Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #204

Issue Date: 
April 1986
Story Title: 
What Happened To Nightcrawler ?

Chris Claremont (writer), June Brigman (penciler), Whilce Portacio (inker), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Ann Nocenti (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Nightcrawler wonders why the Beyonder left him behind when he teleported the X-Men elsewhere, while his girlfriend Amanda Sefton worries about her lover. They get into an argument, and Nightcrawler accuses Amanda of using her powers to force him to love her. Amanda leaves, while Nightcrawler investigates a strange noise. What he finds is one of Arcade’s henchmen, Chambers, driving the garbage truck they use to grab their victims. Nightcrawler follows Chambers, and manages to enter Murderworld. Arcade meanwhile, is already tormenting his prisoner, subjecting her to all sort of challenges. Judith proves quite skilled at staying alive, but Nightcrawler rescues her when she really needs it. They agree to team up and eventually trick Arcade by turning his own robot X-Men against him. After they escape Murderworld, Nightcrawler walks the woman home, though they don’t know who paid Arcade to try and kill her - they find two men in her apartment - the two men inform Judith Rassendyll that she is the Queen of Ruritania, confusing both Judith and Nightcrawler.

Full Summary: 

New York City. The rain beats down hard as Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner is perched on the edge of the apartment balcony belonging to his girlfriend, Amanda Sefton. The powerful young sorceress and ally to the uncanny X-Men pulls a curtain back and peers out into the murky weather. ‘Kurt?’ she exclaims, while thinking to herself that Kurt never came to bed last night, and wonders if he has been on the balcony all night. Kurt turns around and sees Amanda watching him. He wonders if it is morning already. ‘How time flies when you’re having fun’ he thinks to himself, before teleporting inside - directly to the bathroom and into the bath-tub, thinking to himself that it wouldn’t do at all to drop on Amanda’s carpet.

Kurt shakes himself in the bath, water pours off of him. ‘Not the most orthodox of methods - but then, I’m not the most orthodox of men’ Kurt thinks to himself, before putting on a dressing gown and entering the living room, bidding Amanda good morning in their native German. And how are we this fine and beautiful day?’ Kurt asks. Amanda replies that she has to work. ‘An overseas flight. I’ll be gone a week’ she remarks, before telling Kurt that she can cancel if he would rather she stays. ‘Not necessary’ Kurt replies as he pours himself an alcoholic drink. ‘Isn’t it a little early for that?’ Amanda asks. ‘For you, perhaps. For me…it’s just what the doctor ordered’ Nightcrawler declares.

Amanda hangs her head as she informs Kurt that the X-Men telephoned, and that they will be home from San Francisco soon. ‘So?’ Kurt asks causally as he knocks back his drink. ‘They were worried about you, Nightcrawler. They’re glad you’re okay’ Amanda exclaims. ‘Bully for them’ Kurt mutters as he leans on the counter, informing Amanda that lately he finds himself thinking more and more of the pan-dimensional adventure he had last year. ‘That was the life!’ he exclaims. ‘Fantastic worlds, damsels in distress, vile villains - and yours truly as the hero who saved the day!’ Kurt declares, before leaping over a couch and sweeping Amanda into his arms. ‘Into my arms, my proud beauty! And I’ll show you how I won the heart…of the Jinjav Sabree of Bel Amee’anora!’

‘Why can’t life be like that all the time?’ Kurt asks, before realizing Amanda is not making eye contact with him. ‘Not in the mood?’ he asks, before admitting that neither is he. ‘Then, Amanda - so long ago it seems like ancient history - being an X-Man was fun. We were mutants - outcasts from human society because of the powers we were born with - but our hearts were light!’ Kurt exclaims. Nightcrawler turns away from Amanda, perched on the back of the sofa, he exclaims that now everything is grim - the romance - the innocence is all gone. ‘Why, Kurt? What changed?’ Amanda asks, sitting on the sofa. ‘You wouldn’t understand!’ Kurt snaps, before teleporting away.

Amanda opens the door to the balcony and steps out into the pouring rain, where Kurt is once more perched on the edge of the balcony. ‘How can I - if you won’t talk to me?’ Amanda asks. ‘Nightcrawler, I love you! Please - I beg you - let me help!’ Amanda exclaims. Kurt doesn’t look at Amanda as he tells her that thanks to the Beyonder all the things that had meaning for him - that gave him existence and purpose - are dead and destroyed. ‘I don’t know who I am anymore, Amanda - or even why I am! There, my darling. Now you know. Help me with that!’ Kurt snaps angrily.

