X-Men: True Friends #2

Issue Date: 
October 1999
Story Title: 
Royal Hunt

Chris Claremont (writer), Rick Leonardi (penciler), Al Williamson & Jimmy Palmiotti (inkers), Shannon Blanchard (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Ruben Diaz (editor), Bob Harras (Editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Kitty and Alasdhair are attacked by a possessed Phoenix in their Spitfire. Kitty uses her psychic link with Phoenix to try and shock her free, but on the Astral Plane she meets the true puppet master, the Shadow king. She escapes back to reality, where a possessed Alasdhair now tries to kill her. Her phasing power disrupts Farouk’s hold and the plane spirals down. Miraculously, they survive and make their way to Edinburgh castle, where they find Lady Regina’s party. Kitty escapes the attentions of a Nazi, whereas Alasdhair is asked to join Lady Regina’s conspiracy against the throne. He refuses and Lady Regina’s telepath and magician, Amahl Farouk, intends to sue him as a human sacrifice to extinguish the entire line of the House Windsor. Kitty saves him and, as the spell goes awry, Farouk kills Lady Regina and several Nazis. He turns his attention back to Kitty and Alasdhair, who have already escaped from the castle. Mind-shocked, they fall into a truck and Farouk orders the drivers to kill them. It comes to a fight between Alasdhair and one of the men and the car ends up in the river. Alasdhair tries to save the unconscious Kitty but finds she is intangible. A stranger lends a helping hand and miraculously manages to save Kitty. It is Wolverine. The three of them fight another group of Nazis with Kitty and Logan repeatedly saving each other’s lives and Alasdhair deciding he has to take a stand. Kitty figures the same. She plans to kill the important Nazis and prevent the Holocaust.

Full Summary: 

Kitty Pryde and Alasdhair Kinross were flying to Inverness in a prototype Spitfire to save Rachel Summers and Alasdhair’s cousin Lilibet from the Nazis. Unfortunately, Rachel seems to have other ideas, as she attacks their plane with her Phoenix raptor.

Kitty surmises that the Nazis are somehow forcing her to attack. She keeps the two of them as well as the plane intangible, aware that the slightest slip will allow Rachel to use her telekinesis on them. She tries to reach her friend mentally and succeeds in slipping to the astral plane, where she sees Rachel kneeling. Kitty addresses her when suddenly a fat, Arabian gentleman wearing a fez appears and tells her that has broken Rachel swill so that she will serve him. Recognizing the man, Kitty bursts out “Amahl Farouk! The Shadow King!”

Farouk is surprised that Kitty would know him, not to mention his secret name, while she and Rachel on the other hand are an enigma to him. He intends to change that, but finds that Kitty’s thoughts are almost impossible to grab. Kitty returns to her body to break free. Unfortunately, Farouk has now taken over Alasdhair, intending to make them crash. Kitty silently reasons that as her power disrupts electrical circuitry and the nervous system is nothing but a biological network, phasing through Alasdhair at the right frequency could scramble hum enough to purge Farouk from his skull. She does so and grabs the steering wheel getting the plane to fly up again.

Alasdhair awakes with a start to find that Kitty has landed the plane on a lake. He is still shaking with tears. Kitty calms him and explains that’s a normal reaction when a world-class telepath ties to take over your head. It will pass. Alasdhair is still reeling from the experience the Shadow King wanted to make Alasdhair kill Kitty. He made him enjoy it. That’s his style, Kitty agrees as she pours him something hot to drink from a thermo. She explains she was able to resist, partly due to training, in part, because thanks to her powers her thoughts can be as hard to hold as her body. She knows him then? By reputation, she admits. She explains that she doesn’t know where she set them down. It was the first decent stretch of land she could find. The Nazis probably thought they were finished.

However, the two of them can’t begin their chase anew right then. Something broke. Alasdhair grabs the toolbox and begins fixing the motor. Kitty cracks some jokes and they start discussing Americans. Alasdhair remarks that she certainly is a… pleasant contrast to the King’s… companion, Mrs. Simpson. Kitty asks why he seems to disapprove of the relationship and he explains that, as a monarch, King Edward has to stand for something. A true sovereign must be worthy of his crown. Towards sunset, they are ready to fly again and the plane takes off transporting them to Scotland’s capital Edinburgh.

