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Victor LaVelle (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Rain Beredo (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer & production), Tom Muller & Jay Bowen (designers), Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer & Frank Martin (cover artists), Joshua Cassara & Dean White; Maria Wolf & Mike Spicer (variant cover artist), Lauren Amaro (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)
Aboard an Orchis station, Dr. B. Barrington is conducting diabolical experiments, using mutant parts. She is trying to bond something to someone – but every experiment fails. She is interrupted by an Orchis agent who informs her that the station has captured someone – and Dr. Barrington is pleasantly surprised to discover that it is Sabretooth. She immediately begins performing surgery to remove something from Sabretooth's body, while an inhibitor collar keeps Sabretooth from attacking her. Meanwhile, the mutant prisoners who have been sent to retrieve Sabretooth – Nekra, Oya, Melter, Madison Jeffries, Third Eye, Nanny, Orphan Maker and Toad – are en route across the open sea to find him. They discuss their time in the Pit and whether they think they can find Sabretooth. Sabretooth meanwhile has had his liver removed, and Dr. Barrington is attempting to bond part of it to someone in a stasis tank. Nekra and the others arrive at a strange atoll, and after Nanny scolds Orphan Maker for his bad attitude, Nekra, Oya, Third Eye and Melter head off to investigate the small island – but they are shocked by what they soon discover – a pit of mutant bodies – this island appears to be the waste station for Dr. Barrington's Orchis station, which arrives over the atol. Nekra and the others rush back towards their ship, which Madison Jeffries transforms into a large piece of armor. Nanny, Orphan Maker and Toad agree to join in with the others and fight whatever danger has arrived. Up above, Dr. Barrington's experiment has finally worked, and Commander Kruger, formerly of the U-Men, has woken to find her body transformed – strong and with powers, she is called The Creation. Dr. Barrington sends The Creation down to the atoll, and Nekra rallies the other mutants, collectively known as the Exiles. They fight The Creation, but she is powerful and easily bests them. However, Dr. Barrington is monitoring the battle and has taken an interest in one of the Exiles, which she instructs The Creation to collect and bring to her. Sabretooth wakes and breaks free from the stasis tank where he is being held. He retrieves his costume and breaks the inhibitor collar, before bursting onto the bridge where he begins to slaughter the Orchis operatives. During the battle below, Third Eye uses his powers to connect with Dr. Barrington's mind – and is shocked by what he discovers. The Creation captures Orphan Maker and flies towards the Orchis station, which Dr. Barrington now knows is compromised, so she leaps off the edge of the station and The Creation catches her. Dr. Barrington then authorizes a self-destruct sequence. On the bridge, Sabretooth skims through some computer files to ascertain what information he can about this branch of Orchis – and is shocked when he discovers who is in control. The station then plummets to the ocean around the atoll, but Sabretooth has found the ship he stole from Bling which Orchis had put into storage. He smirks when he sees the Exiles on the atoll and asks them if they need a ride.
Orchis Station Six, where Dr. B. Barrington stands before a computer console and thinks to herself 'People say you should change jobs every 2 to 3 years. I've changed mine a lot more often than that'. She is looking at some sort of DNA helix, but gets a message on screen that says BOND FAILURE. Barrington recalls how she ran a little breeding business down in Brazil, which unfortunately went nowhere, and then she worked for a private organization, the U-Men, but decided they were fanatics, and fanatics won't follow science if it conflicts with their beliefs, which is why she now works for a corporation, Ortchis – because corporations believe in nothing except profitable results. She examines the results on screen before her and speaks through a communicator, announcing that the resource extraction on 342 is complete, and instructs mutant subject 343 to be brought to her. 'And send the cleaning crew. I've made a bit of a mess' Barrington adds, referring to the deceased subject on a table behind her, various cables and tubes connected to the unfortunate green-skinned creature.
