Scott Summers stands alone in a room facing a huge piece of ruby quartz. His mutant gift comes in three parts, he muses. First, the eyebeams. Secondly, an ability to judge angles of attack. He can see, as clear as day, the angle required to strike the ruby quartz, rebound the shot and cut his own head off. Thirdly, he has a degree of immunity to his own blasts. So he has to fire with full power and hyperfocus. Killing himself with his own powers is in fact a matter of precision and strength. He couldn’t have done it as a younger man. He’s almost proud of being able to commit suicide today.
Narration with accompanying pictures:
Perhaps it would have been different, if he’d let Wolverine take the lead at Chaparanga Beach two years ago. He fights with his gut and his gut said put Logan on that spacecraft fast. But… he doesn’t know… maybe because Ororo was watching… he took an extra five seconds, overthought. Decided to approach slow and quiet instead of fast and … well, Logan.
Crucial minutes were lost. Subject X activated what they now know to be a Ghost Box: A device that creates gates across parallel worlds. The others subdued Subject X. Cyclops took care of whatever was clawing its ways between universes in the only way he could. He destroyed it with his optic blast. And just like that they went from a potential invasion target to a full-blown threat.
It wasn’t until weeks later that they worked out what Subject X’s mission really was. And by then it was too late. His people were looking for a parallel Earth to annex and colonize. Henry assured him that once you cracked the math, looking for living space in the multiverse is far easier than looking for an Earthlike planet in outer space. Henry assured him of a lot of things. They opened Ghost Boxes all over the world and Sentinels and other threats appeared.
Turns out there’s a side effect. Time gets liquid, if you use them too often. He imagines one of the reasons for wanting a new living space was that their own parallel had become a pretty nightmarish place to live.
Westchester is full of ghosts. Literally. Walking the ruins of Xavier’s mansion he sees ghost versions of his teammates from different timeframes pass by: Storm walks down the stairs, Kitty and some students stand in the hallway.
Scott walks through the Danger Room, seeing a ghost version of Wolverine training. In his study, a ghost of Xavier sits in his wheelchair, staring outside. In the hangar, Storm and Colossus get off a Blackbird.
Most of the time, they don’t see him, Cyclops thinks. But he always knows when they are there, blaming him. Cyclops is lying in bed. The form of Emma Frost stands next to the bed, staring at him.
He can’t stand it when they look at him. At the table, a ghost of Beast sits next to him, reading a book.
What he doesn’t understand is why he was left alive. He looks outside across the ruined landscape. He isn’t worth killing. Only the good things are worth killing. They killed Jean. They killed Madelyne. And then they killed Jean again. And then they killed Emma. And the common factor? He was never worth killing. Because he did everything wrong right from the start.
He looks at a ghost version of himself, standing over what seems to be a Ghost Box. He never stopped to think. He tore off to Chaparanga without stopping and asking the real questions. What was the real nature of the triploid mutant? Who decided that in any war one side was right? All he had to do was act like the leader he was supposed to be. All he had to do was realize that he knew the enemy all along. His ghost self turns away and Scott covers his face, ashamed.
Cyclops stands in the Danger Room across the ruby quartz slab. Now he knows there’s only one thing he needs to do right. Don’t turn him away, Emma, he pleads silently and fires, managing to finally kill himself.
Wrapped in rags and ill-fitting clothes, Armor and a scarred Beast make their way across a ruined landscape with Hisako pushing a wheelchair in which Wolverine sits. His blanket drops and she put it over his legs again. Armor orders Henry not to wander off.
What keeps her going is writing, Hisako notes. Makes it ‘til the sun goes down, make it till they build a fire, make it till the other two got to sleep. Then she can write.
They pass a guttered car. On the bad nights, Henry writes. too. In his little notebook. He says he’s coming up with a plan. When he sleeps she looks at the notes. Just random numbers and half-remembered scraps of poetry.
The car is full of skeletons. On the worst nights, he remembers how he used to be. Usually, he starts crying. Once he attacked them. He couldn’t get through her armor so he went for Logan. The fur never grew back through that scar. Logan never even said sorry. Even laughed when he had her wrap the meat Henry had carved off him. Laughed when they cooked it for dinner the next night. “Finally, I’m useful,” he said. “We shoulda thought of this before.” Hisako flinches and looks away. That flat dead ugly meaningless laugh. The only one she ever hears now.
Logan thinks he’s been no use since the first attack when the adamantium in his leg bones got permanently bent. Five years ago. Still, it was he who got the contact four years ago. They were down to nothing but powers and their teeth in the resistance fight. But then he got the word. There was a stronghold in Montana. Around Kalispell. They figured they could hold it for eighteen months. And they were airlifting people. It was the last time she saw Logan smile and mean it.
Kitty Pryde’s back, he said, and helping people get off-world. All they have to do is make it to Kalispell. But California was overrun, and there was no transport and Logan couldn’t walk and none of them could fly. And so she made the decision to push him there. A year ago.
She doesn’t know why they haven’t seen anyone else go to Kalispell. She doesn’t know why they haven’t seen any signs of space launch.
They build a fire at night and Logan enthuses that Kitten’s smart. Really smart. She knows what’ll draw the annex squads. No way she’d do that.
So how are they getting refugees into space? Hisako asks. Could have a teleport station set up there, he suggests. No big bangs, no lightshow. So why couldn’t they teleport them out of California? she asks. He doesn’t know. Maybe it’s station-to-station, like a telephone line. All he knows is they couldn’t’ come in and get them. They had to get there. That was the deal. He’ll tell her though. Always knew the kid would come back.
The next morning, they travel on. Hisako knows it’s a trap. She doesn’t care what Logan says. She doesn’t care that he thinks Kitty Pryde is magic. She barely even remembers the girl. Some nights she hopes it’s a trap. She hopes it’s something that could actually kill Logan. She hopes it’s something that could put Henry out of his misery. Some nights, she wants them to get her too. Sometimes she just wants to be left alone.
She looks up and sees carrion bird. They used up the last of the food last night. If they don’t get there today, they start starving tomorrow and she’d die first. Then Henry. But she wouldn’t be around to see a man with the mind of a child try to understand why there’s no food and he’s dying. And then Logan Though sometimes she wonders if anything short of incineration would kill him. The one thing she’s learned in the last few years is that the universe finds a way for everything to die in the end.
They pass a ruined vehicle, a flying vehicle, one of the dead inside is clearly Colossus seemingly reaching out for something. Logan recognizes him and orders Hisako to stop pushing, but she ignores his pleading as she now pushes the wheelchair over human bones.
She knew it was a trap. She just didn’t know it was an old and abandoned trap that everyone else fell into first.
Before them is a huge crater as if of an explosion, surrounded by hundreds of skeletons.
It took them a year to get here. They just got there too late for their enemies to kill them the way they killed all the others they told to come here.
What’s happening? Henry asks confused. Wasn’t there a lady waiting to rescue them? Hisako armors up and twists Henry’s head off. Then she beats Logan unconscious.
That part was easy. Logan waking up, after she got the fire started under him, not so much. His healing factor died after seven or eight hours in the blaze. The rest of him went soon after.
The night is peaceful. There are no ghosts there, only her. And she won’t be here long. Hisako wanders off alone, waiting for death to take her.