This is for my friends who recently observed Ramadan and practice their faith without shame or hindrance.
Alias: Sooraya Qadir
Origin: Western Afghanistan
Affiliations: Hellions training squad, New X-Men, Xavier Institute, X-Men-In-Training, Young X-Men, and the Jean Grey School
Created By: Grant Morrison, Frank Quietly, and Ethan Van Sciver
Publisher: Marvel Comics
First Appearance: New X-Men #133 (December 2002)
Biography/Storyline: Born in Afghanistan, Sooraya is an adolescent Sunni Muslim girl. Sooraya’s story truly begins when she is kidnapped by a slave-trading ring after she is separated from her mother. While one of her slavers tries to remove her niqāb, she instinctively lashes out with her powers and flays them all alive with her dust form before passing out. She is subsequently discovered and rescued by Wolverine and Fantomex. Wolverine takes her to the X-Corps base in Mumbai, India. Sooraya hides herself from the X-Men stationed there by turning into sand and spreading herself around the complex. Phoenix senses Sooraya’s presence and telepathically convinces her to reveal herself to everyone present. Sooraya reforms and announces her presence by speaking a single word: Turaab (Arabic for dust/sand).
Ultimately, Dust was enrolled at the Xavier Institute in Westchester County, New York. Quiet and nervous, she experienced difficulty adapting to her new surroundings - particularly after being placed into Xorn’s Special Class, which at the time was becoming increasingly radicalized as Xorn prepared to usurp Xavier. Xorn attempted to indoctrinate Sooraya, but she resisted because he demanded that she renounce her faith and embrace his vision of a world dominated by mutants, which she refused to do. She attempted to alert Xavier about Xorn’s plans, but Xorn convinced the Professor that she was out of control, and thus Xavier used his powers to calm her enough so that she could be gathered into a jar. Even after being contained, the Professor could sense her panic, and shortly after, Xorn crippled him and began his destructive campaign to reverse the Earth’s magnetic poles.
Sometime later, when the school was rebuilt and under management by Cyclops and Emma Frost, Sooraya was given the loud and rebellious Surge as a roommate. This turned out to be a disaster, as the two often came to disagreements over the traditional garb which Surge believed to be an affront to women’s rights. She was also made a member of the Hellions Training Squad, which seemed an odd choice given leader Julian Keller’s penchant for causing trouble. Her discomfort with questioning Keller’s authority, even as he prepared the Hellions for an attack against the FBI, further soured relations between her and Surge. During the first field training, Dust used her powers to mask the maze from the New Mutants’ view. When the Hellions and Wind Dancer (now Renascence) went to break Kevin Ford out of jail, Dust went because she was obliged to do so as a member of the team and because Julian had said so. But when they got there, the New Mutants managed to talk Wind Dancer around, so the Hellions (without Icarus) and the New Mutants (with Icarus) would battle. Dust and Surge engaged in battled, but Prodigy instructed Surge to switch places with Wind Dancer, and Wind Dancer used her powers to send Dust out of the battle. This had the unfortunate effect that Sooraya ended up naked when she materialized back at the Academy. Icarus asked Surge to take her another set of clothes, as only a girl could see her without her clothes. Seeing how badly she had humiliated her roommate, Surge resolved to at least tolerate her till the end of the term. Despite her discomfort around others, Sooraya forged a friendship with Icarus. He asked her to the school dance, but she declined since the idea of the dance made her uncomfortable but he was not insulted. After winning the field day competition with the rest of the Hellions and the academic year ended, Hellion (Julian Keller) had invited the Hellion Squad to his home in Los Angeles for summer vacation. While there, the Hellion Squad meets the Kingmaker, a powerful criminal with the power to make “dreams come true” through favors and connections, but for whom favors are expected in return. When each of the Hellions agree to the deal, Sooraya’s wish was to find her mother. The Kingmaker finds Sooraya’s mother and arranges for a trip back to Afghanistan so that Sooraya can meet up with her. She is soon flown back to L.A. to deliver on her part of the deal; stealing an advanced bio-weapon, which they learn later will be sold to Doctor Octopus in New York. The Hellion Squad breaks their deal with the Kingmaker and end up destroying the weapon. As a result, Sooraya loses her connection to her mother as she learns she has been moved again with no hope of tracking her, leaving her devastated.
