In Nightcrawler’s nightmare:
Winzeldorf, Germany - a quiet Bavarian hamlet…’This way, men, the monster went this way!’…where a lone man flees for his very life! An angry mob of Prime Sentinels calls out to a man climbing a building, warning him to come down or else they will burn him down, they hold their burning torches high. ‘Go away! Please! I have done nothing!’ the man calls back, when suddenly, Bastion appears. ‘I beg to differ. You’ve done far too much - Professor Charles Xavier!’ he shouts as the world’s foremost telepath is pulled to the ground.
Bastion holds a stake above Xavier, who pleads with him, exclaiming that he has devoted his life to a dream of peaceful co-existence between homo sapiens and homo superior. ‘”Peaceful co-existence”?’ Bastion quotes. ‘You’re delusional, old man!’ he exclaims, telling Xavier that his precious “dream” has caused more harm to humanity than good, and now it is high time he paid for his transgressions - with his life!
Sitting in a wheelchair nearby is Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner who watches the situation and thinks to himself that this is impossible, for the town and angry mob - it is almost an exact re-enactment of the night he was nearly burned at the stake as a demon. Only back then, it was Professor Xavier who saved him, and this time, their roles are reversed. ‘This nightmare can’t be real…can it?’ Kurt wonders before calling out to Bastion, declaring that he cannot destroy that man, or his dream. ‘I won’t let you!’ Kurt warns him.
‘No, Nightcrawler? Watch me!’ Bastion exclaims before whacking the stake into Professor X’s head. ‘NEIN!’ shouts Kurt, who leaps off the wheelchair with his usual acrobatic flair - only to fall flat on his front. ‘My legs! My powers! What happened to them?’ he wonders, crippled without them. Kurt struggles to crawl over to Xavier, though it is in vain, for by the time he arrives, it’s too late. ‘Mein Gott, Charles - I never knew you were in such grave danger!’ Kurt exclaims as he lies beside his beloved mentor. Bastion and the Prime Sentinels stand over Kurt who whispers that the X-Men never told him, he didn’t know.
‘Harsh!’ grins one of the Nightcrawler look-alikes known as the Bamfs as he and his fellows watch Nightcrawler’s torment. ‘Play it again!’ another asks Nightmare, the wicked demon who sits on his throne, tormenting the European super team known as Excalibur, while Lockheed the dragon sits imprisoned in a small cage hanging over a fire. ‘What did I tell you boys? I get all the best channels!’ Nightmare exclaims. ‘Yeah! Rewind! Rewind!’ another of the Bamfs shouts. ‘Horror! Terror! Fear! Suffering! You want ‘em - I can bet your mortal souls Nightmare’s got ‘em!’ the demon boasts.
Nightmare tells the Bamfs that, too much guilt this early makes even him queasy, so he doesn’t want to watch Nightcrawler again. ‘Show the blonde bimbo next! She’s a hottie!’ one of the Bamfs cries out, referring to Meggan, but another exclaims ‘No, you imp-becile, show pretty Kitty! She’s the one we all want!’ The two Bamfs teleport onto Nightmare’s shoulders, and he pushes them off, telling them that he is driving here, and reminding them that they are just hired help. ‘Soon as I get into these freaks heads and find out everything I’m supposed to - you’re going back to where I found you!’ Nightmare informs them.
‘Holy buzz kill, Bamf-man!’ one of the Bamfs exclaims. ‘We don’t get no respect! No respect, I tell ya!’ another declares, while Nightmare makes a note to himself ‘Never hire fairy tale midgets’ before telling them to shut up, as the next show is starting!
In Colossus’ nightmare:
A group of people rush over and exclaim ‘Are you really the Piotr Rasputin? The world famous artist?!’ Colossus replies that he is. A young woman tells Piotr that his art is so expressive - ‘Why, the pain you must’ve suffered to create such masterpieces!’ she exclaims, before telling Piotr that it is about time the Louvre started recognizing his genius. ‘It screams volumes to the oppressed and insane!’ The woman pulls back her shirt and tells Piotr that he must sign her body. “To Bridget…love Piotr!” she asks, handing Piotr a marker.
