Like any other war, it started with hate. The Red Skull hated mutants this time and would see them destroyed. But no one believed he would stop there. His hate was so powerful that it united the world’s heroes and villains against him. Then, in the end, two gypsies weaving a magic spell saved everyone. Dr Doom and the Scarlet Witch put aside their own hate to bring out the good in the Red Skull’s evil. These concepts - good, evil, Raven Darkholme always believed they were meaningless, all that mattered was survival - her survival. Her son, Kurt Wagner, the X-Man known as Nightcrawler, disagreed, for he said that survival in and of itself was not enough - what mattered were the choices one made. To be a force for good...or evil.
Winzeldorf, Germany, snow falls over the town on a dark night, as an elderly priest walks through his church towards the confession booth. ‘In the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit, amen. Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been many months since my last confession. So much has changed’ the voice speaks from the other side of the confession booth, in the speaker’s native German. ‘Go on, my son’ the priest replies. ‘I have sinned…but I cannot confess’ the person in the booth declares as the elderly priest cleans his spectacles. ‘What?’ the priest gasps, shocked. ‘I cannot confess for what God has done to me. These sins, they are not mine. They are your sins, father’ the person in the other booth announces. It is Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner and images flash through his mind, of being chased by an angry mob, as he tells the priest ‘The good people of this town. These…humans…they saw me, a child of God. And their first thought was to rise up and kill me’.
‘How could such h tred grow in the hearts of men? Who would plant such seeds?’ Kurt asks. ‘Who…who are you?’ the priest enquires. ‘I came to hear your confession, father’ Kurt replies. ‘And to offer you penance’ he adds, before teleporting away with a BAMF. The priest tries to shield himself, and screams - but exit’s the confession booth and opens the door to the other side, to find it empty. ‘No…Lord, hear my prayer….’ the priest utters, while, sitting on a gargoyle atop the church, under the glow of the moon, Kurt grins, and remarks ‘This should be fun’.
While, elsewhere, Raven Darkholme - Mystique - thinks to herself that her son chose to see the best in everybody, he chose to protect those who would see him burn, the humans who hate and fear him - he chose God. ‘If he were to choose differently - God help us’ she thinks to herself.
An hour outside of Winzeldorf, SHIELD agents have surrounded a farmhouse One of the agents kicks the door to a barn down, while someone announces that the target has been tracked to this location and agents are proceeding inside. ‘Understood. German military is en route. SHIELD air support is ten minutes out’ a reply comes via communicator. ‘Talk to me, Gordon’ one of the agents asks another. ‘Readings are scattered…the hell is wrong with this thing?’ Gordon declares, holding a scanning instrument around the barn. ‘Hang on…I see -’ the other agent begins, as a light is shone into a corner, where a little girl is cowering. ‘Help me’ she utters. ‘Geez, it’s a little girl, what are you doing out -’ one of the agents asks, stepping toward her. ‘No!’ the agent called Gordon shouts
Suddenly, the little girl transforms - into Mystique! She leaps up and kicks the approaching agent in the face and thinks to herself that even when people know they are looking for a shape-shifter, no one is really ready for it, and that second of hesitation is all it takes. Taking the agent’s gun which he dropped, Mystique rushes to Gordon and the third agent, and thinks that any other time, both of them would be dead - but now, something stops her - now she is the one hesitating. Mystique knows that hesitation is death. Two other agents enter the barn, and she dodges their bullets, but then, ‘Where is she? Where -?’ one of them calls out. ‘HOLD YOUR FIRE!’ a voice booms. ‘Have you lost your damned minds? She’s already gone, where the hell is your back up?’ Nick Fury, Jr asks. ‘Sir, I -’ one of the agents begins. ‘Every time’ Nick Fury Jr mutters, for, in truth, it is actually Mystique in disguise.
‘That’s going to be added to the SHIELD training manual’ Mystique thinks to herself as she escapes. The SHIELD agents have all been taken down, and she crouches beside one of them, ‘I’m sorry’ she utters as she checks the agent’s vitals. The words come out of her mouth before she can stop them. She discerns that one of the agents has broken ribs, and the other a concussion. She knows they should be thanking her for sparing their lives. ‘But I’m apologizing?’ she tells herself. Fire rages through the barn and spreads to the house and car, as Raven thinks to herself that she doesn’t have time for this. ‘I have to stop my son before he kills someone’ she reminds herself.
