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Volume 3 -- Supreme Reflections -- Kurt Wagner

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Kurt Wagner
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Kurt’s Reflections (AN: Takes place shortly after issue 56)

Vhat does it mean to have faith? Vhat does it mean to believe in something vhen zhe world around you offers no reason to do so? Everybody has faith in something. It can be as mundane as a sports team or as profound as a religion. It can bind people together or tear them apart. It can strengthen a soul or crush it. All my life I’ve seen the power of faith and vhether I like it or not, I must rely on it if I’m to face vhatever my future has in store for me.

It was another quiet night for Kurt Wagner. The clock just passed two in the morning and he still had no inclination to sleep. It wasn’t unusual for him. Sleep was somewhat unorthodox for him. He had always been a night person, doing much of his sleep during the day time. Because of how he looked, it was unavoidable. It didn’t affect him too much because he never needed much sleep to begin with. He could get by just fine on a few hours a day and not feel groggy in the slightest. It was a nice talent to have because while the others were sleeping, it allowed him to be alone with his thoughts.

Nightcrawler Pic 2

His favorite spot to ponder the world around him was the roof. The Xavier Institute had a nice flat area near the antenna and satellite dish. It was only a matter of teleporting onto his favorite perch near the edge, giving him a perfect view of the lake out back and the full moon above it. Kurt always felt this strange peace during the late hours of the night. It was part of what earned him the nickname Nightcrawler, a label he had carried for as long as he could remember.

Zhe night is darkest before zhe dawn. Zhat’s vhat everyone likes to say vhen zhey’re trying to cheer someone up. For me, zhe darkest part of zhe night is better zhen 100 sunrises. It is zhe hour of night vhere my spirit is at its peak. I feel as in tune vith zhe night as a bird feels in tune vith zhe sky. It sets me apart in many ways. It’s only fitting vhen you look so inhuman you’re often mistaken for a demon or someone in a bad Avatar costume. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me. I deal vith it because I taught to deal vith it since zhe moment I vas born.

As if my blue skin, pointy ears, spaded tail, and three-digit fingers veren’t a big enough clue, my birth vas not a normal birth. But it vasn’t just because I vas born a mutant either. Lots of mutants are born vith physical deformations and while my mother vas a mutant, she only provided half of vhat makes me who I am. Zhe other half came from my father. His human name vas Adrian Christian Wagner. But zhe man vasn’t human. He vasn’t a mutant either. He vas something far more exotic. He vas Azazel…Lord of zhe Cheyarafim…herald of Limbo.

He vasn’t a demon from Hell per se. He vas certainly no angel either. Limbo is not zhe same realm zhat mainstream religion thinks it is. Zhe realm has nothing to do vith death, heaven, or hell. Zhat’s not to say it’s a very nice place either. Limbo is a harsh and fiery world, one where zhe laws of physics are quite different. Unlike zhis world, Limbo is rich in supernatural energy and as such zhere are many mystical creatures living vithin it. My father is one of them and a very important one at zhat. He is zhe lord of zhe Cheyarafim, a small group of creatures zhat vield tremendous influence over zhe realm of Limbo. Zhey are akin to zhe shaman of our world. Zhey have great knowledge of zhe mystic arts zhey also have the power to connect vith other vorlds, namely our own. For vhatever reason, Limbo and zhis realm are deeply connected and Azazel’s clan has many reasons to keep an eye on it.

Zhat’s not to say he had zhe kindness of your typical holy man. Azazel vas not adverse to violence, pain, and bloodshed. He vasn’t afraid to kill or destroy. However, he vas not a monster. Everything he did, both good and bad, had balance to it. Zhat vas a huge aspect of how Limbo worked. Zhere is a lot of violence and destruction, yet it is always complimented vith justice and understanding. Zhis vas zhe most important message my father ever imparted on me…zhe idea of balancing chaotic forces. It vas like a religion to him and zhe rest of Limbo. It’s a religion zhat many would probably find strange, but vhatever it vas I became it’s most faithful adherent.

Many are quick to point out zhe irony and I agree. A man who looks like a demon having faith seems foolish. But it’s true. I do consider myself a man of faith. It may not be zhe faith of your typical major religion or even your atypical cult, but I vould wager zhat my faith is every bit as strong as zhe most devout believer. It has to be. I vould be lost vithout it.

Kurt tensed as he sat atop his perch, gazing out towards the moon. It seemed the debilitating distresses of his life always found him, even in moments of peace. Whenever he felt this, he reached into his pocket and pulled out one of the only remaining relics from his father that he still had. Now seemed like an appropriate a time as any.