Amanda reminds Kurt that the X-Men have encountered beings of incredible power before, and asks what made the Beyonder so different. ‘What makes the sun…different from a match-flame?’ Kurt replies. ‘I ask myself, was this God? Or Satan incarnate? Or worst of all. Neither? That’s only part of it, though. What truly hurts is that when he summoned the X-Men to do battle with him, he left me behind, for some reason. Perhaps because I was no worthy - I was to be spared. And I was glad’.

Kurt declares that he should have followed. ‘But I didn’t. I was afraid. I never was before. But this time…’ his voice trails off. ‘Kurt -’ Amanda begins, reaching out to him, but pilling away as Kurt tells Amanda that he doesn’t know what is real anymore. ‘When a position or a power or a being can change my mind, my body, even the concept of reality itself!’ Kurt pauses before remarking ‘You’re a sorceress, Amanda. Do I truly love you…or did you use some spell to make me?’ ‘If you have to ask, Nightcrawler…you needn’t worry…about loving me, or anybody!’ Amanda replies, hands on hips, before going back into her apartment and picking up her suitcase, and storming out the door, slamming it behind her.

‘Why did I say that? What a fool!’ Kurt tells himself. He wonders if it wished to test Amanda’s feelings by hurting her as much as he himself feels hurt. ‘Could I be so selfish and cruel?’ he wonders. ‘Should I go after her? There’s still time! I can teleport to the street, or race down the wall of the building -’ Kurt tells himself. But he doesn’t. Instead, he lifts his face to the heavens - and lets out a mighty howl.

Down below, ‘Nightcrawler!’ Amanda thinks to herself as she looks up through the rain, back to her apartment. ‘He sounds like a lost soul. My moment of truth. He’s in such pain. Do I go back - and risk being rejected, hurt again?’ Amanda wonders, before stepping into the cab. ‘Kennedy Airport, please’ Amanda tells the driver. ‘Sure thing. Hey, miss - you’re soaked’ the driver points out. ‘It’s raining’ Amanda replies, pensively. ‘Yeah, but -’ the driver begins, but Amanda tells him to hurry, as she has a flight to catch. ‘You’re paying the fare’ the driver responds, before motioning to a woman on the sidewalk, stretching. ‘Hey! Look at that! Weather ain’t fit for man nor beast…but them crazy joggers gotta run their miles! Takes all kinds, y’know? Why, once I seen…’ he continues as he drives Amanda past a white garbage truck. ‘You got what you wanted, my love - to be alone. I hope it’s worth the price’ Amanda thinks to herself.

On the sidewalk, the jogger, wearing leg warmers, shorts and a tank top thinks to herself ‘What the heck is that?’ as she hears a howl screech through the wind and rain. ‘Wolves - in Manhattan? Terrific!’ she exclaims as she runs along the sidewalk, while the white garbage truck follows her slowly.

Back on Amanda’s balcony, Kurt sees something in the distance - a blinding light and a strange noise - SFLANNG! ‘That noise - it can’t be - so faint and far away, my ears must be playing tricks - but I’d better make sure’ Kurt tells himself as he teleports towards the direction of the noise, landing on a tree branch, he tells himself that he will be virtually impossible to spot amongst the shadows of the trees. He looks around and sees nothing unusual - except for the white garbage truck . Taking a closer look, Kurt sees that the driver of the truck is Chambers, the chief assistant to the madcap murderer for hire, Arcade.

Kurt realizes that the truck is the means Arcade and his companions use to grab their victims, with the “sflaning” sound must mean one has already been taken. Kurt tells himself that he cannot go to the police, for with his looks they would probably arrest him, or open fire on sight. ‘I can’t go to the legitimate super hero groups - by the time I establish my bona-fides, it’ll be too late!’ Kurt thinks to himself that there is nobody but him to go to the rescue. ‘Which suits me just fine. Nothing like some action to take one’s mind off one’s troubles. Who knows - if I play the hero hard enough…maybe I can make them all go away!’ Kurt thinks to himself as he teleports to follow the garbage truck.

