Born into a world that hates and fears them, the X-men fight on the side of peace and understanding. It is a side that hasn’t been easy to stay on in recent times. Tensions between humans and mutants are on the rise. Riots are breaking out and the public is becoming increasingly wary of the human/mutant issue. Professor Charles Xavier has taken it upon himself to enter that conflict, but to do so he and his X-men will require more manpower. So recently, they accepted a new member into their ranks.
Ororo Munroe, a recent college graduate, joined the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning after having immigrated to the United States and finished college. Having met Professor Charles Xavier years ago when she was a pickpocket in Cairo, her fate has become tied to the X-men now. With the power to control the weather, she hopes to contribute to Xavier’s cause.
Arriving at the institute, she met the students and even had a few sparks fly around her fellow teacher, Hank McCoy. But her smooth introduction to the team hit a rough edge when Xavier’s computer, Cerebro, detected a mysterious mutant in Canada known only as Logan. Now, the X-men are on their way to investigate this mysterious individual. And Xavier has a sinking feeling that there may be more to this than meets the eye.
Pentagon – 40 Years Ago
The secretive walls of the Pentagon were always a hotbed of activity, even in the late hours of the night when most of the day staff had gone home for the evening. There were still plenty of workers, soldiers, and officers running around, going about their business. In an era where the Soviet Union could strike at any moment someone had to be on guard. But apart from the normal vigilance, there were also those who specialized in future plans for military dominance. Some were traditional, involving armies, machines, and soldiers. Others were a little more exotic.
In one of the lower corridors in the level five security wing of the Pentagon, two men walked the largely vacant halls discussing such plans. One was a young, up and coming Major named John Wraith. The other was an obscure weapons scientist who had few friends, but plenty of fans in his shady line of work. As they walked and talked, going over a collection of classified files in the process, the mood was restless but upbeat.
“This is quite a proposal, Dr. Cornelius. I’m amazed you were able to get approval for it at a time like this with the Russians breathing down our neck,” said Wraith.
“It’s that fear of the Russians that has prompted many to roll the dice on something new and ambitious,” said Dr. Cornelius, “Everybody seems to be looking for that next big leap. World War I had the machine gun. World War II had the atom bomb. This new cold war that is brewing with the Soviets will surely have its own major weapon. It is just a matter of finding it.”
“And you really believe this project is that big? You think turning these freaks, these mutants as they’re called, into living weapons is going to have just as big an impact as the atomic bomb?”
“Oh yes, I believe without a doubt it do more than any other advancement in the history of military technology,” Dr. Cornelius proclaimed boldly, “Just think of it this way, Major. For as long as there has been war, mankind has been developing machines and tools to enhance their ability to fight. This drive culminated in World War II where it wasn’t the soldiers themselves that made the difference. It was the planes, tanks, jeeps, and weapons they wielded.”
“I wouldn’t say the machines were the difference. They were tools, not crutches,” argued Wraith.
“Perhaps, but that’s not my point,” said Dr. Cornelius, “What I am trying to illustrate is that at the current time, man is moving in a direction that would have all wars be fought with machines. Man is foolishly putting their destiny in the hands of mindless, autonomous, lumps of gears and wires that can be broken, sabotaged, and copied. Can you not see the problem with that scenario?”
Major Wraith thought about it for a moment. The man did have a point. Taking the human element out of warfare was a dangerous thought to consider. Not only would it put men like him out of work, but it may make war too easy to incite and too chaotic to manage. And no god-fearing solider ever wanted to fight in a world where war was utter chaos.
“I see what you mean,” said Major Wraith, “I’m just not sure this is the solution.”
“Why not?” said Dr. Cornelius with a hint of excitement, “This program is only helping mankind catch up to the machines they’ve created!”
“Your program basically fine tunes mutants like machines. Some would call that a step backwards.”
“We’re not turning men into machines if that is what you’re implying. We’re merely enhancing their natural attributes. Nature is already doing it. We’re just taking what God has already laid out and putting it to good use.”
“But controlling these attributes is a chief concern, especially if you want to get any kind of pragmatic use out of these specimens as you call them.”
“That’s where proper conditioning comes in,” said Dr. Cornelius with a wry tone, “Every solider is conditioned. You were conditioned at West Point. But you’re only human. For these subjects I will use, a more rigorous form of condition will be needed.”
“How rigorous?” asked Wraith suspiciously.
Dr. Cornelius was silent for a moment. He watched as Wraith looked over his files. There were major details laid out yet, only the general premise. The men who approved this project didn’t care for details. Major Wraith wasn’t one of them. But he suspected he already knew what kind of conditioning he was implying.
“That I haven’t worked out yet,” said Dr. Cornelius, “But some of my associates in Canada and Japan have come up with some interesting theories.”
“Just theories, huh?” said Wraith, “Any of them proven?”
“Well, not yet,” laughed Dr. Cornelius, “That is what testing is for. Given the inherent qualities of the two specimens I’ve recruited I’m sure we’ll have plenty of chances to refine our theories.”
“Right, and what are the chances that process will get messy?”
“As good as they are in any great scientific advancement,” answered Cornelius.
“In other words, pretty high,” Wraith surmised.
“Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs,” the young man smirked, “So long as the research is done outside the country in Canada where the government is utterly unaware of our actions and unaccountable, we can get away with pushing a few ethical limits.”
“How many?” asked Wraith seriously.
“With all due respect, Major…you don’t want to know.”
Major Wraith fell silent. He was tempted to ask more questions, but he would probably sleep easier at night not knowing the details…for now at least. He continued looking over the file. There were a number of drawings and diagrams, detailing what the project would create (in theory at least). It was all very appealing, no doubt a little embellished given how men like Cornelius like to sell their ideas. Some of it seemed a little macabre. Some of it seemed at least a couple decades ahead of their current technology. But he was no scientist. He barely knew how a computer worked. If Dr. Cornelius and this team of his could make this happen, he was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Then his attention fell upon the last file, which was coincidently the thinnest and easiest to miss. It detailed the two initial test subjects he had lined up for this experiment. Officially they were labeled volunteers, but a quick glance at their record indicated something else.
“About these recruits…” said Wraith, his attention now focused a couple of pictures, “Where did you find these guys anyways? Says here they’re Canadian Special Forces.”
“Yes, the higher ups had this thing about using Americans for these tests. They would rather keep their hands clean.”
“I’m sure,” said Wraith, rolling his eyes, “But you think Canada would have more to offer. These two have quite a rap sheet. Tours in Europe and the Pacific, various citations for being renegade, and one of these guys was indicted for treason.”
“You can imagine how eager Department H is to get them off their backs,” smirked Dr. Cornelius.
