Monday, 2 April 2012
NMU #3: "Nightmare"
(The war at home.)
There is literally only one thing worse in the entirety of fiction than the "It was all a dream" ending, and that's the ending that goes "it was all a dream... OR WAS IT?" The former conclusion is horribly cheap and massively aggravating; the latter manages to be all those things and deliberately nonsensical on top of it. Fist of Fun did a brilliant riff on this, but the only clip I could find unaccountably misses off the last three seconds:
(It's supposed to end with Rich screaming "OR WAS IT?" whilst brandishing a lobster he's found in his bed.)
So, Dani is in bed when the Brood Queen appears at her window, only to turn into some kind of glowing-eyed man of shadows. She tries to stab it with her knife, but that does no good, and it chases her through the mansion, passed the rooms of all her friends, all of whom it's killed with their greatest fears. When it finally grabs her, she rips its mask off in the struggle, only to find herself face to face with the demon bear who killed her parents.
She wakes herself with her own screams.
Unsurprisingly, since none of them have been brutally murdered, the unanimous reaction of her friends is that she simply had a nightmare. Dani can more or less get behind that scenario too, until she looks at her knife, and finds blood upon the blade. OR WAS IT?
Xavier uses this latest outburst as an excuse to phone Moira, arguing that Dani is going crazy. Presumably, Brood Charles is trying to discredit her in case she picks up on his/her true nature again, but Dani overhears the conversation and worries that the Professor might be right. I'm surprised she concludes this so quickly considering a) she was right about the Danger Room being applied as a weapon against her, and b) the Brood embryo specifically told her she had to die to keep the alien hidden, but that's easy to say at a distance.
Across the Atlantic, though, Moira's certainly not having any of this "Pyche's damaged psyche" bullshit, basically telling Xavier to either mindscan the girl or fuck right off, and to feel free to choose more than one item from the menu. Banshee, who overheard, suggests that Moira might have been just a wee bit aggressive, and she confesses she's mainly just pissed at the guy for having a child who's only too autistic to function, rather than a sadistic serial killer, now deceased. She still can't help wondering what might have happened if they hadn't broken up, and she'd had Charles kid herself.
I'll come right out and say it: massively autistic serial killer. And since you dumped him like a callous bitch whilst he was busy patching up wounder soldiers in Korea, allow me to take this opportunity to tell you to shut the hell up and never pull this crap again, huh?
And what's Banshee supposed to do with this information? "Sometimes I wish I hadn't chucked my fiancee in the most cowardly way possible". Frankly, he handles it better than I would, and suggests they get married and start a new family, rather than keep living in the past. I presume they've discussed this previously, because otherwise this is a piss-poor time for a marriage proposal, but in any event, Moira isn't going for it.
Back across the pond, Dani has had time to calm down and think, and has concluded it's less likely that she's going crazy than someone is trying to get rid of her, one way or another. She shares her fears with Shan, and together they arrange a secret meeting, using Shan's powers to possess each of their friends in turn just long enough for them to write down "meet us in the boathouse".
That's a nice lateral thinking use of Shan's abilities, actually, but it does have a down-side, namely that Roberto and (especially) Sam are kind of pissed-off by the intrusion. From Sam's perspective, this just makes Xavier's opinion that Dani is losing it seem pretty plausible, especially as her evidence boils down to arguing "just because you're all alive doesn't mean my dream didn't happen." Unconvinced to say the least, Sam turns to go, but his plan to storm out is undercut by the outside world having been transformed into a hellish alien landscape. Awkward! Dani tries to help the situation by taking the team through the mansion's subterranean tunnel network she's been secretly exploring (apparently she ha a secondary mutation that has allowed her to watch Aliens a year before its release), but alas, the Brood is waiting for them there.
Neither Karma nor Psyche can use their powers against the creature, it's just too alien, and evil as all hell into the bargain. Wolfsbane and Cannonball have more success with a bite/blast combo, only for the alien to disappear entirely. In its wake, the tunnel ahead has changed from sterile metal to dark flesh. Between Dani's sudden and painful headache, and Shan pointing out the fleshy walls haven't so much replaced those of the tunnel as formed atop them, it seems pretty clear what's going on. Before the New Mutants have time to work it out for themselves, though, the walls grow tentacles and attack, creating a distraction whilst the Brood kidnaps Psyche.
Dani passes out in the struggle, and awakes bound - almost cocooned, really - inside Xavier's study. The Brood is with her, in full-on Explain The Evil Plan mode. It's spent the last few hours inside Dani's head, manipulating her abilities and building on them, creating solid illusions at will. The original plan had just been to kill everyone nearby, but like the last Brood Queen, this one can't resist the idea of implanting mutants to create the Brood ubermensch.
At that moment, the intended incubators burst in, determined to free Dani. With Pysche trapped, though, and Karma quickly dominated by the alien, the battle goes badly. Dani pulls everything out of the fire a the last moment by demanding Cannonball knocks her out. Once she falls unconscious, all her unwittingly created illusions fade to nothing, including the Brood itself. Corporeality is still a little way off, and Xavier is apparently still sufficiently in control of himself to pissed off that his students have seemingly broken into his study.
So what's next? Dani still isn't sure. Whatever tried to take her over is still out there, the Professor is still a distinct suspect, and she still can't decide whether this is the place for her in any case. Roberto manages to convince her to stay, for the present at least. If nothing else, there's shooting stars in the sky, and Magnum PI on the television. What could go wrong on a night like this?
Banshee presents us with a major problem here, by suggesting Kitty's birthday has come around. We've already just about managed to squeeze together a timeline that allows Kitty to turn fourteen in space (despite having already been referred to as fourteen before she left, but that's Claremont for you), but since this is the actual day the X-Men return, there's no way this can be taking place before UXM #165, which was when we learned Kitty's birthday had passed.
While we're on the subject of UXM #165, that issue was specified to take place in summer. In this issue, Dani comments that the weather is so warm it's "like summer", which presents us with another problem. Showing more respect for precedent than the US Supreme Court, I have no choice but to rule that Sean was mistaken, and that Dani is an idiot. Well, that, or as bad at simile as Richard Herring. " A gnat's chuff is literally as tight as a gnat's chuff."
This story itself begins in the middle of the night, and continues until the following evening. Dani mentions that she's been on edge for days, so we'll set this three days after her close call in the Danger Room.
Saturday 9th of July, 1983.