There is a dimension where frozen spirits wander beyond rescue, through icy nothingness. The Vikings called it Hel, and knew it as the final destination for men whose lives, and especially their deaths, were…merely ordinary. For warriors who died valiantly in battle, a glorious fate awaited. Valkyries on winged horses carried their souls to join the splendid army of eternal Asgard. For time beyond measure, Hel, and Asgard peacefully co-exited. That time now, is ended. The Asgardian Thunder God, Thor, has destroyed on of Hel’s most valued artifacts, and with it, has lessened considerably the power of the Death Goddess, Hela - and Hela is not one to let an insult go unavenged! And for this revenge…she has her sights set on Danielle “Dani” Moonstar a.k.a. Mirage of the New Mutants!
Currently, Mirage, and her now expanded team, the New Mutants which she co-leads with Samuel “Cannonball” Guthrie, are arriving at the Ust-Ordynski Collective, in Siberia. Cannonballs blasts alongside Mirage, who rides on her winged Asgardian horse, Brightwind. Their alien teammate, Warlock has transformed himself into a aircraft large enough to fit everyone else in. Rusty Collins, leader of the group formerly known as the X-Terminators remarks ‘First Limbo - and actual other dimension, and now Russia! You New Mutants sure do travel!’
Cannonball supposes Rusty is right, the New Mutants do get around a lot, but remarks that it is not “us” New Mutants now, since the X-Terminators joined them. Warlock exclaims that he tingles with an excitement at glorious surprise. Sally “Skids” Blevins agrees, and asks if Illyana’s parents know that Illyana is coming. Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta asks how they could know, ‘We don’t speak Russian and they don’t speak English!’ Julio “Rictor” Richter remarks that he wonders what Illyana will tell her parents about what happened.
The young mutant heroes land and Warlock returns to his default form, while Sally remarks that Illyana’s story about falling into Limbo will sound like a fairy tale to her parents, or “Alice in Wonderland”. Cannonball notices that Mirage is sweating and points out that although it is summer, it sure isn’t that hot, and asks her if she is okay. Dani replies that it is nothing, while thinking to herself that she was fine for a minute, except for the headache which she has almost gotten used to now. Dani admits to herself that she is so afraid, what with the death-visions, the curse of the Valkyrie flickering among the clouds like tongues of flame.
Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair hugs the infant Illyana and shows her the Aurora Borealis, blazing in the sky to welcome her home. Mirage thinks that death is coming for her, and should warn the others, prepare them for her death, but decides that as Illyana is going home, she cannot spoil this time for her, as Illyana has earned this happiness. Sunspot motions to a light that has come on in the house, and Wolfsbane exclaims that the door is opening.
In her native Russian, Illyana cries ‘Mama!’ a she sees Alexandra Rasputin in the doorway. ‘Illyana! It cannot be!’ the aging woman exclaims. Illyana rushes to her mother and they embrace, as the New Mutants stand and watch. Wolfsbane declares that she will miss Illyana, that she hates to let her go. Sunspot replies that he knows, but points out that it is the right thing to do, for until she grows up and comes into her mutant powers, she belongs with her parents.
Suddenly, the tranquillity of the moment is broken by Mirage who screams ‘NO! Death! Coming for me! Far worse than death…far worse…’ and with that, she collapses. Tabitha “Boom-Boom” Smith announces that Brightwind has fallen over too, as everyone gathers around Mirage. Rahne exclaims that they were paying attention to Illyana, they never looked at Dani…her voice trails off as she worries about her best friend, while Warlock remarks that he has never seen Mirage look so afraid. Rictor suggests they tell X-Factor, before remarking that they are away on a mission in England. Rusty declares that X-Factor might be back by now, and exclaims that they have to get Dani back to Ship. Meanwhile, Sunspot is helping Warlock grab hold of Brightwind.
