‘Having a good time, boys?’ Storm a.k.a. Ororo Munroe asks as she stands in a darkened alleyway. Rubbish strewn across it, five thugs are attacking a husband and wife. ‘That’s right, momma!’ one of the thugs shouts. ‘What’s it to you?’ another of the thugs asks. ‘You wanna make something of it?’ another asks. Or maybe join in?’ another offers, before the five leave the couple on the ground, and with their array of weapons approach the punk-dressed Storm. ‘I suggest you lay down your weapons…while you are still able’ Storm tells them. ‘Or what?’ one of them shouts. ‘Tough talk, sweets!’ another exclaims, while a third asks if that is a threat, and that they do not respond well to threats. ‘This is our turf. We do as we please. To whomever we please!’ another exclaims as they all run for Storm.
‘You challenge us, babe - you gonna regret it!’ one of them shouts. The husband rushes over to his wife, while one of the thugs shouts ‘TAKE HER!’. Storm smirks: ‘Foolish boys’ she remarks, before picking up a large orange blanket from the ground, and throwing it over two of the thugs as they lunge her, pushing them into a wall. ‘I warned you!’ Storm exclaims, before kicking a plank of wood up to her hands, she catches it, and holds it up as two of the thugs run straight into it. Storm holds the plank of wood like a baseball bat as the large thug looms before her. ‘You have seen what I can do. Are you sure you would rather not reconsider?’ Storm offers. ‘No. Of course not. A waste of breath even to ask’ Storm tells herself after getting no response from the thug.
‘You kind always has to lean the hard way!’ Storm declares, before kicking the thug in the groin, then bonking him on the head with the plank of wood. Suddenly, a police car pulls up into the alleyway, and someone shouts ‘Police! Freeze!’ Storm stands with the thugs all fallen around her. A female police officer tells one of her colleagues to check the civilians, while the colleague exclaims ‘Lieutenant, ain’t this one of -?’, but the female officer exclaims that she recognizes her. ‘Leave her to me’. Two of the officers approach the husband and wife, who are huddled nearby. ‘She…she isn’t with that gang, officer. She saved us! Took them on…single-handed - I hope she killed them all!’ the man declares, while one of the officers tells him to rest easy and that he will call for the paramedics.
The lieutenant approaches Storm and congratulate her on her nice work. ‘We’ve been after these chumps for a while’ she reveals. Storm replies that she was glad to help, before the lieutenant introduces herself as Bree Morrell. ‘I don’t care what the world says about mutants - and especially you X-Men - you’ve proven yourselves to me’ Bree declares. Storm shakes Bree’s hand, and Bree tells her that she is glad the X-Men are in San Francisco, and that she hopes they will stay. ‘I am Storm, lieutenant. And perhaps we shall’ Ororo replies, before walking away.
Meanwhile, inside 1 Yarbro Court, along the crest of Corona Heights, where private investigators Jessica Drew and Lindsay McCabe share a very old, very elegant Queen Anne Row house in a neighborhood that is reputed to be well and truly haunted. This makes it an ideal hideout for a band of outcast, occasionally outlaw mutant heroes. Storm enters the kitchen, where Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde is getting something from the refrigerator. ‘Hi, Ororo!’ she exclaims, before calling out to the others that Storm is home. Kitty asks Storm if she likes her outfit, and if it is all right for a date.
‘Kitty Pryde, you have got to be kidding!’ Lindsay McCabe exclaims as she enters the kitchen. ‘Gimme a break, Lindsay! You said you loved it!’ Kitty replies. ‘I lied’ Lindsay confesses, before Storm asks Kitty who she is going on a date with. ‘Me’ a voice calls out. Storm turns to the door. ‘David Ishima?!’ she thinks to herself. ‘I hope you don’t mind’ David remarks, explaining that he has tickets for Lila Cheney’s gig at the Chi Chi Club. ‘And since Jessica’s working on a case - as usual - I thought Kitty’d like to go instead’ David explains. ‘You betcha, tiger!’ Kitty smiles.
