In a complicated world that hates and fears them, the X-men use their extraordinary mutant powers to fight for peace and understanding. This fight, a dream fostered by their mentor Professor Charles Xavier, has come across many opponents. Some like Magneto and Senator Kelly have clear intentions, seeking to upset that peace they fight for. Others, however, are far more mysterious.
Nathanial Essex, also known as Sinister, recently made his presence to the X-men known. He was behind the theft of sentinel parts in New Orleans, which he later used to abduct Cyclops and Marvel Girl for his macabre experiments. His agenda remains unclear, but he boasts of being able to unlock the secrets of evolution. Like the dream the X-men fight for, Sinister works tirelessly to achieve his goals and has now taken a bold step.
With help from his Marauders, which include Jean’s wayward cousin Madelyn Pryor, he set a trap for Wolverine. By playing off the burning rage of his past, they lured him into their grasp so they could abduct him. Logan tried to fight his way out, but Madelyn proved too resourceful. Now she is prepared to extract him for Sinister, but not if the X-men have anything to say about it.
Woods – Fifteen Minutes from the Xavier Institute
“This way! I found his bike!” said Storm as she led the X-men into the woods.
“Slow down, Storm!” said Cyclops, who was following closely beside her, “We have to check in with the Professor! He’s still trying to lock in on Wolverine’s signature!”
“We can’t afford to! You know full well Logan won’t slow down so we can’t either!”
“And make the same mistakes?” questioned Beast, who was swinging from some trees, “Cyclops is right, Storm. We have to be careful. Especially if this is a trap as it most likely appears to be.”
Storm grew more anxious as she led the team deeper into the woods. With her were Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Gambit, Rogue, and Nightcrawler. She would have liked to have the whole team with her, but Angel was still in no condition to fight with that hangover of his. Iceman was burned out from studying and in no mood join in. Shadowcat stayed behind to help under the Professor’s orders, which was surprising considering how often they had been clashing lately. But that was another issue entirely.
Having just passed Wolverine’s parked motorcycle, they knew they were close. While Storm gathered the team, Professor Xavier manned Cerebro so he could track Logan to wherever he was going. As suspected, he moved fast and quickly made his way into the wilderness. With no time to get the jet going, they piled into the X-van and took off. Now they were hot on his trail, but few had confidence they would find him in time.
“Twenty bucks ol’ Logan’s already walked right into it by now,” said Gambit as he tried to keep up with Storm and Cyclops.
“No deal. That’s a sucker bet if Ah’ve ever heard one,” said Rogue, “For all we know Logan’s killed whoever was dumb enough to call him out like that.”
“Not that I’m in favor of killing, but I hope you’re right, Rogue,” said Marvel Girl, who was flying along above them and scanning the area with her telepathy, “Whoever is behind this is either immeasurably stupid or working some other angle.”
“So you agree vith Storm,” surmised Nightcrawler as he followed Beast through the trees, “You zhink zhis is some sort of trap as vell.”
“I think I know Logan well enough to understand his vulnerabilities. And I think there are other people who know them as well. Chief among them is his inability to think things through. If this is some kind of ploy, it must be from someone who knows him too.”
“That doesn’t bode well for our chances,” said Cyclops as he and Storm stopped briefly to get their bearings, “Pretty much everyone we’ve met who has ties to Logan has been certifiably crazy.”
“I know,” said Jean grimly, “Which is why we need to find him fast! There’s no telling what kind of unsavory people are behind…”
But before Marvel Girl could finish, she was cut off by a strange new sensation. Her head started pounding again, only this time it wasn’t a psychic migraine. She groaned in pain, clutching her temples as she was forced to land next to Cyclops and Storm so she could concentrate. She was sensing something she hadn’t sensed in a long time and hoped she would never have to sense again. It didn’t just leave her in pain. It left her shocked.
“What is it, Jean?!” asked Storm intently, “Do you sense anything?”
“I…I can’t believe it,” she said distantly, “It’s her. It has to be!”
“Her who?” asked Beast curiously, “Does it have to do with Logan?”
“I don’t know, but…”
Marvel Girl was soon cut off again, this time by the Professor. From back at the mansion, they heard their mentor’s telepathic voice in their minds.
‘X-men, Cerebro’s just picked up on a wave of new signatures. I still haven’t found Wolverine, but someone or something is descending just up ahead!’
It had to be whoever was behind this. Storm knew it. The rest of the team knew it. With growing anxiety, the African mutant responded.
‘What is it, Professor? Can you tell who is behind this?’
‘Unfortunately no. There’s this strange psychic static surrounding the area. I can’t make out any clear readings. But there is definitely something coming your way. If these readings are correct, it could be some kind of aircraft or jet.’
Two seconds later, the X-men heard the distinct roar of a jet flying overhead. They looked up to see a mysterious craft that looked similar to the X-jet descending over the area. They watched as it stopped in a mid-air hover just over an area a few hundred yards away.
“Dang, the Professor ought to start predicting the weather,” commented Gambit.
‘We see it, Charles. We’ll look into it. Keep us posted if anything else comes up!’
‘I will, Storm. But please be careful. I have a bad feeling about this.’
‘We all do.’
Leaving the Professor to continue his scanning, Storm flew out ahead towards the hovering aircraft. Marvel Girl, who was still clutching her temples, went after her. She had a bad feeling about this too, but not for the same reason as the rest of them.
“Storm wait! There’s something else going on!” exclaimed Marvel Girl.
“I share your concerns, Marvel Girl! But we can handle this!” said Storm confidently.
“No, you don’t understand! I sense…”
But Storm wasn’t listening. She was already flying into the clearing just under the hovering aircraft. She and Marvel Girl could see figures in the distance. They couldn’t tell if Wolverine was one of them, but they would soon find out.
Then to two X-women were hit with something unexpected. Just as Storm was making her way through the trees, she was struck by what felt like a wave of force comparable to being slammed by a charging bull. Marvel Girl felt it too and before she could deflect it with her telekinesis, Storm slammed right into her as she flew back. It was a hard blow, one that sent them both tumbling to the muddy ground. While stunned, Cyclops and the rest of the X-men caught up to them.
“You okay, Stormy?” asked Gambit as he and Rogue helped her up.
“Ungh, I think so,” groaned Storm, “What was that?”
“Not what…who,” said Marvel Girl, who was helped up by Cyclops.