Colossus smiles as he complies, while telling his fan that he is but a simple farm boy with a unique perspective on the world, adding that it would be his pleasure to sign so lovely a canvas, while thinking to himself ‘Finally, my art speaks to people in the ways I cannot! I’m changing the world with my soul…not with my fists!’ Colossus wishes that his family were here to share in his joy, when suddenly, deathly apparitions of Colossus’ parents, brother Mikhail and sister Illyana appear, all carrying shovels. ‘But we are here…we are always here!’ Mikhail exclaims. ‘In the darkest depths of your heart…in the shadowy chasm of your soul!’ young Illyana exclaims. ‘In life…and death!’ Colossus’ parents add.
Wide-eyed, Colossus asks his family if they see what he has done, what his art means to people. Illyana scowls as she informs her brother that they have not risen from the grave to admire their silly paintings. ‘We have come to bury you!’ they cry in unison. ‘Wait! I do not understand!’ Colossus exclaims as they rush towards him. Mikhail declares that the Rasputins are cursed. ‘Tragedy is the rule of our miserable lives!’ he adds as he smacks Colossus with his shovel, forcing him through the glass pyramid topping the imaginary replica of Paris’ celebrated Louvre Gallery, while remarking ‘And not even your bleeding artist’s heart can shield you from that curse…’.
Colossus is overwhelmed with a fear unlike any he has ever known - a fear elicited by these nightmarish ghouls mocking the memory of his dearly departed family: That for all his vaunted strength - all his struggles to make the world a better place for all people, regardless of race, creed or genetic predisposition…the voice of his art - his soul - his heart…is doomed to fall on deaf ears - transformed into his organic steel form, Colossus smacks into the ground.
The deathly versions of his family leap downwards, following him, while Mikhail remarks that transforming into his steely hide may have protected his brother from the fall, but nevertheless, his fate - like theirs - is sealed! Colossus looks at his so-called family and thinks to himself that, at first he was so selfishly rapt in this fantasy of what he wanted his life to be that he just denied the truth about his family - that his parents were murdered by the KGB, his elder brother went insane, becoming a murderer of their own kind, and his precious sister now rots in a grave too premature for her few years on this Earth thanks to the Legacy Virus. Colossus declares that he doesn’t know who - or what - they are, but that he has done penance for his family, and will not let them sully his family’s memory -.
Nightmare changes the “channel” ‘Enough with the posturing hero and his guilty conscience!’ he exclaims, remarking that it is time for a different daytime, family drama. An image of Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde appears and Nightmare remarks ‘There she is, Bamfs, your favorite lil’ minx in all her adolescent glory!’ ‘KITTY! KITTY! KITTY!’ one of the Bamfs cries out. ‘Mee-OWW!’ another exclaims. ‘Nuke the dragon and she’s ours!’ a third remarks. ‘
Ahhh, yes…”Lockheed” isn’t it?’ Nightmare remarks as he turns to the trapped dragon. ‘A ridiculous name for a mere figment of a little girl’s imagination - bet you’re wondering how you fit into tonight’s very special episode of Nightmare Theatre, eh, dragon?’ Nightmare asks. ‘Yeah’ Lockheed utters, only to be smacked in the face by one of the Bamfs, ‘Jokes on you, blinky - cuz ya don’t!’
A Bamf asks Lockheed if he remembers when they all helped pirate Kitty save the universe from the evil Phoenix demon. Another Bamf exclaims something about Kitty thinking it up for little Illyana when she was sick, while another tells Lockheed that he clearly didn’t get the message that Kitty was supposed to fall in love with them after that adventure, not Lockheed. Another Bamf exclaims that while Lockheed has been making time with Shadowcat in this world, they have been stuck in that ridiculous “Well at the Center of Time!”. ‘But guess what? We out! We about! And this time - Kitty’s going home with us, no doubt!’.