“I don’t blame them. Aside from their seemingly utter disregard for duty to their country, they look pretty tough. They’ve seen almost as many battles as my dad did when he fought in Europe.”
“They are tough. More so than you think,” said Dr. Cornelius as he took the file from Major Wraith, “They each possess a unique variation of mutant DNA that allows them healing capabilities, which they’ll need if they’re to endure the process I have in store.”
“Is that all they have? Just healing?” said Wraith, “That doesn’t sound like much of a weapon.”
Dr. Cornelius took the rest of the file and grinned ominously. Major Wraith was a good soldier and a halfway decent officer. He didn’t ask nearly the number of annoying questions as the other men he dealt with. He was still an annoying bureaucrat, but the one thing that stood out about him was that he was willing to be convinced. And if his project was successful, he would have an ally in him for the rest of his life.
“Maybe not yet, Major. But I assure you that the healing is only part of a much greater puzzle. When I’m through with these two strapping patriots, they’ll be more than just the products of an advanced weapons program. They’ll be the first step in a new era.”
“What kind of era?” inquired Wraith.
Dr. Cornelius’s grin widened.
“I can’t say for sure. But let’s just say man may finally set himself apart from the animals.”
The vast pine forest of the Canadian wilderness was an unforgiving terrain. Between the cold, the predators, and the rugged terrain only the hardiest of beings had any chance of survival. It was deep in this unforgiving environment that a lone figure rested motionlessly in the snow. He was short, burly, and heavily muscled. Wearing only a pair of tattered jeans, his body was very much exposed to the icy winds.
There were traces of battle scars all over his body. The smell of blood hung in the air around him. He looked as though he had just emerged from a brutal fight. By all accounts, he appeared dead. His unmoving figure soon attracted attention. A lone grizzly out looking for a meal caught his scent and began sniffing around the motionless body. Snarling hungrily, the beast tipped the body with it’s nose to see if it was alive. There was no response, indicating the creature was ripe for predation. Showing it’s sharp teeth, the grizzly prepared to dig into it’s latest catch.
Suddenly, the burly man’s eyes shot open and erupted into a feral rage.
Out of his knuckles, three metal claws popped out with the sound of a snikt. And before the grizzly could react the burly man viciously attacked the creature, plunging his claws deep into its neck. The grizzly tried to fight him off, but it was too late. Blood spewed forth from the animal’s veins as it howled out in agony. Soon, the body of the imposing predator lay dead and the feral figure stood covered in blood with a demeanor more animal than man.
Looking down at his claws, he was very confused.
‘What happened? Where am I? Who am I?’
These burning questions echoed in his twisted mind. He had only a fuzzy recollection of how he got here. He remembered a bloody fight, being knocked out cold, and waking up strapped to a gurney. From there it got really hazy. He remembered men in lab coats surrounding him, poking and prodding him with needles and chemicals. It was painful, evoking in him a burning rage that overwrote any semblance of humanity.
From there it went dark. The next thing he remembered was fighting his way out. Blurry visions of him breaking his restrains and attacking his enemies flashed before his eyes. He remembered tearing through dozens of armed guards and scientists. Their screams of yells still echoed through his mind. He had been operating on complete rage then. He couldn’t control himself. But something was different now.
Then suddenly, he looked down and his eyes fell upon a dog tag he had around his neck that bore a haunting name.
‘Logan…my name is, Logan.’
The mission was a full go for the X-men as they flew over the skies of Canada aboard the X-jet. They were all in full uniform, including Storm who was wearing hers for the first time. They were zeroing in on the target zone. Professor Xavier was back at the mansion manning Cerebro, but kept in close contact. There was still no word about the nature of this mysterious mutant they had detected, but the team remained vigilant.
For Storm, it was quite an experience flying in this high tech wonder. Looking out the window, it was remarkable that such a plane existed. It looked like something right out of a sci-fi movie. The forward swept wings, elongated body, and black stealth covering made it as sleek as it was fast. It was amazing they could get clear across the continent in less than an hour. And bearing her new uniform, she was getting her first real glimpse at what it was like to be an X-man.
“This is some jet,” she commented, admiring the view out the window.
“Yep, this baby is one of a kind,” said Scott, who was skillfully flying the aircraft, “The XR-77 Blackbird, twice as fast as the SR-71 and three times the firepower. When you need to be on the other side of the world to fight the good fight, it’s the only way to travel.”
“Plus, it beats the hell out of having to go through airport security,” added Warren.
“But how on Earth did Xavier ever get his hands on something like this?” she asked.
“Oh the Professor has his connections, my dear,” said Hank, who was sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, “You’d be surprised what kind of exotic acquisitions you can attain if you know the right people.”
“That and being filthy, freakin’ rich helps,” added Bobby.
“Well…that too,” laughed Hank.
It made about as much sense as anything she experienced today. Between this jet, Cerebro, and the Danger Room she was becoming accustomed to being so astonished. She already felt right at home in this new uniform of hers. Like everyone else on the team, hers was distinctive with her own personal touch. It looked very similar to Jean’s with the tight fitting black pants and matching halter top with an X on the chest. But she added some wing flaps on hers along with some purple embroiders to help with her powers. It also helped that it looked stunning on her.
But Ororo had little time to be astonished with her new surroundings. The mission was just about upon them. Descending through the clouds, the team neared their destination. Outside, vast pine forest stretched for miles. There was also a little turbulence as they passed through the blistering winds, but Scott kept it level.
“Okay team, we’re approaching the target area,” said Scott, hitting the necessary commands on the console, “Professor, do you read me?”
“I read you Scott. The signal is a little weak, but you’re coming in loud and clear.”
“What about the mutant signature?”
“I’m still tracking him with Cerebro. It’s strange, but I’m still getting nothing on his background. It seems as though every time I find a lead, I hit a dead end.”
“Hmm…sounds quite mysterious,” said Hank with growing intrigue.
“Indeed, but the mystery will have to take a back seat at the moment. It appears his signature is now moving.”
“Guess that makes our job that much harder,” sighed Warren.
“Without a doubt, Angel. I’m also detecting a lot of rage and confusion.”
“What kind of rage are we talking about here?” asked Jean.
“With a name like Wolverine, I can only imagine,” made Bobby.
“Well I can safely say that name is well deserved. From what I can sense he’s operating on little higher thoughts. Everything seems to be coming from predatory animal instincts.”
“Ah, then we should have something in common,” quipped Beast.
“If his rage is any indication, I would certainly hope not, Hank. When you find him, chances are you’ll need to calm him.”
“Don’t worry, Professor. I can handle it,” assured Jean.
