Back in the day
This place was still officially known as Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, and life for the X-Men was so much simpler. Humanity thought of them as outlaws, but that didn't stop them fighting as heroes, doing their best to save the world, and occasionally the Multiverse. Kurt Wagner never knew a time when he was more happy, because they weren't just teammates, they were a family, and youngest amongst them was Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde – as brave as she was brilliant. 'Danger Room's all set, guys' Kitty calls down to Kurt a.k.a. Nightcrawler and Logan a.k.a. Wolverine down in the high-tech training facility from where she sits, busying herself at the control panel in the observation booth. Blowing some bubble gum, Kitty reports that the training sequence is ready to start. 'Press the button, kid' Wolverine waves up at Kitty. 'Let's get to work!' he adds. Logan was Kurt's best friend, and, in many ways, the bedrock that supported them all. This day with Kurt, he takes on the role of teacher.
'You go, Nightcrawler!' Kitty exclaims, as Kurt teleports into the air as five Danger Room constructs of other X-Men appear – Storm, the Beast, Iceman, Rogue and Colossus. Kitty tells her friend that he has faith he can beat these guys. 'You can try, anyway' Wolverine smirks. 'I appreciate the confidence!' Kurt calls back, balancing himself on a bright blue cable that runs through the Danger Room in various directions and shapes. Iceman moves upwards on an ice-sled, while the Beast leaps into the air, balancing himself on one of the cables. Rogue and Storm fly towards Nightcrawler, as Colossus misses his attack. Kurt knows that there wasn't much confidence in his voice, as he knows what this team can do – he figures he doesn't have a prayer. But still, he has to try, and although Beast has the raw strength, Kurt has the edge in agility, 'I've knocked him off balance!' Kurt exclaims as he flips through a hoop connected to the cable and kicks the Beast backwards. But, unfortunately, before he can press his advantage, Iceman comes to the Beast's rescue, creating an ice bob-sled, 'Ride my mutant bobsled run!' Iceman tells the Beast, adding that it will put him right back in the game. 'Much obliged' the Beast calls out as he regains his balance.
'Whatta move – you're gonna haveta up your game big-time, Elf!' Kitty grins. 'Tell me something I don't know, Katzchen!' Kurt replies as he teleports behind Storm, who asks 'Trying to take me by surprise?' Storm leads the team here and now, and gets her name because she controls the weather. 'Guess again' Storm warns Kurt, knocking him back with a surge of lightning. And then, not just lightning, but wind also. 'All yours' Storm calls out to Colossus, as Nightcrawler drifts towards the Russian mutant on the wind. 'Spaciba, Storm' Colossus responds, raising his arm, he smacks Kurt back through the air. Kurt thinks that although Colossus might literally be a man made of steel, he also moves very fast. Worse, Colossus has forced Nightcrawler into the arms of their newest member, Rogue. 'Gotcha, Sugah!' Rogue grins as she catches Kurt. Wolverine tells Kurt that they should call this a wrap. 'Could'a gone better, Bub' he points out. 'I know' Kurt responds. Wolverine tells Nightcrawler never to do what is expected, to think faster and nastier, always look for ways to turn your adversary's assets into liabilities. Kurt teleports out of the Danger Room Rogue's arms, and re-appears near Wolverine, who warns Kurt that outside the Danger Room, he won't get a second chance. If he screws up there, then he pays the ultimate price.
Now, Kurt faces his friends for real. Ororo “Storm” Munroe, Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock, Bobby “Iceman” Drake, Hank McCoy a.k.a. The Beast, Rachel Grey and Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin have been possessed by the Shadow King and as the loom over him, they mean to kill him – and the woman he protects, Bloody Bess. The Shadow King hovers nearby, alongside Broadside and Killian of the Crimson Pirates, also possessed, and several of their Sea Dogs. Kurt is alone in the dessert, save for several of his trusty Bamfs. Kurt smiles and tells himself that the first move is to take out the team leader, Storm, to which Rachel and Betsy smile. 'Mutant fool! You face two telepaths!' Rachel points out. 'We can read your every thought' Psylocke adds. Kurt drops his swords and teleports right behind Rachel, 'I'm counting on that!' he tells them, and as he grabs Rachel and throws her overhead, he hopes that she will forgive him for this. 'You “heard” what I wanted you to hear' he declares. 'And Betsy as well' he thinks as he kicks Psylocke towards his Bamfs, who gather around her and teleport her away at Nightcrawler's command.