The garbage truck makes its way uptown, to the North Bronx, approaching a fair. Kurt crouches behind a garbage bin, recalling that the last two times the X-Men tangled with Arcade, they anonymously reported him and his complex to the police, yet their searches found no evidence of Murderworld’s existence. Kurt climbs into the garbage can, knowing that it is an access hatch which leads to Arcade’s hidden labyrinth. ‘Perhaps an anonymous call to the Avengers might get better results, but would I be turning to them because it’s the smart play…or because I’m afraid?’ Kurt tells himself.

Nightcrawler climbs down the access way, wondering if that is why he was no good as the X-Men’s leader, why the Beyonder left him behind when he took the others. ‘Because in my heart of hearts, my secret soul…I’m a coward? No! No! I’m a hero - and I mean to prove it!’ Kurt tells himself. Nightcrawler finds a control panel, telling himself that it would not do to end up a victim himself, so he must be very careful and remember everything the X-Men ever learned from their battles here, especially Colossus and Shadowcat’s visit a few months ago. ‘Since Arcade gave them a guided tour of the primary complex’ Kurt recalls. As he tinkers with the panel, Kurt tells himself he must bypass the alarms. ‘Ach, my fingers are not cut out for such delicate work!’ Kurt tells himself.

Kurt uses his acrobatic skills to climb across the beams above the ground. ‘Perfect!’ he thinks to himself. ‘All those hours spent maintaining our super-sonic jet aircraft have paid off splendidly! I may not be in Shadowcat’s class in electronics wizardry, but when the chips are down, I get the job done!’. Kurt tells himself that he adjusted the security sensors to make him effectively invisible, so now he can move anywhere within Murderworld without Arcade knowing until he actually sees him.

‘This is his main workshop, and beyond, the storeroom for his robots’ Kurt realizes, telling himself that he would love to play around in here. ‘I bet I could use these robots - but I’d rather see what’s going on in there!’ he tells himself as he hears some strange noises. ‘From the sound and look of things, Arcade’s begun his game!’ Kurt realizes. ‘I can only pray that whoever he’s after possesses all the power in the world, and even more luck…they’re going to need it. At least, until I arrive to save the day!’

‘Oohhh’ the jogger mumbles as she rubs her head, finding herself in darkness. An image of the red-haired Arcade appears above her, telling her that the wooziness will pass, explaining that it is a side-effect of the knock-out gas used when she was nabbed. ‘Who -? What -?’ the woman mumbles, before Arcade welcomes her to Murderworld. He introduces himself and tells her that he hopes she enjoys these last minutes of her life. ‘This can’t be real! I’m dreaming!’ the woman exclaims. ‘You wish’ Arcade tells her, before announcing that the rules are simple. ‘Find the exit and you’re free. Too bad for you - that’s a lot easier said than done!’ Arcade smiles.

‘Why are you doing this?’ the jogger asks. ‘For the money, babe!’ Arcade reveals, while the real Arcade watches from a control room, his assistants - Miss Locke, and Chambers - standing nearby. ‘And the fun - though I doubt you’ll provide very much of that’ Arcade adds. The woman cries out to Arcade, telling him that there must have been some mistake, as she is a college student, nobody important. ‘Breaks my heart, kid. But someone, somewhere, wants you dead. And they’re paying yours truly big bucks to do the job!’

‘You can’t do this!’ the jogger shouts out, before Miss Locke informs Arcade that Murderworld is ready. Arcade thanks Miss Locke, before telling the jogger that ready or not she is on her way, and presses a button on his console. The woman finds herself in a transparent plastic ball - fired into a giant pinball machine, and as she bounces about, quickly learns that whenever she hits a bumper she gets a shock. ‘I’m going to die! I don’t want to die!’ the jogger exclaims, while the bouncing and rolling begins to make her sick. She suddenly sees the ball fly off the pinball board and wonders if it is over.

Arcade yawns: ‘What a pathetic score!’ and announces that she will not last long, adding that the game was hardly worth the effort, or it’s commission. ‘Do me a favor, Miss Locke - dull, dull, dull - and wake me when it’s over!’ Arcade exclaims.

‘Now what?’ the jogger asks as her plastic ball falls towards a tree, and shatters upon impact. She rubs her head and tells herself that she is still alive, but she supposes the game is no finished. ‘Lucky me’ she tells herself, before realizing that she is in a forest. She hugs herself for warmth and tells herself that there is nothing like this anywhere near New Work, and must be the in the mountains, as the air is way too cool, even for a summer’s night. ‘What’s that noise?’ the woman wonders as she hears a howling sound. ‘Wolf howls? Like I heard in Central Park - terrific!’

