First story :
This story is a reprint of X-Men (1st series) #117. There is, however, one additional page.
Wolverine is aboard the Jinguchi Maru. The storm has faded and he is relaxing whilst looking once again at the photograph he keeps of Jean Grey. He looks at the picture every day, as though the act of visualizing her will somehow bring her back to life. His teammates relax by playing tag on deck, as the ship’s crew look on. The thought of her being dead tears at Wolverine’s guts, a pain even his healing power can’t make go away. Yet, Cyclops, who is supposed to love her, acts like he doesn’t feel a thing. All that matters to him is putting the X-Men through their paces.
He drills them, hones them more and more into a team. For Cyclops the leader, Wolverine can’t deny a grudging respect. But, for Scott Summers the man, that’s another thing. On deck, Colossus grabs Nightcrawler around the chest, but he teleports just above Wolverine’s seated position. “Think fast, mein…” Wolverine immediately grabs him by the throat and pops the claws from the knuckles of his other hand. Kurt becomes nervous and asks him to relax. It’s only a training exercise and they’re only playing. Wolverine apologizes and replies that he was thinking of someone else. He retracts his claws and stands. Kurt says that, whoever that poor soul is, if this is any indication of the way he feels, heaven help him. Wolverine is looking directly at Scott. Ororo informs Scott that she has just informed the captain that she senses a storm coming, a bad one. Cyclops, still looking back at Wolverine, replies that, in some ways, it’s already here.
Nightcrawler leans against a tree on a seemingly deserted island. Paradise greets him as he wakes but, right now, he couldn’t care less. He thinks about last night and how he came to be here in the first place.
He was aboard the Jinguchi Maru and Storm gave him a ticking of after he made the same mistake Wolverine had earlier. He mistook Ororo’s evident lack of action to mean she wasn’t doing anything to help them out, weather-wise, whereas in fact she was trying everything in her power to make their journey as comfortable as possible. He returned to his quarters, where he saw a woman fall overboard through his porthole. She screamed as she fell and Nightcrawler instinctively teleported outside to grab her. He intended to teleport straight back but a wave hit them both hard and, by the time he recovered, he had lost sight of the ship in the storm.
He stands and recalls how they were together when they hit the reef, but he must have been knocked unconscious and washed ashore. He wonders if she is okay and calls her name. “Miss Shimura, Miss Shimura…Eiko!” His call brings no response and he hopes she is safe.
Nightcrawler wanders around the beach, wearing a makeshift hat made from leaves. The island is not a coral atoll, but a true island with a fair sized volcano inland. It would serve him right, he thinks, to discover King Kong wasn’t really make-believe. He discovers some oilskins on the beach and there is no sign of blood on them. Evidently, Miss Shimura reached the shore in one piece. The question is, where did she go from here? He continues walking and notices a flash of light from the hills, sunshine reflecting off a bright surface. He figures that as it’s a fairly constant glow, Miss Shimura may have also seen it and headed in that direction. She may have thought it was Kurt signalling, or a means to signal him herself.
He moves through the thick jungle by walking and swinging, Tarzan-like, from branch to branch. Soon, he comes across an old Boeing flying boat, which has crash-landed in the thick jungle. It’s old and he knows that the plane’s heyday was before World War II and so it’s been here a while. It has Pan American livery and is named ‘The Madripoor Clipper.’ He calls Eiko’s name once again, but there is still no reply. He enters the fuselage and comes across an old chest, which is sealed airtight. Inside is a white safari outfit, complete with flare gun and boots, which, after a minor adjustment, fit even his non-standard feet. The final touch is a white hat, which Kurt reckons makes him look not too shabby.
He moves slightly as he looks in the mirror and is shocked by the appearance of a skull behind him. Its owner appears to have come to a grizzly end as a spear sticks out through its mouth. He wonders if the clothes belonged to them. He then begins to think that maybe he and Eiko are not alone on the island and, worse, the natives may not be too hospitable. As he sits in front of the cockpit window, he is confronted by a strange-looking creature, carrying a sword in its right hand. It growls something at him and he stands, instinctively reaching for his newly acquired flare gun. He figures a shot should frighten it but this fails to have any impact on the creature.