“I’m certain you can, Jean. But stay vigilant X-men. I have a feeling that we may not be the only ones looking for our mystery mutant.”
“Great, who doesn’t enjoy a little competition?” shrugged Bobby.
“Bobby…” groaned Scott, shaking his head in frustration.
“Oh lighten up, Scott,” said Jean, smiling back at her friend, “A good challenge will help Ororo break in her new uniform.”
“With a guy like this, that may be a bit much. We’re not talking about breaking up a riot or helping some confused mutant settle down. The Professor said it himself. This is a lot more complicated than that.”
“Guess we’ll have to work that much harder,” shrugged Jean, “If nothing else, it’ll show her just how tough we X-men can be.”
Scott eased somewhat at her words and so did Ororo. Jean always had a talent for putting things in perspective and reassuring others of their mission. It seemed to perfectly compliment Scott’s constant concerns, a fact he was more than aware of. But that didn’t stop Bobby from muttering a few extra comments to Warren.
“Always with the flirting,” he snickered.
“Is that supposed to surprise me?” said the winged mutant, rolling his eyes.
“No, but you got to admit it’s getting old. I’m running out of jokes to make about it.”
“Oh I’m sure you’ll come up with plenty more,” grinned the winged mutant.
Choosing to ignore that comment, Scott activated the vertical thrusters in preparation for their landing. The X-jet hit more turbulence as it descended, but thanks to his flight skill the high tech aircraft landed safely. The terrain was rugged with thick forests, deep snow, and heavy overcast in the skies, fueling the icy winds that swept through the trees.
Upon landing safely, the X-men put on their heavy winter attire over their uniforms. The cold weather outside was clearly working against them, but there was no turning back now. Wolverine was out there and it was up to them to find him.
“Whoa that’s cold!” shivered Warren as they stepped out.
“Are you kidding? This is my kind of weather!” grinned Iceman, who was the only one not bundled up.
“And mine as well,” said Hank, the blowing snow ruffling his thick body hair, “Sometimes being Beast has its benefits.”
“Says you,” shivered Jean, hugging her shoulders for warmth despite wearing a heavy red jacket, “Let’s find this guy fast so we can get out of here.”
“Agreed. Can you sense anything Marvel Girl?” asked Cyclops.
Closing her eyes and focusing her powers, Jean scanned the area for the mind of their target. There wasn’t much to sense in the vast Canadian wilderness, but that help make it easier for the young psychic to find what she needed.
“I…I’m picking up some stray thoughts. The Professor wasn’t kidding. They’re pretty messed up.”
“Then we better get going. Angel, you scout from the air while we follow Jean. If you see anything, let us know,” ordered Scott.
“On it, Cyclops!” said the winged mutant as he took to the air, “But if I catch a cold, I’m blaming you!”
Warren soon disappeared into the snow. As their main flyer, he often acted as a scout to warn them of impending obstacles. Against someone like Wolverine, they could use all the warnings they could get. The X-jet was still in sight when Jean got another reading that forced her to take notice.
“What is it?” asked Hank, sensing her shift.
“By that look I’m guessing we’ll have more to worry about than the cold,” surmised Bobby.
“Quiet! Talking and filtering thoughts isn’t as easy as it looks!” said Jean strongly.
Taking a moment to process what she was sensing, a look of urgency soon fell over her face. She may not have mastered her powers like the Professor, but she was skilled enough to make out a clear and present threat.
“Oh crap! We better hurry guys. I’m sensing a lot of other minds!”
“So Wolverine’s running with a crowd now?” said Scott, now having to adjust his strategy for this mission.
“I don’t think it’s that simple, Cyclops. Whoever these people are, they don’t feel too friendly!”
Northwest Canada – One Week Ago
Mankind had come a long way from its humble evolutionary origins. In a modern world filled with machines, computers, and culture it was hard to imagine that humans were once feral primates roaming the unforgiving wilderness. For some, however, that feral nature had not been written out by evolution. In fact, there were those who embraced their more primal instincts.
Victor Creed was one of the few who cared little for the so called civilizing process of modern humanity. He was a life-long killer, having had to fight for survival with his bear hands rather than outwit his adversaries into submission. Some would say it was part of his mutation. He had the mutant ability to heal from wounds that would otherwise kill a lesser man. He also had agile, cat-like reflexes that made him fast, nimble, and strong. This deadly nature is part of what earned him the nickname, Sabretooth. Those weren’t his only abilities, but those were the ones he relied on most.
In his life he had been many things. The problem was he didn’t exactly remember what those things were. He was a man without a complete memory. Sometimes he remembered himself as a soldier. Sometimes he remembered himself as a mercenary. Sometimes he remembered himself as just a drifter. None of it was clear, but that didn’t bother him. Some people called him a monster. Perhaps he was in some ways. But he didn’t run from it. He embraced what he was and made no bone about it.
‘Ah Canada, the only place were a brute like me can be king. The only place where I can rip the head off a grizzly, chow down on fresh deer, and scare the shit out of dumb-assed hikers in the same day! What a world. Too bad I’ll be leaving it behind for a while.’
Snarling with a feral snort, Victor Creed seethed as he lofted about in his isolated wooden cabin. It was just before sunrise and he was getting himself ready for the hunt by lifting weights in his basement. His ripped muscular form bulged as he did several sets with a bar bell that was packed with enough weight to make a body builder envious. With every lift he felt his feral senses sharpen. He was going to need them for what was to come. But like any Sabretooth, he was ready to face the challenge.
As he did more reps, he barely flinched when he heard the door to his basement open. Around these parts, visitors were pretty rare and most were smart enough to stay away from his cabin. But Sabretooth quickly recognized this scent and caution was not his strongest suit. He held back an angry urge to attack and rip the intruder to shreds. Instead, he just kept lifting even as the door to his basement opened.
“Don’t bother being quiet, Wraith! I know you’re there!” he called out.
“I see age hasn’t dampened your senses, Victor,” said General John Wraith as he carefully descended the basement stairs.
“That’s Sabretooth to you, Johnny boy!” snarled Victor Creed, “And don’t try and flatter me. I knew you were coming.”
“And you didn’t attack? I’m shocked if not a little insulted. I did go through all the trouble to track you down and assemble my best strike force to meet with you.”
“As if they would do you any good,” scoffed Sabretooth, “So spare me the dramatic entrance and start talking! You’re lucky I’m in such a good mood today because there are so many reasons I should gut you where you stand!”
“But you’re not going to,” said Wraith confidently, “Not after you hear what I have to offer you.”
“Let me guess…another all expense paid trip to Weapon X central where I’ll be treated to the best dissection your dirty military funds have to buy?”
