THE UNCANNY X-MEN #387: "Truces and Truths" (May, 2005)
Writer: Kenn Beck
Editors: Josh Greer, Hoang Thai, Meriades Rai
There Can Be Only One: JM
Webmaster: Liam Gibbs
Sabretooth lifted the staggered Wolverine from the ground and held
him up by his neck. "Looks like both sides have grown a bit in
numbers, runt. The Brotherhood has one advantage, though. We're all
fighters. None of us are afraid to do what's gotta be done!" He
slashed his claws at Wolverine's face, creating long gashes which
instantly began to heal.
Wolverine retracted his claws and brought a knee up into Sabretooth's
groin. "We fight dirty when we need to, Creed!"
Sabretooth doubled over, dropping Wolverine. His features flared with
violent intensity, and he licked the blood from his claws. "This is
gonna be fun!"
Stone, one of the newest members of the Brotherhood, used the
formidable strength granted him by his stony form to shred the
automotive metal cocoon that Colossus had wrapped around the Blob. As
he cast the remains of the car to the ground, he was hit behind by a
metallic fist. He turned, and Colossus lunged to punch him again,
striking him in the chest, while Stone swung at his head.
"You've got nothing on me, boy! If that was your best shot, you're in
serious trouble!" Stone said, rearing back his fist again.
"Luckily for me, it is not," Colossus said, standing still as Stone's
fist collided with his chest. Stone screamed in agony as his stony
fist crumbled, the loose fragments being held together only through
force of will. Colossus lifted him high into the air and slammed him
down on the concrete, sending a jagged crack through his stone back.
Stone clutched desperately at his back, not sure if his form could
actually fall apart. He had never taken serious damage like this. He
lay still on the ground, unwilling to risk further injury.
Blob dusted himself off and pointed a fat finger at Unus. "Gunther!
What the hell are YOU doing with the X-Men?"
"My daughter has shown me the error of my ways, Blob. I now wish to
fight against those who would subjugate the weak."
"Fool!" Blob bellowed melodramatically. "The X-Men are puppets!
Lackeys to a society that fears and hates them! They'll never never
" the Blob hesitated, and then got an angry look on
his face. "Aw, subjugate this!" He backhanded Unus, whose energy
shield deflected most of the impact, but not enough to prevent him
from being knocked back.
Storm created a gust of arctic temperature winds and directed them at
Blob's back, causing the obese terrorist to cry out in agony. Behind
her a voice hit her with a shiver nearly as cold as the one she had
given Blob, a voice from far in her past. "Hey, pretty lady, remember
She turned quickly and froze. "Billy Briggs!"
"The same," he said, firing a blast at her. She managed to dodge the
blast, but the explosion of the energy bolt striking the ground
knocked her down. "But now they call me Erg! Still looking down your
nose at the less fortunate?" (1)
He was slammed from behind by a large palm tree, cartwheeling into
"Idiot," Colossus said, dropping the tree. "Let's hope we can defeat
him with a tree every time we face him." Colossus found himself once
again being thrown through the air by a wave of earth. As he
approached a house, he saw thin colored lines begin to appear in
front of him, and he grabbed one of them, swinging his considerable
weight around the filament. His momentum carried him back into the
fray, and he spared a second to give an approving nod to Sketch as
she finished the lines within her sketch book. He landed on his feet
with a clang in the middle of the street, and looked up to see a
large man, eight feet tall at least, glaring down at him with one
eye, centered in the middle of his forehead.
"Boo," the large man said. "Scared?"
Colossus swung a punch at the man's midsection, but the massive
fellow caught his armored fist and began to compress it. Impossibly,
Colossus found himself straining to keep his hand from being crushed.
Unibrow leaned forward, bending Colossus' wrist painfully. "NOW are
"Quit playin' around, Unibrow!" Burning Puddle said, trying to hit
Nightcrawler with one of his fists, which were wrapped in acid-sweat
soaked gloves that were disintegrating quickly. Nightcrawler
teleported behind him, and grabbed him by the back of his jacket, but
singed his hands and was forced to let go.