Mystique gets onto a snow sled, and tells herself that this is all because of Genosha, all because of the Skull. Mystique remembers that after Doom and the Scarlet Witch cast their spell, all she could think about was blood on her hands - every horrible thing she had done in her life, and she actually wanted to cry - which she thinks is insane. The feeling would come and go, like her mind was shifting back and forth, resisting - but she knew that something had gone wrong. She realized that if this was happening to her, if she was feeling this way - then what was happening to Nightcrawler? Raven knows that Kurt was the best of them, and she was actually afraid for him - because she didn’t want him to become like her. As Raven approaches the town ahead, the snow continues to fall, and she tells herself that by the time she got to Berlin, she figured out where Kurt was going. ‘A man who never wished ill on anyone his whole life was about to go find the first people to ever really hurt him’ she declares. ‘Outside of me, of course’ she adds.
In the meantime, the priest runs from the church, as a voice echoes on the wind: ‘Faaaather…’. The elderly man looks scared, and a set of glowing eyes and white teeth can be seen in some shadows: ‘Tell me your sins’ Nightcrawler calls out. ‘What a godless man you are. Filled with hate. With fear!’ Nightcrawler declares. He offers to tell the priest about Hell, informing him that it is real, and that he will be there soon. ‘No…please…’ the old man utters. He rushes across the cobblestones to another building, ‘Somebody please…hear me…’ he pleads. ‘Help me!’ he shouts as he fumbles with some keys, trying to unlock a door - ‘Boo!’ Kurt exclaims as he teleports above the old man, who drops the keys and falls backwards into the snow. ‘For so long I tried to be like you - well, not you specifically - but a godly man. I even wore your collar for a time. But now I see what a fool I was’ Kurt informs the elderly priest.
Kurt frowns and holds a dagger overhead, ‘Forgiveness was never my calling. Judgment was’ Kurt announces, when, suddenly, before he can bring the dagger down, ‘NO!’ Mystique shouts as she lunges at Kurt, knocking him away from the old man, he drops the dagger, then quickly teleports, calling out ‘Mother?’ Mystique falls into the snow, as Kurt tells her that he is so glad she found him. ‘We can do this together’ he grins wickedly as he teleports uyp beside her. ‘Sorry, father…you have to run’ Mystique calls out to the priest. ‘…what are you doing?’ Kurt asks. Mystique faces her son and informs him that she has come to stop him. ‘Kurt?’ Raven gasps as Nightcrawler teleports behind her and wraps an arm around her neck. ‘Stop me? Mother, all this time, you were right!’ Kurt declares. He tells Mystique that she was right to hate the humans, to fight against them. ‘They hounded you just liked they did me, just because we were different. Tonight, I’m going to make you so proud’ Nightcrawler boasts.
‘Kurt, this isn’t you!’ Mystique exclaims as she slips from Kurt’s grasp. She begins him to listen to her as she tells him that something happened. ‘You’re a good person with a good soul’ she adds. Kurt laughs, ‘A good soul? Mother, I thought you were the one who actually suspected it. I don’t have a soul anymore! I traded it away to come back to life!’ Kurt declares. ‘Oh, no. Oh, Kurt, please, no’ Raven utters, terrified. ‘What good did a soul ever do me’ Kurt asks, before glancing to a park: ‘Look at these people! These good souls, these humans. Look at what they did to us!’ Kurt exclaims as people go about their business. ‘Tonight, I make them pay’ Kurt frowns at Mystique, before he teleports away, and Mystique shouts ‘Kurt, wait!’
