California, Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner, Amanda “Magik” Sefton, Margali Szardos and Nightmare stand in shock. For Wolverine a.k.a. Logan has just shoved his claws through Nurse Christine Palmer, a friend of Kurt’s. But something is different about Logan - Kurt has seen the expression before, enraged, insane, full of bloodlust. Full of evil.
With his healing factor, Wolverine’s body is very nearly indestructible, and even when not possessed by a demon named Hive, he is a killing machine, through and through. Kurt looks at Christine, who is looking up at him, obviously in pain, tears stream from her eyes. This is one of those touch choices that X-Men have to make periodically: stay to help the innocent and wounded, or try to keep the enemy from doing any more damage.
Nightcrawler bamfs into action, teleporting towards Logan as his foster sister and former girlfriend Amanda calls to him. Kurt urges Amanda to help Christine, as the possessed Wolverine tells Nightcrawler that he wants the Soulsword or else he will slaughter all his friends. Kurt uses his mutant ability to teleport in several short bursts across the circus he worked in for a very short time, knowing he has to get Logan away from the others and the Soulsword before anyone else gets hurt.
The destination is the hall of mirrors, where Kurt drops Logan off and teleports once more so that Logan cannot hurt him. The possessed Logan, with adamantium claws outstretched makes his way through the maze of mirrors, muttering that he loves games. ‘So where are you hiding, mutant?’ Kurt thinks that it is like playing Marco-polo in the pool at the X-Mansion, only the stakes are much higher. Logan / Hive tells Kurt that this is lunacy, for they can smell his sweat and hear his pulse. ‘We can feel your fear’.
Hive tells Kurt that the only reason he is still alive is…’Actually, we can’t think of a single reason why you should be’. Kurt wants the demon Hive to keep talking, so maybe he can figure out why all this, and why Hive, feels so familiar. Hive tells Kurt that they don’t mind this stay of execution, ‘What’s a few more moments? We’ve had this date since…well, since you brother, at least’. Kurt stops in his tracks. The penny finally drops and the years collapse around him like a house of cards. The past begins to flood over him, memories upon memories…
It is a few days after Kurt’s escape from Jardine’s carnival. Kurt is inside a payphone, phoning Winzeldorf so he can tell his beloved sister, Jimaine what has happened. ‘Jimaine? Jimaine are you there?’ Kurt asks through the phone.
Huddled in her room, the young woman who will be known as Amanda Sefton asks Kurt where he is. Kurt asks Jimaine why she is whispering, to which Jimaine reveals that it is their brother, something awful has happened to him. ‘However troubled Stefan was before, its much, much worse now’. Kurt asks how much worse it could be, to which Jimaine explains that Stefan says demons are after him, stalking him and telling him to do terrible things.
Jimaine tells Kurt that she cannot talk for long in case Stefan hears her, and urges Kurt to come home, for she has been having nightmares - the most unspeakable visions. Kurt urges Jimaine to stay as far away from Stefan as she can, and promises to be home as soon as he can.
Kurt managed to get to Germany by teleporting onto a departing airplane then teleporting off it, he arrives in Winzeldorf, exhausted - and too late. For Stefan kneels before a fountain in the town square holding the body of a child in his arms. The pool surrounding the fountain is colored blood, with the bodies of more than a dozen other children floating in it too.
Flies buzz around Stefan Szardos, ‘Brother…the Amazing Nightcrawler… home, home, home…’ The moon shines brightly above Kurt as he asks his foster brother if he is all right, explaining that Jimaine called him - suddenly, Kurt sees the bodies in the fountain and asks his brother what he has done. ‘Why?’ asks Kurt as Stefan drops the boy from his arms and gets to is feet, claiming that her had to. ‘But these are…these were children!’ Kurt exclaims.
Stefan declares that they aren’t children, that they only look that way, but he knows the truth about them. Kurt pause before asking his brother ‘What truth?’ Holding a knife in his hand, Stefan points to his head. ‘The voices inside my head…they told me…’ he begins. Kurt thinks that his brother is deranged - something inside him whispering into his soul.
Stefan exclaims that they weren’t children, that underneath they were demons, monsters he had to kill before they rose up and killed others. Kurt decides that if he can talk to Stefan slowly, then this can end without any further bloodshed. Kurt calmly tells Stefan that he understands and asks if he can hold that knife for him. Stefan hands the knife to Kurt, remarking that it is over now, so he thinks he can give it to him.
In the coming years, Kurt will ask himself over and over “Why did it have to happen?” - why did that child whom Stefan thought was dead, whom fate had spared - why did he chose that moment to shudder back to life? Indeed, the boy coughs - but why couldn’t he have stayed still five seconds longer? Enraged, Stefan turns back to the child. ‘What? Alive still?’ he exclaims.
