(The Tomsk region of Siberia)
In a forgotten community, struggling to get by since the communist era state subsidies were stopped, two locals watch a limousine approaching. A tall man wearing a black robe steps out and, before he can ask where the healer lives, the locals point him in the right direction. They wonder about the man’s mask. Maybe he has burns, or some disgusting skin disease?
The man is met by the healer’s stepmother at the door and, after inviting him inside, she asks her husband to serve the man some vodka. He replies that he needs no refreshment; he just wishes to see Yuri. He enters Yuri’s bedroom, where Yuri’s listening to music. He removes his earphones to ask the stranger if he wishes to be healed. The man removes his glove, and replies no. He is there to heal Yuri.
Outside the door, Yuri’s stepmother ushers her husband towards the room to ask the man about the fee but, as they get to the slightly open door, a flash of energy from inside brings them to a halt. As the stranger departs, the couple is left with the horrific sight of Yuri, burned beyond recognition.
(St. Petersburg, Russia)
At the offices of the Petersburg Gazeta, reporter Larisa Mishchenko is speaking with her editor about a story she’s working on. Her editor feels it’s too risky, but Larissa is persuasive. Despite having the FSB watching her, she wants to meet a woman that evening who has evidence that her son was beaten to death by his own commanding officer in a drunken rage. Larisa feels her editor is always ranting and raving about corruption in the Russian army. Well, here’s the proof.
She wonders if her editor has the guts to publish the piece. He stands and motions to the photographs of three men on his wall. They are three former editors who had the guts to publish. Now, they’re all dead. Larisa folds her arms and replies that he’d look good up there. He finally gives in and tells her that, if she gets the story, he’ll publish it. “Just be careful.”
(later, at Larisa’s apartment)
Larisa is looking out the window at an agent of the FSB. Her friend, Tanya, is with her and dressed just like Larissa. She puts a black wig on to make her transformation complete. Tanya is going to get the guy off Larisa’s trail by catching the metro to Nevisky Prospekt. There’s a movie she wants to see at the Aurora. With her costume in place, she wishes Larisa good luck with the story and heads off, pursued at a distance by the FSB agent.
As they stroll along the sidewalk, the limousine pulls up and the tall, robed stranger emerges between Tanya and the agent. The agent doesn’t even manage to remove his weapon from its holster before he is fried. The stranger then catches up with Tanya. “Larisa Mishchenko,” he says, causing Tanya to turn around. She takes one look at his mask before he fries her, just the same as he did Yuri and the agent.
(meanwhile, in Westchester)
Piotr Rasputin is dreaming. He is lost and looking for a way out of a dark forest. Every time he sleeps, he has the same dream. He transforms into Colossus and sees himself pummeling the walls of the room he was locked inside for all those months. In reality, he pounds on the exterior wall of the Xavier Institute, before crashing through it and into the gardens.
Kitty Pryde is first on the scene, followed quickly by Cyclops, Emma Frost and Wolverine. She asks what happened. Colossus reverts to his human form and tells her he thought he was back there. She hugs him and tells him it’s all right. He was only dreaming. Some dream, remarks Logan, looking at the hole in the wall.
Scott asks Emma if she has any ideas. Emma isn’t sure. Something strange, she thinks. For a moment, she had the impression of something or someone trapped. Scott feels it’s not surprising, considering all the time Piotr was kept prisoner. Emma doesn’t think that’s it. It’s something else. Piotr can feel Emma prying into his thoughts and Kitty orders her out of his head. “Just trying to help,” insists Emma. “Don’t,” warns Kitty.
Piotr is in his room, working on a painting. His frustrations and anger are directed toward the piece. Kitty knocks at his door but he doesn’t respond. She warns him that she’s coming through, and then slowly phases herself into his room. By the time she’s inside, he is in his armored form and has covered the painting with a large sheet. Kitty apologizes, and Piotr tells her he just wanted to be alone. Kitty asks if that’s the reason for the armor. Does he want her to leave? He turns to her and holds his hand out, asking her not to go. He then changes back into his flesh form and asks if that’s better. Kitty says she much prefers flesh and blood to metal.
