Once upon a time, there was a mutant named Nightcrawler. He was an uncanny X-Man. A swashbuckling hero. A man of God. He went on countless grand adventures, across this world and many others. But then one day… Nightcrawler died. And his story ended, forevermore. Unless… unless sometimes endings are really just the beginning…of something new. Something even more… amazing.
Some time ago, the clouds glow pale hues of pink and blue in a place beyond the realm of the flesh. Waterfalls spill down exotic landscapes, as Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner sits on the edge of a floating cliff, ready to tell the story of how he fell from Heaven. He wears a flowing white robe trimmed with gold, and looks up when a voice calls out ‘I’ve been here for a thousand years, and it still takes my breath away’. A woman in matching robes stand near Kurt and adds ‘Or at least it would, if I still breathed’. She then tells Kurt to believe it or not, but that the scenery gets even more beautiful as you go farther inland. ‘Yes. So I’ve heard’ Kurt replies. ‘So you’ve heard? You’ve never been?’ the woman enquires. Without turning around, Kurt replies that he likes it here.
The woman extends her arms and asks ‘You like sitting on the edge of paradise, staring out into the ether? You must have lived some life, friend. If it’s worth pining for even in the midst of all this’. Kurt clasps his hands together and replies that his life was many things, but that above all else, he was always a believer, a man of faith. ‘This place…is everything I ever imagined it would be. This is where I was meant to spend eternity. I know that. And yet…’ his voice trails off. ‘And yet here you are, sitting with your back to paradise…feeling like your old life has one last chapter waiting to be written’ the woman comments. ‘Yes, that’s exactly…’ Kurt’s voice trails off again as he sniffs the air, and pulls his cowl back off his face. ‘The truth is, my friend, no matter when we die, there’s always something left undone, unsaid. But I’m afraid there’s no going back’ the woman remarks.
‘Do you smell that? Almost like…’ Kurt begins, while the woman tells him that it is time to let go, time to enjoy his eternal reward and stop waiting around for that one last - ‘Bamf?’ the woman asks as Kurt suddenly teleports away, his familiar bamf sound resonating through the air, while, behind the woman, several strange creatures dressed as pirates rush forward. ‘Here’s another pretty one! Bring me the chains!’ one of them exclaims. ‘What in the name of all that’s holy…?’ the surprised woman gasps, when suddenly Nightcrawler exclaims: ‘Dankeshon, strangers! You have no idea how difficult it is to find proper sparring partners in a place of utter peace and tranquility!’ He re-materializes above the strange creatures, and punches one of them in the face.
A quick succession of short teleports follow, with Kurt striking each of the other pirates. He tells them not to hold back, as he has a good bit of rust in need of shaking off. ‘And oh my. What do we have here?’ Kurt asks as he takes two pirate swords from one of his foes. He leaps up into the air and perches on a branch, ‘You even brought swords. How very considerate. Let’s hope I remember how to use them’ Kurt grins wickedly. He then drops back down amongst the pirates, and declares that he does appreciate their effort, although he suspects they have not come here merely for his amusement. One of the pirates, with eyes basically popping out of his head keels backwards as Kurt looms over him and takes his sword. ‘So please, while we’re still on friendly terms…tell me the meaning of this unholy intrusion. Tell me now’ Kurt warns them as he teleports about quickly taking out the others, before holding swords the large-eyed pirate’s neck.
The woman approaches Kurt and declares that she has not seen anything quite that exciting since the time Harry Houdini and Abe Lincoln tried to see who could eat the most crabapples. Kurt suggests to the woman that she fetch the nearest seraph to escort - but doesn’t finish his suggestion, as he detects that smell again. ‘Exactly like brimstone. But not mine…mein gott!’ Kurt utters, wide-eyed, as out of the bushes a red-skinned being, similar in appearance to Nightcrawler, complete with his own tail, appears, alongside red versions of the creatures known as Bamfs. ‘Hello, son. Lovely place you’ve got yourself here. I do hope you won’t mind if we burn it to the ground’ the demonic being declares. ‘AZAZEL!’ Nightcrawler shouts as he sees his father, who is now dressed like a pirate.