Two Bamfs teleport onto Nightmare’s shoulders and tell him to fork over the goods, exclaiming that they fulfilled their end of the deal, ‘You got Excalibur - now we want pretty Kitty!’ ‘Gonna take her back to the crib and show her how much we loves her!’ Nightmare tells the Bamfs to settle down, and motions to the monitor, asking them if they can’t see that Kitty is having a “moment”…
In Shadowcat’s nightmare:
Kitty Pryde leans against her bed, hands around her ears - the screaming and shouting rises up from the living room live vengeful ghosts - the same specters that haunted her at age thirteen. ‘Stop it please…just stop it!’ Kitty whispers. Before she phases thorough the floor, half of her body then sticks out in the room below, where she sees her parents fighting, again. Carmen Pryde shakes his fist at Teresa, asking her how she can ever expect him to trust her again. ‘ME?’ Teresa snaps back, declaring that if anyone betrayed a trust in this relationship, it was Carmen.
Kitty phases back up into her room and hugs a Garfield toy, ‘Stop it! Stopt it! Stop it!’ she screams, while wondering if suffering through her parents divorce the first time around wasn’t bad enough. Kitty tells herself to get a grip, reminding herself that she is not a kid anymore, and that this is clearly not happening, that this is just some stupid sick trick that someone is playing to mess with her head. ‘But who? And why?’ she wonders, pondering the possibility that this is to make her feel even more guilty about what she is doing to Pete. ‘In my heart, I betrayed his trust…just like my parents betrayed each others…’. Crying, Kitty wonders if that is her fate, to betray the people she loves so that she can end up like her parents. Miserable and alone….
‘Kids today, so melodramatic!’ Nightmare jokes, remarking that Kitty is toting as much emotional baggage as the other two, before exclaiming that emotional baggage seems to be a recurring theme with ‘This “Douglock” doohickie as well!’, and Nightmare changes the “channel”.
In Douglock’s nightmare:
‘Traitor! You cannot leave us!’ the seething mass of techno-organic soup known as the Phalanx exclaims, while Douglock protests, declaring that he was created to exist separately, distinct from the collective consciousness. ’An individual!’ he exclaims. The Phalanx picks up Douglock and holds him in the air - this alien is feared throughout the universe for assimilating millions of races - its presence has never been so frightening as it is now for this tormented boy who thought he had forever thrown off the chain’s of his people’s oppressive gestalt.
‘Prepare to be re-assimilated into our consciousness, “Douglock” - where you belong! The Phalanx shouts as it latches into Douglock, who screams….
‘That’ll leave a mark!’ Nightmare exclaims, while remarking ‘Can’t change what you are, Dougie, and there’s no use trying - sooner ya learn that lesson, cyber boy - the better off you’ll be!’ Nightmare remarks that “the busty blonde bride” is about to discover that all the silky veils and taffeta in the world cannot hide the beast inside….
In Meggan’s nightmare:
Meggan stands alongside Captain Britain in a church filled with former teammates and friends, while Psylocke, Shadowcat, Wolfsbane and Rachel Summers stand at her side as her bridal party. The goddess Roma is conducting the ceremony, and asks Captain Britain of Earth-616 if he takes Meggan to be his lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold in sickness and in health, for as long as they both shall live. ‘I do’ Captain Britain replies, on this what should be the happiest day in any young couple’s life. And for those gathered here today to honor this blessed union, it is indeed joyous to see their two friends finally becoming one.
‘Then by the power vested in me, as Universal Majestrex, I, Roma, hereby pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride!’ Roma exclaims. Rachel, Rahne and Kitty all start blubbering, but for some, like Colossus, the joy is mixed with sorrow - not for themselves, but for the one whose shameful secret les in wait to be exposed. Brian tells Meggan that he has been gone for so long, and has missed her so much. ‘Brian, I -’ begins Meggan, but Brian interrupts, exclaiming that he has waited so patiently for this day when he would life this veil and she would be his alone, forever.
