Cottbus, Germany, 1994. Nearly half a century since the death of Adolf Hitler. Ten years after Orwell’s big brother failed to appear. Four years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Two years after the break up of the Soviet Union. The streets are once again awash with racism. Men and women fight each other, using their fists, clubs, or other items to inflict pain on their “opponent”. Fuelled by intolerance and hatred that has been suppressed for four decades, these two evils again find voice in ordinary people. And fanned by the eyes of despair…what goes around comes around.
On a cliff overlooking Cottbus, two immensely powerful magicians gaze upon the fight, but for different reasons. ‘Look on my face and D’Spayre!’ declares the sorcerer known as D’Spayre. He reveals that he has been around for many years and “played” with heroes until they have cried. He boasts that he has sucked hope from children’s dreams, scorned prayers while martyrs died. He exclaims that from the Holocaust, to Stalin’s purges, from the killing fields to India’s midnight despair, it feeds fear - it feeds off him. Now this, in country after country, neighbor against neighbor - a crazed cleansing, which promises to be a rich banquet.
Sitting at D’Spayre’s feet is the self-proclaimed Sorceress Supreme - Margali Szardos! The horned woman tells the demon to gloat while he can, for the magic of the Winding Way may have left her week and helpless, but warns him that she is not without friends of influence!
Meanwhile, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, at a secluded wing of a private hospital, a hospital where it takes a lot to shock the doctors and nurses and even more to make them laugh. Amanda “Daytripper” Sefton, long-time ally of the Uncanny X-Men and newest member of the British super group, Excalibur, walks through the hospital corridors, and as she approaches her destination she notices two women laughing, and thinks to herself that she should have known - put two people together and Kurt thinks they are an audience! One of the women exclaims that he sure is funny, the other thinks he is cute with his blue skin. ‘Yeah, a riot’ mumbles Amanda.
‘So who’s the biggest drop in the room, you or the I.V.?’ Amanda asks, standing in the doorway of her foster brother and off-on-lover Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner’s room. ‘Ach, Amanda, you cut me to the core!’ Kurt jokes, balancing himself upside down on a wheelchair, before explaining that the doctor told him to exercise. ‘And those nurses? Let me guess. Your trainers?’ Amanda jokes. Amanda “magicks-ups” her new red and silver costume, apologizing for her quick change, before pointing out that she didn’t come to play chaperone and admitting that she was worried about him.
Daytripper reminds Kurt how he up and runs off to the States, and the next thing she knows Rogue phones her to inform her that he is in the hospital. “Magicking-up” Nightcrawler’s costume, Amanda remarks that it is nice to see he is okay, as Rogue’s message said he was hurting body and soul. Kurt replies that heartaches heal faster than broken bones, before doing a series of flips and cartwheels as he moves to Amanda, exclaiming that he cannot imagine any better medicine than a kiss from a pretty lady.
Kurt lands beside Daytripper and tells her that she bewitches him. ‘You smooth talking devil’ replies Amanda, before they kiss passionately. Amanda remarks that it was nice, when Kurt suggests they check out, and leads Amanda to the window, jumping out of it while holding her hand. Amanda points out that they are leaving via the window, to which Kurt asks what better exit there would be for Europe’s Greatest Acrobatic Act?
Grabbing hold of a lamp-post, Amanda remarks that she suddenly feels fifteen again, and asks Kurt if they were indeed the best. ‘Still are!’ Kurt exclaims, before joking that it is funny how a few triple somersaults can clear the mind, and apologizes to Amanda for leaving Muir Island in such a hurry, but after all, the tone in Forge’s voice told him it was a matter of life and death. ‘Little did I realize just whose’.
As Kurt and Amanda drop to the ground, Kurt reveals that he knows now Mystique is his birth mother, not to mention his new extended family - Rogue as an adopted sister, Graydon Creed as a half-brother, even Sabretooth as a technical step-father. Kurt jokes that it is not exactly the family he had dreamed of finding, but not bad for an orphan who was abandoned by his mother at the Winzeldorf Falls. Kurt corrects himself, not abandoned, but hurled actually, into the raging water in a desperate attempt for Mystique to save her own life.
Amanda apologizes to Kurt, assuring him that she didn’t know this, before Kurt tells her that it gets worse, as Mystique hurled herself off a cliff so that Rogue could be free to save him. Kurt adds that he is grateful to Mystique for that, and hopes she regretted what she did. Amanda understands that this is not the best of times, before informing Kurt that she has a favor, involving her mother…his foster mother…who needs help.
Kurt bares his teeth, remarking that for whatever Margali’s reasons, it seems that she has been at the center of all the lies in his life, and while he cannot blame her for what Mystique did, right now he is not crazy about Margali right now either. Amanda tells Kurt that he doesn’t understand the power of the Winding Way, that it is like life - a journey.