Suddenly, a shot is fired - missing the jogger by only several inches. ‘Feet do your stuff - that’s the spirit, red, make stupid jokes…so you won’t start screaming’. Running through the forest, the woman wonders where she should go. ‘Does it matter - so long as it’s away from them’ she tells herself as several hunters follow her, armed with shot guns and fire torches. The woman continues to run, thankful that there is a full moon enabling her to see. She tells herself not to be scared, as that is what Arcade wants. ‘Just relax and pretend this is another cross county marathon’ she tells herself.

The jogger tells herself that she is making good speed, but that the hunters are hunters are gaining. She makes it out of the forest and begins to sprint for all she is worth, knowing she must make it across the field before the hounds clear the tree-line - but she stops in her tracks when she sees the cavalry up ahead. ‘Nineteenth century European hussars!’ she tells herself, while one of the men on horses shouts ‘There’s our prey, men! Draw sabres - and charge!’ As the cavalry approaches from one side, and the hunters draw closer from the other, the woman thinks to herself ‘What I wouldn’t give for this to be an hallucination!’

She runs in another direction, wondering why this is happening - what she ever did to anyone to make them want to go to this much trouble to get rid of her. ‘YAIKES!’ she exclaims as two of the cavalry lunge at her with their swords. She tells herself that there are too many horsemen so she has to stay low and keep moving, try and turn their number against them. ‘Maybe they’ll run into each other instead’ she hopes, before suddenly tripping over. She rolls forward, recalling that horses will not stomp living animals on the ground in front of them, that they will usually leap over them. She hopes that it still the case, as one of the horse does indeed leap over her.

The woman gets up, but knows that on her feet she is a dead duck. ‘If I can grab a mount and head for the hills’ she tells herself. ‘Dream on, red - but what have you got to lose’. However, as the jogger leaps towards one of the horses, she falls though it as the horse and rider become intangible. ‘He didn’t exist! It must be a hologram - a three-dimensional projection!’ the woman tells herself as she begins to tumble down a bluff. ‘How high is it, though? What’s at the bottom?’ she wonders, before plunging into water.

Turning around, she sees that the grade of the bluff is too steep for the cavalry, but the dogs are climbing down it now. ‘I can’t stay here - I’ll have to chance the river!’ she decides, knowing that it won’t be easy, as the current looks fierce and there are logs flowing downstream. She decides not to swim, as she doesn’t want to risk getting struck in the head, so plans to jump from trunk to trunk. She makes it across several, but the bark is as slippery as ice, and her wet sneakers do not help. She knows she cannot let the logs spin as she lands, before deciding that she needs a breather, and drops down on one of the logs.

The woman’s heart is beating a mile a minute, and her adrenaline is making her giddy, but she knows that the rush will not last. ‘Lousy stinking rotten game - I hate it!’. The woman tells herself that she better be on dry land when she crashes, but suddenly, a shark leaps from the water and crunches down on the log she is sitting on, knocking her into the air. The jogger falls back into the water and begins to swim for her life, telling herself that this is impossible as sharks cannot exist in fresh water. ‘What am I saying! Arcade makes the rules. His game pieces can do whatever he says!’

Looking behind her, the woman tells herself that the shore is too far away, she will never reach it in time. The shark looms down on her, when suddenly, ‘Need a hand, fraulein?’ Kurt asks as he grabs the woman and teleports away with her - just as the shark chomps down.

Arcade sees this and leans over his console: ‘Oho! A new player? Nightcrawler! What a delightfully unexpected surprise!’. Arcade exclaims. ‘All of a sudden this game has gotten a whole lot more interesting!’

Nightcrawler and the woman teleport back onto dry land, and Kurt apologizes to her if she feels a bit ill, explaining that is an unfortunate effect of teleporting. ‘Otherwise, are you all right?’ he asks her. Nightcrawler explains that he would have arrived sooner, but Murderworld is a big place, and he didn’t want to prematurely announce his presence to Arcade by tripping any alarms. ‘I’m Nightcrawler, super hero extraordinaire! And your name -?’ he exclaims. ‘GET AWAY FROM ME!’ the jogger screams, picking up a large branch lying on the ground.

