At a run-down circus in the Californian Glades, X-Man Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner thinks to himself that the absurdity of the situation is almost unbearable. For years ago, the diseased, fly-bitten man standing in front of him, Jardine, held Kurt hostage, drugged him and made him perform in his freak show of the damned. Standing inside Jardine’s trailer, Kurt informs the old man that he is trying to help him, and in between coughing fits, Jardine replies that he doesn’t want any help.
‘But they’re coming to hurt you!’ Kurt points out, to which Jardine looks at him and asks ‘Who is?’ The things coming are the same ones that tore apart Kurt’s childhood circus in Winzeldorf. He replies that he doesn’t know what they are, just creatures. Jardine wants to know why it is he that the creatures are after, and while Kurt knows that for some reason these creatures are attacking his past, he replies that he isn’t sure, but it is because he lived here for a time and they are looking for…his voice trails off, causing Jardine to walk up to Kurt and ask ‘What? Looking for what?’
Kurt recalls that one of the survivors in Winzeldorf said something about a sword, and informs Jardine that he thinks they are after a sword, but points out that it doesn’t matter now, he just needs to get Jardine and everyone else who is still here somewhere safe and then they can sort through this conf - Kurt doesn’t get to finish the word, “confusion”, because both he and Jardine hear it.
They hear it, outside the trailer - the sound of people screaming. A frightened Jardine asks Kurt what is happening, but Kurt angrily mutters to himself that he is too late…again. Suddenly, the trailer shifts ever so slightly, its boards and beams creak, like an old house settling. ‘What have you brought here, Nightcrawler?’ Jardine asks. Kurt thinks that it feels like the eye of the hurricane is passing over them. ‘Answer me, freak. What have you -’ suddenly Jardine shuts-up, his mouth and eyes go wide, as does Kurt, who doesn’t answer the old man - the hurricane does.
Kurt barely has time to register the fact that the creature known as the Man-Thing has burst into the trailer, but he orders Jardine to get behind him. Kurt’s eyes lock with those of the Man-Thing, and what the Man-Thing senses is fear. Fear triggers its burning touch. The Man-Thing grabs Kurt, who pleads ‘Please, if you can understand me…’ But Kurt reminds himself that he is a hero and shouldn’t feel fear, yet as the Man-Thing’s burning touch forces down on him, he screams. Kurt grabs Jardine and tells him to hang on, before they both vanish in a burst of brimstone, leaving the confused Man-Thing behind.
Kurt’s teleportation power sends he and Jardine out into the circus, where Kurt quickly removes his burning jacket. Jardine begins coughing again as he asks ‘What was that thing?’ Kurt thinks to himself that it was what he was trying to warn Jardine of, one of the many wicked things tearing the old circus apart. Zombies roam the circus, terrorizing the workers and patrons, an elephant has been set loose and is on a rampage while fire burns the Ferris wheel.
‘You filthy freak! Why don’t you just give them what they want?’ shouts Jardine, pointing accusingly at Kurt. ‘Give them the sword so they’ll leave us!’ As Kurt teleports away, he thinks to himself that he cannot give them what they want, because he is not sure what sword they are looking for.
Kurt bamfs above a group of Zombies who are about to attack a woman, while thinking that they might be after the Soulsword… he encourages the woman to run and hide, just before he spots another creature who is crushing the circus’ strong man. Kurt teleports in between the two to separate them. Faced with his new opponent, Kurt wonders what is next. ‘Who’re you supposed to be - furry Smurf?’ asks the creature.
Kurt tries to remember what it is that his good friend Colossus likes to say: “Sometimes the best thing to do to a problem is hit it as hard as you can”. Kurt tries that approach by punching his enemy in the face, but the evil creature just grins back, ‘Nay, you’re Dead-Meat Smurf’ he declares, before swiping at Kurt from both directions. Although he is big and tough Kurt thinks “he is not the brightest star in the firmament” as Emma Frost would say, and so he leaps above him, whacking both sides of his enemy’s head.
‘I’m gonna like eating your brains!’ Kurt’s opponent tells him as he rubs his throbbing head. Kurt realizes that this creature isn’t going down, no matter how hard he hits him, therefore he is wasting his time, after all, this guy isn’t the one orchestrating the attack on people. Someone cries out to god, as Kurt reminds himself that people are dying. As he bamfs away, his foe asks him where he thinks he is going.
Kurt arrives beside a villain, a monster, he knows - Carrion. Carrion stands over a helpless young woman with his death touch. His hands begin to cause the woman to waste away. Kurt realizes that the woman needs medical attention, and lucky for her, he has his friend Christine Palmer running towards him, ‘I’ll take care of the woman, you take care of that thing!’ Christine shouts. Kurt is relieved to see Christine, who has been with him all this time. Christine went from being a potential ex-girlfriend to being a friend for life.
