A rainy mountain road. An agitated Carmen Pryde asks the driver, Yukio, where they are. They’ve been driving for hours! Where are they headed? Why is she going so fast? Is she trying to kill them? Answer me, curse you! Carmen screams from the backseat.
Next to him is an unconscious, badly hurt Wolverine. Next to Yukio is a tied-up, unconscious Kitty. No answer comes.
Her friend Wolverine is in pretty bad shape, he continues. He’s too pale. He’s lost a lot of blood; he doesn’t think the bandages they improvised are doing any good. He needs a doctor or a hospital, he pleads. They should return to Tokyo! Without proper care he won’t last the night.
Yukio finally speaks. He dies, she replies threateningly, so does Carmen. Instead of being cowed, he shouts that he is through being scared. He wants some answers! What have they done with his daughter? Why is she tied up?
Yukio finally brakes in the middle of the road. She drags Pryde out, and shouts she has had enough of him. His arrogance, his stupidity, his fear and most his mouth! She will endure no more! She slams him against the car. More than once he has made her regret saving his miserable carcass! If she didn’t need an extra pair of hands, she’d have dumped him long ago! She may do so yet. He’s pushed her to the limit, so he is to do as he is told without question or complaints, or else! Does she make herself clear? Yes, he moans.
As they turn to the car, they just witness Kitty freeing herself and phasing outside to run. Yukio inwardly swears. The drugs should have kept her out for hours, but Kitty’s mutant metabolism burned them out too fast. But she still isn’t wholly recovered. Yukio follows.
She doesn’t want to hurt Kitty, even after what she did to her beloved Logan-chan. It wasn’t her fault, Yukio thinks to herself as she grapples Kitty. If anyone’s to blame, it’s her idiot father and the renegade ronin Ogun who possessed her.
She recalls seeing the girl standing triumphantly over the stabbed Wolverine.
Kitty strikes Yukio’s face with her flat hand. Yukio reminds herself she is still fighting with Ogun’s skill.
Yukio and Carmen Pryde saw Kitty standing over the injured Logan, causing Carmen to exclaim: what has she done.
They fight near a precipice. Yukio realizes she cannot fight fair.
Yukio quickly threw her spikes at Kitty before the girl thought to phase.
Yuki trusts her luck, leaps off the cliff, trusting the gale wind to return her which it does, enabling her to kick Kitty in the face.
Kitty fell as the spikes were covered with a powerful sedative.
Taking Kitty out, Yukio wonders if it would be more merciful to kill her and put her out of her misery. She’s heard stories of this kind of ninjutsu magic. It is said that a soul once tainted by it can never again be free. Nevertheless, she drags Kitty back to the car.
As the sun rises, they arrive at Ousanmyaki, the mountain spine of northern Honshu, itself the main island of Japan, the stronghold of Clan Yashida. It’s where Wolverine recovered during his last trip.
Yukio carries the unconscious Kitty inside. Wolverine drags himself up. Carmen is amazed to see him alive. When he tries to help, Wolverine brushes him aside.
Kitty dreams of Ogun who is both man and demon. Who takes her innocent soul and reshapes it in his own twisted image. She awakes from her nightmare. Mornin’, Wolverine greets her. Relieved, she hugs him tight. She gushes that she had the most awful nightmare. It seemed so real. It was, he replies and grimacing asks her to ease off. He’s feeling a bit tender.
What is he saying? she demands. He orders her to face the truth. It’s her only hope. See things as they are, no matter how much they hurt. She recalls. She and Logan… fought. She remembers. It was her. And yet it wasn’t. She had a blade and when she thrust it home into his heart she was so glad, she sobs.
A little later, she is calmer and she apologizes for being such a baby. For… everything. Nothing to forgive, he tells her, he understands. And he figures the least she is entitled to is a good cry.
He gets a plate with fresh sushi. How ‘bout breakfast? She’s not hungry, she tells him. Suit herself, he shrugs and begins to eat. What brought her out here anyway? Last any of them heard, she was safe at home in Chicago.
She wishes she’d stayed there, she replies. Him too. She swallows, that looks real good and finally begins to eat too. She tells him how her dad’s involved with a crimelord, a Yakuza oyabun named Shigematsu. She thought he was being forced into it. She wanted to help.
Why go it alone? he asks, drowning some Sake. It was a family matter, comes the reply. She wanted to keep it private. Especially if he turned out to be a real crook, which he did. How could he?
Logan advises her not to judge until she gets all the evidence. Where does Ogun fit into this? He was Shigematsu’s chief goon or something. He said she’d been given to him as payment in full for his services. Why? What does he want from her?
Logan remarks Ogun had her the better part of a week. What happened? She’s not sure. Those memories are all hazy and jumbled up. He talks like he knows Ogun. He was his sensei Wolverine replies. He taught him just about everything he knows.
