Chicago, a dance studio:
Kitty Pryde is trying to recover her dancing skills. She hasn’t danced in forever but that is what returning to Chicago is about for her. Returning to who she was.
There is a knock on the window. Kitty turns to it as she tells herself no more guarding the galaxy. No more romantic entanglements with men named Peter. Only a life filled with a whole lot of normal. Or not, she realizes the knocks come from Storm, who tells her they need to talk.
A little later in a café, Kitty apologizes for not texting since she has got back to town. And by ‘town’ she means…? Storm asks. Earth, Kitty amends. Her life really got weird, didn’t it? Par for the course where the X-Men are concerned, Storm agrees. Kitty is quick to point out she isn’t an X-Man anymore. That’s what she came to talk to her about, Storm interrupts. She doesn’t know if Kitty kept up with current events. Kitty has and apologizes for not reaching out. Storm tells her she has nothing to apologize for. She herself on the other hand…
Storm explains how she led their people into a war against the Inhumans, who in the grand scheme of things are really no different from mutants. In the face of a mysterious threat, she chose violence over peace. She indulged their most basic instinct fear.
Kitty assures her she is being way too hard on herself. And from what she’s read online, Emma carries a lot of the blame (big gallopin’ shock, that). But what has this to do with Kitty rejoining the X-Men? Looking down, Storm reveals she wants Kitty to rejoin because she is leaving.
TheStraits of Johor,
The North Coast of Madripoor:
A ship is transporting Malaysan refugees, only women and children. Among them hidden is one Yuriko Oyama. One of the sailors grabs a woman, planning to rape her. Some of the other women try to help but are too weak. Yuriko tries to pretend to be normal but can’t stand it anymore. She extends her claws as Lady Deathstrike and kills him, then tries to calm the panicked women.
She decides to swim the last quarter mile to Madripoor but she barely steps on the beach before finding she is already expected, by a full-bodied woman in a white suit. She addresses Yuriko by her name and asks for a word. She introduces herself as Carla and explains the organization she works for has a position for her and it would be a dream job for her. For one, she’d be able to kill all the mutants she likes. That kind of job, Yuriko sighs. What if she says ‘no?’ Carla’s eyes begin to glow gold as she announces ‘no’ isn’t exactly an option.
Yuriko claws through Carla’s chest, killing her. Sure it is. She slightly regrets doing that, as she was trying to keep a low profile. She laughs, realizing that won’t work. She is Lady Deathstrike. A moment later, she is hit by a missile.
Carla, very much alive again, walks toward her. She tells someone over a comm. to relax. If she could be killed by a missile, she wouldn’t be much use to them. The other person reminds her this was supposed to be a stealth mission. As a black helicopter lands, Carla replies that they will be off the grid in fifty seconds. Deathstrike was profiled for a reason. She is a sociopathic loner. No one’s gonna miss her.
In Washington DC, the other person agrees. No one will miss any of them. Until it’s too late. He looks at images of Old Man Logan, Sabretooth, James Proudstar, Domino and Lady Deathstrike.
Storm has taken Kitty to X-Haven. Kitty is shocked. Storm explains they needed a safe place on Earth. But there was no such place. Kitty asks who is living here these days. Almost every active X-Man and a fair number of students, Storm replies. In the wake of their conflict with the Inhumans, she asked them to return to discuss their future. If they have a future, at all. That doesn’t sound the least bit ominous, Kitty jokes. They cannot continue this way, Storm replies. They’ve been so consumed with surviving today they have forgotten living for tomorrow. Which makes her leaving a pretty lousy idea, Kitty points out. The X-Men need to move forward, Storm replies seriously, and she’s the one who’s been holding them back. Kitty suggest they agree to disagree on that. Before she decides to stay, she wants to take a look around. See what’s changed.
Kitty goes exploring on her own and enters her former room. She sees it’s lived in. Seeing a canvas, she realizes that the current occupant is Colossus, who is standing behind her.
‘Hello Katya,’ he greets her and immediately she recalls all the highs and lows of their relationship. He stole her room, she jokes. His was damaged during the teleport to Limbo, he replies. Really? No, he admits. He thought she wasn’t coming back and, well… but she is back. Kitty admits she isn’t sure yet. He turns around and tells her he hopes she is going to stay.
Still puzzling over his behavior, she is even more puzzled when she hears a baby scream. She finds the toddler and recalls it’s Jubilee’s adopted son, Shogo. Kitty lifts him up and tries to calm him. Kitty watches Jubilee give him a bottle and wonders when she got so old.
She looks outside to see Gentle, Surge and Pixie playing ball. She decides to take a look at the Danger Room. She enters the observation booth to see the original five, time-displaced X-Men in a training session and a discussion.