'In all my years, I never would've guessed it was the human liver that would prove the greatest hurdle for me' Dr. Barrington remarks, before a door to her laboratory opens and an Orchis personnel wearing an orange polo shirt and trousers, with a mask over their face enters. 'Where's subject 343?' Barrington asks. The Orchis staff members reveals that they have picked someone up, lost at sea. 'Lost at sea? We're not some rescue operation' Barrington snaps, to which the officer reports that it is a mutant. Barrington leaves her lab with the Orchis officer and asks him if he knows how she feels about being interrupted while she is working. 'Not good, ma'am' the officer responds. Barrington then asks him if he thinks GC is going to approve of these delays. 'In imagine not, ma'am' the officer answers. 'And you still thought it was worth doing so' Barrington points out. They arrive at a room with a sign that says “intake” and the officer tells Dr. Barrington that it is his hope that this will prove worth her time. 'If it isn't, I'm going to practice my trepanning skills on you' Barrington tells the officer. 'Yes, ma'am. Hoping to keep my skull intact, ma'am' the officer replies.
'I'm gonna tear out your throat when I get loose!' Victor Creed a.k.a. Sabretooth roars as he is strapped to a table in the intake room. 'Then the first thing I'll do is tear out those claws' Dr. Barrington remarks as she enters the room and puts her hands on her hips. She knows that Sabretooth is a savage, cunning and bad, bad man. 'Just try it' Creed smirks at Dr. Barrington, as a strange piece of equipment with several blades hovers above Sabretooth. Dr. Barrington informs Sabretooth that it is a pretty simple procedure, and that they have done it plenty. 'The blades might be a bit dull, but you're a big, strong boy, right?' she asks. The device cuts into Sabretooth and makes a horrid buzzing noise. 'No matter how big, how rough, pain is still pain. Pain is a gift' Dr. Barrington remarks. 'Pain tells you when you're in trouble' she adds. Dr. Barrington turns to two officers in the intake room and tells them that she is expecting them to have run full diagnostics before they called for her. 'Show me' she snaps. The blades pull back from Sabretooth, and Dr. Barrington notes that Creed is healing already, even with the power-dampening collar on. She smiles. 'How interesting. Okay, no trepanning today' she declares, causing one of the Orchis staff members to give the other the thumbs-up signal.
Meanwhile, on open water, on a ship made from microplastics controled by Madison Jeffries, are several mutants who have escaped from the Pit, a prison within Krakoa itself, and now sent on a secret mission to find Sabretooth. 'What's the chance you're leading us on a wild goose chase?' Mortimer Toynbee a.k.a Toad asks the man known only as Third Eye, a reformed psychic assassin. Third Eye explains that his connection with Sabretooth means he can sense where Sabretooth is, but that isn't exact. 'I admitted that already' Third Eye adds. 'So you know he took off in this direction, but that's it?' Toad asks, before telling Third Eye that his power sucks. Third Eye reminds Toad that everyone else is willing to take a leap of faith with him. 'I think I proved myself in the Pit' he adds. 'Yeah, but I wasn't down there when you all played prison bingo. To me, you're just some stranger in a nice suit. And I'm tired of following orders. That's how I ended up in the Pit anyway' Toad adds. Third Eye assures Toad that he is not like Magneto, and offers to show him, but Toad warns him to stay out of his mind. 'I don't even like being in there myself' Toad adds as he lumbers away from Third Eye.
Standing inside of the makeshift boat, Idie Okonkwo a.k.a. Oya turns to Nekra Sinclair and asks her if she really believes Third Eye can track Sabretooth all the way out here. She then asks why they are even doing this, when they could go anywhere else and start fresh, far from Krakoa and Sabretooth. 'He got out of the Pit and left us to rot down there. I can't let that go' Nekra replies. 'Revenge, then. That's it?' Oya asks, recalling how back on Krakoa Nekra would talk to her about people like Thomas Paine and Wangari Maathai. 'They weren't driven by vengeance' Oya remarks. 'I'm not as good as them' Nekra utters, hanging her head and looking at her long, clenched finger nails. 'But you could be' Oya smiles, putting a hand on Nekra's shoulder. Nekra points out that her powers come from her rage. But Oya tells her that she knows there is more to her than just anger. 'All true revolutionaries are driven by love' Oya suggests. 'I'm afraid this world isn't as good as your heart is, Oya' Nekra responds.
