The Uncanny X-Men #449

    The Uncanny X-Men » The Uncanny X-Men #449 - Guess Who's Back In Town?, Part 2: To Slay A Queen released by Marvel on November 1, 2004.

    Short summary describing this issue.

    Guess Who's Back In Town?, Part 2: To Slay A Queen last edited by KingBaozer on 02/20/23 11:14AM View full history

    Brief Description:
    Having shot Sage in the forehead, Viper proceeds to best Marvel Girl in physical combat, leaving Rachel and Bishop to face a squad of soldiers. Inexplicably, Sage stands up and shows her X.S.E badge to the captain, ordering him to stand down. She then wills the bullet from her forehead and switches off her image inducer, revealing that it is, after all, Wolverine. Bishop can’t believe he didn’t figure it out earlier. The queen, however, is still in danger, but Wolverine knows where she is. Meanwhile, Storm and Nightcrawler intrude on a Purity conference and Ororo has strong words with the organizer, Alice Tremaine, before taking her leave. Arriving at the London Eye, Alistaire Stuart informs the team, who now have their powers back, that the hostage is in the topmost car and two bombs are keeping her there. Viper’s voice tells the X-Men that there are two bombs. One conventional bomb will explode if they do nothing, or a baby nuke will explode if they try to rescue her. Also, it’s not really the Queen of England. It is Ella, one of her housemaids. The X-Men, despite Stuart’s objections, attempt a rescue and Storm creates a Jovian pressure field to crush the car, once Nightcrawler has teleported Ella to safety. Bishop blasts the car high into the sky, where the nuke explodes, harmlessly. Logan tells Alistaire that it was a risk, but Ororo made the right call. Meanwhile, Viper is on a mission to eliminate Courtney Ross. Before she kills her, however, Ross makes her an offer she can’t refuse. Later, Sebastian Shaw meets with them both and, together, they agree to rule the Hellfire Club, leaving the world theirs for the taking.

    Full Synopsis:
    Having shot Sage in the forehead, Viper is attacked by Rachel Grey, who delivers an angry right cross. She warns Viper that, when she takes on one of the X-Men, she takes on them all. Viper grins and tells Rachel that she doesn’t normally hunt below the legal limit; there’s no sport in slaughtering children. Without her powers, care of Viper’s nanites, Rachel tries to outclass her opponent physically. She fails and, after a few missed opportunities, Viper hits Rachel in the chest with a karate chop, which knocks her to the ground. She doesn’t allow her to stand up again.

    As she gloats at Rachel, Bishop tries to grab Viper from behind, but Viper teleports instantly, leaving Bishop to collapse onto Rachel instead. He asks Rachel how she feels, but Rachel is more concerned with Sage, who lies on the stone floor, dead. As they bend down to look at Sage, blinding lights hit them, and they look up to see a squad of soldiers aiming their weapons in their direction. Bishop figures it must be part of the Murderworld simulation; the soldiers are responding to their presence, just like reality. Rachel guesses that these are androids, there to finish what Viper started.

    Bishop readies himself for battle but, inexplicably, he finds Sage’s hand on his arm. She asks him to save it for when it’ll do some good. Sage sits up and then stands in front of the soldiers, brandishing an X.S.E badge. The captain warns her not to move, but she orders him to stand down; they’re the good guys. Rachel knows it’s Sage’s voice, but Bishop remarks that it’s not the way she normally talks or stands. Sage holds her forehead and wills the bullet out of her head and into the palm of her hand.

    She smiles and turns to her teammates. “Yo, Mr. Cop,” she says, “Make like a detective. Is it really so hard to figure out?” With a shimmer, Sage’s image begins to change and she becomes a fully costumed Wolverine. Rachel is surprised, but Bishop slaps his hand to his face in disbelief. Wolverine admits he’s been playing Sage ever since the hotel. He explains that when they tangled with Viper in Madripoor, Sage humiliated her. To Viper, that was unforgivable. So, when he picked up her scent earlier today, he figured she was there for payback and that Sage was her prime target. The best way to blindside her was to use an image inducer to take Sage’s place.

    Rachel slips her glasses back on and asks how he knew this wasn’t the real Murderworld. Bishop cuts in and reminds Rachel that the queen is still at risk. As for the rest, even money says Wolverine’s healing factor neutralized Viper’s inhibitor nanites. Wolverine smirks and tells him he really is a detective. He says they don’t need to find Viper at the moment; he knows where to find the queen. First, though, they need to find Nightcrawler and Storm.

    Meanwhile, Purity is holding its first conference in a large warehouse. They’ve been an online organization prior to this and the host hopes that this will be the first step in transforming Purity into a global political movement. He introduces the event’s organizer, Alice Tremaine. Nightcrawler and Storm watch from the wings. Thanks to Viper, they have no powers and their only exit is filled with people who desire nothing more than to see them dead. Storm tells Kurt they should confront the gathering; trusting that they are all talk and no bite. Plus, she adds, they don’t know they don’t have any powers.

    As Alice Tremaine begins her speech about how mutants are a clear and present danger to mankind, Storm moves gracefully through the crowd, confident and imposing. Kurt follows her and keeps the crowd nervous with his scowling. Ororo reaches the stage and asks if they’re interrupting. Tremaine says this is a private meeting and they’re not welcome there. “Or anywhere, if Purity gets its way,” replies Ororo.