Jean Grey asks the others if they are in agreement. Iceman and Beast are hesitant. Jean doesn’t pay attention to the exercise and has to be rescued by Cyclops’ optic blast, after which Angel catches her. Iceman unnecessarily asks Scott if he noticed that Warren swooped in and saved her all heroic-like. Does he do stuff like that with his pals in the Champions? Cyclops orders him to shut it.
Jean angrily announces that, if she is going to lead, she can’t have them tripping over each other to rescue her. When Angel begins to retort, she sharply points out that he doesn’t pull that when Scott is team leader.
In Angel’s defense, Hank deadpans, Scott is… Scott. Jean repeats times have changed. The team has changed. He gets it, Warren replies. But if she thinks he will stand by while she gets smashed by a Danger Room bruiser bot, forget it! And it’s not because she’s a girl. A woman, Jean corrects. It’s because she’s Jean, he smiles and flies off, leaving both Jean and Scott to wonder what the hell that was.
Dodging some small missiles, Hank announces she’s past due for leadership. Bu it surprises him that her first act is to— She knows she is asking a lot, Jean interrupts. This isn’t their time. Maybe they don’t even belong in this world.
That’s an understatement, Warren complains. They were pulled out of their timeline thanks to Hank. Hank corrects him that a version of him from this timeline recruited them from their time. What they do not know is whether this timeline and theirs is one and the same.
The training sequence is over. Hank summarizes they tried to return to their time. That didn’t work out as expected. Their timeline displacement… the many changes they’ve gone through… maybe they haven’t broken reality.
In the observation booth, Kitty calls down to them, asking if they are running a training sequence without anyone spotting them. Seemingly ignoring her, the original five continue their discussion. Jean points out that they were plucked from somewhere. That means that there is a world without X-Men somewhere. They are here in this world and she thinks there is a reason for that, but they are not needed here, in that mansion. Cyclops assures her it’s ok. They may think it’s a bad idea but they are going to follow her because, as Warren said, she’s Jean.
In the observation booth, Kitty notices the sequence timing is out of sync. This is just a—
Below, Iceman worries that the others will try to stop them. That’s why they are leaving this message, Jean replies. They’re not going to give them the…
Stage two commences, a voice announces. Safety protocols disabled. All hell breaks loose. Kitty phases into the Danger Room. That moment, the sequence stops and the computer announces it will play the message: Jean announces that this is just a pre-recorded session. Hank set it up to run in a loop until someone came. She apologizes, but they knew the others would try to talk them out of it. They are already gone. They believe in this school but it is not their school. Anyway, they’ve got something to take care of. It’s dangerous and stupid and might get them killed. But they’ve gotten pretty good at surviving the experience. They will be here if the X-Men need them but for now this is good-bye. Their Blackbird is waiting for them.
Where the hell did they get a Blackbird? Kitty wonders.
Later, Kitty seeks out Magik in another part of Limbo. For what’s it’s worth, she really liked Westchester, Kitty jokes. Illyana is happy to see her. She didn’t believe Storm would get her to leave Chicago. Is she back for good.? Kitty admits she wasn’t sure before. She didn’t see what she could contribute. Illyana figures she’s changed her mind then. Kitty isn’t sure. Things seem weird here… rudderless. Even the original X-Men are without direction. In fact, they are leaving. So is Ororo, Magik agrees. And that is just the beginning of the exodus if someone doesn’t figure something out. That’s what she wanted to talk to her about, Kitty announces. She needs her help…
Soon all the remaining X-Men and students are gathered in front of the mansion. Kitty muses aloud that Warren Worthington once thought thirteen X-Men were a lot. Feels kind of quaint, doesn’t it? She’s been back barely a day but it feels like everyone is asking the same question. What’s next? But that’s a good thing. Because the difficult choices they’ve had to make have given mutantkind a future. And now it’s their job to grow that future into a legacy that takes Xavier’s dream and builds on it and protects the people they care about. But they are also going to show the world what they are. Not mutants, not freaks, not Homo superior, but heroes!
But they can’t do that from Limbo. They can’t even do that from Westchester. They need to be out in the open. What does she have in mind? Colossus asks. Kitty smiles.
Moments later, the school stands in Central Park, New York.
This is remarkable! Storm breathes a moment later. Kitty thanks her, but Illyana did all the work. But Kitty led the X-Men there, Storm points out. It is as it should be. The student has become the teacher, the recruit the general.
She guesses she is kinda in charge now, Kitty muses. Storm agrees. Kitty announces her next act as leader of the X-Men is order Storm to stay. She is the heart and soul of the team and has been for most of the time with Kurt and Peter and a long-time leader. And when she wasn’t leading, she was there helping. Fighting. All her decisions, even the ones she’s been questioning – the war with the Inhumans, the decision to move the school to Limbo – were born out of protecting the X-Men. They can’t lose her. They’ve got too much work to do…