Born with extraordinary powers, Professor Charles Xavier and his mutant team, the X-men, fight for peace and understanding in a world that hates and fears them. Their battles have led them to clashes with Magneto, Weapon X, and the sentinels. Many times the conflict between humans and mutants seemed poised to erupt into all out war, but the X-men have been able to stop it so far. Along the way they have also endured battles of another, more personal kind.
One of those battles involves Kurt Wagner, the son of Mystique and foster brother to Rogue. Once an up an coming mercenary in the mysterious Azazel mercenary syndicate, Kurt broke away from his old life and settled into a more peaceful existence with Amanda Sefton and her mother, Margali, in rural Germany. But his past came back to haunt him when the ruthless criminal known as Black Tom tried to blackmail him into stealing the plans for the sentinels. The X-men saved him and in turn, he joined the team. But that was not the end of his struggles.
After dealing with growing issues surrounding Rogue and her powers, Kurt planned some much needed downtime to visit his lover, Amanda. But upon his arrival, he was shocked to find out she and her mother have been abducted.
Private Rural Airfield – Germany
“AMANDA’S BEEN VHAT?!” exclaimed an outraged Kurt Wagner.
“I thought I told you not lose your freakin’ mind, elf!” said Logan, who had just given him the grim news.
“You tell me my girlfriend has been abducted and expect me not lose my mind?!”
“Well yelling like a maniac ain’t gonna get her back!”
Kurt couldn’t believe it. This was supposed to be a nice, quiet weekend away from conflict. It was supposed to be a time when he could just spend time with his girlfriend and forget about the dire state of the world. Then just as he arrives, Logan gets a phone call saying Amanda and her mother have been abducted again. It was almost as if he was cursed or something.
Scott and Ororo tried to console their friend, holding him back from losing it completely. He had every right to be outraged. He had been looking forward to seeing Amanda again so much and now this had to happen. It left him reeling and understandably so. He had to slow down and take deep breaths. This trip had officially gone from a vacation to a rescue mission.
“It’ll be okay, Kurt. We’ll help you find her,” said Scott firmly.
“Danke,” he said, still very upset, “I vish I knew vhy zhis keeps happening. Vhat is it about Amanda zhat attracts zhe worst people?”
“Must have some really jealous ex-boyfriends,” shrugged Logan.
Kurt cast Logan a bemused look. He clearly wasn’t helping his current state. Ororo quickly stepped in before he could make another comment.
“Whatever the reason, we’ll get her back,” assured the African woman, “We should probably contact Professor Xavier. He may be able to find her with Cerebro.”
“Don’t bother,” said Logan dryly, “The guy already told me where they are.”
“You’re kidding,” said Scott skeptically.
“Do I ever kid, Cyke? He gave me a city, an address, and even a time to show up! He’s either crazy or a piss poor tactician.”
“I don’t know. It could be a trap,” said Ororo suspiciously.
“Probably, but that ain’t the strangest thing,” said the feral mutant.
“Vhat do you mean?” asked Kurt.
“I ain’t sure, but I think I recognized that voice. It was obnoxious, crude, and he threw in a diarrhea joke just for kicks.”
“Now you have to be kidding. You really think you know him?” said Scott, not sure if he was exaggerating, “Sounds more like some of Bobby’s old friends.”
“I know what I heard, damn it!” spat Logan, “Crazy or not, this guy means business!”
It sounded strange even by their standards. The X-men were used to unusual missions and unusual adversaries, but something about this seemed off. They already got the sense he was a little off by just giving them his location. And it was never a good sign if he had a connection to Logan’s past.
There were plenty of reasons for Kurt to be suspicious, but all that mattered to him was someone abducted his girlfriend and they were going to pay. He didn’t care how crazy or crude he was. He was going to get Amanda back and make sure they regretted ever laying a finger on her.
“I’ve heard enough!” said Kurt strongly, “If you know zhe location, let’s get going!”
“Wait Kurt,” said Ororo, “This feels wrong. It may be wise if we called the others for backup. We have no idea what we’re up against.”
“And how long vould zhat take?” he asked dryly.
“Too long for you, that’s for sure,” said Scott honestly.
“Zhat’s all I need to know! Call zhe others if you vant, but I’m going after Amanda!” said Kurt intently, “Are you going to come vith me or vill I be doing zhis alone?”
“You’re an X-man, Kurt. You’re never alone,” sighed Ororo, “Of course we’ll help, but…”
“You heard the man, Ro! He ain’t gonna budge,” said Logan intently, “So let’s stop wasting our breath and get to work! I know I came here for beer, but beating up some psycho with a lousy sense of humor works just as well!”
It was settled. There was nothing Ororo or Scott could say to make either Kurt or Logan hesitate a second longer. Kurt needed to rescue his girlfriend. Logan needed to find out who this familiar voice belonged to. All they could do was tag along and make sure it didn’t get too out of hand. Even without the personal stake, they could see something very strange about this issue. It didn’t feel like a normal abduction from a normal adversary. Whoever was behind it, they were going to find out. If he was as crazy as Logan implied, it could make for a volatile situation.
Fort Bragg – Late 1960s
“Hnn…doctor? Doctor, it’s burning again! My stomach, it’s…”
The pained groans of Wade Wilson filled the infirmary of Fort Bragg in California. Fresh off a plane from the jungles of Vietnam, the once hardened soldier lay dying in a hospital bed. His once stout frame had withered to near skin and bones. Nearly all his hair had fallen out. And he was vomiting incessantly. Two army nurses had to rush to his bedside with a pan for him to let out another round of vomit. It seemed he was getting weaker by the hour. It was a tragic fate for any soldier.
‘It hurts…everything hurts! God, who knew cancer could be so painful?! Can’t go out like this! Can’t die like this! The pain…it’s driving me crazy! I’m going crazy!’
It was a tragic sight. But what was tragic to some was an opportunity for others. Standing just outside the infirmary, Dr. Abraham Cornelius was watching the scene with his longtime colleague, Professor Thornton. It had been a while since the two men had worked together. Not since the darkest days of Weapon X had they collaborated. They were days still fresh in their memories and not fondly so.
Professor Thorton adjusted his glasses as he looked over the file. His expression was indifferent and hallow like always. Dr. Cornelius seemed more excited. He already knew the details surrounding this unfortunate man. It was all on Professor Thorton to make his own judgment. Knowing him, this was a project he wouldn’t be able to resist.
“Lieutenant Wade Wilson,” Professor Thorton read, “High school dropout, juvenile deviant, and an extensive yet questionable record in Special Forces. Now he’s a terminal cancer patient.”
“Remarkable isn’t it? Could you think of a more perfect candidate for this little experiment of yours?” grinned Dr. Cornelius.
“Maybe by your standards he fits, but I’m not so sure,” said the Professor critically, “He may be a skilled soldier, but his mentality seems unstable at best. Before Special Forces his only talent seemed to involve bar fights. His commanding officers and even his own soldiers don’t have many nice things to say about him either.”
“That doesn’t take away from his skills,” said Dr. Cornelius, “His combat record speaks for itself. He’s taken part in dozens of successful operations. He’s a natural born fighter. Even if the ridged military environment doesn’t suit him, he’s got what we need. His latest mission just provides extra incentive.”
“Yes about that,” said Thornton as he flipped to another page, “This covert operation he went on, in south China if I’m not mistaken, was quite the debacle.”
“You don’t know the half of it. The top brass thought it was a worth-while gamble to make China think twice about backing the Vietcong. They thought a Special Forces incursion at a weapons plant would send the right message. Too bad their intel was terrible. They should have checked before learning the hard way that the plant they were attacking was using radioactive materials in their research. The whole unit was poisoned. Lieutenant Wilson here is the only one still breathing, but not for much longer.”
“How long does he have?” asked Professor Thorton as he closed the file.
“A couple of weeks at best, five days at worst. There’s nothing that can be done at this point. Without radical treatment, he will die. That’s where you come in.”
