Charles Xavier wakes from a nightmare in which a monstrous yet hidden figure accuses him of being a betrayer. Xavier telepathically calls Kurt Wagner aka Nightcrawler. He apologizes for the hour but sensed Kurt was awake. Nightcrawler chuckles that he is up, though not for long. He has just teleported out of a flying plane, surrounded by several young Krakoan mutants. Among them is Pixie, who is carrying Loa, and DJ, who is doing the same with Blink.
Xavier recalls that Kurt had volunteered for the Venice insertion. He tells Kurt not to let him distract him. He is pleased Nightcrawler is back in the field… he’s been too much in his own head lately. Perhaps they all have. Xavier takes up a photo of Gaby Haller, cradling their infant son David.
Kurt points out that, when people call a priest in the small hours, it usually follows a sin or precedes a death. Xavier chuckles and asks if he hasn’t heard: mutants upgraded morality and beat mortality. He’s afraid Kurt’s cassock has little to offer his conscience. No, he simply wished to offer an old friend good luck on his mission.
Kurt’s group has entered a Venetian palazzo. While he has snuck away for some solo reconnaissance, the others search the room. Inside, they find exhibits showcasing Dark Phoenix, a murderous Sabretooth and other mutant villains – or as Loa calls it, it’s every crappy thing mutants ever did. Like a museum of hate.
Pixie wonders if they should check on Nightcrawler. He is taking forever in there. DJ tells her not to be such a Wanda. He’s fine. And if not – so what? Worrying is so sapiens. Blink opines Pixie is just like that because she hasn’t had her first time yet. Defensively, Pixie retorts she doesn’t want to do it just to do it. It’s a big deal. Loa tells her not to be so serious about it. If she is about to die, just think happy thoughts. Favorite food or whatever. Get resurrected with a smile. Pixie complains that’s no help, as her favorite changes every day. Yesterday she fancied sushi, today she could murder a cheese toastie. DJ calls her chicken. He bets she thinks the Patchwork Man will get her.
Nightcrawler comes out of the shadows in the ceiling, scaring DJ. He asks him who the “Patchwork Man” is. DJ stammers it’s this creepy story the kids tell back on Krakoa about… Pixie interrupts, stating it doesn’t matter and asks if Kurt got the files. Kurt agrees. It is as they feared: the place is funded by Orchis.
He peers through the small window in a steel door. Inside the room sit men in priest robes, watching a film showing Mystique murdering a human. Nightcrawler muses that they thought they were recruiting only scientists and soldier… but a hate museum…They built a school for anti-mutant missionaries!
Sounds like Orchis got a brainwashing division, Blink states. Pixie mumbles that some people say all belief systems… That moment, a priest from one of the other rooms has discovered them and shouts Abominations and other injective. Kurt tries to shush him but too late, the priests have heard and rush outside. Got a lot of freshly washed brains en route, Blink deadpans. Kurt suggests Pixie expand their minds. Pixie uses her hallucinatory pixie dust on them making them seen angels.
DJ warns them of armed men with gas masks, meaning they are immune to the pixie dust. He calls up the Tchaikowsky playlist on his phone, allowing him to create a forcefield to keep them off.
Nightcrawler gives orders to leave - they have what they came from. They head toward Blink’s teleportation disk, but Pixie is lagging behind. You know what would really make these lads turn over a new leaf? she thinks aloud. Excited, DJ begins to film her as she steps toward one of the armed men. A little guilt, she continues. Kurt shouts at her to stop.
The soldier is more frightened than she is. He points his rifle at her face and stammers at her to stay back. Playfully, she asks she doesn’t suppose he’s got a cheese toastie about him. He fires.
Kurt screams in horror, curses him and kicks the man in the face while the kids shout, that was awesome. The priests are in shock, muttering about the blood of a saint. Blink tells Kurt they won’t be preaching against anyone now. Loa reminds him that Pixie will come back. They kicked death’s butt. They all come back. Kurt still feels that this is wrong but, when DJ asks why, he can’t give a clear reason. It just is…
The others step through Blink’s gate. She tells Kurt they’ll see him at home and suggests he lighten up. He used to be fun. Thoughtfully, he looks at one of the exhibits in the hate museum…
And a little later, the statue of Magneto commanding several missiles stands in the Krakoan tiki bar, causing Wolverine to ask if he is overcompensating for something. A jape, Magneto states, clearly unamused. Kurt apologizes but Magneto demurs. In fact, those old missiles are a testament. A testament to folly! he begins to rant to the entire bar. He is mostly ignored as he pontificates about all those years they wasted. Mutant vying with mutant, using the clumsy tools of the enemy to fight amongst themselves. Kurt tries to remind him it was a joke, but Magneto is on a roll.
He tells them to look around and see what they can do when they embrace their commonality. They have defeated death. They have shaken the world. They have built an empire of enlightenment – all within their first year. These pitiful toys are a gift… an invitation to forsake the past and embrace a brave new future, to anyone who cares enough to take it seriously. He magnetically changes the missiles into a pyramid, while he is met with polite applause.