Back aboard Orchis Station Six, Sabretooth is suspended upside down, blood pooling under him on the floor, while the strange contraption with several blades continues to cut him open. Dr. Barrington stands at a console and remarks that it is funny, her experiments have been facing a single hurdle that she couldn't overcome – the problem of the liver – and then Sabretooth washed up here. 'It's almost enough to make me believe in fate' she adds, while watching on the console as the blades cut open Sabretooth's liver. Dr. Barrington claims that she took the calculated risk of removing the subject's entire liver, and states that she is happy to find the organ is already growing back. 'Again, this is despite the power-dampening collar he is wearing' Dr. Barrington points out. 'In an effort to monitor this subject's remarkable power, I am inserting a component of my own design, the Barrington coil, it will be undetectable and effective'.
Dr. Barrington looks over to another monitor which depicts someone held in a stasis tube and explains that is is grafting Sabretooth's healing factor onto them, her most promising creation, long enough for their primary abilities to manifest. Talking to the person inside the stasis tank, Dr. Barrington reminds them that when they escaped the X-Men she made a promise – that they would have their revenge. 'And now you and I -' Dr. Barrington begins, before the Orchis officer returns and interrupts her:n 'Ma'am he calls out. 'You're pushing your luck' Dr. Barrington snaps, turning to him. The Orchis officer apologizes and informs her that the last body they cleaned up in her lab means that they have reached maximum capacity in the tanks, and they have to flush them now. 'Back to Noble Island, then. Cloak us and make a fast approach' Dr. Barrington instructs the officer. 'Yes, ma'am, right away' the officer responds. Dr. Barrington orders Sabretooth be taken to the infirmary, to which Sabretooth quietly warns Dr. Barrington that as soon as he can stand up, he is coming for her head.
'Land ho!' cries out Orphan Maker, the mysterious mutant known only as Pete, as the escaped mutants approach a small island where several large buildings can be seen, built into the jungle, which looks like surrounds a large pit. 'Stop shouting, Peter!' Eleanor Murch the woman commonly known as Nanny tells her beloved Peter. 'But that's what you're supposed to say, Nanny!' Peter remarks. 'According to whom? Who has told you that's what you're supposed to say?' Nanny asks, waving a finger at Orphan Maker. 'Movies?' Orphan Maker nervously responds. Nanny is a low-level telepath but high-level psychopath, and grabs Orphan Maker by his wrist, demanding to know if someone on this ship has been showing him movies. 'Where was I?' she demands. Orphan Maker informs her that she was sleeping, to which Nanny instructs him to sleep when she sleeps from now on, while Chris Colchiss a.k.a. Melter watches them from nearby. 'Land ho!' Oya suddenly calls out from inside the ship. 'Movies, eh, Peter?' Nanny asks, while Orphan Maker hangs his head.
The ship docks at the island, and Melter, Third Eye, Oya and Nekra step onto the island. Third Eye turns back to the ship and asks Madison if he wants to join them. Madison's voice can be heard, and he points out that as Toad, Nanny and Orphan Maker want to remain on board, so he will let them. He adds that he has created a communicator so Third Eye and the others can stay in touch. Nanny then announces that she wants to make it clear that they are not afraid to join them, they just think it is blatantly stupid to explore a mysterious island in the middle of nowhere. 'Especially when none of you are Final Girls' Nanny adds. But Melter turns back to Orphan Maker and asks him if he really wants to stay back, and tells him that he doesn't have to. 'Johnny Storm is asking for my opinion?' Orphan Maker asks, surprised. 'Please stop calling me that. I am not the Human Torch!' Melter replies. Nanny grabs Orphan Maker by his hand and reminds him that she went into the Pit to take care of him. 'And now you're thinking of leaving me behind?' Nanny asks. Orphan Maker looks at Nanny, then back to Melter and waves to him: 'I'll catch you later, Johnny!' he exclaims.