Daytripper explains that sometimes when you travel the Winding Way you have limitless power, other times you are helpless and weak, it just depends on whereabouts one is on the path. ‘As well as who is on the path’ Kurt remarks. Amanda states that the Winding Way is travelled for self-fulfilment, not the accumulation of power, though she knows some see it differently. Kurt feebly tells Amanda that he would like to help but - Amanda interrupts ‘Good, I’ll take that as a maybe’ she exclaims, before using her well-trained magical abilities to teleport the two of them away.
Meanwhile, three thousand miles East and two thousand miles North, at Muir Island, home of Excalibur, founding member Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde has taken a trip to dreamland, fallen asleep at the communications monitor console, with her pet dragon Lockheed resting on the back of her chair. Kitty is a mutant with the ability to phase through solid objects and has been at the communications monitor for 48 hours with little or no sleep, waiting for a call from Kurt, a sign from God to put everything right.
Kitty wishes that the last few weeks were nothing but a very bad nightmare…hoping she would wake to find Illyana alive, Rachel still here and Meggan and Brian back to their normal selves. Suddenly, there is an beeping which sounds the arrival of an incoming message. Lockheed is about to pick up the phone, but looks back at Kitty and decides against it. ‘Hi, this is Kitty Pryde, and I am a recording. You know what to do’ states Kitty’s answer machine.
From an undisclosed location, a balding man tells Kitty, calling her by her full name “Katherine”, that it is her father, and nervously he declares that this wont make any sense, and he can’t get into it now, but he just wants her to know that he loves her and always will.
‘I love you too…Dad?’ mumbles Kitty half-asleep, before realizing that her father is on the phone, she jumps up, wide awake now, and yells ‘Don’t hang up!’ Kitty shoos Lockheed away from the receiver, but she is too late. Kitty remarks that she has been thinking about her father a lot recently, and wonders what he wanted. Half asleep and anxious to talk to her father whom she has not spoken with in ages, her phasing power shorts out the communications board, leaving the mystery of her father’s message unresolved…for now.
Kitty looks at Lockheed and tells him not to give her that cute look, when suddenly they here a loud crash. Kitty exclaims that it sounds like a battle below, but she didn’t hear any alarms. She decides that it is time for a little floor-to-floor phase and asks Lockheed if he is coming.
But as Kitty uses her mutant ability to become intangible and phases three floors down, Lockheed doesn’t come, and the scene that greets Kitty is of resident scientist Doctor Rory Campbell trying to push the former Captain Britain - Brian Braddock, now known as “Britanic”. Kitty smiles and asks Rory if he really thinks that he can hold Brian back, to which Brian exclaims that he is needed and cannot be stopped. Rory tells Kitty that she is right, and that trying to stop Brian is like trying to stop the flying Scotsman! ‘I am not aware of this flying fellow’ Britanic states, to which Rory informs him that it is a train, not a “fellow”, and asks him if he forgot that, suggesting that they run some scans and check for other signs of memory loss.
Shadowcat recalls that when they last saw Brian, he was lost in the Time Stream, until their teammate Rachel Summers sacrificed her existence in the here and now allowing for Brian to return. But what came back was a drastically altered Captain Britain, answering only to the call of Britanic, and possessing a strange, but determined, spirit.
Kitty points out that it is none of her business, but that she wants to know why Rory is trying so hard to get in Brian’s way. Rory replies that there is so much they do not know about Brian’s experience in the Time Stream, and informs Kitty that they were in the middle of a diagnostic test when Brian stormed in here to take a hovercraft. Brian lifts Rory up with one arm and boasts that none may stand in his path, as he is on a mission, before dropping Rory to the ground.
Kitty tells Brian that she knows he and Rory just met, but is that anyway to treat a fellow teammate? Brian states that he has to leave, that he needs transportation, it is ordained and cannot be interfered with. Kitty addresses Brian as Britanic and asks him to calm down, asking how they can help him and where he wants to go. Brian glances sideways thoughtfully, before walking through the phased Kitty and exclaiming that she is there, before telling her to come along as there can not be any stragglers.
Kitty mumbles that it is a good thing she can phase or else she would be a doormat right now, and wondering if Brian really has “lost it”. Suddenly, the elemental mutant-faerie Meggan appears in the hangar bay and tells Kitty to have faith, explaining that Brian is tapped into the natural world and is simply following patterns that they cannot hope to sense - ‘He sees things that would drive us mad’.
Kitty replies that she doesn’t want to seem pessimistic, but that Brian doesn’t seem to be coping all that well. Meggan remarks that time will tell, before pointing out that they must aid Brian, and the three heroes board the hovercraft, which soon flies away, with Rory watching them go. He thinks that this is happening so suddenly, and is not sure how he is supposed to react. He wonders if he was supposed to stop them, or go with them.
Glancing at Lockheed who enters the hangar bay, Rory reminds himself that since learning the ugly truth, that he is destined to become the mutant slaying Ahab, he is questioning his every action, and wonders if he can do anything to change his fate - or theirs.