They dress in eveningwear to confront Regina Windermere in Edinburgh castle. Outside, Alasdhair doubts the wisdom of their plan. Kitty reminds him that they couldn’t contact his mother and everybody else in authority is a guest at Lady Regina’s party. And, whatever, the Nazis have planned will occur that night. Then into battle they will go, Alasdhair decides but first gives Kitty a thin gold crown. He explains that it has been in his family for as long as anyone can remember. It was worn by the Laird’s lady when she rode beside him into battle. It would mean the world to him if she were to wear it. Giving him a peck on the cheek, Kitty replies that she would be honored.

The two of them have barely been announced when lady Regina grabs and monopolizes Alasdhair. A moment later, Herr Geist of the Third Reich’s diplomatic corps approaches Kitty with two glasses of champagne, intent on making conversation. Kitty is icily polite and, when Geist remarks that he isn’t very fond of Lady Windermere either, she shoots back that this surprises her, as Lady Regina seems to be so full of qualities the National Socialists admire. Geist asks her not to judge all Germans by such surface impressions. ‘Not judge a book by its cover,’ he means? Kitty asks. Sadly, she’s read the book – Mein Kampf – that is, it gives her nightmares.

While elsewhere in the room, guests discuss that Nazi Germany is necessary as a bulwark against the danger posed by Stalin’s Soviet Union. Geist and Kitty walk across the room continuing their verbal fencing. ‘Pryde’ is not an English name, he observes. American, she replies curtly. The land of fabled opportunity, Geist marvels. The refuge for every mongrel race on Earth, Kitty replies provokingly. When Geist asks if she has any affection for such creatures, she tells him that perfection is a state, leading to inbreeding and ultimately the corruption of everything they hope to achieve. Mongrels may be ugly, but also tough as nails. They might give one a nasty surprise. Geist asks if he should consider that a challenge. Kitty excuses herself, blaming the champagne and opts for a bathroom break. Geist kisses her hand and waits outside, intending to continue their conversation afterwards.

As if, Kitty thinks to herself inside the bathroom, as she disgustedly shakes the hand Geist kissed. She recalls seeing Geist in Windermere’s castle along with Strucker. As she phases outside the bathroom, on the other side she recalls that Edinburgh castle is a military headquarters, so it’s not likely the Nazis would hide prisoners in the public rooms. Best bet to search the catacombs. As she does so, she congratulates herself for having explored the fortress the first time she was in the city in the present. Thanks to her photographic memory, she knows every inch of the place.

In a dungeon cell, she finds two trunks, big enough to hold a human being inside. Kitty phases into them and finds the unconscious Lilibet and Rachel. That moment, she hears a voice. It’s Lady Windermere, her Nazi entourage and Alasdhair. Windermere tells Alasdhair a cockamamie story about how Mary Stuart’s baby was actually stillborn and exchanged with the child of a lady in waiting making the succession from that point – 400 years ago – on a fraud. She is the true heir to the throne. Kitty doesn’t much care about this. She just wants to get her friends.

As she tries to wake Rachel, suddenly Amahl Farouk addresses her telepathically, telling her he knew she would come. As the real Farouk opens the trunk a moment later, Kitty has already phased away. Angrily, Farouk tells his men to remove the trunks and to destroy them at the first sign of pursuit. He vows to himself that he will find the ghost, then leaves to join Windermere and the others.

In the catacombs, a strange ceremony is about to take place. Regina Windermere stands in the center of a pentagram, claiming that her necromancer will raise the sprits of the dead, so that they may learn the truth about the Stuarts’ heritage and prove her claim. Strucker just shakes his head at these follies. Is it a reward of his loyalty to play nursemaid to a lunatic with delusions of grandeur?

Unaware of the dissension in the ranks, Windermere asks Kinross if he will join her in this patriot cause or prove himself traitor. Farouk interjects that Kinross will defy her with his dying breath. He doesn’t even need his mental powers to see that.

Somewhat later, Alasdhair is bound in the center of the room, meant to become a human sacrifice. By killing one of the royal bloodline, Farouk’s spell will exterminate all royals and, as a result, allow Lady Windemere, who is pro-Hitler, to assume the throne. Strucker is unhappy with these dishonorable means of fighting. Geist tells him they must adapt. He tells him to think larger. Suppose the same enchantment could be turned against the “mongrel races” that pollute the Aryan realms. Wouldn’t that be a most expedient final solution?