‘Shanghai every soul you can find, boys! And be quick about it! We want to be nothing but puffs of sulfur by the time any archangels know we’re here’ Azazel instructs the red Bamfs. ‘Bamfs kill!’ one of the tiny creatures snarls as they leap towards Nightcrawler, knocking him backwards. ‘Bamfs eat your face!’ another exclaims. Kurt leaps towards his father, ‘Azazel! How dare you!’ he calls out, their swords clang together. Azazel grins, while Kurt frowns. ‘Yes, this is quite the daring plan, isn’t it? Thanks for noticing, dear boy’ Azazel replies, before they both teleport, and then re-appear, ready to battle it out. ‘Look at you…the demon boy who lounges in Heaven. If I wasn’t so disgusted, I’d laugh’ Azazel remarks, reminding Kurt that he could have stood as his right-hand, with all of eternity groveling before them. ‘But I guess all you inherited from me were some powers and a tail. Your disagreeable nature you get from your mother, the blue-faced witch’.
They teleport some more, with Kurt darting about thanks to his acrobatic skills, he then kicks Azazel in the face. ‘Whatever this is, I swear, I will stop you! Just as I did before!’ Nightcrawler warns Azazel. ‘Yes, I’m sure you’d like to try, boy. But you’re forgetting one little thing…you’re already dead’. With that, they both teleport again - only this time, Nightcrawler re-appears on the edge of the landscape, unable to follow his villainous father. He holds his swords up, then starts to walk back. ‘My name is Kurt Wagner. And this is the story of how I fell from Heaven. Though I suppose if I’m being completely honest, I didn’t fall at all. I jumped’. Kurt frowns, and looking to the ground sees one of the red Bamfs. He puts the edge of his tail onto the motionless creature.
Now, in Westchester County, New York, at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. ‘Wow’ a woman with wavy red hair utters as she approaches the strange mansion before her. “Wow”? she thinks to herself. ‘Don’t say “wow”. Rookies say “wow”. It’s just a school. A school with giant floating towers. Act like you belong here, Angelica. Act like you aren’t in awe. You’ve wanted this for a long time. You’ve earned this. You were an Avenger. You beat cancer. You were trained by Emma Frost. No, wait, forget that last part’. As she approaches the front door, she adds ‘But seriously…”wow”!’ Angelica “Firestar” Jones wonders aloud if there is a doorbell or something. Several cameras and defense weapons appear before her, ‘Danger Room defenses activated. Do not move. Scanning’ a computer voice instructs her. ‘Hey they have a Danger Room instead of a doorbell?’ Angelica utters, before the computer recognizes the new arrival. ‘Welcome to the teaching staff of the Jean Grey School, Ms Jones’ the computer adds.
‘Right. And you hope I survive the yadda yadda yadda’ Angelica jokes as the doors open. ‘Surely the X-Men can’t be as weird and dangerous as I’ve always heard. Right?’ she smiles. Finding herself in a corridor lined with lockers, Angelica looks around at the students, among them Oya, Kid Omega, Broo and Match. ‘Right. Not weird at all. Is that a Brood wearing glasses?’ she wonders as she sees the small alien walk past her.
‘I’m the headmaster, aren’t I? If I can’t take kids on a field trip now and then, then what the hell’s the point?’ Wolverine a.k.a. Logan asks Ororo “Storm” Munroe as they walk nearby. Storm tells Logan that field trips are planned in advance, and that when he spontaneously takes the whole student body to a kung fu movie marathon in the midst of final exams weeks, that is called cutting class.
‘Um excuse me, hi, I’m -’ Firestar ventures as she runs over to Storm and Wolverine. ‘Not now, Ms Jones’ Storm declares. Wolverine smiles and tells his friend that she is tense, and suggests they finish this argument in the showers. ‘It’s second period! I have an ethics class to teach’ Storm replies. ‘I’ll skip the foreplay’ Logan offers. ‘No, you most certainly will not!’ Storm snaps, as they walk away from Firestar, who then sees Bobby “Iceman” Drake being followed by the alien called Warbird. ‘Warbird, seriously, this has to stop! I have a girlfriend!’ Bobby tells her. ‘Who is no longer at this school. And who hates you now’ Warbird points out, referring to Kitty Pryde. But Bobby tells Warbird that it doesn’t matter. ‘You can’t sneak into my room when I’m sleeping!’ ‘Uh, hi, I’m -’ Angelica tries to greet him. ‘Then you should lock the door’ Warbird suggests. ‘It was locked!’ Bobby snaps. Warbird points out that locked doors do not open after two kicks, both of them ignoring Firestar.