‘The Devil! The Prince of Lies - playing dead!’ shouts Stefan as he runs for the boy. Kurt however is young, and could have done a number of things - teleport to the child then teleport him to safety, to teleport to Stefan then teleport him away where he could have done anymore harm. ‘You’ll die as surely as the rest!’ shouts Stefan, while Kurt calls out to him.
There isn’t time to think, for Stefan’s knife flashed in the moonlight ass Kurt reaches out to him. ‘You don’t understand…you’ll never understand!’ Stefan shouts. Kurt wraps his arms around Stefan’s neck to pull him back away from the child - then there is a crack - and the gruesome sound of bones breaking will echo across the years for the rest of his life.
Flies start billowing from Stefan’s lifeless body, as Kurt stands over him, holding the child safe in his arms, warm, as Stefan’s body grew quickly cold. Kurt remembers the vow he had made to Stefan some months before… ‘Promise me, brother, if I ever start to change, start hurting people….promise you’ll stop me no matter what it takes’ ‘I…all right, Stefan, I promise’.
Kurt backs up against a mirror and wonders if Stefan had known something demonic would take control of him and force him to…’force me to…?’ Was Hive there all those years ago?
Hive tells Nightcrawler that even though he isn’t saying anything, they can hear the wheels inside him turning. ‘So many questions you must have…why did we whisper sweet nothings into Stefan Szardos’ ear? Why didn’t we possess him the way we possessed this body? Or did we? Did we, at the last moment, take hold of Stefan’s body and twist his little neck around until it broke, broke, broke?’
Hive, in Wolverine’s body still, stares into a mirror and asks Wolverine if he has been blaming himself for nothing all these years. Forever trying to wipe his brothers blood from his hands. Hive boasts that Nightcrawler will never know the answers, unless he hands over the Soulsword, which Hive will have one way or another, he boasts.
Nightcrawler hopes that Hive will keep talking so he cannot hear him approach, when suddenly, Kurt bursts through the mirror behind Hive / Wolverine, shattering glass everywhere. Kurt knows he could do a number of things here, and leaps onto Wolverine’s back. If Kurt were fighting a non-possessed Logan, he wouldn’t be able to do this, any of this. But since Hive doesn’t know how to use Logan’s body the way Logan does….
Kurt teleports himself and Hive / Logan onto the roller coaster tracks, with Hive boasting that where they are taken, they will keep coming until - suddenly, there is a loud crack, as Nightcrawler snaps Wolverine’s neck. ‘That’s for Stefan, whether you killed him or not’ Kurt thinks to himself as flies begin billowing out of Wolverine’s body.
Kurt teleports back to where the others are. Nightmare, who is still tending to Jardine, asks where the hideous Hive is, pointing out that he surely isn’t dead. Kurt explains that Hive are trapped inside Logan’s body while it heals, which wont take much longer, before asking where Christine is. ‘Not to worry, handsome…she’s in good hands’ the beautiful Amanda declares.
Kurt sees Amanda standing over Christine’s body in a brilliant blue light, and asks his foster sister what she is doing. ‘Saving her life, lover boy’ Amanda replies, remarking that you watch enough episodes of E.R. to know you can adapt your magic to just about anything. Amanda explains that she is slowing down Christine’s beating heart while she makes her wounds close, regenerating the torn tissue and replacing the lost blood. Kurt thinks that he could kiss Amanda - maybe after all this is over, he will.
Kurt asks what has happened to Logan’s soul with Hive possessing his body. ‘Tsk. What do you think I’m doing here, Nightcrawler? Prepping the floor show?’ asks Nightmare, before Nightmare reveals that he is astral-projecting at the moment, searching the nether-realms for wherever Hive has displaced Wolverine’s mind. Nightmare exclaims that he has found it. ‘Oh dear’ he adds. Kurt asks if Logan is somewhere awful, to which Nightmare replies ‘Appalling, Nightcrawler. You can’t imagine’.
On the astral plane, Wolverine stands on a small hill, green grass covers the ground for as far as the eye can see. Birds fly across the blue sky lined by puffy white clouds and rainbows. ‘Logan…? Wolverine…? Weapon X…? Whatever you’re calling yourself these days’ Nightmare asks. ‘S’up, bub? Welcome to my idea of Hell’ Logan replies. Nightmare tells Logan not to despair, pointing out that he isn’t in control of his body right now, but that something’s going to happen soon, hopefully, and then he will be able to jump right back in. ‘Oh don’t worry about me. I can do that easy’ Logan snarls.
Back in reality, Kurt asks Nightmare about Logan, to which Nightmare mutters that he is surly, but will survive, assuming that Hive can be dispatched of course. The green-skinned ram-horn wearing Margali steps forward and declares that he can. ‘How? Tell me, Margali!’ Kurt exclaims. The Sorceress Supreme explains that hive can be defeated with that which he seeks - the Soulsword!