Nekra leads the way through the dense forest, and asks Third Eye if his intuition is telling him that Creed is on this island. Third Eye tells her that isn't quite right, simply that Creed is nearby, but he didn't know this island would be here at all. He adds that he hates to agree with Nanny, but that he is feeling something bad about this place. Oya asks what this island is, noticing that it doesn't appear to be naturally occurring. 'A perfect circle like that? Definitely designed' Melter remarks. 'But for what purpose?' Nekra asks, when suddenly, the quartet comes to a stop. Nekra pauses, before reminding Oya that she told her, this world is an ugly place. 'Are they mutants? This is worse than anything we saw in the Pit' the wide-eyed Oya utters. 'Worse. Because this is real. No illusions' Melter utters, covering his mouth. 'This island, it's...it's a mass grave!' Third Eye exclaims as they stare at a large dug-out part of the island, where mutilated bodies have been dumped. The group turn away from the bodies and Oya wonders who would do this. 'Someone we don't want to meet' Melter suggests. But Nekra frowns and tells him that he is wrong – she wants to meet whoever did this very much. Suddenly, Third Eye looks like he is in anguish, as he detects something coming in. 'We won't have to wait. Something's coming. Their hate for mutants is so strong I can feel it like a blade at my throat!' he calls out.
A loud rumbling can be heard, and the Orchis Station Six appears over the island, which is exactly the same size as the underside of the Station. The mutants rush back through the jungle, with Nekra asking Madison if he can hear her. 'Yes, Nekra. We've got visitors' Madison responds. 'One that doesn't seem to like mutants' Nekra adds, as Madison urges his companions to get back as quickly as they can.
A short time later, the group arrives back at the dock, and Nekra notes that they are all here, but that she isn't the type to flee – especially after she has seen a mass grave full of mutants. Madison agrees, and suddenly transmutates the ship into a large armor, something more formidable to greet their visitors. Nekra turns to Toad, Nanny and Orphan Maker and angrily asks them if they are going to join her, or if they'll sit this out too. 'It seems we've been left with no choice but to fight' Toad mutters. Nanny points a finger at Nekra and tells her that she does not appreciate her tone, but that she will stand with her. 'Let's get ready to -' Orphan Maker begins, but Nanny interrupts him and tells him to save it for the battlefield.
Back aboard Station Six, Dr. Barrington stands over a stasis tank which opens and a muscular figure emerges. 'Did I survive? Am I alive?' the person asks as they exit the tank. 'You're talking to me, aren't you?' Dr. Barrington asks. 'Am I? I can hardly tell, I still hear myself screaming through the procedure' the figure exclaims. Dr. Barrington hands the figure some clothing and addresses her as Commander Kruger. 'Was that my name? I don't recognize it anymore' Kruger responds. Dr. Barrington tells Kruger to forget that name. 'You are a new creation, my greatest creation, so that's what I will call you. The Creation. First of many, if you can pass the test to come' Dr. Barrington announces. The Creation look over to where two Orchis staff members in orange are standing, and asks Dr. Barrington if they are her test. 'Them? Not at all. These men are beneath you. Isn't that right, gentlemen?' Dr. Barrington remarks. 'Yes, ma'am. We're nobodies' one of the officers replies. 'We don't even get names' the other adds.
Dr. Barrington leads The Creation to the hangar bay and The Creation asks her where she is taking her. 'You true test is down on the island below. Mutants. The natural enemy of every rational human being' Dr. Barrington announces. The Creation can be seen in a black costume, her enhanced muscular form is imposing and powerful. Dr. Barrington reports that she will surveil from the Station, and that if there are any candidates who look promising for recycling, she will ask The Creation to bring them back, while the rest can be left for the landfill. 'I'll do my best' The Creation responds. 'No, dear one. Do your worst' Dr. Barrington declares, as The Creation uses an energy field to drop down from the Station to the island below.
