Man-Beast has just released his hyper-evolved New Men on The High Evolutionary, Wolverine, Lady Bova, and Kitty Pryde. As these feral New Men charge across the lab toward their prey, Wolverine asks the High Evolutionary if he can de-evolve the snarling monsters. The High Evolutionary refuses. “I have not yet decided which side is worthy of my support.”
Wolverine is shocked; he is in no position to fight himself, because moments earlier, the High Evolutionary removed the berserker tendencies from his genetic code. Kitty, meanwhile, was recently transformed by Prosimia into a feline/human hybrid, and now lies unconscious in Wolverine’s arms. If the High Evolutionary will not defend them, they are doomed.
The High Evolutionary does not budge. While he created the New Men to be chivalrous defenders of Wundagore, he now questions whether that was the right thing to do from an evolutionary standpoint. Now, his creations have the chance to fight for their lives and determine which is truly worthy of existing.
Wolverine asks if they are all just a bunch of lab rats, then. “You think you’re so high-falutin’ evolved – but I’d be ashamed to be a member of the same species as you,” Wolverine tells him. Lady Bova interrupts and reminds Wolverine they must do something to defend the New Men village. “Don’t worry, Bessie. I’ll take care of ya,” he responds. “I’m the best at what I do. And what I do is…is…
“…RUN!” Dropping the unconscious Kitty on the ground, Wolverine takes off running toward the exit like a frightened child. Shocked, Bova scoops up the abandoned teenager in her arms. Promisia appears at this moment and instructs Bova to follow him to safety. It is fortunate he showed up when he did, Bova tells him as they flee. Despite Wolverine’s apparent courage, he abandoned them at the first sign of trouble. Bova comments on young Kitty’s sudden feline appearance and ponders whether she was altered by the High Evolutionary’s machinery.
“Perhaps – but who could have possibly done such a thing? Tee-hee,” Prosimia snickers. Bova recognizes his tone and understands immediately that it was actually Prosimia who augmented the young girl. Prosimia defends himself; this girl will be the warrior of legend who saves them from the menace of Man-Beast. He leads Bova to the Knightly Armory and, as soon as Kitty wakes up, outfits her with the legendary armor of Lady Shadra!
“My…word,” Bova says upon witnessing Kitty dressed up in the feline body armor. “The resemblance is…uncanny!” Kitty, however, has her doubts. Just because she is dressed like a warrior does not actually make her a warrior. Prosimia casts her doubts aside; he has seen the true warrior inside of her; this weaponry only enhances that essence.
Kitty is dumbfounded. He… has faith in me, she thinks, …i>in exactly the same way Wolverine doesn’t. Suddenly, the Man-Beast’s army pours into the chamber. Kitty refuses to budge. She lifts her shield, extends her lance, and tells Prosimia and Bova to hide behind her.
The first wave of attackers falls swiftly to Kitty’s battle prowess. In addition to her invaluable phasing ability, the cat-like Kitty now commands heightened animal senses. Time seems to slow down for her, allowing her to calculate and execute each move with finesse. However, after taking out the first few foes, she realizes there are too many of them to defeat all at once. She orders Prosimia to take her and Bova to the village; from there, they can fight the attackers and protect the helpless New Men.
The High Evolutionary, meanwhile, approaches Man-Beast at his control station. He asks his rebellious creation why he so persistently creates death and destruction. Is there no peace for him outside of the deaths of inferior specimens? Man-Beast does not respond, and instead stares intently at his computer monitor. The High Evolutionary approaches him from behind and reaches out to touch him on the shoulder; however, as soon as he makes physical contact, he realizes this Man-Beast is merely an illusion!
The true Man-Beast appears behind the High Evolutionary and levels his creator with a psionic attack. The High Evolutionary manages to turn in time to stop the next attack, and the two mighty scientists reach a psychic stalemate. The High Evolutionary asks if this was Man-Beast’s plan all along: to lure his master back to Wundagore with a manufactured crisis so he could finally slay him? Man-Beast laughs at this theory. “Your titanic narcissism disgusts me as always, father,” Man-Beast says. “Destroying you is merely a side benefit of removing that armor you wear, which will amplify my own power to that of a god!”
