First story :
This story is a reprint of X-Men (1st series) #116. There is, however, one additional page.
Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler head to the city walls and discover a back way into the city, which Wolverine says is the best way in for them. Kurt asks if they’ve ever wondered why the best way in is, invariably, the most disgusting. Storm notices something above them and hurls Nightcrawler into the shadows, where he can barely be seen. She then leaps on top of Wolverine, who ends up face first in some standing water. She tells them to be still and silent; they have company. Above them, a group of sentries glide over them riding pterosaurs. Once they’ve gone, Storm explains that there are others, scattered at different altitudes. The air patrol is almost constant. Ororo uses her weather powers to generate a slight mist but nothing too heavy, which could alert the sentries to their presence. Wolverine says that they should face facts. This is a combat situation and they can’t let anybody see them. Anyone who does cannot be left able to sound the alarm.
It is dawn in the village of the Fall People and the voice of Sean Cassidy interrupts the peace and quiet. He calls Ka-Zar and the other X-Men to come at once. They head for Storm’s hut and Cyclops asks Nightcrawler to teleport ahead. He arrives to find Sean, clutching a note. He tells Kurt that Storm is gone. The others arrive and Sean explains that, according to the note, she felt the need for some time off by herself. She promises to be back before they leave.
Ka-Zar explains that the Savage Land can be a treacherous place, especially for a woman, but Wolverine replies that she’s no woman; she’s Storm and she will be fine. Ka-Zar says he is lord of this land and knows what he’s talking about but Wolverine says he doesn’t know her. She’s an adult, ready to take responsibility for her actions. He asks why he can’t take her word for it and leave her in peace. “Makes sense,” adds Cyclops, “I only hope none of us live to regret it.”
Not so long ago, Ororo Munroe lived in a Sylvan East African valley and was acclaimed as a goddess. She is, in truth, a mutant whose abilities give her some control over the weather. This truth led her to join the X-Men, the band of unsung, quasi-outlaw heroes. Her new life hasn’t been easy. More and more, she finds herself coming into conflict with her most fundamental beliefs. Thus far, it has been the case of resistible force meeting immovable object. Slowly, however, with glacial inexorability, she feels that relationship begin to change; and is terrified.
She is enjoying herself, expressing her freedom by flying and swimming alone, while collecting her thoughts. She wonders whether she could have saved Garokk if she had tried harder. Now, she’ll never know. She dives into the lake and swims deep into the dark realm. She believes herself consecrated to life and has sworn never to kill. Yet, she thinks, as an X-Man, she faces certain moments when she must…
Her train of thought is broken, as she sees something beneath the water. Out of nowhere, a massive creature with teeth the size of a child approaches fast. Hanging onto it via some kind of harpoon is someone in diving gear. The creature tears past Ororo but she manages to twist to the side and she only receives a glancing blow. Its skin is as rough as stone and she’s bleeding like a pig but, thankfully, nothing is broken.
The monster returns for her and Ororo sees the person hanging on for dear life. It’s a woman and she is trapped by her harpoon line. Though Ororo is still alive, she won’t be for much longer without a breath of air. She tries to free the woman, as the saurian dives deeper. If she releases her hold and breaks for the surface, he will have another chance at her. Even assuming she survives, the woman will not.
The woman sees Ororo and motions to her to save herself. Ororo feels that, if they go, they go together, or not at all. She uses a knife to release the woman from her binds, and the woman is released from the creature’s body. Ororo sees the surface above her, and figures that she must deal with the creature while it is in her element. As soon as it surfaces and Ororo catches her breath, she desperately brings forth a lightning blast to strike down the giant beast. Unfortunately, the bolt is too powerful, and Ororo is caught in its backlash. As the dinosaur falls, so does she. She finds herself deposited on the side of the lake and she begins to dream.
Oblivion doesn’t bring peace, far from it. To her surprise, she finds herself a child again, looking up at her mother. Yet, in that instant, even as Storm’s heart leaps with joy, the beauty of both women and moment is swept away by fire, totally consumed as if they’d never been. In their place, her mother’s skeleton metamorphoses into a skeleton of the dinosaur and she finds herself running. Her warm memory is replaced by the ashes of old, cold grief and the misery of a childhood that never was. With both her parents slain, no home save alleyways and no friends worth the name, she had no one to trust, none to cherish and comfort her. She was forced to live by her wits, always on the edge, a huntress ever conscious of those who hunted her.
With the skeletal creature closing in, her powers desert her, just as her parents did. She cannot fight nor fly or run, yet, as those terrible slavering jaws close in for the kill, a hand reaches out to offer salvation. It picks up Ororo in its fingers and she suddenly awakens.
