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Runaways



X-Men 2099 #27

Issue Date: December 1995

Story Title: City of the Dead: part two: Angel of the Morning

Staff: John Moore (writer), Ron Lim (pencils), Harry Candelario (inks), Ken Lopez (letters), Tom Smith (colors), Malibu Mancha (computer colors), Joey Cavalieri (editor), Bobbie Chase (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description:
The Undead have killed Tim, and taken his body back to their base. There, the Graverobber tries to resurrect Tim, planning on using him in his own plans. In the meantime, Tim wanders around in his mind between life and death. He is reunited with his former girlfriend, Reiko, who wants to take him with her. Tim tries to reach her hand, but the Graverobber brings him back to Earth, and tells Tim that he is now one of them! The Undead notice Gunnar Heywood eavesdropping upon them and kills the man. Meanwhile, the X-Men try to find out what happened to Tim after their fight with the Undead. Shakti believes that he is dead, but La Lunática refuses to believe that. She wants to go find Tim, but Shakti says that’s no use. The other X-Men believe her, but Luna goes out alone in her search for Tim. Later, another attack on Halo City comes, and the Undead battle some Stark/Fujikawa battle droids. The X-Men become aware of this and destroy the droids, but the Undead escapes, but threaten Shakti that they can’t keep them away from her father. Shakti wants to know what the Undead want with her father, and will find out sooner than expected, because he suddenly stands behind her! Also, Morphine Somers experiences an attack upon his life, brought by a man named Herod. Krystalin destroys the threat, which was a telepathic brain, and Morphine thanks her by kissing Krystalin on the cheek. He then wants to pay Mr. Herod a visit and tell the man how he feels about the attack.

Full Synopsis:
The Graverobber commands his followers to bring the still-unconscious Tim to him. They do as told, but feel that they shouldn’t have left the other X-Men live. Arcadian seems to recall fighting with Del Ruiz’ X-Men in what passed for his previous life. He informs his teammates that those X-Men were a handful, and he is all for killing these new X-Men as well.

The Graverobber isn’t interested to see the X-Men dead at this point. He needs undamaged bodies to serve his needs. Serpentina tells her lord that she did what he required from her. The Graverobber knows that because he realizes that once he brought Serpentina back to life, she couldn’t do anything else.

Meanwhile, Tim floats around in his own mind. He recalls being shot by someone who looked a lot like Serpentina, but he knows that can’t be true. A voice explains to Tim that, sometimes, people come back alive by free will, but others are taken by force. Tim tries to get a clearer sight and, when he does, he can’t believe it: it’s Reiko, his former girlfriend he thought to be dead!

They hug, and Reiko continues to explain that the barrier between life and dead is only so much gossamer rippling the wind. She says that energy can’t be destroyed, only transformed. Tim still can’t believe it and tells Reiko that he missed her so much after she was gone; if only she knew how much. Reiko knows. Tim pushes her back, refusing to believe that this is reality. He knows that Reiko is dead, and so is Serpentina. He wants to know what’s going on.

Reiko confirms that she is dead, but… so is Tim!

Meanwhile in the executive suite of the Halo City administrative tower, the X-Men lick their wounds following their earlier defeat at the hands of the Undead. Morphine expected better of the X-Men and hates to hear that the Undead could get away. La Lunática doesn’t care what Morphine thinks and wants to go search for Tim.

Sham thinks that Tim might have been able to track the Undead back to their base somehow and must be there now. Shakti hopes that is true. She asks Meanstreak, who is behind the computers, if he was able to pinpoint Tim’s location. Unfortunately, Meanstreak couldn’t, because he could get no track from his X-Men badge or find any trace of his mutant energy signature. Meanstreak suggest that he takes a run over the city to find out if Tim couldn’t still be in it somewhere. Shakti doesn’t want to do that, because she knows that Tim is dead.

Luna doesn’t believe that, because she knows that Tim is strong and is confident that he can survive anything. Shakti wants to believe otherwise, but her senses tell her otherwise.

Shakti explains that her ability to perceive other mutants goes beyond simple recognition. She says that as she interacts with a mutant, the more sensitized she becomes to their individual presence. Shakti still knows that, when Serpentina died, she felt a void where once, there was a vibrant energy. And she now feels that same emptiness again. Luna can’t believe it and breaks some furniture. Morphine tries to calm her down, but Luna instead punches Morphine to the back of the room. Luna wants to go find Tim and, if nobody wants to help her, she’ll go alone. And she does so.