But the price to possess love’s many splendors is sometimes exacted by the secret currency of a guilty conscience - and that the truth beneath the veil is hideous to behold. ‘No, Brian - Don’t!’ Meggan exclaims as the veil is lifted, revealing not her elf-like form underneath, but a beastly creature!
‘What the heck is that!?’ exclaims one of the Bamfs as they all laugh at Meggan. ‘That, amigos, is the form of a seriously angst-ridden empath! Oh, woe is she!’ one of the Bamfs mocks. Nightmare glares at Lockheed while remarking that the guiltier Meggan feels, the uglier she gets. ‘Magnificent!’ he exclaims, boasting that by the time he is finished with her, she will be so hideous that to look upon her will turn you to stone. ‘Unless, of course you surrender!’ Nightmare tells Lockheed, informing him that all he has to do is leave the key to Kitty’s heart with his companions here, and then he will release the rest of Excalibur from their torment, once he knows what makes them tick of course.
‘What do you say, dragon? Do we have a deal?’ Nightmare asks. Lockheed just grunts, folds his arms and looks away. ‘Clinging to the false hope your friends can defeat me - the master of dreams! Please. I have broken them all!’ Nightmare changes the channel again while remarking that only one tortured soul remains - the redoubtable Peter Wisdom. From within his “set” Wisdom looks up at Nightmare and remarks ‘Slumming it again, I see’ to which Nightmare remarks that he and Wisdom are old friends, and that you can always expect an award-winning performance from Peter.
Wisdom tells Nightmare to keep channel surfing, as “Oscar” has left the building and it is not going to get any more interesting than him just sitting here on the couch. Nightmare remarks that Wisdom is turning on the bravado full blast, before boasting that he has seen Wisdom bawl like a bottle less baby before, and asks what is different now. ‘I am!’ Wisdom exclaims as he bursts through the “screen”, cigarette and all. Nightmare keeps pressing his remote and telling Wisdom to get back in there, while one of the Bamfs exclaims ‘The jig is up!’ and they begin to scatter. ‘But my control of sub-conscious misery is absolute!’ Nightmare exclaims. ‘Past tense, pal!’ Wisdom replies as he snatches the remote and shoves Nightmare aside, telling him to ‘Park it’ while aiming the remote at the “screen” and declaring that it is time Nightmare learnt a little something about the people he thought he could crack here on Elm Street. ‘Ya ridiculous Freddy Krueger-wannabe!’
The channel changes and Wisdom asks Nightmare if he wants to see Meggan’s true form. ‘Feast yer eyes on this!’ he exclaims as Meggan’s most beautiful form appears on the screen. Wisdom remarks that just looking at her, it is easy to think she is some airhead, when in fact, she is one of the most “together” women he has ever met. Wisdom remarks that Meggan’s bohunk boyfriend takes off for God-knows-how-long, and what does Meggan do? Fall to pieces like some lovesick puppy? No, she keeps herself together by leaning on the people around her - her friends - her family.
On the screen, Meggan hovers over everyone, and Captain Britain and Colossus look at her in awe, while Wisdom remarks that sure, she and Colossus got cozy during Brian’s absence, but that she is a one-man-woman at heart, and Captain Britain is it. The on-screen Meggan lands in Captain Britain’s arms and they embrace, while Wisdom remarks that Meggan’s empathy might have confused her feelings towards Colossus some, but that confusion will disappear the moment she is back in Brian’s arms again - and this guilt-stricken nightmare will be nothing more than a faded bad dream. ‘Sorry old buy, but this round goes to Excalibur!’ Wisdom exclaims as he changes the channel again, ‘Hey I was watching that!’ Nightmare protests.
Wisdom exclaims that it is time for round two though, and Colossus and the deathly visions of his family appear, to which Nightmare exclaims that there is nothing more entertaining than watching a simple man’s dreams die. Wisdom tells Nightmare not to get to excited, and motions to Colossus on screen, who is pulling the plug on this broadcast by taking the shovels from his family. Wisdom remarks that Colossus has been plagued by his fair share of demons since becoming an X-Man, but that his heart is about as big and strong as the metal hide protecting it.
