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Quote1.png Tell no one, Illyana. Just follow my voice... to paradise. Quote2.png
Belasco to Illyana Rasputin

Appearing in "Chutes and Ladders"

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Synopsis for "Chutes and Ladders"

As the X-Men are in the middle of a training session on Magneto's old island base, they are unaware that they are being watched by some demonic being. As the X-Men are distracted, it calls out to Colossus's sister Illyana and lures her to a dark corner of the island fortress. Noticing that Illyana has wandered off, Kitty follows after her. Rounding her off at a corner with her phasing powers, she is puzzled to find the young girl missing. Walking into the darkness she activates some sort of mystical stepping disc and is transported away. Meanwhile, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus have all finished their exercise and are relaxing when they notice that both Kitty and Illyana are missing. Wolverine tracks their scent to the dark part of the island and they too are transported away.

Kitty wakes up to find herself in a strange netherworld and sees Nightcrawler. However, this Nightcrawler is twisted and perverted and wearing strange clothing. When she runs to him, he gropes her, sending her sprawling backward. When he asks her to "prove" how happy she is to see him, Kitty flees down a corridor and trips over her own feet. She falls before the throne of a demonic creature who introduces himself as Belasco.

Meanwhile elsewhere, Storm and Colossus materialize in some tunnel in this nether realm. Upon their arrival, Storm's attention is drawn to a mystical amulet which she feels compelled to place on her upper arm. When she is attacked by some strange tentacle monster, Colossus tries to run to her rescue but a teleportation disc appears sending him away. Much to Storm's surprise, she somehow manifests Colossus's metallic skin and Wolverine's claws and is able to defend herself and get to safety.

Meanwhile, Belasco has trapped Kitty's body in a crystal and sends the perverted Nightcrawler away when he proves to be a pest to young Illyana. He summons forth his minion S'ym and orders him back through the tunnels to destroy the other X-Men. Because Limbo is a timeless realm, S'ym points out that he destroyed the X-Men already as he plucks an Adamantium claw from the corpse of Wolverine to pick his teeth, and feels confident that he can do it again. After S'ym left, Belasco torments Kitty some more by mystically separating her skeleton from her body so that if she is freed from the crystal before her skeleton is replaced she will die. He then presents the Beatrix Medallion to Illyana: a mystical amulet with sockets for five bloodstones, that once aligned in their proper place at the points of the pentagram will allow her to ascend to her glorious destiny. Watching from above is the true Nightcrawler who is trying to make sense of everything he has seen below and vows that he will do whatever it takes to save Kitty and Illyana.

Storm wakes up in a strange bed near a pool and decides to take a swim. With her costume in ruins, she finds a spare set of clothing and flies off to find her friends, unaware that a woman is watching her in the shadows. Elsewhere, the Nightcrawler doppelganger is attacked by the real Nightcrawler. When they both teleport away, only the doppelganger appears before Belasco. He reports that the other Nightcrawler is dead to curry favor, but Belasco warns him not to push his anger any further. In another part of Limbo, Wolverine comes across the corpse of Colossus. The scent tells him the body is really old and this makes Wolverine wonder what's going on. He is attacked by S'ym, who gives him a good fight until he is teleported away. S'ym is disappointed until the real Colossus appears and attempts to attack him.

Although S'ym manages to injure Colossus with the severed claw of the Wolverine doppelganger, he is soon overpowered when Wolverine returns to the scene and helps Colossus. They fail to stop S'ym however when one of the random teleporters allows him to escape. They are then confronted by the mystery woman who was watching Storm and teleports Wolverine and Colossus to Belasco's throne room. There, Storm arrives and the "doppelganger" of Nightcrawler appears to be the true Nightcrawler all along. The X-Men give Belasco the fight of his life when the mystery woman arrives to help. She reveals herself to be an older version of Storm and explains to the X-Men that countless versions of the X-Men have come here to die before them. Using her mystical powers, Storm rebonds Kitty to her skeleton and frees her from the crystal she is trapped in.

As the elder Storm uses her powers to hold off the demon hordes, she summons a portal to send the X-Men and Illyana back to their home dimension. Before they can escape, Belasco reappears and grabs Illyana. A tug of war between dimensions ensues and the X-Men win, pulling Illyana back to their realm. However, they are shocked to find that somehow Illyana has aged into a thirteen-year-old girl[1].

That night, the X-Men wonder what had happened to Illyana and Colossus goes up to Illyana's room. There she awakens from a nightmare and tells her brother that she is happy to be back and safe before going back to sleep. As she does her hand opens revealing the amulet that Belasco gave her earlier. It pops open showing that the bloodstones inside have moved closer to their final position.


  • In this issue, Belasco removes Kitty Pryde's skeleton. For more on what he did, reference Black Sun: X-Men #1

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