There, Nekra and the others are waiting. Melter and Oya have their energies at the ready, while Nanny's armor releases several weapons into the air as Jeffries calls out 'Incoming hostile!' and Nekra, addressing the group by name now, shouts 'Exiles! Arise!' The Creation lands with a mighty boom on the island, and immediately fires energy from her eyes which slams into the large robot that Madison Jeffries has created. The Creation then tosses Orphan Maker backwards, slamming him into Nekra, then causes Oya and Melter to duck for cover when she redirects missiles Nanny fired at her back towards them. The Creation informs Dr. Barrington that these mutants are not much of a fighting unit, and that she doesn't think this will take long. The Creation asks Dr. Barrington if there are any candidates she would flag for retrieval, Dr. Barrington smiles and announces that one of them is particularly interesting.
Sabretooth wakes, sedatives don't usually work on him. 'Tight fit' he thinks to himself as he looks at the shackles around his wrists. He's in a stasis tube and glances over to some monitors next to him, noting that if Orchis are checking his vitals, that means he isn't dead, yet. He tries to sit up but slams into the stasis tank. His skull may be covered in metal, but his face isn't. 'Good thing I'm stubborn' Sabretooth smiles. He then slams his head so hard into the stasis tank that he draws blood. He thinks what Barrington said is right – pain is a gift. He slams his head again, and more blood sprays over his face. 'It's the song of life. Most people can't endure pain. They give in rather then get through it'. His eyes narrow, before he slams his head once more – this time shattering the stasis tube. Pain is the first language Sabretooth ever learned. He is fluent in it.
Back down below, 'Melter, look out!' Jeffries calls out as he phases out through the large robot armor. 'I'm on it!' Melter replies as he uses his powers to melt the two missiles which zoom his way. But Oya notices that as Madison's armor falls backwards, Third Eye is in danger, as he was perched on the edge of the armor's shoulder, so she catches him in an ice-sled – only to notice that Third Eye is in some sort of trance, and looks like he has gone elsewhere.
Dr. Barrington sees explosions below on the island, and instructs The Creation to not get distracted by the others, and just to go for the one she wants. 'Are we leaving already? I was just getting started on them' The Creation's voice can be heard over the communicator. Dr. Barrington tells The Creation that she will have her chance again, but for now to just grab the man in the iron mask and get back here. Dr. Barrington turns around as one of the Orchis officials approaches her. 'Get back to the bridge and sound a high alet' Dr. Barrington orders him. 'Those mutants will try to board once we've snatched their teammate' Dr. Barrington remarks. 'Yes, ma'am!' the official responds. Suddenly, Third Eye's astral form appears behind Dr. Barrington, reaching out for her, he remembers how he used to kill people like this, go astral, reach inside their minds and scramble their eggs. 'Lucky for you, I don't do that anymore. But you are going to show me what you're up to' Third Eye thinks – but as he enters Dr. Barrington's mind, he is utterly shocked at what he sees.
A naked Sabretooth has emerged from the tank, blood covers most of his body. He has checked all of the other tanks, there are no bodies inside, but the smell of death fills each one. He knows that a lot of people suffered here. He has ascertained that there are no weapons, just medical devices. 'Medical torture is more like it' Creed thinks, noticing the scar on his stomach which hasn't fully healed. He finds this surprising. He grabs his costume and then wonders if he can repurpose some of the equipment here, using a buzzsaw to cut through the power dampening collar around his neck. 'Freedom is expensive...but I'll take my reimbursement out of these fools' hides' Sabretooth decides, roaring as he bursts out of the lab and into the corridor – where he lays waste to several Orchis operatives with ease. 'Flush the tanks and get us out of here!' an Orchis operative on the bridge calls out – but an instant later, 'Knock knock, mother#^($#&!' Sabretooth grins as he breaks into the bridge. The Orchis operatives turn to Sabretooth, and one of them mutters 'This is going to hurt worse than the trepanning would've'. 'I've missed this' Sabretooth grins, blood trickling from his mouth.
