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X-Men Unlimited (2nd series) # 5

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Early on, Lorna tried out the code name 'Magnetrix' but quickly discarded it. [X-Men Hidden Years #3, 6] - Submitted by Daniel Martin


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Runaways


CRIMSON DAWN
Author : Peter Luzifer and MonolithLast Modified : Oct 23, 2003
First appearance : Uncanny X-Men #330


Description
The Crimson Dawn is a stygian nether-dimension, hidden between the shadows of the world. The sky is blood red and the few buildings that seem to form the only city resemble the design of old Chinese temples, a theme that is also apparent in the interior with several Asian styled ornaments and symbols being used for decoration. The outer walls of the palace in the city’s center though seem to be made of metal. Inside the palace, there is a chamber called the Ebony Vain, containing the magical elixir after which the entire dimension is named in a glowing sphere.



The Crimson Dawn is capable of great healing and bestowing superhuman powers, like the ability to melt in and out of the shadows, but it leaves a red mark over an eye of the people that were exposed to it. Due to it’s incredible power, the elixir needs to be guarded by a Proctor. Also inhabiting the dimension are the so called Undercloaks, a group of ninja-styled warriors clad in black, obeying the Proctor’s every command.













Crimson Dawn related plots

Many centuries ago, China was overrun by the barbarian Li-Tzu Ch’eng. A group of monks prayed that the kingdom would be spared the endless bloodshed, but the Ming dynasty ended anyway. Frustrated that their prayers hadn’t been answered, Xiandu and three of his friends, Ra’al, Barak and A’yin, went down the darkest road they would ever travel. In the pitch of night they were initiated into a covenant that promised to repel China’s oppressors. However Xiandu underestimated the might of the Crimson Dawn, and only learned that his friends had been corrupted by it in the night they killed him. In the instant his life ended, Barak, A’yin and Ra’al found themselves transformed into the Dragons of the Crimson Dawn. Xiandu’s spirit remained on Earth, wandering around to await their inevitable escape from the Crimson realm.[Excalibur #110]



In the present day, Psylocke was almost fatally wounded when Sabretooth escaped from the mansion. As she hovered on the brink between life and death, Logan happened to know of a magical elixir that could possibly restore her. He and Archangel went to New York’s China Town to find the Crimson Dawn, and Dr. Strange, sensing their intent, joined their quest, which brought them to a Chinese restaurant. Inside the met Gomurr, the ancient, an old acquaintance of Logan. The access to the Crimson Dawn was hidden in the mouth of a huge paper dragon, and their way was blocked by several Undercloaks, but the four allies got through. Face to face with Tar, the elixir’s Proctor, Gomurr kneeled and begged for them to take some of it, but Tar refused, rather annoyed that he was only visited when someone needed something of him. He spirited Gomurr away, but while Logan kept Tar busy, Dr. Strange and Archangel approached the Ebon Vein. Actually the Elixir could only be used on people present, but Strange reached into Archangel’s heart and pulled out the part of Psylocke’s soul that she had entrusted to him, resembled by a beautiful figurine. As he shoved the icon of their love into the glowing sphere containing the Crimson Dawn, back in Westchester, Betsy’s life signs stabilized and the red mark appeared on her face. Tar angrily expelled all three heroes from his realm and they found themselves back on Earth, along with Gomurr. [Uncanny X-Men #328-330]

Over the following months it became quite clear that the experience changed Betsy more than on a skin-deep level. She grew much colder and distanced herself from her lover and their friends. Even when she manifested the ability to shadow-port, Psylocke didn’t bother much nor tell anyone, one day startling the X-Men by teleporting into the mansion without warning. Just like them, Betsy understood that something was amiss with her, but she couldn’t bring herself to talk with anyone about her concerns. When she found herself under attack by a group of Undercloaks, she managed to fight them off all on her own, and did keep the battle secret, not even telling Warren despite the dark warriors having attacked her in his penthouse. [Uncanny X-Men #338, X-Men (2nd series) #61]



Around the same time, The Dragons of the Crimson Dawn managed to journey to the Wildways, another Magical dimension, the home of Spiral when not serving Mojo. They needed the woman to help then teleport to Earth, but when Spiral refused to aid them, she was threatened with torture that was even beyond her Body Shoppe’s capabilities and she reluctantly accepted to join them and received the mark of the Crimson Dawn. Actually Spiral thought she could outsmart the Dragons at one point, but the Crimson Dawn’s influence was too strong and she had no choice but to release them on Earth, namely in London, where they surprise attacked Captain Britain. They took their prisoner to their native Hong Kong, where they wanted to channel his powers into breaching the dimensional wall to the Crimson Dawn, thus enslaving Earth.