    A guy named Phil hurls a fold-up chair in Storm’s direction, but Kurt uses his prehensile tail to catch it in mid-flight and warns Phil that they came in peace, and they should be allowed to depart in the same way. Phil is overcome by the demonic Nightcrawler’s appearance and faints into the arms of onlookers. Tremaine tells Storm that they may think they’re Gods on Earth, and may act like it, but they’re the human race. They’ll find a way to take their home back. Ororo replies that they themselves are just as human, and she flips her X.S.E badge to show her new credentials.

    She reminds Tremaine that they carry these badges and accept the responsibility that come with them; to preserve the world and its future, for them all. “You’re monsters,” cries Alice Tremaine. Kurt steps between them, sensing Ororo’s increasing frustration. He tells Storm that they’re finished there, and they’re leaving. As they depart, one member of the conference wants to shoot at them, but a wiser head reminds him that they have friends. This time, they have to let them go.

    Outside, Kurt wonders if it might be prudent to run now. Ororo shows Kurt that, if Viper’s waiting, they needn’t be concerned. With a click of her fingers, a lightning strike crashes through the night sky, followed by a burst of heavy rain. Viper’s nanites are wearing off. Ororo informs Kurt that inside, she wanted that fight. As snow begins to fall, she adds that when Alice Tremaine called her a monster, she was ready to go bloody. She wanted to tear her heart out. “But you didn’t,” replies Kurt. “This time,” adds Ororo. They disappear into the darkness to try and find the others.

    (World headquarters of Fraser Bank)
    Meanwhile, in the offices of the bank’s managing director, Courtney Ross, one of her bodyguards is taken out by Viper. Courtney is practicing her speech for when her guest arrives. She wishes to be the Hellfire Club’s new White Queen, and work together for mutual profit. She figures that the assets she brings to the club and, more importantly, the Lords Cardinal, should be self-evident. As she speaks, Viper moves in behind her and places a pistol to the back of Ross’s head. Ross doesn’t even flinch, instead asking Viper if she wishes to hear her offer.

    (The London Eye)
    A large image of Arcade’s face adorns the huge Ferris wheel, which towers over London. The X-Men arrive and Alistaire Stuart informs them that their hostage is in the topmost car. A voice comes from the Arcade face and tells the assembled crowd of X-Men and law enforcement officers that it isn’t the queen who is hostage. That was a lie. It is, in fact, one of her majesty’s housemaids: Ella Thurlough. Personal particulars are available on Viper’s website. The deal is that Ella is up there with a couple of bombs. If the X-Men do nothing, then a conventional explosive detonates at dawn. Ella dies, end of story. If anyone tries to save her, a baby nuke will blow instead.

    Alistaire informs Storm that they’ve confirmed the presence of both devices. Given the risk, they plan to do nothing. Rachel asks if he would do such a thing if it was the real queen up there. He replies that one life against a bomb that could destroy everything within a quarter-mile radius, and poison London for generations; then he has no choice but to order them to stand down.

    Storm is adamant that they will at least try. She leads the team upwards to check out the situation. Once at the car, Rachel reassures Ella that they’ll bring her home safe, but tells the others that Ella’s making peace with God. She already considers herself dead. Bishop notices that the bombs aren’t inside casings, which makes their job a little easier.

    Bishop informs Storm that, if Rachel uses her telekinesis, or Kurt tries to teleport it; boom! For what it’s worth, though, the components are nothing special. “Perfect,” grins Ororo. She tells Rachel that she intends to generate a Jovian pressure field around the car. Her TK has to keep it, and Ella, from being crushed. Kurt wonders if this is the best option, or simply the more exciting one for Ororo, going by what she said back at the warehouse. Ororo asks him to be her conscience some other time; she’s working.

    As Bishop monitors Storm’s pressure changes, Ororo struggles to build up the huge amount of pressure required. Alistaire thinks this is madness, but Wolverine reminds him that this is the world they live in. He should just make sure the airspace is clear overhead.

    Storm concentrates hard and Rachel realizes that she’s creating higher pressures than on the surface of Jupiter. Bishop reckons that they’re as ready as they ever will be. He places his hands together, preparing to focus an energy blast. On his mark, the X-Men go to work. Three, two, one…

    Instantaneously, Kurt teleports inside the cab and grabs Ella, taking her to safety. As Rachel passes out, Storm places the car inside the huge pressure bubble she has created which crushes it to the size of a baseball. Bishop then fires his energy at it, sending it hurtling into the atmosphere. Kurt teleports to catch Rachel as she descends, and also catches Storm who is spent from the exertion. He gets the three women to ground safely, and tells the cops that they need some medics, right away. Wolverine looks to the skies and sees a massive explosion light up the sky. “Guess that nuke was real, after all.”

    The injured parties are taken away by ambulance, as Logan hands out beers to chill everyone out after their ordeal. Even Alistaire gets one, despite his earlier reluctance to allow them to help. Logan tells Alistaire that, knowing Viper, it’s even money that the nuke would have gone off whatever she promised, just for the fun of it. ‘Ro made the right call; the only call. They sit and drink and wonder where Viper is now, and Sage for that matter.

    (World headquarters of Fraser Bank)
    Sebastian Shaw enters Courtney’s office. He didn’t expect this meeting, as he’d heard Viper had been contracted to eliminate her. Viper replies that Courtney made her an offer that she couldn’t refuse. Courtney informs Sebastian that, individually, their reputations are quite formidable. As a collective, ruling the Hellfire Club, the world is for their taking. Not even the X-Men could stop them.

    Sebastian thinks it’s an intriguing proposition and joins in with a champagne toast. Courtney tells him it’s better to have them as allies instead of enemies. Shaw agrees and wonders if there’s anyone else they know who might feel the same. From a rooftop overlooking the bank, Sage targets Sebastian Shaw in the sights of a rifle and smiles.    



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