Many hours and time zones later, the Warlock-helicopter carrying his friends and Brightwind arrives back in Manhattan. Rahne reminds everyone that they promised to take Dani to a doctor if her headache wasn’t better, to which Cannonball remarks that this counts as worse, and wishes they hadn’t waited, before pointing out that Dani is stubborn. Rahne agrees, as Dani did insist that getting Illyana home was more important. ‘She’s always putting others before herself!’ Rahne exclaims.
Sally remarks that Dani talked about seeing death before, and points out that she and the other new recruits don’t understand, ‘Is it part of her power?’ Cannonball replies ‘Kind of’ and begins to explain that when they were in Asgard - ‘Wow - that’s the dimension that Thor comes from!’ Rictor exclaims, interrupting. A weary Rahne informs her new friends that Dani saved Brightwind’s life, and Brightwind chose Dani to be one of the Valkyries. Wide-eyed, Sally asks if they mean like in mythology, the Valkyries who carry off the souls of dead warriors?
Cannonball replies that because Dani was human and still alive, she found she had the ability to see death coming and to even fight it off through the spirit spear that she could “wish up” through her power to create illusions. Sunspot explains that Mirage’s powers were changed sometime after, so that her illusions became real, though she can still see death coming, but how that affects her ability to fight it off, they do not know. ‘Geez! And I thought figuring out Illyana’s power was hard!’ Rictor exclaims.
Approaching Ship, the giant vessel calls out to Warlock and asks what has happened with Brightwind. Warlock informs Ship that Brightwind burns with a fever, as does Mirage, and asks if X-Factor is home yet. Ship replies that they are not. Once everyone is inside, Mirage and Brightwind are both laid out on examination tables, and the New Mutants stand nearby and watch their ill friend. Cannonball suggests that they should call her parents, to which Sunspot remarks that Dani tried to call them earlier to tell them that the school was destroyed and that Magneto had was gone, but their answering machine said they had gone off in North range.
Ship suggests that he leave a message for Mirage’s parents, but Cannonball tells him not, as there is no point in worrying Dani’s parents until they know what is wrong with her. Solemnly, Rahne exclaims that they have to get Dani and Brightwind to a doctor before it is too late. Ship begins to examine Mirage, telling the New Mutants that there is no need for a doctor, at least at this stage, after all, he is fitted with full diagnostic scanners. Scanning Mirage’s eyes, Ship announces with certainty, that Dani’s illness is not of natural origin, but her aura is affected, suggesting the illness is mystical in nature, and as unnatural to Earth as Brightwind.
‘Well that’s just fine and dandy, isn’t it?’ Boom-Boom mutters, asking what they are supposed to do now. Ship informs the New Mutants that he has taken the liberty of scanning the data that he acquired when the evil mutant Apocalypse was his master, and suggests that they contact Doctor Strange, who is known as the Sorcerer Supreme. ‘Sorcery?’ exclaims Rahne with some fear.
Shortly, in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Evening rush hour is long over now, and through the deepening darkness overhead, a silent shadow glides, Warlock, again transformed into some sort of copter, remarks that he has chosen a disguise which is clever and unobtrusive. ‘Has self not?’ he asks. ‘Until somebody notices that this giant chopper’s not making a sound!’ Sam exclaims, to which Warlock offers to make a whup-whup-whup sound. Cannonball tells Warlock not to, before remarking that Ship says Doctor Strange lives in the house with the fancy window, and asks Warlock to set them down across the street.
Everyone exits their transportation, and Rusty asks what they are going to do now, as they can’t all barge in there. ‘Why not?’ Boom-Boom asks. Skids points out that if Dr. Strange is really a Sorcerer, then he is bound to be plenty powerful, to which Cannonball agrees, and decides that they best approach him humbly and with respect, after all, they are asking him to do them a favor. ‘Humbly? This is the Twentieth Century for pete’s sake!’ Boom-Boom remarks. Sunspot declares that one thing is for certain - Boom-Boom won’t be on the petitioning committee.