Farouk summons eldritch energies and intends to strike but, at that moment, Kitty appears and drags Alasdhair through the ground with her. Farouk’s blade shatters and the energies he summoned go wild. Angrily, he lashes out and hits Kitty and Alasdhair with a mindshock. Strucker orders his men to eliminate them, but they all find they are frozen in place. They turn to Farouk to see that he is struggling with the primal forces he has summoned. The malefic forces required to extinguish an entire bloodline are more than even his body can withstand. Therefore, he must banish the spell before it consumes him.

The energy hits and dissipates the Nazi soldiers with the exception of Strucker and Geist, who are looking on horrified. At least now they know Farouk is no charlatan, Geist offers. Strucker threatens to throw him to Farouk if he makes another remark like that. Farouk turns to Lady Windermere. Royal blood opened the gate. The same must be employed to close it. Over Regina’s screams, his energies consume her. Kitty, in the meantime, has regained her bearings and drags Alasdhair with her through the wall.

Finally normal again, kneeling over Lady Windermere’s ashes, Farouk tells Strucker to put away his gun. He is no threat to him. Plus, Strucker should know he cannot harm Farouk with a gun. Geist reminds the two of them of Kinross and the girl. Farouk becomes agitated. As he shows them a glimpse of his true psychic form, he promises that, while Hitler may have lost the opportunity to put Lady Regina on the British throne, Farouk has the power to give him dominion over the world. Geist is now at a lack of words, but Strucker decides that, for as long as their interests coincide, they shall work together.

Elsewhere, Kitty drags Alasdhair through the castle walls, as quickly as she can. They have to get out of the castle before Farouk decides to hit them with another mindshock. They’ve almost made it when Farouk’s astral form announces itself and tells them they’ll never escape. They are high up in the air as another mindshock hits them. Due to Kitty’s training and her phasing power the Shadow King is unable to properly lock onto her mind. Before she passes out, Kitty makes sure they fall into the back of a truck. Not the brightest of ideas it turns out, as moment later Farouk contacts the drivers who are working for Lady Regina. He explains that there are two unconscious intruders in the back of the car and they are to be killed. The men protest. They cannot get away with murder in the middle of Edinburgh. They decides to get rid of them at the docks where they can drown them.

Alasdhair heard this and tries to fight the one man. They fight for the gun, while the other man tries to keep control of the truck. As it swerves, several crates fall right on Kitty. The villain finally shoots at Alasdhair, grazing his skull, and the boy passes out. The man asks his colleague to slow down. He is in for a horrible surprise: the bullet that only grazed Alasdhair’s skull hit his friend point blank and now the car is heading right for the water.

Moments later, Alasdhair, having regained consciousness, dives to the surface. The impact threw him clear, but what about Kitty? Suddenly, he shouts out in horror as, before him, he beholds the Bean-Nighe. The spirit of the old hag begins to sing again, as she shows him a flight jacket he recognizes as Kitty’s, riddled with bullet holes. He shouts at the spirit to get away and she fades away laughing.

Angrily, he dives down and actually finds the unconscious Kitty between the crates. He manages to shift one of them off her, but to his horror finds that he cannot touch her. He recalls her telling him that her natural state is to be intangible. It saved her from being crushed by the crates, but now it keeps Alasdhair from getting a solid grip on her.

Suddenly, strong arms push him aside and moves the rest of the trunks aside with ease and unnatural strength. Impossibly, the stranger manages to get a hold of Kitty and the three of them swim upwards.

Alasdhair emerges first, wondering where the stranger is. He calls out and, a moment later, a rough voice tells him he may find himself answered with a bullet if he doesn’t keep quiet. Alasdhair tells him he is in his debt and the man gruffly replies he is Logan to his friends. Everybody else calls him Wolverine. Alasdhair exclaims that his coming was a miracle. Nothing of the sort, Wolverine hints.

Suddenly, German voices come closer and announce that they are there. Logan pushes Kitty into Alasdhair’s arms and shoves the two of them under the dock… while he himself is riddled with bullets. Alasdhair believes he sacrificed himself for them. Kitty awakes that very moment and shouts ‘Logan’ in disbelief as she sees their savior. Alasdhair tells her there’s nothing they can do for him. The Nazi swine shot him to pieces. Kitty tells him not to worry. That man is even harder to kill than she is. And how would she know about that, Logan asks, having recovered, considering they never met? He adds that they can postpone their talk, until they are clear of this mess.