However, Spiral alerted Excalibur to the Dragons’ plan, and teleported the team to Hong Kong. Another one trying to spoil the plan was Xiandu’s spirit, who told Meggan, the only one to sense him, of the importance of the location, as it was a nexus of power. The spirit revealed to Meggan that not only her abilities but also her love for Brain was needed to rescue him and stop the two worlds from merging into one. While the rest of Excalibur temporarily held the Dragons of the Crimson Dawn at bay, Meggan helped Brian redirect the power flow, releasing it safely into the atmosphere. While Brian survived, he was Captain Britain no more, his powers gone. The Dragons left by melting into the shadows, vowing that one day they would succeed and rule Earth. [Excalibur #107-110]



With the dimensional walls already weakened, another creature could break through from the Crimson Dawn, the demon Kuragari. He hunted down Tar, and magically wrested control over Tar’s servants from him, only proceeding to kill him to become the next Proctor of the Crimson Dawn. Gomurr found his old rival’s body, and gave him a decent burial. Knowing that Kuragari would come after Psylocke next, he tried to warn her and Archangel, but he happened to be too late. In the meantime, the two X-Men had once again been attacked by Undercloaks, this time leaving behind a strange ring. By the time Gomurr arrived, Betsy, somehow attracted to the piece of jewelry, was already wearing it on her finger, thus allowing Kuragari to abduct her to the Crimson Dawn realm.

Apparently one can not take from the elixir without giving something in return, and as Psylocke’s debt had never been paid, Kuragari now thought to force her into becoming his bride. She tried to resist as hard as she could, but by the time Archangel arrived, sent after her by Gomurr, Betsy had already been transformed into a shadow creature. While Betsy left with Kuragari, Warren had to face an entire army of Undercloaks. Back on Earth, Tar’s spirit visited Gomurr, thanking him for the burial and explaining that their past years of enmity had only served one purpose – training lessons for Gomurr to become the rightful next Proctor.
Accepting the mantle passed on to him, Gomurr too crossed over to the Crimson Realm and helped Archangel. In order to release Betsy from the Dawn’s hold, Warren sacrificed an unknown amount of his own life-force to pay the debt. Now free of Kuragari’s influence, Betsy’s darkened skin vanished and together they managed to drive Kuragari away. While the lovers returned home, Gomurr remained behind in his new home. [Psylocke & Archangel: Crimson Dawn #1-4]



Further changes awaited Psylocke, as when she found herself tricked by the Shadow King into creating a psionic energy wave that temporarily disabled all psionic abilities on a world-wide scale, she manifested another ability thanks to the Crimson Dawn. Actually the Shadow King had torn apart Betsy’s astral self, leaving her twisted and disfigured. Betsy, though, rebuild herself in a new black form and found that this shadow astral self was nearly impossible to be detected, eventually defeating the Shadow King. [X-Men (2nd series) #78]



Loose Ends
With Psylocke dead, it might seem that the X-Men will no longer be confronted with any threats originating from the Crimson Dawn, but there are in fact four other X-Men having some possible connection to the place and the Elixir. For one there is Archangel who sacrificed part of his own life-force and left it in the Ebon Vein. Next there is Jean Grey, who underwent a strange power-swap with Psylocke shortly before her death. Betsy’s shadowy astral form, for example, had been transferred to Jean, though instead of the Crimson Dawn mark, she wore a Phoenix symbol over her eye. Since Betsy’s death, however, Jean was not shown in this form, so the power swap’s effects might have worn off. Then there is Rogue, who carries the psychic imprints of all people she ever absorbed, including Betsy’s. Last but not least, Wolverine’s backstory with Gomurr and how he learned of the Crimson Dawn has yet to be revealed.

Spiral’s status too has not been cleared up, possibly she was able to get rid of the Crimson Dawn’s influence in the meantime, however she has not appeared since. While there was a Spiral in Exiles #18-19, this could easily be an alternate reality version of her (despite Mojo’s claim of there only being one Mojoverse) or a time-traveling past self.



Important Characters

Xiandu
Xiandu was a monk disciple who when his native China was under attack urged some of his fellow students to follow him into the Crimson Dawn. However the others, tempted by the dark powers, killed him. His spirit survived though.

First appearance: Excalibur #108

All appearances: Excalibur #110 (flashback), 108-110

Powers: empowered by the Crimson Dawn even in the afterlife, though he exists only as an intangible spirit, able to selectively appear to and communicate with the material world

Fact: His name is pronounced “Hsien-Tsu”.



A’yin
A’yin is one of Xiandu’s former comrades who found themselves corrupted by the Crimson Dawn and were transformed into its Dragons.

First appearance: Excalibur #110

All appearances: Excalibur #110 (flashback), 107-110

Powers: empowered by the Crimson Dawn with heightened strength, agility, and reflexes, the ability to move and fly at superhuman speeds, tap into sources of mystical power with his emerald third eye, release tendrils of elemental energy, summon clouds of toxic gas



Ra'al
Ra'al is one of Xiandu’s former comrades who found themselves corrupted by the Crimson Dawn and were transformed into its Dragons.

