Kitty Pryde had been coming to “Ye Old Malt Shoppe” for her entire life. Her parents went there on their first date. It is where she had her fifth, eighth and tenth birthday parties. It is where she made the big mistake of asking Tommy Schlamie to the movies in front of all his friends. It is where Anna Teitlebaum took her a week before her bat mitzvah, so she could have some private time before the big event. Kitty knows that now those things don’t sound exciting at all. However, it was her life. She should have known something was wrong when she looked across the shop and saw Peter Rasputin sitting at the counter smiling at her.
At that point in time, Kitty never dreamt that a man such as Peter could exist outside of a movie, especially in Deerfield, Illinois, the “U.S. capital of nowhere.” She was just a geek, who was barely a teenager, trying to pay attention to the beautiful woman sitting at her table, when all Kitty could really think about was the “god” at the counter. It was the first showing of a schoolgirl crush. It was also the last normal instant of her life.
They were called Mandroids, which basically meant that they were guys in armor sent to apprehend all mutants. Before this point, she had suspicions and knew something was wrong with her body. She had headaches. She would often close her eyes in one room and open them in another. Kitty’s answer at the time was simple: puberty. She cannot recall ever hearing about “Homo Superior” before that day. It was quite a way to find out that she was a mutant. One moment. she is drinking an ice cream soda, the next minute Ororo is summoning winds and the short one named Logan is popping metal claws from his hands. She should have been terrified. However, she wasn’t. It was all because of him. She had barely been a mutant for ten seconds and already she literally had her knight in shining armor.
After meeting Storm, Wolverine and Colossus, Kitty still had no clue of what was to come. There would be the Sentinels, the Brotherhood of Mutants, the Hellfire Club, Belasco, the Brood and Sabretooth. However, in the shop, standing under Peter’s shadow, she knew she would always be safe. Peter would always be there to protect her. Always.
Today, sitting on a plane to Moscow, Kitty realizes that “always” and “forever” are two different words. She has had a lot of time to think about that on the twelve-hour flight from New York City to Moscow. The question that always resurfaced was “Why?” The cure that the Beast came up with was not ready to be used to stop the Legacy Virus, at least not yet. It did indeed work. Peter’s death insured that even the most severe case of the Legacy Virus would go into remission. The countless sick and dying in the island nation of Genosha were healthy the next day. Shouldn’t that count as a win? “Excuse me, young woman,” says the old man next to her. “Are you okay? You look as if you have lost your best friend.”
That is exactly how she looked: depressed, defeated and devastated. You know what? It felt great for Kitty. Driving through the night and stopping at a restaurant outside Yaroslav? It all felt normal. If one thinks about it, if she had taken the Blackbird, she would have been to Moscow and back before her letter even reached the mailbox. She would have spent the night at the mansion. She probably would be heating up a Shi’ar delicacy from the X-Men’s last voyage into space. However, what she does now feels normal.
The heartbreak over losing a best friend felt normal too. It was painful, yet numbingly familiar. She had lost numerous friends over the years including Doug Ramsey and Illyana Rasputin. Now, Peter is gone too. All were martyrs. All were heroes. She does not know what she wouldn’t give to have died in their place. “That’s the easy part about being the hero: you’re never the one left behind to mourn.”
Kitty reaches a field and stops her car and gets out. Does anyone know how hard it is to love and hate someone so much as the same time? Yes, she loves Peter, more than she will ever love another. However, standing out over the Ust Ordynski Collective, where Peter was raised, Kitty feels a part of her that raged at him. Why did he do it? Of course, she knows why. He did it for penance. He saved others, because he could not save his sister. It did not matter that it was not possible to save Illyana. Peter never saw the world as impossible or possible.
Kitty remembers the night she died. Peter had left the hangar without saying a word. The others all thought they were doing him a favor by giving him space. However, that was the last thing he needed. If there was an X-Man voted “Most Likely to Hug,” it was Peter. Kitty found him out by the pool, of all places.
“You okay?” she asked, thinking the whole time of what a stupid question it was. She also knew that, sometimes in life, stupid questions will do. “I remember…” said Peter as his words were choked back by his grief. He paused for a moment and then continued. He remembered the first time Illyana saw the swimming pool. She was amazed and awestruck, as he was the first time he battled a Sentinel or one of the Brood. He had believed that by bringing her to live with the X-Men, he was doing something good. He took pride in knowing he was introducing her to an entirely new world.
However, that was not true at all. All he did was bring her to America to kill her. Kitty wanted to tell him that he was wrong. She wanted to tell him that, no matter what she lost, he should always think of what Illyana gained along the way. She had seen the stars. She had witnessed first-hand the best and worst that humanity had to offer. She helped save the world more than once. Kitty wanted to say all those things to make him feel better. However, she couldn’t. Inside, she did not believe that the good outweighed the bad. Neither did Peter. So she said nothing. That is how they spent the night – two best friends, holding each other.