Kurt knows that the Shadow King is right – the telepaths are the paramount threat. 'You think this will hurt me, fool?' the possessed Colossus asks as Nightcrawler throws Rachel towards him. 'Not you. Her' Kurt replies as after releasing Rachel, he teleports away, for Colossus has grabbed Rachel annd slammed her into the sand. 'Now, monster, you have no telepaths, our footing is more equal' Kurt thinks, knowing the Shadow King will pick up on his thoughts. He teleports into the air, towards his next target, Storm. It is true that the Shadow King controls Storm's mind, but Kurt knows something the Shadow King does not – his friend is a proud woman with a ferocious temper. He starts to slap her repeatedly, then teleports away just as Storm shouts 'HOW DARE YOU!' and raising her arms overhead, the local weather reflects the Wind Rider's emotions, and rage gives birth to several tornados. Kurt hopes this is just the beginning, realizing that if he can make Ororo angry enough, her passion may shatter the Shadow King's chains. 'Everything's happening too fast!' Iceman calls out, while the Shadow King announces that Nightcrawler is porving more trouble than he anticipated, but that this really changes nothing – these are his friends and he doesnt want to hurt them, he wants to save them, and that is his weakness. 'As Logan would say, “Wanna bet?”' Kurt asks as he leaps towards the Beast. Kurt has played this kind of game before, with a teacher far more frightening than the Shadow King, and his mind wanders back...
Back in the day
After the Danger Room session, Wolverine and Kurt examine the Danger Room construct of the Beast, and Logan tells Kurt that he must deal with the fact that bad guys love possessing heroes. 'Don't be fazed by size of power – how you hit, where you hit, is what matters. Against 'em, use your skills' Wolverine explains. 'Use all your assets'.
Kurt drops behind the Beast, and kicks his legs out, knocking the Beast backwards, while thinking that Wolverine was a great teacher, and that today he will put those lessons to good use. Kurt's foot strikes the Beast's neck, rendering him unconscious. But looking up, Kurt sees Ororo hovering towards him, two tornadoes raging at her side. He knows that she is out for his blood, and realizes he will have to time his next move just right. Kurt also understands that with the Beast unconscious, the Shadow King will not be able to see through his eyes. A tornado starts to surround Kurt, hiding him from Ororo. He tosses the Beast into the tornado, and takes his cue, teleporting away. The Beast is gathered up in the tornado, and moments later, spat out – landing right on top of Iceman, knocking him into the desert sands. 'Perfect!' Kurt tells himself.
Meanwhile, at the heart of the derelict, abandoned city below the towering dunes, 'FOOLS!' the possessed Psylocke cries out as she is deposited amongst the sprawling skyscrapers. 'Do you think separating me from the others will make the slightest difference?' she asks the Bamfs, with the Shadoow King boasting that his hold on Pcylocke is unbreakable. 'We'll see' a voice calls out. Psylocke looks up, and through her eyes the Shadow King sees Bloody Bess, and tells her that she should have kept running. 'That mistake will cost you your life' he warns her. 'Threats are easy, mate' Bess smiles. 'Come at me, then. Take your best shot' the Shadow King, through Betsy, boasts. 'With pleasure!' Bess responds as she charges towards Psylocke. 'Missed!' Psylocke exclaims as she dodges Bess's first attack. 'Missed again!' she declares, leaping out of Bess's way.
'Poor dear, you'll have to do better than that' Psylocke warns her. 'Allow me to demonstrate' she adds, as she shoves her foot into Bess's face. The Bamfs teleport towards the battling women, 'Oh, look, your little friends are trying to come to your rescue' Psylocke remarks, punching Bess in the face. 'How sweet. This is a private fight, munchkins' Psylocke grins, as she blasts the Bamfs back with a surge of psychic energy. The Bamfs fall to the ground, and look hurt – until their eyes flare up red, as Betsy announces' and now, sincce you clearly can't beat me...why don't you join me instead?' as they, too, are possessed by the Shadow King. Psylocke grabs Bess by her torn clothing and pulls her up, 'Your Bamfs are mine, Bess. And soon, you'll join them' she warns her. 'We'll see about that...' Bess replies, grinning.
Back in the day
Kurt and Kitty stand on a balcony enjoying some ice cream. 'Penny for your thoughts?' Kurt asks Kitty, who tells him that watching he and Logan reminds her of what happened in Japan. She tells him that it is funny – as heroes they get so used to winning against impossible odds – they forget what happens when they don't. Licking her ice cream, Kitty tells Kurt that the first time she face Logan's old teacher, Ogun, she lost, and Ogun remade her in his image, turned her into a weapon and sent her out to Kill Logan. 'But you didn't' Kurt reminds her. 'Nope – but I wasn't good enough, not then' Kitty replies. 'And what about next time?' Kurt asks her. Recalling the Brood and the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, Kitty tells Kurt that Logan made her better, same as he is doing with him. 'Someday, that might cost him' she points out, adding that they win the battles, save the world, even the universe – but they pay a price. Kurt puts his ice cream down and places his arm around Kitty, 'True, this isn't the future we dreamed of – but power comes with responsibility. I suppose it all comes down to faith' he tells her, adding that what they do, what they sacrifice, he prays it makes the future better. 'Isn't that why we're X-Men?' he asks. 'I pray you're right – same as I pray we're all here to enjoy it' Kitty responds.
