Born into a world that hates and fears them, the X-men fight hard for peace and understanding. Professor Charles Xavier, the founder of the X-men, has been working on expanding the ranks of his team lately. So far, his efforts of brought in the likes of Ororo Munroe, Marie Anna Darkholme, and the mysterious Logan, better known as Wolverine. But along with these pursuits have come new conflicts.
With Marie, now going by her nickname Rogue, her entry into the X-men caused clashes with her estranged foster mother, Mystique. Being a major figure in Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants, Mystique tried to lure her away from the X-men by force. But Rogue and her new friends fought back and she decided to stay with Xavier, but not without a great deal of distress.
With Logan, his entry into the X-men was a messy and complicated affair. He was the target of the powerful and shady organization known as Weapon X. While his history with them is cloudy in mystery, they have shown a strong desire to use him again for their own means. Recently on an off night, Weapon X appeared to rear itself once again during a date between Logan and his girlfriend, Jean Grey. But despite a heated search, they slipped away again leaving Logan with more questions than answers.
The conflict surrounding Weapon X is far from over. But for now, the X-men try to go on with their semi-normal lives.
Xavier Institute – Gym
It was late in the afternoon on a cloudy day in Westchester and Jean, Rogue, and Ororo were finishing up an afternoon workout in the institute gym. Like any other school, physical fitness was part of the regiment for both students and staff. In addition to the Danger Room, the institute had a traditional gym with treadmills, free weights, and boxing gear. It had all the equipment a man or woman needed for a good workout. Xavier always emphasized the importance of staying in shape and it wasn’t just for health reasons. Because of the ever changing conflicts they faced, they needed to be in top form so they could be strong enough to act at a moments notice.
Jean was almost done with a round of light weight training and Rogue was carrying on with her favorite workout routine, practicing combat moves on a heavy punching bag. Ororo was still jogging on a treadmill, breathing hard and pacing herself as she began to cool down. As Jean wiped some of the sweat off her face with a towel, she began conversing with Rogue. Since her arrival, they hadn’t had much time to connect. It didn’t help that there was some lingering tension between them, but that was another story.
“You might want to ease up a bit, Rogue,” commented Jean, “Exercising the body is good, but exercising aggression isn’t so healthy.”
“You stick to your routine and Ah’ll stick to mine,” said Rogue, panting and grunting in between blows to the bag, “This is how mah mama taught me to toughen up and it’s served meh well.”
“I thought you wanted to distance yourself from every part of Mystique’s influence,” Jean pointed out.
“Just because Ah hate her guts doesn’t Ah wanna forget what she taught meh. Besides, mah routine works. If ya don’t believe meh, check mah Danger Room scores.”
“Oh I believe you. It’s just a little…unorthodox,” said Jean as she took a drink of bottled water.
“Ah ain’t called Rogue for nothin’. Just because Ah do things in a way you may not approve doesn’t make them any less effective.”
“I didn’t say I disapproved,” said Jean defensively.
“You didn’t have to. You implied it.”
Jean scorned her remarks. She was trying to be friendly, but Rogue remained defensive and hostel. Maybe it was the aggression from beating on a punching bag talking, but she got the feeling there was more than just resentment behind her words.
“But don’t worry, Jean. Ah ain’t gonna make something of it. Ah’m in too good a mood!” said Rogue, grinning as she delivered a hard roundhouse kick to the bag.
“If this is you in a good mood I don’t even want to think about how you are when you’re irritable,” quipped Jean.
“Scoff all ya want, but it’s true! Ah’ve been feelin’ pretty darn good lately! And that’s saying something after what happened with mah mama recently. But dang it if Scott Summers can’t work miracles!”
Jean shifted somewhat, sensing a distinct affection in her thoughts as she mentioned the name of her best friend. She tried to avoid this issue, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.
“I see,” she said distantly, “So he’s still helping you?”
“He’s been doin’ more than that!” grinned Rogue as she delivered one final punishing blow to the bag, “He’s the first guy Ah’ve met in a long time that’s really reached out to meh. Ah feel like we really understand each other. We both got issues with our power and our families. We’re both fighters who ain’t afraid to step up when we have to. Pound for pound, he’s world better than any of the lame excuse for men Ah knew back home!”
“Yeah, Scott knows how to set himself apart,” sighed Jean, “He always has.”
“Damn straight! He’s tough when he has to be tough and he’s a sweetheart when he has to be nice. He’s really supported meh during this crazy time in mah life. It also helps that he’s downright handsome!”
There was that flirtatious tone again. Rogue made no secret of it this time. She really did like this man and was genuinely attracted to him. That put Jean in an awkward position.
“If only Ah could still touch,” said Rogue distantly, “Then Ah would really show Scott how grateful Ah am!”
Jean’s expression flushed with embarrassment.
“Whoa there! Easy with the innuendo Rogue,” she said.
“Sorry, sugah! Ah just can’t help myself sometimes,” laughed Rogue.
“Well at least try! I get it. You like Scott. He’s an attractive guy. Most women will concede he’s a looker. He works out even more than we do and it shows. But for heavens sake, take it easy! He’s my best friend, you know?”
Rogue rolled her eyes as Jean gave her another apprehensive look.
“Yeah, Ah know. You two have made that abundantly clear since Ah got here.”
“Yet you still don’t seem to respect that,” said Jean strongly.
“Now you’re just being a paranoid,” quipped Rogue, “Seriously Jean, what in the hell is your problem? It ain’t like Ah’m out to hurt the guy or something!”
“That’s not what concerns me.”
“Oh really? Then what is it that has you giving meh that look that says stay the hell away from him?” said Rogue, folding her arms in a defensive stance, “You think Ah ain’t good enough for Scott or something?”
“What? Of course not!” said Jean assuredly, “It’s just that you barely know the guy! And you said it yourself. It’s been rough for you since the Mystique mess. I get he’s helped you and all, but aren’t you rushing this a bit with talk of thanking him?”
“You’re one to talk. How long did it take for you to hook up with Logan?”
“That’s different. There were…circumstances,” said Jean, shifting awkwardly at her remark.
“Right…” said Rogue skeptically.
“There were! It’s a completely different situation…for the most part.”
Rogue grabbed a bottle of water and scoffed.
“Now you’re just playing dumb. And no offense, but you’re doin’ a lousy job of it.”
Jean suppressed a groan. This was not going as well as she hoped. Rogue was not an easy person to talk to, especially when Scott was involved. As much as she hated to admit it, she was right in a ways. She was just making excuses at this point and they weren’t very good ones either. The young psychic remained silent as she watched Rogue gather her things. As she wiped the sweat off her face with a towel, that self-assured look never leaving her face. She knew she was making her uncomfortable with this conversation and that didn’t bother her in the slightest.
“Seriously Jean, stop makin’ such a big issue of this,” said Rogue as she started to walked towards the exit.
“I’m sorry, Rogue. Really, I don’t mean to be pushy about this, but Scott is my friend. I know I’ve said that many times already, but it bears repeating if you’re going to be like this.”
