First story :
Having given up life as an X-Man, Kitty Pryde has enrolled at the Robert A. Heinlein School of Engineering and Astrophysics in Chicago, which marks an odd transition for her. Only five years earlier, life was completely different when she lived as a kid prodigy in the Chicago suburb, Deerfield, with her parents. But, eventually, the X-Men recruited her for their team of mutants. Admiring the X-Men, Kitty chose to embrace her genetic status and stayed with several incarnations of the team. Nevertheless, normal people never accepted them. At one point, not able to take it anymore, Kitty left.
She muses about the difference of life at College: having to study harder than in ages (although she actually enjoys it) and the challenges of ordinary life, like laundry or bills. In addition, she had to find a place of her own, as living in a dorm was too reminiscent of living at Xavier's School.
Nevertheless, her old life still haunts her in the form of nightmares about all her dead loved ones: among them her closest friends Doug Ramsey, Illyana Rasputin and Rachel Summers, Magneto (a man she admired during his time with the X-Men) Larry Bodine, a mutant kid she befriended, who committed suicide, and her two boyfriends, Pete Wisdom and Colossus. She keeps pictures of all those people as mementoes on a wall. It was Colossus' suicide (in the attempt to cure the world of the Legacy virus that had killed his sister Illyana) that drove Kitty away from the X-teams. She wanted to be done with death. Unfortunately, she finds out, she cannot escape being a mutant.
As she walks over the school's main quad, she witnesses an argument between several advocacy groups: one of them being extremely anti-mutant and arguing that the destruction of the mutant state Genosha was a good thing. As violence between the groups escalates and Campus security separates the students, Kitty wonders about people's reaction to the death of the 16 million mutants in Genosha. Publicly, everyone was just horrified enough to be politically correct, but privately? Do normal humans really hate them, she wonders. For example, the website of the anti-mutant group, Purity, trumpets the body count in Genosha.
But Kitty has other priorities. Last she heard, her father was in Genosha and she hopes to find some sign that somehow, against all odds, he survived. Genosha was pretty much the most technologically advanced nation on Earth and had security cameras everywhere. Kitty had hacked into their databases a long time ago and kept on downloading their files, as well as those of news networks' satellite feeds. Now, she spends her free time at home at her computer station sifting through her files of the horror that was the last day on Genosha, hoping to find her father.
Ignoring several phone calls by fellow students and her teacher, she eventually reacts to the second phone call of her landlord and boss, Dylan Maguire, who asks her to come to work at the bar. Having seen enough horror for one evening, she decides she owes him and goes to work, tending bar at the "Belles of Hell," a hangout mostly frequented by firemen and cops. Working at the saloon and listening to the people is a job Kitty finds she enjoys. She finds herself remembering Dylan mentioning that a saloon is a place where lost souls go to find their way and a good one helps them. She eventually figured out that that's part of the reason why Dylan keeps on helping her as well. He'd recognized that she'd be in some kind of war she couldn't talk about. As she leaves the bar to go home, Kitty's thoughts drift to her father and how similar he had been. He was a Vietnam vet, had medals and citations, but never talked to his family about it.
As she muses how much she misses and needs her father, she notices a fire in the thirtieth floor of a new apartment building. The firemen will be too late to save the people in the upper stories, she realizes, especially as the fire is so high up. Kitty decides she has to act and, using her powers, walks up on the air. She enters the burning building and finds a family with four kids, five stories above the fire. Seeing her phase through the wall, the eldest kid announces she's probably a mutie. She promises to get them out if they trust her. She grabs the mother and the two youngest kids, tells them to close her eyes and phases all of them, letting them fall straight through the fire to one of the unharmed apartments below. Being fast enough, the fire doesn't harm them. Kitty then races back up, again through the fire, which takes a lot longer and takes a lot out of her. She phases the rest of the family down, where they are already expected by firemen. While the children run to their mother, the husband worries about the coughing, exhausted Kitty and asks if she's all right As he thanks her, she answers that she only did what her dad taught her. He tells he that this night she must have made him proud.