Piotr tries to explain that something happened to him while he was locked away. He points at his head and says it feels like there’s something inside trying to break out. It sounds crazy, but it feels like this is not his body. Kitty asks if that’s why he’s painting himself. She saw it briefly in the mirror. She asks to see it, but Piotr isn’t ready to reveal it just yet.
Emma knocks at the door and is let in by Piotr. She hopes she’s not disturbing anything. She wanders over to the painting and is about to remove the cover when Piotr grabs her arm. “Not a nude?” Emma enquires. Piotr says no, and Emma glances at Kitty and says he’s right - some people are more interesting with their clothes on. She informs Piotr that they’ve received an urgent communication for him from someone called Larisa Mishchenko in St. Petersburg. It sounds serious. Piotr knows Larisa. It’s his cousin.
Piotr arrives at St. Petersburg airport alone, and is met by a guy with a Mohawk named Kirill. He explains that Larisa sent him. As he drives Piotr through the city streets, he tells Piotr he saw him fighting a monster in New York on TV. “Cool moves.”
They soon reach their destination, which is a large building surrounded by trees. “Larisa lives here?” asks Piotr, surprised. Kirill explains that she’s just living there while she’s hiding from the police. She didn’t tell you? he asks. He takes Piotr inside and they are greeted by Larisa, who hugs him. Piotr hasn’t seen her since she was thirteen and wanted to write the great modern novel. She reminds him he wanted to be a painter. Piotr says he got distracted, and Larisa smiles, adding that her novel is sitting in a suitcase under her bed.
Kirill adds that Larisa is writing, and more important things than a novel. Piotr asks if this is what got her into trouble; her journalism. Larisa turns away and replies that it’s worse than that. Her good friend Tanya was killed last week, and was pretending to be her when it happened. At first she thought it was the secret service, but the FSB agent who was following her was also killed. She clicks on a laptop computer and shows Piotr some photographs that she received from a police contact.
Images appear on the screen of badly burned bodies. They look more like paranormal deaths than unusual ones. They reminded Larisa of the reports of the healer’s death near Tomsk. She asked her contact in the police force to look for similar deaths, and he came up with more than two dozen over the past three months. She explains that some were put down to electrical storms, faulty electrical appliances and even spontaneous combustion.
Piotr asks if there is anything to link the victims. Larisa informs him that they don’t have a large family. Most of their relatives have died over the years; Illyana, Piotr’s parents and her own. Then there was Uncle Vladimir. “Mad Uncle Vlad,” replies Piotr. Larissa says he had three children. She brings up three more bodies on the computer. They are Konstantin, Klara and Dimitriy; all burnt in similar ways to the healer.
Piotr clearly picks up that their family is being targeted, and he asks why he hasn’t already heard this. Larisa replies that she thought he was dead. Piotr asks if there is any link with the other victims, and Larisa tells him that the report on the healer, Yuri, mentioned rumors about his ancestry. She then found out that if one goes far enough back, all the victims are linked to one person. When her parents died, she was left a trunk containing the possessions of their great-grandmother Elena. Letters, photographs, some jewelry.
She pulls out a black and white photo, featuring two sour-faced individuals. Elena is on the right with long white/grey hair, and next to her is her tall twin brother, Ivan. Larissa explains that Elena was born in Siberia, but went to St. Petersburg with Ivan. She returned without Ivan, but carrying an illegitimate child; their grandfather. She shows Piotr a photo of Elena holding a small child in her arms. Elena gave the child his father’s name.
Piotr isn’t too keen on where this is going. Larisa holds up copies of documents, which turned up in an auction at Sotheby’s after going missing for over seventy years. In them, it explains that in 1917, after the February revolution, the provisional government formed an extraordinary commission to investigate the affairs of the deposed Tsarist regime. Section thirteen of that commission concentrated on one man who was considered to be an enemy of the state. She holds out the photograph and Piotr is shocked at who is shown on it.
Larisa concludes by informing him that the man had many lovers, and they included their great-grandmother, Elena. All of these victims were descended from the same man, their great-grandfather; the holy devil, the dark one, the doom of old Russia - Grigory Efimovich Rasputin.
(the Xavier Institute)
Kitty Pryde sneaks back into Piotr’s room and uncovers the painting. She is horrified to see a self-portrait of Piotr, only showing him as a disfigured hunchback, with long claws and covered in blood.