First appearance: Excalibur #110

All appearances: Excalibur #110 (flashback), 107-110

Powers: empowered by the Crimson Dawn with heightened strength, agility, and reflexes, corrosive bile that she can spew which eats through matter like acid, can teleport by slipping in and out of patches of shadow, manifest "psychic needles" that penetrate the mind to feel a person's thoughts and cause mental anguish



Barak
Barak is one of Xiandu’s former comrades who found themselves corrupted by the Crimson Dawn and were transformed into its Dragons.

First appearance: Excalibur #110

All appearances: Excalibur #110 (flashback), 107-110

Powers: empowered by the Crimson Dawn with superhuman strength and reflexes, six arms, megamorphic abilities to double his size, strength and resistance to physical injury, mystical energy weapons and gauntlets that materialize in his hands at will



Tar
Tar was the Crimson Dawn’s Proctor, it’s Guardian until the time of his death.

First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #329
Last appearance: Psylocke & Archangel: Crimson Dawn #4

All Crimson Dawn related appearances: Uncanny X-Men #329-330, Psylocke & Archangel: Crimson Dawn #1-2, 4

Powers: can summon symbolic neon scorpions as Proctor of the Crimson Dawn, which act as his spies, couriers, and assassins, and can focus his power to infuse other people with beneficial or malevolent magicks



Gomurr
Gomurr was Tar’s enemy and rival for many years, until he inherited the mantle of guarding the Crimson Dawn fell to him.

First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #329

All Crimson Dawn related appearances: Uncanny X-Men #329-330, Psylocke & Archangel: Crimson Dawn #1-4

Powers: wield certain elemental and magical forces, allowing him to sense changes in the supernatural world, pass between dimensional barriers, summon up aetheric flame, fire blasts of pure energy, reach into the minds of others, shield himself and others from harm and detection, become intangible, and forge ninja servants out of ethereal mist, can summon symbolic neon scorpions as Proctor of the Crimson Dawn



Psylocke (Elizabeth “Betsy” Braddock)
Hovering on the brink of death after being mortally wounded by Sabretooth, Psylocke’s life was saved and forever changed when her lover Archangel exposed her to the Crimson Dawn.

First appearance: Captain Britain (1st series) #8
First Crimson Dawn appearance: Uncanny X-Men #330
Last appearance: X-Treme X-Men #2-4

All Crimson Dawn related appearances: Uncanny X-Men #329-330, 338, X-Men (2nd series) #61, Psylocke & Archangel: Crimson Dawn #1-4, X-Men (2nd series) #78

Powers: telepathy, precognitive visions, and a psycho-blasting talent that discharged mental energy as raw power, formerly linked with the power of the Crimson Dawn which gave her shadow teleporting abilities, allowing her to use any patch of darkness as a doorway to another shadow



Archangel (Warren Worthington III)
Despite being skeptical about magic in general, Warren traveled to the Crimson Dawn to save his lover and even sacrificed part of his own life-force for her.

First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #1
First Crimson Dawn appearance: Uncanny X-Men #329

All Crimson Dawn related appearances: Uncanny X-Men #329-330, 338, X-Men (2nd series) #61, Psylocke & Archangel: Crimson Dawn #1-4

Powers: aerodynamic physiology gives him peak human strength, speed, aerial agility, endurance, reflexes, eyesight, and hearing, a hollow bone structure, zero body fat, and large feathered wings extending from his shoulder blades that enable him to fly and serve as solar collectors to heat his body



Kuragari
The demon Kuragari tried to become Proctor of the Crimson Dawn by force, killing it’s former guardian, though he was not aware that the position needs to be earned instead of conquered.

First appearance: Psylocke & Archangel: Crimson Dawn #1

All appearances: Psylocke & Archangel: Crimson Dawn #1-4

Powers: empowered by the Crimson Dawn with heightened strength, agility, and reflexes, project energy as destructive blasts or restrictive cages, can teleport by slip in and out of patches of shadow, can summon symbolic neon scorpions as Proctor of the Crimson Dawn, carries a two-edged spearstaff



Spiral
The timedancer found herself overpowered by the Dragons of the Crimson Dawn and was forced to join them against their will, yet she betrayed them as soon as possible.

First appearance: Longshot #1
First Crimson Dawn appearance: Excalibur #107

All Crimson Dawn related appearances: Excalibur #109 (flashback), 107-110

Powers: genetically-engineered with bio-cyberonic implants that gave her six arms, heightened strength, agility, stamina, reflexes, and the ability to weave magical spells through movements and dancing, allowing her to sense and manipulate energy patterns, fire concussive blasts, negate superhuman powers, teleport through time and space, render herself and others invisible, and paralyze nervous systems

Fact: Spiral runs a Body Shoppe, which contains alien devices capable of rebuilding beings into new physical and mental states.

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