‘Please, mother, Logan’s body is healing - ‘ Kurt begins to say, before Margali interrupts, proclaiming that there are two kinds of beings who covet the sword. Magicals such as herself, and demons like Hive, and before him, Belasco, who has come after the Soulsword many times. Margali reminds Kurt of how the sorcerer Gravemoss possessed him in order to wrest the sword from Kitty Pryde because he wanted to use it to kill anyone who stood before him on the Winding Way.
Amanda reminds everyone that it took their combined might to defeat Belasco after he had wrest control of the Soulsword, and suggests that this might Belasco’s revenge, adding that demons work together all the time, so perhaps Hive is Belasco’s lackey. Kurt thinks to himself that it is a possibility, but somehow it doesn’t feel right. Margali hands Kurt the Soulsword, informing him that it will kill Hive. Before he teleports away, Kurt asks what will happen to Logan, to which Margali explains his body will remain intact, for the Soulsword can only hurt and destroy supernatural beings.
Kurt teleports back to the roller coaster track, where Hive / Wolverine is clicking his neck back into place and exclaiming that they are eager for their booty. Nightcrawler pauses, before telling Hive that it doesn’t have to end this way, that he doesn’t have to die by the sword’s blade. ‘Is that what’s going to happen?’ asks Hive. ‘By the Nine Rings, you truly believe such a thing, don’t you?’
Kurt asks Hive who it is that is making him do all these things, pointing out that he is not powerful enough on his own, and was hiding in Jardine’s body while Man-Thing, Carrion and the others - Kurt stops talking, for Hive causes Wolverine’s body to hurl, and millions of flies pour from Wolverine’s mouth. They begin to buzz around Kurt, ‘Poor deluded Nightcrawler…with no body to strike, what can you cut? Poor, poor pawn…what can your sword do now?’
Kurt thinks that he can do plenty, for he knows that the Soulsword doesn’t just cut with its blade, it also burns with a cleansing fire. He swipes the sword through the mass of flies, most of them disperse, for they are simple insects, buzzing in confusion. But one of them isn’t a fly at all - and he finds it, grabbing it in his fingers.
Kurt looks down at the grotesque fly demon known as Hive and tells him that he wants the truth - who is ordering all this - Belasco? Hive asks Kurt if he thinks Belasco ranks higher than they, before remarking that Belasco is a soldier as much as they are. ‘Who then?’ Kurt asks, threatening to kill Hive. Hive reply that they think he might kill them anyway, to which Kurt asks them to tell him if they killed Stefan.
‘Yes. Or maybe we made you kill him. Either way, he had to die’ comes the reply. ‘”Had to”?’ asks Kurt. Hive tells that there is so much he doesn’t understand about who he is and what is going on here, before revealing that Stefan Szardos was assassinated. Hive then explains that all those times Belasco came after Margali and Amanda, it wasn’t merely to get the Soulsword, it was also to kill them both.
But this time, Kurt was the target. Hive declares that killing Kurt was as much their mission as finding and taking the Soulsword back to…the fly’s voice trails off, ‘No, that would be telling’. Kurt asks if all these attacks have been related, ‘And the scales fall from St. Paul’s eyes…’ says Hive. Kurt points out that Stefan’s death was years ago, as was what happened with Belasco.
Hive knows this and informs Kurt that these wheels have been turning for a very, very long time - even from when before Kurt was born. ‘Strategies have been in place for centuries…a war is brewing - has been for millennia. Battle lines are drawn’. ‘What war?’ asks Kurt. ‘The war before End-times’ replies hive as Kurt releases his grasp. Hive informs Kurt that the other side has been stacking the deck in its favor for centuries, collecting weapons like the Soulsword, dispatching those who would stand in its way….
‘Stefan, Amanda and Margali?’ asks Kurt. ‘You as well. You might not be related by the blood, but you’re cut from the same cloth’ Hive points out. Kurt is about to ask Hive why they told him all this, to which Hive tell him to let them ask a question - what if they are lying - or what if it doesn’t matter what he knows because it is too late, or…’What if we don’t want our side to win? What if the thought of that happening scares even us?’
Hive declares that whatever the case, it doesn’t matter because - suddenly the fly’s body begins to convulse - this is how a demon is killed from afar. Like a hot sun exploding. Like a firefly blinking out…’. Kurt looks at his hand where Hive - he…it…they - was killed from afar. Like everything else that has been happening to him. Wolverine finds himself back in his body and asks his friend what happened.
All that’s left are more questions, so Kurt teleports himself and Logan back to the others and asks if Christine is all right. Amanda tells him that she will be fine, before Nightmare announces that he doesn’t feel Hive’s presence anymore, ‘So kudos on that front’. Margali asks of the Soulsword, to which Kurt replies he is keeping inside of him until… ‘Until when?’ Margali asks. Amanda exclaims that this is over now, right? With Hive gone they are safe. Ominously, Kurt tells his sister that he thinks it is only beginning.