“So Ah like your best friend. Big deal! He’s still your friend. Ah don’t wanna take that away from you. Besides, you got yourself a boyfriend! How you manage a guy like Wolverine Ah’ll never understand, but stop bustin’ mah chops for likin’ a guy who may actually like meh back! Ah got enough issues.”
“Rogue…” groaned Jean as she tried to catch up with her.
“Ah’m done with this, sugah. Trust meh, you don’t wanna get into an argument just after Ah’ve finished workin’ out. We don’t need weight training turnin’ into combat training.”
Jean looked to push the issue, but the southern mutant didn’t stick around. Rogue had enough of this conversation and was off to hit the showers. Jean had no right to be this hostile. She was hiding the fact that she didn’t like her and with Scott in the mix, it wasn’t getting any easier. But Rogue could care less whether Jean liked her or not. She was genuinely intrigued by Scott Summers and nobody, best friend or otherwise, was going to dissuade her.
Rogue left many issues unresolved and all Jean could do let out an exasperated sigh. But Rogue was right about one thing. She shouldn’t be making this into a big issue. How she felt about Scott was personal. But it was still an issue to her. Rogue didn’t understand because she didn’t understand much outside her own world. It was part of what made her the rebellious person she was. It didn’t sound like the kind of personality that would go well with Scott. But knew Scott well and could sense when there was genuine attraction. Yet there was something about the idea of Scott and Rogue still bothered her. Maybe it was just because she still didn’t trust her. She was the daughter of Mystique after all. Whatever the reason, it seemed bound to persist.
While Jean sulked in her distant state, Ororo finished her routine on the treadmill. Upon seeing her student’s distraught state she grabbed her towel and bottle of water and walked up to her.
“She’s quite a spirited one, isn’t she?” she commented.
“That’s putting it lightly,” groaned Jean, “Why do I get the feeling we’re going to be at each others’ throats from now on?”
“Conflict is often a given when you mix friendships and romances,” said Ororo.
“So you think I overreacted?”
“I think you both did your fair share. It’s only natural to feel a touch of resentment when you see someone you don’t know getting close to someone you do know.”
“Tell me about it,” muttered Jean, “Now I understand how Scott felt when Logan and I first started out. There’s poetic justice for you.”
“Try not to think of it that way,” said Ororo with a comforting gesture, “You have your relationship with Logan. Rogue has her relationship with Scott. You and Scott you’re your friendship with each other. These are personal matters. Whatever the situation, personal matters are always complicated.”
“That’s all well and good, Miss Munroe. But that’s a perspective of someone in a more stable relationship. I’ve seen you and Hank together. I’m sure you have your quirks, but it looks a lot simpler.”
Ororo paused for a moment as Jean struck a chord. Her relationship with Hank was many things, but it certainly wasn’t simple. It was easy to assume from an outside perspective. But like all relationships there were difficulties. She and Hank had her share and some were more complicated than others, but that was a different matter entirely.
“It applies to everybody, Jean,” said the African woman with a reassuring gesture, “We all have our issues. Sometimes we just have to let them pan out as they should.”
“But what if what pans out isn’t right? What do we do then?” asked Jean warily.
“I never said it would be right. We may not always like what we see, but that’s why we have to persist. That’s what friend do for each other.”
Jean let out another sigh, easing up a bit under Ororo’s comforting presence. She always had a way of putting things into perspective. Being psychic, she could usually sense where things were going before others could. And she had a pretty good idea of where Rogue was going with Scott. But whatever may come of it, she didn’t have a right to stop it. She still worried though. Scott was her best friend and if he was going to be deeply involved with Rogue it was sure to cause even more complications.
“Logan?! Logan, come on! I need some backup!”
The desperate and impatient words of Warren Worthington III seem to fall on deaf ears over the commotion of the Danger Room. Below him a level five training program was raging. The setting was a tropical jungle with a dense canopy of trees shrouding the area and a vast assortment of enemies that included giant snakes, giant bugs, oversized ape men, sabretooth tigers, and even a few full grown dinosaurs. It was one of the more over-the-top programs created by Beast. They nicknamed this run the Savage Land Challenge and for a very special set of reasons. It was supposed to prepare them for unique and unorthodox situations. But most of the time it just served as a means of wounding egos.
Warren wasn’t faring as well as he hoped. He was flying over the canopy, fighting off swarms of flying pterodactyls. He didn’t have much of a strategy in doing so other than punching them in the face and trying to out fly them, occasionally causing them to crash. That was hard enough, but then these horned creatures emerged from below and began firing spikes up at him that shot out from their backs. The shower of spikes made it hard to evade and fight at the same time and more pterodactyls bearing down on him he wasn’t going to last much longer unless he got help.
“Logan!” he shouted again.
“I heard you the first time, wings!” yelled Wolverine from below as he decapitated a sabretooth tiger.
“Well do you mind taking out those spikes! I can’t avoid them forever!”
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a little busy here! Just because you have wings doesn’t mean you gotta be a chicken!”
Logan, who was fighting the ground creatures in his usual feral rage, went on a tear. With his claws fully drawn he eviscerated two monster sized anacondas, impaled several giant tarantulas, and downed a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Now he was riding on the back of a giant ape man, roaring mercilessly as he plunged his claws into its neck. The creature thrashed, but the more it fought back the more enraged Logan grew.
Warren grunted in frustration as he narrowly avoided another spike. Two more pterodactyls were coming his way and tried to box him in. He was forced to fly lower to avoid their trap. He tried to strike him with his fists, but he kept missing and throwing off his balance. Growing frustrated, he took more evasive action. He flew faster and lower to try and lure them into the line of fire from the spikes. But it turned out he flew too low. Just as he passed over Logan’s position, a spike hit him right in the wing.
“Augh!” he cried out.
The winged mutant tumbled through the canopy and onto the soft jungle surface below. And he happened to land just in front of another giant anaconda that had been stalking Wolverine while he fought the ape man. With him down and in too much pain to get up, the snake set its sights on a new prey.
“Ugh…nice snake,” Warren groaned as she tried to pick himself up.
The snake hissed and stood poised to strike. But just as it lunged forth to attack, Logan showed up and impaled its head with his claws. He didn’t stop there. Once he ripped its head off, he then chopped the whole body up, roaring in a rage as he did. Already tattered from his bout with the tiger, he was in a less than focused state. Seeing one of the X-men in danger caused him to waver in that fragile bit of control he maintained over himself, sending him into an all too familiar state.
When Warren saw this he quickly realized what was happening. Logan was going into a berserker rage again. It was a dangerous state for him to be in, even in the Danger Room. And with other predatory animals lurking around, closing in on them, he had only one option.
“Emergency override 313! End the scenario!” he grunted through the pain.
“Override accepted. Program terminated.”