It’s funny, Kitty muses. They look about the same age. From the moment they met, Ogun reminded her of Logan and scared her as much as he used to, yet Ogun seems much older. He knows, Wolverine replies. There’s a story people tell of the greatest swordsman in Japanese history, Myamoto Musashi…
One fine morning, in those younger days when he still wore steel instead of a wooden sword, Musashi came to a bridge, only to find his path blocked by another samurai. Musashi said that the way is only wide enough for one. It is only fitting that the lesser man step aside to let the better one pass.
Ogun agreed. So, if Musashi would be so kind as to do so, then he would be on his way. Musashi bowed, telling him it seems they have a difference of opinion… that only their blades can settle. Ogun agreed, also bowing.
And as one with blinding speed two gleaming katanas leapt from the lacquered scabbards. For one minute, the men stood poised, their eyes locked and then they sheathed their steel, bowed and went their separate ways, never to cross paths again.
Kitty doesn’t get it. Logan explains that the eye contact was the duel. When each took full measure of his foe and realized that the other was his equal in every respect and further, that this was a battle that neither of them could win. The conflict resolved, there was no need to actually cross swords.
Is he trying to tell her her Ogun is the same guy? she wonders. That he’s immortal? No one knows quite for sure, Logan replies.
Then he orders her to get dressed and meet him outside. It’s a traditional Japanese garden. Without any further instructions he hands her a rake and tells her to take an hour. And do what? she asks. Anything she likes, comes the reply and he leaves.
Inside the house, he sinks down in exhaustion. Yukio angrily reminds him it’s been barely a day since Kitty cut him to ribbons. He’s insane to be out of bed. It’s got to be done, Logan insists. If he doesn’t act at once, it’ll be too late. It already is, she replies bluntly, but he is too blind to see. If the stories told about Ogun are even only half-true, his hooks are sunk so deeply into Kitty she will never be free. He has to try, Logan insists, for his sake as much as hers. He is aware of the fact that his body needs rest, but Kitty needs him more.
Leaning on a stick, he walks outside again after an hour. He finds Kitty meditating on a rock in the middle of the garden. What does he think of her handiworks? she asks him. Not too shabby, huh? You tell me, he demands. She thought she just did. He strictly orders her to look. She realizes that she’s created a perfect zen garden. The kind of garden a zen master spends a lifetime crafting, in mind as much as substance. But not a teenager from Chicago, she realizes. She wouldn’t… shouldn’t know how to begin. What did Ogun do to her?
Magic, he replies, or some form of psi-power. He imprinted his psyche on her, created a sort of psychic clone of himself inside her skull… eventually it will overwhelm Kitty’s personality completely. She’ll have the features of Kitty Pryde, will be able to mimic her perfectly, but at heart she will be Ogun. This process is forbidden knowledge, only the most gifted or cursed of Ninja masters were reputed capable of such things and that only in legend. But he said Ogun was a figure out of legend, she remembers.
Later in a shrine at the house:
Kitty pleads she wants to go home. Professor Xavier is the most powerful telepath there is. He can put things right. Erase Ogun’s influence. Maybe, comes the reply. He then tells her Ogun will keep coming for her till he gets her or is beaten. If she runs away to Charley, it doesn’t matter if the cure is successful. She’ll never be as strong again. She’ll always be dependant on Xavier. Always subconsciously turn to him when things get rough. Ogun will have broken her spirit, crippled her fundamental self in a way that will never heal. He sounds like he’s speaking from experience. And he has the scars to prove it, comes the reply.
He hands her the sword lying before him. He explains it is the Honor Sword of Clan Yashida. Forged 800 years ago by the supreme swordsmith Masamune. This sacred blade represent everything that is best and most noble in the family and the samurai, the lord’s champion, who wields it. He wants her to hold it up at arm’s length for as long as she can.
After a few minutes, Kitty drops it in exhaustion. How many hours? she asks. Not even five minutes, he tells her. What’s the point? she asks. To hold it until she is told to stop without effort or strain. Impossible, she replies. If that’s what she believes, then it always will be. Give her a break, she snorts. He’s too tall and too ugly to be Yoda.
Next morning, they are up before dawn hiking along the ridge behind the house. The water looks lovely, Kitty observes, looking down. This high in the mountains it must be bitter cold, though. Logan suggests she find out herself and pushes her down. He takes off his clothes except for a loincloth and joins her in the water.
It’s the first good look Kitty gets of him since their duel. Ashamed, she realizes she did that to him. Ogun using her body, he corrects her, then orders her to quit babbling and swim.
Days pass. They both grow stronger. Kitty stops having nightmares about Ogun or at least stops telling him about it, but there’s still a long way to go. Try as she might, she can’t hold the sword. Wolverine wonders if she ever will. Maybe Yukio was right, he fears. But if she is, what then? He won’t let Ogun have Kitty.