Rictor suggests that Sam, Rusty and Sally go, as they are the oldest and look the most respectable. ‘What do you mean , Rictor, they look the most respectable?’ Boom-Boom snaps. ‘Just what you think I mean!’ Rictor replies smugly, before telling Boom-Boom to shut up and keep back in the shadows, as he wants to hear what happens, this is a great place, he adds. Wolfsbane holds onto Mirage, while Sunspot tends to Brightwind.
Cannonball knocks on the door to Doctor Strange’s sanctum sanctorum, and Rusty and Sally stand at his side as a bald-headed man opens the door, ‘Yes?’ he asks. Cannonball excuses himself, before asking ‘Are you Doctor Strange?’ The man replies that he is flattered, but in fact his name is Wong. Wong informs them that Doctor Strange is actually dead, and begins to close the door. Cannonball protests, asking Wong not to close the door, ‘He can’t -’ he begins to say, when suddenly Boom-Boom shouts ‘You bet he can’t! That bald dude’s lying!’
Boom-Boom readies one of her time bombs, shouting that Ship would never have sent them here if that were true. ‘He’s in there somewhere…and I’ll flush him out!’ she tosses the time bomb, to Rictor’s protest, and Sally asks her if she is crazy. The time bomb lands inside, and a shadowed hand gestures and the time bomb simply ceases to exist. Cannonball tells Wong that he is really sorry about that, explaining that they are all pretty wrought up.
Rictor asks Boom-Boom what is with her, pointing out that she acts like a time bomb is the answer to everything. ‘Not that it did much good, it disappeared! It was useless!’ he exclaims. Rictor tells Boom-Boom that she is losing it, to which Tabby begins to retaliate to, but Rictor cuts her off, pointing out that she tried to blow that dude up because she thinks he lied to her precious Cannonball. ‘You’re jealous of Sam, that’s it!’ Boom-Boom snaps back, to which Rictor replies ‘Jealous? Me?’
Cannonball has turned to see what all the commotion is about, when Rahne, in her half-wolf half-girl form pulls Rictor and Tabby off each other, asking them to stop it, as Dani has been struck down by an unearthly illness and may be dying. ‘How can you behave so badly? What will this man think of us?’ Rahne asks.
Inside the large house, Doctor Strange, not dead, is watching them, and thinks to himself that the youngsters are indeed overwrought, and with little wonder, as there is something palpable evil about the fallen child’s illness, Strange decides. He thinks that even from this far back he can feel it, even though its origin is well masked and obscure. Strange decides that the “little blonde” and the “dark-haired boy” seem most sensitive to it, but that in time, proximity to such toxic magic will affect them all. Strange wonders more and more if he even has the right to allow the world to believe him dead when such evil stalks humanity.
Wolfsbane approaches Wong, addressing him as Sir, asks him to tell them what they should do now, as they were told Doctor Strange alone could aid them in this, their hour of desperation. Suddenly, Dani screams, and is engulfed in a burst of magical flames. Everyone turns to her, and Cannonball cries out to his friend, whose eyes and mouth are now filled with flames. Sunspot is unable to stop Brightwind who flies away from him, also engulfed in the mysterious flames. ‘They’re surrounded…consumed by flame! Heaven above, what’s happened to them?’ asks Wolfsbane.
In his hidden, astral form, Doctor Strange flies outside of his home to investigate, thinking that this is not the work of the Heavens, and decides to aid them as much as he can without revealing himself. Cannonball calls out to Skids and asks her to throw a force field up as Mirage begins to throw her flames towards her teammates. Skids does so, while Boom-Boom points out that whatever the flames touch are beginning to burn. Suddenly, in a voice not her own, Mirage shouts ‘FOOLS! I will fight death no longer. Do you not realize…? I am Death!’
Doctor Strange hovers over her and remarks that she is not Death - at least not yet, but admits that she is not what she seems. Though the Eye of Agamotto has been destroyed, Strange casts a simple spell of revelation upon Mirage to shed some light on who she really is. The spell reveals to a surprised Doctor Strange that Mirage is a Valkyrie, but also a human, mutant girl of Native American ancestry. He wonders how this came to pass, as the ways of fate are more than passing strange. Strange notes the third figure he sees, a flaming skeleton, and realizes that is what drives Mirage, and will subsume the others if it can.