‘An odd name. Were your parents 60s rock stars?’ Kurt jokes. ‘I mean it, buster - or I’ll clobber you!’ the woman snaps. Kurt tells her that there is no need to be afraid, that he is here to help. ‘Yeah - right - sure you are!’ the woman exclaims. ‘You could be one of Arcade’s robots - or some goon!’ she declares. Kurt admits that he certainly looks the part, but warns her that appearances can be deceiving. ‘That’s right! In this place, I’ve got no idea what’s real and what isn’t - so why should I trust anything you say?’ the woman asks. ‘Virtually my words to Amanda - thrown back in my face’ Kurt tells himself.

Nightcrawler tells the woman that she has no reason to trust him, except that on her own she will almost certainly perish. ‘With me - the to of us, working together - you have a chance’. ‘Words are easy’ the woman replies, so Kurt asks her to give him a chance to prove them. ‘Okay’ the woman replies, taking Kurt’s hand. They look around and see themselves in a desert that stretches to the horizon. ’I don’t believe it!’ the woman exclaims. ’As you said yourself - some of Murderworld is real, some illusion. You’ve no way of knowing which until it kills you’ Kurt remarks.

‘Terrific!’ the woman exclaims, before wondering what that cloud up ahead is. ‘Company’ Kurt tells her as they stand by a car - a sort of dune buggy. ‘Hold that pose, goblin!’ a female version of Arcade exclaims as she approaches Kurt and the woman in another car, with several others driven around her. ‘It’ll be “Auntie Arcade’s” personal pleasure to release you and the lady from this aching world of pain and suffering! Now, I ask ya’ll - ain’t I the host with most?’

Kurt teleports into the buggy while the woman climbs in beside him. ‘Our cue, fraulein, for a very fast exit’. The woman points out that this car was provided by Arcade, so it could be booby-trapped. Kurt tells her that is a risk they will have to take. ‘Besides, if he wanted to…Arcade could kill us anytime, with ease’ Kurt remarks, adding that he has fought Arcade before. ‘To him, the game’s the thing. Give him a good enough match and he may even let you go!’ Kurt declares as he drives the car, speeding away from the enemy. ‘They’re shooting at us!’ the woman exclaims. Kurt tells her to hold tight, as things are likely to get a lot rougher before they are through.

‘Faster, clod! Move in closer!’ Arcade shouts. Kurt tells himself that this is what he has missed. ‘To dance along the edge of disaster…with only my wits and skills to save me. To face foes who are larger than life…deadly as sin…but who can still be tested’. Someone fires at Kurt, striking the wheel of the car, causing Kurt to lose control. ‘We’re surrounded!’ the woman shouts. Arcade’s men all fire at Kurt and the woman. Kurt asks himself if it is so wrong to want to accomplish something tangible. ‘Lately, the X-Men seem to have been battling shadows - in a sort of grim ferocious trench warfare where the most fearful sacrifices don’t do a blessed bit of good’.

‘Invariably, we lose as much as we gain - if not more’ Kurt tells himself, while the woman screams as more shots are fired. ‘All right, buggy - let’s see what you’re really made of!’ Kurt exclaims as he presses down on the pedal - and the buggy speeds off. ‘Eat dust, creeps! You’ll never catch us now!’ the woman shouts. ‘That’s more like it! Not on the ground…but I’m sure Arcade will think of something’ Kurt exclaims as sand flies up behind them, and suddenly, several old-fashioned airplanes appear above. The woman screams, while Kurt exclaims ‘Told you. Open cockpit biplanes - World War One - vintage!’, before asking the woman if she can drive. ‘I was born and raised in Manhattan…I never learned the woman replies. ‘Well, here’s your chance’ Kurt tells her as the woman takes the wheel, and he teleports away.

‘Surprise, Herr Rittmeister!’ Kurt exclaims as he lands on the wing of one of the planes. Kurt is relieved that he is on a solid wing, as he figured he had a better than even chance of teleporting onto a hologram. Suddenly the plan spins around as the pilot attempts to throw Kurt off by going into a loop. ‘You’ll have to do better than that, robot! With my articulate toes and prehensile tail, I can cling to virtually any surface’. Kurt exclaims before the pilot suddenly falls from his seat. ‘To get at me, the fool unbuckled his seatbelt. Thank Heaven he’s only a robot. In Murderworld, only the targets bleed. Only Arcade’s victims really die’ Kurt thinks to himself.