It was nothing fancy. It was a simple collection of rosemary beads that had a string of small religious symbols. There was a Christian cross, an Islamic crescent, a Buddhist wheel, and even a pagan pentagram. Even though the Azazel had plenty of wealth and power, that balance Kurt’s father was so keen on always found its way into his life. The manifestation of all faiths seemed to reflect the level of devotion Kurt Wagner had in the principles he had been taught all his life.

As he looked down at this simple relic and grasped it in his hand, his tension eased. It allowed him to collect himself and find that balance again that was so important to his life. It didn’t always grant him the concrete answers he desired, but that was where faith came in. It had been giving him strength since his birth.

My life did not begin under normal circumstances. I vas not conceived through an immaculate conception or anything either. My father came from Limbo on a mission and part of zhat mission vas to have a child vith a woman from zhis realm. It couldn’t be just any woman though. My father vas not one to settle for less. He spent nearly five years establishing himself in zhis realm as Adrian Christian Wagner, leader of zhe mercenary band known as zhe Azazel. He had a human form zhat zhe rest of zhe world knew, but zhis vas just a spell zhat shrouded his real appearance. In both forms he vas quite successful. In zhat time he met a lot of strong women, but one among zhem stood out above all others. She vas zhe only one who vas drawn to both his human and demonic form.

Raven Darkholme, zhe woman who vould later bear me in her womb, is a unique character to say zhe least. She is tough in a vays zhat defies description and zhat’s not entirely a good zhing. My mother has always been a vindictive, bitter woman. She can be cruel, untrusting, and downright mean sometimes. She’ll do all zhe wrong zhings for zhe right reasons. Yet she still has zhis uncanny capacity for love and dedication. She’s never overt about it. She even tries to hide it through her guise as a shape-shifter. Only a few have the privilege of seeing zhat side of her. I saw it as her son and Azazel certainly saw it as her lover.

Unlike most parents, my father did not spare me the details of how he and my mother conceived me. Mystique vas a well-known mercenary at the time, doing any number of jobs for money or because her friend Irene Adler said zhey were important for zheir future. I’m not sure if she foresaw vhat would happen vhen my mother crossed paths vith Azazel, but I’m certain she had an inkling of sorts. I vas told my mother seemed adverse to any affectionate advances at the time. Yet somehow, Azazel got through to her.

For a time, zhere vas plenty of passion. My father vas always quite clear about his emotions in zhis respect. He genuinely fell in love with my mother. It may seem hard to believe given who he was and where he came form, but I never doubted him. He loved her and zhe strange part vas he did not expect to love her. He only expected to produce a child vith her. And so he did. I don’t know how thrilled Mystique vas about zhe notion, but I do know she vas very upset to find out zhat part of his mission vas to seduce a woman for zhe sole purpose of having a son. Even if he did fall for her, he kept this secret from her and Mystique does not take kindly to deception. Vhatever passion zhey had vas killed by zhat revelation.

I still don’t quite know how strongly my mother felt for my father. Azazel may have been a complicated being, but he’s still nowhere near zhe enigma my mother is. Perhaps zhat is vhy he fell for her. He could not figure her out. Mystique had always seemed…lost. She clearly had some feelings for my father, but she never loved him in zhe vay he loved her. I get zhe sense something vas holding her back and it vasn’t just her vindictive nature. Vhatever it vas, it did not get in zhe vay of her giving birth to me and loving me like her son.

It was never easy trying to understand the circumstances of his birth. The intent seemed so callous. His father just needed to produce a child for his mission. Yet he was still conceived through and act of love. Azazel really did love Mystique even if she didn’t return that love in the same capacity. It was enough to confuse anybody to the point of insanity.

For Kurt Wagner, however, he actually smiled. Looking down at the rosemary beads, it seemed like a story so filled with contradictions. Yet they balanced themselves out. That wasn’t to say he didn’t have conflicts about his heritage, but he did not have any shame. He was the son of Azazel and Mystique. He could not change that. Even if his father was a demonic-figured herald of Limbo, this would not be what defined him.

Both my parents brought me into a world of conflict. As far back as I can remember, zhey always gave me zhat balance zhat vas so important. Zhey vould train me and teach me to be strong, smart, and cunning. Yet zhey vould always couple zhat vith zhe same dedication zhat any parent vould give to their child. Zhey did not always express their love in zhe most traditional of vays. But zhere vas never a point in my life vhere I felt unloved.

I spent most of my childhood in Germany vith my father. As head of zhe Azazel, he had several opulent villas where I had everything a child could vant. However, I vas never spoiled. My father vorked hard to train me from zhe moment I could walk. He first put a sword in my hand vhen I was four at an age vhem most young boys are content vith toy cars. He taught me how to fight, utilizing my agility granted to me by my unique appearance. Every day was a new lesson in strength. My father vould always push me and I vould always do everything I could to impress him. I didn’t always succeed, but I always earned his praise.