Strange feels sorry for Mirage, remarking that she has faced an assault that no human mind should have to bear. Mirage takes off into the air on Brightwind, and Strange follows her, remarking that it is a miracle she survived such an attack and that she has strength enough to enforce her winged horse into the air away from her friends and the city. Strange decides to remove Mirage’s astral form, her native self, which should quiet her physical body, while he does battle on the Astral Plane with the creature that possesses her, but upon pulling Danielle’s astral form from her body, Strange discovers that the evil magic is more potent than he imagined!
Mirage’s astral form shudders in pain and fear, for it alone restrained the monster who possessed her, Strange realizes his mistake in removing her astral soul, as he has freed evil magic of all restraints! Strange can only watch as an insane Mirage and Brightwind fly back down to Greenwich and begin shooting streams of flame at the New Mutants. Cannonball takes to the air, as he is invulnerable while blasting, and Doctor Strange notes that the New Mutants are far less than helpless, but that it is likely their power will not be enough.
Cannonball grabs Mirage and pulls her from Brightwind, thinking to himself that someone has to stop her, but down below, Brightwind continues to attack the New Mutants, and fires some flame towards Wong, who luckily for him is rescued by Wolfsbane, who pushes him aside. Rusty calls out to his girlfriend and tells her to throw a force field up and orders everyone to get inside it now, as Brightwind is returning for another. Rusty adds that they need something to capture and hold Brightwind, something that is fire-resistant.
Rusty sees an iron railing and using his own flame on the iron, softens it and stretches it into a wire. Warlock shifts his form into a jet-rocket so he can fly, and taking the wire heads up towards Mirage, after Rusty warns him that the iron-rope is still hot, to which Warlock replies it is not too hot for him to handle. Warlock attempts to lasso and hobble Brightwind like a cowboy in a rodeo video. From behind Sally’s force field, Rictor calls out to Warlock, congratulating him, but Wolfsbane points out that the rope is glowing red-hot and stretching, as Brightwind’s wings become free.
Outside of the force field, Rusty is pulled into the air as he was anchoring Warlock and the rope. Sunspot who is also not in the force field reaches out and uses his strength to grab the rope. ‘Thanks, man!’ Rusty exclaims as he is brought back down to the ground. Bobby points out that if Brightwind goes free, then he will torch the city, when suddenly the hot rope begins to burn his hands. ‘Better my hands - than the city!’ exclaims Sunspot as he uses his incredible strength to force Brightwind down to the ground, the large horse lands with a thud.
Meanwhile, above the village streets, Mirage puts her hands over Cannonball’s eyes, preventing him from seeing where he is going. Sam then thinks to himself that he is beginning to seriously doubt if this is Dani, after all, if she isn’t Dani, the last thing she will be wanting him to do is see! Indeed, unable to see where he was going, Cannonball smashes into the pavement below, and Dani is knocked from his grasp. ‘Oh gross! Keep blasting Sam, or her fire will fry you!’ Boom-Boom shouts out to Sam after Skids drops her force field.
Boom-Boom rushes over to Sam and seeing a hydrant, tosses a time bomb at it, thinking it will douse the fire. The burst of plasma opens the hydrant, but as Sally points out, Mirage’s fire is not being put out, and as the water hits it, it is now being turned to steam. Sally exclaims that Sam will be scalded and rushes towards the steam, protected by a force field, Sally enters the steam and grabs her teammate. Dragging him out under her force field, she announces that Sam’s skin is red and already beginning to blister.
As Sally brings Sam over to their teammates, Rictor shouts ‘Skids! Behind you!’ as Mirage rises from the steam, her fire still raging. In that strange voice, Mirage tells Skids that by seeking to steal one prey from her, she has left the others open to an attack. ‘Foolish child!’ she shouts - but before she can attack, Rictor unleashes a seismic attack, knocking Mirage off her feet. ‘Don’t count on it, sulfur breath!’ he shouts. Mirage lies on the ground and everyone watches her. Warlock asks her to let him help, but Boom-Boom advises Warlock to keep back, ‘Whatever that thing is…it ain’t Dani!’ Indeed, as Mirage stares at them and begins to hiss.