Yukio breaks him out of his musing, telling him there’s a phone call by Professor Xavier. Wolverine is curt as usual, telling him it was deliberate they haven’t been easy to find. No, he won’t explain. It’s a private matter.
Xavier replies he’ll respect Wolverine’s judgment for now. However, there have been some serious developments here, involving both the X-Men and Logan’s former colleagues in Alpha Flight. He relates that Storm was ambushed by federal agents. She was struck by some form of energy weapon which stripped her of all her powers.
He fears the news from Canada is worse. His friend James MacDonald Hudson – Guardian – is dead. Logan unsheathes his claws. He doesn’t hear the details. He walks outside, throwing away his stick. He was little more than an animal when Jamie found him. He owes him his life, his humanity! He was like his brother but he’s dead. He can’t do anything for him or Storm and if he leaves he’ll lose Kitty too. He doesn’t like it but he has no choice. Doesn’t make him hurt any less, as he howls till his voice cracks and his eyes burn hot with tears.
The next morning, they jog in the snow. Kitty tries to tell him she’s sorry. He curtly orders her to change the subject. She cried too, she replies. Storm was her friend! She’s tough, she’ll survive, comes the reply. Some weather, Kitty changes the subject. Yukio says it’s snowing all over the world. Some sort of magic thing to do with Thor. It’s awful cold, snowing harder too. Maybe they better head back?
Road will take them home eventually, comes the reply. As long as they can see it, Kitty replies. Why is she doing this anyway? Training for the next Olympics? Stronger the body, stronger the mind and spirit, comes the reply. Ogun caught her when she was weak and sick. To give her a prayer against him, she’s gotta be in top shape… the best she’s ever been.
She falls back. Suppose even after all that, she loses? If she’s got breath to talk, they ain’t running fast enough, he replies and runs faster. Slavedriver! she shouts. He tells her she can quit any time. It’s nothing to him.
Kitty falls and asks for a hand. She’s got two of her own, he replies. Her ankle’s twisted, she insists. She’s hurt. No, she’s not! He refuses to help. She can’t go on, Kitty whines. Then don’t! he tells her. She’ll freeze here, she shouts, she’ll die! Then get up! She can’t! Kitty insists. She won’t, he replies. Her choice. Live or die. Struggle or surrender. Maybe it’s better this way. Just close her eyes and go to sleep, a quick clean finish rather than a lifetime spent scared stiff that Ogun will come after her…
It’s not fair! Kitty shouts and hits the ground with her fists. Never is, he agrees. Not for Storm, not for Jamie, what made her think, things would be different for her? The trick is taking the hand one’s dealt and winning anyway. It’s a decision only she can make. The most important she’ll ever face, the only one that matters. He runs on, ignoring her cries.
He reaches the compound where Carmen and Yukio are waiting. Where is his daughter? Carmen demands. She fell, Wolverine replies. And he left her? he shouts. In this blizzard she’ll die!
Wolverine falls into Yukio’s arms. A harsh decision, she states. She’ll get the snow-cat, she tells Pryde. They’ll find her. That won’t be necessary, comes Kitty’s voice as she stumbles in without looking at Logan.
Later in the bath, Kitty finally is warm again. The first few steps after she got up she hated him. But she understands now Wolverine is honing and shaping her for real the way Ogun did with his mind games. Except that at every stage Logan allows her the luxury of choice. Ogun forced her. This she does or not because she wants to. Succeed or fail, at least she’s made the decision to try.
She gets out of the bath and throws on a robe. She heads for the sword. All those other times she was making a big effort to hold the sword. Why not simply do it?
And she does. All night. Yukio though fears that no matter how strong Kitty is she is still a child, no match for Ogun.
Kitty holds the sword for a night, a whole day and then till night falls again. Then she gets up and leaves it at the sleeping Wolverine’s bedside. She’s won, she realizes. But she’s lost as well.
Kitty is about to board a flight to New York. This time tomorrow, she figures, she’ll be with the X-Men and with luck the prof will be able to work one of his patented minor miracles. Yukio was right. Kitty gave it her best shot. She is maybe the best she’ll ever be. And that isn’t good enough. She knows that now.
Or… is she just scared? Is this the sensible, logical decision or is she running away? Like she did when Peter and she broke up, when she learned the “truth” about her dad. He was at Yashida house but she hasn’t said a word to him. He cared, wanted to help, but she didn’t.
So what if the X-Men can protect her from Ogun? How does she hide from herself? The important thing isn’t erasing Ogun’s influence, it’s facing him and through him her fear of him. That’s what has to be beaten and there’s only one place and way to do it. She changes her direction, instead heading for the flight to Tokyo.