Tunguska lined Nightcrawler up in his sights and fired, but the beam
instead struck Burning Puddle, knocking him out. "Shto?" he said,
quickly running a system's diagnostic check on his armor. As the
Cyrillic characters for operating error came up, he saw Scarlet Witch
pointing at him. His systems went wild, Scarlet Witch's combination
of magic and probability disruption having a dramatic effect on his
armor. A series of electrical malfunctions, so improbable that odds
makers would have blanched at the task of handicapping it, became a
near certainty, and Tunguska's armor ground to a halt, losing all
Mystique fired a volley of blasts at Shortpack, who continued to use
his diminutive size to his advantage. Mystique paused a moment, and
set the blaster to wide spectrum blast, and drew a bead on him once
again. A hand suddenly blocked her vision, followed quickly by an arm
wrapping itself repeatedly around her head like the wrappings of a
"Thanks, Changeling," Shortpack said. "With their neural disruptors
on, I'm pretty much useless in this fight," he said.
"Never useless, Shortpack," Nightcrawler said. "Just better suited
for coordination than combat, in this one circumstance. Head back to
the Blackbird, you can keep us linked telepathically from there."
Nightcrawler leveled a kick into Mystique's abdomen, sending her
sprawling back, and Changeling released her hold on the leader of the
Brotherhood. "Sketch," Nightcrawler added, "you should probably head
back to the Blackbird as well, it would be safer in there."
Sketch shook her head, scribbling in her sketchbook, creating colored
lines in an attempt to cage Unibrow. "From in there I can't see
enough of the battlefield to be of any use. Plus, they seem to be
leaving the plane alone for now. Are you that anxious to lose yet
another jet?" (2)
Avalanche stepped up next to Stone, who was still lying on the
ground, whimpering. "What the hell is wrong with you? Get up and
Stone looked fearfully into Avalanche's eyes. "My back is broken! If
I get up, I'll fall apart!"
"No, you won't!" Avalanche used his powers to reach out and check the
damage, rejoining the stone molecules of his new teammate's
form. "Get up and start dealing some damage, candy ass!"
Stone looked down at his hand, amazed that the damage had been
undone. He got to his feet and cracked his knuckles again. "Round
Jean Grey slept fitfully in the remains of Magneto's Genoshan
citadel. As a telepath, she was used to her dreams being very rich
and vivid. It was not uncommon for telepaths to share the dreams of
their bedmates, as well, and Jean had shared many with Scott. It
still amazed her how responsible and serious he was, even in his
dreams. But lately, it had been different. Ever since they had taken
up residence as a peace keeping following the Gene War, her dreams
had taken a decidedly dark turn.
She found herself in the almost familiar role of an 19th century
woman, and after the first of these dreams she woke up terrified that
the Hellfire Club was trying to corrupt her as they had once before.
But in those dreams, she was an aristocrat, wealthy. In these dreams,
she was a mother of two living in a rough colony of mutants on the
island, hiding in the shadows, terrified of the humans that lived on
the shores of Genosha.
The dreams had gotten more and more violent, as Jean watched her
dream-children slaughtered before her, their deaths mercifully quick.
Her telepathic powers stayed with her in the dream, but they were
unfocused, wild. She heard the death thoughts of these children, saw
the pleading in their eyes as their life blood seeped out the
channels carved in their necks, watched their limbs twitched as their
minds fired off desperate final signals.
Then the crowd, too numerous for her primitive clumsy powers to stop,
converged on her, lashed her to a post, and set her world on fire.
She felt the searing flames, the burning sensation of her skin
roasting away, and screamed in pain.
And every night, Scott would be by her side, soothing her, holding
her, rocking her gently in the dry night air as she wept, unable to
put a voice to the terrors she was experiencing.
Finally, it had become too much. "Scott," she wept, clinging to his
chest, "I think I'm going crazy."
"Don't talk like that. There has to be some kind of other
"What if the dreams aren't just a product of my mind, Scott? What if
those things really happened? How could anyone be capable
Scott kissed her forehead as she broke down again. "It's okay, love.
Just close your eyes, and-"
Jean looked up at her husband's sudden silence, and looked into his
deep brown eyes. She stared a moment longer at his eyes, exposed to
the world for good since his control over his powers was
reestablished. (3) She saw his pupils dialate to small, hard holes.
She followed his gaze and saw two children, shimmering and ethereal,
standing in the doorway to their bedroom, their sad smiled echoed by
the large gaping slices in their throats.