Professor Thornton’s gaze narrowed. The sight of this sickly, dying soldier hardly seemed like a worthwhile specimen to his work. But his options were limited. Since the debacle of Weapon X, those that survived were forever tainted. Men like him, Dr. Cornelius, and General Wraith were all on a tight leash. The Canadian and American military had little sympathy for their destructive failure. But because the experiments themselves succeeded and there were few others with their expertise, they still had a job. They could still pursue their work.
Professor Thornton was looking to go a different route than Weapon X. His expertise was in the mutant healing factor mutants like Wolverine and Sabretooth possessed. He believed that understanding those healing factors offered the most promise towards weaponizing mutants and humans alike. The key was using the fruits of Weapon X to implement it. The only obstacle was getting good test subjects.
“It is indeed a promising opportunity. I would still prefer a more healthy specimen,” said Professor Thornton.
“And I would prefer my own lab in Tahiti, but you know as well as I that’s not going to happen,” snickered Dr. Cornelius, “You have to face facts that Weapon X remains a blemish on our records. We’re lucky enough they’re still taking our work seriously, but not serious enough to warrant more resources. So you’ll have to take what you can get.”
“I fully understand our situation, Abraham. But my experiment was not meant to be performed on a cancer patient. It is difficult enough to calculate the effects of imparting a healing factor on a healthy specimen. Someone in Lieutenant Wilson’s state presents an entirely new set of challenges.”
“Is that not unavoidable in this line of work?” Cornelius quipped, “Part of science is trial and error. You have to be willing to make a little mess in order to make a little progress.”
“If it is anything like the mess Weapon X then progress would be redundant, would it not? And that was far more controlled than this. I haven’t even taken into account the possible psychological effects this process may have.”
“Well you won’t know until you try now will you? Just remember you may not get another opportunity like this.”
Professor Thorton cast his colleague a snide glance. He respected Dr. Cornelius’s brilliance, but not his personality. He always found him a bit too brash. It was good to be passionate about one’s work, but there was an unhealthy threshold that Cornelius seemed to have long since crossed. He swore one day it would come back to haunt him.
Regardless of what he thought about Abraham Cornelius, the man made a valid point. There was no telling when he would get another chance at a specimen. One way or another, he would never be able to further his work without testing. The risks here were just as high as they were with Weapon X. But they were risks he was willing to take.
“I’ll talk to his commanding officer,” said Professor Thorton in a flat tone, “I’ll work on getting him transferred to my lab in New Mexico.”
“Music to my ears, old friend,” grinned Dr. Cornelius, “Just leave getting the consent to me. I have a feeling Mr. Wilson will be eager to take advantage of what can offer.”
Xavier Institute – Rooftop
Rogue was not a fan of science or biology. Back in Mississippi, the only thing she used her biology textbook for was as an oversized paperweight. Experiences with Weapon X and Sinister only further deepened her distaste for the subject. But like it or not, it was her own biology that left her in this current state.
After Kurt left, she found herself in need of another long flight. Being with her brother did help cheer her up somewhat, but she never told him about what happened with Remy. She made it a point she wanted to keep their discussions free of any serious issues. It was nice while it lasted, but as soon as he said his goodbyes she started dwelling on it again.
Looking down at her hands, which she now had to keep gloved at all times, she cursed her powers and herself. The way she handled Remy and the rest of her friends for that matter was inexcusable. Remy knew full well what she was capable of if he so much as brushed against her exposed skin. Yet he didn’t care. He still reached out to her, wanting to be close to her despite the danger. He made no secret of his attraction to her. She didn’t tried to hide her attraction to him either. He was ready to look past the touch issue, but she wasn’t. That didn’t just show how much he cared. It showed that she was a coward for not looking past it as well.
Now he probably hated her and rightfully so. She was pushing away the people who cared about her most, keeping them at arm’s length and acting like a bitter, angry, sarcastic bitch. It was almost like she was turning into her mother, something she desperately wanted to avoid.
“So this is where you’ve been hiding all day,” said a voice from behind, “The others were starting to worry you know.”
Rogue turned around to see Jean hovering near her, having come up to the roof via telekinesis. Considering they didn’t get along very well when she and Scott were still an item and hadn’t spoken much since Jean got together with Scott, Jean Grey was probably the last person she wanted to talk to.
“Let meh guess, ya lost a bet with the others and now you gotta try and cheer meh up.”
“I’m not the betting type,” replied Jean, “Don’t get too excited. You’re not the only one who enjoys the quiet solitude of the rooftop that only us flyers can reach.”
“Well ya mind finding some place else? Ah’d rather be alone,” she said solemnly.
“You know what the definition of insanity is, Rogue? It’s doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” quipped Jean, “You’ve had ample alone time since the Sinister incident and it’s obviously not working.”
Rogue cast the redhead an irritated look. But she couldn’t come up with a response. There were a lot of things she didn’t like about Jean Grey, but she knew how to make a valid point.
Despite Rogue’s hostility, Jean landed and sat down next to her. She looked away, but Jean kept looking at her with honest concern. She had been meaning to do this for a while now. This seemed as good a time as any.
“You’re about to ask how Ah’m holding up, aren’t you?” muttered Rogue.
“I could, but I really don’t need to,” said Jean, “I’m a telepath, remember? And you happen to be projecting your angst on a loudspeaker.”
“Ain’t there a way to turn that off on your end?” said Rogue in an annoyed tone.
“I wish there were, but mental shields only go so far when people project like you’re doing right now. It’s pretty much impossible to ignore.”
Rogue grumbled a few obscenities under her breath and kept staring out over the lake. Jean kept looking at her fellow X-man with concern, finding herself in an awkward state as she tried to reach someone who she had such a complicated history with.
“Look Rogue, I know I’m not exactly someone you feel comfortable around,” said Jean in a more serious tone, “We have our history. We aren’t the best of friends.”
“Add you hooking up with mah ex-boyfriend and you’ve hit the trifecta,” said Rogue bitterly.
“Of course, I haven’t forgotten that either,” said Jean awkwardly, “But can we at least not make that an issue again?”
“Like it even matters at this point. Ain’t like anybody was surprised when you two hooked up. Even Ah saw it coming.”
“And yet you’re yelling at me with your thoughts,” the young psychic pointed out.
“Ah can’t help what Ah think, damn it!” said Rogue in frustration, “Ah’m a wreck! That’s what happens when you lose control of your life! Ah’m tryin’ to pull mahself together like before, but it’s hard the second time around! Ah know it shouldn’t be with all the friends Ah got here, but it is!”
Jean fell silent. Rogue was getting pretty worked up. She probably didn’t care if she lost her cool around her. She wasn’t someone she felt could understand. Her thoughts made that abundantly clear. Her thoughts may have a point. She really couldn’t understand what it was like to lose her ability to touch. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t empathize with her.
“You know when my powers first manifested, I was a massive wreck too,” mused Jean as she looked out over the lake with Rogue, “I know it’s not the same as not being able to touch, but at least you can wear gloves and extra clothing. When you hear thoughts, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. They assault you whether you want them to or not.”
“But you can still control your powers,” argued Rogue, “Ain’t no amount of mental exercise can keep mah powers in check.”
“Maybe I can now, but it took a lot longer than it took you to get a handle on yours. I didn’t meet Professor Xavier until I was 14. My powers had been going off and on since I was eight. When I was 12 they really kicked in. And that’s when it all went to hell.”
Jean paused for a moment, collecting herself as many painful memories came rushing back to her. She almost never talked about her past, even to her closest friends. Even Rogue knew this and paid close attention as Jean continued.
“I wouldn’t even have to be in the same room as somebody and I would hear their thoughts. And it wasn’t subtle either. Sometimes it felt like someone talking into a microphone with the loudspeakers right at my ear. That’s hard enough when it’s just one person. Get two, three, or a dozen people near by and you push the processing power of the human brain. You’ve absorbed me. You have a faint idea what it’s like. Imagine that amplified a million fold.”
Rogue finally turned to face Jean. She didn’t make a snide remark this time. Instead she found herself thinking back to the times when she absorbed Jean’s powers. She never absorbed them in full force, but on what little experience she had with them she understood how hard they were to handle. It lent some credence to what Jean was saying.