‘I keep forgetting…what’s at stake. My life…and the girl’s…I don’t even know her name’ Kurt tells himself, before the woman shouts out to Nightcrawler, telling him to look out behind him. ‘Zum tueful!’ Kurt shouts as several planes fly up behind him. ‘Out of one frying pan into another!’ he thinks to himself, while knowing that even if they escape this death-trap, Arcade will merely conjure another from the security of his control booth. ‘I need some means to get at him. Put this whole complex out of action!’. Kurt sees down below that the robots are gaining on the woman, and shouts out ‘Pay attention, assassin - watch closely - while I show you some real flying!’

Kurt knows he has to play this loop just right, that he must not black out or let his engine stall. He succeeds, and another plane crashes down below, right where he wanted them to. ‘The sky, it seems, is still a killer…but not quite of us all’ he thinks to himself, while the woman calls out to him, asking him if he is going to land, if so she will try and stop. ‘Or will you teleport back down?’ she asks. ‘Neither!’ Nightcrawler calls out, telling the woman to keep going straight, that she should be all right. ‘Be seeing you, fraulein! It’s been real!’ Kurt calls out as he flies away.

‘But - were you? Nightcrawler, how could you run out on me?’ the woman exclaims. ‘I’d just begun to believe - to hope -! But maybe that was what Arcade wanted. Maybe you worked for him all along’ the woman exclaims, before remarking that she never even told Nightcrawler her name.

‘Poor li’l darling! Deserted by her knight in shinning armor - her heart must be broke all to bits!’ Arcade laughs. But Miss Locke points out that such obvious cowardice is unlike Nightcrawler, so it could be a deception. ‘Whatever it is won’t matter beans, Miss Locke - once you’ve found and killed him!’ Arcade exclaims.

The jogger soon pulls up into a darkened city, and decides that was great timing, as the buggy has run out of gas. People stop and stare at her as she gets out of the buggy. ‘Terrific!’ she mutters. A real friendly looking place…full of real friendly looking people. So what now? Keep moving, I guess’. She knows that stopping is the same as giving up, but she will probably die either way. ‘But I won’t give Arcade the satisfaction of seeing me quit’ she boasts. ‘Interested in a place to hide, my dear?’ a woman asks. ‘I can offer a sort of sanctuary. An…escape’ she tells the jogger, motioning to a window display. ‘That’s me!’ the jogger exclaims as she stares back at herself, lying on cushions, dressed in a revealing green dress.

‘Only a simulacrum - as I am. But you can choose to make it reality’ the woman claims. ‘This isn’t so bad a life, really - to spend your days giving and receiving pleasure - without care or responsibility or fear’ the woman announces. ‘No! No!’ the jogger exclaims. But turning, she sees several people all approaching her with a various array of deadly knives. ‘Are you one of those who consider my offer…a fate worse than death? Such a pity’ the mysterious woman declares.

Suddenly, ‘Cue the fanfare - as the hero makes his dramatic and timely entrance!’ Kurt exclaims as he drops down on the knife-wielding men. ‘Nightcrawler?’ the jogger exclaims. ‘Who else? Oh ye of little faith - did you think I’d abandoned you?’ Kurt asks as he knocks back the men. ‘The young lady is under my protection!’ he exclaims. Arcade’s face appears on that of the woman, telling him that does not count for much. ‘Neither you, nor your honey, are getting out of Murderworld!’ Arcade boasts.

‘Want to bed, bad guy?’ Kurt asks, while the jogger tells Nightcrawler that his is not funny. ‘Quite the contrary, fraulein - it’s a riot!’ Kurt declares, before telling Arcade that he should use this holographic projection more often, as he looks marvellous in fuchsia, before knocking the other woman backwards. Kurt takes the jogger and turns, remarking that he would love to chat, but they have to run. ‘Watch out for that puddle - ach, Heavens, how rude, how clumsy of me - so dreadfully sorry - toodles!’ Kurt exclaims as he and the jogger turn and walk away.

‘You’re crazy, mister! How is making Arcade mad going to do us any good?’ the jogger asks. ‘You got that right, toots!’ Arcade exclaims, listening to them over his monitor. ‘X-Men - as of right now - you’re history!’ Arcade exclaims. ‘Promises, promises’ a voice remarks, before Arcade turns and sees Colossus rip his way into the control room. ‘Where’d he come from?’ Arcade asks as Colossus knocks Miss Locke and Chambers aside. Storm, Wolverine and Rogue are with Colossus, and Wolverine uses his claws to take care of Arcade’s computers, while Storm unleashes a lightning bolt on Arcade’s console. ‘Wait a minute! I thought Storm lost her elemental powers’ Arcade exclaims, before Rogue picks him up and throws him towards Chambers and Miss Locke. ‘Seems to me, Sugah, like you been misinformed’ Rogue declares.

