Wolverine has a problem. He needs to slip through a high-security perimeter heavily patrolled by guards wearing infrared goggles. His solution? Reindeer hide. Its thick fur and blubber prevent any of Wolverine’s heat signature from appearing on infrared. Covered in the hide, and surely smelling like a dead animal because of it, Wolverine crawls several miles and waits in the bushes for the guards to approach. Two guards finally arrive and reach out with their snares. Wolverine throws off the deerskin and beats them both senseless.
Once the guards are unconscious, Logan approaches their truck and cuts the locks of its bed. He opens the doors and releases the captives held inside. Don’t see why you critters got any less right than anybody else to find your own way outta this mess, he says as a pack of wild animals scatters out of the truck. After freeing the animals, Logan grabs a spare hazmat suit out of the cab, even though his healing factor can handle anything the suit would. However, he is curious about whether or not the lead taste in his mouth means what he thinks it means, and the suit’s infrared goggles will confirm his suspicions.
Wolverine gets his confirmation once his vision switches to infrared. Nearby, two pillars of smoke spill out of a power plant, glowing brightly in the infrared goggles. This explains why officials were rounding up wayward animals, why their truck’s windows are covered in lead paint, and why he can taste radioactive fallout in the air: this is a nuclear incident, and the Russian government is enacting standard protocol. They are evacuating everyone inside the thirty-klick radius commonly referred to as the “zone of alienation.” It is not without reason that Wolverine is traveling deeper into this zone. Kitty Pryde is in there somewhere, and if anything happens to her, Logan will never be able to forgive himself. After all, this whole mess is his fault.
Forty-eight hours earlier
Wolverine storms into Kitty Pryde’s room in a rage. Despite his repeated reminders, she continues to use his razor to shave her legs! However, he lowers his voice and lets the matter go once he sees Kitty crying into her pillow. “Maybe I’ll come back later,” he says, slinking toward the door. Kitty looks up and begs him to stay. She doesn’t know what to do; her crush Peter Rasputin has a girlfriend! “I’m…pretty sure he doesn’t, kid,” Wolverine says, “…and I’m not just saying that, because I really don’t care.”
Kitty insists that Peter does have a girlfriend. She knew it the moment she answered the phone and heard the voice of a woman with a cute Russian accent asking for Piotr Nikolievitch Rasputin. She gave him the phone, and overheard him telling the caller she shouldn’t be calling him at the mansion. He then switched to Russian and Kitty could no longer understand what they were saying. “They were making plans to meet!” she tells Wolverine. “Commie jerk! I’d like to meet her in a dark alley – she wouldn’t be so cute once I got through with her…”
Jump to conclusions much, Wolverine asks? He and Kitty can easily clarify the situation simply by following Colossus when he goes out tonight. “You’ll see there’s no hanky-panky going on,” he says. Kitty is elated that Logan is willing to spy on his friend for her. She tumbles into his arms and gives him a big hug. Whatever, Wolverine says; there is nothing good on T.V. tonight anyway.
Later that night, Wolverine and Kitty lurk in the shadows on Wolverine’s motorcycle. They watch as Peter leaves the mansion and climbs into a taxi. As they tail him, Wolverine reminds Kitty they just went through this when Siryn visited; is Kitty going to torture herself over every female that so much as acknowledges Peter? She needs to work up the courage to tell Peter how she feels, he says. Kitty promises to tell Peter that night. When the taxi pulls into a secretive military compound, however, the night takes a turn for the curious.
Inside the barbed-wire fence, Colossus exits the taxi and approaches two familiar people standing in front of a private airplane. He scolds the woman, Laynia Petrovna, for calling him directly at the X-Mansion; such actions might give his fellow X-Men the wrong impression. She tells Piotr that their situation has significantly worsened, and there was no time for discretion. Someone addresses Peter from inside the plane. “If you are so ashamed of honorably serving our motherland, Piotr Nikolievitch, perhaps you should have taken better precautions against being followed,” the voice says. Peter insists he wasn’t followed, but the speaker tells him to shut up and get in the plane; with his infrared vision he can easily see Wolverine and Kitty spying on them from a distance.
Uh-oh, Wolverine says, realizing they have been discovered. Kitty asks what he means by “uh-oh”; are Peter and the woman kissing?! Suddenly, a man outfitted in red armor launches out of the airplane and barrels toward Logan and Kitty. Like all enemies of the state, they too will fall before the might of the Crimson Dynamo! The two X-Men remove their civilian clothes, revealing their uniforms underneath. Wolverine tells Kitty to prepare for a fight, but she decides to check on Peter instead. Wolverine feels snubbed, but doesn’t dwell on it, as the Crimson Dynamo arrives and blasts him to the ground.