“You think you’re the unluckiest person in the world, Rogue? Trust me, you’ve got competition,” Jean went on, “I spent a year with no friends, no guidance, and no parents equipped to handle me. I don’t even want to go into how my father made it worse. But I can’t count how many times I did what you’re doing right now, trying to cut myself off from the rest of the world so I could try to regain my sanity. I won’t spare you the spoilers. It didn’t exactly work out. I ended up in a mental institution before the Professor found me. And let me tell you something, hearing thoughts from people who really are insane will drive you more insane than any mutant power ever will.”
“Ah’ve absorbed crazy people. You don’t need to convince meh of that,” said Rogue.
“Then will you at least take it seriously when I say that pushing people away is a dead end?” said Jean, now looking at her with as honest a gaze anybody could manage, “I’ve seen the way you’ve been acting. I also heard about what happened with Remy.”
“Please don’t tell meh Ah’m projecting that too,” groaned Rogue.
“Actually, Kurt told me.”
Rogue rolled her eyes. Kurt was a sweet guy and a great brother, but he didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.
“You didn’t happen to pick up if Remy hates mah guts, did ya?” she asked.
“He doesn’t hate you. But he is upset. Everybody is,” said Jean, “We all want to help you through this, Rogue. We’re your friends. Touch or no touch, you’re one of us. But we can’t help unless you let us. I know you’ve probably heard that at least ten times already, but it’s the honest truth.”
“Ah know it’s the truth,” she said distantly, “Ah just…Ah guess Ah ain’t used to people caring so dang much about meh. When ya don’t know who your parents are and your adopted mama runs out on you, it’s a hard thing to wrap your head around.”
“It gets easier,” smiled Jean, “If I can do it so can you.”
Rogue gave Jean another look. Only this time it wasn’t one of bitterness or annoyance. Instead she actually smiled. She smiled at the girl who she used to fight with at every turn and who happens to be dating her ex-boyfriend. Even more remarkable, Jean really did understand on some levels. That story about how her powers first manifested struck her on a powerful level. For Jean to get that personal, it showed she really did care. Bitterness aside, it was something Rogue could connect with. In a situation as messed up as hers, it made sense in a strange yet meaningful way.
The two girls sat in silence for a moment. Jean sensed Rogue’s hostile thoughts waning. They then shared a comforting smile. She seemed a bit more at ease now. It seemed ironic yet fitting. Rogue still had a ways to go, but for the first time it didn’t seem so insurmountable.
“So…” said Jean distantly.
“So…” Rogue repeated.
“Ah’m getting there,” she answered, “Ah appreciate you gettin’ personal with meh. Ah know it can’t be easy.”
“Sometimes you have to go above and beyond for friends in need,” said Jean.
“Where the hell is that from?”
“Would you take it less seriously if I got it from a bumper sticker?”
“As long as it ain’t scribbled in the wall of a gas station bathroom, Ah’ll take it.”
Jean smiled and laughed. Rogue was getting her dry sense of humor back. It was a promising sign. There was a lot she didn’t understand about this girl and there were plenty of issues they didn’t see eye-to-eye on. Yet they still had enough in common to share a mutual respect. Even without psychic powers, she sensed Rogue was going to be just fine.
Amanda Sefton’s world was spinning. She could feel herself in that fragile area between consciousness and unconsciousness. She couldn’t move her body, she couldn’t think straight, and she couldn’t make sense of her surroundings. Memories of what happened were still fuzzy. She remembered hiding in her house and confronting some psycho in a red and black ninja suit. She also remembered a fight, one that involved her using her powers in a very forceful manner. But beyond that it was all a blur. All she knew now was she wasn’t in her home anymore. She was some place much less friendly.
Groaning, Amanda tried to collect herself. She grit her teeth through the pain of a pounding headache and tried getting up. Then she heard her mother’s urgent voice.
“Amanda…Amanda, wake up!”
Amanda felt her loving arms around her as she was stirred from her dazed state. Pushing aside her pain, she opened her eyes to see her mother hovering over her. She looked okay aside from a sizable bruise on her forehead. Amanda also took in their surroundings. They were in a dark, confined area that looked like a basement of sort. It was dusty and moldy, indicating it was part of a building not in use anymore. It was not a pleasant environment. As memories of what happened came rushing back to her, she realized what was going on.
“Mom…is this what I think it is?”
“I believe so,” said Margali anxiously as she hugged her daughter closer, “But I’m not exactly sure it’s the same.”
“What do you mean?” asked Amanda as she rubbed her sore temples.
Before she could answer, the door to the basement shot opened and Deadpool came strolling in singing to himself.
“Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Does whatever a spider can! When he swings…oops, wrong comic!” said the obnoxious merc with the mouth, “I swear I would lose my mind if I hadn’t already lost it years ago.”
Amanda and Margali looked at this man strangely. They recognized him not just from his earlier attack, but from another incident years in the past.
“You…you’re Deadpool, aren’t you?” said Margali, “You’re that mercenary the Hand hired to abduct us three years ago!”
“Ding ding ding! What do we have for her Johnny?” he replied, “You got a good memory lady. You’re right. That was me, the one and only, who snatched you and your baby girl three years ago. And let me just say she has really grown! Ooh I could just pinch those cute little cheeks to death!”
“You had best keep your hands to yourself!” Margali threatened, “I don’t care who hired you, but I will not let you harm my daughter! Haven’t you people done enough?!”
“Whoa, take it easy there! I don’t know anything. I’m just the unbearably cool gun-for-hire. And before you get all maternal on me, you should know the full story. First off, yes, I have abducted you. Second, some shmuck did hire me to do it. But third and most importantly, I could have already delivered you to my employer by now, collected my fee, and hit the nearest brothel. But I didn’t. I brought you here to this cozy old hotel nobody’s using so we can have a little chat.”
Margali looked at this masked man strangely. He sounded crazy, but something about his words seemed sincere. He had nothing to gain and a lot to lose by taking them here instead of straight to the man who hired him. Even if he was crazy, he was still a mercenary. It really said something if he voluntarily sidetracked his mission.
“What do you want? Why go through this kind of trouble?” asked Amanda, now more coherent.
“I have my reasons, but call me a curious cat who’s not afraid of death,” he said as he approached the two women, “This is the second time around I’ve come after you two. And it was even harder to track you down than the first. I had to call in two favors and do some special ‘services’ I’d rather not mention, but along the way a few brain cells in my messed up mind clicked. I mean seriously, what is it about you two that attract psychos like the Hand and the Azazel? It has to be something for them to hire guys like me to bring you in!”
Amanda and Margali exchanged looks. Amanda stayed completely silent. Her mother had taught her for as long as she could remember how to handle such questions. She wasn’t going to go back on all she learned now, even in the presence of a crazy mercenary. Her secrets had to be guarded, even from the ones she loved like Kurt. If she wouldn’t tell him, she wouldn’t tell anybody.
Margali stayed silent as well, still holding Amanda closely. She gave her a look to ensure she didn’t say anything. Even if this man was just acting out of curiosity, he couldn’t know the truth behind the secrets of their lives.
“I can’t tell you,” said Margali flatly.
“Can’t as in you physically can’t form the words or can’t as in you’re just busting my chops? Because either way is a pretty lame excuse.”
“It’s the truth. I simply cannot tell you or anybody for that matter. Those that do know will go to any lengths to get what we have.”
“And what exactly do you have? Keys to Elvis’s secret stash?”
“It’s not that simple! There’s a power we must guard…a secret so important that should the wrong people find out, it could spell doom for everybody! Humans, mutants, and every living thing that walks the Earth would be in danger if this power got out! I don’t know who hired you, but I’m certain he will only use this power to destroy us all!”
“You mean that power your kid here used to break all my bones?” scoffed Deadpool, “No offense lady, but I know guys with more power in their pinky than that light show she put on.”
“That’s nothing,” said Margali in a grim tone, “What you saw in my daughter was only secondary. The true secrets we guard are far more dangerous. Which is why you must let us go! It doesn’t matter what you’re being paid! It’ll be useless in a world that’s been reduced to ashes! Please just let us go! You’ll be saving us all by doing so!”