"Nice of you to give the kid a hand," Blob said to Avalanche as he
picked up a large piece of broken concrete and hurled at at
Changeling. "Nice to see there are some teammates you won't hang out
"Christ, Dukes, are you still moaning about that?" (4) Avalanche
tried to create a containment wall around Nightcrawler, but the
mutant continually teleported away from the spot.
"That's the one thing me and John never really got over, pal. Don't
worry, if I wanted to come after you for it, I would have by now.
John, he held a grudge a little longer."
"What John wanted was the farthest thing from my concern."
"We can talk about that on another mission."
"Maybe," Avalanche said. (5)
Storm drew the moisture from the humid air and created a mini-
typhoon, directing the brunt of the torrential downpour at Burning
Puddle, who had gotten back to his feet. "Nice trick, love, but it
won't do you no good! My acid isn't a fire you can douse with water!"
To demonstrate his point, he picked up a palm frond that had blown
off one of the nearby trees and disintegrated it within seconds.
"If dousing you was my intent, then I would be a fool to continue,"
Storm said, dropping the temperature around them rapidly. Burning
Puddle's eyes squinted as he felt ice crystals instantly begin to
form on his skin. The water soaking his body froze over, covering him
in an icy glaze.
Before he could even begin to burn away the ice, Sketch began
constructing an intricate series of colored lines around him, having
torn through several pages of her sketchbook. She fashioned a rainbow
cage, securing her former teammate before he was able to move again.
Colossus grit his metal teeth, straining against the incredible
strength of the man who was crushing his hand. His other hand was on
the large mutant's wrist, but he was unable to make him release his
grip. He saw Stone coming from behind Unibrow, smiling wickedly at
his new adversary's helplessness. Though he was loathe to fight
dirty, he saw no alternative, and punched Unibrow in the groin. The
large mutant's single eye went wide, And Colossus swung the still
clutching mutant in a wide arc, batting Stone away.
Tunguska stood immobile in his armor. The magnetic field that kept
his anti-matter form from contacting the outside world was still
intact, but the mobility, offensive and defensive functions were
useless without power. He could move slightly within his shell, but
if he keyed in the release sequence, the magnetic field would drop,
and with it half of the neighborhood. Despite the reputation that
being a member of the Hellfire Club had earned him, he was no
murderer. Innocent civilians would be hurt if he were to exit his
armor, and despite the gratitude he owed his new employer, he was
there to ensure the welfare of a child, not endanger it.
"Erg!" he yelled. "Get up!"
Erg lay twitching on the floor, his hands feebly grasping at his
broke my back," he mumbled. "Stupid Russkie
hit me with
"Shut up and blast my armor!" Tunguska said.
Erg looked up at him, grimaced in pain, and pointed a finger at him.
A sharp crackle of energy leapt from his finger, lancing into
Tunguska's armored dermis, sending ripples and traces or energy
across the surface. Tunguska's transistors immediately soaked up the
energy, powering its self-repair circuits, fixing the damage caused
by Scarlet Witch's blast.
Scarlet Witch now focused her attentions on the large, angry
cycloptic Unibrow, who was still clutching onto Colossus' hand.
Despite his prodigious strength, and a healthy punch to the groin,
the Russian was unable to get him to release his hand. Scarlet Witch
concentrated on the burly mutant terrorist, and fired a hex bolt.
Suddenly, Unibrow was attacked by every dormant virus and bacteria
that inhabited his body. His sinuses instantly filled with pressure,
his body temperature rose within seconds, and releasing Colossus'
hand, he promptly doubled over and vomited.
"Spaceeba," Colossus said, holding the appendage up. His fingers bent
at an impossible angle. "Bozshi Moi. I think he broke my hand!"
"Mystique!" Nightcrawler said, teleporting out of the path of
another punch. "Stop this senseless battle! We don't need to be
"Who says there is a need, Nightcrawler?" Mystique answered back. "I
told Xavier not to cross my path again! The fact that you have gives
me just cause to enjoy destroying you."
"Professor Xavier was not responsible for Rogue's death!"