Everything around him quickly stopped. The animals froze in their place and the jungle environment faded as the holograms were turned off. But even as the program ended, Wolverine kept going. He kept tearing into giant anaconda, which by now had revealed itself to be a machine with a snake-like body. But that didn’t matter to Logan. He just kept tearing into it without mercy.
“Hrrrrah! Rrraahhhh! Rahhhhhhh!” he roared.
“Logan! Logan, stop! Calm down already! The program’s over!” exclaimed Warren.
Logan continued to seethe with rage. But the sound of Warren’s voice seemed to get through. With his claws still buried in the mechanical snake, he took deep breaths and slowly regained control of himself. He was still growling but he was not blinded by rage anymore. He was still pissed though.
“Damn it, Warren! We still had two minutes left!”
“I know. Excuse me for trying to avoid a giant snake,” groaned Warren as he picked himself up, clutching his left wing.
“You shouldn’t have stopped fighting!”
“I had to stop it! You were going into another berserker rage! And we both know that’s not good for any mission!”
Logan let out another disgruntled growl. But held back and forced himself to calm down. As much as he resented being interrupted in a mission, Warren was right to stop him. Even though Xavier and Jean helped him to manage his berserker rages, he still struggled with them. When it happened it was like his mind shut down. The man known as Logan completely went numb and all that was left was the Wolverine. And the last thing he wanted was to forget who he was again.
Once he calmed down enough, he helped Warren stay upright and led him to the chamber doors. The spike hit his wings right in the cartilage, which was always especially painful. Beyond the pain, his pride was also greatly wounded.
“I’m sorry I had to screw it up, Logan,” said Warren, still wincing, “I never was much of a fighter. Flying is nice and all, but it next to useless in a brawl.”
“Ah quit with the self-loathing,” said Logan, “You can fight. Anybody with fists can fight. You just gotta start using ‘em better.”
“I’ve tried,” said the winged mutant, “I’ve taken the same close quarters combat courses as all the others, but no matter how hard I try it just doesn’t work for me.”
“Sounds like you ain’t trying hard enough.”
“I am trying! But all I’m really good at is gaining the high ground. If only my wings were made of metal or something more useful.”
“Now you think it’s your powers?” scoffed Logan, “Maybe trying ain’t the problem after all. You’re just not doing it right.”
“What do you mean?” asked Warren, now able to stand on his own.
The young man was still short of breath, but he still had a burning desire to fight. That showed Logan he was tough enough and strong enough. Maybe this rich boy wasn’t such a wimp after all.
“Look at me, bub,” said Logan, holding up his claws, “You think these claws are any more potent than a bomb or a gun? They aren’t. They’re only as good as how I use them. Even though my memories are a mess, I know how to make them work for me.”
“Claws are still more useful than wings,” Warren pointed out.
“But they still don’t match up against lightning, optic blasts, or ice powers. Throw me into the mix without any skills and these claws ain’t good for anything except opening beer bottles.”
“So what do you do?” asked the winged mutant.
“I improvise. I use my instinct. I stick to doing what I do best. I’ll never be able to win a fight with Hank’s smarts or Jeannie’s mind powers. So I find my own way to win the battle. You just gotta stop whining so damn much and start pushing yourself!”
His tone was a bit harsh, but everybody in the X-men was used to that by now. He made a good point. He could never win a fight the way Logan or the rest of the X-men could. His powers were different and he had to apply them differently. It wasn’t something he gave a lot of thought to before. If he was to do more than just scout from above he had best start developing it.
“I understand,” said Warren, managing a slight smile, “Thanks Logan. I’ll keep that in mind.”
“You better, bub. Or you ain’t gonna last long in a real fight,” said Logan as he started to walk away.
“I’m sure I’ll find a way. If all else fails I could always go into my own berserker rage and just claw my way out.”
Logan stopped in mid stride and turned back towards Warren. He shot the young man a hard glare. The younger mutant clearly wasn’t being serious, but he touched on a very serious and sensitive issue for Logan.
“Don’t even joke about that! You have no idea what my berserker rage is like! It isn’t a failsafe or a strength! I don’t like people making light of it so watch it from now on!”
“Okay! Okay, I get it! I’m sorry I brought it up,” said Warren, putting his hands up in defense.
Logan snarled as he started walking away again. But Warren continued to linger, still dwelling on the former living weapon’s advice and the revelation about his rage.
“Um…just out of curiosity, Logan. What is your berserker rage anyways?”
Logan stopped again. He didn’t even turn back this time. It was a simple question from a curious young man. But it was a question that he had been struggling with longer than he could remember. His expression hardened as he let out a disgruntled sigh. The answer to this question was the same as it was to all his questions. And no matter how many times he confronted them, it was still frustrating.
“I don’t know.”
Outside Institute – Later that Evening
The sun was just setting as Scott pulled up through the institute gates in his car with Bobby. They were returning from another trip into the city to visit Lorna Dane. Bobby insisted he see her again after talking to her over the phone last night. He expressed concern that she was still shaken from the encounter with Wanda and Pietro. She seemed okay, but Bobby insisted on making sure. It was part of a growing trend. Ever since that fateful first date, Bobby looked for any excuse to go visit Lorna. Their relationship had grown and it seemed to be getting pretty serious. As such, new conflicts were starting to emerge. The least of which was the constant need for someone to shuttle him back and forth from the city.
“Seriously Bobby, you have to find a more efficient way to see Lorna,” said Scott as he drove his car up towards the garage, “These constant trips back and forth to the city are really cutting into your duties.”
“Sorry man, but if you can find a way to instantly transport me from here to New York without weeding through city traffic I’d love to hear it,” said Bobby, “Any chance the Professor can get me my own jet or something?”
“I don’t think the Professor is going to spend valuable institute resources on personal transports just so you can see your girlfriend.”
“She’s not just a girlfriend. She’s a mutant in need who just happens to have a thing for me,” said Bobby with a confident grin, “Last I checked we were all about helping mutants in need.”
“We are, but we’re not about giving special treatment to others just because they happen to be your girlfriend.”
“If anyone deserves special treatment, it’s Lorna. She had it really rough lately. She needs someone to be there for her.”
“I understand that part, Bobby. Believe me, I do. But you keep going on these trips for her and it never seems to get better in the long run. Doesn’t that concern you?”
“Why would it concern me?” he shrugged, “So I get to see my girlfriend more often and help her sort out her issues. Isn’t that a good thing?”
“I’m not saying it isn’t. But if everything you’re doing isn’t making things better for her, maybe that means you need to be doing something else. Lorna sounds like a complicated girl and if you really care about her, you should dig deeper. There may be other forces at work with her.”
“What kind of other forces are we talking about here?”
“The kind that require more from a boyfriend than just being there,” the X-leader answered seriously.
Bobby’s demeanor shifted as Scott pulled into the garage. He had a valid point and he wasn’t the first one to bring it up. Lorna was a downright mysterious girl at times. She was very secretive about her past, especially about her parents. She never liked to get too personal. Bobby respected that, but he could tell something was really bothering her. He suspected it had something to do with what Wanda said to her the night of their first date. He often asked about it, but she always changed the subject. It might be worth probing a little deeper, especially if they were to continue their relationship.