Deadpool studied the two women. He had been doing this long enough to know when people were leading him on and when people were telling the truth. His every instinct told him this woman was being sincere. That subtle dread in her tone couldn’t be faked. If she was telling the truth he was about to hand over something very volatile to Dr. Abraham Cornelius of all people. Deadpool may be crazy, but he had his principles. Luckily, he already had a contingency plan in place.
“Hmm…no offense lady, but you’re pretty messed up. And this is coming from a guy who hears voices in his oatmeal!”
“You don’t believe me, do you?” groaned Margali.
“Oh believe you. I believe every word you say!” said Deadpool, “Which is why I think you’re so messed up.”
“So…are you going to let us go?” asked Amanda.
“Are you kidding? That would be horribly unprofessional of me,” scoffed the merc with a mouth, “According to the universal handbook of deranged mercenaries, chapter 2 sub-section 3, paragraph one, and I quote, a hired mercenary shall not under any circumstances let a target go willingly. It is forgivable only if outside forces seek to rescue the target or the recipient of that target fails to deliver on payment. End quote.”
“What the hell does that mean?” said Amanda, getting more annoyed by this man with every word he uttered.
“Simple my dear, lady. If you want out of here, you gotta be rescued. This just wouldn’t be an exciting chapter if you didn’t!” he said, “Lucky for you, I’ve already made arrangements! If that phone call I made got through, your boyfriend and his buddies should be here any minute to pick you up!”
“My boyfriend?! You mean Kurt?” Amanda exclaimed.
“Why would you do something like that? Are you really that crazy?!” said Margali.
“Sigh, if only I had a nickel for every time I heard that,” laughed Deadpool as he whipped out one of his guns and started twirling it, “Call me crazy all you want. All the guys back at the Mercs R Us do. Either way it’s gonna be over soon, but not before I’ve had my fun!”
With his gun in hand Deadpool turned around and started making his way towards the door. But Margali wasn’t about to just sit by and let this crazy mercenary use them for his amusement. She quickly helped her daughter up and stammered towards the door.
“Wait! I won’t let you keep us here while you screw around meaninglessly!” yelled Amanda.
“Funny, these hot Japanese twins said the same thing last Thursday,” grinned Deadpool, “Good thing I always come prepared!”
Just as Margali neared the door, Deadpool reached into his pocket and pulled out a black gas grenade. He then slipped out of the door, dropping the grenade behind him in the process. As soon as it hit the floor it went off, exploding in a sharp burst that forced Margali to shield her daughter. But this grenade wasn’t meant to maim. It was full of knockout gas, the strong kind that would keep them docile while Deadpool had his fun.
“Hnn…not again,” groaned Amanda as she and her mother collapsed onto the hard basement floor.
They didn’t stand a chance. Within five seconds they were out cold. On the other side of the door, Deadpool laughed to himself while casually tossing his gun around. While he had sympathy for their plight (at least as much as a guy as crazy as him could manage), he was not one to take chances. He had his priorities and he wasn’t going to be denied.
‘Works every time! Sorry Abey, but old Wade here has a soft spot for desperate damsels that look good in hot pink. Or maybe I’ve just seen that movie Striptease with Demi Moore one time too many. Oh well, that’s one big issue resolved. Time to put phase two into action! It’s been a while since Weapon X had a reunion! Time to see if the old partner still has it!’
Frankfurt, Germany – Outside Abandon Hotel
Kurt and his fellow X-men didn’t have to go too far in their search for Amanda. The address Logan got was fairly close by. With the X-jet still refueling they rented the fastest cars the airport had on hand and sped down the Autobahn towards Frankfurt. Kurt was naturally anxious for most of the trip, but Logan was on edge as well. That voice on the phone stuck with him. He was sure he remembered it. He just didn’t know from where. Whoever it was, they were going to find out soon enough.
Upon reaching their destination Scott led Kurt, Logan, and Ororo towards the front entrance of the building. It was in a decaying part of the city, full of ghettos and crime. The building itself was boarded up and covered in German graffiti. Any worthwhile criminal would be right at home in a place like this.
“Is zhis it?” asked Kurt as he stared down the building.
“Oh this is it,” said Logan as he sniffed the air, “I can already smell the two of them inside!”
“Can you tell if they’re okay?” asked Ororo.
“Since when can I smell that? But they ain’t got friendly company. I’m also smelling cordite and grenades, the military kind. Whoever’s got them doesn’t skimp on the merchandise.”
“Zhen vhat are ve vaiting for?” exclaimed Kurt, “Let’s get in zhere and get Amanda out!”
“Normally I’m not for barging in, but you’re not going to listen are you?” said Scott.
“Do I ever?” said Logan as he drew his claws, “You can stay out here and see the sights all you want, Summers! But we’re going in!”
Kurt and Logan barged ahead, shoving Scott aside as they ran up to the front entrance. Scott lingered a bit before following with Ororo. Neither one of them had a good feeling about this. It just didn’t seem right. But nothing was going to stop Kurt or Logan at this point. They were going in trap or no trap.
Logan made quick work of the front door, cutting the board securing it in half and kicking it in. Kurt quickly barged in ahead, intent on finding Amanda as soon as possible. Logan, Scott, and Ororo followed close behind him. The ground level of the old hotel was fairly spacious, consisting of an open foyer with a desk off to the right-hand side and a staircase leading up to the second level on the left-hand side. There wasn’t much light aside from some flickering fluorescents. There was also trash everywhere over the dusty floor. It was not a pleasant sight. This place had clearly seen better days.
Logan sniffed the air while Kurt scouted ahead, looking for any signs of a presence. Scott kept his hands on his visor, ready to attack at a moment’s notice. Ororo stuck close to Logan, keeping a watchful eye out every step of the way. But the more they looked around, the more suspicious this whole situation seemed. Whoever was behind this was crazy enough to call them and give them his location. But to set up shop in a place like this? Either he was incompetent or even crazier than they thought.
“This place is a dump,” commented Scott as he stepped over a pile of garbage, “Doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a kidnapping headquarters.”
“Who cares? I can smell ‘em here! And the nose never lies!” growled Logan.
“Good enough for me,” said Kurt as he teleported around the desk and second level, “Let’s just find whoever is behind zhis and get Amanda out of here!”
“It still doesn’t feel right,” said Ororo suspiciously, “This has to be a trap.”
“Or just someone’s sick idea of a joke,” said Scott.
The team kept scouting around the foyer, not seeing any trace of the kidnapper or of Amanda and her mother. Logan continued to follow his nose, tracing any scent he could. It was hard when the stench of garbage filled the area. But there were subtle traces of a live presence.
The more he smelled it the more certain Logan was he recognized it. His memory may be fragmented, but his nose was as sharp as ever. He kept following the mysterious scent, tracing it back to the center of the foyer just between the desk and staircase. Ororo stayed close by while Scott covered them. Then the scent stopped. The trail abruptly shifted. Instead of leading him forward it was leading him up towards the ceiling. That’s when it finally dawned on him. But not before a booming voice echoed through the old building.
“GET BACK!” he exclaimed.
Logan literally threw Ororo out of the way so she crashed into Scott, knocking him over in the process. Just as he did, a figure descended from a gaping hole in the ceiling where remnants of a chandelier still hung. The figure was falling directly towards Logan and just as Logan was taking a defensive stance, he drew two guns and yelled.
“Ah hell,” groaned Logan.
The figure started firing wildly, showering Logan with a hail of bullets. The feral mutant instinctively guarded his face with his claws, but at least nine still struck him. About half hit his shoulder and back while the other half hit his arms. One got through to his face, striking him right in the jaw. It stunned him just long enough for the menacing figure to fall on top of him, striking him with a powerful kick to the gut.
“Logan!” exclaimed Kurt, who quickly teleported down to the scene.
“Hrrrr! I got this!” growled the feral mutant as he rose up, “Keep looking for your girl!”
