X-Factor #13: Ghosts!

As Scott takes his leave of Alaska, Rusty, Skids, Arthur and Caliban have come to say goodbye. Scott entrusts the care of X-Factor residents to Hank.

Before heading to the airport, Scott stops by the hospital to see Jean and Warren. He wonders how his life got so complicated. He thought Jean died as the Dark Phoenix, and so he met and married Maddie, Jean’s doppelgänger, and had a son with her. But when Jean was discovered to be alive and formed X-Factor with old friends Warren, Hank and Bobby, Scott ran back to his old love and X-Factor, deserting his wife and son. He knows and wants to set things right with Maddie who has left him, but his hearts wants to be with Jean.

Scott going back in search of Maddie stirs a memory of an angry Candy accusing Jean of being a relationship wrecker and destroyer of men. Candy has thus far refused to see Warren in the hospital. Warren tries to comfort Jean that what happened with Candy was a misunderstanding and not to take it to heart. But Jean blames herself for ruining Scott’s life: First by “dying” and him marrying a lookalike because he loved her too much to let go, and then him running back to her and abandoning his family.

And with Warren’s condition, everyone outrightly expresses concern but no one thinks to care how Jean feels about losing her telepathy since her return. Warren reaches out to her, and says that if anything, his founding of X-Factor ultimately put his own life at risk, and it was nobody’s fault. He confides in Jean that if he should die, he has made sure that X-Factor is well cared for.

Unknown to Jean and Warren, Scott has been outside and overheard their conversation. Feeling unwelcome, he leaves without making his presence known.

After she has cooled down, Jean starts to wonder when Scott will stop by to visit, when she spots him getting into a cab and leaving the hospital. She realised he had been here. Using her telekinetic she stops the cab from leaving while she runs out to meet him with a goodbye kiss.

Jean: “I saw you! I stopped the cab! You didn’t come! You were leaving!"
Scott: “Yeah! You and Angel seemed happy up there! Why spoil it? You know I have to go to Maddie.”
Jean: “I know, Scott! I’m not trying to stop you...I’m saying good-bye!”

After Scott has left, Cameron Hodge delivers bad news to Warren. He has been summoned to federal court on fraud charges. Warren fears financial ruin for X-Factor. He’s now revealed as a mutant and if he testifies in court, X-Factor’s “cover” as a mutant-hunting organization will be “blown”.

Scott returns to his house in Anchorage. His abandonment of his family rehashes painful memories of him being abandoned as a child after his parents died and his brother adopted from the orphanage but not him. And now he’s done the same to his own son. He blasts the lock to get inside, only to find the house completely vacated. Scott fears Maddie ran away from threats like Jean’s sister Sara did.

Scott returns to his hotel. He receives a call from Hank, who is managing all the residents under X-Factor’s care the best he can. Hank “promised” to call on Jean’s behalf regarding Warren’s deteriorating health and a “court order”. But Scott explains he is tied down with Maddie’s suspicious disappearance which he has to get to the bottom of in Anchorage.

An oil rig crew off in the Bering Strait has unearthed Master Mold. He infiltrates an office to steal computer access to gain information he has lost.

Scott visits the realtors to find out who put up his house for sale. The secretary explains that a man named Summers with orderly paperwork sold it the day Scott left for New York. She calls the police when Scott refused to leave and kept asking questions. Scott tells the police his wife and son had gone missing but the police database shows no record of their existence in Anchorage. Scott leaves in despair, with no leads to go on and no one who would help.

He goes to North Star Airways, the cargo transport company his grandparents owned, and where he and Maddie worked at after moving to Anchorage. Only to find the company had been sold, his grandparents on a retirement cruise, the old staff replaces, and still no documents proving Maddie’s existence. Scott is promoted tossed out of the office after assaulting an employee.

Next he tries the phone and electric companies, but even the hospital where his son was born has no record of Maddie’s or Christopher’s existence. That night, he breaks into the hospital’s record office. It finds nothing himself. He begins to doubt their existence himself.

Then he remembers Maddie’s story about being the sole survivor of a plane she was piloting that crashed in Los Angeles. He heads to the library to search the newspaper archives. The news article on Maddie’s plane crash made no mention of any survivors. On further digging, Scott finds the article on the Star Core 1 crash, which Jean sacrificed her life to save him and the crew, and when the Phoenix made her appearance assuming Jean’s identity. The same day that Maddie walked from her plane crash. Given the coincidences and the powers of the Phoenix (who preserved the real Jean), he wonders if the Phoenix has had anything to do with Maddie as well.

Scott rushes back to the house, and thinks he’s going mad when he starts hallucinating about Maddie. He blasts at his visions, and destroys the heater in the process. Behind the heater though, he finds the proof he was desperately seeking: Christopher’s rattle, always tossed behind the heater.

Elsewhere, the police find the dead body of a red haired woman washed ashore. They assume it to be Maddie.

Meanwhile, Scott’s use of his powers in Alaska has triggered the sensors of Master Mold, who is tracking his whereabouts.

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