Ororo wakes to find herself in bed, with the woman she saved sitting beside her. She calms Ororo and tells her that hers hasn’t been the gentlest of sleeps. She has naught to fear though; she is among friends. Ororo asks where she is and the woman replies that she is in The World, though not, she hazards, her own world. She introduces herself as M’rin. She is attractive and pale skinned and wears a decorative headpiece to match her gold and violet outfit. Ororo says she is Storm but her name is Ororo. When M’rin asks what it means, Ororo replies that it means beauty. “An apt choice in both counts. The healers despaired of your recovery, but I knew better,” she says.
Ororo stands and puts on a red robe. M’rin advises her that, in her state, she would not yield to the shadow and, from the moment she beheld her in the lake, she sensed that they were much alike. Ororo asks if it was she who she saved and M’rin replies that it was. Ororo doesn’t understand how she dove into the lake on Earth and wound up here. M’rin tells her that there are places in the firmament where the dimensional walls between worlds grows thin. They form a sort of junction that allows people to pass through. This evidently was one such junction. She asks if it is still open and whether she can go home but, before M’rin answers, Ororo looks up and discovers that M’rin’s ship is flying.
She looks around, and sees guards standing on the deck, with gun turrets facing outwards into the blackness of the sky. Storm immediately take off as M’rin replies that many things fly on this world. She asks what Storm is doing and she says she’d doing what comes naturally. M’rin beams a smile, as she watches Ororo effortlessly glide into the air. It’s like looking at herself, reborn. As Storm flies off the bow of the ship, she is confronted with the face of a massive dog-like animal, which welcomes her to its realm. The surprise shakes Ororo but the beast seems benevolent and asks if it frightens her. “You talk!” exclaims Ororo. It replies by asking if it is so wondrous a feat. It marvels that intelligence can manifest itself in such a small a body as hers. It introduces itself as C’jime and says Ororo has its eternal gratitude for rescuing its mistress, M’rin. Ororo sees that the beast is actually carrying the ship on its back.
M’rin leans over the deck’s ‘saddle’ and informs Ororo that it’s been an age since C’jime crooned so. She thinks she’s made a conquest. Ororo tells them that they honor her more than she deserves but C’jime says that is not possible. C’jime is hers, as it is M’rin’s, forever.
The days that follow are wild beyond Storm’s imagination, for M’rin is warlord of the skies. With C’jime, she seeks her foes with a ferocious tenacity that would shame the deadliest Earthly predator. Storm does her best to help, scouting the enemy positions, then using her winds to send their flyers crashing out of control, or striking them down with lightning. Time and time again, she proves herself as valiant as M’rin’s finest warriors. Afterwards, perhaps to atone for what was done in the heat of battle, she fights as hard to save the lives of the wounded, on both sides, comforting those beyond help.
Later, she stands by M’rin’s side, as the warlord passes judgement on the few prisoners and notes that she deals with them far more mercifully than they would were their positions reversed. After the wine-fed celebrations of the day, Storm thankfully does not always remember the actual details of the battles she has fought.
One night, she is again flying alongside C’jime, but wonders what is happening to her. Is it this world or something within herself? She’s nothing here like she is at home. There is a wildness that frightens her and, yet, which will not be denied. She goes below deck, thinking how easy it is to talk with M’rin. She finds M’rin’s apartment empty but sees a statue sitting on a table. Upon closer inspection, she determines that it is a statue of M’rin, though much younger, with a child. Ororo’s eyes widen, as she realizes it’s M’rin’s child.
She walks out onto deck and finds M’rin looking out over the edge of the ship. She is asking C’jime, rhetorically, whether it is selfish to want Ororo by her side. She has her own life and dreams but what of their dreams. Haven’t they earned this little piece of happiness? Ororo stands behind M’rin and says that she isn’t her child. M’rin turns and says that she isn’t her flesh; that ‘honor’ goes to the woman leading the pirates they fought. She says that offspring do not always follow the path parents set for them. Occasionally, though, should father fortune smile, there comes along someone who’s everything one wishes for in a child; yours in spirit, if not in blood.
She gently brushes Ororo’s cheek and tells her that all she possesses is hers for the asking. Ororo hugs M’rin and replies that she wants to, with all her heart, but she cannot. With tears welling in her eyes, she says that her place is not here. As M’rin has responsibilities which bind her, so does she. If there is a way back home to her world and her friends, then she must take it. M’rin tells her that it’s so easy and so tempting to lie and say that the way is closed.
She reaches into her purse and produces a small cameo. She tells Ororo that C’jime is bound for the junction. All she must do is dive through and she will be back where she came from. The cameo crystal is bonded to her and, with it, they will each know if the other is well or ill. Should Ororo ever wish to return, it will lead her to the junction. Until then, a place will ever be set for Ororo at her table and in her heart. They hug each other once more. “Good fortune daughter,” says M’rin. “Farewell… mother,” replies Storm.