Meanwhile, in Eastern Germany, early evening, in a brilliant display of green light, Nightcrawler and Amanda Sefton arrive in their country of origin. Daytripper exclaims that the strain of teleporting from the States to Germany was incredible, that she cannot go on, for she needs to rest. Nightcrawler realizes that the trip really took it out of Amanda, before pointing out that he couldn’t even conceive of teleporting such a distance, while thinking to himself that it is hard to believe he is getting involved with his foster mother after all this time.
Kurt reminds himself that his relationship with Margali since he left the circus has had its ups and downs to say the least, before resigning himself to the fact that Margali did raise and care for him after Mystique threw him away. He realizes that he owes Margali a lot and supposes that it may be time he repays her. Nightcrawler takes hold of Amanda, telling her that as she took care of the express trip it is up to him to handle the local trip, and teleports them both off the streets, where he thinks they will be safer.
Bamfing onto a rooftop, Nightcrawler tells Amanda that he is going to need more information on the situation at hand if he is to be of any assistance here, so Amanda reveals that their mother has been captured and that if they do not free her before dawn, she will die at the hands of the Demon of Fear - D’Spayre! Daytripper explains that she isn’t sure of the details, but apparently D’Spayre appeared some months ago, and at first he was content, feeding on all the tensions and fears of a nation.
Still weak from the global-teleport, Amanda wearily explains that when the country was reunited, lack of money, factories closing down and no jobs at home, people started to blame the foreign workers, as well as the gypsies - who were the ones who usually took the brunt of their abuses. ‘Outrage turned to hate, dread to despair and mayhem to murder’. Daytripper states that D’Spayre found them a ripe feeding ground, which in itself, is a sad comment on their society.
Daytripper explains to Kurt that from here on she cannot go with him, as D’Spayre will sense her presence and the element of surprise will be lost. Kurt tells his sister to rest here, and motioning over the side of the roof, Nightcrawler declares that it looks like he will have his hands full…all three fingers.
On the streets below, a group of brutish men are armed with various weapons, and upon seeing a young boy with darker skin than they have, one of them points him out, another exclaims that the purity of the fatherland has been tainted by the “foreign filth”, to which another declares that only their blood can purge the stain. ‘We don’t want your kind!’ they say top the small boy, before another decides that they will lynch him for being a gypsy. The frightened boy sinks backwards, pointing out that he is just a kid and asks what he has done to them. One of the thugs flicks a knife, ‘You steal, you beg, you murder us in our beds…’.
Suddenly, ‘STOP!’ cries Kurt in his native German, before leaping down to the mob and asking them how they dare strike an unarmed child. Kurt trusts that his freakish demeanor and his outrage will unnerve the mob, and it works. Kurt is not interested in counting the odds which are stacked against him, he simply rescues the little boy and leaps away from the mob, telling them that this is no way to solve their problems, attacking helpless children is not going to make their problems disappear. Though some are swayed by Nightcrawler’s words, there are others who will not wait to hear him out, and one of them throws a brick at Kurt, striking him on the head.
As Kurt puts pressure on his bloody wound, he wonders if that brick was part of the Berlin Wall. One of the men exclaims that the “creature” has got the boy, as another orders Kurt to let the boy go, adding that they are fed up with being kicked around. The Gypsy boy tells the mob that they do not understand, and while Nightcrawler may be a highly trained athlete and acrobat with the mutant ability to teleport - he does not have eyes in the back of his head, and a angry mobster comes up behind him and kicks him in the back, ‘You’re next on our list, mutant scum!’ Kurt lies motionless on the ground.
Watching the event from a viewing pool, D’Spayre laughs loudly, asking mockingly if Nightcrawler was the cavalry, the child’s knight in shining armor. ‘How pathetic. I would have enjoyed twisting his mind, picking his soul clean’. D’Spayre mumbles that all this is amusing, but getting back to Margali, his supposed Sorceress Supreme…he informs Margali that her death will feed his essence until the whole world knows despair, not just this tiny playground which he has created for himself.
Gazing into the viewing pool, Margali looks upon her son, her last hope. Margali knows that the Winding Way has left her helpless, but she must reach out to Kurt, for a mother’s love could help him gather strength. Margali sticks her hand into the viewing pool, and tells Kurt not to worry about her, to stop this madness before dawn - before it is too late! D’Spayre grabs Margali and pulls her away from the viewing pool, causing Margali to scream. D’Spayre informs Margali that she may have been able to see Nightcrawler, but he cannot hear her plaintive pleas.
D’Spayre tells Margali that while she thought Kurt could save her, all she has done is added to his fears, felling him with humiliation, meaning he can now give her nothing. ‘He is beaten. You are mine!’ he boasts, before revealing that there is less than an hour before the fall of paradise. Margali smiles wickedly, thinking to herself how surprised she is that Kurt came even after he believed she betrayed him. She thinks to herself that D’Spayre has no idea what her son has just given her!
Back on the street, the Gypsy boy tugs at Kurt, telling him to get up, with the angry mob in the background, he exclaims that they are going to kill each other - and it looks like they are going to start with Nightcrawler!