X-Men (2nd series) #82

Issue Date: 
December 1998
Story Title: 
The Hunt for Xavier! - part 2: Charly

Joe Kelly (script), Adam Kubert (pencils), John Dell & Jesse Delperdang (inks), Richard Isanove (colors), RS & Comicraft (letters), Powers (editor), Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

A fireball crashed into the mountains of Tajikistan. The X-Men, consisting of Storm, Gambit, Rogue and Colossus, arrive at a monastery there looking for Professor Xavier. There are two such mutant signatures of Charles registering in the world, and this is where one of them is found. There they encounter a huge crystal barrier, and upon entering find themselves in a world of altered realities where a little girl called Nina uses her psychic powers to try and keep them away, thinking they are monsters out to get her. Nina is taking her orders from someone that she calls "Charley." The X-Men find a way out of their warped reality; strong emotions. When they escape Nina's guardian, Renée, identifies them as the X-Men. Nina is upset, though; they have let in the very monster that she was trying to prevent access to her. It is called Cerebro, and it has come for Charles Xavier, and it is to eliminate all opposition...

Full Summary: 

In a forgotten glacial range in Tajikistan, of the former Soviet Republics. Previously shamans traveled through this wasteland to purge their demons of the flesh, and maybe even find enlightenment at the end of their journey. Two weary travelers, however, aren't so lucky; they are incinerated by a fireball that crashes into the mountainside.

Near this crash site the X-Men, consisting of Rogue, Gambit, Colossus and Storm, have just jumped off a precipice and are experiencing freefall. Rogue tries to grab onto Colossus; he assures her that a fall from this height in his armored form will withstand this fall. If he lands on top of Gambit though, their Cajun friend might not! Storm cannot catch Gambit in time, so creates a hailstorm that atomizes the floor of the cavern, cushioning his blow. He lands fairly softly, thanks to Storm. Dragging him up by his collar, colossus suggest that next time, when he is standing on an icy precipice Gambit should not jump on his back and yell „chicken fight!"

At first Remy thinks he may have taken them off the beaten track a bit...until they see, standing in front of them, a huge ancient temple carved out of the ice itself. Colossus wonders how anyone could build such a massive structure here. Storm tells them that within this temple may lie their missing mentor, Charles Xavier. Gambit hopes he's here, as he'd hate to spend so much time in the cold for nothing. Rogue tells him it's not their fault his powers don't keep him warm like hers, Storm's and Colossus' do. As the others walk on, Gambit says "It ain’t jus' a shiver in de bones. Ever since Antarctica...I been cold down t'my soul, cold like death." As Gambit follows the other a pair of diamond eyes are watching them in the shadows.

Nearby, in the temple, built by an order of monks called "The Brotherhood of Ice," a monk rushes to inform a woman called Renée that sentries have spotted a creature falling from the sky; that it is changing forms again and increasing in number. A little girl, sitting in the shadows, says it has come back for her and Charley. The girl tells them that her and Charley are going to make them go away. Renée hopes so.

The team of X-Men reach a large, patterned door inside the temple. The door has battle marks on it. According to Storm her handheld Cerebro unit is telling her that Charles is inside that door. Rogue slips by accident-on-purpose on the ice, holding onto Gambit to break her fall, suggesting they cuddle up for warmth. Gambit tells her they need room to maneuver in case there's some action. Storm quietly asks why Gambit has been avoiding Rogue since their mission began. He claims it's just too soon, but all he's thinking about is how he wants to wrap her up in his arms. But he can't, not after what happened in Boston.

Colossus tells Rogue to forget him, that Gambit is a free spirit and will never commit. Rogue knows that, but it's the best part, and the worst part, about loving him.

They continue with their mission, Storm telling them that their Cerebro unit is calibrated to Charles' mutant bio-signature, and it registers on the other side of this door. But with two of those such signatures located they can't be sure it is actually Charles behind there, and with the doppelganger they met recently in Cape Citadel they can' be sure of anything, except that they will deal with any impostor severely. Gambit becomes impatient with Ororo's speech, and blasts the doors open with a few explosive cards. As they enter, and Gambit is berated for second act of impulsiveness, they spot something very disturbing; at least fifty dead bodies, monks, all frozen with terror on their faces. At the edge of the bodies is a giant crystal monolith. Colossus is sure the thing responsible for this massacre is beyond this. As the X-Men head towards the monolith, a creature in the shadows analyzes and identifies them, then waits for instructions.

Meanwhile, in the bowels of the monastery, Renée informs her young charge that "they" are getting close. The young girl asks Charley for his help one more time.

The X-Men watch their reflection on the monolithic barrier. The Cerebro is picking up Professor Xavier behind it. Colossus touches it, finding that he can pass through it. Slowly Storm, Gambit, Rogue and Colossus step through the barrier...

They encounter distortions in reality. All bar Rogue find it very disorienting, and are on the verge of being sick. Rogue however finds this easy to wade through; after all, she's had three or four personalities running in her skull at the same time. Altered states of reality have become second nature to her.

Renée asks the girl if she has stopped the creature. She thinks she's hurting it. But the monster has adapted, and they might need Charley's help once again.

Meanwhile, in the foyer turned mass tomb, something touches the monolithic barrier, awaiting instructions.

In the altered reality Storm finds out that crying out stops the distortions. The others manage to control it too, and think they are over the worst of it. But the girl pushes her mental abilities harder, and suddenly the X-Men are overcome. Their bodies are warped and shaped like malleable things, making them suffer unimaginable agonies. But Rogue's mind remains clear, and she's determined not to go down without touching Gambit one last time. But as they touch he suddenly bursts into flames.

The girl tries harder to stop the monster, while the creature spying on the X-Men begins cataloguing what is happening to them in their altered reality.

But Rogue and Gambit have figured a way out of this hell; their intense emotions for each other halt the warping effect, just as Storm's cries stopped it. Storm realizes that intense emotions are the key! So they each think of something close to their hearts. Storm, for the love she has of her surrogate family, her tribe of the X-Men. Colossus, and the loss he felt over his sister Illyana's death. Rogue, the most gentle touch she has ever known, from Gambit. And Gambit, for fear of the female entity that has control over him.

The creature watches as the barrier breaks down. It accesses files on the targeted X- Men.
The girl realizes that something is wrong. It is not the monster that is being hurt in the barrier, but something else. She asks Charley if she can stop hurting them now.

As the X-Men come around Rogue asks Gambit whether he was thinking of the same thing as she was. His hesitation proves to her that he wasn't. Storm shouts for them to strike, and, assembled together, they finally break through the barrier; only to find themselves where they started. Only not quite, as Cerebro indicates Charles is right on front of them. Only it turns out to be the girl, named Nina, and her caretaker, Renée. Renée is glad it is the X-Men. Nina explains that she didn't want to hurt them, but Charles told her to, before they knew they were real people. He helps her keep away the monsters. The X-Men are confused.

"But you let him inside," says Nina, frightened. "The worst monster of all. His name is Cerebro."

The robotic creature called Cerebro launches in, shouting-"Perimeter breached. Target located. Executing primary command set--secure Xavier. Eliminate all opposition."

Characters Involved: 

Storm, Gambit, Rogue, Colossus (the X-Men)

Renée Majcomb

Cerebrite Alpha
Mary Purcell (green ghost woman seen very briefly)

Story Notes: 

The secret of Gambit’s green ghost-woman is explained in Gambit Annual ’99.
Nina first appeared and met Charles Xavier when they were fellow prisoners in Onslaught: Epilogue.
The Hunt for Xavier is continued in Uncanny X-Men #363.

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