Sitting cross-legged on the floor surrounded by a circle of candles is the ruler of Limbo, Illyana Rasputin. Her head is cast downward, shadowed by the gloomy interior of the room, as she introduces herself to Doctor Strange.
Strange picks up on her last name and asks Illyana if she’s related to Colossus. She tells him he’s her brother. Knowing the X-Men well, Dr. Strange questions why he’s never heard of her. He asks if she’s new to the fold, but she doesn’t answer.
Sensing young Illyana’s troubled nature, Strange asks what he can do for her. Illyana admits that what she needs help with will sound crazy and improbable, but Stephen has had his fair share of crazy and improbable. He tells her to start from the beginning.
Illyana starts off telling Strange about Dormammu and his takeover of Limbo. This is news to the master of the mystic arts as Dormammu rules over the Dark Dimension and doesn’t like to leave it. This doesn’t change the fact that Dormammu is after Limbo, Illyana reasons.
Magik goes on to theorize that Dormammu is like an animal who only cares for his own needs. Strange can’t disagree with her on that, so Illyana continues to explain how he sought to punish her by transporting her allies with her to Limbo and force her to watch as they fought for their lives. The other X-Men, Strange asks, and Illyana agrees.
Dr. Strange asks if they’re ok, and Illyana hesitates to answer. She says it would be better if she just told him exactly what happened…
The Mindless Ones are proving too much for the X-Men. Whatever gains they made early on are lost. As Illyana struggles to free herself from Dormammu’s control the entirety of Limbo begins to crumble around them. Cyclops yells asking her what she’s doing as debris starts raining down on them from above, but she doesn’t answer, suddenly realizing that her powers, like her friends, were broken, too.
The realization comes like a punch in the gut. Every time Illyana has used her powers since the Phoenix Force debacle it damaged the Limbo dimension. How could she have known, she wonders, but on the other hand, what difference would it have made. These magical dimensions produce nothing and don’t mean anything to anyone.
…Doctor Strange interrupts to point out that apparently it meant something to Dormammu. “Clearly,” Illyana retorts, but then goes on to explain that she realized the demon’s arrogance gave her the key to end it…
Illyana begins drawing the elements of Limbo toward her. Dormammu is confused and distracted by what’s happening around him. Cyclops sees this as an opportunity and orders the X-Men to fight back with everything they’ve got.
Cyke tells Emma and Tempus to get down before obliterating a nearby Mindless One with a crazy, off-kilter blast. However, the rest of the X-gang is still not holding up well. Magneto is soon overrun by a pair of Mindless Ones who get physical. Nearby, newbie, Benjamin Deeds, gets rocked in the back of the head by falling debris.
Cyclops sees Magneto getting pummeled blasts them to pieces as well. Mindee is grazed in the head by Scott’s attack and she screams out telepathically. This causes a break in the Cuckoo’s psychic motivational message to the team and the kids are suddenly frightened again.
This distracts Scott who is then smacked on the side of the head with a gold ball. Fabio apologizes, but the new, stressful emotions taking him over have him ploinking gold balls all over the place.
Chaos ensues with one of the Mindless Ones yanking a Cuckoo by the hair, while another Cuckoo cradles the injured Ben in her lap. Others are unsure what to do like Angel and Triage. Fabio asks for more of that bravery juice as he’s huddled in fear still popping out those golden balls.
Salvation, however, comes from Illyana. She has somehow broken free of Dormammu’s control, perhaps from bringing in elements of Limbo around her. Nevertheless, the Darkchilde persona is no longer levitating idly by while her teammates are in dire trouble.
Illyana calls upon her teleportation powers and is able to send every one of them out. Then, just as suddenly, she simply ends the Limbo dimension, taking it inside herself, every part, leaving her in total darkness.
…“It may have been overreaching but sometimes you don’t know what you can do till you try,” she tells Strange…
The Xavier School for the Gifted, grounds
The X-Men reappear about 30 feet in the air above the snowy grounds of their base. Luckily, the snowfall is heavy and they all land safely with their pride still intact. Benjamin is their only wounded, still out for the count.
The Cuckoo who was with him can no longer read his mind. She cries out for help so Tempus tells Christopher to go heal him. Chris looks doubtful about his ability to do so and then asks, “Can I?”
the space that was Limbo
Illyana walks through the empty blackness and her thoughts turn to Belasco and her lost childhood, and of the life and loves she was never able to experience. Instead of the usual pity that accompanies these thoughts, she gets angry. She’s tired of being used by a series of puppeteers.
Then she comes across a small, sniveling incarnation of Dormammu. He pleads with her saying they can work out some sort of deal, but Illyana is having none of it. She feels it’s time for her to grow up and take responsibility for who she is, once and for all time. Illyana raises the Soulsword over her head ready to strike the Dreaded One from existence.
The Xavier School for the Gifted, grounds
Triage stands over the young Mr. Deeds, stammering. He’s only done small things, cuts and bruises, never something like this. Emma tells Chris to empty his mind and focus, to which he starts stuttering. Emma tells him this is what he does now, this is who he is. Using his power should be just like eating and breathing, she explains. “Decide you can, and you will,” she emphasizes.
Chris puts his hands on Ben’s chest and squints his eyes in concentration. It’s Ben’s eyes that open first, and no one is more shocked than Chris. He turns away and stares at his hands in disbelief. Emma asks Ben how he feels and he responds, “Confused.”
With that settled, Angel asks what they’re all thinking, what exactly did they just go through. Scott apologizes to him, and to everyone. He says that none of the students were ready for that. Eva pipes up that the teachers didn’t look that capable either. The other students agree, Warren adding insult to injury says Scott seems worse than when he was a teenager.
Cyclops agrees, saying they start training tomorrow, all of them, teacher and student alike. “Not me,” Fabio interjects. He’s sitting in the snow near tears. He tells them he wants to go home right away. Emma tries to console him, but he wants none of it. “Take me home,” he says again.
Emma asks him to try and calm down, but that has the opposite effect on Fabio. He gets so angry more gold balls start ploinking out again. He was just taken to Hell and he wants no part of the X-Men, or any of it. “You take me home. Now!” he demands.
With the story ended, Illyana emphasizes this is the reason she came to seek Dr. Strange’s help. She is now mature enough to realize she needs to be trained in her powers, to fully understand and master them. She doesn’t think there is anyone else on the planet that can help her other than Strange.
Stephen is still in shock over the fact that she is now carrying Limbo inside herself, and then another thing dawns on him as Wong brings them both a cup of tea. With her ability to travel through time and space he questions if she is coming to him from another time. Magik admits she is from the not-too distant future where the X-Men and Avengers have frayed relations and she’s not sure who she can trust.
This doesn’t seem to make sense to Dr. Strange who points out he is not an Avenger. Illyana can only look at him, realizing she may have revealed too much. Of course, Strange reads her face and realizes he’s going to become an Avenger. He cannot fathom what events would bring him to joining such a team.
While the good doctor ponders the possibilities, Illyana asks him yet again if he will help her. Strange says they would have to meet more than just this one time. You believe me, Illyana asks. Strange say he cast a spell of integrity on her when she first sat down.
Then, Illyana apologizes for burdening him. Strange says it’s not a burden, but what he does, his purpose. “Let’s begin.”