An instant later, ‘AAAH!’ a young man shouts as Kurt suddenly lands on his back. The man’s girlfriend looks shocked, and Kurt speaks to her in German, telling her that he needs to borrow her friend. ‘Dieter!’ the woman screams as Kurt teleports away with the young man. ‘Don’t worry, beautiful…I’ll be back for you’ Kurt calls out to the woman, before re-materializing high in the air, where he drops the screaming Dieter, and tells him that he will see him in Hell. Suddenly, Dieter stops screaming as Mystique, who has sprouted angel-like wings, swoops down and picks the young man up mid-air. ‘Got you!’ she declares. But Mystique knows that she has only just caught Dieter, and in the process, has lost visual on Kurt. Suddenly, there is a quick succession of BAMFS into the air nearby, as Kurt starts to drop more and more people from a great height. ‘Never mind. There he is’ Mystique utters.
Mystique remembers thinking of all the ways that she would sue her son’s power - it was just like this. Kurt teleports about, kicking innocent civilians, and Mystique reminds herself that this is exactly how Kurt’s father, the demon Azazel used his power. ‘Oh, Kurt, all the harm I’ve done to you…I can’t let you do even more’ Mystique tells herself, as Nightcrawler puts his hands around a woman’s neck. Suddenly, ‘Elf!’ a voice calls out. Kurt turns to see Wolverine standing nearby. ‘Knock it off, already’ Wolverine tells his friend. ‘Logan?’ Kurt utters, confused. ‘How is this poss - Mother’ Kurt realizes as he drops the woman to the ground. ‘That second of hesitation’ Raven thinks to herself as she drops shape shifts back to her default form, the second is enough to stop Kurt from putting a stain on his, well, whatever. She kicks him in the stomach, then her hand connects with his chin.
Raven tells herself that of all the times she has fought her son, this time, it hurts, but the pain this causes her is nothing compared to what Kurt would feel if he were to kill someone. Kurt drops to the ground, then slides his leg against Mystique, tripping her up. Raven knows that she has to put him down, and fast, because if he gets a single second to think, then he is gone. She maneuvers herself behind Kurt and wraps her legs around his head, ‘Kurt…please forgive me…’ Mystique utters, when suddenly, she hears a sound - and gunshots rain towards them, causing the two to leap out of the way. They stand back to back, ready for battle, and Kurt remarks ‘Mother…this was supposed to be family only’ with a grin on his face. ‘No outsiders allowed’ Kurt adds as they look up at a SHIELD chopper hovering above.
Mystique admits that SHIELD is good, but thinks that it is too bad it will only get them killed. ‘Turn back! You’re in danger. You have to get away!’ Mystique shouts, waving up at the chopper, but it’s too late, as Kurt teleports into the chopper. ‘Mystique?’ the pilot asks as Kurt wraps his arms around the pilot’s neck. ‘You aren’t so lucky, my friend. The way she’s behind, she’d probably let you live. Me, on the other hand? You’re a dead -’ Kurt begins, when suddenly, Mystique crashes through the chopper windscreen and pushes Kurt back, telling him that she is not going to let him kill anyone. ‘Do you hear me?’ Mystique declares. ‘Oh God’ the pilot utters over and over. ‘Let go of me!’ Kurt tells Mystique, but she reminds him that he is her son and therefore her responsibility.
‘Since when? My entire life, you were never there… you’re better at disappearing than me!’ Kurt snaps back, as Raven holds him against the wall. Suddenly, Nightcrawler teleports Mystique a few dozen times in rapid succession. One ‘port, Mystique can handle. Two, maybe. Anyone else would have passed out by now, but Raven refuses. Amongst the brimstone smoke, she utters ‘I won’t let go. Never let go. My son…I love you…’. All it takes is that moment - that second of hesitation, and Kurt Wagner narrows his eyes. But for the first time in Mystique’s life, it is not because of deception - but the truth. Kurt releases her and teleports away, as Mystique gasps for breath, the SHIELD pilot repeats ‘Oh God…’ over and over. ‘What are you afraid of -’ Raven starts to ask, and when she turns around she sees the chopper is plummeting to the ground below. ‘Oh’ Raven utters.
Raven grabs the pilot and they leap out of the chopper before it impacts with the ground and explodes. ‘Kurt’s gone’ Raven thinks to herself. ‘But I did it. No one died. No blood on his hands’ she tells herself. Mystique and the pilot land safely in some snow and they watch the chopper burn, while Mystique vows to find Kurt, wherever he is. ‘I’m not giving up. I’m not letting him go’. She tells herself this, because she knows her son would never give up on her.