Back in the center of New York City, Cyclops landed the Blackbird on the ground and stepped outside to rejoin the other X-Men members, who had just finished their search for Kruun.
“Well, did anyone have any luck on finding Kruun?” asked Cyclops.
“I had searched among the skies around the boundaries of the city, but Kruun is nowhere to be found,” said Storm.
“Sniff out the whole city and I can’t catch his scent anywhere,” growled Wolverine.
Beast continued looking at his tracking radar and commented, “That’s strange. The radar isn’t picking up any signals on Kruun’s whereabouts.It’s like he just disappeared from this planet without a trace.”
Cyclops looked at Beast in surprise and said, “So, Kruun just up and disappeared from this planet?Hmmm…I don’t like this.Kruun could be anywhere at this point and who knows what he is plotting to do next.”
But just as Cyclops was about to make plans to find a way to track down Kruun, the X-Men saw Colossus coming down the street towards them.
“Hey Petey, where ya been all this time?” asked Wolverine.
Colossus joined the other X-Men and said, “Well, I just came back from fighting Kruun until Gladiator showed up, defeated him and then took him to the Shi’ar Empire for a trial,” Colossus said causally.
“Gladiator?What was he doing on this planet?” asked Storm.
Colossus just smiled and said, “Let us say that he just came by to bring somebody very special to us back home.”
The other X-Men looked at Colossus in confusion, but then a small figure came out from behind Colossus and the X-Men gasped in disbelief.
Kitty Pryde then walked towards the other X-Men and said, “Hey guys.Surprised to see me?”
The X-Men took one look at Kitty and then they all shouted out in happiness, “KITTY!”They all ran up to her, hugging her and crying at the same time.
“WHOA, WHOA! Slow down before you suffocate me to death!” gasped Kitty, even though she was happy to see her friends again.
“Kitty! I can’t believe that it’s really you!” said Beast happily.
“Knew you couldn’t be put down, pumpkin!” said Wolverine.
“You know me Logan, I’m tougher than I look,” said Kitty.
“But how did you get out of the bullet?” asked Cyclops.
Kitty smiled and then said, “I’ll explain everything later!Right now, I’m just happy to see all my friends again!”
The X-Men all laughed and they headed back towards the Xavier Institute; happy that not only were they able to divert a disaster waiting to happen, but they also got one of their dearest friends back.
Later that day…
Kitty and Piotr were lying underneath a tree, looking at the sun setting over the horizon.The two lovers snuggled against each other, happy to be together again after such a traumatic experience that affected both of them deeply.
“This is nice.Just watching the sun going down and being able to touch you in ways that I thought was never possible,” said Kitty as she let her fingers play on Piotr’s chest.
Piotr smiled and said, “It does feel good, especially when I am holding you in my arms on this day and just enjoying the moment for what it is.”
Kitty smiled and then said, “It’s great that Ororo is now the headmistress of this school. I really don’t know how much more of Emma I could handle.But, I’m glad that Ororo is teaching students again.”
Piotr smiled, but then he noticed that Kitty’s smile had vanished from her face as she looked down.
“What is wrong, Katya?” asked Piotr with concern.
Kitty sat straight up and said sadly, “I’m just thinking about all that time I’ve spent inside that bullet.I know that I should be happy that I’m freed from that prison and I am, but I can’t help but keep on thinking about how horrible it was being stuck inside that thing.It’s like you think to yourself that being in space is pretty cool, but to me, it was frightening.So much emptiness out there and the worst part of all this was that I was all alone and nobody could hear my cries of help from miles away.I actually thought that I would end up being stuck soaring through space forever and that was a thought that scared me more than anything.”
Piotr also sat straight up, stared at Kitty with an intense look and said, “I know exactly how you feel, Katya.I was dead for many years and it felt like I was a thousand miles away from everyone; and when I was brought back to life, the world felt strange to me because I had been gone for so long that everything had changed.I thought that I would never be able to live the same life I had before and I was correct; life was different for me than before.But then, I started to get accustomed to all of the changes taking place, but it took some time for me to get used to everything. So in time, I am certain that the nightmares you have of being lost in space for the past two years will all go away soon enough.”