Meanwhile, on the Astral Plane, Doctor Strange tells Mirage that she has been through a lot, and in truth she has had much to fear, but now that is behind her - for a while. Strange tells Dani to uncurl from her retreat, to relax and let him help her, but a frightened Dani replies that she cannot endure any more pain. ‘Get away from me! Don’t touch me! You can’t help me!’ she exclaims, before summoning her spirit spear and thrusting it towards Doctor Strange, telling him that he doesn’t know anything about it, anything at all! Dani then hurls the spear at Strange, directly towards his heart. Strange realizes that it is a dream spear, and conjures a spell to stop it, surprising Mirage, who wants to know how he stopped it.
Doctor Strange remarks that Dani’s conjuring obey the dictates of her heart, adding that he knows it is not he whom she wishes to harm, before asking her to let the hands of Cytorrak hold her. Dani finds herself frozen in place, and asks Doctor Strange what he has done to her. Strange explains to Dani that he has pulled her soul onto the Astral Plane. ‘The fire?’ asks Mirage. Strange replies that it was not his doing, before asking Dani her name. She replies that her name is Danielle Moonstar, and Strange introduces himself as Doctor Strange, adding that on the Astral Plane.
Doctor Strange tells Mirage that he has given her respite from her pain, before remarking that she is a mutant, and oddly enough, a Valkyrie. Strange asks Mirage to look below, and tell him what she sees. Dani replies that she sees Brightwind and herself - ‘No, just my body, I’m here, aren’t I?’ Dani exclaims that they are wreathed in flames, and attacking her friends. ‘NO!’ she shouts, before telling Strange that when he released her, she thought she was dead, and that the fire and pain and destruction had ended.
Doctor Strange explains to Mirage that she is under attack by a force of incredible and malevolent power, and that he hoped in removing her spirit, he would remove the animating force behind the violence, but now he understands, all too well, that Dani and the force were locked in battle. Mirage admits that the force would have won, as she burning up inside and could not have controlled it much longer. Dani asks who would attack her - and why, before looking at her friends down on Earth, all inside Skids’ force field as her own physical form attacks them.
Doctor Strange replies that the attack comes from Asgard, and involves her status as a Valkyrie. ‘Of that I am certain!’ Shocked, Dani exclaims that Brightwind chose her to become a Valkyrie. Doctor Strange reminds Dani that she is a human, and that such a choice - an honor - has never been made before, so she must be very special. Tears well up in Dani’s eyes, ‘Special? A specialist at destruction!’ she exclaims.
Strange tells Dani that it is within her power to stop all that, to return to her body and take control. ‘No!’ Mirage exclaims, declaring that the pain is more than fire, it sears and burns out every nerve. ‘It’s torture! More than I can bear!’ she gasps, before telling Strange that he does not know what he is asking.
Back on Earth, Rusty and Sunspot are still dealing with Brightwind, but Rusty exclaims that the cords are stretching and melting. It proves too much for the young men and Brightwind breaks free from them, running towards them, still covered in flames. Sunspot and Rusty dodge Brightwind’s attack, and just in time as Mirage leaps onto her steed. Some police officers arrive on the scene, and wonder how they can stop something like that, and they see that whatever Brightwind touches begins to burn.
Mirage and Brightwind begin to charge through the village, through groups of innocent bystanders. A small girl cries out to her mother as Brightwind looms over her. ‘Please don’t hurt me!’ the girl calls up to Mirage. Wolfsbane sees this, and shouts at her best friend, telling her not to do it, as she is just a child. Rahne leaps in front of Brightwind and grabs the child in her arms, telling the girl that it will be all right, when suddenly one of Brightwind’s hooves burn into Rahne’s wolfen body.