“Even better,” grinned the elder general, “How about a little someone called Wolverine?”
Victor Creed couldn’t help but snarl at the mention of that name. Every time he heard it he felt a burning rage erupt within him. He almost bent his bar bell into a pretzel with his rage. It was just the kind of reaction Wraith was hoping for.
“I’ll take it by that charming reaction of yours that it’s a name you remember,” said Wraith.
Dropping his bar bell, Creed shot around and approached the fully uniformed general in a menacing manner.
“Don’t get cute with me, Wraith! You know I don’t play your games!”
“Funny, I seem to remember you going along many times before,” he said snidely, “Although I doubt you remember.”
“You looking to give me more reasons to rip your head off?” roared Sabretooth.
“As if you don’t have enough?” scoffed the general, “Please, I’m actually here because for once I need your help. And seeing as how it involved our old friend Wolverine, I figured you would be best equipped to assist.”
“Oh yeah? And what makes you so sure I would listen after all the bullshit you’ve put me through?”
“For two reasons actually,” he pointed out, “First, you obviously hate him with a passion nobody on God’s green Earth could match. That’s more incentive than even the toughest, bravest grunt can match. Second, I still have the answers to a whole lot of questions you’ve been obsessing over.”
“You think I care enough about the answers to want to help you out?”
“I think you care enough about them and getting back at Wolverine to take a chance.”
Creed folded his arms apprehensively. There were so many reasons for him to not trust this guy. He screwed him over more than once and he was the kind of guy to keep doing so as long as he felt he could get away with it. To rip this guy’s head off and send him to hell would practically be an act of mercy.
Wraith could sense Sabretooth’s undying hatred. He wouldn’t be surprised if this deeply disturbed man just snapped on him and ripped his intestines out on the spot. But to his surprise, the feral mutant actually grinned.
“You’re a sick man, Wraith. Coming from a guy like me, that’s saying something,” he snarled.
“So you’ll do it?” said Wraith.
“Don’t think you swayed me with your fancy incentives. I already decided before you walked in. Why else would you still be breathing?”
“So why lead me on? It could have saved us both from this ridiculously awkward moment.”
“Just had to make sure you would provide the right incentive,” grinned Creed, “Now that I know, you can sign me up. For another shot at Wolverine, you know I’m game! There’s just one little tidbit to add before we make it official.”
“If this involves wiping another spree killing off your already bloody record, you can forget it,” said Wraith sternly.
“Hell no! Since when have I cared about my record?” scoffed Sabretooth, “All I want is a few extra moments with Wolverine myself before your boys tear into him! He and I got some old scores to settle! That runt is long overdue for his full punishment!”
General Wraith grinned, a rare gesture from a man such as him. He knew he could count on Sabretooth’s undying hatred of Wolverine to supersede his hatred for Weapon X. It should make this mission that much more efficient.
“I think that can be arranged,” he said as he led the feral mutant out of the basement, “Come on up and I’ll fill you in on the plan. I think you’ll like what we have in store for our friend, Logan.”
Creek – Present Time
Drudging through the cold snow, the man known as Logan collapsed into a creek, washing the blood off his hands from the grizzly. His limbs were numb from the cold, but he barely noticed as he let out grunts resembling that of an animal. He was lost and confused. He didn’t know where he was, how he got there, or where he came from. His memory was sketchy, but he wasn’t concerned with that at the moment. Right now, it was all about survival.
Gathering some cold water in his hand, he splashed it across his face. Trails of blood still dripped from his claws. His memories weren’t any clearer, but his senses were sharper than ever now. If he was to survive, he needed every instinct working in overdrive. Suddenly, he caught a scent. Taking the stance of a skilled hunter, Logan drew his claws and growled, his breath hanging strong in the air.
“That smell…I know that smell.”
Further embracing his primal state, Logan carefully scanned the area, moving slowly and stealthily through the pines. Whatever this scent was, it made him feel nothing but rage. Whoever it belonged to, it was someone that brought out the utmost hate in him.
But unknown to the confused man, the source of the scent was already tracking him from afar. Standing safely atop a large pine tree, a tall, heavily muscles man with wild, burly hair and cat like claws was scoping him out through a pair of binoculars. Slowly, a sinister grin formed on his face, revealing his sharp, fang-like teeth.
“Wraith…this is Sabretooth,” he said into a communicator, “I’ve got Wolverine in my sights.”
Over the radio, an ominous voice responded.
“Good job. My men will be in shortly. The little prick can run, but he can’t hide.”
“Spare me the clichéd military talk. Leave this one to a real predator!”
“Don’t get cute with me, Sabretooth! Remember our deal! I want him apprehended, not killed!”
“Relax, old man! I’m not going to kill him! I’m just going to rough him up a bit,” grinned the feral mutant, “You said I would get my shots at him. Might as well start now!”
“Over and out, General,” said the snarling Sabretooth, “You got your mission I got mine. Let’s see if your boys can keep up!”
Flying just over the tree tops, Warren Worthington III scouted ahead for his teammates, taking note of anything that looked suspicious. So far, all he saw was more trees, a few creeks, and endless mounds of snow. It didn’t help that the cold was starting to make his wings numb.
“Man, I’m going to be sick tomorrow,” he said, fighting through the blistering winds.
Passing over a dense layer of trees, Warren came upon a narrow road. Changing course slightly, he followed it north, looking for any signs of life. Then suddenly, he saw a flock of birds take off through one of the trees. And in the distance, he heard the distinctive sound of heavy vehicles punching through fields of snow.
Flying closer to the disturbance, Warren stayed low to avoid detection. Using his stealth skills, he landed atop a tall tree just ahead of the convoy. And from the looks of it, they weren’t too friendly.
“Uh, Cyclops?” he said through his X-shaped com-link, “We’ve got company.”
“What kind of company?”
“The kind that rides in armored tanks and carries assault rifles I’ve only seen on Battlestar Galactica reruns.”
“Where are they heading?”
“North from the looks of it. Where are you guys?”
“Heading in the same direction. Which can only mean they’re after the same thing.”
“Great,” groaned Warren, “So what do we do?”
“You keep an eye on them. We’ll find Wolverine. If they get close, warn us. But don’t let them see you. If these guys are armed, then fighting them would be a bad idea.”
“No argument here,” said Warren, watching as several troops scouted ahead of the convoy, “I’ll meet up with you if they turn up the heat. Just find whoever this guy is so we can get out of here. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
Over the line, Cyclops shared his anxiety. Still following Jean, the air was tense. But they continued pushing forward, braving the Canadian cold in search of Wolverine.
“I hear you, man. Over and out.”