Kurt follows him outside and demands what that was. Magneto dryly retorts it was a sermon. He rather thought that was Kurt’s area. Come to think of it, didn’t he tell Cyclops he wanted to found a mutant religion? Kurt begins he is still thinking about it. Magneto continues he considers it a fool’s errand. But preferable to these… juvenile stunts. Kurt shoots back whether it has occurred to him the juvenility may be appropriate in a land of the ever young. Or that laughter may be the antidote to horror?
Erik realizes he is talking about Crucible. It’s tonight, isn’t it? Kurt states, it is murder. Magneto is not impressed. The world’s first post-mortal society and Kurt is worried about sinning against his dusty god. As he recalls, he was something of an authority on resurrection himself. He tells Nightcrawler that his problem is he is so busy looking for snakes he can’t see Eden.
They have reached a cliff and Magneto flies onward, meaning Kurt can’t follow, even though the conversation isn’t over, as far as he is concerned. He is addressed by a black woman with a cane and unnaturally elongated limbs. Shyly, she tells him she is Lost. Figuring she is a new arrival, he asks if she could wait one… She interrupts: they say he is one of the kindly ones. She just wants to belong. She’s Lost. Not sure what she wants, he tells her it can be overwhelming. He points to a blue building and tells her it’s the welcome hall. People there will help her. He doesn’t let her finish and he assures her that she has nothing to fear here and teleports away, unaware that someone has watched the exchange.
Evening. Kurt watches from a tree as children are gathered around a campfire to listen to Exodus’ tales. He tells them that tonight belongs to Crucible where they restore to grace those who were scourged by the Great Pretender. He asks who can name her. Who can name the hated one? One over-eager child shouts it’s the Patchwork Man. Confused, Exodus replies it was the Scarlet Witch and begins to describe what she did.
However, one of the children interrupts that he heard the Patchwork Man makes you cut off your own face. Exodus asks who the Patchwork Man is. The kids reply that he lives in the shadows and has funny hair. And he makes you do “hurty” things. They continue telling things he does, both ridiculous and scary. Exodus tries to bring them back on track.
Kurt hears a noise above him and attacks the person teleporting them both away. Angrily, the other person warns him he has one chance to remove his grubby trotters from his exquisitely sterile coat or he shall dedicate a full third of his intellect to reducing him to forgotten quantum smear!
Kurt recognizes Dr. Nemesis, then screams a moment later when he sees that mushrooms are growing from the scientist’s head. What happened to his head? he shouts. Science, is the reply.
Snottily, he continues that they are content to accept a wonderland of herbaceous teleportation and life-extending floricultures, but perish the thought of showing any respect to the genius who cultivated the damn things.
Kurt asks if he created the medicines. And now he is… Growing consciousness-altering mushrooms out of his cerebellum, Nemesis finishes. It seemed the obvious step, hence his following Nightcrawler. He thinks individuals with an air of bewildered pointlessness make the best volunteers. Kurt denies being bewildered. Pointing at Kurt’s rosary, Nemesis retorts that he’s been fiddling with this superstitious dross like a violinist on the deck of the Titanic. He means, the leather-wearing types have locked horns with more gods than he’s endured suboptimal lattes. Why is it the only one of whom they have seen no trace is the one Nightcrawler continues to honor? Has he considered this may be why he continues to honor him? Kurt retorts.
Spare him the gnomic bromide, Nemesis scoffs. Alien life, metaphysical entities and the overthrow of mortality itself. What does a credulous little believer do when all the big questions have been answered? He supposes they find better questions, Kurt muses.
That’s more like it, Nemesis agrees and asks if he is familiar with the Dunbar Number. Of course not, he answers himself. The theory proposes that there’s a limit to how many relationships every human can maintain. About 150 or so, in fact. Beyond that, just to keep the peace, societies require abstractions. He plucks a mushroom from his head. Shared ideas. Things that have no reality unless a majority chooses to act as if they do. Laws, currencies, social rituals, figureheads for good or evil… Or mythology, Kurt continues. He knows the theory.
Somewhat taken aback, Nemesis remarks that, in the absence of a truly remarkable mind-expander to rapture them all out of this pigsty of a dimension, he’d pinned his hopes on Kurt. He heard he was working on something unifying… Holding his rosary, Kurt asks what if he has no shared ideas? What if he can find no social rituals? Theoretically speaking, Nemesis muses. Violent societal collapse, but don’t worry, the likeliest outcome is the strongest will invent rituals of their own. For better or worse…
They have reached the Crucible arena where one such ritual is underway as Magneto battles the woman called Lost. Under assault by several flying sharp metal objects, she falls. Magneto orders her up. He attacks her again and announces there are no free passes to paradise. It was her bad luck to be depowered. Today they offer the gift of resurrection, the gift of mutantdom. But it is a gift they cannot simply give. She must take it.
When she is back on her feet, he attacks again. She looks up and sees Kurt. She shouts she wanted him to do it. They said he is one of the kindly ones. She wanted him to end the pain! Why did he send her away?
