When you die, Dani Moonstar - when you die and go to Hel…when death closes its jaws and swallows you whole…imagine how odd it would be if it wasn’t your life that flashed your eyes. Imagine getting someone else’s life story instead. Like now - as the life of the massive monster with a enormous jagged-tooth mouth who swallowed Mirage now flashes before the leader of the New Mutants’s eyes.
Shown with flashback images:
Bonegrinder was one of the Draumar, the foot soldiers of the Serpent. In this memory, Dani sees them as they are now, transmuted by eons of hatred and rage. They were warriors then, not monsters. It was a long time ago by anyone’s standards. Even the memory stinks of age and grave-dirt.
The Serpent had his champions, the worthy, and the Draumar were the Huscarl Company who served both the lord and his champions. That day, that last day - Gods! So long ago. That day, the great Serpent was angry, and he was afraid. He was in his throne room, accompanied by Skadi and the worthies, surrounded by his loyal Draumar, he was still afraid - because Odin was cutting through them all to get to him. The place was called Aesheim, it was the Serpent’s cradle of power. It no longer exists because of that day and that battle. It was a very long time ago when the massive battle raged.
You can smell steel suddenly, wet steel smoking with blood-steam. Odin is here. Bonegrinder and the other Draumar at the throne door go to stop him. But he is Odin. You don’t stop Odin. You taste blood in your mouth. There’s the taste of blood in the memory now. When you face Odin, you feel weak, you feel opened. You feel your life running out of you like water. The Draumar are with you, they’re all dead. Bonegrider only has a few heartbeats left. Bonegrinder’s vision is growing dim as he is smacked aside by Odin, before seeing Odin cleave open the throne room door.
Bonegrinder’s hearing is dull now, too. He doesn’t hear what Odin yells at the Serpent, only feels the force of it. Odin’s armor is black with blood - some of it Bonegrinder’s. A lot of it, in fact. Odin’s sword strikes the Serpent. The Odinsword is as bright as a star. But, the end of the world is brighter.
‘Oh my God!’ Mirage utters as Bonegrinder’s gaping mouth closes on her, and the memory of his death fades. Gazing around at her surroundings, Danielle realizes that she is floating on a “river” of stomach acid, inside the monster. ‘He…ate me. He swallowed me. I’m in his gut’. Looking at what she is standing on, Danielle realizes that it is an island of meat that is slowly being dissolved by the stomach acid. ‘And I’m dreaming his dreams’ Danielle tells herself, announcing that there has got to bebetter work around than this.
In the meantime:, ‘So…is this Hel, self/friend Amara?’ the alien New Mutant called Warlock asks Amara “Magma” Aquilla, who replies ‘Yes’. Warlock’s eyes pop out of his head and he asks ‘The correct Hel? One “L” Hel? It is hard to analyze how many “L”s this environment possesses’ Warlock decides, his eyes popping out even further. Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta tells Amara that he cannot believe she made a deal with the Devil to get them here. ‘A date? You’re not even sure if he’s kept his side of the bargain!’ Bobby snaps, while X-Man a.k.a. Nate Grey walks alongside them, and Doug “Cypher” Ramsey hangs back from them.
Magma announces that she thinks Mephisto is essentially trustworthy, adding that when it comes to deals, he sticks to the letter. ‘Isn’t that the point with the Devil? He catches you out by being too literal?’ Magma remarks, assuring everyone that this is Hel. ‘It’s certainly hell listening to you two go on’ X-Man complains, while Cypher suggests that Mephisto should have let them look over a contract. ‘I could have checked the small print’. Warlock tells his “self/friends” to end their verbalcom and instead opticalize. ‘Do what now?’ Bobby asks, unsure of what Warlock has asked.
The New Mutants and X-Man look ahead, ‘Oh my God…that’s Hela’s palace!’ Magma exclaims as she sees the palace under siege. ‘Flee! Quit the field! The Draumar are unstoppable!’ a voice can be heard from amongst the fleeing warriors.
‘Hela’s gone! Run for it!’ another warrior calls out. ‘Three guesses where Dani’s gonna be’ Sunspot tells his friends as they race forward. ‘Right in the middle of that!’ Amara declares. ‘What are these dead things saying? What are they running from?’ X-Man asks. One of the warriors races past Cypher, who asks him to stop, and announces that they are looking for Hela. ‘She’s gone! The Draumar came!’ the warrior replies. ‘“The Dreams”?’ Cypher asks. ‘Who are “the Dreams”?’ he inquires. The warrior explains that they are dreams of death and destruction, rage and loss bound up together. Cypher takes hold of the warrior’s arm, and the warrior declares ‘Let me go! They’re killing the dead! They’re feeding off our spirits!’
‘Feeding -?’ Cypher asks, when suddenly, one of the warriors is hacked apart with a large axe. ‘Mmmmmhhh’ utters a horrid being as it sucks in the soul of the dead warrior. ‘Did that thing just…inhale a soul?’ Bobby asks. Cypher explains that this realm features certain profound epistemological differences to their own conceptual reality. ‘But…basically’ he confirms. Sunspot asks if Mirage is down there somewhere, fighting immortal dream monsters that can kill death and feed off it. ‘Baaay-sically’ Doug replies. ‘So we go through these clowns and pull her out of this craziness!’ Magma declares as she and Bobby both fire blasts of their respective energies at the demon. ‘Flee, lost souls! Get the Hel out of here! We will face these bad dreams!’ Doug calls out. ‘You know, Doug…I’m not sure we honestly want to’ one of the others mutters as Bonegrinder and other monsters stride towards them.