Turning his communicator off, they renewed their search. Emotions were running high now that they had some competition to deal with. But it was all part of the job.
“Is it always this tense?” asked Ororo.
“Oh it can be far more nerve-racking, I assure you,” assured Beast, “But fear not. We’re safe as long as we stick together. And if it makes you feel better, I’ll stay close.”
That earned him a reassuring smile from the African beauty. Even in the bitter cold, she still blushed at his kindness.
For Bobby, however, it was a hell of a time to flirt.
“Man, of all the times to…”
Suddenly, Jean stopped.
“Hold it!” she said, looking out through the woods, “Guys! I think I found him! This way! Hurry!”
Not wasting any time questioning her telepathy, the X-men treaded through the cold snow, following their telepathic friend. But the Professor’s warning and Warren’s observations were definitely cause for concern. Whoever this Wolverine character was, he knew how to attract trouble.
Just Up Ahead…
Logan was closing in on the scent. He could feel the presence looming near. His claws were still drawn and his demeanor purely predatory. This was nature in its simplest form, the hunter and the hunted.
“Where are you?” he growled, sniffing the air thoroughly, “I know you’re here!”
Stopping just beneath a large pine, Logan’s panted through the blistering cold. His mind was still a mess, the human side of his brain down and his memories cluttered. But there was something about this scent that made him burn with rage.
Suddenly, from the top of the tree, a shadowy figure leapt into the cold air, pouncing upon the waiting figure below.
With little time to react, Logan’s instincts kicked in. Sabretooth had the jump on him, his cat-like claws poised to rip his insides out, but Logan caught them as they tumbled to the ground.
But with Sabretooth’s imposing strength and Logan’s numb limbs, he couldn’t hold him off for long.
“Thought you could run, huh? Thought you could get away, didn’t you?!” growled Sabretooth with a sadistic grin.
Logan recognized that face. He recognized that voice. He didn’t know where, but it triggered immense anger within him. Seeing blood red, he let out a raging howl.
Using his legs to his advantage, Logan kicked him off, slamming him into a tree. But with superhuman reflexes, Sabretooth easily landed on his feet.
With bloodied scratches on his torso, Logan erupted in a rage of feral roars.
“That’s it! Give me the Wolverine!” growled Sabretooth, “You always were too weak to embrace your inner animal! Guess that mind wipe helped!”
“Mind…wipe?” grunted the feral man.
Suddenly, Logan got a flash of memories. He remembered being in some strange, liquid filled tube. He had wires going in and out of his body and was completely paralyzed. Then he remembered the blinding pain, the furious rage, and bloody rampage that followed.
But in that memory, he wasn’t alone. There was someone else who went through that same process. And it was none other than the raging attacker before him.
Suddenly, a name came to him.
“S-S-Sabretooth!” he growled with unbridled hatred.
“Ha! You remembered!” he grinned, taking a predatory stance, “You always did have a lousy memory…what’s left of it anyways. Glad to know I still hold a place in that warped brain of yours! Can’t wait to see what they look like!”
Fueled by rage, Sabretooth and Wolverine fought it out like animals. Sabretooth showed no mercy, tearing into his burly flesh and ripping bloody gashes into his body. But this didn’t slow Wolverine in the slightest. With his nimble agility, Wolverine slashed through Sabretooth’s heavy muscle, plunging his claws into his torso and chest. Blood gushed from his body, but it only enraged him further.
Going for the kill, Sabretooth tackled him to the ground again, grabbing his neck and trying to cut off his air. Ignoring the profuse bleeding from his chest and stomach, he reveled in the feeling. At last, he was going to finish this once and for all.
“Oh I’m gonna enjoy watching the boys back at Weapon X dissect your sorry ass! Face it ‘old chum!’ It’s over!”
Letting out a feral roar, Logan plunged his claws into his neck, causing him to fall back with a pained grunt, trying to stop the blood from gushing.
Logan was heavily winded, but still in his predatory state. In his feral mind, this was survival of the fittest…kill or be killed. And he had no intention of doing the latter.
“You son of a bitch!” yelled Sabretooth in a blind rage, “I swear you’re gonna…”
But before he could begin another attack, a bright red optic blast shot through the trees and sent Sabretooth flying.
“Land on your feet from that,” said Cyclops as he and the X-men emerged from the trees.
“Nice shot, Cyclops!” commended Hank, “Now comes the hard part.”
“Oh boy, the Professor really knows how to pick em,” commented Bobby as he took in Logan’s appearance.
He was angry, bloody, and had metal claws coming out of his knuckles. Wearing only tattered jeans, his poise was more animal than man. And as he took these new figures, his predatory instincts kicked in.
“You!” he yelled with a feral roar.
“Wait!” exclaimed Jean, holding up her hands in a peaceful gesture, “It’s okay! We’re not here to hurt you! We just…”
“Jean!” yelled Scott as he pushed her out of the way, avoiding Logan’s charge.
Turning his sights to whoever was near him, he lashed out at Ororo and Hank, slashing his claws indiscriminately.
“Be careful my friends!” yelled Beast as he pulled Logan into a grapple, “I fear his primal side is dominant now!”
“Really? What gave it away?” quipped Bobby.
Using his ice powers, Bobby froze Logan from the waist down, causing him to keel over. But the raging mutant tore right through it with his claws and resumed his fight, this time going for Bobby.
“Oh boy…not good!” yelled Bobby as he stumbled back.
“Bobby!” yelled Ororo, unleashing a gust of wind that blew Logan back.
“Wow! Now that’s the only way to fly!” made Bobby as Hank helped him up.
“Then it’s time we ground him!” said Jean, recovering from the initial attack, “Stand back guys! I’m going to try to use my telepathy to calm him down!”
“Be careful Jean. This guy’s a fighter!” warned Cyclops, his hands still on his visor.
Watching the Wolverine eye his prey, Jean prepared a psychic assault. Logan may have been tattered, but he was far from beaten. He wouldn’t go down quietly, but through his rage, the human side of his mind began to catch up.
“NO! You’ll never take me back, dirtbags!” he roared.
“What is he talking about?” questioned Ororo.
“I’m not sure!” said Jean, “But we’ll worry about that later when…”
Suddenly, an ominous voice cut her off.
“Freeze!” yelled one of the guards.
And with unrelenting force, an army of heavily armed guards in full military gear emerged from the trees. They were all completely covered in black uniforms with helmets that hid their faces. And they were all packing, each one of them armed with an ominous looking assault rifle. Whoever they were, they meant business.
“Or…we could worry about it now,” made Iceman.