“I’ll think about that, Scott,” said Bobby, “For now, let’s just get some table scraps. I hope Logan didn’t hog all the burgers.”
“When does he not?” said Scott as he locked his car, “Don’t forget you’re still on for a make-up Danger Room session and an overdue test with Ororo.”
“I know. I know,” he sighed, “Man, the things you gotta go through for a pretty girl.”
“I hear you,” mused Scott as they went inside to catch the end of dinner, “But sometimes it’s worth it, you know?”
“Totally!” affirmed the Iceman.
Scott closed the garage and locked his car as they went in through the kitchen to join the rest of their teammates for dinner. As they did the gates behind them closed and the institute security system went into its usual standby mode. Security had to be tough for a school full of mutants. It wasn’t just to protect the students. It was also meant to dissuade would-be enemies. However, it didn’t always work.
Unknown to Scott and Bobby, their arrival at the institute had not gone unnoticed. About a quarter of a mile from the front gate, an ominous figure loomed in the trees scoping the grounds of the mansion out through a pair of binoculars.
“That’s it you little runts. Get nice and comfortable for the night,” the figure growled as he peered into the windows from afar.
As the figure leapt down from the tree and into a clearing, he revealed himself to be Sabretooth. The feral mutant and current Weapon X operative was at it again, on another critical assignment for General Wraith and Dr. Cornelius. Only this wasn’t any ordinary assignment.
This was the battle he had been waiting for since his arch nemesis, Wolverine, broke out the first time. Weapon X made it clear from the beginning that they wanted to get him back. They had unfinished business with that little runt and so did he. It took them long enough to get everything back together in a new facility. Weapon X may be mysterious, but they’re nothing if not practical. They always have a backup and this time they weren’t taking any chances. They were going to get Wolverine back and the X-men weren’t going to stop them.
For Victor Creed, it was much more personal. He wasn’t doing this out of his fondness for Weapon X. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was getting something much better out of all this…something he waited a long time for.
“This is Sabretooth, you hear me Wraith?” said the feral mutant as he opened up his communicator.
“I read you Sabretooth. Are you in position?”
“You even gotta ask?” he replied with a feral grin, “I confirm the runt’s inside and so are the rest of the X-men.”
“Good, I’ll signal the strike team to get into position. You should do the same. Just be careful not to trip any alarms.”
“Doesn’t look like that’s gonna be a problem either. I don’t know what kind of bugs Cornelius planted in that place, but they’re working like a charm! I walked right up to the gate earlier and didn’t cause a blip.”
“Don’t get too overconfident. These X-men have proven to be quite tenacious. Use caution and stay with the unit! This strike must be quick, coordinated, and efficient.”
“I know the drill, Wraith,” growled Sabretooth, “I’ve been doing this way longer than you anyhow. I don’t need a lecture.”
“Maybe you don’t, but consider this a reminder. I know your history, Creed. So don’t think you’ll be able to slip anything by me because I’m well-prepared for that.”
Sabretooth growled at the General’s threatening undertone. He hated it whenever anybody, especially a man like Wraith, talked down to him. But if all went accordingly, he wouldn’t have to be dealing with it for much longer.
“Whatever, sir. Just let me do what I do best and you’ll have your lab rats. Just make sure I get what I want as well.”
“I assure you I’ll make good on our deal. But you must first deliver. The attack begins in twenty minutes. Get into position and Dr. Cornelius will do the rest.”
The link went down and Sabretooth growled with a predatory snarl. He took a whiff of the air, picking up on the scents and trails of Wraith’s men. They were all on the move, positioning themselves closer to the mansion so that when the time came they would be able to strike. The element of surprise was important, especially with two telepaths in the mix. Hopefully those psychic blocking ear buds he tested a while back would be enough. There were no signs of alarm yet so they had the upper hand. It was only a matter of striking hard and striking fast.
Even though Wraith insisted he stay with the unit, Victor Creed still broke off and leapt back up into the trees to find his own way up to the Xavier Institute. He didn’t care for protocol anymore than he cared for Wraith. He could care less about Weapon X. If helping them strike back against Wolverine and the X-men helped him with his own agenda, so be it.
Xavier Institute – Living Room
After dinner, things settled down for the evening in the Xavier Institute. Scott, Warren, and Bobby were on dish duty. Hank and Charles were still in the dining room enjoying some after dinner tea. And Jean and Ororo were watching TV. Logan was outside drinking a glass of whiskey and Rogue was with him, smoking a cigarette. By all accounts it looked to be a quiet night. But in the Xavier Institute, a quiet night was a relative term.
“You know, Bobby, this would go a lot faster if you would stop picking at the leftovers,” said Warren, who was busy scrubbing the pots and pans.
“Don’t blame me. Blame my stomach. I can’t help if I’m hungry. Lorna and I didn’t have much time to eat,” said Bobby, who was helping himself to some leftover beans and rice.
“Didn’t have time, huh?” said Warren skeptically, “What exactly were you and Lorna doing all afternoon anyways?”
“Sorry buddy, but that’s personal. What Lorna and I do in our private time is our business,” said Bobby with a suggestive grin.
“How is spending most of your time at the arcade personal?” said Scott with a half grin as he dried some of the dishes.
Warren burst out laughing while Bobby groaned and scorned his friend.
“Scott! Do you always have to play the spoiler role?” he complained.
“Take it easy, Bobby. I’m just trying to keep you in the real world,” said Scott with a smirk, “I know you like Lorna and all, but you don’t want to get too ahead of yourself.”
“Scott, look who you’re talking to,” commented Warren as he finished the last pan, “Getting ahead of himself is sort of his other mutant power.”
“Not you too, Warren!” groaned Bobby, “What is this? Gang up on Iceman night? Isn’t it bad enough I’m eating leftovers, doing dishes, and making up a Danger Room session?”
“Like I said, Bobby, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Sometimes you just need a reminder,” said Scott.
Bobby rolled his eyes and went back to doing dishes. He had enough of Scott’s reminders for one evening. Just because he liked to have a little fun with his ongoing relationship with Lorna didn’t mean he had to be the big target. It wasn’t like he was the only one with unusual relationship circumstances. Jean and Logan sure came out of nowhere. He couldn’t even begin to understand how those worked. At least with Hank and Ororo they knew each other through the internet before they hooked up. Whatever the case, he had his own concerns with Lorna.
While Bobby finished up the dishes with Warren and Scott, Jean and Ororo were flipping through the channels in the living room. Only flipping through the channels in a house of mutants took on a different context. Jean didn’t even use a remote. She just sat back on the main couch, curled up with some hot cocoa, and used her telekinesis to sift through the channels. There wasn’t much on tonight aside from re-runs, game shows, and mindless reality shows. But as they sifted through the channels, they came upon an intriguing news report.