David assures Storm that he will behave himself, and make sure Kitty is home safe and sound at a reasonable hour. ‘No you won’t’ Kitty gushes. ‘Yes he will’ Storm declares, arms folded. David leads Kitty out of the house, and asks her if she is trying to get him into trouble. ‘Wouldn’t you like to know, Mr Ishima?’ Kitty replies. Storm watches them leave. ‘If my hair were not already silver…that child…’, before returning to the kitchen, where Lindsay is washing some dishes. ‘Is San Fran really ready for that kid?’ Lindsay asks. Storm replies that Kitty seems far happier here than in New York. ‘We all have been. Perhaps that is a good omen or the X-Men’s future’ Storm remarks.
‘Hope so’ Lindsay replies, before telling Storm not to worry about David, as he is a perfect gentleman. ‘You missed dinner’ Lindsay points out. Storm replies that it smells delicious, but that she is not hungry. ‘Here’s the last of the dishes, Lindsay’ Rachel “Phoenix” Summers remarks, entering the kitchen, carrying the dishes telekinetically. ‘Don’t drop anything, show-off!’ Rogue calls out. ‘Never happen’ Rachel replies, boasting that she has carried loads lots heavier than this.
‘Famous last words, Rachel, hon’ Rogue replies from where she is sitting at the dining table with Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin. Rogue then announces that they have received a postcard from Cyclops. ‘Really ancient postmark’ she adds, while Colossus asks if all is well with Scott and his family. ‘Seems so’ Rogue replies, adding that Madelyne wrote this, and that it is a photo card of the Summers clan - Madelyne, Scott and the baby. ‘Is the kid gonna stay that ugly his entire life?’ Rogue jokes, before remarking that they have a nice house. ‘Madelyne suggests since the X-Men are on the West Coast we zip North to Alaska for a visit’.
Rogue asks the others what they think about that. ‘Sounds like a great idea’ Rogue remarks. Rachel stops in her tracks. ‘No! I can’t - it’s too soon…I can’t face Scott yet - I’m not ready to meet my father -’ before suddenly dropping the dishes she was carrying telekinetically. They crash to the floor and smash. ‘ROGUE!’ Rachel screams. ‘Look what you made me do!’. Rogue falls back off her chai, telling Rachel to next time use her hands. Colossus crouches down next to Rogue and asks her if anything is broken. ‘Only the furniture. Red sure packed a wallop!’ Rogue replies, to which Colossus points out that it is fortunate Rogue is virtually invulnerable.
Colossus and Rogue enter the kitchen, where plates, mugs and cutlery are flying around the room courtesy of the stroppy Rachel Summers. ‘Rachel’s throwing a tantrum!’ Rogue exclaims. ‘Her telekinetic power’s flaring out of control!’. ‘Hey - ouch!’ Lindsay exclaims, before Storm tells her to stay down behind her, and ordering Rachel to stop. ‘Cut it out, girl! You got no call to wreck Ms McCabe’s kitchen!’ Rogue exclaims. Rachel tells Rogue to shut up and leave her alone. ‘You don’t understand! None of you understand!’ Rachel exclaims.
Rachel hunches over, while Rogue tells her that she cannot keep running and hiding. ‘You’re living a lie, Ray, and it’s tearing you apart. You have to tell Scott who you are and where you come from’. Rachel replies that she can’t, to which Rogue tells her it is the only way she can make peace with her ghosts. ‘That’s what Ah did. The night we faced the Beyonder. Ah came to terms with what Ah’d done to Carol Danvers. Ah accepted there’s a part of her that’ll be part of me. Ah finally put mah demons to rest’ Rogue exclaims, telling Rachel that it is hard, but if she is ever going to live with herself, she has to do the same.