‘And he’ll use that strength to destroy all who oppose him! It’s in his eyes! The anger! The hatred!’ Nightmare exclaims. ‘You wish!’ Wisdom replies, admitting that although he has mixed feelings for Colossus, one thing he can say is that although Piotr wasn’t able to save his own family, he has long since buried his guilt over it - along with his demons. On screen, the deathly visions of Colossus’ family climb into a ditch, bidding Colossus goodbye, Illyana asks him not to forget them. ‘Never, little snow-flake’ Colossus replies. ‘Never’, before he begins painting, while Wisdom remarks that the world around him may declare war on his surrogate family, but Colossus has at last made peace, with himself.
Another channel switch, and Wisdom asks Nightmare if he is starting to see a pattern here. ‘Once is an incident, twice a coincident’ Nightmare replies. ‘and three time’s a pattern, watch!’ Wisdom exclaims, while on screen, Douglock, overwhelmed by the Phalanx appears, telling Douglock that his resistance is futile and that his identity will be reabsorbed into the collective. ‘But I have a life of my own now. A mind of my own. Feelings of my own!’ Douglock cries. ‘Feelings are irrelevant’ the collective replies, reminding Douglock that he is flesh of their techno-organic flesh, blood of their collectively-shared blood. ‘Such distinctions as you suggest do not exist within the collective’.
The Phalanx warns Douglock to surrender and recognize the majesty that is his birthright as penance for his treachery. ‘And it will be your hand that grants your friends a swift, merciful execution when we return to assimilate their world!’ Tangled in the Phalanx, Douglock shouts ‘NO! I’m not one of you! Not anymore!’ The Phalanx screams and retreats, exclaiming that they have been system-purged. Douglock declares that he has exorcised all traces of the Collective from within him, that the ties that bound him are severed. ‘I’m my own being now - my own person…so go find yourselves a new whipping boy!’
‘And cyber-boy makes three. Ready to say “uncle”?’ Wisdom asks Nightmare, who tells Wisdom that he never will, and to shut up and change the channel. Wisdom does, remarking that it is his pleasure, Nightcrawler appears on screen, with Bastion looming over him. Bastion declares that a better leader would have prevented this, suggesting that had Nightcrawler not segregated himself from his fellow freaks stateside, then Xavier might now be a free man. ‘Instead, he rots in a cold and lonely prison, locked away from his friends and loved ones, awaiting execution - and you, Kurt Wagner, are responsible for inscribing his death warrant!’
Anguish sweeps over Nightcrawler’s face. ‘Charles imprisoned? My fault? NO!’ Bastion hands Nightcrawler his sword, asking him to kindly seal the deed, Kurt takes the sword, and asks the Professor to forgive him for what he is about to do - but Kurt swings around, ‘The only dreams I’ll kill, monster…are yours!’ he exclaims as he beheads Bastion. Nightcrawler holds his sword high, declaring that he has pledged himself to the perpetuation of Charles Xavier’s dreams of peace and genetic co-existence, so he will not see them bled to death by the likes of a bigot like Bastion. ‘You wanted a war with mutant kind, Bastion…? Fine! Show your face again…and you’ll get one!’
Wisdom remarks that he has never seen Wagner so passionate before, and tells Nightmare he must have really struck a nerve. ‘Oh, believe me - I have struck several!’ Nightmare replies, suggesting Wisdom try the next channel and see. Wisdom changes the channel and Nightmare remarks that Wisdom will especially enjoy this broadcast. ‘Kitty…stop it, Nightmare. I don’t want to see this’ Wisdom remarks. ‘Sorry, chap, we’re live!’ Nightmare replies, remarking that he said before you cannot change who you are. ‘Strip away the many faces of Katherine Pryde - the precocious genius, the lithe dancer, the mutant heroine - even the deadly ninja - and your darling Shadowcat’s just a child!’