“Aww, that’s so sentimental! You haven’t lost your touch, eh Logan?” said the figure, who still had his guns pointed at him.
“You! I know you!” Logan roared.
“Of course you do. How can you forget me? Your old pal, Deadpool?”
“Deadpool?!” exclaimed Kurt, “I know you too! You’re zhe one zhe Hand hired to abduct Amanda last time!”
“Yeah, we already established that. Can we not bore the readers here?” said the merc with a mouth, “This is between me and Logan! You want your girl? Go get her! She’s in the basement, last door on your right.”
Kurt looked at the masked mercenary strangely. First he gave them his location. Now he was telling him where to find Amanda. Either he had some ulterior motive or he was just plain crazy.
“You heard the man, get going!” yelled Logan, “I’ll take care of this nut job!”
“Nut job?” said Deadpool, pretending to sound hurt, “Logan, I’m surprised at you. I was hoping you would call me bub! You know, for old time’s sake?”
“Old times?” said Logan, his memory starting to get hazy again.
“Yeah, don’t tell me you forgot! You and me were partners!”
Logan’s eyes widened. In the depths of his fragmented mind, he had a flashback. He remembered this Deadpool character more vividly now. He saw images of the two of them, caught up in deadly missions in what looked like a jungle. Some of the time they were fighting Vietcong. Some of the time they were fighting soldiers from America and Canada, which looked to be from Weapon X. Even though he sounded deranged, immature, and downright annoying he knew he was right.
But while Logan was processing this, Deadpool began another attack. With his guns still handy, he took aim and unleashed another barrage of bullets against the feral mutant. Logan’s instinct kicked in and he guarded himself with is arms and claws. Only this time he didn’t just take it. Despite the sting of the bullets, he let out a feral howl and charged the menacing mercenary. Deadpool kept up his assault, but swiftly dodged the incoming attack and rolled off to the side. But in the process, Logan’s claws dug into his arm and tore a good chunk of flesh off.
“Ooh, you haven’t lost your touch, old buddy!” laughed Deadpool despite the pain, “Come on! Let’s see that old berserker rage!”
“Errrrr! Do you EVER shut up?”
“I’ll have to have my secretary get back to you on that,” he quipped, “But first!”
Raising his guns again, Deadpool resumed his shooting. Logan rolled to the side and prepared another attack. While this was going on, Kurt teleported over to Ororo and Scott and helped them up. They watched as Logan lunged towards Deadpool with swift and brutal claw slashes. Deadpool was able to avoid them, but in the process he endured a lethal stab to the gut and a gash on his leg. Despite these blows, he wasn’t even slowing down. He just kept laughing and shooting, impervious to pain or fatigue.
Ororo and Kurt started to worry. Crazy or not, this Deadpool character was a durable enemy. Logan was taking bullet after bullet and struggled to land an effective blow on the nimble mercenary. He needed help.
“We have to help him!” said Ororo as she watched on with worry.
“Logan can handle himself. He’s faced way worse,” said Scott, “We should find Amanda and her mother while we have the chance.”
“Agreed!” said Kurt intently, “But vhat if zhat location he gave us is just another trap?”
“Only one way to find out! Come on!” said the X-leader.
With Logan occupying Deadpool, Scott let Kurt and Ororo towards the back behind the staircase. Ororo hesitated a big, looking back at Logan as he took a bullet to the skull while he stabbed the masked mercenary again. They were already pretty bloodied, but showed no signs of letting up. She couldn’t help but worry. But Logan had already made it clear that this was a personal battle. This was his fight.
“Come on, Storm!” urged Scott.
“I’m on my way,” she said, reluctantly turning away from her friend.
Everything about this affair seemed strange. So much of it didn’t make sense. Other forces had to be at work here. This Deadpool character must know more than he was letting on. Hopefully, they would get their answers. If he wouldn’t talk, Logan would surely beat it out of him eventually.
Hong Kong – 3 Years Ago
“Amanda and Margali Sefton? What are you doing, starting your own sitcom or something?” asked a humored Deadpool.
“I would not make light of these targets, Mr. Wilson. What they lack in appearance, they make up for in their ‘unseen’ value.”
“Well I wouldn’t say they lack in appearance. The got some good genes going for them! The mother looks familiar though. She ever show up on a MILF site or something?”
On a high definition computer screen, a shadowy figure scowled the witty mercenary. As serious as these meetings were, Deadpool couldn’t help himself at times. This was an especially strange case. Out of the blue this strange contact reached him, which was no easy task considering the precautions a mercenary had to take. Whoever it was, they offered serious capital for his services. But they were high on secrecy.
At the moment, he was standing in a pitch black room on the top floor of a Hong Kong office building. In front of him was an obscure figure using a voice scrambler to keep him from recognizing who it was. He couldn’t even tell if it was a man or a woman. All he knew is they just gave him a huge advance and somehow had all the right connections.
“Do not make light of this, Deadpool! I came to you for a reason. You’ve had experiences with these sorts of missions in the past. Going back to your questionable partnership with Weapon X, you’ve dealt in issues of great power before. Now I’m asking you to do it again.”
“I’m flattered,” said Deadpool coyly, “But define ‘great power’ here. I specialize in magic, super mutants, and mad scientists with deformities that put mine to shame. I just need to know if I should take out any insurance policy.”
“That I can’t give you. All I can say is that my chief concern is the young one, Amanda. She is the one with the power I seek. Whatever you do, do NOT harm her. Don’t even stress her. You have no idea what she’s capable of. Her mother is no pushover either.”
“Relax, I’m good with the ladies!” assured Deadpool, “Don’t worry your shadowy little head! I’ll take care of it.”
“Be sure that you do. And just as a precaution, I’ve commandeered some operatives from the Hand to assist you.”
“Assist? I’m insulted,” scoffed Deadpool, “Why would I need a group of badly dressed ninjas named after every man’s second favorite appendage?”
“You’ll see, Deadpool. Things have a way of getting ‘volatile’ around the Seftons. I’m not the only one after this girl. That’s why it’s vital I get her now! I want no failures. If you miss out on this, those two will go into hiding and we may never catch them.”
“Remind me again who this ‘we’ is and why I should trust you to begin with.”
“You don’t need to trust us. We’ve already advanced your fee. All you need to know is this job is of the utmost importance. Do NOT fail us! You have no idea how much is riding on this! Just make sure you call us when the job is complete.”
“Ah you’re no fun!” Deadpool chided, “But one more thing, you ever think about taking some classes in…”
But that was as far as Deadpool got. The TV screen automatically cut off, leaving him with his mission and only the bare essential details to carry it out. It was too bad too because he thought he was making progress with this mysterious figure. Anonymity in this business was important, but some people took it to extremes. But who was he to argue? They paid for his services and they were going to get them.
Looking at the file they gave him, he took out a picture of Amanda Sefton. It seemed hard to imagine a fifteen year old girl could be so coveted by these mysterious people. She didn’t seem all that dangerous to him. She must have something going for her if they were sending the Hand in as well.
“Some people have no appreciation for witty banter,” he sighed, “Oh well. Time to see what’s so special about this Amanda chick. Too bad I gotta abduct her. She’s cute for jailbait. Wonder if she’s got a boyfriend?”
Hotel Basement – Present
“Amanda! Amanda, are you down here?!” Kurt called out.
With the fight between Deadpool and Logan raging upstairs, Kurt scoured the basement level with Ororo and Scott. It was dark and dingy with mold and mildew covering the halls. Old cleaning supplies, utility equipment, and hotel apparel littered the area. They evens stepped over a couple dead rats along the way. Despite the dingy conditions, Kurt charged ahead in search of his girlfriend.
Scott and Ororo followed closely, keeping a close eye out for any traps. This Deadpool character wasn’t a typical foe. His questionable mental stability made him unpredictable. He could be leading them to a dead end or he could be telling the truth. They both seemed equally possible.
“Slow down, Kurt!” Scott urged, “Deadpool said they were at the end of the hall.”
“And you think he’s telling the truth?” said Ororo.
“I have no idea what he’s thinking. What’s his story anyways?”
