes later, Sage has used a gurney to remove Xavier from the caves. She looks out across the valley and tells him that there is trouble up ahead and the two of them should go around it. Suddenly, Bogan’s voice is heard from behind her, coming from Xavier’s lips. He asks her, is she is trying to change history? Sage states that she was wondering when he was going to show himself. Bogan tells Sage that, even in the vault of her memories, she will not let her friends see her for who she truly is. He tells her, as Sage begins to walk to a nearby ledge, to peer through her scope, that her friends are heroes, but she is a monster. He goes on to say that she rejected Xavier’s offer to join him at his school, because she thought it would mean weakness to say she needed help. Finishing, he tells her that she will not asks them for their help in defeating him, because she still believes that weakness brings death.

Sage fires round after round into the insurgent troops ranks, killing them. Walking through the dead, she notices the few that are alive, but what catches her attention the most is the death of a young woman. Almost ambushed, Sage turns around to pelt the oncoming attacker with a rain of bullets. A nearby attacker begs for her mercy, as Sage reaches for her knife. She plunges it next to his terrified face and the man stares at the blood soaked knife in horror. Walking back to the woman, Sage places a jacket over the woman’s chest, as if she was just molested by the man that Sage had just spared from death. Sage looks at the woman’s dog tags and then notices the woman’s blood has covered her own hands. Sage begins to weep and her eye-markings begin to become visible once more, as she is seen in her present garb.

Sage stands before the X-Treme team, along with Bogan’s pet telepath; Bogan asks them what their verdict on her killings would be. Gambit asks Sage if she thinks any of them are different than her? Lucas states that this is something they all have in common. Rogue, grasping to Cannonball in tears, tells Sage that this is why Storm chose them all to be on the team. Cannonball wipes his eyes and tells Sage that they know what they are struggling for, because they have seen the alternative. Bogan in Xavier’s body, stands atop the nearby hill and screams to Sage that she cannot win against him. As he rants, the X-Treme team tries to talk sense into Sage and to allow them to help her in this fight. Suddenly, Bogan’s pet telepath draws close to Kitty and they all reappear in the catacombs of Bogan’s lair.

On the Physical Plane Once More:

Sunspot and Skids, who were not with the others on the Astral Plane, are just awakening from Bogan’s earlier attack. Shocked, the X-Treme team just now realizes that they were not on a physical battlefield and that their struggles were carried out in their own minds. Just then, a scream is heard and Sam recognizes it as his friend’s - Magma!

Racing into a nearby room, the others watch, as Amara sits on her knees, screaming about how she has killed Sage. In front of her, encased in ash is a huddles statue of Sage, holding something in her hand. Sam rushes to Amara’s side to comfort her. He tells her that Sage is not dead, as they were just with her. Bishop looks worried, telling the others that Sage still could be badly burned. Gambit, taking charge, tells Sam to follow his lead, as the two mutants use their skills to knock Sage out of the hardened ash that she was encased in. Lucas grabs Sage as she falls.

Standing to her feet, Sage grasps hold of an odd shaped jewel. She tells the others that she had thought she could defeat Bogan alone, but she was wrong. Sage squats low to the ground, while Bishop moves towards her back. When Lucas asks if she has a plan, she tells him that she has hope. Gambit states that her answer works for them. Rogue and Shadowcat meld into one another. Sage tells them that, inside the jewel, they will find Bogan, as well as the essence of the telepath. Kitty tells Rogue that she will have to take on Bogan, as she will go after the telepath.

Being sucked inside the jewel, Rogue notices a distorted world, as she dodges Bogan’s immediate attack. Kitty sneaks out of Rogue’s body and through this horrifying world that Bogan has created for himself. Rogue keeps being pummeled by nearby debris, as Kitty approaches the shackled form of the telepath that is being held prisoner. With a touch from Kitty to the telepath, Bogan is instantly alerted to his error, Rogue teases that they have surprised him again.

Sage uses his surprise to use Bishop to channel energy through her, through Rogue, and against the psychic chains that bind the telepath to Bogan. Sage also uses this time to piggyback the psychic chains to the source, but Rogue hears her thoughts a little too soon. Rogue travels near to Sage, Kitty and the telepath, telling Sage that she will not allow her to make herself a martyr. With that said, Rogue uses her borrowed powers to suck the telepath, Sage and Kitty back into the physical world with her. Rogue bursts out of the jewel, destroying it in the process.

Kitty holds the telepath in her arms, as the shadow begins to fade off the woman’s form. Kitty says aloud that she thought the telepath would be cured once Bogan’s influence was severed. The black fades away, revealing a redheaded, Caucasian female with no clothes on. It’s Rachel Summers! She tells Kitty that she knew if she continued to hold on that, one day, she would find her. The two women embrace one another, crying tears of joy.

Characters Involved: 

Bishop, Cannonball, Gambit, Rogue, Sage, (all X-Treme X-Men)

Magma (X-Treme X-Men ally)

Rachel Summers (as unknown telepath / former X-Men member)
Shadowcat (X-Treme X-Men ally)

Skids, Sunspot (X-Corp L.A.)

Bludgeon, Cudgel, Rolling Thunder (all Bogan’s thugs)

Elias Bogan

Sage’s Past Memories:

Charles Xavier


Militia fighters

Shaw Industry soldiers and workers

Story Notes: 

In five alternate panels, Sage transforms from her current look, to the way she looked when she and the others formed the X-Treme team, then to her Hellfire days look, afterwards she appears in the standard training outfit of the X-Men, and finally she transforms into the appearance of the woman she was when she first met Charles Xavier.

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