Nightcrawler races towards Carrion, ordering him to let go of the woman, he leaps up and kicks Carrion off her, while thinking that Christine has stuck with him since this strangeness begun, and her being here with him is a very good thing, for it means she and their other traveling companion have caught up to him from dropping off the X-jet.
The “other” travelling companion is of course the X-Man known as Logan a.k.a. Wolverine. Kurt grabs Carrion’s wrists, as he knows he cannot let Carrion’s hands near his own bare skin. While nearby, Wolverine declares that the one thing he hates more than light beer is hordes of rampaging zombies. The rugged X-Man unsheathes his claws, and grins, ‘Luckily, I ain’t got no place else to be!’
Kurt knows that Wolverine can more than take care of himself, so he turns his own attention back to Carrion, holding him to the ground with one foot placed on the villains neck. Kurt tells him that there will be no more games, no more hurting people, and asks him why he is doing this and what it is he is looking for. ‘Your death…’ replies Carrion eerily. ‘Typical’ Kurt thinks to himself, while knowing that it cannot be that simple because if that is the case, then why wouldn’t they just come for him - why attack every place he has ever lived?
‘The Sword…’ replies Carrion. Kurt is annoyed at yet another mention of what he assumes to be the Soulsword, but as he expresses this to Carrion, the strangest thing happens - Carrion, for some reason, falls asleep. ‘What now?’ Kurt wonders, while supposing that Carrion is no the only one throughout Jardine’s circus that he will discover is asleep. And sure enough, “Gator Grant” is on the midway and suddenly starts to sway on his feet.
Back at the trailers, the Man-Thing’s rampage goes quiet, as still as a lake, and behind the tents, Wolverine’s fun is cut short. ‘Oh, you gotta be kidding me’ Logan mutters as all the Zombies around him stop moving and return to their “natural” state of un-deadness. Carrion slips from Kurt’s grasp, an unholy dead weight, and Kurt watches as Jardine’s circus performers flee into the surrounding swamps, leaving Kurt, Wolverine, Christine and Jardine awake and confused. Christine points out that all of the creatures are asleep. ‘Asleep like babies - baby monsters, but you know what I’m saying’ jokes Logan, while in between coughs, Jardine asks Kurt how he did that.
Suddenly, three very powerful beings descend upon Kurt and co, with one of them declaring ‘He didn’t do anything…we did’. Kurt glances up to the sky sees his foster sister and former lover Amanda Sefton, her mother and his foster mother Margali Szardos and the being known as Nightmare. Kurt thinks to himself that for someone who isn’t officially in the super hero business, Margali certainly knows how to make an entrance.
Christine stares in wonder, mumbling ‘And this is…? I mean they are…?’ ‘I believe the term is “Deus Ex Machina”’ Kurt explains. For how else would you describe the eleventh hour appearance of the Sorceress Supreme Margali, the beautiful Amanda Sefton and the dubious Nightmare?
Margali informs everyone that they can inform Nightmare for putting the creatures to sleep, to which Nightmare remarks that it wasn’t hard, for most of them were, in fact, dead, which is of course the biggest, deepest sleep of them all, adding that he will take credit for the dream that he has trapped them in - they are all underwater, beneath a sheet of ice they cannot break.
Wolverine exclaims that this is all sweet - and is about to comment on how Nightmare doesn’t usually fight on the side of the angels, so why today, except Kurt interrupts and asks the question. ‘Oh, honestly’ mutters Nightmare, reminding everyone that he is an immortal entity, not a perverse member of the X-Men’s rogues’ gallery, so he goes wherever he is needed. Nightmare adds that even the densest paranormal can tell you that whatever is happening is enormous.
Margali agrees, but Amanda exclaims that it is beyond enormous, and informs her brother that there have been rumblings throughout her realm of Limbo and in the other astral planes. ‘Rumblings?’ asks Kurt. Amanda explains that the rumblings are of a serious imbalance - a shift on a cosmic scale. ‘I hate this touchy-feely magic stuff…’ mutters Logan.
Nightcrawler is confused, and points out that these things are happening to him - Vermin attacked him, then Man-Thing and the others came after him, attacking his past. ‘I keep asking this, but why? Amanda declares that it is for the same reason that Nightmare attacked her. ‘Ahem’ mutters Nightmare. ‘The same reason Nightmare was manipulated into attacking me’ Amanda corrects herself.
Kurt has so many things he wants to say and asks Amanda what Nightmare attacking her has to do with this, and why it keeps coming back to haunt him - before demanding to know how the Soulsword fits into all of this. Amanda informs him that the Soulsword is exactly it. Kurt pauses before saying to Amanda ‘You do realize that this is part of why we broke up, Amanda? Your inability to give me a straight answer about anything’.
Before Amanda has a chance to reply, Margali, addressing Kurt as she always does: ‘Son’ she informs him that whoever is orchestrating these attacks - someone incredibly powerful and working behind the scenes - is trying to get to the Soulsword through him. Kurt listens, and hears the words his mother is saying. But he doesn’t grasp their full meaning. However, a cold wave, a premonition washes over him - blood will have more blood.