Morphine is surprised to find out that Luna truly loves Tim. Sham believes that whether Tim is dead or not, they best follow Luna’s lead and try to locate the Undead. They already blew up their clinic, and who knows what else destructions they might bring upon the world next. Meanstreak agrees, recalling that this is the type of threat why the city’s protectorate was formed in the first place.

He asks Shakti if the Undead really claimed to be mutants. Shakti confirms that, but also mentions that their adversaries mentioned to be dead. Shakti now sees that, once the Undead were able to spread Tim away from the rest of them, they seemed to be just toying with the rest of the X-Men. Shakti suggests they run the Undead’s general descriptions through Halo City’s mutant database, but doubts that they are registered in the Gate.

Shakti remembers that she found something after her fight with Arcadian. She found in a wall a card, with a “Death” character drawn on it. Meanstreak saw Arcadian and noticed him to be a guy with a Cajun accent, and that Arcadian even seemed to be a zombie as well. This raises some interesting questions to the X-Men, but they first want to know who is would be capable of digging up graves of deceased people.

The Sisters of the Howling Commandments staff many of the city’s medical polyclinics, including the one the Undead firebombed. Sister Margaret survived the attack and takes a look around together with Xi’an. Xi’an feels responsible for the attack, believing that the Undead only chose this attack because of his connection with the X-Men. Maragaret asks Xi’an if he desires revenge. Xi’an wants that, but knows that he has left the life of destruction and mayhem behind him, and wants to leave the fighting to the X-Men.

Margaret says that sometimes it is difficult to reconcile one’s spiritual beliefs with the secular chaos which surrounds them all. Margaret knows that it’s at times like that she remembers what Sister Naoki used to tell her, when the Bogota mission was being fragged by the cartels during the Narcowars. Xi’an wants to know what Naoki told Margaret. Simple, Margaret says. It was: “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!” She takes out a huge blaster and shows it to Xi’an.

Meanwhile, Gunnar Heywood, while crawling through an airshaft, tries to figure out what he has gotten himself into this time. He knows that he is here in Halo City on assignment for the Astronet, which is the last unaffiliated alternative news service on line. Gunnar came her, expecting to record the failure of Halo City’s noble experiment, what he calls one last ditch effort at a real democracy in a world of corporate aristocracy. Instead, Gunnar has been sidetracked by the appearance of the city’s first terrorists.

Gunnar’s sources led him to the maintenance tunnels underneath the undeveloped part of Halo City. Thankfully, Gunnar has a little high-octane pick-me-up to get him through his monotonous air shaft crawl. He drinks something and, when his bottle is empty, he leaves it behind and continues. A final drop falls on the shaft’s floor, making a little sound, which Gunnar can’t hear. Gunnar knows that everyone has got a vice. These days, Gunnar says, his is to devolve metal.

Gunnar suddenly hears voices ahead and turns immediately turns on the recording hardware that’s become a part of him. Every sight and sound and smell Gunnar experiences is transmitted to the Third Eye Information Satellite for later edit and broadcast. That is what Gunnar does for a living. Gunnar looks through the air vent’s roaster and notices Tim, who is being watched over by Arcadian and Serpentina.

Gunnar hears them talking. Serpentina feels sorry for killing Tim, who once was her friend. Arcadian tells Serpentina not to feel bad, telling her that she did Tim a favor, because Arcadian knows that the world of the living is nothing but pain. The Graverobber appears from the shadows and finds it understandable that the Undead’s youngest member is confused. He knows that Serpentina still harbors feelings from her previous life. But the Graverobber tells Serpentina not to worry, because he will resurrect Tim, because he is more of use to him alive than dead.

With the influx of every socially-challenged nomad and wild-eyed outlaw, the Negative Zone, which is the city’s entertainment district, has rapidly become ground zero for the release of local tension. As occurs right now. Nicolai and Ember fight on the street, destroying some fully armed Stark/Fujikawa battle droids. Meanstreak and Shakti arrive on the battle scene, surprised to find out that the droids got passed the gate security. But that’s a concern for another time, because the two X-Men want to stop their enemies before the entire city is destroyed.

Ember is not surprised to see Shakti, but promises her that she can’t protect her father from the Undead. Shakti doesn’t know why the Undead are after her father, but tells them that she ran away from her father ten years ago. Ember thinks that Shakti is lying. Shakti doesn’t care and takes out a neural scatter shotgun, which she fires upon Ember and he reels at the pain. Ember can’t believe this, because the Graverobber promised him that he would feel no physical pain.