Nightcrawler said, teleporting behind her and grabbing her in a half
nelson. "By now, Mrs. Salmaggi has no doubt alerted the police. You
"I won't let him lure more innocent children to his cause and then
send them out to slaughter! This child will be safe with the
There was a tinkling, hazy sound that caused all combatants to look
to its source somewhere within the house. A loud scream followed, and
the interior of the house was suddenly lit up with an eerie blue
light. The front door opened, and a mysterious figure clad in a
crimson short robe emerged from the house holding the baby that both
sides had come to visit.
"Cease your pointless aggression!" the mystery figure said in a deep
voice that seemed to appear in their frontal lobes without having
ever been spoken. It was like telepathy, but not quite. "I am Xorn,
shepherd to the new generation of mutant children!"
All of the combatants hesitated, wanting to stop this strange new
comer from leaving with the child, but none wanting to hurt the baby
in the process.
"This child will not be harmed by either of your factions! She will
grow up in the safety of my care, to one day inherit this Earth along
with her mutant bretheren!"
"That sounds a lot like Magneto!" Storm said to Nightcrawler, landing
next to him. "Could it be?"
"No way, no how," Wolverine said. "Scent's all wrong."
"I can tell you for sure that is not Magneto," Mystique said.
"Xorn!" Nightcrawler said, "We are the X-Men! We were not here to
harm that child, merely ensure her welfare!"
"She will fare far better than any of you. She will be a queen in the
new world order."
A wail of grief and misery erupted from the front door. "My baby!
Save my baby!" Mrs. Salmaggi said. "That monster killed my husband!
He killed Ken!"
"This `Ken' fought like a warrior. He never hesitated, though he
faced an unbeatable opponent. I will remember him as a man of honor
and courage. But in the end, he failed to see how the child was
better off among those of his kind. He would not stand down, and so
he had to be destroyed."
"We can't let you take that baby," Nightcrawler responded.
"You can not hope to stop me," Xorn said. "But I imagine your deluded
sense of right and wrong will cause you to try anyway."
Nightcrawler teleported above Xorn and reached down to grab the baby,
but his hand was stopped by a thick blue energy shield that
surrounded her. He was blasted back by a beam of energy from Xorn's
eye slots, his uniform burned away and his skin charred. The shield
rose gracefully into the air, hovering dozens of feet above them.
Colossus leapt at him, holding back his good left hand with the
intention of driving it into the armored skull of his opponent. Xorn
twisted slightly to his side, and Colossus was swept past him by a
wave of gravity from Xorn's head. He swung in a wide, lazy arc,
orbiting the mysterious foe, smashing through the walls of the
"Get the child!" Mystique instructed her followers, and Sabretooth
grinned. "We'll finish up later, runt! I'm gonna have me some Chinese
for lunch!" Sabretooth stealthily flanked Xorn, as Storm tried to
push Xorn back with a hurricane force wind to no avail. Droplets of
water sizzled as they struck his helmet, and the winds seemed to
merely bend around him, shotting up into the sky. As Sabretooth
lunged, his adamantium tipped claws protruding from his fingers, Xorn
sensed his approach and turned. Sabretooth was quick enough to
partially strike his target, penetrating Xorn's side and sending deep
spears of pain through his body, but his strike was mostly diverted
by Xorn's impossibly fast reflexes. Xorn incinerated much of
Sabretooth's chest, leaving strands of cooked, ropy muscle hanging
from his adamantium bones.
Avalanche hurled large chunks of pavement at Xorn, but as the stones
approached him, they crumbled under a tremendous burst of gravity
from his head, and they orbited his head in a tight circle, picking
up speed, and flew back at Avalanche. Caught off balance by the
redirection of his own weapons, Avalanche did the first thing that
came to his mind, and shattered the pieces further. He cringed as he
was pelted with tiny sharp stony bullets, his armor not quite
deflecting all the impacts. While the sheet of pebbles was slowly
hacking into Avalanches armor, Xorn gravitationally yanked Stone from
where he stood and then hurled him at Avalanche as well. Not able to
see clearly and still dazed by Xorn's counter attack, Avalanche
continued to pulverize whatever natural materials were being hurled
back at him. Realizing at the last second what was happening,
Avalanche saw Stone begin to shatter, and stopped his powers from
affecting him. Stone, his arms and legs shattered, his chest cracked
and pitted, his face weathered like the Sphinx, slammed into
Avalanche, knocking them both out of the fight.