It vas a difficult childhood in so many vays. Training and fighting each and every day vas a difficult task for anybody, even if zhey did have zhe legacy of Azazel guiding zhem. I vas still isolated in zhis privileged world. I could not go out into zhe cities of Germany and enjoy zhe world. I always had to wear zhis cloak my father gave me vhenever ve traveled. I didn’t like it, but I figured out quickly vhy I had to wear it.

Vhen I vas about six years old, my father took me into Berlin. Ve always traveled vith a lot of security so people assumed ve vere diplomats, thus leaving us alone. For whatever reason, I vandered off from his body guards and towards zhis shop zhat had all zhis religious art in zhe vindow. It reminded me a lot of zhe stories my father told me about Limbo and zhe mystic arts. I vas so drawn in zhat I didn’t realize I pulled back my cloak too much. Vhen zhe shopkeeper saw me, she screamed so loud it could be heard for an entire city block.

I didn’t know vhat to say. I vas just a boy and didn’t understand vhy I scared everybody. Zhe shopkeeper came after me vith a knife and some police came after me vith guns. I didn’t have my teleportation powers at zhe time so I ran. I ran for vhat must have been two kilometers before I found what I thought was a safe place in a church that was closed for zhe day. It was a very scary moment. It vould be zhe last time I ever felt such fear. After about ten minutes of hiding, zhe mob of people found me. Zhey tried to corner me in zhe church, but zhey never got zhe chance. My father appeared in front of me, teleporting in a way I vould later master and casting a spell zhat made everybody pass out from a seizure. Zhe danger had passed, but I hung my head low zhat day. My father vas very disappointed in me and did not let my transgression go unnoticed.

But as upset as he vas, he used zhe experience to teach me a lesson. Zhis difficult experience showed vhy I had to cover my face and vhy I had to live an isolated life. I did not look normal. I vasn’t normal. For all I know, I may not be fully human. But zhat didn’t mean I vas vithout humanity. My father said zhese people were ignorant and foolish. I can despise zheir hatred all I want, but I could not let it consume me. Only zhe weak allow themselves to be consumed by hatred and I vas not weak. I vas zhe son of Azazel. I had to have faith zhat regardless of my appearance, I vould rise above an ignorant world and do vhat needed to be done. Zhe only question for me vas why? Vhy must I be so strong? Vhat is zhe purpose of me being his son for zhis mission my father seemed so intent on completing?

I vould have to live much of my life without answers. My father could not or would not tell me zhe truth. He always assured me and my mother zhat there vas a good reason why he couldn’t tell us. The reason, it seemed, was a great burden on him and his kind. He wanted to bear that burden alone. He did not vant anyone else to share it. All I could do vas have faith zhat vhatever he vas doing, it vas worth fighting for.

Faith, it seemed, was the key to it all. Kurt spent so many years of his life completely ignorant of the cold hard truth. It wasn’t that he avoided it. For whatever reason, it was denied to him by those he trusted and cared for most. A lesser man would have been bitter. A lesser man would have resented his father and all the hard work he put him through during his childhood. Except Kurt was not a lesser man. He was stronger than that.

“Father…I still have faith,” he said to the rosemary beads.

In wake of zhe incident, zhe Azazel trained me even harder. However, my father never forgot about maintaining balance. As he pushed me harder, he gave me more reasons not to disappoint him. Around zhis time, he and my mother revealed to me zhat I had an adopted sister. Her name was Marie Anna Darkholme and she vas zhe reason vhy my mother vas around only sparingly throughout my childhood.

Her story vas a complicated one. She did not know who her real parents were. However, some of my father’s worst enemies vanted her. Zhat’s vhen Mystique rescued her and moved vith her to a small town in America, adopting her as her own daughter. Like me, she vas cut off from zhe world. Only for her, it wasn’t because of her appearance. Zhey had to protect her from zhe enemies of zhe Azazel. To keep her spirits up, my mother and father encouraged me to write letters to her. At times ve even got to speak on zhe phone. Ve quickly became close friends. She vas my link to zhe outside vorld and I vas her link as vell. It vas a powerful reminder zhat I must balance strength vith spirit. It came in very handy as I made zhe transition from boy to man.

By zhe time I was eight-years-old my teleportation powers manifested. I’m told it vas part of my mutation, courtesy of my mother’s X-gene. However, some mystical elements may have been taken from my father as vell. His ability vas similar to mine in zhat ve could phase in and out of dimensional planes to appear in new areas. It certainly made training vith him more interesting because he refused to rest until I had mastered my ability as vell as he had mastered his. Zhat training paid off over time because by age 13, I vas routinely defeating zhe best mercenaries zhe Azazel had to offer. It seemed I would be ready to carry out vhatever mission my father had for me and not a moment too soon either. It vas also around zhis time zhat everything in zhe Azazel took a terrible turn.