The next morning, Kitty walks around the campus, listening to snippets of conversations. People are puzzling about the mystery mutant who saved the family, some commending her, others implying she probably started the fire. Fed up, Kitty asks the student who made the last comment - Jeff Holloway - if he really believes that crap. She's tired of hearing his racist garbage every week. He should be ashamed. For standing up for his people and defending their future? he shouts back. He's fighting for his beliefs and his blood is pure. Can she say the same? "Let's find out," Kitty replies and decks him.
Later, Kitty finds herself waiting outside the Dean of Students? office. Inside, Dylan Maguire is defending her actions. She was provoked. He'd agree, if she had only punched one guy, the dean, Thomas Maguire, agrees, but then she took on all of Holloway's friends as well. He understands her and Dylan's point of view. The Purity website may be dangerous but the point is the kids did nothing but express their opinions, which is their right under the first amendment and that's what a university is all about. He won't allow anyone, no matter how gifted or justified, to violate that. Finishing their conversation, he asks Dylan to leave and send Kitty in.
He seriously tells Kitty that he shares her feelings towards Purity but that does not mean he can excuse her actions. If she believes in violence as a means of resolving dispute, she doesn't belong at this school. She can stay, but only under probation. If she does anything similar in the future, she will be expelled and, in addition, she is to undergo mandatory psychological counselling. Maguire assures her that they are doing this to help her, if she lets them, if she trusts them.
Walking home, Kitty admits to herself that she doesn't know who to trust anymore or what her purpose in life is. Part of her rage that day becomes clear as she's home again. After she had saved the family the night before, she came home to find that the scanning program had found her father. He was on Genosha's Magda Square, taking care of some children seconds before the Sentinels struck. He knew what was coming, Kitty finds, as she lip-reads his final words towards the camera, apparently in the hope that his daughter would rifle through the files. He tells her he loves her and asks her to make him proud. She promises him that she will.
Second story :
Two exhausted young women, Ruth and Ell', apparently having been on the run for a long time, enter a bar with a rather weird clientele. They ask the bar keeper for directions; they want to go "underground." The barkeeper introduces himself as Poppa and kindly tells the relieved girls to breathe easy. They're among friends now. Ruth tells him they've been on the road for months, ever since their parents threw them out after they learned they were mutants. He's been there himself, Poppa replies. He asks them to accompany him to get them some food and orders one of his men, Julius, to make sure they won't be disturbed.
A man in a trench coat and a hat, which is drawn down hiding his face, is silently following them. Julius shoves him back as he intends to walk through the door labelled "private" and asks him where he thinks he is going. Anywhere he chooses, the mystery man replies to Julius, who suddenly feels his legs giving way under him as he gasps for air and finally passes out. Calmly, the stranger steps over his body and through the doorway.
Something extremely unpleasant waits on the other side: a mutant slave trade. The mutants are being kept in tubes, among them now the two girls, stripped down to their underwear. Both of them are displaying sadly useless mutations with Ell' displaying some pink spots on her upper arms and legs and Ruth having a little tail.
Poppa asks Louis, apparently an accountant of sorts, how they are doing. Louis replies that, with the last two, their quota is full, but the quality is rather poor, not one combat grade mutant among them. They'll make a loss on this shipment. Most are only fit for research and vivisection. Except for the newbies, Poppa leers. He's got a ready market for them - enough guys like their girls a little different. Ell' pleads with the men. Why are they dong this?
Because they are monsters, the mystery man who's caught up with them replies, before he orders the gangsters to release them. Poppa shouts at the others to attack him, but the stranger once more displays his Darth Vader trick, making the men gasp for air. He?s relocated the iron in their blood to their lungs, he explains cheerfully.
Poppa realizes who's standing before him - Magneto himself. Very astute, the stranger agrees and drops his disguise. He repeats his order to release the prisoners and demands to know the identity of their clients. Poppa tells him to screw himself and then displays his own mutation. He sheds his skin, revealing a monster, whom Magneto cannot manipulate the same way he did the men. What kind of creature is he, Magneto wonders. "The best Uncle Sam could buy," Poppa replies as he lunges at his foe's throat. Magneto commands all metal objects in the room towards him, slicing off one of Poppa's arms, which almost instantaneously regrows.