The X-men turned their attention towards the clearing where Marvel Girl was looking. There they saw what she was referring to. Standing under an area of charred ground was a scantily dressed woman with red hair and a sinister aura. Lying unconscious in front of her was Wolverine, who she proudly stood over with one foot. As she looked towards the X-men, her gaze narrowed on Jean Grey.
“Hello Jean. Glad you could make it,” she said in a cold, sinister tone.
“Madelyn…so it is you!” exclaimed Marvel Girl as she gathered herself.
“You know her?!” exclaimed Rogue.
“Unfortunately yes,” the young psychic replied, “She’s my cousin.”
“Your cousin?” said Gambit as he took in Madelyn’s appearance, “Dang! That be some genes you got going!”
That earned Gambit a bemused look from the whole team. But they didn’t have time to chide him. Madelyn had Wolverine out cold, which was a good indicator of how tough she was. There was obviously a story behind this revelation, but for now Wolverine was their chief concern.
“What is this about?! And what did you do to Wolverine?!” Storm demanded.
“Relax, he’ll be fine,” Madelyn scoffed, “He’s coming with me on a little trip. But not before I settle an old score!”
“You’re making a big mistake! Do you really want to go through this again, Maddie?” said Marvel Girl, who started approaching her wayward cousin.
“Don’t think you can intimidate me, Jean! I’m much stronger than I was on our last encounter!”
As the two cousins approached, the rest of the team grew curious. It appeared there was more going on than a simple abduction.
“Vhat is she talking about?” asked Nightcrawler as he watched on.
“It’s…a long story,” said Beast anxiously.
“You don’t know the half of it,” muttered Cyclops.
Madelyn’s eyes began glowing again, this time even brighter than before. She stepped forth to meet her cousin in the clearing, leaving the unconscious Wolverine behind her. She had been waiting a long time for this. Unlike last time, she was ready to match Jean Grey step for psychic step.
“What have you gotten yourself into this time?” said a very frustrated Marvel Girl.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” said Madelyn with an ominous grin, “Let’s just say I’ve been making friends like you. Only mine are much more useful.”
“Since when do you make friends? You’ve never reached out for anybody in your life!”
“I didn’t have to. They found me, no thanks to you! You left me behind to rot in jail like a common thug! Did you really think I was going to take it lying down?”
“And let me guess…you want revenge,” said Marvel Girl dryly, “Even though everything that ever happened was your own damn fault!”
“Don’t try and turn this back on me! One way or another, you’re going to pay for what I’ve been through!”
Madelyn grunted in anger as she unleashed a telekinetic blast towards her hated cousin. Marvel Girl instinctively countered, putting up a telekinetic barrier to deflect the force. Glowing sparks of psychic energy inundated the area, causing the trees and bushes to sway violently. The forces involved were great, leaving the X-men to hold back and ponder their next move.
“Augh! What are you guys waiting for? Get Wolverine and get out of here!” grunted Marvel Girl as she fought off Madelyn’s psychic onslaught.
“Don’t fall into his habits, Jean! Let us help you!” urged Cyclops.
“I can handle it, Scott! Now is not the time for the overbearing boyfriend deal!” said the young psychic as she countered Madelyn’s blasts, “I need to take care of this!”
Cyclops didn’t like how this was unfolding. He watched as the glowing in Madelyn’s eyes intensified as she started inching her way closer to his girlfriend, pushing through waves of telekinetic force in the process. He wanted to trust his girlfriend’s word. He had faith in her strength. But the way she and Madelyn were carrying themselves just didn’t sit right.
While Marvel Girl handled Madelyn, the rest of the team was more willing to take her advice.
“You heard your girl, Cyclops! Gotta take the chances that come our way, non?” said Gambit.
“Let us hope Madelyn’s hatred of her cousin is enough of a distraction,” said Beast.
Gambit and Beast led the others into the clearing around the battle between Madelyn and Marvel Girl. Cyclops was still reluctant, but followed them none-the-less. Wolverine didn’t look like he was going to wake up anytime soon. He was either leaving with them or whoever Madelyn was working with. They were going to make sure he would leave with them.
But before they could even get halfway to their friend, the aircraft above descended lower. Now it was hovering a mere couple hundred feet off the ground. While the fight was unfolding below, the rear hatch opened and several figures emerged. They were Sinister’s strike force, the Marauders. Present were Vertigo, Arclight, Blockbuster, Harpoon, and Riptide. When they saw what was going on below, they let out a collective groan. This was just what they feared would happen.
“Damn it, Madelyn! Why do you always have to make things harder on us all?” said Arclight, “Vertigo, take care of this!”
“With pleasure,” grinned Vertigo, “But when we get back to Sinister, I get to say I told you so.”
The young female mutant stepped forward, now standing at the edge of the rear hatch. Her eyes started glowing as she raised her hand up and directed it towards the clearing below. She then let out a series of yellowish pulsing waves that quickly inundated the area. As soon as they fell over the X-men, they felt the effects.
“Auuuggghhhhh!” they all groaned.
It was like every bad meal they ever ate was coming back to haunt them all at once. Cyclops, Storm, Beast, Nightcrawler, Gambit, and Rogue all clutched their heads or their stomachs in agony. The world around them started spinning and they could barely stand.
“Ugh! Now Ah know how bad Warren must feel!” groaned Rogue.
“What…what is this?!” exclaimed Storm.
“I zhink it’s zhose friends Madelyn mentioned,” groaned Nightcrawler as he looked up at the jet.
The X-men collapsed as the nausea overwhelmed them. Marvel Girl saw this and quickly grew worried. She was still in a telekinetic grapple with Madelyn, who was standing just a few feet in front of her. If she let go, her cousin would pummel her with all her telekinetic might. But she had to do something to help her friends.
“Guys!” she yelled out, “Hold on! I’m on my way!”
“Forget about them! This is between you and me, cousin!” exclaimed Madelyn, intensifying her telekinetic push.
Marvel Girl tried to push back harder, her attention now more on her friends than her enraged cousin. She kept trying to push back, but Madelyn was pushing harder. More psychic energy filled the area. She was nearing her limits.
But just as it seemed Madelyn was about to finally beat her cousin, the same nausea inducing wave hit Marvel Girl. Almost immediately, her shields faltered and she was knocked back by Madelyn’s telekinetic wave. It would have been so satisfying under normal circumstances, but when Madelyn sensed Vertigo’s interference she was enraged.
“No! What are you doing?!” she exclaimed.
Madelyn turned around to see Vertigo, Arclight, and Riptide descending towards the ground on a small tornado of air, courtesy of Riptide’s powers. They landed right near Wolverine and prepared him for extraction.