As Stone screamed in agony, Unus used his force field powers to keep
"Don't worry," Unus said, "even if we are on opposite sides of the
battle, I will not let you die."
Xorn turned towards Mystique, but Blob stepped between them. As Xorn
opened the eye holes in his mask again, Blob felt tremendous gravity
begin to tear at his immense girth. Impossibly, his enormous gut
began to be pulled towards Xorn, though his feet were firmly planted
on the ground. He screamed as the rubbery skin of his stomach
stretched and extended towards the gravitic well that Xorn had
become. When he felt the fiery pain of his flesh actually being torn,
he let his powers die away, and he fell full speed at Xorn. As bloody
pieces of fat and flesh splattered against Xorn, he reversed the
gravity field, expelling Blob from his vicinity, hurling the massive
mutant into the garage of a nearby house.
Xorn opened up his mask, and instantly, everyone was staggered by the
force of gravity that was exerted upon them. Sketch furiously
scribbled lines, creating colored posts and sticks in front of her
teammates, giving them something to try and anchor themselves with.
The effort drove her to her knees, and one by one, the lines started
to shatter as Xorn's powers grew more active.
Mystique surveyed the situation, her brow furrowed, her mouth drawn
into a wicked scowl. "Brotherhood! We are leaving!"
Tunguska picked up Erg, feeling the boy's back shift as he screamed
violently, and carried him back towards the sump in the middle of the
development where their transport was hidden. Avalanche surrounded
Unus and Stone with a stone sphere, and as Storm turned her attention
to Unus, she saw him shake his head.
"Don't worry about me! Stop Xorn! They cannot harm me, but I can't
let this man simply die!" Unus cried out to her.
"Let him go, Storm!" Nightcrawler said, as Avalanche created a
rippling tsunami of stone to carry his team to safety.
Xorn continued to pull the X-Men towards him. Suddenly, he closed his
mask, and the X-Men flew backwards, their struggles to retreat
suddenly rewarded. "It is foolish to resist. I do not wish to fight
you. But I am taking this child."
Nightcrawler opened his mouth to say something, but then shut it as
Shortpack communicated with the team telepathically. "Let him go,"
Shortpack said gravely. "I have seen in his thoughts what he is
capable of. What he has done. He won't harm the child, but he will
destroy us all if we try to stop him."
"We can't just let him take her!" Storm said, the skies booming with
thunder at her rage.
"But alas, you can do nothing to stop me," Xorn said, as he rose into
the air in a bubble similar to the one that surrounded the baby. "We
shall meet again, X-Men."
The energy bubbles merged, and then winked out of existence like soap
bubbles, their occupants gone in an instant. Mrs. Salmaggi screamed
in horror, he anguish drawing the X-Men back to the reason they were
there in the first place.
As the police arrived and Nightcrawler showed them their credentials,
the remaining X-Men began trying to repair what damage they could.
The X-Men, having been authorized to act by both the Genoshan and
U.S. governments, met with an amazingly small amount of resistance
from local law enforcement. But none of that made their failure any
"We'll find your daughter, Mrs. Salmaggi," Scarlet Witch
said. "Whatever it takes, we will make sure that Xorn does not have
her for long."
"Who was that horrible monster?" Mrs. Salmaggi said.
"We don't know, but we will find out," Scarlet Witch replied.
Nightcrawler finished making his statement and gathered the X-Men
together. "Let's get back to the school. There is nothing more we can
"Elf, what about Unus?" Wolverine said.
"I don't think they can hurt him," Nightcrawler said. "I don't think
they will try, either. As much as he is now one of us, I think there
is still honor among thieves. For now, we have to get back to the
school, see if we can find any leads on where Xorn has disappeared
to. Hopefully, Unus will find a way to let us know where they have
The door of the Brotherhood's transport chopper opened quickly as it
landed, and Avalanche created a platform of stone to lay his wounded
teammates on. Blob had lost a considerable amount of blood along with
the flesh Xorn had ripped away, and he looked as if someone had
deflated him. Burning Puddle was suffering from frostbite on his
extremities, and his acid kept eating away the bandages they tried to
put on him en route. Erg's back was broken, most likely in more than
one spot. Unibrow was wracked with coughs, his body fighting off the
massive infections that had hit him after Scarlet Witch put the odds
against him. Even Sabretooth's healing factor was having a hard time
dealing with the damage done by Xorn.
