If a burning plane crashes in a remote expanse of the Swiss Alps…and no one is around to hear its violent impact upon the jagged mountainside…will its passengers be any less dead?
Not if the passengers are super human, such as the Russian mutant Piotr Rasputin a.k.a. Colossus, who manages to grab controls, declaring that he will elevate this plane as it nosedives towards the snowy mountains below. Colossus is a member of the “international heroes”, Excalibur, whose superhuman strength and organic steel hide protect him from the devastating explosion triggered by the plane’s suicidal pilot. Now though, those qualities Colossus’ possesses may be all that stands between his survival and the life of his elemental teammate, the founding member of Excalibur, Meggan.
Meggan enters the cockpit and asks Colossus what is going on, to which Piotr replies that, thanks to their pilot, they are on a collision course with the nearest mountain, adding that he is trying to land them safely. Meggan exclaims that she can do that, explaining that she can create a wind to slow their descent and cushion their fall. Hurriedly, Colossus tells Meggan that if she is going to use her elemental powers, then he suggests she does it post haste, as time and gravity are not on their side!
‘Righty-o!’ Meggan exclaims before she begins to communicate with the molecules of the air in a language unspoken by human lips, and rouses a gale force blast beneath the ship. However - before Meggan can tame the whipping wind, she screams in pain. Colossus turns to her and asks what is wrong. Meggan manages to inform Piotr that something is disrupting her rapport with nature, so she cannot keep them aloft. ‘Oh, Piotr! It hurts! Make it stop!’ she exclaims. Colossus wonders what he can do, as they only have moments left. He feels that he must help Meggan, despite knowing that if he does, then they will most certainly crash - which is exactly what happens a moment later.
Meanwhile, in the bustling city of Hamburg, Germany, at the ultra-chic Ratskeller Club, the beat is hot - and the dancers hotter! The music is loud, a Chemical Brothers song is currently playing: Who is this doin’ this synthetic kinda alpha beta psychedelic funkin’ can be heard outside in the rain-drenched street, while inside, the shadowy, sin-filled corners make the ideal spot for a person to hide - such as German-born Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner, the swashbuckling leader of Excalibur. Kurt thinks that it is a good thing his features blend into the shadows, or else his and Wisdom’s “cover” might be blown, especially as he does not feel like using an image inducer tonight, not that he quite understands why Wisdom was so desperate to come here.
Kurt was hoping to return to his Bavarian forest to find out why his foster sister Amanda “Daytripper” Sefton recently quit Excalibur, just up and leaving without saying goodbye to him. ‘How I miss her’ he thinks to himself, when His teammate Pete Wisdom, trademark cigarette hanging out of his mouth returns to the table with two beers. Wisdom sees Kurt’s forlorn expression and asks him if he is still pining over Amanda. ‘Not that she wasn’t a bit of alright, but there are plenty of other birds in the bush, if ya ask me!’ Wisdom exclaims trying to cheer Kurt up.
‘Precisely why I didn’t ask you, Peter!’ Wisdom replies as he drinks his beer, before asking Wisdom where his contact is. Pete stubs his cigarette out and lights another, and motioning to a table in the opposite corner, ‘The weasely git’ Wisdom describes his contact as, with the “silicon sallies” hanging all over him. Kurt replies that he sees him, and asks Wisdom if the man is expecting them. ‘Nope - far as he knows I’m a “ghost” - and he’s in for the fright of his life!’
The man is loving the attention the two women are giving him and asks them if he ever told them how he single-handedly trashed a cadre of Hand assassins. ‘Do tell us!’ one of the girls exclaims. ‘Sounds dangerous!’ the other remarks. The man grins, ‘Ah, but it was!’ he boasts, exclaiming that he stood, surrounded with no place to run, so he raised his guard like the expert pugilist he was trained to be - ‘Hey!’ he shouts when Wisdom grabs him from behind the sofa and pushes him up against the wall. ‘Telling tall tales again, Goethe?’ Wisdom asks. Goethe is shocked, ‘Wisdom? Is that really you?’ he asks. ‘You sound disappointed’ Wisdom points out, ‘Like you thought I might be six feet under by now, right?’ he asks.
Goethe replies ‘Nein!’ and asks why he would want such a thing. ‘I don’t know, maybe for the same reason someone wanted Jardine dead?’ Wisdom asks. Wisdom holds a hot knife up to Goethe’s face while Goethe claims that he has no idea what Wisdom is talking about. Wisdom warns Goethe that he is playing dumb to the wrong audience and declares that he has no problems icin’ a scummy spy like him, before remarking that it is getting awfully cold in here, ‘Want I should turn up the “heat” a bit?’ Wisdom asks as he unleashes another hot knife, this time on the other side of Goethe’s face.