“He’s a mercenary vith a strange history to say zhe least,” said Kurt as he ran ahead, “I’d love to tell you about zhe last time I encountered him, but let’s get Amanda and her mother to safety first!”
Scott and Ororo didn’t question their friend. They remained on alert as they reached the end of the hall where Deadpool said they would be. There was only one door, which appeared to lead into a utility area of sorts. It looked heavier than the others, making it a logical place to hide somebody. Kurt tried to open, but not surprisingly it was locked.
“Zhis is it! I know zhey’re in zhere!” said Kurt strongly, “Scott, can you open it?”
“No problem,” said the X-leader confidently.
Adjusting the settings on his visor, Scott fired a narrow but concentrated blast at the doorknob. He could have easily knocked it over, but he didn’t want to risk injuring Amanda and her mother if they were inside. Once the door knob was taken care of, Scott kicked it in to open it.
“Amanda? Amanda, are you in here?” Kurt called out as he entered.
It was hard to see. There were some hazy fumes in the air, which he quickly identified as knock-out gas. He, Scott, and Ororo had to back up a bit and cover their mouths to keep it from affecting them.
“I can’t see!” groaned Kurt.
“Hold on, I’ll clear the air,” said Ororo.
Her eyes glowed white as she kicked up a quick wind storm that blew through the room and cleared the air. As soon as the thick haze lifted, Kurt saw two figures lying on the floor next to each other. Much to his relief, it was her.
“Amanda!” he exclaimed as knelt down next to her.
Taking her in her arms, Kurt pulled her into his close embrace. Much to his relief he found that she was alive and well, just unconscious. While he savored this feeling of having her in his arms again, Scott and Ororo checked on Margali. She had a nasty bruise on her head, but besides that she didn’t seem any worse off than Amanda.
“It seems Deadpool was telling the truth,” said Ororo in bewilderment.
“I’m as shocked as you, Storm,” said Scott, “What the hell could Deadpool be up to?”
“Who cares? Let’s just get zhem out of here!” said Kurt.
As he rose up with Amanda in his arms, she started to stir. He looked down and smiled, glad to hear her weak voice. He tenderly caressed her cheek as she opened her eyes. She looked a little woozy, most likely a result from the knock-out gas. But when she saw his face she smiled.
“Kurt?” she said weakly, “Please don’t let this be a side-effect from the gas.”
“It’s real, frauline. I promise,” he smiled, “Just rest, my love. We’ll get you out of here.”
Amanda smiled and embraced her lover. It wasn’t how she imagined this long weekend starting off, but she would take it.
While Amanda was coming to, Margali started to awaken as well. Rubbing her head, Ororo and Scott helped her up. She was just as dazed as her daughter and just as glad to see some friendly faces.
“Are you okay, Mrs. Sefton?” asked Scott.
“I’m fine,” she said, rubbing her throbbing head, “Where’s Deadpool?”
“Don’t worry about him. Logan’s taking care of it,” assured Ororo, “Let’s just get you out of here. It’s almost over.”
Abandoned Hotel – Ground Level
The entire floor of the old hotel was littered with bullet holes as the fight between Logan and Deadpool raged. The feral mutant took his share of bullets as well, but didn’t let up for a second. Driven by rage and a predatory intensity, he attacked his adversary without mercy. The pain from the bullet wounds barely registered as he stuck Deadpool a number of times with his claws and got in a few kicks as well. But Wade Wilson remained undaunted. He just kept on laughing and fighting back.
At one point, Deadpool ran out of bullets for his guns and took out the two katanas he had on his back. He continued to counter Logan’s every attack, deflecting claw slashes and evading his stabs. They each took their share of blows. Logan nearly severed his leg at one point, hitting just above his achillies tendon. Deadpool hit back as well, almost impaling Logan at one point with his katana and taking a good chunk out of his back. The bloody assault raged on. But no matter how much he seemed to take out of Deadpool, he kept laughing and joking as if this was some sort of game to him.
“Hahaha! I miss this!” laughed Deadpool as Logan’s claws cut into his shoulder, “You haven’t lost your touch, Logan! You still know how to kick ass!”
“Errrrrrrr! I don’t care if you don’t shut up! Why don’t you go down already?!” growled Logan in frustration.
“Healing factor! Don’t leave home without it! You should know! It’s from your blood!”
“What are you babbling about now?!”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” snickered Deadpool.
Using Logan’s brief distraction to his advantage, Deadpool pulled off a quick spin kick and slashed him right across the throat with his katana. Logan choked as he felt blood fill his mouth and lungs. Clutching his throat with one hand, he relentlessly slashed with another. But Deadpool pulled of an acrobatic flip that landed him right behind the former living weapon. With this narrow window, he took both his katanas and drove them right into Logan’s back.
“Arrrggghhhh!” he howled.
“Oops! Should’ve mentioned that may sting a little,” laughed Deadpool.
Logan tried to turn around, but the katanas were dug in deep. It hindered his muscle movements and pinched a number of nerves. He only managed a slow lunge that Deadpool was easily able to avoid. While Logan was keeled over, he delivered a powerful kick to the face. The feral mutant grunted and fell to the ground, coughing up more blood in the process. He continued to struggle to get up, watching as Deadpool casually walked around him.
It was a gruesome sight, but Wade Wilson had seen far worse in his line of work. Logan still had that determined rage in his eye. Even with two katanas in his back he was still intent on taking him out. He was every bit as tough as he remembered. The sad thing was this wasn’t the bloodiest brawl they had been in.
“That’s a nice look for you, Logan. I could probably sell you to an art museum and pass it off as some weird post-modern display. I think I’ll call it…Canadian pin cushion. Or do you think I’ll offend too many Canadians that way?”
“Augh! You think this is gonna stop me?!”
“Oh dear Logan, I know you better than that!” joked Deadpool, “Hell, between the two of us, we could duke it out until the second coming!”
“Not if I cut your head off first!” roared the feral mutant.
“Aw, you wouldn’t do that to an old partner would you? Besides, for all I know my whole body might grow back. That healing factor you gave me has done wonders! Even if it has left me a bit messed up in the noggin!”
“What do you mean I gave it to you?! You another stooge of Weapon X?”
“Oh you don’t remember? That’s too bad,” said Deadpool, “I’d love to tell you, but I’d love to do something else first!”
With Logan still on the floor, Deadpool took out one of his guns and reloaded it with fresh ammo. Then while standing over his old partner, he pointed it right at his forehead.
“Let’s see if that skull of yours still holds up,” he grinned, “Say when old buddy!”
“Piss off,” growled Logan.
“And they say I have a mouth,” laughed Deadpool as he cocked his gun, “If I were you, I’d watch what you say. Youth today is very impressionable!”
“And if I were you, I’d duck right about now,” grinned Logan.
“Huh? What do you…”
But before Deadpool could finish, a concentrated optic blast came shooting from his left and hit his hand dead on. It not only knocked the gun out of his hand, it broke into pieces and shattered several bones in his hands.
“Oh man! That was my favorite gun!” he said.
“I think it’s time this guy finally shut up,” said Scott, his hands on his visor as he emerged with Ororo.
“I couldn’t agree more, Cyclops,” said Storm.
Before Deadpool could gather himself, Ororo summoned a sharp gust of wind that blew through the ground level and hit the witty mercenary head on. It sent him flying back right into the old reception desk. Then while he was down, Scott hit him again with another barrage of optic blasts that further ravaged hid body. Scott adjusted the width and power of his beams so they delivered a finishing blow. By the time he finally let up, much of Deadpool’s body was warped in a way that would have left a lesser man dead. But despite broken bones and lacerations, he continued laughing.
“Ooh man! Damn!” he chuckled, “Oh I’m gonna feel this in the morning.”
While Scott kept a close eye on him, Ororo ran over to assist Logan. By now Logan had fought through the pain and rose to his feet. In the process he forcibly ripped out the two katanas from his back, causing him to howl in pain from the sharp sting. He was still pretty bloodied so Ororo helped him to his feet. But his healing soon kicked in. Now he wasn’t hurt as much as he was pissed off.