Kurt closed his eyes and put away the rosemary beads. It wasn’t fair that for all the faith he had in his father, it did not prevent fate from turning against them. That was one of the greatest shortcomings of faith. Hoping and believing for something did not stop outside forces from shaking his spirit to the core. In the dark world of mercenaries that he grew up in, there were plenty of enemies for organizations like the Azazel. Some were more powerful than others. Some found ways to hurt even men as powerful as his father.

I started noticing it vhen my father began sending me on my first missions. Zhey were not terribly complicated missions. Most involved scouting, spying, and occasionally coordinating vith zhe Azazel’s elite forces. Often vhen something vent wrong, it required some heavy fighting that usually involved bloodshed. I always tried to avoid zhat, but as I vent on more missions I noticed zhat things vere going wrong much more frequently.

Zhis vas somewhat strenuous on my soul. Even though I vas zhe son of Azazel and I vas supposed to be zhis strong fighter, zhe mercenary world was full of danger and bloodshed. It affected me in a vay I did not train for. Zhere vas a lot of killing, some of vhich I vas a part of. It vas all in zhe name of a cause my father had not revealed. Even if his reasons were good, I couldn’t help but question vhat I vas doing.

I vasn’t under any illusions. I knew vhat ve vere doing vas illegal. Ve vere selling zhe services of soldiers to fight wars. Ve vere selling the services of assassins, body guards, and hit men. It vasn’t for charity either. Zhe Azazel grew quite wealthy from their operations. Like any black market, there is much to be gained zhe only vay to settle disputes among rivals is through violence. Unlike our rivals, my father did have lines he wouldn’t cross. He vould not slaughter innocents. He vould not take part in ethnic cleansing or genocide. He rubbed shoulders vith plenty of unsavory people, but always within zhe context of balance. My only refuge vas my faith.

This worked well for years. Then within zhe span of a few years, everything changed. Zhe Azazel was being pressured on all fronts. Our enemies were growing stronger. Groups like the Hand were able to hit us vith more frequency and efficiency. We weren’t quite sure vhy this vas, but my father suspected someone new rose to power from within the mercenary underworld…someone who vas very well-connected and very talented in zhe mystic arts. Zhey vorked vith some very unsavory people like Black Tom Cassidy to destroy my father’s operations, cut off his resources, and decimate our manpower. I saw too many good people die. The mercenaries who swore themselves to zhe Azazel did so vith religious devotion and zhey paid zhe price for their faith. They had faith zhat my father knew vhat he was doing. I only vish such faith was rewarded.

It all came crashing down on shortly after I turned 15. My father had consolidated his remaining resources in a stronghold near Munich. Now zhat I vas old enough, he promised to tell me and my mother zhe purpose of his mission. He said he vould reveal everything and it vould all make sense. I trusted him. My mother trusted him. He sent zhe both of us to a safe house vith his elite guard while he cleared zhe vay for our escape. To zhis day I don’t know if he knew he vasn’t going to make it. All I do know is zhat Black Tom vas vaiting for him. Vhen their forces clashed, Baron Christian Wagner died and Azazel vas lost.

A solemn feeling came over Kurt. Yet he shed no tears. His father taught him not to shed tears over that which he had no control over. That didn’t make the loss any easier to deal with. The rest of the Azazel lost a leader and a visionary. He lost all that and a father. Even worse, he never got a chance to learn the truth.

It was a loss that plagued Kurt Wagner in so many ways. He came of age within the Azazel despite having so many questions. Now it seemed those questions would never be answered. All those doubts he harbored during those early missions would linger. It seemed the only thing he could do at this point was pray that whatever happened to his father, it happened for a reason.

“I’m sorry ve never finished my training, father,” he said into the night, “You always said zhat I vas destined for great zhings…zhat somehow I would be zhe key towards maintaining zhe balance you were fighting to uphold. I still believe you. I just wish I knew vhat it vas you were up against. Vhy couldn’t you tell me?”

Kurt asked this question as if somehow his father was listening to him through the darkened haze of night. He always told him that Limbo was a realm closely connected to this world. If his father was still alive in Limbo then maybe he could hear him. Even if he couldn’t answer, he needed to connect with Azazel in some way to draw the strength he needed. That strength sure would have helped in the difficult times that followed his loss.

I vish I could say I vas part of his last stand. For once he cared more about my well-being zhan me showing my strength. I don’t know all zhe details. Vhat I do know is my father did not go down vithout a fight. While my mother and I escaped, he issued an order that has since come to be known as Plan X. He sent a message to every Azazel cell in zhe world and had zhem launch simultaneous strikes against our rivals including the Hand. It was bloody and violent. Nobody knows for sure how many died. Vhat’s even more remarkable is it all happened very covertly. It did not make zhe news. It barely garnered a whisper from the authorities. By zhe time it vas over, zhe entire mercenary underworld was in ruin.