'Got the package!' The Creation exclaims as she grabs Orphan Maker and leaps upwards towards Station Six. 'No!' Nanny cries out. The Creation then breathes over Orphan Maker, releasing an airborne narcotic which she uses to neutralize Orphan Maker. 'Peter! You only sleep when I sleep! I told you that! Wake up right now!' Nanny shouts from the island. Dr. Barrington speaks over the communicator and informs The Creation that the station has been compromised, that one of the mutants effected some sort of psychic attack on her, but she doesn't know what he has learned. 'Best to erase the evidence' Dr. Barrington decides. The Creation reports that she is nearly at the station and asks Dr. Barrington to wait for her, but Dr. Barrington tells her not to worry, that she will come to her, and leaps from the edge of the station, straight into The Creation's right arm, while the Creation carries Orphan Maker in her other. Dr. Barrington then issues a self-destruct sequence to the station, authorizing it with the code “Dr. Moreau”.
On the bridge of the station, red lights flash and an alarm sounds, signalling the self-destruct sequence which has been initiated. 'Well, that's just swell' Sabretooth remarks as he stands over the bodies of Orchis officials he has just torn to shreds. He recalls that Orchis picked him up in a boat, and remembers that it had a lot of advanced tech on it, and wonders whether Orchis held onto it. He scrolls through some information on a monitor, and locates the boat in a cargo hold. Creed tells himself that this is his best shot at getting off the station, but knows that he should learn a thing or two before he departs. Creed discovers that there are six Orchis prisons, and learns that Dr. Barrington has a boss, a General Contractor. 'Oh $#%&, not you' he utters, wide-eyed, he isn't sure if he can handle this on his own, and admits that he is going to need help.
Back down on the island, the Exiles look up and see Station Six begin to explode. 'We have to go after Peter!' Nanny calls out. Third Eye agrees, and informs the others that Orchis are planning to activate Orphan Maker's mutant gene. 'And from what I gather -' he begins. 'No one would survive' Nanny declares. Nekra asks if that is so bad, and why it would matter if Orphan Maker killed the people who took him. 'No, dear, you don't understand. No one on the planet will survive' Nanny explains. Suddenly, there is a massive BOOM as the station explodes completely, and debris begins to plummet to the ocean around the island. Nekra notes that some of the debris appears to be organic, and Third Eye explains that it is mutants – or what is left of them – used up and discarded, like the bodies they found on this island. 'That's what they were doing? Experimenting on our people?' Nekra asks. Third Eye tells her that it is what Orchis is still doing – that there is five other stations.
Oya notices something and alerts the others to what she sees, before recognizing it as Bling's boat. Nekra reminds everyone that Sabretooth stole it when he fled the Pit – when he left them all behind. The boat lowers itself towards the island, then Sabretooth appears on it, looking out a hatch, he stares down at the Exiles and asks them 'Who needs a ride?'
Madison Jeffries, Melter, Nanny, Nekra, Orphan Maker, Oya, Third Eye, Toad (all Exiles)
Dr. B. Barrington
Commander Kruger/The Creation
Unidentified Orchis personnel
This story follows Sabretooth (4th series) #5.
Dr. B. Barrington refers to changing jobs frequently, and references her prior appearances, in New Mutants (4th series) #8 and #12 where she created monsters that ate mutants in Nova Roma, but her monsters were destroyed by the New Mutants. She then joined the U-Men and targeted some depowered mutants in Children of the Atom (2nd series) #4-5, in an attempt to harvest their organs, but was defeated by the X-Men.
Sabretooth was captured by Orchis at the end of Sabretooth (4th series) #5.
Toad was sent to the Pit in X-Men: Trial of Magneto #5, and joined up with the other prisoners in Sabretooth (4th series) #5.
This issue includes a memo from Dr. Barrington in which she talks about being expelled from every medical college she attended – not because of grades, but because of her extreme, far-reaching goals which lacked ethical standards. She discusses horrific surgical experiments that were carried out by Dr J. Marion Sims. The memo concludes by asking for mutants and funding and in exchange she will give Orchis freedom from the threat of human extinction.
Commander Kruger was one of the U-Men who was ordered to capture the depowered mutants in Children of the Atom (2nd series) #4-5. She was later experimented on by Dr. B. Barrington.