Suddenly, ‘Get to class now! There will be repercussions for tardiness! And by repercussions, I mean debilitating migraines!’ Rachel Grey furiously telepathically announces to the students. Angel is with her, and tells the children that what he thinks Ms Grey meant to say was that they are all but precious seedlings in the same grand garden of love. ‘To flourish we must… ow, why is my brain suddenly burning?’
The students disperse, but Angelica remains in the corridor. Angelica sees a strange tree with an eye, and a floating green creature yelling at the tree in a strange language. ‘Okay, yeah, this is probably gonna be just a little weird’ she thinks to herself, before a strong gust blasts past her. ‘In answer to that question you’re asking yourself right about now, Firestar… yes, it’s always like this. Best buckle your chinstrap, Red’ Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier grins as he speeds onwards. ‘Right, um, thanks Northstar, but where should I…’ Angelica doesn’t get to finish her sentence.
‘Hello? Anyone? Is there anybody in this school capable of normal conversation?’ Firestar calls out to an empty corridor. Suddenly, there is a loud roar, and Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast shouts ‘I will murder them all where they sleep!’ Firestar smiles and calls out to Dr McCoy. ‘Firestar! Perfect! You shoot blasts of deadly microwave energy, do you not?’ the Beast asks. ‘Yes, sometimes. But I thought I was here to teach the -’ Angelica starts to reply. ‘Never mind that. Follow me’ the Beast frowns. They stand before a brick wall and holding some sort of scanner, the Beast informs Firestar that they have pressing security issues at the moment. ‘Multiple life-forms detected’ the computer reports. ‘We have rodents to exterminate’ the Beast declares, before firing at the wall, creating an opening that the two can walk through. Firestar lights up the darkened space behind the wall with a small burst of light, and she asks him exactly what sort of rodents it is they are looking for.
‘Bamfs!’ the Beast reports. ‘The wretched creatures have been infesting this school since the moment we opened. Hiding in the walls, stealing random bits of equipment, drinking Logan’s whiskey’. Hank reports that he has tolerated their presence for far too long because they seemed to be relatively harmless. ‘And…I suppose they reminded me of a dear, old friend’ he admits, before declaring that the little monsters have finally gone too far. Firestar asks if they have hurt one of the children, to which the Beast replies ‘No, worse! They stole my coffee-maker!’ They walk deeper into the area, and the Beast sees his coffee-maker on the floor. ‘There she is! There’s my Eleanor! Daddy’s coming for you, darling!’ there are several blue Bamfs, who start to scatter, as the Beast holds his weapon up and tells them to hand Eleanor over, or he will have them microwaved. Firestar goes wide-eyed and alerts the Beast to something else: ‘I think your coffee-maker is the least of what we’ve found’ she remarks. ‘Oh my stars and garters. If that’s what I think it is, dear girl… we may have solved the mystery of the Bamfs once and for all!’ the Beast replies.
And soon, the Beast stands before a strange device which he reports appears to be a gateway. The Bamfs dart about over the machine and the wires hanging overhead, while the Beast adds that it is a gateway to what or where he cannot say - not to mention why. Other members of the faculty and X-Men team are present, as the alien Warbird states that it smells like sulfur and rodent excrement in here. ‘Can we not simply kill them all and be done with it?’ she asks. ‘It smells like an adventure to me!’ Angel exclaims, fist-pumping the air. Iceman points out that the Bamfs have been living here for months, so he thinks they would know by now if the creatures were dangerous. Storm frowns and declares that whatever this is, it certainly looks dangerous. She adds that they should have kept better tabs on these creatures, and that this is a serious breach of security. Rachel Grey reports that the Bamfs’ minds are usually closed to her, but that now they are overflowing with emotions. ‘They’re worried that they’ve taken too long to build this. They’re… they’re afraid they’re too late’.
Wolverine smirks and announces that he always knew the little buggers were smarter than they looked. Hovering above his teammates, Northstar is unimpressed and mutters ‘They get any smarter, we can make one of them headmaster’.