“That’s quite enough, Madelyn!” said Vertigo sternly, “You heard what Sinister said. No confrontations whatsoever! Our only mission is to extract Weapon X!”
“To hell with the mission! I’ve waited a long time for this!” spat Madelyn.
“Then it won’t kill you to wait a little longer,” retorted Riptide, “You know how unforgiving Sinister is when it comes to incompetence. You don’t want to get on his bad now do you?”
“He’ll get over it! Even he knows how much I want this!” scorned Madelyn as she turned back to Jean.
“Then he’ll give you another chance,” said Arclight, “Continue holding us up, and he may not be so obliging!”
Madelyn continued staring down her cousin, who was lying half-conscious against a nearby tree. She had been so close. She could feel her yielding under her strength. Now she was completely vulnerable. She could easily finish her off right. But it wouldn’t give her the vindication she wanted. It wouldn’t prove to her that she was the better psychic.
It seemed as though she wasn’t going to get what she wanted. The rematch between her and Jean Grey was going to have to wait. Thinking back to Sinister and what he was planning, she couldn’t risk being left behind. There was too much at stake.
Her decision now clear, Madelyn let out a frustrated grunt. But before she turned back towards the Marauders, she grabbed her dazed cousin by the neck and held her up so they could talk face-to-face.
“This isn’t over, Jean! Sooner or later, you’ll have to face me again! And when the time comes, I’ll be ready! You better be as well!” she threatened.
Marvel Girl could only let out a pained groan in response. With a disgusted scold, Madelyn callously dropped her to the ground and rejoined the others. By now, Riptide had Wolverine’s unconscious body hovering under another whirlwind. His power, which allowed him to spin his body at a high rate and generate wind currents, was how they were going to get back on the jet.
“Are you done?” asked Vertigo, “My vertigo wave won’t keep them at bay forever.”
“Spare me the attitude, Vertigo. Don’t make me want to decapitate you any further,” said Madelyn menacingly.
“Explain to me again why Sinister let you lead this operation,” said Riptide dryly.
“Don’t strain yourself, Riptide. I’m still trying to figure that out as well,” said Arclight, giving Madelyn another harsh scold, “Let’s just get this package back to Sinister. I’m sure he’s preparing for the next experiment as we speak.”
Madelyn fell silent, but didn’t hide her frustration. She ignored the angry looks she got from the rest of her teammates. She could care less what they thought. This was a personal matter. They would never understand.
With Wolverine now in hand, the Marauders returned to their hovering jet on Riptide’s powerful air current. As soon as they were back on the jet, Blockbuster took Wolverine and they were ready to go. But down below, the X-men were recovering from Vertigo’s assault. Much of the team was still stammering to their feet, but some were coherent enough to watch as the Marauders prepared to take Logan away. When they heard them mention that name, Sinister, they now had a name to put on this devious plot. It made an already bad situation far worse.
“Sinister…he’s back!” grunted Cyclops as he helped Rogue and Gambit up.
“Now he wants Logan!” said Storm, who was leaning against a tree for support, “We can’t let them get away!”
Despite her lingering nausea, Storm took to the air on a trail of wind and soared towards the jet.
“Dang it, Stormy! Not again!” groaned Gambit.
Storm gazed with focused determination on the jet. Her eyes were glowing bright white as she formed a series of thick storm clouds overhead. But her emergence didn’t go unnoticed by the marauders.
“Damn, these X-men are pesky!” said Blockbuster.
“I’ll take care of it,” said Harpoon, “I always was good with the ladies.”
Still standing at the edge of the bay opening, Harpoon formed a long energy spear in his hand. His main power was creating these powerful energy projectiles he could wield like a spear. They could be as lethal or non-lethal as he wanted them to be. He didn’t have time to be fancy so for this, he made sure it was a little of both. With careful aim, he threw it at the approaching X-woman. Much to his satisfaction, it hit head on.
“Augh!” she cried out.
“So much for a last stand,” said Harpoon as he closed the bay doors, “Hit the afterburner, Arclight! Let’s get the hell out of here!”
As Storm fell back to the forest below, the others gathered themselves just enough to watch. When they saw Storm get it, they rushed to help her.
“Storm!” exclaimed Gambit.
“I’ve got her!” said Nightcrawler.
Using his teleportation powers, the German mutant teleported up into the air and caught her. Then before they could fall too far, he teleported back to the ground. He was still a bit uncoordinated from Vertigo’s attack so he took some of the momentum with him. They both landed on the hard forest ground with a thud. It wasn’t the cleanest landing, but considering the circumstances it was the best they could’ve hoped for.
Now defeated and sore, the rest of the X-men rose up one-by-one. Cyclops, Rogue, and Gambit had recovered for the most part and quickly went over to aid Nightcrawler and Storm. Beast had recovered as well and was helping Marvel Girl up, who needed a little extra time after the strain she endured during the fight with Madelyn. As they all came to, they looked up and watched as the jet took off. Within seconds, it was over the horizon and out of sight.
“Logan…they took him!” said Storm breathlessly as she leaned on Gambit for support.
“We’ll get him back, Storm,” said Cyclops, “But now that we know Sinister is involved, the situation is a lot more complicated.”
“Now that my cousin is involved, it’s an outright disaster!” exclaimed Marvel Girl as she stumbled to her feet.
“Easy Jean,” said Beast, “Were you at all aware that Madelyn was involved with Sinister?”
“Not in the slightest,” she replied in a fit of frustration, “I don’t know what kind of crazy game she’s playing, but I’m pretty sure when I find out I’ll want to kick her ass!”
Xavier Institute – Classroom
Bobby Drake wasn’t used to being left out of a mission. As a veteran X-man, he was usually on the front line when something major went down. When he heard the commotion about Wolverine earlier, he assumed he was going to be involved. But due to his recent performances in the Danger Room and the classroom, he was held out this time along with a very hung over Warren. According to the Professor, an unexpected mission like this required a clear and focused mind and that was something he had been sorely lacking recently.
That didn’t make it any less disheartening. Bobby considered himself an X-man first and a student second. To make matters worse, Kitty stayed behind to help him continue his work. How she got roped into that, he had no idea. She wasn’t too thrilled about it either, but she at least made it seem as though it didn’t bother her as much. Unfortunately, Bobby couldn’t hide it as easily.
“This sucks,” he groaned.
“Will you give it a rest, Bobby? That’s like the eighth time you’ve said that!” groaned Kitty as she sat on his next with a book in her lap.