Meanwhile, aboard TWA flight 707, three hours outbound from London, en route to Los Angeles via the North Pole. With dinner served and the movie running, senior flight attendant Amanda Sefton at last has a few precious moments to herself. Standing in the crew-only area, Amanda looks at a photograph of herself and Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner. ‘No word from Kurt’ Amanda tells herself. ‘I phoned from Heathrow - but all I got was his answering machine. I’ve been calling for a week. Is he ignoring me - are we finished - or has something happened?’ Amanda wonders. The powerful young sorceress knows that there is so much tearing at Kurt that it has made him shut her out of his life. ‘He wonders who he truly is and where he comes from - and resents me because he thinks I know more than I do and won’t tell’.
Amanda hangs her head, knowing that Kurt has lost faith in everything - in his God, himself as a man and an X-Man. ‘I tried to help, but he drove me away. He even accused me of using my magical powers to make him love me!’ Amanda tells herself that she never realized until then how simple words could hurt. Suddenly, one of Amanda’s colleagues enters the area. ‘You okay? Sweetheart, you’re crying!’ she exclaims. ‘Onions. In the entrée’ Amanda replies. ‘Uh-huh’ the stewardess remarks, not believing a word. ‘Hey, Connie, I’ve been through worse’ Amanda replies. ‘And I’ll get better] Not to worry, girl. I’m indestructible!’ Amanda exclaims. Connie tells Amanda that the creep better be worth it, to which Amanda replies ‘Once upon a time…he was’.
Back in San Francisco, Kitty and David are walking down the sidewalk as Kitty exclaims that the concert was great, that she had a wonderful time, before asking David if this street is really haunted. ‘Buildings flanking mine are for sale. People buy ‘em, move in - but they never stay and they always leave in a hurry’ David replies. ‘Gimme a break!’ Kitty exclaims. ‘Would this face lie?’ David smiles, before Kitty asks him if he has ever seen the ghosts. ‘So far, I’ve been lucky’ David replies, to which Kitty tells him that she doesn’t believe a word. David tells Kitty to suit herself, but to be careful which wall she walks through.
Suddenly, the street seems to buckle and roll under them. ‘Earthquake!’ David exclaims. ‘No! Look!’ Kitty shouts, exclaiming that nothing is happening to the houses. ‘They aren’t shaking! Just us! The ground’s sweeping us forward like a tidal wave - or an avalanche!’ Kitty exclaims, before telling David to hold on tight, take her hand and take a deep breath. ‘What?’ David exclaims. Kitty explains that she phased them though the street, like floating underwater to let the wave pass by. ‘This isn’t a natural occurrence, is it?’ David asks. ‘Nope. I think the X-Men are under attack. Sorry’ Kitty replies.
Suddenly, the wave of street heads for David’s house - and a car smashes through it. Inside the Drew-McCabe residence, the X-Men hear the commotion. ‘Something hit the place next door!’ Rogue exclaims as they make their way to the front door - only to find themselves stuck in some sort of energy web. ‘We’re caught - like flies!’ Rachel announces that she senses five hostile thoughts, as well as Kitty, who is fine.
Outside, Spider-Woman and Spiral appear. ‘Poor dears. So strong. So proud. So tangled. So trapped!’ Spiral exclaims, before telling her Freedom Force teammate to bind the X-Men tight. ‘I know my job, Spiral’ Julia Carpenter a.k.a. the new Spider-Woman replies, while thinking to herself that Spiral enhanced her power so she could catch the X-Men from a distance, but that it also makes her more vulnerable. ‘They’re scared. They won’t attack’ Julia exclaims. ‘Wanna bet?’ Rogue asks, telling Colossus that if the web is tangible, they can hold onto it. ‘And perhaps tear it apart!’ Colossus suggests. Few beings on Earth can match the strength of Rogue and Colossus. And few constructs can stand against them - as Spider-Woman quickly discovers, to her dismay. The web she casts is psionic, a creation of her thoughts - and its sudden and violent discorporation strikes Julia like a physical blow. There is a flash of light, on the porch, and in her mind a scream of agony, before she passes out.