Nightcrawler states that he knows some things about the Soulsword, before his voice trails off. Amanda exclaims that it is a weapon. ‘An occult weapon’ Margali adds, before explaining that sorcerers use it to cut down any who block their progress along the Winding Way - the path towards magical enlightenment and empowerment. Margali exclaims that, like the Spear of Destiny, it has passed through many hands and served many masters.
Margali reminds everyone that Illyana “Magik” Rasputin was the original custodian, then Victor von Doom wrestled it from Kitty Pryde when she was its keeper, and even Margali herself possessed it once. ‘Demons and sorcerers have killed whole armies to obtain it…’. Amanda reminds everyone that she now assumes the heavy burden of the Soulsword when she became the latest Magik and guardian of Limbo. Jardine asks Amanda if she has got the Soulsword then, to which Amanda reveals that Kurt does.
‘No I don’t,’ Kurt replies, to which Margali tells him not to get upset, and informs him that the Soulsword has corrupting properties, so if there is even a whiff of evil in whomever holds it…her voice trails off. Amanda reveals that the Soulsword also acts like a lightening rod, attracting the worst of the world, the most power-mad beings, so if she had kept it in Limbo, where it is traditionally held, then the nether-realms would be constantly under attack.
Jardine asks Amanda if she gave it to Kurt, and he is now hiding it, to which Kurt realizes that is why he and his homes have been under assault, however he is adamant that he doesn’t have and that he never had it to begin with. Margali hesitates before asking her son if when he dreams and when he remembers, he sees a trunk, buried in his subconscious. Kurt replies that he does. Then the pit in his stomach widens.
Amanda, who once went by the name “Daytripper” to parody that of her brother’s informs Kurt that the trunk is a psychological echo of the truth, and is what his enemy - or enemies - have been “seeing” in his thoughts. She exclaims that what the enemy has been looking for is an actual trunk that he might have left somewhere, when really…her voice trails off.
‘Wait - what truth, Amanda?’ Kurt declares. Nightmare suddenly mutters that this could go on for hours, and reveals to everyone who didn’t already know that the Soulsword is inside Kurt, adding that it has been there for a very long time. Kurt is upset, ‘You’re…you’re lying. Someone here is -’ Margali cuts him off, informing him that they are not lying, but that they have been keeping the truth hidden from him, but they are not lying.
‘Here, let me show you!’ Margali exclaims as she reaches into Kurt’s chest, which brings back memories of a game he, Amanda and their brother Stefan used to play as children: in the dark, they held peeled grapes in their hands and pretended they were eyeballs. They cooked spaghetti and noodles and told each other that it was dead man’s brains. As Margali pulls from Nightcrawler the Soulsword, just like Arthur pulling Excalibur from the stone, it doesn’t hurt a bit. Once it is removed though, it feels as if an amazing weight - a burden Kurt hadn’t even been aware of - has slipped from his shoulders.
The Sorceress Supreme holds the Soulsword high and Jardine asks if he can hold it, just to say that he had. Margali holds the sword close to her and points out that they hid the sword inside Kurt because he is unpolluted. ‘You reek of evil’ Amanda blurts out bluntly. ‘And actually, now that we’re discussing body odor, something else too…’ remarks Nightmare quietly, as Jardine has another coughing fit, he mutters ‘I’ll take that as a compliment, ladies’
But suddenly, Jardine, in a voice not quite his own, exclaims ‘And don’t say I didn’t ask nicely’. Kurt is reminded of the flies, and quickly orders everyone to get back away from Jardine, for the flies are familiar to Kurt, and suddenly Jardine vomits millions of flies from within him. Kurt realizes that Jardine looks as sick as he does because he has also had something else inside him - something that is finally revealing itself.
Nightcrawler realizes that this enemy is going to look for another host and immediately claps his hands over his ears, shouting for everyone else to cover their eyes and ears. Everyone does as Kurt suggests, and the flies swarm around them all, before thankfully, dissipating. There is only one question left, Kurt thinks to himself, before asking if everyone is all right, if everyone made it.
The ram-horned Margali still clutches the Soulsword as she checks Amanda, while Christine looks over at Wolverine, who is being awfully quiet. Nightmare helps the weak Jardine to his feet, and exclaims that at the risk of being a killjoy, the evil is still here. Kurt wonders where - and in whom?
Christine now walks over to Logan and asks him if everything is okay. Kurt realizes what is going on and warns Christine to get back. Christine turns to Kurt and asks him why, when suddenly Wolverine swirls around and pops his claws right into Christine’s back. Everyone watches in horror as she falls to the ground like a rag-doll.
‘Logan! Why?’ exclaims Kurt, but the ferocious being standing over the body of Christine Palmer snarls ‘”Logan”? Yes, Logan’s in here with the rest of us. We’re Hive. And we’ll kill as many of you as need be to get to that sword!’