My father didn’t just make his death come at a high price. He made sure every one of his rivals was crippled, even if it vas only temporary. This vay his family vould not be easy targets. He believed zhat his mission would carry on through me, Rogue, and Mystique. I certainly didn’t share zhat believe because he never got zhe chance to share zhe details of his mission. It was frustrating, especially for a 15-year-old. My mother vas even more furious. Even though she never loved my father zhe same vay he loved her, it still mattered that she lost this man. It mattered to me too. She vanted to find those responsible and make them pay. I vanted zhat too and allowed myself to be foolish in zhe process.

It vasn’t enough to just go into hiding vhile Mystique vent after vhat vas left of zhe Azazel’s enemies. Originally, she vanted me to move to Mississippi vith Rogue. She said I vould be safe there. But I didn’t vant to be safe. My father taught me to be stronger. He taught me to fight back. So I defied my mother, striking out on my own and assembling vhatever vas left of zhe Azazel. I used our few remaining contacts to track down the source of this attack. It led me to zhe Hand, who had never been fond of my father’s organization. I heard zhey were caught up in some new operation. I thought I could attack them and honor my father’s legacy. Zhe only zhing I honored zhat night vas zhe tradition of arrogant teenage boys making terrible decisions.

It vas a disaster from the beginning. I thought ve were being stealthy, but I was so intent on attacking I blew my cover far too soon. If I had vaited I vould have seen zhat zhe Hand had hired outside help in the form of Deadpool, a mercenary so unstable my father compared him to a drunken man flying a nuclear missile. My Azazel comrades loyally followed me and zhey paid zhe price. Deadpool and the Hand surrounded them, took zhem out, and even revealed zhis operation had nothing to do vith my father. No one involved knew anything useful. I had basically vasted time and zhe lives of my father’s loyal men. It was almost fitting that Deadpool got the better of me, trapping me in zhe church zhey had been running zheir operation from and setting it on fire.

It vas by far zhe lowest part of my life. I had lost my father. I defied my mother. I betrayed the trust of my own Azazel brethren. I could not do anything right anymore. While lying in that church surrounded by flames, I honestly thought zhat God had turned against me. Zhen vhen it seemed my strength and my faith vould give way, God sent me an angel to rescue my soul.

In fact, he sent two angels. One of zhem vas a woman named Margali Sefton, a practicing Wiccan who had zhe misfortune of being Deadpool’s target zhat night. Zhe and her daughter had been captured and vere trapped. Despite my sorrow, I saved zhem. I had not forgotten zhe lessons my father taught me about justice. I vas also intent on not letting Deadpool and his goons win completely zhat night. So I teleported zhem to safety. Margali vas eternally grateful, but it vas her daughter…my second angel…zhat rescued me from my despair.

Kurt’s sorrow turned to hope. His demeanor was lifted and he smiled proudly before the darkness of the night. Standing up from his perch, he reached into his pocket again and pulled out a picture from his wallet. It was an image depicting him and a beautiful girl right around his age. They were both smiling, happy, and content. He never would have guessed that this picture had been taken so soon after the death of his father. That was how powerful an affect this girl had on him.

“Amanda…mein herz und seele.”

In German, that meant “my heart and soul.” It was the perfect summery of how much this woman meant to him. She came into his life during his darkest hour and rescued his soul from the darkest abyss. After she entered his world, nothing would be the same.

Amanda Sefton…zhe woman who captured my heart vhile saving my soul. For someone who looks like as inhuman as I do, she is practically a goddess. I’ll never get over her first words to me. She had been knocked out during her abduction and she came to shortly after I got her and her mother to safety. I fully expected her to yell or scream in terror. Zhat’s vhat people always did vhen zhey saw me. But not Amanda…she was special. She actually thought I vas an angel. If irony could be fully embodied in one moment, this vould be it. For all intents and purposes, I fell for her on zhe spot.

It began for me a completely new life, one zhat vould be very different from that of zhe mercenary underworld. Amanda and her mother were alone and on zhe run just like me. Zhey had some very bad people looking for zhem and Margali wanted nothing more zhan to protect her daughter. Vhen I told her my story, she empathized completely. She and Amanda normally were not trusting in the slightest, but after I saved them I earned my chance. Zhey were going to set up a new life on a secluded farm in zhe heart of Germany. Vith it, zhey invited me to come vith them.

