|Official name:||Strain 88|
|First appearance:||X-Men Vol 2 196|
|Created by:||Mike Carey |
Strain 88 was a viral agent that was developed by Dr. Richard Palance following his creation of Strain 87 that made him into the supervillain Pandemic. The basis of the virus was after his encounter with the Mutant Rogue who had the ability to absorb memories and powers from people she touched through skin contact. Seeking to find a solution for her, Professor Charles Xavier met with Dr. Palance who served as their physician. However, Richard Palance became fixated on Rogue's ability as a means of attaining immortality by living through other peoples experiences as well as lives. Through such subjective experiences, he intended to become like Rogue and everyone else in the world by taking their memories. Thus, he began experimenting with various viral strains mixed with the X-Gene of Rogue that culminated in Strain 87 but this virus only allowed him to steal Mutant abilities. As a result, he took the name Pandemic and absorbed numerous powers whilst he plotted a means of achieving his goal of gaining his own form of immortality.
In 2007, he began noticing that the world was accelerating towards its own end and thus intended to continue his experiments in living forever. Thus, he made his plan to attack the X-Men and completing his previous research by capturing Rogue once more, aided by Humans who he promised immortality and his own Plague Dogs. After he captured her, he managed to perfect the Strain 88 Virus that allowed the user to absorb the entirety of a person's essence with a single touch though at the cost of erasing the original in the process which killed them. He intended to use this virus to complete his goals but required a test subject that met the criteria for Strain 88 before taking it himself. Thus, he injected the virus into Rogue and infected her with it which made her capable of killing people with a single touch. Pandemic was defeated by the X-Men shortly afterwards and an angry Rogue was ready to kill him by using her Strain 88 enhanced powers but she collapsed. This was because her body was ravaged by the virus which gave her a fever and made her completely unable to touch anyone without killing them. Her immune system began to collapse as a result and Cable took her to the medical facilities on his island nation of Providence where it was discovered that the phage had penetrated through her meningeal wall with her central nervous system being saturated with the organism. Phages were used to attack the infection but were unable to stop the virus which forced Rogue's own immune system to fight Strain 88.
Afterwards, Rogue was left in a coma when she absorbed the minds within the Hecatomb superweapon through the use of her enhanced abilities. When Hope Summers was discovered, Mystique intended to use the child abilities to cure her adopted daughter and pressed the baby's face towards Rogue's. Gambit arrived and believed that Mystique had killed the child as a result but miraculously survived this contact. In fact, Hope had not only cured Rogue of the Strain 88 virus but also of the Hecatomb that populated her own consciousness which restored her original powerset.
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