“Really? I had it at nine.”
“Whatever the count, I get it! You’re mad about being left out from the mission. I am too, but I’m trying to make the best of it.”
“How exactly does going over all these old assignments qualify?” said Bobby dryly.
“Don’t get mad at me! The Professor is the one pushing you to catch up!”
“I’m not mad!” he retorted, “I’m just…bitter.”
Bobby slumped over on his chair and sighed. He was exhausted both mentally and emotionally. The others were out fighting to save Logan and he wasn’t there with him. It really was tearing at him. Had he really let it get this far? Was he so messed up from Lorna that it was hurting his performance as an X-man?
Kitty tried to be sympathetic. Everybody else seemed to be able to support Bobby through this difficult time but her. No matter what she seemed to find a way to make it worse. It wasn’t like she was trying to make it harder on him. She really did feel bad for what he want through. She just stumbled a lot when she was around Bobby Drake. Why that happened was still beyond her.
“Seriously Bobby, I’m running out of things to tell you,” said Kitty as she set the book aside, “What do you want me to do? Say what everyone else has been saying about Lorna being in the past? Or are you still sensitive to the L-word?”
“You don’t have to give me that speech, Kitty. I’ve heard it all before,” he groaned.
“Then how much longer are you going to keep droning like this?” said Kitty in frustration, “It’s been months and you’re still hung up on it. What’s keeping you from moving on with your life?”
“Try not to get worked up, Kitty. It’s not your fault,” sighed Bobby, “And for your information, I’m not droning. Not about Lorna anyways. It’s taken me a while to wrap my head around, but I accept that we weren’t meant to be. It’s more the little things I’m still getting over.”
“What little things? You sure don’t sound like you’re over her,” said Kitty.
Bobby shot Kitty an annoyed glance. Kitty quickly shifted, realizing she just did it again and said the wrong thing. Only this time, Bobby didn’t get nearly as worked up about it.
“It’s hard to explain,” he said, “You weren’t here when Lorna and I were just getting started. You weren’t even here before then when I was just Bobby Drake, the X-men’s hot young comedic relief.”
“I’m sure those were interesting times,” said Kitty with a half-grin, trying to make up for her previous comment.
“You don’t know the half of it,” said Bobby, “There was once a time when I swore to the others that I would never let stuff like family issues and relationship dramas distract me from my X-men duties. As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, we’ve had our share of incidents and they have affected the team.”
“No need to convince me of that,” she said with a slight laugh, “Since I’ve been here there have been what? Three breakups?”
“Four actually. And I’ve seen even more during my time here. A couple makes me and Lorna look like lightweights. But despite all these made-for-TV movie style dramas, the team stays focused. Nobody lets their personal issues affect their performance where it really matters. It’s never happens flawlessly, but everyone still makes due. Everyone, that is, until me.”
Bobby’s gaze grew distant as he turned away from Kitty. He found himself thinking back to all the others and how they carried themselves during tough the personal issues like this. Compared to them, he was pretty pathetic.
“Now that it’s over and I can look back on it all, I realize I made the same mistakes the others made. I even made a few new ones!” he went on, “Just look at these assignments I have to catch up on. Nobody else fell this far behind because of a relationship! Nobody else got sidelined when a mission came along either! What’s that say about me?”
“When you’re looking to burn out you swing for the fences?” suggested Kitty.
Bobby gave her another look. For a moment Kitty tensed, thinking she screwed up again. But to her relief, Bobby actually laughed somewhat.
“Guess I do have push the edge on the dramatics,” he said, “I not only dated someone outside the team, I dated Magneto’s daughter.”
“That alone puts you in your own league,” smirked Kitty.
“I guess it does. But it’s still not an excuse. There’s no excuse for getting this bent out over some girl. Even if I did really love her, I should be tougher than this. And I shouldn’t have let it affect my life as an X-man.”
Bobby fell silent as he slumped further in his chair. Kitty didn’t risk making another comment. She had already pushed her luck earlier. She wasn’t about to push it again and cause another shouting match.
As Kitty thought about it, she couldn’t help but see Bobby Drake in a different light. He usually came off as someone who was so laid back. She wasn’t here before he hooked up with Lorna so she really didn’t know the Bobby beyond the droning, Lorna-obsessed part of him. In his current state, he was more serious than she had ever seen him. He really was dedicated to being a good X-man. He took his duty every bit as seriously as the others. Yet he still tried to live life as a normal teenage boy, complete with relationships and breakups. There was a lot about that Kitty could admire.
“I know how you feel. Being an X-man is important to me too,” said Kitty, sounding more empathetic, “I would be upset of something came along and messed that up too. But it sounds to me that toughness wasn’t the problem for you. It was judgment.”
“Is that another knock on my maturity?” said Bobby dryly, “Because I’m not up for that argument again.”
“Just hear me out,” she said quickly, trying to keep it civil, “The others had it easy. They got involved with others in the team. When they broke up, they didn’t have dying mothers or deranged fathers pulling them in other directions. You had to deal with all of that. What made it worse was not being able to see when it wasn’t meant to be. I know love blinds people, but it doesn’t make them stupid…most of the time anyways.”
“So you think I was blind at best, stupid at worst?” surmised Bobby.
“I think you were overwhelmed by having someone like Lorna. And when you’re overwhelmed in anything, it’s easy to lose track. I guess it all catches up eventually. It sort of makes you realize just how overwhelmed you really were.”
Bobby thought about it for a moment. It was probably the most acute assessment Kitty (or anybody for that matter) made through this entire process. When he put it into perspective, he really had been overwhelmed. Lorna was his first real love. As he had seen with the others, first loves can have quite an effect on people. It was foolish of him to believe it wouldn’t affect him either.
For a moment Kitty nervously watched as Bobby processed her words. There was never any telling if she pushed the wrong buttons. That seemed to be all she could do with Bobby lately. But to her relief, he sat up a little straighter and smiled at her. It was the kind of smile that made her blush a little.
“You know when you put a little thought into your words, you actually make some good points, Kitty,” said Bobby.
“Um…thanks,” said Kitty, now smiling back, “But don’t get too excited. It’s not going to stop me from being painfully honest with you.”
“I would expect nothing less. I kind of need it anyways. It goes back to that whole perspective deal. Getting support from friends is all well and good, but sometimes you need it shoved down your throat.”
“And you want me to do the shoving?”
“Why not? You’re so good at it,” he teased.