After M-Day, which depowered over 90% of the mutant population, the population of Xavier’s student body was reduced to only 27 students. The squad system was dissolved, and the remaining students were merged into one large group. Sooraya was paired as roommates with X-23. During this arc, Reverend William Stryker targeted the Xavier Institute, because he believed that God had sent the Decimation and it was his job to kill the rest of the mutants. Icarus had his wings amputated by Stryker, because he believed that if he gave up his wings, his friends would be saved. Icarus went to see Stryker again, but before he did, he gave a note to Dust, asking her to come to this address. X-23 said that it was a trap, but Dust didn’t believe her. When Icarus visited the church of William Stryker he was shown why Dust was his next target. Nimrod had a vision of an altered future in his memory banks which showed Dust killing all the Purifiers by turning into a sand storm and ripping the flesh from their bones. After entering the church of Reverend Stryker, she was shown being shot down, though it was revealed to be X-23 wearing one of her niqabs. Dust was knocked out and left on her and X-23’s bathroom floor by X-23. X-23 took her niqab and abaya and left her just in her underwear. Dust went outside to find Mercury and Rockslide battling Purifiers, and after Rockslide realised that Dust wasn’t wearing her abaya and niqab and that he couldn’t look at her, she said “Turaab” and turned to Dust, and ripped the skin off the Purifiers. Afterwards, Dust, together with X-23, Cyclops and the Stepford Cuckoos, in Cerebra went searching for Jay. Dust was very distraught, blaming herself for his disappearance (although he was actually killed). However, X-23 told her she would have been killed if she had followed him. When the New X-Men eavesdropped on Cyclops and Ms. Marvel, it was revealed that Icarus is dead, and Dust began to cry. Later, they tried to put the clues together to figure out who the new enemy was, and David figured out its Nimrod.
The New X-Men headed to Texas to save Forge. After the Blackbird they were in was crashed by Nimrod, the team entered Eagle Plaza. After a brief battle with several robots, an explosion was set off. Luckily, the group and Forge were saved by Hellion, but he got a concussion, and Dust cradled him in her arms. When Nimrod got closer, she battled him for a while along various others of the team, but was then dispatched by a beam he fired. Sooraya was later seen crying with Icarus’s mother, Lucinda Guthrie, when she came to the Institute, and apologized for not being able to do more to save her son. His mother told her that Icarus thought she was beautiful (a significant statement, since he had never seen her without her veil on).
Dust is first seen in the next story arc of limbo/Quest for magik praying in her room, but was then pulled into Limbo with the other students. In Limbo, she was held captive together with Mercury and Prodigy. After realizing that she was in hell and out of Allah’s sight, she and the other two were interrogated by Belasco, who asked about Illyana Rasputin. Belasco was able to sense that the three of them had been near her, but this was only true in the House of M reality, which none of them remembered. Belasco ripped out Prodigy’s heart, and as Mercury and Dust watched in shock, they were freed from their restraints by X-23 who told them to fight. She was quickly disposed of by Belasco, but Mercury and Dust fought back hard, and luckily for them, their mutant forms were resistant to magic. The two managed to hold Belasco off until he was stopped. Dust proclaimed that if she was to die, she would make Allah proud.
Dust’s shoulder was dislocated during the battle with Belasco, but it was cured by Beast in the medical bay of the Institute. She was in quite a bit of pain, but didn’t want to cause any fuss by asking someone to help. There, Pixie asked why she still wore her burqa even after everyone had seen her without it. Nezhno then answered her question, correcting Pixie by telling her that it wasn’t a burqa but rather an abaya with a niqab veil, and asked Pixie to respect Dust by learning more about her. When Surge went around asking about what happened to David in Limbo, Dust told her that he broke a rib, but Elixir healed him. We then see Matthew Risman leading Predator X to Dust, because she severely disfigured his face when she attacked the Purifiers at the mansion.
Dust fought the Hulk with the other New X-Men in World War Hulk. She was quickly taken out by the Hulk when he lifted a pipe from underground, spraying her with water.