Kitty is on the screen, sobbing still, while Nightmare remarks that like all children forced to grow up too soon, she will someday becoming an emotional stray, destined to forever walk the shadowy gutters of love unrequited - and alone. This causes Lockheed to begin snuffling, while Nightmare grins behind Wisdom, remarking that their relationship is at a crux point. ‘Stay together and your “adult” world will soon become anathema to her. A constant mockery of a childhood prematurely lost. Nightmare remarks that, in time, Shadowcat will come to blame Wisdom, resent him - even hate him.
Nightmare declares that Wisdom will personify everything Kitty never really wanted. ‘Her life will have become a veritable nightmare…all because of you!’ the Bamfs all grin wickedly, while Shadowcat continues to cry. ‘Breaks the heart, don’t it!’ Nightmare exclaims before Wisdom turns the screen off. ‘Hey! House of Bile was on next!’ Nightmare exclaims, until Wisdom backs him up against the wall, ‘Bout as much as yer jaundiced mug!’ Wisdom exclaims, admitting that Nightmare almost had him for a moment, but he blew it. Wisdom remarks that Nightmare has been inside his head before and knows the baggage he has lugged over the years as well as Wisdom himself. ‘The guilt, the grief…and the regret that was born the day my Mum was killed because of me!’.
Wisdom continues, ‘The weighted conscience that continued to grow with every Black Air mission - until it became an uncontrollable beast of a nightmare when hundreds of innocent Ronsaphan citizens died by my hands. Wisdom blows some cigarette smoke out of his mouth in the form of a heart, then an arrow striking through the heart as he admits that it made him sick to his stomach, but that he beat his nightmares, meaning he beat Nightmare himself. Wisdom declares that he will beat Nightmare again, right now. ‘Why?’ he asks rhetorically, ‘Because no horror show you could possibly produce compares to the one that little lady is making me live through now’. Wisdom adds that the worst part is he cannot change the channel.
Nightmare coughs up a whole lot of cigarette smoke, before Wisdom aims one of his “hot knives” at Lockheed’s cage, freeing the purple dragon. ‘Show’s over!’ he exclaims, before Lockheed begins chasing the Bamfs around, blasting fire at them, the Bamfs claim that they didn’t mean any harm, that they were just playing with him. ‘Heh!’ Lockheed mutters.
Suddenly, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Shadowcat, Meggan and Douglock burst through the screen, with Nightcrawler exclaiming that they are free at last. Nightmare grins, telling the heroes not to bet on it, as the pleasure has been all his. He remarks that a mutual friend is going to benefit a great deal from what he has learned about them today. ‘Woe be it when I share this knowledge with him!’ Nightmare tells Excalibur never to forget that dreams are his door way into their minds. ‘Do try to keep them locked…if you can!’ Nightmare’s laughter and “screaming room” begins to fade away into Excalibur’s subconscious minds…and they once more find themselves in Kitty’s quarters, where they were first captured by Nightmare.
‘There you are, sweetie! I’ve been so worried about you!’ Kitty exclaims as she hugs Lockheed. Douglock thinks to himself that was such a curious experience, as he didn’t know he could dream. Meggan asks Kurt if that all really happened, to which Kurt replies that he prays not, for if any of those visions are genuine representations of reality and not just their subconscious phobias, then he fears for them all. Kitty remarks that even if they are real, then they have each other to lean on. ‘Like you, my best little buddy! You stood up to that big, bad demon and all those nasty Bamfs and saved the day for everyone!’ Kitty exclaims.
‘NAH NAH!’ Lockheed replies, before pointing at Wisdom. ‘What…? You mean…oh.’ Kitty mumbles looking at Wisdom. ‘YEAH YEAH!’ Lockheed replies before flying out of Kitty’s arms towards the others. ‘Surprised?’ Wisdom asks. ‘I - ummm…’ is all Kitty can say. Nightcrawler begins to usher the others out, remarking that is their cue, and something tells him Kitty and Wisdom need to talk….