Now it was Kitty’s turn to cast a scold. But it was all in good humor. It was nice to see Bobby making real jokes again. It was also nice to have him smile at her like this. He had a way of being painfully blunt as well. It was annoying, but it was something she needed as well.
“You’re well on your way to recover, Bobby Drake,” joked Kitty, “You’ve started making halfway decent jokes.”
“Progress is progress,” shrugged Bobby, “I’ll feel much better once I get involved with the team again. Hopefully that’s not too far off.”
“In any case you could be doing a lot worse,” shrugged Kitty.
“I know. I could be hung over like Warren.”
“Oh you’re much further along than he is,” laughed Kitty.
“Let’s hope the Professor sees it that way soon.”
They shared another round of laughter. This was definitely a step up from the fighting they had been doing lately. They weren’t just getting along. They were enjoying each others’ company. That was an improvement by any measure. When the laughing stopped they kept smiling. An awkward silence soon followed. It was strange how they could get one ach others’ nerves and yet reach one another. It was different, but still very strong.
“So um…should we get back to work?” said Bobby, finally breaking the silence.
“Oh uh…sure,” said Kitty, shaking off the confusion, “Where were we exactly?”
“Your guess is as good as mine,” he shrugged, “Let’s just try and stay focused. I had better catch up if I’m going to work my way back to the front lines.”
“Right…focused,” said Kitty, still unable to stop herself from smiling.
She started thumbing through the pages, looking for the spot they left off on. But before they cold resume their study session, they each got an urgent psychic message from Professor Xavier.
‘Bobby, Kitty, report to the War Room immediately. The situation with Logan has taken a turn for the worse. We need to act fast! I’ll fill you in on the details as soon as the others get back.’
It sounded pretty serious. The light-hearted spirit from earlier quickly faded. Kitty and Bobby exchanged worried looks. The Professor was not prone to exaggeration. If he said something had taken a turn for the worse, it was not a promising sign.
“Guess I won’t have to catch up as much as I thought,” said Bobby.
“Lucky you,” said Kitty, “It must be pretty bad.”
“Bad is a relative term when it comes to the X-men,” he said as he followed her out of the classroom, “It’s all a matter of degree. If I’m going to prove myself, it better be downright nasty.”
War Room – Later
“Sinister abducted Logan?!” exclaimed Bobby.
“Yikes…that really is nasty,” said an equally bewildered Kitty Pryde.
Such sentiment was shared throughout the X-men, which was still recovering from earlier encounter with the Marauders. The spirit of the team had taken a major hit. Having been through an abduction plot with Sinister before, they knew how bad it could get. And they had every reason to believe this would be even worse.
But it wasn’t just their spirits that took a hit though. As they sat around the War Room, the physical toll was apparent as well. Scott, Remy, Rogue, and Hank were okay for the most part aside from a couple scrapes and bruises. Ororo needed some first aid after the hit she took from Harpoon and Kurt was pretty sore as well after having to catch her. But few were as hard hit as Jean Grey, who was sitting in front with a distant and bitter expression. Her head was still killing her, but migraines were the least of her concerns.
She had just encountered someone she hoped to never encounter again. Her older cousin, Madelyn Pryor, had so many reasons to hate her and she had just as many reasons to hate her back. Madelyn embodied so much of what was wrong with the Grey/Pryor family. Their heritage was a long list of screw-ups, drunks, and deviants. She tried getting away from those old habits. Madelyn delved head first into them. Now she wasn’t just about saving a close friend. It was personal.
“It’s more than just nasty, Kitty,” said Scott distantly, “Sinister said during our last abduction we were just the first step. Whatever crazy plan he’s working on, he’s that much closer to succeeding.”
“And he’s pulling out all the stops too! He actually got my crazy cousin to help him!” exclaimed Jean.
“Not to knock your family, Jean, but crazy is not the right word Ah would use for that woman!” said Rogue.
“Go ahead and knock them all you want!” she said bitterly, “This is a new low and for my relatives, that’s saying something.”
Jean hugged her shoulders as she bore an angry, disgruntled look. Scott tried to console, her, but she was very much lost in this latest development. Family issues had always been sensitive with her. This was just rubbing salt in the wound.
“I’m sorry you have to cross paths with your cousin like this, Jean,” said the Professor in a caring tone, “But personal issues aside, we must focus on getting Logan back. There’s no telling what Sinister may do with him.”
“If it’s anything like last time, it probably has something to do vith some twisted experiment,” said Kurt.
“Considering what Weapon X has so pertinently tried, that’s the most likely reason,” said Hank in a critical tone, “We all saw how poorly that turned out. There may very well be a chance Logan could find a way to contact us.”
“I don’t know, Hank. Sinister seems a lot more careful than those Weapon X goons,” said Scott, “I don’t see him testing his luck with Wolverine.”
“So let’s just look for Sinister!” said Rogue angrily, “Ah’ve been lookin’ to get mah hands on that pasty faced psycho since he messed up mah powers!”
“That’s easier said than done, Rogue,” said the Professor grimly.
“I had a feeling that would be the case” groaned Ororo, who was holding a pack of ice to her shoulder, “I assume Cerebro cannot locate Sinister or Logan at this point.”
“He’s using the same psychic shielding he used last time,” said Xavier, “I don’t know what kind of technology he’s using, but it’s more advanced than anything Cerebro can get around. And unlike our previous encounter with Sinister, we do not have leads from Quicksilver or a betrayal from Black Tom to guide us.”
“In other words we’re at a dead end,” said Bobby.
“I’m afraid so.”
A sour mood fell over the team. It was bad enough to have one of their own abducted. It was even worse to have absolutely no clues as to their whereabouts. Sinister wasn’t like Magneto or the other adversaries they faced. He knew how to cover his tracks. It was devious, but clever.
Ororo’s sore shoulder stung even more. She put much of the blame on herself for Logan’s predicament. Had she been stronger, she may have been able to stop that jet. The others didn’t get that chance. She did and she couldn’t take advantage of it. Remy and Hank offered her sincere gestures, but the guilt was still strong.
“Don’t be blaming yourself, Stormy. There was nothing we could do,” coaxed Remy.
“I wish I could believe that, but that won’t do Logan any good,” she said strongly.
“He’ll be okay. Logan’s tough. He can survive pretty much anything with that healing factor of his,” said Kitty.
“With Sinister, you never know,” said Scott grimly, “That healing factor may be what he’s after. He wouldn’t be the first one.”
“If that is indeed the case, what could he use it for?” said Hank, thinking critically, “And moreover, how does it relate to his previous abductions of you and Jean?”