It promised to be remote, quiet, and peaceful. It sounded so nice, but I vas still hesitant. I still had a desire to avenge my father. Margali and Amanda vere able to convince me zhat seeking vengeance vas not going to do either of us any good. He vanted me to get away for a reason. It didn’t seem right to fight needlessly for zhings I could not change. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand a lot of things. I just had to have faith zhat vhatever I decided, it vould be right in zhe vays zhat mattered. It officially revitalized my faith because I agreed to go vith zhe Seftons and walk away from zhe Azazel forever.

It vas not an easy decision. Vhen I told my mother, she vas baffled. I get zhe sense she vas still very bitter about my father’s death. It’s hard to tell because she’s such a bitter person to begin with. She claimed she vas vorking on a new vay for us to be together and be safe. She vanted me to be part of it. I refused. Since zhat new vay turned out to be Magneto, I’m glad I did. I gained so much more vith zhe Seftons zhan I ever thought possible.

Zhis period in my life was a time of healing. My soul and my faith were rebuilt vith each passing day in this new, simpler life. I showed my gratitude for the Seftons by helping them establish their new farm. I even gathered funds from my father’s old accounts to ensure everything vas in order. Zhere vas no public record of us or our identities in zhis place. Ve had no obligations, financial or otherwise, to anyone. Ve vere completely hidden in eyes of the public, but never once did ve feel lonely.

It vas also during zhis time zhat my love vith Amanda blossomed. I made no secret early on how smitten I vas vith her. It vasn’t nearly as easy for her. She vas quite shy, not looking to get too close to me or to anybody for zhat matter. Yet she never feared me. She never looked at me with disgust or distaste. I vas just a boy who saved her and her mother. I quickly vent from savior to trusted friend, but it didn’t stop there. It couldn’t. She vas drawn to me as much as I vas drawn to her. Vhen I let her into my world, sharing vith her all my darkest secrets, she opened her heart and never looked back. Before long I was more zhan a friend. I vas her lover.

His smile widened as Kurt kissed the picture and put it away. Just thinking about Amanda was enough to set his wary mind at ease. It was amazing to think that a man who grew up in the shady world of mercenaries could love someone so completely. He didn’t just love Amanda. She loved him back, fur and all. She didn’t just accept his appearance. She embraced it. She never showed an ounce of revulsion, giving to him all the love and intimacy a fragile soul like his desired.

I still remember zhe first night ve made love. I tried to go into it vith zhe same strength my father instilled in me, but winning a fight and being intimate vith a beautiful woman are two very different things. I probably made a fool of myself, but Amanda never hesitated. She embraced me vith zhe same passion as I embraced her. She held onto me as if I vas her angel just as much as she vas mine. It only grew from zhat moment on.

Being vith Amanda vas nothing short of amazing. She made me strong in a whole new way. Her love vas something I never could have gotten vith zhe Azazel. I know my mother and father loved me, but zhat love had to be conveyed subtly so as not to show weakness. Vith Amanda, I let it all come out. I never missed an opportunity to remind her how much she meant to me. It may seem like naïve youthful love, but I know zhis vas special. I had complete faith zhat zhis vas it. Zhis vas zhe one.

Amanda came to share zhat same faith vith me. She vould later tell me zhat she never thought she could ever be close to anyone but her mother. I proved her wrong. I showed I could be zhe kind of man who could stare darkness in the face and not falter. I could stand and fight as strongly as I could love and cherish. I astonished her with my spirit and being a spiritual person herself, she connected vith me on every conceivable level.

Yet our love vas not vithout complications. Even though ve lived a simple life on a farm togther, zhere vas one issue zhat ve never confronted. Amanda and her mother never explained to me vhy they vere hiding and who they vere hiding from. They only told me zhat zhey vere guarding a secret. It vas a secret so powerful zhat it had been handed down from generations of Seftons and if anyone were to find out, it could cause unspeakable destruction. I wanted to believe zhat Amanda vas merely exaggerating. I wanted even more for her to trust me enough to tell me. That way I could help her. But time and again, she refused. She always got worked up vhenever it entered zhe conversation so I avoided it as much as I could. I vould be lying if I said it didn’t bother me. Again, I vould have to have faith zhat Amanda had good reasons for not telling.

All complications aside, I lived vith zhe Seftons peacefully for three years. It vas a happy time, but it vas not perfect. I felt…uneasy being in such an uneventful environment. My father had trained me since birth to fight. He believed zhat I vas destined for greater zhings. I had found so much peace vith Amanda and her mother. I vanted to be vith her and love her, but I always felt zhere vas so much more I could do for zhis world. For everything I did vith zhe Azazel, I needed to do more for zhe good of my soul. I vas never sure vhere to start. I had to have faith zhat somehow a new opportunity vould be revealed to me. Zhis time, my faith vas rewarded.