Now, looking over the Ust Ordynski Collective, she holds him in her arms once again. This time, it is his ashes in an urn. She pulls the urn out of her bag and knows that, this time, she does not have to comfort him. She kisses the cover to the urn and knows that she does not have to protect him. She opens the urn and closes her eyes and knows that she doesn’t have to do anything but say goodbye. Kitty cries and raises the urn to the air, as the wind carries the ashes of Peter out. “Welcome home, Peter Nikolaevitch Rasputin.”
Kitty hopes that all of this helps others understand why she cannot do this anymore. The whole “mutant sworn to protect a world that fears and hates me” thing is not working for her. In her letter, Kitty writes to the Professor that she is sorry. She tried. Unfortunately, too many people she loved have died in the undeclared war between species that has more similarities than differences. She wants to find a new way. Yes, she does have amazing mutant abilities, but she is also brilliant. Maybe this is how she is going to do her part.
As Kitty’s friends come to her dorm to go out for pizza, she writes that maybe she will discover some secret gene or invent something. It could be something that will let humans and mutants get along. She doesn’t know. The only thing she does know is that she wants to have a life. She wants to make a difference in her own way. He does great work, but the Professor is not the only one with a dream. The world is a small place and she is sure that she and the X-Men will meet again someday. She is counting on it.
Until then, she only asks that the Professor respect her decision. She needs him to respect her life. She needs him to respect her dream. She doesn’t want him to try and find her. She needs this one chance. She needs the Professor to trust her and to trust her to trust herself. She won’t let him down. How can she when she has had the best teacher in the world?
At the mansion, Xavier finishes reading Kitty’s letter in the Cerebro room. He accesses Cerebro and tells it to pull up every file relating to Katherine Pryde, also cross referencing Ariel, Sprite and Shadowcat. Cerebro runs and pulls up all the files. Xavier then tells Cerebro to delete all the files. Cerebro does so. “Godspeed, Katherine,” says Xavier, “And thank you.”
In Brooklyn, New York, stands the abandoned Church of St. Michael’s. It is the home to the mutants known as the Neo, who believe that they are the ultimate expression of human evolution. Sitting in a chamber are Salvo, Antaeus, Tartarus, Domina and Rax. Domina is the clan’s chieftain, while Rax is her would-be usurper.
Antaeus agrees with Rax and tells Domina that it is vile that they cower in the church. They’re the Neo and should be ruling the planet. He stops and asks Domina if she is listening to him. Stoically, Domina tells him that she is not. Rax asks Domina what is wrong and if she hears someone.
Perhaps, says Domina, but is seems more like “something” rather than “someone.” She feels as if they are about to be visited by some untamed force of nature. She asks the others if they can feel it. It feels like a hurricane is going to knock, or an earthquake is about to wipe its feet on their doormat. Arrogantly, Rax tells her that whatever comes their way cannot win, for they are Neo and are prepared.
Suddenly, the roof of the building is ripped off to the surprise of all. The five Neo present gather and look into the sky at their attacker. Antaeus asks Domina if that is who he thinks it is. Domina tells him that it is. Finally, a worthy adversary has come. Scared, Salvo tells her that it is one way of looking at it. Rax tells them that, as soon as they kill him, the rest of the spikes will have to accept them as their masters.
His name is Magneto. As a child, he witnessed his parents die in the Nazi concentration camps. He swore “never again.” In his adolescence he discovered that he had the ability to control the entire electromagnetic spectrum, which made him the powerful and most fearsome mutant on the face of the Earth. Suddenly, he was put in a position where he could make good of his vow. Determined to protect mutants from humans by any means necessary, Magneto had found himself in conflict with the X-Men and Charles Xavier. He has tolerated the X-Men for years, but now he shall not longer.
Magneto tells the Neo to kneel and that he is only going to ask once. Domina tells Magneto that he has them confused with the X-Men. He is no more than a fossil to them. He is dead to them and, soon, he will be just dead. She then orders Rax and Salvo to kill him. Rax pulls out a knife and Salvo morphs his hands into machine guns and both men leap at Magneto. Rax tells him that his death will be an example for mutants and humans alike. Salvo also chimes in and says that the Neo are the next stage in evolution and, soon, Magneto will be a memory of a time gone by.
Magneto barely furrows his brow and uses a fraction of his power to tear apart his assailants to pieces. “By the eternal!” is all Domina is able to say to herself. She falls to her knees and Magneto tells her that her clan’s existence surprised him. They hid themselves well until now. For years, though, he has watched the bickering alliances that have formed between various mutant factions. He will tolerate it no longer. From his throne in Genosha he has an army of genetic soldiers recently saved from the ravages of the Legacy Virus. It is time to rule a world united against humanity. Magneto orders Domina to stand by his side or die. Terrified, Domina asks about Xavier. “I will deal with him,” says Magneto, “At long last, I will deal with him.”