“Are you okay?” Ororo asked him.
“I’ll walk it off,” he muttered.
Grabbing the two katanas, Logan walked over to the now immobile Deadpool. It looked as though every bone in his body had been broken. Even with his healing, it would take a while to recover. It was a good thing too because had some burning questions that he needed answered.
“I could’ve handled him,” snarled Logan as he tossed the katanas at Deadpool’s side.
“Your welcome, Logan,” snickered Scott.
“Hahaha! Don’t take it personally, kid. That’s the biggest compliment I ever got out of him,” laughed the mangled Deadpool.
“Shut up! You got a lot to answer for, bub!” scowled Logan, “First things first, why did you abduct those two?”
“Why do you think? I’m a mercenary! I get paid to do shit like that,” he answered, “You guys should try it sometimes. The money’s good and the scenery changes. Of course, there are a few health hazards!”
“If this is what you do for a living, you must not be very good at it,” commented Scott, “What kind of mercenary calls us and just tells us where you and the hostages are?”
“The kind with a taste for adventure, what else?” laughed Deadpool, “Nah, I’m just messing with you!”
“Then why did you call us? Was that part of the deal?” asked Ororo intently.
“Hell no! The deal was simple. This old contact of mine paid me to abduct those Sefton girls, which is pretty messed up considering I got the same job from a different contact three years ago. Normally I don’t do repeats, but something about this stunk more than that coleslaw I left outside for a week! So I did what only a truly brilliant or downright crazy mercenary would do. I called up an old friend and made it so they could come and rescue those girls!”
“You mean you wanted us to rescue them?” said Scott, now even more confused.
“Yep! And you get a gold star for doing you part!” said Deadpool, “Believe it or not, I’m not such a bad guy. If I sense a certain job or a certain contact is REALLY looking to screw the world over, I make sure there’s a backup plan! And trust me, the guy who wanted those girls isn’t the tender type.”
“What do you mean? Since when do hired guns have a change of heart?” said Logan skeptically.
“You want a good reason, Logan? The guy who hired me was Abraham Cornelius. That name ring a bell?”
Logan’s expression tensed with fury. Few names could evoke more rage than Abraham Cornelius. He was the man responsible for so much of his losses. If he was somehow involved, this was even worse than he thought.
“Yeah, I thought so,” snickered Deadpool, “Guy seems to think I’m too crazy to hold a grudge for some of the stuff he did. Probably doesn’t even know some of the dirt I’ve dug up on him! Hell, that was one of the reasons you and I became partners to begin with!”
“I remember that now,” grunted Logan, his memory still very fuzzy in that area, “What were we partners in? How the hell did I end up working with a dirt bag like you?!”
Deadpool grinned under his mask. Logan’s memory loss was even worse than he thought. The people at Weapon X must have really messed him up. It was a shame too because he and Logan had quite a history. It wasn’t always friendly, but it wasn’t like they were mortal enemies either. Sabretooth already filled that role a long time ago. While he had a touch of share of sympathy for his old partner, Deadpool had his own affairs.
With Logan, Scott, and Ororo looming over him menacingly, he knew he couldn’t fight his way out of this. But Deadpool had no intention of being turned into the authorities. He had no intention of bargaining either. As always, he had a plan.
“You gonna tell me or am I going to have start cutting off limbs?” said Logan, pointing his claws at Deadpool’s head menacingly.
“Oh if only I had the time,” said Deadpool in an overly dramatic tone, “Seriously buddy, I would love to go into the elaborate tales of our misadventures together, but I’m due to give the doc a failure report in twenty minutes.”
“If you think we’re going to just let you walk out of here without giving us some answers, then you really are crazy,” said Scott strongly.
“And you wear some god-awful aftershave, so we’re even,” joked Deadpool, “But about me walking out…you should know that walking is so overrated.”
With Logan’s claw still inches from his face, the merc with a mouth reached for his belt and hit a small red button on the top. As soon as he pushed it, a disk-like area on his belt lit up and his whole body was consumed in a strange wavy light.
“Teleportation! Amazing what you can get on the black market, eh? Later Logan! Don’t forget to write!”
The light intensified, forcing Logan to back off. Then in a hazy flash, Deadpool faded away in a cloudless puff. Logan tried to attack and stop him before he could get away. But he was too late. The witty mercenary was gone and he took whatever secrets about his past he may have had with him.
Growling in frustration, Logan pounded his fists on the old reception desk. The new memories that came to him during the course of the battle played over in his mind again. Those fights with Deadpool against many enemies, not just Weapon X, all meant something. They were clues to another part of his past that Weapon X had taken from him. He just didn’t have the full story. Without those memories, these burning questions would remain.
“He really was crazy,” commented Scott, “Crazy like a fox.”
“And he was still right!” said Logan in a fit of frustration, “I did know him. He was my partner. I just can’t remember what we were partners in!”
“Take it easy, Logan. It’s not like he would have told you anyways,” said Scott.
“You don’t know that! So don’t bullshit me and think it’ll cheer me up!” spat Logan.
Sensing he was getting worked up, Ororo approached him and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, Logan. But there’s nothing we can do,” she said in a caring tone, “Deadpool is gone now. But you’ll get another chance. I know you will.”
“What makes you so damn sure?” muttered Logan.
“I’m not. But given our brief history with your enemies, let’s just say I have confidence.”
Logan turned to face the African woman, who gazed at him with her unique aura of sympathy and compassion. She wasn’t always coy or tactful with her words, but she spoke the truth. And she spoke them in a sincere way that resonated. As frustrated as he still was, Logan smiled and withdrew his claws.
It was ironic. Logan agreed to come on this trip because he hoped to get away for a bit, get drunk, and leave some of his problems behind for a while. But instead, a whole new host of problems emerged. It seemed as though whenever he went looking for his past, he never found anything. But when he was trying to get away from it, his past somehow found him. It didn’t seem right, but it didn’t mean he would stop searching. The answers were out there. It was just a matter of being ready when they came along.
“Come on, we better go check on Kurt,” said Scott.
“Yeah sure,” muttered Logan, “Now I really need a stiff German beer.”
“Try and cheer up and I’ll get you some rounds on me,” smiled Ororo.
“Don’t tell me you’re gonna start tryin’ to cheer me up, Ro?” said Logan with a half-grin.
“We’re X-men, Logan. You may not care for it, but it’s what we do,” she said, “And as long as I’m here, I might as well do my part.”
“That makes you far and above the bravest X-man here,” joked Scott.
“Shut up, one-eye.”
Outside Abandoned Hotel
While Scott, Ororo, and Logan took care of Deadpool, Kurt teleported Amanda and her mother out into a secluded alley besides the building. There, he sat them down so they could recover. They were still dazed from the knock-out gas, but no worse for wear. Amanda and her mother had endured this sort of thing before. They weren’t necessarily hardened to it, but they didn’t let it affect them as much as it should have.
Kurt held Amanda in her arms the whole time, letting her rest her head against his chest while he protected her with his warmth. He could finally breathe a sigh of relief. His love was safe again. This was not the way he wanted to start their long weekend together. Their relationship endured enough stress with his past and him being with the X-men. At least this time it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Deadpool, for whatever reason, went to no extremes. Why there were people so intent on having them was still unclear. But he set that aside as he and Amanda enjoyed this moment together.
Through her brief recover, Amanda clung hard to her lover’s warmth embrace. She knew Kurt would come for her. He always did. He really was her angel, regardless of what anyone else said. There were times she worried that their love would be strained by his duties with the X-men. But being in his arms like this effectively laid those fears to rest.
“Thank you, Kurt. You and your friends did it again,” she said with a warm smile.
“Of course, frauline,” said Kurt as he tenderly caressed her face, “But zhis is becoming troubling. Vhy do zhese people keep coming after you? Is it your mutant abilities? Is zhere some sort of magic at vork here?”
“I…I wish I knew,” said Amanda in a solemn tone, “But I don’t think it’s going to stop. I don’t think it can stop!”