‘Cretinous overconfident cow - let this be a lesson to you!’ Spiral mutters as she stands over Julia’s unconscious body, before calling out to the X-Men: ‘We are Freedom Force, X-Men - and our mission is to place you under arrest. Resist at your peril!’ Spiral shouts. ‘No! We can’t let ourselves be taken!’ Rachel exclaims. ‘Once we’re in the government’s hands they’ll never let us go. And it’s the shortest of journeys from prison to a death camp!’ Rachel exclaims as she lunges forward, now in her costume - only to be knocked to the ground courtesy of Spiral.
‘So much courage. So much power. So little skill!’ Spiral exclaims, adding that Rachel is so consumed with righteous rage that she never noticed her dancing a spell to turn her attack back on her. ‘Yours is a life rich with time, girl. If I stole it, I could remain young and vital almost forever!’ Spiral exclaims, adding that as one of Freedom Force she must play by their rules and spare Rachel - for the moment.
Nearby, Avalanche and Pyro survey the damage. ‘You great thump. Look what’cha done!’ Pyro exclaims. ‘Good guys don’t make messes…we clean ‘em up!’ Pyro tells his friend, before using his control over flame to absorb a nearby blaze. ‘Lucky for us, no one was in the cars or the house - or our new career as heroes would be dumped before it’s properly begun!’ Pyro tells himself.
Pyro smiles as he tells himself that there is no sensation quite like this. ‘Flames sliding across my skin, roaring through my heart’ he thinks to himself, before exclaiming ‘Pyro plays with fire, folks…but he never get burned’, and causing a surge of flame to appear above him, manifesting like a phoenix. ‘Not too shabby, eh, Storm?’ Pyro exclaims. ‘You’re the weather witch. Top this - if you can - I dare you!’ Standing nearby, Storm thinks to herself that she would love to accept the challenge, but she no longer possesses her mutant abilities. ‘Rachel - can you hear my thoughts? Are you all right?’ Storm thinks to herself, but when she gets no telepathic response, Ororo assumes that her teammate is unconscious. ‘Foolish child. Why did you attack so recklessly? Your psionic powers are too valuable to be wasted!’ Storm thinks to herself.
Storm raises her hands into the air, and suddenly, it begins to pour with rain. Ororo realizes that the intense heat of Pyro’s flame is interacting with the much cooler fog above them to create a freak downpour. Ororo hopes that she can turn this coincidence to the X-Men’s advantage. ‘Your wish is granted, Pyro. Your paltry creation has not a prayer against my elemental fury!’ Storm booms. ‘Until he realizes that I am bluffing’ she tells herself, when suddenly, Storm is thrust into the air. ‘Goddess! I am flying!’ Ororo tells herself, before the thoughts of Rachel are projected into Storm’s mind, telling Ororo not to be scared. Rachel explains that she is not unconscious, just “playing possum”. Rachel tells Storm that her telekinetic power is lifting her up, while Storm wishes she could do this herself. She knows that a focused micro-monsoon would extinguish Pyro’s flames instantly, beyond all hope of re-ignition.
‘You were warned, villain!’ Storm booms. ‘Now what, bright boy?’ Avalanche asks as he and Spider-Woman, who has regained consciousness, stand near Pyro. ‘How the heck should I know?’ Pyro replies. ‘Mystique’s the boss - we never should have attempted this without her!’ Pyro exclaims. Suddenly, Rogue flies towards Freedom Force. ‘Naughty, naughty, hot-stuff!’ Rogue exclaims. ‘Ah got the feeling Mystique won’t much applaud your initiative. Especially when we whomp ya’ll!’. ‘Amateurs! Must I do everything?’ Spiral mutters, before suddenly, Blob appears out of nowhere - and Rogue bounces into him, getting knocked back through one of the nearby buildings.