He's not just a redneck barfly, the creature boasts. He used to be in mutant special forces, and went drinking with John Wraith himself. Now, he captures mutants and sells them to the military or labs and he won't let Magneto mess up his living. He lunges once more and tosses the Master of Magnetism around. Lying on the ground, Magneto tries another venue: vibrating every metallic element in the creature's body he liquefies him from the molecular level upwards. He doubts Poppa will grow back from that.
The grateful prisoners emerge from their tubes. Magneto tells them not to thank him. He was looking for soldiers and hasn't the time to minister to the weak. They are free, he can do no more for them. The mutants are frightened. They don't know where to go. However, Magneto has an idea on how to use them.
(Later, at the Xavier Institute)
While anti-mutant protestors are marching outside the walls, within the building, Charles Xaver is welcoming some new students sent to him along with a note. It reads: "Charles: More dead weight to add to your bleeding heart. M."
Third story :
Saturday night: instead of reading the latest scientific work by Stephen Hawking and sending him the long-promised feedback, the Beast pays a house call to the Strom family. Their fifteen year-old son, Dan, developed huge bat-like wings months ago. Instead of enrolling at Xavier's, Dan wanted to stay at public school with his friends. To appear normal, he conceals his wings with a corset. However, sometimes he cinches it to tightly, as he has done now, and damages them. Amy and Ken Strom are ardent supporters of the mutant cause, trying to help out as well as they can with their meagre income. When they called, Hank, of course, came to help and perform the necessary surgery on their son's wings.
Two weeks later, they call to let Hank know that Dan has fully recovered. Nevertheless, Hank is suffering from some deep-lying dissatisfaction. Finally, formulating his reply to Hawking on another Saturday night, he is interrupted by Cerebra. The mutant detection system has found a mutant lifeform in the vicinity, whose vital signs are deteriorating badly.
Hank drives to the barn, where the mutant is localized, and searches through it, eventually finding a mutant, looking like a giant human cat, crouching in a corner. Hank introduces himself but the creature lunges at him, tossing them both downstairs. Smelling that she is very sick, Hank shields her from the impact but, when she claws for his eyes, he tosses her through the barn's wall, hearing eleven of her bones break. That?s her least problem, though, he diagnoses. She will die in approximately 72 minutes unless he can stop her internal bleeding in time and, on those twisting back roads, it will take forever to drive her to Xavier's. He cradles the unconscious mutant in his arms and starts running and jumping, covering the distance on foot.
Twenty minutes later, they're in the med-lab and Hank performs the necessary surgery. While he scans her, he wonders if nature has now finally produced another mutant like himself. After all, there are so many telepaths and telekinetics, why not more with similar mutations to his? Like himself his patient possesses a complex combination of human and feline physiology. There are only two differences. She is dying for reasons yet to be determined and - obviously - she is a female, an important point to Hank.
During the next few days, Hank manages to stabilize her deterioration and boost her own recovery systems somewhat with a steroid. Nevertheless, she seems to be inexplicably plain worn out from living and there's barely a flicker of higher brain activity. Hank wonders what's going on in her mind. Nevertheless, he looks after her, talks to her and strokes her hair. One day, after three weeks, she wakes up, lunges for his throat, before falling unconscious again.
Frustrated, Hank asks Jean Grey for help to determine what psychic trauma his patient has been through. While Jean scans her, he wonders what happened to her to make her like this: a Sentinel attack? Experimentation on her by the U-Men? A lynch mob?
Having finished her scan, Jean doesn't quite know how to tell her friend the truth. She hesitates before telling him, she's not reading anything within her mind. The last time she saw anything like this was when she tried to scan her tabby cat as a teenager. His patient is not a mutant with feline features, she's a mutated cat, Hank realizes.
He used to have a friend as a kid who had a cat named Wendy. One day, when she was old, she disappeared and hid herself in a dark corner of the garage. Cats do things like this, when they know it is time to die, Hank realizes. They hide in dark corners where they cry and howl and wait for death. Alone and in peace. He frees his patient from her restraints and watches her run away, telling himself she is just a cat, not a patient. And he is a grown man, who shouldn't let his issues blind himself to the truth or another's suffering. The next day, he has some free time again. He tells himself he'll make the most of it, as he takes a shovel,and leaves to go find the cat and give her a proper burial.