They were completely surrounded, all possible points of escape cut off. Logan scanned all possible escape points. Most of those high tech guns were pointed at him, so he prepared to fight his way out. But the X-men tried to be more civil.
“Hands where we can see them!” ordered another guard.
“Easy there, guys. We’re not here to cause any trouble,” said Cyclops with a peaceful gesture.
“Too late! The animal comes with us! Under the jurisdiction of Weapon X, I’m placing all of you under arrest!”
Taking in their situation, it didn’t look good for either the X-men or Wolverine.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” groaned Marvel Girl.
“Does it look like we’re kidding you, doll face!” said one of the guards as he stepped forward, his gun pointed directly at the young redhead, “Now put your hands on your head and…”
Suddenly, the hapless guard was cut off by a force from above that knocked him to the cold snowy ground.
“Heads up, fellas!” yelled Warren as he swooped down in a swift attack.
“Another one! Take him down! Take him down!”
“Here we go…” grinned Bobby, his ice covered body springing into action.
“X-men! Spread out and draw away their fire!” ordered Scott, unleashing a wave of optic blasts into the trees.
Taking cover in the snow, the X-men scattered to avoid the incoming fire.
The sound of high powered rifle fire echoed through the trees. In the air, Warren drew plenty of fire, but flew too fast for them to get an accurate shot. It helped divert attention from down below as Cyclops and Iceman went on the offensive, hitting the fortified team of soldiers with optic blasts and ice bombardments.
Marvel Girl stayed on the defensive, using her telekinesis to shield her friends. It was an intense fight, especially for Ororo. This wasn’t the first time she had been around this sort of gunfire, but it had never been like this. And the sound of gunfire knocked her off her balance.
“Oh my…Ahhhhhh!” yelled Storm, stumbling to the snowy ground as a bullet narrowly missed her.
Thankfully, Beast was there to catch her.
“Careful, Storm,” he said, taking her behind one of Jean’s shields, “Best not to lose your footing in the middle of a battle.”
“Yes, that much I gather!” she shouted over the gunfire, “We have to end this!”
“No kidding! Any ideas how?” exclaimed Bobby.
The guards showed no signs of letting up. Warren kept swooping in, breaking their organization while the X-men held their ground. Wolverine, however, was on a rampage. Several guards tried to subdue him only to be impaled with his claws. He raged on, howling in the heat of the moment, slicing through weapons and flesh. A few bullets hit him, but they didn’t stop him. He just kept going. But eventually, the troops reorganized and closed in on them.
“Box them in! Cut them off!” yelled one of the commanders.
Closing the gap, the X-men fell into a central clearing. Jean was struggling to keep the shield up while Cyclops, Iceman, and Storm countered. Warren later joined too, backing up his friends and keeping with the fight.
“Fall back X-men! Take emergency formation!” ordered Cyclops.
“What about Wolverine?” exclaimed Beast.
“We’ll have to take him with us! We just…”
Then suddenly, out of the corner of Logan’s eye, he saw a guard aiming a rocket launcher right at the X-men. Not thinking about his actions for a second, he sprang into action.
As the rocket fired, Logan leaped into the group and pushed Cyclops and Jean out of the way while the others hit the ground. Iceman instinctively put up an ice shield to guard everybody, but Logan remained unprotected as the rocket exploded with a bang.
In a blinding flash, the Wolverine took the blunt end of the damage as hot shrapnel tore through his flesh. The rest of the X-men seemed to disappear as the blast kicked up the snow. But it was enough for the soldiers to assume a hit.
“I got em!” yelled the soldier that fired the shot, “Now we just have to…”
But before the guards could close in for the final blow, a strong gust of wind shot through the trees. Snow from all around was carried in the intense whirlwind, forming a miniature tornado that blinded and overwhelmed the hapless soldiers.
“What the hell?!”
Bursting up through the ice shield, Ororo Munroe rose in the air, her eyes glowing white as she showed her true power.
“Enough!” she proclaimed.
“Wow…talk about a blowout,” commented Iceman as the rest of the team watched in amazement.
“Indeed…” said Hank, who couldn’t help but grin.
With a final gesture, Storm unleashed a burst of blistering wind, sending every guard flying through the cold as if they were in a tornado and they were just debris. And by the time the winds died down enough for the soldiers to collect themselves, both Wolverine and the X-men were gone.
Weapon X HQ
Sitting at his desk in with a cold poise, General Johnath Wraith stared angrily at his phone. Dressed in his full military attire, it was hard to feel any pride in his work after seeing how everything was panning out thus far. His demeanor was not a happy one, looking stone cold as he awaited the final word on his little side mission.
“Something’s wrong,” said a man in a white lab coat standing next to him, “They should have called by now.”
“Take it easy Cornelius. They’ll call.”
As if on cue, his phone rang and he eagerly picked it up.
“This is Wraith. You better have good news, Sabretooth!” he said, standing up to hear the report, “Uh huh…I see…damn it, I should’ve known…oh don’t worry, I’m still pissed at you even if it wasn’t your fault. But I don’t have time to lecture you…what do we do? We regroup, of course. Meet me back at base. We’ll have to make a few arrangements. I didn’t get involved with Weapon X again to have it fail like this…Don’t argue with me, Sabretooth! Just do it!”
Slamming the phone down, General Wraith let out a frustrated grunt. This little operation was going every bit as bad as he feared. He knew he took a risk when he got involved with Weapon X again. It seemed this program was cursed. Every time they tried to make it right, something went horribly wrong.
Yet despite this failure, Dr. Cornelius was not dissuaded.
“We need to get that specimen back,” he said in a determined tone.
“I know,” said Wraith, “And trust me, we will. That little runt can only run for so long. But we WILL finish this. This project is not going to fail on my watch.”
Wraith’s tone left no room for argument, but that didn’t stop Cornelius. He remained adamant, if not obsessed. Such was the legacy of weapon X.
“I appreciate the dedication, General. But this is quite an unexpected turn,” he pointed out, “Now that we have a new pack of freaks to deal with. What are we going to do about them?”
Wraith took deep breaths, forcing himself to ease up a bit. He may have been a stern military man, but he was also a confident one. This was quite a setback. He always tried to prepare for them, but there was always the off chance that something completely out of the blue will come in to ruin everything. Even with this latest development, he was far from dissuaded in this most ambitious endeavor.
“We’ll keep an eye on them,” he said assertively as they left his office, “I don’t know why they’d bother with a toilet bug like Wolverine, but rest assured they’ll pay for messing with Weapon X.”
“I would certainly hope so,” said Dr. Cornelius, “And who knows? They may prove useful to us.”