“Recapping our top story, the island nation of Genosha is once again making headlines. Leader Cameron Hodge visited the UN this afternoon, making an impassioned plea for international support on his widening crusade against mutants. He claims his scientists are on the brink of a universal solution to escalating mutant conflicts. What that solution is hasn’t been revealed, but many leaders are intrigued. Hodge still remains a controversial figure in the international community after reports of serious human rights abuses in his military-run government. These reports have not been confirmed, but many speculate that Genosha’s history as a hotbed for mutant activity and the strict media censorship makes it possible that some of these allegations may be true. Hodge himself had this to say…”
The image on the TV then switched to a recording of a tall, imposing man in an exotic military uniform standing in front of the United Nations.
“Let it be clear, the issue of human rights is undeniably connected to the issue of human/mutant conflict. There can be no human rights if mutants are allowed to threaten them! So I say unto you who falsely accuse me to stop and look at yourselves! For you are the ones who are hindering this process! You are the ones standing in my way from creating a world where humans need not fear mutants and mutants are appropriately dealt with!”
There was a fiery passion in his eyes. Cameron Hodge showed a powerful charisma as he gestured firmly and spoke with force and eloquence. There were even a few clips of some diplomats clapping for him. At this point, Jean couldn’t watch anymore and used her powers to hit the mute button.
“Spoken like a true dictator,” sighed Jean, “How can people clap for him? Lord knows how that man oppresses the mutants in his country. I’m sure he oppresses humans as well.”
“It’s an unfortunate byproduct of politics, Jean,” said Ororo, “Give a common thug an army and a country and he’ll play off any fear to further his agenda. I’ve seen it time and again back home in Africa.”
“But did any of them ever target mutants in their agenda? And did any of them get their own slot at the UN?” questioned Jean.
“This Cameron Hodge is a first in that regard. But make no mistake. He is a thug. How he came to power in Genosha is beyond me.”
“Me too,” said Jean bitterly, “If half of what he says is right, we may cross paths down the line. Anybody who makes a political career attacking mutants is just bound to cause trouble. It’s times like this I wish the Professor’s rule about not intervening in international politics wasn’t so strict. I’d love to give Hodge a little speech of my own.”
“A speech you say? That sounds like something Logan would say,” said Ororo with a smirk.
“Well dating him has given me a newfound appreciation for the direct approach in a fight,” said Jean coyly, “But don’t worry. I don’t plan on adopting too many of his habits.”
“I hope you don’t. I know it’s natural to start picking up tendencies from your partner, but it’s important to know your limits.”
“That I’m not worried about. But if there comes a day when I start going into berserker rages and you start reciting Shakespeare in your sleep, then we have a problem.”
Jean and Ororo shared a round of laughter as Jean resumed flipping through the channels. She made sure to avoid any news reports this time and eventually settled on a few sitcom re-runs. As X-men, they were always on the front line of human/mutant conflicts. They couldn’t afford to be sucked into grim news reports that only made their cause seem more daunting. They had to keep their spirits up. But even as Jean and Ororo settled on something less serious, the report on Hodge hadn’t gone unnoticed by others.
In the dining room, Hank and Xavier picked up on the report while they were finishing their tea. It was an ominous and disturbing sign. If one military dictator from a small island nation could rally this much international attention then it did not bode well for the future of mutant affairs. Like it or not, the mutant issue was going to get political on nearly every level. It was a battle the X-men were going to have to be prepared for.
“Sounds like Hodge is gaining his share of support,” commented Hank, “How much should we worry, Charles?”
“Anytime a man bases his agenda on the attacking mutants is cause for concern,” replied the Professor, “But I’m not sure what to make of this Cameron Hodge. I’ve made repeated scan over Genosha and suffice to say, the man guards his secrets well.”
“What of the alleged abuses? Have you been able to discern the fate of Genosha’s mutant population?”
“There’s nothing alleged about it, old friend. The abuses are there. I’m sure of it,” said Xavier in a solemn tone, “And it’s not just mutants. His own people are suffering greatly under his rule. He seems to be dedicating all his country’s resources into this plan of his.”
“Any idea on what this enigmatic plan may entail?” asked Hank warily, “He seemed quite confident in it.”
“That I have not been able to determine. Many world leaders have been implementing psychic shielding technology lately and Hodge has spared no expense in that regard. I can’t even ascertain the fate of his own mutant citizens. I shutter to think what he may be doing to them. But that isn’t what concerns me the most.”
“You don’t say? But what could be more concerning than a man such as Hodge?”
“The fact he is able to acquire such resources on an island with so few,” replied Xavier in a distant tone, “We’ve seen what secretive organizations are able to produce with time and resources. Weapon X has shown just how far this madness can be taken. I can’t help but wonder how much further a man like Hodge with all his political clout could take it.”
It was a disturbing thought. Weapon X wasn’t even recognized or supported by any government entity (at least they didn’t think so). Yet they were able to do so much damage with only Logan as their subject. A similar program on a larger scale with support from a dictator not subject to any law could be even worse.
“I see where you’re coming from, Charles. For our sake as well as that of every other mutant out there, let us hope Mr. Hodge was just being dramatic in his bold claims about this plan of his.”
“I pray he is,” sighed Xavier as he finished his tea.
“And while we’re on the subject, have you uncovered anything else about Weapon X?” asked Hank, “If Hodge is running a program using mutants, it’s not unreasonable to assume they may be involved.”
“Yes, I’ve been investigating that too. But there’s still so very little to go on,” said Xavier in a serious tone, “Weapon X is not like Cameron Hodge. They do not have a public face or a government sponsor, making their agenda that much more ambiguous. But I strongly suspect they’re still out there plotting something ambitious.”
“What makes you say that?” asked Hank.
Xavier paused for a moment. Even for the world’s most powerful psychic, it was still hard to ascertain what drove certain people. How anyone could justify turning a human being into a weapon was beyond him. But if there was one thing he had learned through his journeys into the human mind it was that some people were beyond adhering to traditional concepts of humanity.
“The way I see it, Weapon X took a significant risk in capturing Wolverine again. They wouldn’t have done so unless they had a good reason. They must have had something they didn’t have before. Whatever it is, they seemed determine enough to use it again.”
As a man of science himself, Hank couldn’t help but be distressed at such a notion. But as bad as it was, he could find no fault in it.
“As much as I would like to say something reassuring, I can’t argue with such reasoning,” said Hank, “And more often than not, you’re right about such matters.”
“Indeed, but there are times I wish I weren’t,” sighed Xavier.
The two men fell silent as they finished their tea. It seemed as though the X-men were always caught up in complicated battles. Their paths had already crossed with Weapon X and it seemed inevitable their paths would cross with Cameron Hodge. It seemed overwhelming at times, but Charles Xavier remained calm and collected. He was certain such matters such matters would be dealt with in due time. Weapon X and Cameron Hodge were complex issues that would not be resolved all at once. He just had to have faith that his X-men would be ready to face them when the time came.