Peter realizes the Crimson Dynamo is fighting two of his friends, and shouts for him to leave them alone. Laynia shoots Peter in the back with a beam of Darkforce energy, a power she controls as the superhero Darkstar. “Forgive me, Piotr, but this is a matter of life and death for out country,” she says as she knocks him out. He has now been deputized into the Soviet Super-Soldiers, and they need his help immediately. As Kitty watches in shock as Darkstar and her accomplice take Peter aboard the plane. The engines whirr as it commences its flight back to Russia.
Meanwhile, in the woods, the Crimson Dynamo urges the fallen, smoldering Wolverine to surrender. As combatants, they are most mismatched, the Soviet Super-Soldier says. “I’d have ta agree, Red,” Wolverine says. He unleashes his claws and lunges at his opponent. The things that make him a formidable combatant are part of his body; the Crimson Dynamo, however, is just spam in a can.
Kitty phases through the floor of the airplane and sees the Soviet Super-Soldiers tying the unconscious Peter to a chair. “Hey! What are you guys doing with my, uh, boyfriend?” she shouts. Saving the motherland from destruction, the man called Vanguard answers as he hits Kitty with a high-powered beam of energy. She slumps to the floor. Darkstar approaches her unconscious body and comments on her remarkable phasing ability. Perhaps the girl is a mutant, just like them. Vanguard looks at his sister and asks his sister a question: what if in coming to America to retrieve one savior, they discovered a far better one?
Wolverine, meanwhile, successfully removes the helmet from the Crimson Dynamo’s armor. The battle proceeds in his favor until Vanguard’s voice speaks through the helmet’s intercom and orders the Crimson Dynamo to return to the plane. They are leaving, and taking Kitty with them. What, Wolverine asks? Over his dead body! “If you insist,” the Crimson Dynamo says. He takes advantage of his opponent’s inattentiveness and electrocutes him before flying back to the airplane.
Logan recovers from the shock and mounts his motorcycle. He accelerates down the runway as the plane begins its takeoff, quickly catching up with the landing gear. When he is but a moment from reaching it, the gear begins lifting off the ground. Wolverine lunges and grips it with his left hand. As it closes, however, he hits his head on the inside of the airplane and loses consciousness.
Several hours later, when the airplane finally arrives in Russia and lowers its landing gear, Wolverine wakes up. The first thing he sees is the ground thousands of feet below quickly rushing up at him. So now New Year’s Day 1975 is the second worst thing I’ve ever woken up to, he says as he plummets toward the earth. Having no choice other than bracing himself for impact, Wolverine sighs and flinches as he begins crashing through the forest canopy. After bouncing off a few boulders he comes to rest in the snow and lays there, motionless. Judging by the amount of unspeakable pain he is in, he estimates his body will need twenty-four hours to heal. Twenty-four hours until payback time.
Wolverine wakes up eighteen hours later and looks at his watch. Still got it, he says. He assesses his surroundings and quickly realizes he is in the midst of some sort of heavy evacuation. Shortly thereafter, he comes across an abandoned trapper’s cabin and swipes a fresh reindeer hide off its wall.
Wolverine wishes he hadn’t encouraged Kitty to follow Colossus and gotten her into this predicament. Because there is nothing else around for miles except for the leaky nuclear building, he decides Kitty must be there somewhere. He drives into the building’s entrance with his stolen truck and hazmat suit. After getting a closer look at the building, he notes it looks nothing like any nuclear power plant he has ever seen. But what is it, then?
Two men in hazmat suits stop Logan and ask for his identification. He slugs them both in the gut. He overhears a group of people conversing behind one of the building’s crumbled, concrete walls, and sneaks up for a closer look. The room he discovers is completely destroyed, and consists mainly of large piles of concrete and twisted pipes. In the center, however, rests a deep pool of a mysterious substance. Darkstar, Vanguard, the Crimson Dynamo, and another man in a hazmat suit stand at its edge in anticipation. They have been down there for hours, the man named Mikhail says. The Crimson Dynamo asks what he expects them to do about that; they have no way of knowing what is happening down there.
Suddenly, Kitty breaches the surface of the mysterious substance, holding her breath. She reaches out toward the Crimson Dynamo so he can pull the rest of her body out of the ground. Because of her intangibility, however, his grip passes through her body. Wolverine takes off running toward Kitty; he knows she can only stay intangible while she holds her breath, and if she solidifies while still submerged in solid matter, she will likely die. He is only a few meters away when Kitty gives in and gasps for air. She lets out a blood-curdling scream as the lower half of her body solidifies in the ground.
Wolverine arrives in time to catch her lifeless torso as it slumps over. She was his responsibility; he was supposed to keep her safe. He has failed. Logan shuts her eyelids and lays her to rest. A single, convulsive noise escapes from his throat before he breaks into hysterical…laughter. The Soviet Super-Soldiers look down at him in confusion. He continues laughing uncontrollably. “Four,” he says. “There’s only four of you.” Wolverine unsheathes his claws and grits his teeth. “I almost feel sorry for you,” he says as he lunges at the four Russian heroes.