He was floating in a bio tube. All around him was this strange greenish liquid. It smelled horrible and felt even worse. His body was strewn with wires and sensors. They were going into his arms, his legs, his head, and his back. It made him feel violated, trapped, and angry on a whole new level. But despite these feelings, he was unable to do anything about it. He was completely paralyzed as he hovered motionlessly in the tank. All he could make out were some faint voices outside the tube
“Vitals looking good. Sensors in the green. His healing is working full throttle and he’s completely under. Looks like we’re ready, sir.”
“Excellent,” said an ominous voice that trigged a burning rage within him, “Begin the bonding process.”
“No…” he growled, trying to fight it.
Machines were humming and the fluid within the tank was bubbling. Everything started getting hotter and more intense. Through the tubes, a strange mix of fluids filled his body. His body started contorting, his veins bulged and throbbed, and the feral rage within grew more intense with each passing second.
Then he felt it. A stabbing pain surged through his being, setting every nerve ablaze with agony. It was pain of the worst kind. His body and mind were being pushed beyond their limits. All he could do was endure as the feeling consumed him.
“It’s working! It’s working!”
Suddenly, Logan shot up from the vivid nightmare, drawing his claws and preparing to attack whoever dared stand in his way. But when he awoke, he wasn’t met with soldiers or scientists. Instead, he saw the blue beast-man, the redhead, the boy with the visor from earlier, and a bald man in a wheelchair by his bedside.
“Welcome back, Logan,” he said kindly.
Breathing in ragged gasps, he looked around at his surroundings. From the looks of it, he was in a hospital of sorts. And he just happened to hate hospitals.
“Who are you? Where the hell am I?!” he demanded.
“Please, calm yourself. You’re quite safe,” said the Professor with a peaceful gesture.
“I’ll be the judge of that, bub!” he growled, pointing his claws at the Professor.
“Watch it, Wolverine!” warned Scott, stepping in front of the Professor, “We were nice enough to bring you here to treat your wounds so at least show some courtesy.”
Scott clearly didn’t trust this man, but his words about wounds rekindled Logan’s memory. The fight with the Weapon X soldiers came rushing back to him. He remembered getting away from those heavily armed thugs and getting help from these people in the process. And while it was still fuzzy, he remembered enough to know what Scott said was true.
“You’re lucky to be alive,” said the Professor, maintaining a kind demeanor, “Your wounds were quite severe.”
“Wounds?” Logan groaned, feeling around his torso.
“Yes, you were quite damaged,” said Hank, “Although you did much of the healing on your own. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Not feeling any scars on his body, Logan rubbed his head in frustration. His memory was still a mess, but at least he wasn’t raging anymore. He still didn’t trust these people, but it was better than being the forest.
“I know you’re confused, Logan,” said Xavier as he approached the dazed man, “But first, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Professor Charles Xavier. And these are my associates Hank McCoy, Scott Summers, and Jean Grey. And we’re the X-men.”
“The X-men?” he said with a scoff, “What are you? Traveling circus?”
“No, we are a school. The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning is a place for mutants like yourself. Here they can live, learn, and manage their powers while also using their unique gifts to do good for humanity.”
Logan merely scoffed at the Professor’s peaceful words.
“Great…a bunch of do-gooders,” he muttered.
“Oh we’re much more than that,” said Hank, “We also study mutation in hopes of understand it. I’m sure you’re already aware of this, but you yourself are a mutant, a healer to be precise. You also have heightened senses that allow you…”
“Cut the crap, animal boy. I know my powers,” he growled as he got off the bed.
“Then maybe you could explain to us the adamantium metal that’s been fused to your bones?” Hank went on.
Logan growled angrily at the recollection of that experience. His fists clenched and his face contorted, the memory of being in that tank still hanging vividly in his mind. But thankfully, Xavier stepped in.
“I’m sure we can answer that another day, Hank,” he said, signaling him to back off, “For now, I wish to discuss where we go from here.”
“We ain’t goin anywhere from here, baldy,” he said, as he slipped off the infirmary bed, “I guess I should be thankful for getting’ me outta that mess, but I’m outta here.”
“You’re leaving? Where are you going to go?” asked Jean.
“Shit if I know. But I’ve got some questions that need answerin’ and I sure as hell ain’t gonna find em here,” he said as he barged past the Professor.
“Logan wait…” urged Xavier.
Letting out a frustrated grunt, Logan turned back to face the wheel chair bound man. He didn’t plan on listening, but he let the guy talk.
“I know you’re confused. Your memory is in pieces.”
“You went into my head?!” he said angrily.
Logan took a step closer to Xavier, causing Scott to take a defensive stance. However, Xavier rose his hand and held him back.
“I’m sorry, but I had to,” justified Xavier, “You were thrashing wildly. Clearly, something is tormenting you. That berserker state you were in clearly shows that. And we can help.”
“Help me? Yeah right! How the hell can you help me?” scoffed Logan.
Wheeling closer to the feral mutant, Xavier extended his hand in a welcoming gesture.
“Stay with us,” he offered, “My institute is open to anyone seeking guidance. I understand you’re confused, but we can help find the answers you seek. We can also help you learn to manage your powers.”
His words were sincere, but Logan remained stoic. He didn’t need help. He didn’t need anything from anybody. And besides, this was a school. He had no place here.
“Let’s get one thing straight here, Prof,” he said menacingly, “I don’t need help. I fight my own battles. I don’t need some stinkin’ school trying to soften me up. I appreciate the lift, but I’m blowin’ this joint so back off!”
Not waiting for further response, Logan stormed out of the infirmary, shoving Xavier’s chair aside. The Professor attempted to call him back, but he was already gone. Such crude mannerisms were enough to keep Scott and Hank on their guard. While the Professor’s heart was in the right place in lending him their help, it was clear that this was a man who may be beyond help.
“That actually went better than I expected,” commented Hank.
“Yeah, I’m amazed he didn’t break anything,” added Scott.
“Should we go after him?”
“A guy like that?” scoffed the X-leader, “I don’t think he would fit in here.”
But for Jean, she was not amused. Casting her friends a harsh look, she exited through the infirmary in pursuit of Logan.
“Real nice, you guys! Giving up that easily is so what the X-men are about!” she said sarcastically, “I guess I’ll have to talk to him.”
“Jean…” said Scott, placing a hand on her shoulder, “I think he made it clear that he doesn’t want anything to do with us.”
“So?” she said, pulling away, “He just got out of being chased by a bunch of armed soldiers ready to shoot him like an animal. Of course he’s not going to trust us. But why should that stop us from helping him?”
Scott and Hank were left surprised by Jean’s perseverance. They probably shouldn’t have been since she always had a tendency for reaching out to people. While Scott was reluctant to let her go to catch up with Logan, Hank held him back. He was more inclined to give Jean a chance.