Spiral watches as Storm continues to hover above them. ‘Yet I sense no energy aura about her. Could it be…she’s merely playing a part?’ Spiral wonders, standing over Rachel’s body, she casts a spell. ‘Pretending to be a star?’ Spiral thinks to herself, while Rachel screams into her mind: ‘STORM!’, and nearby Kitty sees Storm begin to fall from the rain-drenched air above them. Kitty tells David to stay here, but he follows her: ‘The heck I will!’ he exclaims. ‘You’re only human! You’ll just be in the way!’ Kitty tells him, as she uses her phasing powers to literally run on air as if it was solid ground. Shadowcat races as fast as she can into the sky, and grabs Storm.
But Storm has built up so much momentum that Kitty cannot hold them both, so she quickly phases herself and Storm into the ground below, concerned that she must find an open space though, and fast, as she doesn’t know if Ororo took a breath. ‘It’s as easy to suffocat down here as drown underwater!’ Kitty thinks to herself.
Back above ground, Colossus watches as Pyro continues to resist the rain. ‘Will he fare so well, I wonder…against a concentrated blast of water from this hydrant?’ Piotr wonders, as he rips the fire hydrant from the ground, causing a powerful burst of water to blast towards Pyro - but the Blob stands in the way, and the water bounces from him. ‘Nice try, leadhead. But to nail my pals, you gotta get through me first. And that can’t be done!’. ‘They’re using teamwork - the Blob blocked my spray allowing Pyro to counter with a fireball!’ Colossus thinks to himself, while he is knocked back as Pyro turns the water into steam and fuses the hydrant shut. Suddenly, Piotr is overwhelmed by a land wave caused by Avalanche.
Freedom Force stand their ground as the rain continues to pour down, while Jessica Drew arrives, and stands beside David. The Blob declares that he has never had so much fun. ‘You X-chumps have given me a whole lotta grief in the past. Ah’m gonna love returning it. With interest!’ the Blob booms, adding that what makes this caper a real hoot is the fact that they are the heroes and the X-Men are the crooks. ‘WHOA! HEY!’ the Blob shouts as he suddenly finds himself lifted off the ground - as Colossus pushes up a slab of concrete. ‘Perhaps the Blob cannot be moved if he does not wish so…but the ground he stands upon can!’ Piotr thinks to himself, before calling out to Rogue: ‘Highball to you!’ Colossus shouts. ‘Gotcha, partner!’ Rogue exclaims as she swoops down and uses her incredible strength to pick the Blob up - before throwing him into the rain-drenched night. ‘Happy landings, fatboy!’ Rogue exclaims. And a couple of miles away, by the Golden Gate Bridge, Blob lands with a mighty splash into the water.
Back at the battle-scene, ‘That woman in black - David, she called herself Spider-Woman! Who does she think she is…stealing my old identity?’ Jessica exclaims, before running towards Julia, shouting ‘Who are you, lady? Where do you come from?’, and extending her arm as if she is about to knock Julia out with a venom blast. ‘I can’t do that anymore!’ Jessica reminds herself, while the new Spider-Woman announces ‘I’m a federal officer!’. Julia grabs Jessica by her shirt and declares that she and her colleagues are bringing in the fugitive felonious X-Men to justice. ‘And that’s all the explanation you’re going to get!’ Julia exclaims. ‘Unless you’d like to join them in prison’ she adds. Jessica thinks to herself that once she would have been more than a match for the new Spider-Woman, but as she has not super-powers she is as vulnerable as Storm.
Shadowcat and Storm climb out of the hole in the ground that Colossus created, while Rogue hovers in front of Spiral, when suddenly, Kitty notices Lindsay hanging off the roof of a nearby house. Kitty also points out that Jessica has been grabbed. Rogue tells Colossus and Shadowcat to handle the rescue, while Lindsay calls out for someone to help her. ‘Ah’ll cover your backs!’ Rogue exclaims as she puts her hands around Spiral’s neck - with the slightest touch of her skin to Spiral’s, Rogue absorbs the villainess’ psyche and physical skills. Usually Rogue’s personality remains dominant - but this time is different. As Spiral drops unconscious, Rogue howls like a lost soul into the rain-drenched night. ‘Silly girl. Spiral was born dancing through minds, as through life! Stolen from my hateful, rightful form I may be…but far from helpless!’ Spiral exclaims through Rogue, while Pyro and Avalanche look on in shock.