Avalanche himself had multiple contusions and a concussion, but he
still had enough of his wits about him to take care of business. He
knelt over Stone and used his powers to try and heal Stone's
shattered form. The pieces of his body fit together awkwardly, Stone
screamed in pain as Avalanche tried to fuse them. When he got his
stony teammate into as good a form as he could, he nodded, and Stone
reverted to human form. With a sound that reminded Avalanche of raw
chicken being torn from the bone, Stone's skin erupted in scar tissue
and scabs. He would survive, but he would never be the same. He would
be forever mutilated, a disfigured freak. Stone passed out from
agony, and Avalanche slumped against the wall of the hangar, gathered
his strength, and then followed the rest of his teammates to the
Mystique stood and looked Unus in the eye appraisingly when the two
of them were alone. This man had left the X-Men to ensure that Stone
was able to survive the trip. For a man who had turned to the side of
the just, it was a huge risk to take.
Unus nodded at her. "No need to thank me, Mystique."
"Thank you?" Mystique erupted, her eyes flaring yellow. "Thank you? I
should kill you."
Mystique glowered at him. "We have spent years trying to get a person
inside Xavier's Mansion. We finally succeed, we finally have someone
on the inside, we finally have someone in a position to convince
Rogue to return to us
and she dies. But that's not enough, is it?
The next time our teams happen to meet, you practically jump back
into our arms!"
"Don't take that tone with me, Mystique," Unus said, standing. "I
wasn't the one who cracked Stone up like that. Besides, if anything
almost blew my cover, it was Blob and his ham-fisted acting! Can't
that idiot remember even the simple lines we have given him? I knew
it was a mistake to let him have a role in this!"
"The Blob has been a reliable teammate for years! Can the same be
said of you, Unus?"
"You know where my loyalties lie, Raven," Unus said. "If I didn't
believe in our cause, I wouldn't have volunteered to be the mole."
"Well, I'll be sure to tell the Boss that," Mystique said.
"Boss?" Unus said, the confusion in his voice evident.
Mystique smiled an evil grin. From behind him, a voice broke through
the darkness. "Yes, my dear Gunther," the voice said. "Mystique gives
herself far less credit than she deserves, for she is just as
responsible for the reformation of the Brotherhood as I am. But rest
assured, we are all dedicated to the same vision." The figure strode
forward, smiling at Unus. "Are you?"
Unus could not believe it. As he stared at the man who had corrupted
his daughter not long ago, he supposed it should have been obvious.
(6) Mystique's Brotherhood had always been a little more politically
oriented, and the tactics they now employed did not seem her style.
Unus had chalked that up to grief over her daughter's supposed death
in the earliest days of the Gene War. (7) His own daughter was among
them, and it had led Unus to the decision to try and infiltrate the X-
Men. But now, it seemed so painfully obvious. He looked warily at the
true leader of the new Brotherhood. "Yes, I suppose I am
[To Be Continued!]
[This issue is dedicated to Ken-Leon Guerrero, a member of the Alt-
Marvel family who recently passed away. He will always be remembered
1. Billy Briggs accosted Storm in Classic X-Men #39, and then forced
her to choose whom he would kill between Wolverine and Colossus.
Wolverine was chosen, but survived the attack, and Briggs hasn't been
2. The X-Men's transport crashed and burned following an attack by
the Horsemen of Apocalypse in Uncanny X-Men #373, and Nightcrawler
crashed its replacement into the Genesis Class Sentinel Adam in
Uncanny X-Men #377!
3. In X-Factor Vol. II #13.
4. See Uncanny X-Men Annual #17.
5. See The Upcoming Avalanche Limited Series, only at AMU, for a
deeper explanation of this exchange!
6. Carmella Unuscione, a.k.a. Scione, was once an Acolyte, but
abandoned Magneto to stay with The Guard! See The Guard #5 for
7. Rogue, Unus' daughter Scione, and the rest of the X-Men seemingly
died in Uncanny X-Men #373.
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