Kitty asks if Alasdhair is okay. He cannot believe that Logan is still alive and acting as though being hit by a score of bullets means nothing. Is he a mutant like Kitty? Kitty agrees and adds that a more honorable man, a truer friend he’ll never meet. He’s also the most dangerous. That’s how he thinks of her, Alasdhair replies and kisses her.

Above, the Nazis wonder where two of their colleagues are. Logan attacks telling them not to worry about their pals. They are about to join them. Claws extend from his hands as he takes care of the Nazis even as yet another score arrive. He wonders why they are so intent on catching the kids when one of the Nazis tries to garrotte him from behind. Logan realizes that he may well take his head clean off, but struggles as he put a hand between the deadly wire and his throat. One Nazi intends to shoot him with a bullet to the brain, when suddenly a ghostly hand emerges from his stomach. Kitty uses her power to momentarily disrupt his nervous system, allowing Logan the opportunity he needs to break free. The two of them make short work of the Nazis and Alasdhair joins them.

Kitty silently studies Logan. Seeing him there makes her question all they shared together – or in Logan’s case will share – as X-Men. Finally, she thanks him and he returns the compliment. A still alive Nazi tries to shoot them, but Alasdhair does it to him first. To him, it is a shock. He never killed before. But he saw the man take aim… Kitty calms him and assures him there is no reason to feel guilty. Alasdhair supposes she must take this for granted. If he believes that he doesn’t know her at all, she protests.

Kitty tells him things are getting worse. She searched the crates. They are empty. She saw a set like them used to transport Rachel and Lilibet. The Nazis must have pulled a switch and now they have no idea where the girls are. Logan interrupts them, pointing at a set of girl’s clothes he found in the Nazi limo They belong to Lilibet. Kitty asks if he can lock in on her scent. He might, Logan concedes and asks how she knows so much about him. She could say the same, Kitty retorts. His being here was no coincidence, was it? He never said different, Logan tells her. Some people he works with called in a marker, said there’d be trouble, young folks needing help. Nazis needed to be taught a lesson. He is a sucker for punching Nazis.

Alasdhair muses that Logan makes it sound so simple. He always wondered how it’s possible to take another life. And he always prayed he would never have to learn. Now he knows. His grandfather’s generation talks so easily of war, but those of his father’s age who fought the Germans in the Great War hardly speak of it at all. The scars run too deep. But horrible as that was, tonight they face something else. He’s never been so afraid. Part of him wants to flee. But he has to take a stand.

As does she, Kitty silently thinks. She knows what’s coming, what the Nazis have planned for her people, the Jews. She vows that there will be no Shoah, for she intends to kill Adolf Hitler.

Characters Involved: 

Phoenix III, Shadowcat (both Excalibur)


Lord Alasdhair Kinross

Princess Elizabeth ‘Lilibeth’ of York

Amahl Farouk / the Shadow King

Oberst Wolfgang von Strucker

Geist (member of the German Intelligence Service)


Lady Regina Windemere

The two drivers

The Bean-nighe

Story Notes: 

King Edward’s relationship with American divorcee Mrs. Wallis Simpson put the country on the brink of a constitutional crisis with Edward's accession: The Church of England (of which he was the head) censured divorce, Parliament refused to grant Wallis any title, the populace was opposed to having a twice-divorced woman as the King's consort and English law had no precedent for a wife of the king with no title or official capacity. Had Edward pressed the issue, the constitutional monarchy would have been irreparably damaged; he chose to abdicate rather than mar the image of the monarchy. He was created Duke of Windsor, married Wallis and relished in social life. He was succeeded as king by his brother, George. After George’s death, Elizabeth II, the current queen, inherited the throne.

‘Mein Kampf,’ is the book Hitler wrote while he was in prison (long before he came to power). In it, he outlines all his goals.

‘The Great War’ refers to World War I.

The Shoah is another word for the Holocaust.

While Kitty claims that she knows the Shadow King by reputation only, she actually has met and been possessed by him at the time when he had taken over the New Mutant, Karma. [New Mutants (1st series) # 30-31

There is no logical reason why Logan was able to touch the phased, unconscious Kitty. Granted, Claremont had made it a point in his later writing in other titles to show that Kitty could only phase through Adamantium with a lot of pain and effort, but at that junction of time Logan doesn’t yet possess his Adamantium skeleton.

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