Xavier Institute – Outside
The sun had fully set and clouds started to blow in from the west. It looked like it was going to rain soon. A soft rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance. But this didn’t dissuade Logan and Rogue from lingering a bit longer. Rogue was still puffing away at her cigarette and Logan was finishing off his glass of whiskey. They didn’t say much to one another. They were just outside to get away from any drinking or smoking comments the others would undoubtedly throw at them. The X-men may encourage heroic traits in its members, but they weren’t immune form bad habits.
“Still half a pack left and it’s not even eight? You’re not trying to quit on me, are you Rogue?” commented Logan as he saw Rogue put her pack away.
“Ah ain’t trying to quit. Ah’m trying to cut back,” she said as she took another brief drag, “Ah’ve been smokin’ close to a pack a day since the mess with mah mama and Ah want to start acting like Ah’m over it.”
“Sure you are,” said Logan, sounding very unconvinced, “I’m sure Summers has nothing to do with it.”
Rogue laughed as she blew out another round of smoke.
“Can’t get anything past you, huh? Scott may have encouraged meh a little. He said the more Ah cut back the more often he’ll take meh out. Sounds like a fair trade.”
“Yeah right,” he scoffed, “There’s nothing fair about it when someone tries to use your own bad habits as leverage. It’s damn near blackmail.”
“Let meh guess, Jean did the same to you?” smirked Rogue.
“You even gotta ask?” Logan muttered, “It wasn’t a deal as much as it was an ultimatum. The more I drink the more clothes she keeps on.”
“Ouch, you have mah sympathies,” smirked Rogue, “But Ah guess we should be grateful in some ways. Boyfriends and girlfriends are supposed to push us to do better.”
“Oh so Cyke’s your boyfriend now? When did that happen?”
Rogue smiled as she leaned back against the wall. It was a bold term to use since she hadn’t exactly taken that step with Scott yet. But she wasn’t afraid to admit it was that serious.
“It ain’t exactly official yet. But it’s gonna happen. Ah can feel it,” she said, “He’s still warmin’ to the idea, but Ah can tell he wants it too.”
“You sure he ain’t just lookin’ for a distraction from Jeannie?” commented Logan as he gulped down another shot of hard liquor.
“If you did more than just argue with him all the time maybe you would see just how much he needs something like this,” said Rogue, throwing a touch of scorn in her words, “He obviously didn’t respond well to Jean hookin’ up with you. It’s only natural he would need someone to show him it’s okay to do a little hookin’ up as well.”
“If it keeps him off my back and off Jeannie’s that’s fine with me,” he shrugged, “So how are you gonna get around the whole touch thing? You can’t do much foolin’ around without it.”
Rogue’s demeanor shifted. Logan hit on a touchy issue for her and wasn’t very subtle about it either. She was well aware that her powers would make intimacy difficult if not impossible if she was to get serious with Scott. There was only so far they could go without touching. She kept hoping that Hank or the Professor would come up with something to help her. But she hoped it came soon. Being cut off like this was very hard at times.
“That’s something Ah’m still working on with the Professor,” she sighed, “It’s a touchy issue that Ah don’t like to dwell on, but since you were so kind to remind meh Ah’m gonna need another cigarette.”
“You’re welcome,” he said with a wolfish grin as he finished his drink.
“And you’re a prick,” said Rogue snidely as she reached for another cigarette, “What the hell does Jean see in you anyways?”
“Hell if I know, but she sure doesn’t seem to mind. You should have seen the last dress she wore for me.”
“Maybe she just wears that stuff to shut you up.”
“If you want to test that theory by all means,” he said with a dirty grin, “I’m sure Scott won’t mind if you let him in on it.”
Rogue rolled her eyes and groaned as she lit another cigarette. Logan was not an easy person to have a conversation with even with cigarettes.
“Remind meh never to absorb you. The last thing Ah want is a taste of that charmin’ personality of yours.”
Logan sighed and shook his head as he gazed distantly out into the stormy skies.
“Trust me, Rogue, you don’t want to absorb me,” he told her, “There’s a lot of messed up shit floatin’ around in my head. Hell, I don’t even remember most of it. The last thing you want is…”
Then suddenly, Logan stopped in mid-sentence. His expression immediately changed. His face contorted into a mesh of focused rage. It was the same look he had that night he had been out with Jeannie. He thought he picked up a scent and it just happened to be the one scent that could trigger this sudden surge of anger. But this time he wouldn’t have to chase it. This time it was coming to him.
“What is it, Logan?” said Rogue, picking up on his demeanor, “The booze finally get to you or…”
“Get inside!” growled Logan.
But Logan didn’t wait for her to finish. He threw his glass aside, grabbed her by the arm, and literally pushed her back inside the manor.
“I said get inside! Warn the Professor! We’re about to have some unwelcome company!”
Before Rogue could ask any more questions, Logan growled menacingly and drew his claws. Then with predatory fervor, he ran into the empty darkness ahead of him. His senses were on full alert. The scent was getting stronger this time. It had all the signs of a full frontal assault. And he wasn’t going to wait for it to come to him. Sabretooth may have gotten the better of him last time, but he wasn’t going to let it happen again.
“CREED!” he roared out into the night, “I’m coming for you, furball! This time you’re mine!”
Outside Institute Grounds
The signal had been given. The attack was on. Sabretooth was already ahead of the pack, perched atop the outer walls of the institute. He grinned with intent at the sight of the mansion in the distance. The X-men had no idea what was about to hit them. They snuck up on them last time in Canada. This time was going to be different. This time they were ready for them.
“All units stand by! Do not attack until Protocol X is initiated! I repeat, do not attack until protocol X is initiated! The security here is tight! Do not trip any alarms until we are cleared.”
The sound of the field commander giving orders was a mere annoyance to Sabretooth. He was supposed to follow protocol and spearhead the assault, but he was never one for following strict orders. He had much more personal reasons for going on this mission and no protocol was going to stop him.
With a snarling grin, Sabretooth picked up on a scent. It was the one scent he hoped to sense before anything else. He knew his nemesis wouldn’t disappoint him. Wolverine always was too brash for his own good. That’s why he didn’t use the scent dampeners like the rest of the Weapon X soldiers had. He wanted Logan to find him. He wanted him to attack. If Wraith didn’t like it he could find someone else to lead these grunts of his.
“Wolverine!” he growled, “I knew you wouldn’t let me down!”
With a growl of intent, Sabretooth leapt down from his perch on the wall and stormed into the institute grounds. It was a serious breach of protocol, but he could care less. He was bent on finishing what they started in Canada. This time the little rung wasn’t going to get away.
“Sabretooth! What are you doing? The General’s orders are clear! Do not attack until we get the…”
“Ah shut up!” growled Sabretooth, turning off the earpiece and continuing his assault, “You got your job, I got mine! If Wraith doesn’t like it I’ll show him where to stick it!”