At that moment, Colossus throws Kitty through the rain, towards the house. Kitty thinks to herself that this would be fun if the stakes weren’t so high. ‘Is that Rogue screaming? Something awful’s happening!’ Kitty tells herself as she reaches Lindsay, telling the young woman to let go and drop onto her. ‘I’ll “air-walk” us both to the street’ Shadowcat tells her, before asking what she was doing up there anyway. ‘My cat was on the roof! I had to save her!’ Lindsay replies, while Shadowcat sees Rogue transformed, and lifting Colossus above her head - before slamming him down onto the concrete.
Pyro traps Storm in fiery bonds, telling her that she has made her last move. ‘Game, set and match to us!’ Pyro boasts. Spider-Woman holds back Jessica and David are announces that they are under control and won’t cause any more trouble. ‘And neither shall the latest, littlest X-Man!’ the Spiral-possessed Rogue exclaims. ‘Bid farewell, babycat - to all of your nine misbegotten lives!’ Before Shadowcat can react, she finds herself frozen in her tracks - her body phasing in place like an image smeared along a sheet of paper, almost to the point where part of her loses physical cohesion and dissipates into nothingness. The effect is luckily transitory, but Kitty doesn’t notice - she is barely aware that she is alive, as she collapses beside the rest of the defeated X-Men.
Jessica, Lindsay and David watch from nearby: I don’t believe it. Lindsay, the X-Men are beaten!’ Jessica exclaims. ‘We won! Way to go, Freedom Force!’ Avalanche exclaims, while Pyro and Julia smile. Nearby, Storm looks at the six-armed Rogue and wonders what she is doing. ‘The psyche/power transferal is temporary - but if she touches Spiral again it could be permanent!’. Storm calls out to Rogue as she leans down to touch Spiral: ‘No! You must not! Stop!’ Ororo shouts. ‘Too late, mutant. The youngling’s life and soul are - WHAT?’ Spiral exclaims through Rogue as several police cars arrive on scene.
‘Is this a private party…or may anyone join in?’ Bree Morrell asks as she gets out of a car, flanked by several other officers. ‘Private!’ the Spiral-possessed Rogue declares. ‘Tough. I’m Lieutenant Morrell. We’re the law. You’re in trouble!’ she exclaims. ‘Words! With little meanings and less…less power…’ Rogue utters, before returning to herself, while Spiral stands up. ‘Witch!’ Rogue exclaims. ‘Ah’ll have your heart, Spiral!’ ‘You tried once, Rogue. This time you might not be so lucky!’ Spiral replies, before Jessica steps in between them, telling Rogue to let it ride. ‘For all our sakes, hold your temper!’
Rogue replies that she gets the message, before exclaiming ‘Yo, Spiral - later! That’s a promise!’. ‘One I’ll gladly hold you to - Sugar’ Spiral smirks. Spider-Woman approaches Lieutenant Morrell and informs her that Freedom Force’s assignment is to take the mutants into custody. ‘Never heard of your “assignment”’ Bree replies, before asking Spider-Woman if she has a warrant. ‘We’re Feds. We don’t’ need one!’ the Blob exclaims, after making his way back from the Golden Gate Bridge.
‘Guess again, tubbo. The X-Men have committed no crimes in San Francisco - quite the contrary, they’re civic heroes. On the other hand, Blob, you, Pyro and Avalanche are posted felons!’. Blob smiles as he replies that they have been pardoned, and tells Bree to check with the White House, they can set her straight. ‘Fine. You provide appropriate documentation and we’ll proceed from there. No other way’ Lieutenant Morrell declares. Freedom Force gather together as Spiral casts one of her teleportation spells. ‘You win this round, honey-bunch. But if you know what’s good for you, those muties better be here when we come back!’ the Blob shouts.