Magneto orders her to get up. Nightcrawler teleports at Magneto and shouts at him to stop it. She’s not a fighter. All he is doing is hurting her.
The woman manages to stand. She is lost, she announces. Magneto commends her. He sees her. Today she is lesser. Today she does not belong. But she is a fighter. Tomorrow they shall meet as kin. He shapes metal into a sword and hurls it at her, killing her.
Magneto turns to Nightcrawler, who is still on the ground. Nothing hurts more than a life of submission, he lectures him. As he dares say he knows, he adds sotto voce.
Dr. Nemesis helps Kurt up, remarking Magneto cut him down worse than her. He expects Nightcrawler must feel extremely dejected. Perhaps he could assist him in an experimental toadstool-- Kurt replies that it isn’t Magneto that bothers him but the audience that cheers at the violence.
The next morning at the Arbor Magna:
Resurrections are under way. Kurt sits some distance away from the proceedings as the Five do their work watched by an adoring crowd. Xavier mentally contacts him and notes he is troubled. Xavier admits he wouldn’t feel different in his shoes. The air of religiosity around their young resurrectionists would make him uncomfortable too, if he were a man of faith. To what do they owe the visit? he asks. The polite fictions of telepaths, Kurt mocks, aware that Xavier knows the answer. Xavier agrees but adds that fictions will have currency in their brave new world - polite or otherwise. Let’s see if they can’t do something about all that guilt. He joins the Five and completes the resurrection of a newly empowered Lost.
Dr. Nemesis explains her power as gravitational neutrality – hence the ectomorphism. She must have been in agony without her powers.
Magneto begins a speech to welcome her back before feeling nauseous. He vomits. Xavier explains she is causing gravitational disorientation of the inner ear, before he also succumbs to nausea. So do the others apart from Dr. Nemesis who self-evolved some bio-gyroscopes in his twenties and Kurt who has excellent balance. Lost apologizes profusely. She can’t switch it off. Desperate, she runs away.
Kurt wants to stop her but Xavier tells him she wants to be alone. And he still has business here. He refers to the other resurrection, Pixie, who is welcomed by the other teenagers who tell her how cool her death scene was. Pixie is unsure as she believes she sees something monstrous in the shadows but it turns out to be just Kurt. He welcomes her back and offers her the cheese toastie she craved before her death. Pixie apologizes but she can just think about sushi right now. She leaves with her friends chasing sushi.
Xavier reminds Kurt that they come back the way they were when Cerebro recorded them, not as they were when they died. But they are the same people. Penny for his thoughts? Why pay for what he can take? is the bitter reply. Xavier asks him to indulge him. Sometimes the power is in the saying.
Kurt asks when he last walked in his garden. There is wonder and hope, yes, but also there is vice and violence and death. Cheap death. They cannot all be off playing the hero and they cannot all be like the Five – indispensable. The problem is that he can give no good reason why mutants shouldn’t behave as they do, even at their most savage. He can find no moral flaw in these merging cultures. But he can feel it. Something terrible. Waiting out there for the cracks to appear. Catholic paranoia? He suggests jokingly.
Xavier doesn’t think so. He heard him propose some manner of mutant faith. Kurt sighs. He wishes he had told nobody. Inspiration has been… elusive. Xavier suggests he focus on something else for a while. Kurt figures this has to do with yesterday’s brain call. What on earth could be so bad that even Professor X has to sweettalk a disciple? He could just snap his fingers.
Xavier admits he detected something. A presence. It is extremely adept at hiding from him. Suspiciously so. Its actions are marked by surges of negative emotion. Fear, anger misery. He suspects it is preying on them. Dreams, nightmares. Moments of weakness. Cerebro is quite certain it is an omega level mutant. Kurt adds that now the children speak of a Patchwork Man. He admits a candidate does come somewhat to mind.
Xavier hasn’t shared this with anyone else. Will Kurt help him? If it is who he thinks it is, he doesn’t want to involve the council. They’d send some clumsy team forcing him to react. There’s just so much he doesn’t know about him. He has dedicated his life to causes that leave no room for family. He cannot deny he has bene an abysmal father. Kurt asks why he doesn’t send anyone else. Xavier replies Kurt understands people in away Charles never could. He’s one of the kindly ones.
Kurt takes some time to consider. He prays and goes to bed, where his slumber is disturbed by a monstrous shape.
Awake, he returns to Westchester’s graveyard, the grave of Ruth Aldine aka Blindfold and puts a flower on her headstone. A tragedy, eh? a voice comments. Of course, the real question is what would scare a precog enough that she topped herself. He noticed they are not in a hurry to resurrect people like her on their creepy wee island. Bit suspicious, that, no seers to see.
There’s a long queue, Kurt replies and is told he is as credulous as ever. How did he know he would be here? Kurt is blinded by the light but replies he knew they were close. Love rarely perishes with the flesh. The other muses that’s why he sent Kurt. His father was never one for empathy. Kurt groans he is hurting him. The other apologizes Kurt doesn’t deserve to be caught in this… he is one of the kindly ones. But he is far too late.
Floating in the air, Legion announces the bastards are already inheriting the Earth…