In the meantime, literally right in the middle of “that”. Danielle puts the skull of a dead creture through her sword, and lowers it towards river of stomach acid. ‘Okay, chuckles, show me if swimming’s going to be an option’ she declares, before bringing the almost wholly dissolved skull back up. ‘Yeah, that’s a big no’ she decides, when suddenly, she is rocked about. ‘Whoa!’ Dani calls out as she grabs a large bone to steady herself. ‘Upset stomach, much? What the crap’s happening out there?’ Mirage wonders.
At that moment, ‘May, you are ug-lee’ Sunspot declares as he fires another blast of energy at Bonegrinder, while the other New Mutants and X-Man engage the warriors in battle. Cypher tells Bobby to blast that thing again before he eats someone. ‘Blade fodder!’ one of the warriors calls out. ‘Says you!’ X-Man replies, while Magma tells him to be careful, before muttering ‘Ow! Ow! Ow!’ as one of the warriors pokes her with several daggers, only for Amara to melt them quickly. ‘Skull-chop!’ one of the warriors calls out, but X-Man blocks his attack. ‘Worm-food!’ the warrior calls out. ‘You going to sword fight or trash talk?’ X-Man asks. The warrior calls out to the Draumar, announcing that these ones are live, and bleed. ‘Ahhh! Dammit! That does it!’ Nate mutters as the sword strikes him.
The warrior announces that these are live souls from Midgard, and declares that they will pay the Bloodgeld to buy their path our of Hel. Warlock announces that he is not extracting sufficient meaning from the verbal statements of their adversaries, and cites “Midgard” and “Bloodgeld” as two examples. ‘Do you need a glossary, self/friend?’ Doug asks, explaining that Bloodgeld is a price paid in lives. ‘The physical intent of our adversaries is more than reprehensible’ Warlock replies as he has transformed himself into a large tank. Suddenly, a black raven flies into view. ‘Kaw! Kak!’ the bird shrieks. ‘Hey, where’d you come fr -’ Doug calls out, when suddenly, the bird swoops down and rips off Doug’s communicator badge. ‘My badge! It just stole my badge!’ Doug shouts as the bird flies away.
Dani’s makeshift boat is sinking fast. She never imagined her obituary would include the phrase “dissolved by gastric juices”. ‘Man, this sucks’ Danielle mutters, when suddenly, she notices the bird fly towards her. ‘Kaw! Kak! Help Hel help!’ the bird squawks. ‘You! You!?’ Mirage gasps, as the bird drops Cypher’s communicator into Dani’s hand. ‘Where’d you get this? Did it come from outside? Tell me they’re right outside!’ Mirage shouts. The bird doesn’t answer, so Danielle leaps up above the floating island of meat and shouts ‘Guys! Can you hear me? I’m in here!’
Sunspot continues to attack Bonegrinder and tells his teammates that the monster is taking everything he has got and is not slowing down. ‘Gonna try and hit him point blank -’ Sunspot announces as he moves towards Bonegrinder, only for Bonegrinder to wrap a large chain around Sunspot’s neck and slam him to the ground. ‘Heh - bones to grind’ the monster laughs, before he suddenly coughs and splutters - as Mirage bursts through the space between his mouth and large arm, covered in blood, her sword outstretched. Bonegrinder moans in agony, and Magma, Sunspot, Warlock, Cypher and X-Man stare on in shock. ‘What? Have I got something on my face?’ Mirage asks.
‘Get her! Grab her!’ some more warriors call out as they lunge towards Mirage, who leaps away from them. ‘Make some space!’ she calls out. Fire rages through the area as Mirage tells the others that these things are undead, and will keep coming back, so they can only hope to repel them. ‘We’ve got to keep them at bay until Hela shows. She’ll know how to stop them permanently’ Mirage explains. ‘EAT THEIR SOULS!’ Bonegrinder bellows as his torn form repairs itself. ‘See what I mean? I cut this one open from the inside, and he’s getting back on his feet already’ Mirage remarks, adding that it is good to see everyone.
‘Good to see you too, girl’ Magma replies, before releasing a powerful burst of fiery energy. ‘That’s it! Force them back!’ someone calls out. Mirage raises her sword and declares that Hela’s hall is a fortress, and suggests they use it and hold it. She adds that she will get some transport, then they can fall back to Helheim and defend from there. Warlock queries Mirage’s comment about “transport”, to which Mirage looks up, and a feather falls down. ‘Air cav, Warlock. Air mobile. Brightwind!’ Mirage exclaims, as her winged horse Brightwind and several other Pegasus descend towards the young mutants.
‘One each! Mount up! Follow me!’ Mirage orders, adding that they will secure Helheim and find Hela. She summoned me, so she’ll have a plan!’ Mirage declares. ‘Bones cannot run. Bones cannot hide!’ Bonegrinder calls out as the young mutants take to the air. Mirage adds that Hela will teach them how to fight these things. The bird calls out to Mirage: ‘Kaw! Kaw! Help! Help! Hela Hel help!’, but a look of concern falls of Mirage’s face as she and the others comes across a massive spike standing up in Helheim - blood pours from the top of the spike, where someone has been shoved through - Hela!