“It doesn’t have to be zhat vay. You know zhat as long as zhere is a breath in my body, I vill let no harm come to you.”
“Of course I know, I just…”
Amanda’s gaze shifted to her mother, who was sitting across from her. She had that serious look in her eye again. It was the look she always got when she was tempted to tell Kurt their secrets. After an incident like this, it was a lot harder to keep from him. She so wanted to just tell him everything and have him say it was going to be alright. But that look from her mother reminded her of why she couoldn’t.
“I’m sorry, Kurt. I just don’t want to dwell on it now,” she said, “Just…just hold me. Tell me everything is going to be okay.”
Despite Kurt’s anxious curiosity, he did as his love asked.
“Everything is going to be okay, Amanda.”
“I love you, Kurt.”
“I love you too, Amanda. And I promise zhe weekend vill get better from here.”
“It already has.”
The two young lovers shared another warm smile and met in a soft kiss. It was a warm, comforting gesture that helped ease their concerns over this messy affair. Secrets or no secrets, so much of their troubles simply melted away when they were together. It was just what they hoped to get out of this weekend. Only from here on out, they wanted to put this mess behind them.
Margali smiled as she watched her daughter embrace her lover. She was always thrilled to see her daughter happy and Kurt Wagner had a talent for making her happy. She could tell how much Amanda loved him and how much Kurt loved her back. But at the same time she couldn’t help but feel a touch of sorrow. Amanda knew full well what she was in for. She also knew why she couldn’t tell Kurt. She worried what may happen to the both of them once their secret got out. It was only a matter time before fate caught up to them. When that time came, she hoped to be ready.
Whether Kurt and Amanda’s love could survive such a revelation was questionable. But for now, she was content to see her daughter and her lover happy here in the present. There was no telling how many more opportunities like this they would get.
Xavier Institute – Cerebro
“Thank you for the report, Scott. I’m glad to hear Kurt and the Seftons are okay,” said Professor Xavier through the main communication link in Cerebro, “Are you on your way back?”
“I’m just about to take off. Logan and Ororo are staying though. I’ll pick them up tomorrow. It’s probably for the best. Logan needs some time to cool off.”
“I understand. I’ll start looking into this Deadpool character as well. If Weapon X is re-emerging, it would be wise to keep up. I’ll also start monitoring the Sefton’s more closely. Something tells me this won’t be the last time they’re a target.”
“As if we don’t have enough on our plate. I’ll help as soon as I get back. Over and out.”
The link went silent and Professor Charles Xavier removed the Cerebro helmet. It seemed conflict was coming at them from all direction. Just as he finished his meeting with the UN judges, Scott sent him an emergency message filling him in on the incident with Deadpool and the Seftons. He was relieved to find out they were able to take care of it on their own. But it presented yet more problems to their already sizable load.
It did strike him as odd though. The Professor remembered Kurt telling him a bit about the Seftons. They were a secretive family. He knew of no cousins, siblings, or other relatives. It was just Amanda and her mother. Even though they trusted him enough to live with them for three years, they hadn’t told him everything. Whatever they were hiding, it must have been important. Amanda and her mother lived in isolation, cut off from as much of the outside world as possible and going to great lengths to leave no paper trail. Even Cerebro couldn’t always keep track of them. Kurt said Amanda was a mutant, but also hinted there was some mystical history with the Seftons. It was an intriguing mystery, one he sensed they would have to deal with again eventually.
But for now, his focus was on the Magneto situation. The judges he met with earlier were not optimistic. The public was very hostile in wake of Magneto’s speech. A clear majority wanted him executed as a war criminal for his crimes. But none of the officials involved wanted to be responsible for another uprising from humans and mutants that could very well lead into an all out war. If they judged him guilty, they would incite a mutant uprising and prompt Wanda and the rest of Genosha to break ties. If they found him innocent and sentenced him to life imprisonment, it could foster only greater animosity towards mutants. There seemed to be no real solution.
Sighing to himself, Professor Charles Xavier turned to wheel himself out of the chamber. It was times like this he was struck with the more daunting aspects of his dream. Winning hearts and minds among humanity as a whole was hard enough. Working within complex legal and political systems was a challenge in and of itself. At some point they were going to have to work though it. They just needed the world to remain stable long enough to make it through this.
Just as Charles wheeled out of the chamber, Hank came running down the hall carrying a stack of papers. He hadn’t heard from him since he gave him the task of investigating the Juggernaut incident. If his expression was any indication, something had come up.
“Charles, I need to speak with you,” he said in a serious tone, “It’s about the Juggernaut incident.”
“What about it? Did you find anything?” asked Xavier intently.
“Oh yes. I most certainly did,” he said ominously, “I looked over the reports from Logan and John regarding their findings on the issue. I did a little more digging and I now suspect that doing so wasn’t meant to be an attack, but a distraction.”
“A distraction?” said Xavier, growing more intrigued, “A distraction for what?”
“That’s what I spent all day looking into,” said Hank as he sifted through his stack of papers, “I got in touch with John again and went over his findings in the area it happened. Again, I came up with nothing. Then on a hunch I looked closer at the destination where Juggernaut was scheduled to be imprisoned. The base at NORAD has a secretive area where they keep a number of unsavory individuals, off the record of course. And while the attack was going on, one of them disappeared.”
Hank then gave the Professor a couple papers from his stack. They were files he ‘acquired’ directly from NORAD’s database. One of them detailed another nefarious figure they had been keeping at the base.
“His name is Forge,” Hank explained, “He’s a peculiar mutant with a peculiar ability.”
“The ability to build any machine,” Xavier read over, “That is quite a talent. I can see why the military would want him in their custody.”
“It’s not by choice I assure you. I couldn’t find a whole lot on this Forge character. Most of his records have been sealed. All I know is he’s been in military custody for months. He was in another prison before that, but apparently he nearly escaped by making some sort of laser weapon out of a toothbrush and fork.”
Xavier looked at the image on the file. Even by X-men standards, that was pretty out there. The image of this Forge character struck him in an ominous way. He was a rugged looking Native American man with a messy complexion and quite a criminal record. And this was just his public information. There was no telling what else there was on him.
“Sounds quite suspicious,” said the Professor, “Could he have been behind the attack that freed Juggernaut?”
“I suspected that as well. But then I discovered something else,” said Hank in a grim tone as he handed the professor another round of papers, “Shortly after Juggernaut was freed, much of the security at NORAD was put on alert. But a number of security cameras were still online. With John’s help, I managed to get some images.”
Xavier took a look at the pictures. They were in black and white, but of a very high resolution. In them he saw narrow and secure prison cell. It was similar to Magneto’s only not plastic. There were small, confined cells where the occupant was sealed in behind an impregnable energy wall. The closest cell was the one Forge occupied. Then in the next picture, he saw a uniformed officer come into the picture. As he sifted through the images, he watched as the officer powered down the barrier and led him out.
“Look closely at the figure that is letting Forge out. Note the color of his eyes.”
Xavier looked closer. He sifted through the images again, finding the one that got the closest look at the officer. One of them had him pass almost directly under the camera. In that image he saw what Hank was referring to. That officer was no officer. His eyes were flashing yellow. It more or less revealed who was behind this whole affair.
“Mystique!” said Xavier sternly.
“Can you think of anyone else more equipped to pull off such a distraction?” said Hank.
“No. I should have realized it sooner,” lamented the Professor.
“Well we know now. Problem is, this answers one disturbing question but postulates one with far graver implications. What does Mystique want with a mutant like Forge? What could she be planning?”
Professor Charles Xavier tensed as he gazed at the still images. It had to be connected. The Juggernaut incident was connected to Mystique’s plans. Mystique’s plans were frequently connected to Magneto’s plans. Even with Magneto in jail, the possibilities were still terrifying. Whatever they were up to, it couldn’t be good.
“Come with me, Hank,” said the Professor as he started wheeling towards the elevators, “I’m going to put on a pot of coffee. We’ll be needing it. I have a feeling this may be a sign of our next great challenge. Hopefully, we aren’t too late to stop it.”
Next Issue: Overlord
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