Elsewhere, Wolverine finally emerges from the tunnels of Mount Wundagore. He briefly rejoices at his escape, but this sensation feels unnatural to him. I>Wait…what did I just do? he asks himself. For the first time in my life I was faced with fight-or-flight, and chose door number two! He recalls how the High Evolutionary removed the berserker rages from his genetic code, but did not realize his predatory instincts went with it. No longer under the control of his rage, but still a mutant, Wolverine realizes he can control his life path for the first time ever. He can stop fighting and stop serving as a pawn in the manipulations of others…including Professor X. I could just walk down that hill…and disappear…and find some peace, he says, looking toward the serene woods in the distance.
Elsewhere, Prosimia and Bova finally reach the village and make an announcement to the New Men. They ask for a call to arms, as the armies of Man-Beast will arrive at any moment. The reluctant villagers, however, opt not to do battle. They all evolved from herbivores and scavengers, and would not even know how to fight. One individual, who resembles a turtle/human hybrid, even suggests they flee and throw themselves to the mercies of the human villagers down the mountain.
“You don’t need fangs and claws to defend your homes,” a voice calls from overhead. The villagers look up and see Lady Shadra of the Cat People soaring overhead in a flycycle. Fleeing is the old way, she says, and they are New Men! “All you need are courage and strength – guile and steel! I will show you the way!”
The sudden appearance of the New Men’s most legendary hero proves more than enough to inspire the villagers. Lady Shadra beat Man-Beast once before, after all. With her on the side of the villagers, they feel unstoppable. The once-cowardly turtle boy now shouts for his friends to join Lady Shadra in battle, and they head to the armory to prepare. Observing this from a distance, Prosimia cannot help but make a comment to Lady Bova. “My tales don’t seem so useless now, do they Bova?” he asks.
“Did I ever say they were?” she replies.
Soon enough, the ferocious armies of the Man-Beast arrive. They are met head-on in battle by Kitty Pryde, now accompanied by her own army of armored, medieval-weapon bearing New Men. Panda-men, pig-men, horse-men, and others charge at the invaders in a truly heroic defense of their homes.
Back in the laboratory, the psychic battle between Man-Beast and the High Evolutionary continues. Bright yellow light emanates from the High Evolutionary’s eyes. Man-Beast holds this psionic energy at bay with his own power, and the collision of energy produces a blinding ball of light. Man-Beast demands his master yield, but the High Evolutionary refuses. “Very well, then,” Man-Beast says. “You leave me no choice but to stain my claws with the life of he who made me!” A surge of power fires into the High Evolutionary. He hits the ground with a loud thud.
Having finally overpowered his creator, Man-Beast rejoices and declares himself “the fittest of the fittest.” He strips the High Evolutionary of his suit of armor while commenting that it is the right of the younger generation to rip the present from the hands of their elders. As he psionically removes the armor, however, he sees something unexpected: instead of a human body underneath, Man-Beast sees only beams of light. At first, the lack of a corporeal form disappoints him, as he hoped to spit into the dead face of his father. However, he theorizes that the High Evolutionary must have transcended the confines of the human body at some point and evolved into a being of pure light and thought. The prospect of undergoing a similar transformation delights Man-Beast. “In this form shall Man-Beast prey on all that lives!” he cackles.
Meanwhile, Kitty Pryde and the New Men successfully defeat Man-Beast’s entire army. Promisia, ever the enthusiast, leads his fellow villagers in a cheer praising Lady Pryde and the Last Knights of Wundagore. Their celebration is cut short by the sudden arrival of Man-Beast, now bearing the magenta armor of the High Evolutionary.