Kurt folded his arms and shook his head in amazement. Going from the Azazel to living with the Seftons was a radical shift. Going from the Seftons to the X-men almost felt overdue in the sense it came so naturally. Standing atop this elegant mansion, this place had quickly become another home for him. It wasn’t just because his sister was here. It really did feel like this was where he belonged. This was where he could put the lessons he learned from his father and Amanda to the best possible use.

It’s uncanny how elegantly fate unfolds even when it begins vith such turmoil. I certainly wish my introduction to zhe X-men had gone smoother. Being captured by Black Tom and blackmailed into stealing sentinel plans for him vas anything but pleasant. But out of that conflict, my path crossed with Rogue once again. I hadn’t spoken to her in quite some time and she had done a lot with herself, joining the X-men and becoming a full fledged hero. My mother vas still rough around zhe edges to say the very least. While it vas nice to see my family come to me in my time of need, Mystique is still conflicted and bitter. Rogue does vhat she does for all zhe right reasons so vhen zhe time came to make a decision about my future, it vas by far the easiest difficult choice I’ve had to make.

It did not come vithout a price. Joining zhe X-men meant leaving Amanda and her mother in Germany. I get zhe sense zhat Amanda thought I vas falling into old habits, running off and fighting zhese battles that I had worked so hard to escape. I convinced her zhat zhis vas different. Zhis vas a better fight for me to take part in. I had so many gifts granted to me by my heritage that it vould be selfish if I did not use zhem for zhe benefit of zhe world. Having always struggled vith conflict and doubt about my future, zhe X-men felt like a certainty I could grasp. Zhere vere no secrets and not ambiguity. I knew vhat I vas fighting for and zhe only faith I had to have was zhe faith in knowing it vas right.

Since joining zhe X-men, my faith has only been strengthened. I’ve taken part in some truly epic battles. I’ve helped save zhe world from a killer asteroid. I confronted a mad geneticist who goes by zhe appropriate name, Sinister. I’ve taken on people like zhe Friends of Humanity who embody all zhe ignorance and hatred zhat stands so opposed to everything I’ve come to hold dear. Zhere have been missteps along zhe vay, but I have no regrets. I believe in vhat Professor Xavier is doing and vish to fight for his dream in zhe same vay I once did for my father.

The thought of my family legacy is never far from my mind. I know I still embody zhe spirit of zhe Azazel. But vith zhe X-men, my family has taken on a new role. While Mystique may still be a complicated part of my life, I have been able to build a special relationship with Rogue. She has certainly needed a brother to lean on since losing her ability to touch again. She’s still quite a character, much more so zhan her old letters would indicate. It still does not sit right vhen I see her and Remy together. But I have my sister and I have a home zhat I’m proud of. I like to zhink zhat if my father vas still alive, he vould be proud too.

It’s something I try not to zhink about. The Azazel are in zhe past and zhe X-men are in zhe present. Vhatever secrets my father had disappeared vhen he did. Otherwise the remnants of his enemies vould have come after me and Rogue by now. I don’t vant to say zhat it’s over. Mystique certainly believes it isn’t. In this I am not sure vhat to believe. I suppose zhat’s zhe one area vhere my faith is still fragile.

A brisk wind blew over the mansion and Kurt hugged his shoulders for a moment. He was soon consumed with a renewed sense of conflict. Even though he had come so far with the Seftons and the X-men, there were still a number of burning questions that remained unanswered. They were questions that were too big to ignore. So much of his life had been guided by them and his inability to obtain the answers. It may have been possible to grow comfortable with such ignorance, but then came the recent clash with the Shadowkings. Now this lifelong conflict seemed more relevant than ever.

It troubles me now more zhan ever. I almost had zhe answers in my grasp. Against zhe Shadowkings, my mother found my father’s lost diary zhat promised to finally reveal his secrets. Who knows vhat vas written in zhose pages? Vhatever it vas, my father’s mission remains a mystery because for once zhe X-men failed to do zhe right thing.

It’s zhe first time in many years vhere I felt I vas on zhe wrong side. Even though ve had no vay of knowing Amhal Farouk’s plan, ve had our opportunities to change zhe outcome. I could have listened to my mother and helped her. But she had done so much to damage my faith in her, how could I? It’s like zhe old story of zhe boy who cried wolf. When zhe time came for zhe boy to be right, his words were not heeded and a high price was paid by all.

It’s hard to express zhis feeling to zhe others. I can’t even discuss it vith Rogue beyond a certain point. My whole life has been burdened by zhese vast secrets. There are zhe secrets my father kept about his mission. There are zhe secrets Amanda and her mother keep from me about vhy zhey must live in isolation. My mother does not seem nearly as content vith ignorance as me so she runs off to fight her own battles, trying to uncover the secrets for herself. I can condemn her methods, but not her mission. A part of me actually hopes she succeeds even though I know she’ll do plenty of damage to herself and her soul in zhe process. Is this regression on my part? Am I wrong for wanting to know the truth?