“I’ve been wondering that too,” said Scott, “He did mention something about having more ambitious plans. But I couldn’t tell which parts were serious and which parts were mindless ramblings.”
“Are you sure there were no other clues?” asked Professor Xavier intently, “What about his lab? Were there any indications of how or where he might carry out his operations?”
“I’m sorry Professor, but Jean and I weren’t exactly clear-headed during the ordeal. I doubt Logan will be either,” said Scott in a low tone.
“So what do we do? Just sit here and wait for Sinister to start dissecting Logan?” asked a still desperate Ororo.
“As much as it pains me to say this, my X-men, there really is nothing we can do.”
It wasn’t looking good. Charles Xavier wanted to take action and so did the others. But they had too little to go on. Then in an unexpected turn, Jean Grey spoke up.
“Well there is one way to find out what Sinister is up to,” she said.
“If you have any other clues to offer, we’re all very open to them, Jean,” said Hank.
“It’s simple. We just go and ask him,” she said.
Everybody, including Scott, looked at her strangely.
“Were you not listening, Jean?!” exclaimed Rogue, “We ain’t got a clue where this guy even is!”
“Maybe we can’t track him. But we can track Madelyn,” said Jean strongly.
“Ve can? How?” asked Kurt.
“I don’t recall picking up her signature with Cerebro either,” said the Professor.
All eyes were on Jean now as she reached into her pocket and took out her communicator. Everyone in the X-men had one, but hers had something else.
“I wasn’t talking about using Cerebro,” said the young psychic, “If there’s one thing I learned in my time as Logan’s girlfriend, it’s that you need to be a little devious at times. It also helps when you’re crazy cousin is an arrogant bitch.”
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I like where this is going,” grinned Bobby.
Jean then opened the back of her communicator to reveal a small compartment.
“When Madelyn grabbed me to say her goodbyes, I slipped a little something into that slutty outfit of hers.”
“You have any idea how dirty that sounds, Jean?” smirked Remy, earning him an elbow to the ribs from Ororo.
“Get you’re head out of the gutter. It was a tracking bug,” said Jean, rolling her eyes, “The same we use in our communicators, only this one transmits a much stronger signal. Logan said he always kept a few in case one of his enemies managed to get away. He never had to use it, so I figured I might.”
“You figured right, Jean,” said Ororo, her mood quickly perking up upon hearing about this, “So does this mean we can track Sinister’s trail?”
“It means we can track Madelyn,” she corrected, “We find her and she’ll lead us right to Sinister.”
It was a cunning tactic, one few would have suspected from someone like Jean. It just showed she really had learned a thing or two during her time with Logan. It was a good thing too because it now gave them the key to saving him.
Scott was especially surprised. This was a different side to Jean. He assumed a lot of it had to do with encountering Madelyn again. Her family tended to have that affect on her. But that’s not what struck him. What really got his attention was that he didn’t know this side of her as well as he did the rest of her. It showed that even though he was her lover, there was much he had to learn about her. As he pondered this, Jean picked up on his thoughts and sent him a psychic message.
‘I know what you’re thinking, Scott. I’m sorry if this is coming out of the blue, but I didn’t think it was a big deal.’
‘It is a big deal, Jean. I’m not going to make a scene about it, but we should definitely have a little chat about it.’
‘We will. Although I can’t say I’m looking forward to it.’
‘Neither am I.’
Jean handed her communicator to the Professor, who quickly looked it over with Hank. Jean was no technical whiz, but she was plenty smart.When they saw the kind of gear she used, their hopes were lifted as well. It appeared they would be able to get the jump on Sinister the same way he got the jump on them.
“It’s not fancy. Most of that stuff came from your workshop, Hank,” explained Jean, “I hope it’s enough.”
“It is,” said Hank confidently, “If that tracking bug is transmitting, we should be able to trace it!”
“How long before we have a location?” asked Ororo anxiously.
“Taking into account Sinister’s usual cunning, it could be a few hours,” said the Professor, “I’ll need you all to be on standby. We’ll move out the moment we find something.”
“Oh believe meh, Professor, Ah’ll be waiting in the wings!” said Rogue, cracking her knuckles intently.
“We all vill,” said Kurt with equal determination, also wanting to get back at Sinister for what he did to Rogue.
With renewed optimism, the X-men got up and left Jean, Hank, and the Professor to do what they had to do. Scott stayed as well. Since Sinister was a foe on a very personal level, Scott was especially motivated to find him and face him again. This madman had the audacity to attack them not once, but twice. They were able to stop him before. Even with his Marauders behind him, they could stop him again. They had to work fast though. Given what he experienced with Jean, there was no telling what kind of sick experiments Sinister was behind.
In addition to Scott, Ororo stayed behind to help as well. Despite her lingering injuries, she was intent on being a part of this. But her reasons were different. Her main concern was Logan. It was a concern that did not go unnoticed by the others.
“Miss Munroe sure seems worked up about Logan,” commented Kitty as she made her way out of the War Room.
“That be one way of putting it,” said Remy as he followed her out, “Stormy gets this way with hommes she got a soft spot for. And her spot for Logan has been getting pretty big lately.”
“You don’t mean they’re…you know,” said Kitty, letting Remy fill in the blanks.
“Non, not yet anyways,” said Remy as he looked back at his former lover anxiously, “I ain’t sure what to make of it. Storm always did have a strange way about her when it came to men. Ain’t no telling what this here mess is gonna lead to. Remy just hopes Storm be ready. Because compared to Hank, Logan be a whole different game.”
“Logan…oh Logan? Someone very important needs to have a word with you. It’s about your old title…Weapon X.”
Those ominous words stirred Logan from a very deep state of unconsciousness. Everything around him was dark and unmoving. His body felt heavy if not paralyzed, his limbs bearing him little strength against the surrounding darkness. But he could still sense a presence. He could also sense he was no longer in the forest. He wasn’t sure where he was or how he got here, but it felt hostile. It reminded him of the Weapon X labs.
Something had gone very wrong. The last thing he remembered was staring down Madelyn Pryor as her hoard of demonic pets used him as their personal scratching post. He also remembered her mentioning something about Sinister, which stirred his suspicion even more. The fact he didn’t remember beating all those goblin creatures back to hell and teaching Madelyn a lesson in ladylike behavior was a bad sign of how the fight turned out. But he was still alive. That was all he needed to be able to fight back.
“Logan…it’s time to wake up.”