‘Rahne! NO!’ Dani shouts from the Astral Plane. Clearly upset, Dani informs Strange that Rahne is her dearest friend and soul mate. ‘I was so afraid to return to myself, to take control of my actions so she took control for me! Without her courage that child would have died!’ Mirage exclaims that Rahne saved the girl and paid for her own cowardice. ‘How many will die because of me?’ Doctor Strange tells Mirage to go then, with his blessing - and admiration. Strange remarks that it is Mirage’s lot to fight the monster, but he will aid where he can, though he prays that it is not too late.
The New Mutants are all engulfed in Mirage’s flames, when suddenly Dani’s astral form returns to her body, and her physical form responds by screeching ‘You seek to thwart me? Foolish mortal! This shell is yours no longer! Release me!’ Dani tells herself that she can’t, but although she is not afraid to die, she wonders how long she can withstand the pain. The evil magic wears Dani down, burns her out, and she believes that it will win in the end. Dani knows that she has to think, she needs respite, if only for a moment, if only she could stop the fire, then she could block the pain.
Suddenly, Dani realizes that there is a way, and wonders why she never thought of it before. Suddenly, a strange vessel appears out of nowhere and encases Dani and Brightwind in a huge chunk of ice. Doctor Strange witnessed what just transpired and realizes that it was Mirage using her powers. However, he notices that the flames still flicker around Dani within the ice, meaning the monster that possesses her is powerful, and he wonders how much longer the machinery can imprison her.
Strange turns his attention to Greenwich Village and sees burned people, burned buildings. He recalls how he promised to aid Danielle within his abilities, so casts a spell, shouting ‘Let what was destroyed be now restored! Let those innocent of all offence be healed and go about their business, unperturbed of body and mind!’ The astral form of Doctor Strange then returns to his sanctum sanctorum so he can return to his body and communicate personally with the brave teenagers outside.
Strange wishes that he could make the New Mutants also forget what has just transpired, but the very fate of Asgard lies in the balance, though he is thankful he can remove their physical pain. Returned to his body, Strange walks towards the doors, casting a spell of transformation so that his clothing will look more ordinary, though he believes it is a waste of a good illusion, as he is becoming annoyed by this charade he is forced to play.
Outside, the New Mutants are shocked. ‘Hey look! We’re healed! Didn’t we used to be crispy critters?’ Rictor exclaims. Sam tells him not to joke, before asking what happened. Sunspot motions to the ice-maker in the air, explaining that it appeared, then they all got better. Skids suggests that the ice weakened the evil spell, but that it didn’t break it, not totally, for Dani is still in there, trapped with the monster inside the ice!
Suddenly, ‘Might I be of assistance?’ a voice asks, standing on the front porch of Strange’s home. The heroes all turn, and Rusty asks who he is. Strange introduces himself as Dr. Stephen Sanders. ‘A doctor? See! I was right, It’s Doctor Strange!’ Boom-Boom whispers. ‘He was hiding and he saw and he saved us!’ Rahne rolls her eyes and tells Tabby not to be daft, ‘His name is Sanders, and that machine is obviously one of Dani’s conjuring!’
As the ice machine lowers the block of ice containing Dani and Brightwind to the ground, Rusty thanks “Dr. Sanders” for the offer of assistance, but points out that their teammate seems to have things under control. Sunspot remarks that Mirage saved them and maybe the entire world, to which Cannonball suggests to his team that they get Dani back to Ship.
Meanwhile…in a dimension far, far away…The Goddess Hela holds in her hands a statue of Mirage and Brightwind encased in ice. ‘So, the Valkyrie maid used her conjuring to disrupt me fell design!’ the green-clad Goddess exclaims angrily. Hela knows that Migard is blocked from her for now, and those young warriors will not enter her kingdom. Her eyes and mouth full of flames, Hela exclaims that the mutant trick will be their undoing. ‘Hela has not finished with that upstart Valkyrie. By the Shattered Ship of Nails, my revenge is just beginning!’