Kurt tells himself that so much has changed since those days, and yet he still holds fast to his prayer – but then seeing Storm, he decides that there is no more time for memories now, because it looks like he has made Storm truly angry. Teeth gritted, Storm tells Nightcrawler that her lighting will burn him to ashes, and her winds will blow that dust to oblivion. Suddenly, 'Talk is cheap, Wind-Rider' Kurt responds, tapping Storm on her shoulder from behind. Storm is surprised, and once again Kurt starts to slap her over annd over. 'Put up – or shut up!' Kurt warns her. Storm roars in anger, and Kurt thinks that this should do the trick. Before a surge of lightning can strike him, he teleports away, re-appearing on the ground where he dropped his sword, only he picks up two sticks, as Bobby fires shards of ice towards him. 'He's tougher than I expected' Kurt admits, knowing that he can't let Bobby touch him, he lashes out with his sticks, but Bobby grins and tells Kurt that his sticks cannot hurt him. 'Once I freeze you solid...I'll use them to shatter your body to bits!' Bobby boasts, creating two large ice monsters, while Storm hovers overhead, rain now pouring from the sky. As Kurt bamfs away, he knows that the Shadow King is totally focussed on Bobby, and if he is right, Ororo's emotions are running the show with her, meaning the storm she is unleashing should catch Bobby by surprise. Kurt is correct, as Bobby is engulfed by the spiralling sands, 'WHAT?' he screams as he is sucked away.
Gravity does the rest, as the sand dunes collapse and Colossus is sucked downwards. And it is a long way down, as Ororor's winds and Colossus' massive form tear a huge rift in the mountain. Colossus can't get his balance, every time he tries, the avalanche of sand knocks him off his feet. Eventually, he will hit bottom – that is when he will get buried. Kurt hopes that by the time Colossus frees himself, the battle will be over – hopefully with a happy ending. But Kurt knows that now comes the hard part, as he races towards Storm, who tells him that he will pay for this. 'Embrace your winds, Ororo!' Kurt exclaims as he teleports up to his friend. 'Let them wash the contagion from your soul! You are no one's slave! You are a goddess!' Kurt shouts. But Storm responds by punching Kurt in the face, and through her, the Shadow King boasts that Nightcrawler's words are wasted, as the Wind-Witch is his. 'His words are nothing! His domain is shadow! You command lightning! Banish him with its fire!' Nightcrawler encourages Storm, gabbing onto her as she flails about, trying to toss him off of her. 'It is you who are... my friend?' Storm replies, her hands scratching at Kurt's wide-eyed face. 'Ororo?' Kurt calls out.
'What am I doing?' Storm asks, her face returning to normal, the Shadow King's possession no longer visible in her eyes. 'What am I doing? What have I done?' Storm gasps. 'Just having
a rough day, is all' Kurt tells his friend, who asks for his forgiveness. 'I...I...' her voice trails off, as she suddenly goes limp, and starts to fall from the air. Kurt catches her and teleports to the ground. 'She's unconscious!' he exclaims, setting Storm on the ground, he tells her to rest, and assures her that he will keep her safe from here on. But at that moment, the Shadow King drops down from above, the Crimson Pirates and Sea Dogs gather nearby, and the villain tells nightcrawler that he has won nothing, boasting that he will claim Storm again and that she will stay his slave forever. Kurt smirks at the Shadow King, 'Those are but words. I have faced all your X-Men, as I faced the Crimson Pirates before them. And I'm still standing' Kurt points out, suggesting they see how the Shadow King fares.
But, suddenly, without warning, the Bamfs teleport around Kurt, and he is shocked that they are attacking him. He realizes that they are smiling, like the Shadow King's victims, and attacking him for real. He teleports in rapid succession, attempting to shake them, but no matter what he does, he cannot be free of them. 'Where is your bravado now, X-Man? You cause is lost. And soon, so too shall be your life' the Shadow King delcares, rubbing his hands together with glee, as the Bamfs hold him down – and an instant later, the Shadow King hovers in the air above, the Crimson Pirates and Sea Dogs surround Kurt, while the Bamfs hold him down, another Bamf teleports Betsy onto the scene, she stands over Kurt, grinning, and informs Nightcrawler that it is time to die – only this time, he will not be coming back!