Inside the Institute
Rogue may have been new to the Xavier Institute, but she had been around long enough to know when there was trouble. She didn’t claim to understand Logan better than anybody else, but she had picked up on one major trait of his through some brief sessions in the Danger Room. Whenever he sensed something was amiss, he was usually right. More often than not it led to some pretty messy confrontations.
With little time to ascertain what was going on, Rogue rushed into the dining room where Xavier and Hank were still drinking tea. But to her surprise, they had not picked up on whatever it was Logan was sensing.
“Professor! Professor, something’s up!” she exclaimed.
Xavier abruptly put down his tea and wheeled out from the dining room table.
“Calm down, Rogue. What is wrong?” he asked calmly.
“Ah don’t know! One minute Logan and Ah were just talkin’ and the next he says we’re under attack!”
The two men tensed at such a revelation. But at the same time they were somewhat skeptical.
“Under attack? Are you certain?” asked Hank, “Because if we were I’m sure our resident telepaths would have gotten wind of it. Plus it’s highly doubtful our security measures would…”
But before Hank could finish, the lights throughout the house started to flicker. No alarms went off and no alerts were signaled. Then in the blink of an eye everything went dark. Every light burned out and every system went dead. None of the backup generators even kicked in. The Xavier Institute systems had just gone offline and Hank McCoy had to correct himself
“You were saying?” made Rogue.
“Oh dear…” Hank lamented.
Charles Xavier suddenly shared Rogue’s anxiety. He frantically began scanning the immediate area. What he sensed caused him to pale with dread.
“Professor, what’s going on?!” exclaimed Scott from the kitchen.
There was no time to explain. The Professor immediately issued the commands he despised most.
“X-men! This is a code red! Someone is…”
But before he could finish, they all heard it. In the living room, kitchen, and foyer each window was shattered with a deafening bang. From the kitchen Scott, Bobby, and Warren took cover and in the living room, Jean and Ororo rushed towards the dining room. It all happened within the span of five seconds. Before anybody could make sense of anything, two dozen masked men in unmarked paramilitary uniforms armed with high tech weapons stormed into the mansion and set their sights on Xavier and his students. Years of training and conditioning kicked in as the X-men sprang into action.
In the kitchen, the soldiers started firing immediately. Scott, Bobby, and Warren instinctively ducked behind the kitchen counters. Scott forced them back with a quick optic blast to force them back. But more came pouring in through the broken windows and swarmed on their position.
“Oh man, these guys again?!” exclaimed Bobby as he iced up.
“Guess Weapon X wanted a rematch!” said Warren as he stayed behind Bobby, “How did they get the jump on us?”
“I don’t know. But we have to protect the Professor!” said Scott, quickly taking charge.
While Scott and Bobby returned fire, trying to slow down the onslaught, Jean and Ororo arrived in the dining room with Xavier, Hank, and Rogue just in time for a swarm of fully armed Weapon X soldiers to rush every opening. They kept their distance, taking cover and unleashing a barrage of gunfire. Jean instinctively put up a telekinetic shield to protect them. But it was all very chaotic.
“Professor!” exclaimed Jean, “Why didn’t we sense these guys coming?”
“They must have some kind of psionic shielding!” said Xavier, clutching his temples as Hank and Rogue stood near him protectively, “Hold on, I’ll see if I can break it!”
“I’ll buy you some time!” said Ororo.
The African woman’s eyes shifted a glowing white and she summoned a concentrated wind burst to force the soldiers in the opening to the living room to fall back. Others kept shooting, but Jean kept the shields up and began moving them towards the opening.
“Hold on, Charles! We’ll get you to a safe room!” said Hank.
But before they got far, the well-trained Weapon X soldiers carried out their next round of orders. Unlike their previous fight, they came prepared.
“Initiate secondary protocol!” said one of the commanders.
His subordinates, at least those who hadn’t been blown away, nodded and complied with the order. Three soldiers each changed the settings on their weapons. For any mission involving mutants, special armaments were necessary to level the playing field. For this situation, they had what they believed to be the perfect counter.
“Take them down, now!” exclaimed the commander.
Braving the punishing wind sheers, two attackers jumped out into the opening and fired their weapons. Only this time, they didn’t fire bullets. This time the tips of their rifles erupted in a sharp burst of electrical sparks. It was like a miniature bolt of lightening and it was aimed squarely at Storm.
“Ahhhhhhhhhh!” she cried out as the sparks hit her.
Her body tensed and she quickly went limp. When Hank saw this all rationality was set aside and he lunged towards her.
“Storm!” he exclaimed with animal rage in his eyes.
“Hank, wait!” urged Charles.
But it was too late. Before he even got to Storm’s unconscious body, the same two guards hit him with the same shocking burst. The affect was immediate. Hank let out a pained howl as he fell to the floor as well next to Storm. Xavier lamented at such a sight. This was going bad very quickly. Unlike their previous encounter, Weapon X had prepared for them. But the attack was far from over.
Without Storm’s wind blast to guide them, the Weapon X soldiers converged on them, taking more shots. Jean intensified the strength of her shield while other guards came in from other openings. Rogue took care of them, taking them down with her hand-to-hand combat skills she had freshened up on earlier in the gym. One attacker attempted to hit her with the butt of his rifle. She avoided it and disarmed him with a quick kick maneuver her mother taught her and then took him out with a blow to the head. She couldn’t drain them since they were covered from head to toe. They just kept coming, forcing Jean to push her powers further.
“Jean, sugah, now’s the time to really put that mind of yours to good use!” said Rogue as a guard shoved her back into the wall.
“I’m…trying!” she grunted, “Just need a little more time!”
“Keep going, Jean!” urged Xavier, “I think I can break their shielding!”
But the Weapon X soldiers were prepared for this as well. Once they had covered every opening, the field commander issued another critical order.
“Take down the psychics! Initiate tertiary protocol!” he ordered.
His subordinates followed. Near the back of the pack, one of the soldiers took out a stun grenade and heaved it right up to the base of Jean’s shield. At first she thought it was a grenade, but when Xavier saw the size and shape of it he quickly realized what it was. But he was unable to do anything about it.
“GRENADE!” exclaimed Rogue.
A deafening bang and blinding flash consumed the room. Unlike the soldiers, Jean, Xavier, and Rogue didn’t have protective eyewear or ear plugs to guard against it. The effect was immediate.
“Augh!” exclaimed Jean, falling back and slamming right into Rogue.
The sudden surge of light and deafening burst disrupted her concentration, causing her to let down her shields. As soon as this happened, the Weapon X guards moved in for the final blow. The two soldiers who knocked out Hank and Storm earlier, took aim at the three remaining mutants. Xavier could do nothing but watch and brace himself as a blinding flash hit him and his two students.
Pained groans echoed through the dining room as Xavier, Jean, and Rogue joined Hank and Ororo in an unconscious state. The soldiers moved in to make sure they were out, hitting them with sedatives to keep them sedated. Once they confirmed they were out, the commander gave the signal and they moved on. The well-trained Weapon X soldiers had done their job. The mission was almost complete.