Goethe swears to Wisdom that he doesn’t know who killed Jardine, and reveals that he knew Jardine was terminated for getting too close to some very top secret information - information that would tilt the global balance of power! Goethe tells Wisdom that he will have to seek further answers elsewhere, assuring him that is all he knows. Wisdom drops Goethe to the ground, ‘Thanks for nothing, you’re as useless as ever’ Wisdom declares as he walks back to his table, while Goethe suggests that Wisdom watches his back, ‘Odds are your newfound “friends” are the next targets!’ he reveals. ‘Bring ‘em on then, I’ll be ready!’ Wisdom replies, thinking to himself that he will be alone.
Kurt smiles, ‘My, my, my - how very Wolverine of you’ he jokes, before asking Wisdom if it was as informative as he had hoped. ‘And then some!’ Wisdom exclaims, while thinking that Goethe may be spineless, but that his information is usually accurate. Wisdom has his suspicions as to the culprits identity, and wants to explore all possibilities before he starts hunting them down. ‘Cause if she thinks they can go gunning for my friends and get away scot free - she’s got another think coming!’ Wisdom thinks to himself about the possible culprit.
Later that night, back on the Alps, where the already sub-zero temperature begins to drop, and Colossus and Meggan’s struggle for survival becomes exponentially more desperate. The plane lies scattered over the snow covered terrain, while Colossus begins to regain consciousness, realizing that he must have reverted to his human form when he fell unconscious. Freezing, he returns to his metallic form, protecting himself from the harsh elements. Colossus wonders what has happened to Meggan and calls out to her, asking her if she is all right.
But when he gets no answer, he becomes increasingly more worried, and rips apart the remains of the plane in search for her - he finds her unmoving body, but ascertains that she is breathing, which is a good sign. Colossus finds a blanket in the plane wreckage and wraps it around his friend, whispering to her that it will keep her warm. Wearily, Meggan tells Colossus that powerful mystic forces are attacking, repulsing her. ‘Knights ascendant…into battle…glorious…and terrible…tower to the…Northeast…’ she manages to utter, before slipping into unconsciousness.
Colossus tells Meggan to hush and rest, while wishing that his friends powers were not so strange and inexplicable, thinking that the last comment she made might be some sort of premonition. Colossus decides that there is no time to puzzle that out now, as they need to find shelter, when suddenly he sees a glow in the distance and wonders if it is the tower which Meggan spoke of. Knowing there is only one way to find out for certain, Colossus begins a trek towards it, carrying Meggan he begins to head in the Northeast direction, while praying that they do not find themselves in the middle of some war.
Meanwhile, on Muir Island, a division of the Xavier Institute, this is the world’s foremost center for genetic research, located on a secluded land mass of the coast of Cape Wrath, Scotland, it also serves as Excalibur’s headquarters. But to the team’s youngest member, Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair, this has been, for most of her life, home - a home that has, of late, been cast in the shadow of a dark and looming cloud. Rahne looks out the window into the stormy night and thinks to herself that so much has changed since Lady Moira became ill, and that she is trying so hard to be strong for her.
Rahne’s thoughts are interrupted by her teammate, the techno-organic Douglock, who announces that he is finally going to save the princess. Rahne shifts into a half-girl, half-wolf form and flips over to her friend, ‘Way cool!’ she exclaims as Douglock sits at his computer game, before Rahne points out that his face is all fleshy, and asks if something is wrong with the image inducer. Douglock replies that he wanted to get used to wearing the image inducer in public, so decided to start wearing it around the house. Rahne smiles before reminding Douglock that Kurt is blue and fuzzy, Piotr can turn to steel, and she is a werewolf, so who is going to notice. ‘Besides, I think you’re rather unique’ she adds.
Douglock is surprised by this, ‘Unique? Me? Really?’ he asks. ‘Cool’ he thinks to himself, before switching the image inducer off and returning to his alien form, before asking Rahne what she is writing about. Holding her diary, Rahne replies that it is just some things that are on her mind, personal things, about someone very near and dear to her. ‘Uh, yeah. Personal. Gotcha’ Douglock replies, before thinking to himself that Rahne has been really sweet to him, even though he is not her dead friend Doug Ramsey. ‘Sweeter than anyone on the team, actually’ he decides, thinking that Rahne is going out of her way to make him feel welcome. Douglock tells himself that this is strange, but that he believes he is experiencing something akin to what is known as “affection”, and wonder if Rahne is experiencing that also.
There is a knock at the door, and the royal Scotswoman Dr. Moira MacTaggert enters the room, asking Rahne and Douglock if either of them feels like braving the nasty weather for a tall, frothy malted milk. However, Moira thinks to herself ‘That’s it, MacTaggert, stiff upper lip in front of the kids - and maybe they wont notice you’re getting sicker by the day…’. Rahne and Douglock look at each other - “Malted milk?” they exclaim before laughing hysterically. Moira smiles and asks Rahne and Douglock what is so funny, to which Rahne asks her mother if she has been locked away in her lab so long that she has forgotten they are now called “milk shakes”.