The X-Men stand over Arcade, Miss Locke and Chambers, and Rogue announces to Arcade that all of his toys are broken. ‘And with Murderworld out of action’ Colossus begins, ‘Our Elf buddy will have no trouble scooting with the lady’ Wolverine points out. Game, set and match, assassin - to Nightcrawler!’ Storm declares. Arcade frowns, and asks ‘How the blazes did you muties get inside without triggering any alarms? You couldn’t have snuck in with Nightcrawler or you’d have helped him sooner - and how come none of you look right - oh - oh! Of course!’ Arcade exclaims, before leaning back, grinning. ‘You were here already - because you ain’t the real X-Men at all…you’re my robot versions of ‘em! The stiff nailed me with my own pieces - he really and truly beat me at my own game! This time!’

Later, on the Upper West side of Manhattan. Nightcrawler explains to the jogger that from previous encounters with Arcade, he knew where the madman stored his robots, so after he left her, he made his way to the storage room, modified the programming on as many of them as possible, and turned them loose. ‘I couldn’t tell you because there was too much risk of Arcade over-hearing. I’d have given anything to have seen the look on Arcade’s face when they burst in - I’ll bet it was priceless!’ Kurt exclaims. ‘I’ll bet it was’ the woman replies. ‘You really loved it. That whole mess?’ she asks. ‘Most fun I’ve had in ages’ Kurt tells her, before addressing her as Judith, and informing her that is the life that heroes lead.

‘A thrill a minute, huh - the wilder the better?’. Kurt asks her why she is so angry, to which Judith replies that she is scared, because she nearly died in the crossfire that he seemed to take for granted. As they approach Judith’s apartment, Kurt tells her that she is safe now. ‘Don’t think he’ll come after you again - and if he does, call me’ Kurt tells her. Judith replies that is not the point. ‘Listen to yourself, Nightcrawler - you’re just like him! Hooked on the excitement! The way you talk - if creeps like Arcade didn’t exist, you’d have to invent him, just to give your life purpose!’. Judith asks Nightcrawler if that is all that he is.

‘What I am fraulein, is the man who risked his life to save yours’ Kurt declares, as he keeps Judith back from the door, before kicking it open, exclaiming that he may yet do it again. He and Judith enter the apartment, and two men in suits bow before them. ‘Who the heck are you guys? How’d you get inside my apartment?’ Judith asks. One of the men tells her that there is no need for harm, and that her super let them in. The first one introduces himself as Colin Lewis of the State Department, and the other announces that he is Colonel Max Reiger of the Ruritanian National Guard.

‘Thank Heaven we arrived in time to find you alive and unharmed - your most serene and royal majesty - Judith Rassendyll, last of the Elf burgs - Queen of Ruritania!’. Nightcrawler and Judith look at each other - both seemingly equally confused by this announcement….

Characters Involved: 


Amanda Sefton

Judith Rassendyll, Queen of Ruritania


Miss Locke


Colonel Max Reiger, Ruritanian National Guard

Colin Lewis, Ruritanian Sate Department

Cab Driver
Various robots

Story Notes: 

This is another stand-alone story centering around single members of the X-Men. Previous stories featured Rogue (Uncanny X-Men #182), Colossus & Shadowcat (Uncanny X-Men #197) and Storm (Uncanny X-Men #198). Next up is Wolverine in Uncanny X-Men #205.
In Uncanny X-Men #202, the Beyonder teleported the X-Men to San Francisco, where they battled with him. Yet he left Nightcrawler behind in New York for whatever reason.
Nightcrawler was left behind in Uncanny X-Men #202, while the X-Men were transported to San Francisco by the Beyonder.

Amanda Sefton last appeared in Uncanny X-Men Annual #8. She next appears in Uncanny X-Men #206.

Nightcrawler’s pan-dimensional adventure took place in Nightcrawler (1st series) #1-4.
“Rittmeister“ is a historic title for soldiers of the cavalry in germany and Austria. It was also title fo the “Red Baron” von Richthofen whom Nightcrawler is probably referring to here.
Arcade’s female guise is “Auntie Entity“ from the movie “Mad Max beyond Thunderdome“.
Ruritania and the name Rassendyll are taken from Anthony Hope’s novels, starting with “The Prisoner of Zenda”

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