When Freedom Force vanish, Bree surveys the damage. ‘What a mess!’ she exclaims. Kitty tells her that they are sorry, but that it wasn’t really the X-Men’s fault. Bree tells her that she knows, not that it matters. ‘The city owes you a lot. I think this is where we balance those scales a little - get my drift, Storm?’. Storm assures Bree that when Freedom Force returns, the X-Men shall be long gone.
Soon, the X-Men are inside Jessica’s home, gathered around with David, Lindsay and her cat. Storm tells Jessica that she wishes they could stay to repair the damage, to which Jessica tells her that a check will do nicely. Kitty declares that this isn’t fair, being run out of town like this, as they didn’t do anything. Rogue agrees. ‘Ah hate it too, kiddo!’
Rachel stands away from the others and looks at the postcard of Cyclops, Madelyne and the baby. ‘I nearly died tonight’ Rachel tells herself. ‘Or, worse, got hauled off to prison. I couldn’t have endured that. I’d have done anything to escape - even taken my own life’. Rachel knows that if she had done that, if worst had come to worst, then she would never see Scott, Madelyne or her baby brother ever again. She decides that Rogue is right, that some things have to be confronted, or what is the use of living. ‘It’s past time I laid my ghosts to rest. My world may be dead - but I live. I better start getting used to that - by visiting Cyclops, and telling him he has a grown daughter!’
Meanwhile, at San Francisco Hospital, an ambulance drives up to the emergency doors. ‘Trauma team - on the double!’ someone shouts. A team rushes alongside a gurney into the hopsital. ‘Multiple gunshot wounds!’ ‘Notify surgery!…’ ‘…and the blood bank!’ ‘Who is she?’ ‘No ID’ ‘List her as “Jane Doe”!’ someone declares. ‘She got a chance, Doc?’ ‘It’s a miracle she made it this far’ the doctor replies, adding that they will do their best, but he doubts she will last the night - unaware that the woman is Madelyne Pryor-Summers!
Across the continent, and earlier this evening, another of the X-Men - Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler bids farewell to a young lady whose life he recently saved. ‘”Indiana” Wagner. Must you always play a part, Kurt?’ Judith Rassendyll asks, referring to Kurt’s hat. Kurt tells his companion that he grew up in the circus, so performing is in his nature. ‘Besides, with my looks…a disguise makes life much simpler’. Judith smiles and tells Kurt that she likes his. ‘I like your taste in men…your highness’ Kurt jokes. ‘Go on, make fun! I still can’t believe this is happening!’ Judith declares.
‘One day I’m plain old ordinary Judith Rossendale - the next, heir to a European throne. It’s too much like a fairy tale!’ she exclaims. ‘Let’s hope so. They always had happy endings’ Kurt replies, before telling Judith that if she ever needs him he is only a phone call away. Judith looks over Kurt’s shoulder and sees her “watch dogs” - Colonel Max Reiger of the Ruritanian National Guard and Colin Lewis of the Ruritanian Sate Department growling at her. ‘Time to go’ she exclaims. Kurt tells Judith to take care and not to worry, as true heroes never fail. Kurt and Judith hug as Judith tells Nightcrawler that this is not a game, no matter how hard he tries to make it so. ‘How much crazier can things get? I’m the one who could be murdered at any moment…yet you’re the one I feel sorry for!’
Moments later, Kurt teleports onto the roof of the airport, and watches a plane take off, presumably Judith’s. ‘why did she say that, silly girl? I’m in my element. A beauteous damsel in distress to protect. Arch-villains to hunt down, confound and trounce. Well-nigh impossible odds to overcome - all by my lonesome’ Kurt smiles and tips his hat. ‘Sorry for me, Judith? Ridiculous! I couldn’t be happier!’