Back in the kitchen, Scott heard the bang from the dining room and the cries of the others. He and Bobby had been keeping the attackers at bay by hitting them with optic blasts and ice blats. But now the situation was getting much more serious.
“What the hell was that?!” exclaimed Warren, who was forced to stay behind the counters.
“No…Professor!” grimaced Scott.
“Oh boy, this is bad!” said Bobby, being forced to take cover again through the hail of bullets.
“I think it’s about to get a lot worse,” lamented Scott.
As if to confirm his suspicion, one of the attackers took out a grenade and threw it across the kitchen so it landed right behind the counter. When Warren saw it he tried to kick it away, but it was too late.
“Take cover!” he exclaimed.
But then it went off. Only this one didn’t explode in a flash or a bang. It hissed as a burst of gaseous mist filled the area. And the moment Scott, Bobby, and Warren got a whiff of it their world began to spin and darkness took over.
“Ugh…gas,” groaned Bobby, “I…hate…gas.”
“You’re about to hate it even more,” groaned Scott, “We all are.”
Bobby and Warren coughed hard, falling to the floor and keeling over into unconsciousness. Scott tried to hold his breath and fight it, but he already inhaled too much. His vision was blurry and his limbs were heavy. But he kept trying to fight on. He crawled out from behind the counter and reached for his glasses to unleash another blast. But before he could, one of the guards rushed him and pinned his hands down to his side with the barrel of his gun.
“Game over, freak,” he said.
Those were the last words Scott heard before he was out cold. His world along with the other X-men went completely dark. The attack was sudden and swift and despite their training, they were unable to resist it. They were now officially prisoners of Weapon X.
While the assault raged inside the institute, Logan continued his prowl through the institute’s front yard. Sabretooth was close. He could smell his stench literally forcing its way into his face. It was just like Canada again. Sensations from memories he couldn’t even recall all came together, fueling his rage. He took on a completely predatory mode. His enemy was near and his only focus was on taking him down.
“CREED!” he roared, “Show yourself you fucking coward!”
He arrived at the main fountain in the front of the institute. That’s where the trail seemed to stop. That’s also where he heard the raging howl he had been waiting for.
From the top of the fountain, Sabretooth pounced upon his prey. He descended upon him with a feral roar, his thick claws drawn and ready for blood. Logan, with his claws drawn as well, quickly looked up and met his nemesis head on. Just as Sabretooth fell upon him he jumped back just far enough to avoid being pinned. In the process he managed to deliver a good slash across Sabretooth’s chest. But at the same time Sabretooth got a good chunk of his arm. The sickening tearing sound of flesh being torn off their bodies mixed with their raging howls. But the pain barely registered.
“Hrraahhh!” roared Logan, “Finally work up the nerve to face me again, Sabretooth?”
“Runt, you got no idea how long I’ve been waiting for this!” the feral mutant seethed, “I should’ve taken both you and your girl out that night!”
Logan’s eyes widened as he recalled his date with Jean.
“So that was you!” he exclaimed.
“Of course it was!” Sabretooth grinned, “Who else could outsmart you? This time, it’s not just you whose gonna suffer! You and the rest of those freak show runts will get their share too!”
“Over your dead body, Creed!”
With another raging roar, Logan lunged towards Sabretooth and attacked. He slashed relentlessly, aiming for any piece of his arch nemesis he could get. He missed the first two slashes, but landed a third that hit his shoulder. Sabretooth let out only a slight growl despite the bloody wound and countered with slashes of his own. He used his greater size and strength to drive Logan back towards the fountain, nicking him good a couple of times but doing little to slow him down. Then Logan got in a very brutal blow when he tired to tackle them to the ground. Just as he lunged forth, Logan backed away and let him run right into his claws, impaling himself right in his torso.
“Augh!” roared Sabretooth, “You little shit!”
“You’re finished, bub!” growled Logan.
“Errrrrrr think again!”
Wolverine went in for the final blow, aiming his claws right at Sabretooth’s neck. But despite the pain and the blood gushing from his torso, Sabretooth managed to duck out of the way. Then with his claws still impaled through his torso, he drove Logan back towards the fountain again and pinned him against the concrete edge. Blood was gushing from his mouth, but the pain didn’t even seem to register. Both men were in too great a rage to even process sensations of pain. Now pinned, Sabretooth grabbed Logan by the neck and began choking him with all his might.
“You’ll never stop me, runt!” growled Sabretooth, “No matter what, I will keep hunting you! I’ll never stop until I see you suffer and die slowly and painfully like you deserve!”
“Ack! Suit yourself…bub!” growled Logan.
Logan grunted as he twisted his claw, which was still impaled through Sabretooth’s torso. The raging mutant let out another pained howl. More blood poured from his mouth, but his grip never waivered. He sensed Logan starting to push back. Despite being short on breath, his rage kept driving him. Obviously he wasn’t choking him hard enough. Then his attention shifted towards the fountain itself and he got a new idea.
“You want it that way? Fine by me!” said Sabretooth with a bloody grin.
With his grip on Logan’s neck still secure, Sabretooth pushed Logan back even further and forced his head down so that he was submerged in the waters of the fountain. Logan tried to squirm away, but with his claws still buried in Sabretooth’s gut, there was no escape. It was all a matter of how much pain Sabretooth could take and how long Logan could hold his breath. He kept twisting his claws, trying to get him to loosen his grip. But it was no use. For all the pain and blood that seeped from Victor Creed, his burning rage won out. He kept clinging to Logan’s neck and holding down his free arm with his other hand. Slowly but surely, the raging Wolverine stopped thrashing as a lack of air caught up with him.
He continued to roar and howl underwater. Fighting for air and fighting to break Sabretooth’s hold. But it was no use. Sabretooth wasn’t letting go. Soon Logan’s world began to fade. All he could see was a wavy image of his hated foe’s sadistic expression. He coughed up a round of blood as the water filled his lungs. It was a dirty way for Sabretooth to beat him, but he definitely wasn’t above such tactics. Finally, his body gave out and everything went dark.
“Sleep tight, Wolverine!” grinned Sabretooth.
With a hard grunt he pulled Logan out of the fountain and yanked his claws out of his torso in the process. It still hurt a great deal, but the pain was worth it if it helped him get the better of Logan. He callously tossed his limp body onto the ground and leaned against the fountain, waiting for his healing factor to kick in. He was going to need a few minutes, but if the Weapon X grunts had done their job everything would pan out.
As he leaned back and looked at his defeated foe, Sabretooth couldn’t help but grin. He spent many years battling Logan, trying to get the best of him. No matter how hard he fought, he could never seem to really punish him in the way he deserved. Now it seemed as though he would get his chance. Once his healing factor kicked in, he activated the communication link to deliver the good news to General Wraith.
“Wraith, this is Sabretooth. We have the runts. Tell Cornelius to get the dissection trays and champagne ready. It’s gonna be a very productive night!”
Next Issue: Revenge of Weapon X Part 2
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