I just don’t know anymore. I used to believe I couldn’t know because zhe Azazel is gone and my life is vith zhe X-men now. My mother is proving that zhis may not be zhe case. Perhaps I can know. Perhaps I will know one day. But that only poses a more daunting question. Vhat if zhe truth proves more damaging zhen a lifetime of ignorance? Vhat if it ends up destroying me and everything I love?

While many of these morbid questions plagued the young mutant, the silence of the night was broken by the sound of a sharp gust of wind. Kurt was shaken for a moment before he looked up to see the source of the gust. It wasn’t a mere act of nature. It was Rogue.

“Oh my…Rogue?” he said as she landed in front of him.

“Heya little brother,” she greeted with a drowsy voice, “Nice night, huh?”

“Nice indeed,” said Kurt with a accusatory tone, “Do you vish for me to point out how late it is or can ve skip zhat part?”

“What? You think you’re the only one who occasionally visits club insomniac?” she said dryly, “Ah couldn’t sleep okay? Ah’m a little more messed up than usual tonight.”

“I vouldn’t call it messed up. Zhen again you aren’t zhe one vith a codename like Nightcrawler so I zhink I have a reason to be concerned.”

Rogue smiled sheepishly. Kurt had a talent for reading her. If her demeanor didn’t give her away, her appearance sure did. She had been out flying for what looked like hours if her messy hair was any indication. She had probably been out since before Kurt came up to the roof.

Playing the role of a concerned brother, Kurt reached out and placed a hand on Rogue’s shoulder. She was never one to vent issues that were really personal. She was forward with a lot of things, but there were a handful of subjects she rushed to avoid. Kurt knew each one of these subjects and it wasn’t hard to figure out which was bothering her.

“I take it you’re thinking about our loving mother just as much as I am,” Kurt pointed out.

“Why do Ah even bother trying to hide it?” she sighed, “Don’t tell me it ain’t buggin’ you too.”

“How could it not? While I don’t have as many reasons to resent her, she’s still our mother. She’ll always find a way to influence our lives.”

“And it’s so unfair it makes meh wanna hurl.”

Rogue turned away, hiding a tired yawn and not doing a very good job of it either. Kurt offered her a comforting smile. Rogue was never one to have the kind of faith that he did. She was cynical by nature and when something came along that directly attacked that cynicism, it affected her greatly.

“Come now, mien sister. It can’t be too sickening to learn our mother is capable of doing zhe right thing,” Kurt pointed out, “If anything, ve should be relieved. For once, she was on the right side of a conflict. She was trying to recover my father’s dairy and stop Farouk from hiding the truth. We vere zhe fools zhis time. We must accept that.”

“It ain’t us being the bad guys that bugs meh, Kurt,” she said distantly, “What Ah can’t get over is Mystique actually doing something noble. For years Ah’ve seen her do nothing but wrong from leaving meh with Irene to helpin’ Magneto. For her to up and do something decent for a change is…unsettling.”

“I think you’re not giving our mother enough credit. Granted, she does have a lot to make up for and I’m not ready to overlook everything shells done either. But at zhe very least ve should take comfort in zhe knowledge zhat she is not beyond redemption.”

“Ah know. Ah sure that makes meh a lousy daughter for not realizing that.”

“No it doesn’t. It just means you have more healthy skepticism zhan me,” Kurt argued.

“Jeez, do you always have to put a positive spin on every cynical comment Ah make?” said Rogue half-jokingly.

“Of course,” he retorted with another smile, “You’re my sister and Mystique is our mother. Since neither of you seem to have any faith in one another, zhat means I have to have enough to cover you both. Even if it annoys you, I von’t stop. And neither should you.”

Rogue was still tired and bemused, but Kurt’s continued smile seemed to ease her troubled soul. She said nothing more in the silence of the night. There was no way to respond. She knew better than anybody that there was nothing that could shake Kurt’s faith. She may not be able to share it, but she could always take comfort in it. Needing that comfort now more than ever, she pulled her brother into a light hug. Kurt kindly returned the gesture, his smile never waning.

I struggle vith so many questions about my past and my future. I vill probably keep struggling even if I have to vait years for a definitive answer. For now, I have to keep moving forward. I have to keep having faith. My mother and my sister are depending on me. It gets harder vith each passing day, but I take comfort in the knowledge zhat I am a man of faith. Either by my own merits or because of how I vas brought up, I continue to believe.

Like my father once taught me, whenever something becomes harder the weak get weaker and the strong get stronger. That is vhy I keep going. My faith is my strength and my strength is my faith. This way if and vhen zhe answers finally do come out, I’ll be ready to face them and all zhe challenges they bring.

Next Issue: President Robert Kelly

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