During the Messiah Complex, everyone regrouped after their failed attack under the leadership of Matthew Risman, the Purifiers were keeping track of the escaped Predator X. Sooraya neglects to join her teammates in raiding the Purifier’s most important base in D.C. merely because she thinks that her squad leader, Surge, is out for vengeance and that she is only ambushing the Purifiers for the baby as an afterthought. She stays at the mansion alongside Elixir and David and the remainder of the student body while the other New X-Men and the X-Man, Armor, leave. Later, the mansion’s Megatron Sentinel guard are taken over completely by nanosentinel technology, causing them to battle the X-Men. As Hepzibah, Warpath, Bishop, and the student Nezhno fight the Sentinels, Dust appears and Cyclops orders her to enter the Sentinels to find out what is going on and stop it if she can. She does, but she runs into the pilots who have been turned into updated versions of Prime Sentinels and they repel her. Dust frantically runs to Cyclops as infantry arrives in the form of Iceman and X-23. They manage to severely damage the human-Sentinel hybrids. When the New X-Men are home alone with Beast, she, Mercury, and Rockslide go to put flowers on the graves of their deceased friends only to find Predator X eating the corpses. The three New X-Men battle with Predator X until Surge arrives, taking the beast on by herself, as the other three warn the others. After an intense battle across the remains of the school, Pixie teleports Predator X, herself, Dust, and the rest to the X-Men’s final battle against the Marauders on Muir Island. On Muir Island, Dust is crucial in the success of the battle against the Marauders. She helps take out the massively powerful and dangerous Exodus, by entering his body in her sand form and lacerating his lungs while he was distracted by Emma Frost’s telepathy.
After the X-Men “disbanded”, Dust returned to Afghanistan, and is seen in the first issue of the new series, protecting a small village from invading members of the Taliban. She was then recruited for a new team by Cyclops. She joined the newly-formed team of Young X-Men along with Rockslide, Wolf Cub, Blindfold, as well as new students Ink, Cipher and Graymalkin. However, the team disbanded after it was discovered that the person who formed the team, Cyclops, was really Donald Pierce in disguise. It was during this time the team was ordered to capture the original New Mutants by the false Cyclops. During their battle with Magma, Dust was turned to glass by Magma using extreme heat, and subsequently shattered. However, Magma was able to heat up all the broken glass turning it into sand again and Dust returned to her human form unconscious. However, the change is also causing her cells to die. Dust tried to help the captured Donald Pierce to escape in exchange for him to find a cure for her condition, but she subsequently changed her mind when the two were discovered and Pierce asked Dust to fight against her teammates. She could not betray the X-Men attacked Pierce. It was her last act as she died in front of her friends. Ink tried to use his Caduceus tattoo to heal Dust but she was already dead. Later, Ink used his Phoenix tattoo and was able to apparently resurrect Dust. However, the effort cause Ink and Leon Nunez, the tattoo artist to fall into a coma. The healing of Dust has created an alternate future called Earth-90411.
Dust is among the several X-Men helping to fight off Skrulls during their invasion of San Francisco. She teams with Pixie and used her sandform alongside Pixie’s teleportation to strategically provide cloud cover and evacuation for various other X-Men engaging in battle. She also pairs with Mercury, Pixie and the members of X-Force in a decoy attempt at capturing a Skrull.
Sooraya was with Emma Frost and Mercury during the Necrosha event. She was shown fighting Wither until Onyxx came and tried to help her. Sadly, he was killed by Wither. All that was left of him was his helmet, on which Sooraya mourned deeply.
In the Second Coming story arc, Dust is seen as part of the second team defending the Golden Gate Bridge from Nimrod Sentinels from the future. She along with Magma, Rockslide, Namor and Colossus attempt to hold the Nimrod position and prevent them from reaching Utopia.
Soon after Second coming, the X-Men had to deal with the threat of a vampire invasion. When the invasion escalated and the vampires descended on Utopia, Cyclops was ready. He had a majority of the mutants in lock down, while he kept a team above ground call “Tough Skin”, which consisted of all mutants who couldn’t be bitten, such as Dust, Magma, Bling!, Mercury, Rockslide, Armor, Husk and Emma Frost. Dust was also among the New X-Men members that protected Cyclops during the attack on Utopia by the Evolutionaries. Dust was also among the students that saved Irma from the attack of Masque, Toad, Dragoness, Bliss and Litterbug.
In the Schism events along with Re-genesis, after the attack by Kid Omega on the World Leaders at the arms conference, Dust was seen with many of the X-Men and younger X-Men attending the opening of the Mutant Museum in San Francisco. When the new Hellfire Club attacked, she along with everyone else was knocked unconscious. She was then seen again with the Five Lights and New X-Men discussing the attack and the approaching Sentinel. When the Sentinel reached Utopia, Dust joined in the fight and helped defeat Sentinel with the other students, Cyclops and Wolverine. Following the fallout and schism within the X-Men, Dust decided to remain on Utopia as a recruit and trained with the X-Men Street Team.
Powers/Skills: able to transform into and control a malleable sand form, and hand to hand combat.