Those deep, menacing words roused in him the angry Wolverine. In a burst of anger and rage, he plowed through the veil of unconsciousness.
“Hrrrrrraahhhhhhhhhh!” he roared
With renewed strength surging through his body, he shot up from his unmoving state in a burst of rage. He was expecting to wake up in some dingy lab strapped to a gurney with wires going into his body. But what he got instead was completely unexpected.
As Logan shot up, opening his eyes and drawing his claws, he found himself on a nice comfortable bed instead of a metal gurney. There were no shackles or wires. There wasn’t even a laboratory around him. Instead, he was in what looked like a cabin in the mountains. There were wooden walls, nice animal-fur carpets, and an old fashioned wood stove. It wasn’t unlike the many cabins he stayed in throughout his life in Canada.
But as nice a surprise this was, Logan was still suspicious.
“You gotta be freakin’ kidding me!” he snarled as he slipped out of the bed, his claws still drawn, “This someone’s idea of a sick joke?”
“It’s no joke, I assure you.”
Logan swiftly turned around to see that the voice that had been calling out to him belonged to Madelyn Pryor. She was now standing behind his bed, wearing the same revealing outfit he remembered from the forest. She had the same menacing smirk on her face and Logan was prepared to rip into her on the spot.
“You! This another one of your mind games?!” he roared, holding his claws up to her throat.
“Oh please,” she scoffed, “If I were attacking you telepathically, you would not be in such a peaceful setting. You would be tied up, bound, and caged like the animal you are.”
“How kinky,” said Logan dryly, “That mean I’ll have to start carving you up to get you to tell me where I am?”
“And ruin my perfect figure? Please,” said Madelyn casually, “I’d be happy to tell you where you are, but I’ll leave that to someone with much greater insight.”
The front door to the cabin then opened. Logan shot around again, this time coming face-to-face with someone that pissed him off even more. It was Sinister and he had the same snide grin as Madelyn.
“Hello Wolverine,” he greeted, “Nice to see you alert and well-rested.”
Logan growled as he turned his rage towards the imposing figure. With murderous intent, he lunged towards Sinister with every intention of ripping him to shreds.
“You!” he roared, “You’re as ugly as Jeannie said you were!”
“Did she also mention I could do this?”
With a snide grin, Sinister raised his hand and hit Logan with a healthy dose of telekinesis. It stopped him just as Logan’s claw was about to make contact with his face. It wasn’t enough to knock him back. It was just enough to freeze him in place. Before he could regroup, Sinister clenched his fist and put the feral mutant into a firm telekinetic hold. Logan continued to thrash, forcing Madelyn to come in and help. But Sinister remained undaunted. He didn’t even look surprised.
“You ugly fucking excuse for a clown! I’ll kill you for this lousy stunt!” roared the raging Logan.
“Oh is it really so lousy?” taunted Madelyn, “It worked didn’t it?”
“I’ll kill you too for playing your part as psycho bitch!”
“Please dispense with such juvenile threats. I didn’t go through the trouble of trapping you so you could spew obscenities.”
“Yeah right! You give Cyke and Jeannie the same courtesy when you snatched them up last time?!” roared Logan, “I should gut you just for that!”
“Trust me, you don’t want to do that,” taunted Sinister, “Even if such an act is physically impossible with my body.”
“Trust me, nothing would be more satisfying!”
“Would it? Because if somehow you kill me, you would be killing one of the few people left in this world who can give you answers about your past. And you do seek answers, don’t you, Logan? Or should I say, Weapon X?”
Logan stopped thrashing. His gaze narrowed on the hideous figure of Sinister. It was hard to tell through that white face, that black body suit, and those glowing red eyes. This guy already showed he wasn’t above deceit. That phone call mimicking Sabretooth was proof enough of that. But there was something in that strange tone of his he couldn’t ignore.
“What the hell do you know about Weapon X?!” spat Logan.
“It’s quite a story. One I would be more than happy to tell you,” said Sinister, “But only if you lose the claws and act civil.”
Logan snarled angrily. Such a notion was outrageous. This man tricked him and abducted him and he expected him to be civil? He was as crazy as he was ugly.
“Look at it this way,” he added, “I could have easily restrained you like Weapon X and kept you trapped in a cold, hospital room. But I didn’t. Instead, I went through the trouble of setting up these nice, pleasant surroundings for you to wake up in. Shouldn’t that earn me at least some courtesy?”
Logan was inclined to scoff, but when he thought about it this nut-job had a point. Looking around at his settings, it was definitely a step up from anything Weapon X put together. Most of the psychos who came after him had no qualms about tying him up and throwing him in a cage like an animal. This guy was playing a different angle. It was almost as if he was trying to be friendly. For a man who had already proven himself crazy during their last encounter, that was quite a stretch.
But suspicions aside, a part of him was curious. If this man did know a thing or two about his past, it may be worth holding off on ripping him a new one for just a little while. He remembered some of the things Jeannie told him about this guy before. Sinister had a strange way about him, but he definitely had an agenda. It couldn’t hurt learn a little more about it. It may just give him extra motivation to kill him later.
Still bearing a menacing scowl, Logan withdrew his claws and stopped struggling.
“Okay bub,” he said begrudgingly, “This better be worth it.”
“Oh it will be,” assured Sinister, “I’m a man of my word.”
“Just tell your skank over there to keep her distance!” snarled Logan as he turned towards Madelyn, “I still got a hankering to carve her up!”
“Watch your tone you mindless brute! Or I’ll sick my little minions on you again!” scowled Madelyn.
“Fine with me! They’re prettier than you anyways!”
But before this exchange could continue, Sinister stepped in.
“Enough!” he said sternly, “Madelyn, stand down! I’m not in the mood for more of your insolence! You’re still on thin ice after that stunt in the forest!”
Madelyn shot Logan another dirty scowl, but did as her mentor asked. She tested his patience enough for one day. The last thing she wanted at this point was to get on his bad side, especially when they were this close to success.
With Madelyn begrudgingly keeping her distance, she and Sinister freed Logan from their telekinetic hold. The feral mutant needed a moment to stretch his limbs, making it clear he still didn’t trust either one of them. Nothing was keeping him from attacking anymore, but since Sinister made good on his word he might as well do so as well for now. Something told him that wouldn’t last long though.
“There now, glad we could clear that up,” said Sinister as he turned towards the door from which he entered, “Now follow me. I have much to show you. It’s been a long time since I’ve crossed paths with Weapon X. Much like yourself, my fate is also irreversibly tied to that fateful program. But for many different reasons.”