Confused, Firestar, dressed in her costume now, tells everyone that she has a physics class to teach in a couple of minutes. ‘Could somebody please point me in the direction of my classroom?’ she asks. Storm announces that classes are cancelled for now and that the children are on lockdown until they determine the nature of this machine. Iceman smiles and tells Firestar to get used to lockdown. ‘It tends to be our most popular class around here’ he jokes, before welcoming her to the school. They shake hands and Firestar replies ‘Yeah, thanks, Bobby. Good to, you know… that is… you’re looking…’ her voice trails off, as she thinks ‘Hot’ to herself, before saying ‘Well’. ‘Um, thanks. Yeah, you too. You can… let go of my hand now. It’s melting’ Bobby points out. ‘Right. Yeah, it certainly is’ Angelica agrees. Bobby reforms his hand and glances back at Firestar, while Warbird leans into the mutant and tells her to control her hormones, as the man of ice already has a mating partner. ‘Really? I thought Kitty Pryde wasn’t here anymore?’ Firestar replies. ‘I wasn’t referring to Kitty Pryde’ Warbird snarls.
The Beast taps away at a control panel, while Storm tells him that they still have no idea what will happen if this machine is triggered. ‘I need to know that’s not about to happen’ she adds. The Beast tells his friend to relax, and reports that the Bamfs had managed to splice into their central battery, but that he has since severed those circuits. ‘Their machine is now completely without power’ he assures everyone. ‘Yeah?’ Northstar asks. ‘Then why’s it glowing?’ he enquires as the portal lights up. ‘Uh-oh’ someone utters. The Bamfs look happy, and the Beast grins, too. ‘Oh, you clever little devils’ he tells them. Rachel telepathically scans the Bamfs and tells the other X-Men that where they come from, the sky is on fire, and that there is someone they fear - someone red. Firestar feels the machine charging up, and Storm calls out to the Beast, who replies that they have rerouted the power somehow. ‘Damn it, they know this school better than I do, and I built it!’ the Beast complains.
Storm orders everyone out, and announces that they are sealing this room. ‘Ya’ll go right ahead. I’m not going anywhere’ Wolverine calls back. Still hovering cross-legged above the others, Northstar points out that there are suddenly a lot more of the Bamfs. ‘Whatever we’re doing, we should do it fast’ he suggests as the Bamfs close in around them. ‘Someone sent them here. Sent them to build this’ Rachel reveals. The Beast tells everyone to relax, and informs his teammates that he is remotely cutting the power to all of Westchester County, boasting that he is not about to be outsmarted by creatures the size of Chihuahuas. ‘Then again, they say size isn’t everything’ he frowns as one of the Bamfs suddenly teleports away with his hand-held console. Iceman offers to just freeze the portal, while Rachel announces that someone sent the Bamfs after them, that someone needs their help. The Beast reports that it is fully active now, whatever it is. ‘Something’s…coming out’ Wolverine remarks. Storm tells her team to be ready for anything.
‘Someone sent them… someone we know… oh my God, it’s -’ Rachel begins to say, but is interrupted when several of the red Bamfs burst forth from the portal. ‘Bamfs! Kill kill kill!’ one of them exclaims. The blue Bamfs look scared, while the red Bamfs start attacking Storm, Iceman, Firestar and Wolverine. ‘Red ones? Now there are mean little red oines?!’ Iceman exclaims as one of them wraps its tail around his neck. Firestar screams, while Wolverine shouts ‘The machine! They’re trying to keep us away from the -’ but it’s too late, as several of the X-Men are pulled into the portal, leaving Warbird, Rachel and Angel in the room, as the portal closes with a loud BAMF!
And, Northstar and Wolverine are throws onto a grassy landscape, emerging via two bamf teleport signals. ‘That was…unpleasant’ Wolverine snarls. ‘That machine pulled us in. Teleported us. But to where?’ Northstar asks. Wolverine points out that it doesn’t look like Westchester, and starts projecting his thoughts to Rachel, asking her if she can hear him. Northstar informs Wolverine that he isn’t getting anything from Rachel, and Wolverine confirms that he isn’t either, and that he has no scents on the others - none at all. Northstar starts to speed through the trees, reporting that he will take a look around and see what he can find. Wolverine frowns: ‘No man-stink. No bug sounds. Can’t even see the damn sun. Where the hell…’ he begins, before there is a loud DOOOM sound and Northstar returns, ‘Found something!’ he calls out to Logan, as the clouds above burn red, and a huge pirate ship floats into view. Jean-Paul and Logan look up, as a voice calls down to them: ‘All hail the new Lords of Heaven! Eternity belongs to us now! Stand down and surrender your souls! Or stand with your precious blue elf and be lost forever!’ Wolverine looks shocked: ‘“Blue elf”…? you don’t think…’ he whispers.