“Let her try, Scott,” said Hank, “Perhaps the urgings of someone like Jean will be more persuasive to one such as Logan.”
“Would that even be a good thing?” said Scott.
“It’s always a good thing if we can reach some who feels lost, Scott,” said Xavier more seriously, “It’s part of who we are as X-men. Because in my experience, it is those such as Logan need the most help of all.”
Leaving her bewildered friend behind, Jean rushed to catch up with Logan. After battling those soldiers together it would be such a shame if he just left like this. She sensed in him a man who had a heart. Someone just had to be there to reach it.
Logan didn’t even acknowledge Jean’s approaching presence as he stormed away from the infirmary. All he could focus on was his next move. He didn’t know where he was going in this crazy place, but anywhere other than where just came was better. He was intent on finding an exit even if he had to make one. He had people to hunt down, questions that needed answering, and an old score to settle with Sabretooth.
But before he could, Jean Grey made one last attempt to reach him.
“Logan wait!” she said, stopping him midway down the hall.
Letting out a frustrated grunt, he turned to see the approaching redhead.
“What do you want?” he said with an annoyed tone.
“I just wanted to say something before you ran out,” she told him, her voice unmistakably sincere.
“Well say it fast and tell me where the damn door is in this place. I got a long road ahead of me and I don’t need you people wasting any more of my time.”
His tone was harsh. He wasn’t going to make this easy on her, but Jean was not dissuaded. She remained sincere as she carefully approached him.
“I think you’re making a mistake. You really should give us a chance. We can help you. We can give you a place to belong.”
“I don’t need help. And I don’t need to belong,” he scoffed.
“Everybody needs to belong. Even you,” she said skeptically.
“Why the hell do you care?” he said, getting frustrated, “Let me tell you somethin’, darlin’…I don’t belong anywhere! I ain’t a nice guy. I’m a freakin’ meat puppet. Those guys back there? That should give you an idea of how screwed up I am! My memories are a mess, I got a mountain of rage burnin’ inside me every waking hour, and I’ve got some very nasty people after me. Hell, I’m more animal than man half the time, so why give a shit?”
“Because I think there may be a man inside that animal that’s worth saving,” said Jean, not skipping a beat, “Remember when you pushed me and Scott out of the path of that rocket? That says something about you, Logan. You may not see it, but I can sense it.”
“Great, did you read my mind too?” he grunted.
“I don’t need to.”
Then, in a daring show of her sincerity, she approached the feral man and traced a hand down his burly face.
“I once thought I could only fight my battles alone. But that only landed me in a mental hospital with a straight jacket and a cocktail of meds. Then the Professor came to me and helped me. He helped all of us. Being around people like Scott, Hank, and everybody else made me realize that we can take control of our lives…even when we feel we’ve already lost it.”
Logan could have easily pulled away, but he didn’t. Looking into those green eyes of hers, he just couldn’t break away. Maybe it was because she was a beautiful 21-year-old woman, but there was still a lot of truth in those words that he couldn’t deny.
“I’m not going to try and stop you,” she said, her voice filled with compassion, “But before you leave, just do one thing…think about where you are and the chance you have in front of you. You’re among people who do want to help you. You’re in a place where you can be something more than man living on the run. We may not be able to give you the answers you want, but we can help point you in the right direction. Leave or stay, it’s up to you, Logan. If not, the elevator out is the down the hall and to your right.”
Leaving the feral man to his thoughts, Jean returned to meet up with the Professor. She said what she needed to say. The rest was on him.
For Logan, time stood still. He didn’t move from where he was standing, his legs not letting him leave. Remembering back to the fight in the woods, he saw two things that stood out. One, he probably would have been captured without them. And two, they helped him get away. Then there was that moment he saved Scott and Jean. He didn’t know where that came from. He just acted. Even if he wasn’t thinking, it felt right to him. That indicated strongly that maybe that girl was onto something.
Turning down the hall, Logan was about to leave. But he just couldn’t stop thinking about it. He kept wrestling with it for a few more minutes. Finally, he made his decision. He couldn’t believe he was doing this, but something just drew him back to those words. He had been looking for answers for a long time. Maybe it was time he start looking somewhere else.
“Ah hell…I hope I don’t regret this.”
As Jean met up with Scott, Hank, and the Professor, her mood hadn’t changed. She didn’t know if she got through to him. The way Logan had been carrying himself, it seemed doubtful. It was a shame too because he seemed like such a tortured soul.
“Well?” asked Hank intently as she returned.
“I don’t know,” sighed Jean, “It’s up to him now.”
“You did your part, Jean. For that I’m proud of you,” said Xavier with an approving smile, “But sometimes even the most sincere outreach can be rejected.”
“It’s probably for the better anyways,” said Scott, casting his friend a look of sympathy, “Even if he stayed, I doubt he would…”
But before Scott could finish, he was silenced by an unexpected presence standing in the doorway. It was Logan, who just came barging back into the infirmary. He still looked o be in a foul mood, but he seemed to have made his choice.
“Chuck, I changed my mind. I think I’ll crash here for a while,” he said gruffly, “Guess it couldn’t hurt to give this crazy ride a go.”
Scott was shocked and not too enthused by this turn. But Jean and the Professor couldn’t help but smile. Even though Logan didn’t show it, it was clear her words had gotten through to him. For a man like him to push through all those frustrations and change his mind, it really said a lot about him. There may be hope yet for him. And where they went from here was anybody’s guess.
“I’m very glad to hear that, Logan,” said the Professor as he extended his hand in a welcoming gesture, “I very much look forward to working with you. I’m sure we’ll be able to help each other.”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” said the feral mutant, “You still got a long ways to go before I start trusting your people.”
“Funny, we could say the same for you,” said Scott under his breath, earning him a look from Jean and the Professor.
“We can work on trust later,” said the Professor, “For now, let me just start by saying welcome to the X-men, Logan.”
“Whatever, bub,” said Logan, accepting his sentiment and shaking his hand, “Ya got yerself a Wolverine. Just don’t expect me to go soft on ya.”
“Oh boy…” groaned Scott, “And so it begins.”
The deal was sealed. Wolverine was a part of the X-men. Some, like the Professor and Jean, were optimistic. Others, like Scott, were skeptical. He was a man of mystery who had already attracted his share of trouble. If he was going to be an X-man, it was almost a given that some of that trouble would follow him. That was the risk Professor Xavier was willing to take. For even lost souls like Logan deserved a chance. That was part of what made them X-men. Now that he was here, things were sure to get more interesting.
Next Issue: Competition
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