“This is how I became the most feared and hated terrorist in the history of the United States” is what Kitty Pryde once said. This is where that story starts.
New York city, Port Authority bus terminal:
Kitty, Iceman, Jimmy Hudson and Rogue are about to enter a coach out of New York.
In the Morlock Tunnels, the young X-Men and the mutant kids they saved watch the news about the Sentinel attack on the Southwesters states. The president in effect cedes power over the Southwestern states to the Sentinels.
Kitty no longer listens as she muses about the consequences for mutants. Later in her room, she puts on her Shroud outfit, preparing for a trip to the surface. A younger teenager, blue-haired Nomi Blume, joins her and accuses her of lying. She said it’s okay. It’s not okay. Kitty admits she’s right. She guesses that’s a thing grown-ups say sometimes. Nomi points out Kitty isn’t a grown-up. She’s like her. She was like her, Kitty retorts. Now Nomi’s more like Kitty than she realizes.
She phases upward and leaves the tunnels, musing she just turned seventeen. She phases through the air thinking she just saw the country give up on TV. Between Stryker and the Sentinels, the anti-mutant militia, the internment camps and the hunting of mutants in the Southwestern States, they found yet another way to hurt them. By ceding authority to stop any of this.
And she decides she doesn’t want to surrender. What she’s just heard was a call to arms. She isn’t interested in standing down. She wants to stand up and get out of the hole she’s been hiding in. She doesn’t want to cede power. She doesn’t want to cede anything to anyone.
She sheds her Shroud outfit, now dressed in a white tracksuit. No more running. No hiding, she decides. No more code names, no more Shroud. They may have created mutants, but they will never be able to snuff them out. She swears on her life.
On the streets, a pro mutant protest group is fighting the police who are ordered to take them down with live rounds. One of the protesters shouts that mutants have rights just like them. Unbelievable! one cop mutters. They’d stand with the kind of scum and perversions of nature that attacked this city and killed his wife and little boy? They are nothing like him! They aren’t American or even human! He takes aim and gets ready to fire at the protesters.
Kitty phases up in front of him, calmly announcing this is not going to happen. They aren’t going to let them do this anymore. Before he can fire, she phases apart the gun. The other cops get ready to fire. She grabs the cop’s shield to protect the protesters and orders them to get to safety.
She wonders if the protesters really mean it. Shouting slogans is easy. Still, these protests were the only sign of… humanity she’s seen since Executive Order 3144 passed. And it gives her hope.
With the protesters gone, Kitty strides towards the shooting policemen, their bullets passing harmlessly through her. Remember this, she tells them. Next time they think about killing some mutants, they might surprise them.
Later, back in the Morlock Tunnels, she informs her teammates that she is going to the Southwest states to fight the Sentinels. And she wants them to come along.
Jimmy Hudson reminds her, the last battles against them didn’t go that well. And now she wants to go up against hundreds of them? Kitty tells them they are on their own. She just saw soldiers suppressing protesters. They were humans and stood up in support of everyone, human and mutant alike. She thinks it will get worse.
Rogue points out they are safe here. They are in a hole! Kitty retorts. Out there, people are risking their lives for them and they sit down here and argue! They can stop being the victims, make their own protection and security!
Against an army of Nimrods and William Strykers? Bobby asks doubtfully. Would he rather stay down here until one day the next president on his TV is someone like William Stryker? They’d all be dead before that happened, Rogue admits. She’ll do it.
Unlike Rogue, he doesn’t have voices in his head giving him life advice, but what the hell – he’s in, Jimmy decides. Bobby offers to come if Johnny will.
Johnny Storm hesitates. He agrees on an intellectual level. They are asking him to walk into a war zone for a cause he will never be able to fully belong to. And they are forgetting the little ones. Are they going to leave them alone?
Kitty retorts they have each other. Their kind faces genocide. They are only a few years older than the kids. It’s time for all of them to grow up just a little bit faster. Here in the tunnels, they have a family. If they don’t fight each other, if they support each other and help each other out, they’ll live. They’ll be a hundred times stronger for it.
So she would leave them, Johnny states. He’s heard a lot of mutants being abandoned and running away at really young ages. But he’s never heard them romanticize it before. He’s staying. He’ll watch over them.
Kitty agrees and leaves. As she packs her stuff, Nomi Blume joins her and informs her she wouldn’t have been scared. None of them would have. Kitty is right. They’ve lived through worse. Johnny doesn’t understand. He isn’t even a mutant.
But he’s smart and in charge, Kitty announces, understand? Nomi wants to go with Kitty. In a couple of years, she can come, Kitty tells her. Nomi can do that. She is a leader. She can do anything. Just remember who she is. They hug as Kitty tells her not to let anyone tell her she is wrong.
The four enter a bus, one of the many leaving the city. They pretend to be displaced youths searching for their parents. Jimmy presses Kitty’s hand for luck. She hands each of them a small parcel. In each is an armband with an X symbol. They’ll put them on later, Kitty announces. And then every day until mutants are free. And once that happens, they will never need to wear them again. They’ll see and on that day, they’ll truly be free.