Moira smiles and suggests that she could return to her lab, to which Rahne tells her not to, and exclaims that they would love to join her. The trio leaves the room when Douglock suddenly rushes back in. Rahne asks him where he is going, to which Douglock replies that he forgot his image inducer. ‘Wouldn’t want me to go out in public “naked” now, would you?’ he asks. Back in the room, Douglock picks up his image inducer, before noticing that Rahne left her diary open. Picking it up, Douglock tells himself that he cannot look, as it would be an invasion of Rahne’s privacy, before wondering if it says something about him in it.
Douglock begins to read:
God…You’ve got to keep my Mum alive. She means the world to me, and if she finds a cure for that dreaded disease that’s killing people, then she’s likely to mean something to lot’s more people than just myself. I do not know what I - or they - would do without her.
I have faith in you, Lord, I believe you won’t fail me.
Douglock thinks to himself, ‘Oh, Rahne, I’m so sorry, before putting the diary back down as Rahne calls out to him, informing him that the trawler is ready to go. ‘Uh, coming!’ Douglock replies as he rushes from the room.
Back on the Alps, mere hours before sunrise. Colossus wonders if this storm will never cease, adding that it is bad enough as he cannot see if they are any closer to that tower, before fearing that Meggan is suffering from frost bite. Colossus supposes that whatever force assaulted her on the jet must still be inhibiting her powers, for it is as if the land itself were a thing of magic. Colossus hopes that Meggan will not succumb so quickly if he talks to her, keeps her mind alive, so he calls out to her, asking her if she can hear him. With her eyes closed, Meggan replies that she cannot feel her feet, and admits that she is frightened, before asking if they are going to die. Colossus tells Meggan that she must not give up hope, and declares that so long as his lungs still draw breath, and his limbs possess strength to press onward, they will survive.
Meanwhile, at the Documenta Arts Archives in Kassel, Germany, the rain continues to beat down as Wisdom approaches the magnificent building, thinking to himself ‘If I know that girl as well as I used to, she’s likely tucked away in the basement of one of these museums!’ All Wisdom has to do now is find out which one! Wisdom almost feels sorry that he left Kurt behind, but he has no time for any “yay team” hullabaloo, this has to be strictly a solo mission, when suddenly, Nightcrawler bamfs behind Wisdom and wraps his tail around Wisdom’s face. ‘Going somewhere, my friend?’ Kurt asks in his native German.
Wisdom tells Kurt to keep his voice down, to which Kurt tells Pete to forgive him for crashing this clearly private party, ‘But you’re not here to admire fine art, are you?’ he asks. Wisdom tells Nightcrawler to walk away from this one, that he doesn’t want to get involved. Kurt leaps around Wisdom, telling him that it is too late, so long as they are teammates, he is involved. ‘How’d I know you’d say that?’ Wisdom mutters, before suggesting that Kurt bamf back into the hotel and get himself a good nights sleep. ‘Don’t wanna be too tired for your trip to the old circus in the morning!’ Wisdom points out.
Kurt begins tapping a foot impatiently as he informs Wisdom that he is not going anywhere now. ‘Your antics have got my undivided attention!’ he exclaims. ‘Bloody heck’ Wisdom mutters as the rain pours down on him and he stubs a cigarette out into the wet ground. Pete informs Kurt that it started with an e-mail from an “old friend” that he hoped to never hear from again. It read:
Darling Peter, long have I thought about those sultry days and endless, blissful nights we spent together in Peckham…and despite even my better judgment, I find myself longing for them once more.
Til we meet again…soon.
Wisdom reveals to Kurt that his contact in British Intelligence, actually his best friend in the world - Jardine, unearthed some nasty secret about this woman, and paid for it with his life. ‘So what brings me out in this ruddy downpour in the middle of the night? Blood’ Wisdom exclaims, when suddenly there is a blinding light and Wisdom and Nightcrawler cannot see anything as a voice exclaims ‘A pity the only blood gonna be spilled tonight “Darling Peter”, is yours!’ before there is a barrage of gun shots.
Meanwhile, dawn on the Alps, and still Colossus presses on as the snow continues to drop on him. This long night’s journey into morning has taxed Piotr more than any he has walked before - but he still presses on. Countless footfalls through waist-deep snow behind him, his aching muscles tear and rip with every step he takes - but still he presses on. Driven past the point of exhaustion though, Colossus’ will is poised to break like the fragile icicles gathered on his brow - yet even further still, for the fading like of the friend in his armored hands he presses on, until finally, ‘Meggan, please…forgive me’ he whispers before falling to the snow with a thud.
He had reason though, for his seemingly interminable quest for survival has finally come to an end - ‘Bozhe moi!’ Piotr exclaims, for salvation is in sight - a sprawling technological citadel is only a small distance away!