Kitty looked up at Piotr, smiled and said, “You always know the right things to say to me, Peter.”
“I have been practicing the art of communication skills for the past few years.It is starting to grow on me,” said Piotr smiling.
Kitty giggled and then said, “You know, it’s funny. We both died, well you died and I was just stuck in a bullet, and yet here we are.We’re together again like nothing really happened.”
“Maybe we were given the opportunity to live our lives a second time and not waste this chance to do things right,” said Piotr.
“Like doing more ‘personal’ activities with each other?” Kitty asked slyly.
“Do I detect a hint of playfulness in that tone?” Piotr asked grinning.
“Surprised, Mr. Rasputin?” giggled Kitty.
“Amused, Miss Pryde,” chuckled Piotr.
Piotr and Kitty then held each other and stayed that way until night fall came.
Later that night…
All of the X-Men had gathered around the TV screen in the living room to check out the news reports of today’s tiresome event, hoping that their attempts at saving New York City had not cast them into a negative light as usual.
“On tonight’s evening news, news reports have shown that the unidentified alien being that had caused chaos on the streets of New York City hours ago was finally apprehended by the X-Men, who were able to move the alien being away from the city centre.In response to this unknown catastrophe, S.H.I.E.L.D has organized forces from around the country to inspect the crash site.In other news, a crime organization called ULTIMATUM had attack Seattle six hours ago, which is now known as the Seattle Crisis.Unfortunately, the crisis has yet to be resolved as S.H.I.E.L.D is busy deploying their units towards the crash site in the middle of New York City. With this in mind, citizens are pondering about why S.H.I.E.L.D is putting all of their attention towards an area where the situation has been taken care of rather than focusing on a possible war on our hands with ULTIMATUM.”
The TV then shut off and Hank commented, “Well, there you have it folks!We finally made the news headlines without being ousted as the “mutant freaks” this time around!”
“I will admit that it is a huge improvement from when we last saved the city from that green monster.Although, I am still wondering about what is so important about that “Hilton” girl,” wondered Piotr.
“What about the situation with ULTIMATUM or whoever those guys are,” asked Kitty.
“Sounds like something that can cause more problems for this town. But I bet that those S.H.I.E.L.D goons ain’t even gonna let us near those ULTIMATUM jerks.Even though New York is already full of alien freaks to last us a lifetime,” said Logan.
“I am still concerned about Kruun, even though the Shi’ar Empire has gotten hold of him,” said Ororo.
"I’m with you on that Ororo," said Scott. "Kruun may be contained for now, but who knows what he’s planning."
"Well, he's their problem now," grunted Logan, as he opened a can of beer and then chugged it down.
Meanwhile, at the Shi’ar Empire…
Kruun sat glaring at the pulsing electric walls of his cage. His teeth grounded together as footsteps echoed down the corridor. Gladiator then suddenly came into view and asked snidely, “Comfortable?”
Kruun snarled at Gladiator and said threateningly, “Once I get ou…”
“You will never penetrate these walls, you blithering worm! One touch of the bars and you will be electrocuted, which will indeed be a painful death! This will teach you to treat a royal official so poorly!” scoffed Gladiator as he gave Kruun an intense stare.
Kruun then jumped up quickly and raged at Gladiator, “ONCE I GET OUT OF THIS PRISON CELL, I WILL DESTROY YOU AND EVERYONE ON BOARD THIS SHIP!”
“TRY AND I WILL RIP YOU IN HALF INSTEAD OF PULLING YOUR ARMS OFF!” Gladiator said just as angrily.
Gladiator and Kruun stared at each other, neither one backing down. For several tense moments however, the only sound that was heard was the hum of the walls.
“Pathetic,” sneered Gladiator and he turned and walked away from the cell. Kruun then gnashed his teeth and a small trickle of blood flowed from the corner of his mouth as he bitten his lips deeply in anger.Kruun looked at the blood dripping on the ground and then smiled an evil grin as he started plotting his escape.