Ember picks a surrounded Nicolai up and retreats from the fight, before the X-Men can bring them any more harm than they already have. Meanstreak quickly deals with the battle droids by running real fast around them. Thereby, he overloads the droids and makes them self-explode.

Meanstreak checks out their ashes and finds a chip. Shakti is more interested in finding out why the Undead want her father, because she truly ran away from him after she refused to be a part of his business and went to Hong Kong instead. Meanstreak doesn’t know why the Undead would believe that they would find a red market czar in Halo City. Zail Haddad appears, and corrects Meanstreak that he is a former red market czar now. And Zail is there because he wanted to see his daughter again, since it has been a decade since they last saw each other. Shakti is speechless.

Meanwhile, Krystalin has entered Morphine’s office. She wants to ask him some questions about the Council elect, but she notices him busy with something and asks what the thing is. Morphine explains that the thing he is using is a Kamikaze Brain Blaster, a gift he got from the Anthony Herod, the man who brought the world Captain America back, and who also put a contract out on every member of Doom’s former Black Cabinet.

Morphine explains that the Brain Blaster is a telepathic brain grown around an omnium charge, which is keyed to detonate once the brain identifies the neural pattern of its target. Right now, Morphine is using a few besterian tricks a psi-con taught him to block telepathic inquiry. Morphine keeps thinking of mathematical equations, fifteenth century Catholic masses, advert jingles. Diabolical stuff. Krystalin wants to know if since the brain is locked on Morphine’s mind, if the brain could be a treat to her. Morphine says that it won’t be, because any physical contact with the brain will trigger the bomb.

Krystalin suggests that she doesn’t touch the brain at all. Instead, they crystallizes a protective shield around it. Krystalin grabs it and throws it outside the window! As she does, the brain explodes once outside. Morphine thanks Krystalin and kisses her on the cheek. Krystalin thinks that Morphine better keep a lower profile from now on, but he doesn’t want to. Instead, he is going to tell Mr. Herod how he feels about this attack on his life.

Five hours later, the Graverobber is still trying to resurrect Tim. Gunnar is still watching, and doesn’t want to think that dead people can be brought back alive. It simply raises too many unsettling questions. Meanwhile, inside his mind, Reiko asks Tim to grab her hand and come with her. Tim wants to know what’s going to happen to him: is he going to heaven? Or to hell? Or is he going to be reincarnated. Reiko simply tells Tim to grab her hand. Tim wants to, but a black force holds him back! What’s happening to him?!

Tim desperately tries to reach Reiko’s hand, wanting to stay with her. But he fails to and gets surrounded by lots of fire. The Graverobber tells Tim that he belongs to him now. He will better be grateful, and obedient as well. Tim’s body doesn’t move, only his hand a little. Serpentina thinks that Tim might beyond their reach.

Meanwhile, Ember appears behind Gunnar and attacks him with full flame-force and kills him. Below, Tim awakes and is angry. He knows that he was dead, and that Reiko was waiting for him. But those memories are already fading away from him. Tim wants to know who did this to him. The Undead gather around him and introduce themselves. The Graverobber says that he brought Tim’s life back, and that he belongs to them now. Tim is one of the Undead!

Characters:
Cerebra, Krystalin, La Lunática, Meanstreak, Sham, Skullfire (all X-Men 2099)
Xi’an Chi Xan (former X-Man 2099 refusing to be active)

Arcadian, Catscratch, Ember, Graverobber, Nicolai, Serpentina (the Undead)

Morphine Somers

Sister Margaret (of the Sisters of the Howling Commandments)

Zail Haddad (Cerebra’s father)

Gunnar Heywood

In Skullfire’s mind:
Reiko (his former girlfriend who got killed)

Notes:
Serpentina was killed by Junkpile in X-Men 2099 #3, but got revived by the Undead last issue.

Reiko was mentioned a few times before, and was killed prior X-Men 2099 #1. It saddened Tim so much that he didn’t know what to do with his life anymore, and this eventually brought him to the X-Men.

“Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!” is a song by lyricist Frank Loesser about a chaplain at Pearl Harbor who abandoned his altar during the Japanese attack and joined some anti-aircraft gunners. According to the song and legend, the chaplain placed down his Bible and manned the gun turret, shouting the phrase as both a prayer and request.

Issue Summary written by: Homer Jay


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