He incapacitates Kitty with a powerful shock. As he descends onto the helpless villagers, he announces that evolution has come to its end. He is the final step in the millennia-long process that served no other purpose than his eventual existence. Now that it is complete, Man-Beast says, he sees no reason to allow it to continue. “As I begin the laborious task of annihilating creation, why not start with this loathsome hybrid of mutant and New Man?” he says in reference to Kitty.
Man-Beast prepares to administer the coup de grace, in the form of another bolt from his hand. Lady Kitty’s death, however, would be incongruous with Prosimia’s tales of the New Men’s salvation by the Lady Shadra. He decides he cannot let it come to pass. Diving in front of Kitty at the last moment, he absorbs the brunt of Man-Beast’s attacks and falls to the ground. Kitty gasps and takes the dying tale-weaver in her arms. “For…as long as…your tale goes on…Lady Pryde,” Prosimia says, “…the dream can…never die.” Having uttered his last words, he shuts his eyes and finds the peace only death can bring.
A guttural, growling noise sounds from behind Kitty. Wolverine has finally arrived to do battle, and the death of the tale-weaver angers him. He extends his claws with a SNIKT! and pounces at the vile Man-Beast. Man-Beast, however, shows no fear. He believes he can stop the berserk mutant with a single, lobotomizing mind-blast. To his surprise, his psionic abilities do not affect Wolverine. As Wolverine is currently driven purely by rage and animal instincts, he has no tangible mind to influence! Man-Beast realizes he has met a predator more perfect than himself, this one born of nature, not science. With his armor destroyed by Wolverine’s ferocity and his worldview challenged, Man-Beast flees.
An attempt to chase after him is thwarted by the reappearance of the High Evolutionary himself. Now in a fiery form of pure energy, he descends onto the village and tells Wolverine he has done enough for the day. He hopes Man-Beast one day learns the value of wisdom in addition to his other qualities he possesses. Wolverine assumed the High Evolutionary was dead, based on Man-Beast’s possession of his armor. This misconception was his intent, the High Evolutionary says while psionically reassembling his armor from the fragments lying on the ground. “As I wanted to see nobility succeed without my aid, I was curious to see what savagery would do thinking it had wrested aid from me,” he says. With his suit of armor complete, he once again bears his familiar form.
He turns to face Kitty Pryde. “Misguided Prosimia’s gambit proved correct. His tale bested the Man-Beast’s terror.” He tells Kitty she fought valiantly and made an excellent knight. However, she deserves to be returned to her true form, as the initial augmentation was involuntary. With a mere gesture of his hand, the High Evolutionary restores Kitty to her human figure.
Wolverine asks when he will get his turn to be cured. The High Evolutionary responds this will not be necessary, as he never altered Wolverine’s genetic structure in the first place! “The flaw I saw in your character, Sir Wolverine, was the misery you put yourself through for being what you are,” he says. “The only instincts I see in you, ‘Logan’…are knightly ones. Remember that.”
As Wolverine and Kitty depart, she makes sure to mention her stellar performance in battle. Logan finally concedes she may be a decent fighter after all. He promises to give her more responsibility on future missions. As the duo walks down the trail toward the Blackbird, the villagers wave goodbye to their newest heroes.
“And so the Last Knights of Wundagore flew away on their Black Bird, but the model of their heroism shall stay behind forever,” a young New Man says to his classmates, reading from a story he wrote. “The end.” The other children sit outdoors and listen attentively to this story. Lady Bova congratulates the young man, Dicero, on his excellent story. She also tells Dicero that Prosimia surely appreciated his story as well, and reminds him to give the former tale-weaver his copy. “Okay!” Dicero responds.
The young lad walks over to a tree in the town square with a copy of his story in his arms. Underneath the tree rests a monument to Prosimia the tale-weaver. While Dicero lays his story at Prosimia’s grave, Lady Bova asks her students who wants to share their story next, and is met with nothing but enthusiastic responses. Prosimia’s legacy lives on.