It means business and, as it swings at Nightcrawler, he teleports behind it and delivers a deft kick in the small of its back, knocking it straight into a nearby tree. The beast is knocked unconscious and Kurt wonders what manner of creature it is. He also wonders who he is, with his looks, to cast aspersions. The creature is still breathing, as Kurt kneels beside it. He notices that it is sporting Miss Shimura’s life preserver and also a kind of emblazoned body armor around its waist. The engraving is of a twin-peaked mountain.
Kurt grabs a telescope, which he also found in the chest, and he looks far into the distance to see, surely enough, a mountain looking just like the one on the armor. He lays odds that this is where Miss Shimura has been taken and where he must go to rescue her. He teleports and soon arrives on the mountain. He peers into the caldera of the volcano and sees that, deep below him, molten lava bubbles away. He also notices that a temple has been built into the rock with an entrance dug into the mountain itself. On a ledge sticking out from the entrance, he sees a stone slab. He wonders how the beastmen survive any eruptions, though there are no signs of any buildings and figures that they must live underground.
He hears music playing and then a priest walks out onto the ledge, accompanied by two of the creatures and a partially clothed Miss Shimura. He is shocked, as they appear to be about to sacrifice her. She’s putting up a good struggle, but is no match for the beasts. The priest is more human in appearance than the creatures but, unseen by Kurt, his eyes glow and Eiko ceases her struggle. She placidly lies down on the slab, as the priest removes a dagger from his belt. The priest raises the dagger above his head, about to strike. Nightcrawler knows he must act and has no time to worry about the odds. Kurt teleports down to the slab, appearing just above Eiko’s recumbent body. The priest reels in surprise at Nightcrawler’s appearance. Kurt quickly punches him in the face. “Leave her be, you fiend!” he cries.
The beastmen don’t appear to take kindly to him attacking their priest and they each swing at him, using sturdy-looking clubs. As they are about to connect, he teleports once again and the two creatures end up taking each other out for the count. He then tries to rouse Eiko from her slumber and she makes the slightest sound. Kurt notices that she doesn’t appear to be physically hurt, but she’s very groggy. Before he can do anything else, the priest recovers and his glowing eyes burn into Nightcrawler’s consciousness. He finds himself unable to resist and slowly lies down beside Eiko on the slab. The drums around them begin to build to a fever pitch. Eerie chanting fills the ancient crater, as the priest continues his ceremony, as though nothing untoward had happened.
His voice is resonant, compelling, one used to the gift and exercise of power. He raises the dagger again, summoning the gods in such a casual manner that shows he is used to receiving a reply. The sacrifices perish so that he can continue to rule. Today, however, the gods are doomed to disappointment. He brings the dagger down hard but finds the slab is empty and the dagger breaks into several pieces. As the priest wonders how the gods will repay him for such an insult, high above him, near the rim of the crater, Nightcrawler clings to an overhang for dear life. He has Eiko wrapped in his tail and assures her that everything’s going to be all right.
He manages to clamber onto the ledge above him and Eiko places her arms tight around his shoulders, asking what happened. She feels so ill. Kurt apologizes. That’s just a by-product of his teleporting and will soon pass. Eiko says that she thought they were dead. He replies that they very nearly were. He should never have turned his back on the priest. He feels that, if not for his training as an X-Man, he would never have been able to resist the priest’s mental control. He was so engrossed in his swashbuckling role that he forgot that the role doesn’t always guarantee victory. Mistakes have very real consequences.
He pulls out the gun and shoots it high into the air. The flare lights up the sky and a lightning bolt shoots from the sky, an empty sky, which means that Storm has seen the flare and a rescue will be on its way. Kurt lies back and tells Eiko that now it’s only a matter of time before they’re picked up. She smiles and says she owes him her life. How can she ever possibly repay him? “Oh, I’m sure we’ll think of something,” he replies with a smirk. It’s a hard life being a hero, he thinks, but is does have its occasional compensations.