Weapon X Lab – Cold War
Dr. Nathanial Essex wiped the nervous sweat from his forehead as he worked feverishly in his office. It was a big day for Weapon X. Today Dr. Cornelius and Professor Thorton were proceeding with their boldest experiment yet. The two specimens were in place. The man now known only as Logan and his cohort, known only as Victor, were about to take part in their ultimate triumph. Years of research and testing had been leading up to this. Dr. Essex had been a big part of it. But while everyone was gathering in the main lab, he was still hunched over his desk in his office.
‘Gotta hurry! It won’t be much longer now.’
The nervous man was working on his third day without sleep. All around his office there were stacks of papers and piles of various electronics strewn about. He scrambled back and forth, trying to gather the documents he needed and compile the computer data on a single strip of data tape. He cursed these technologically ignorant fools. They needed to find a better way to archive computer data. It was a good thing he was many steps ahead of them in that area. Too bad they wouldn’t be around to appreciate it.
As he was gathering his materials, there was a knock at his door and Professor Abraham Cornelius entered. Instinctively, Dr. Essex hid some of his materials under his desk before his colleague could address him.
“You’re still working, Nathan?” he said, “I admire the dedication, but you’re going to miss the show. Thornton is about to begin the adamantium bonding process.”
“I know. I just have a number of things to catch up on,” said Dr. Essex, trying to remain calm despite being short of breath, “Lab reports mostly. There’s some data I’ve been meaning to go over.”
“I hope it’s nothing major. It won’t have any implications for the experiment, will it?”
“Of course not,” assured Dr. Essex, “Those numbers I crunched for you are sound. Follow the protocol exactly and you’ll get what your ultimate weapon.”
“Good, it would be a shame if something were to compromise everything we’ve worked so hard on.”
“Indeed, but you need not concern yourself. You have my word.”
Dr. Cornelius gave his colleague a look of confidence. His word was more than enough to convince him. Dr. Essex had done nothing but deliver ever since he came on board. He was a strange man with his share of quirks, but that didn’t take away from his brilliance. Were it not for him, much of this project would have been impossible.
“Very well then,” said Dr. Cornelius, “But I hope you find time for a break. This is a big moment for us and you should be a part of it. I’m still amazed at how you’ve been able to put together such remarkable genetic advances in your short time here. It’s almost as if you’re taking them right out of the distant future.”
“If I had that kind of ability, do you really think I would be doing this for a living?” said Dr. Essex jokingly, “I would have since gotten myself some winning lottery tickets and retired on a beach in Jamaica.”
“Once this program succeeds, you may just get that chance. But one of these days you’ll have to fill me in on your uncanny talent. It would make all our jobs so much easier.”
“Perhaps one day I will. For now, let’s just say I have uncanny foresight.”
“If we must,” sighed Dr. Cornelius, “In the meantime, do join us for the festivities. We have champagne and fine wine to go around.”
“I’m sure you do,” smiled Dr. Essex, “I’ll be there when I can, but don’t let me hold you up. Go on and enjoy the fruits of your labor.”
“Thank you, Nathanial. I most certainly will.”
Dr. Cornelius smiled back and left his colleague to his musings. As soon as he was gone, Dr. Essex let out a sigh of relief. He retrieved the materials he stashed under his desk, which included three rolls of computer data tape and an unmarked folder. Looking at these seemingly innocuous objects, it was amazing to consider how much of his work resided in these devices. But they were just the data. The tools he would need for the next step were much more elaborate.
After gathering a few more papers, he placed these materials in an unmarked gray briefcase. He was about ready to make his leave. But before he could slip away, he had to retrieve one last vital component.
First he made sure his office door was locked. He didn’t want anybody barging in again. Once it was secure, he made his way to the back corner of his office where he had a seemingly ordinary chalkboard full of data and various scribbling hanging on the wall. This board actually opened up like a small door. Behind it was a secret save he personally installed himself. Nobody knew about it and it was a good thing too. Because what he kept inside was more important than any weapon’s project.
Upon opening the chalkboard, he quickly entered the unique combination to unlock it and open it. Then with nervous hands he retrieved the contents.
‘Poor Cornelius. He and the rest of these deluded fools are wasting their time with living weapons and mindless political agendas. When will people learn? For true progress to be made, one must be willing to take radical steps.’
His hands still trembled every time he touched this object. In many ways it was the secret to his so called foresight that Dr. Cornelius mentioned. It didn’t look like much. It was a small, metallic rod about foot or so long and several inches wide. All along the outside was an array of symbols and markings, none of which matched anything else ever conceived of on this planet. It had a distinct glass tip with various strange electronic inside. From this tip came a strong, but soft yellow light. It gave off a distinct radiance, almost as if it were alive. It looked genuinely alien and rightfully so. The story behind it and how he got it was literally out of this world.
Clutching the rod protectively, Dr. Essex put it in his briefcase along with his data. He had what he needed. It was time to leave Weapon X behind and move onto his next step in his ambitious plans.
“So long you fools. Enjoy the bloodbath,” he said as he closed his suitcase and slipped away, “Your pathetic endeavor is over. Mine is just beginning.”
Sinister’s Main Lab – Present
Logan was never a fan of laboratories. His experience with Weapon X gave him many reasons to despise them. As Sinister led him into his main research area, it was a struggle to keep himself from going into a rage. The burning anger within him longed to just trash this place and burn it to the ground. But he held back for the sake of finding out more about this crazy freakshow’s agenda.
Upon leaving the ‘cabin’ Logan quickly found out he hadn’t actually been in a cabin. He was in a specially designed holding cell, not unlike the ones they had at Weapon X. Only these were outfitted with advanced holographic technology, not unlike the Danger Room. It was a pretty advanced combination of technology, one that Hank would have drooled over if he got his hands on it. But that was nothing compared to the hardware Sinister had set up in the main lab. This stuff wasn’t just advanced. It was too advanced. It was advanced to a point where it heightened Logan’s suspicions.
“This is some setup you got here. Looks someone overdosed on sci-fi,” he commented.
“Remarkable, isn’t it?” said Sinister as he admired the array of advanced machinery, “You’re looking at technology at least a century ahead of anything the human race has mustered. I’m so far ahead it’s sickening to see the likes of Weapon X and Cameron Hodge attempt to catch up.”
“I’m sure it’s because you’re just a natural born mad scientist,” said Logan dryly, “Stick a couple of bolts in your neck and you could be Frankenstein.”
“I assure you there’s nothing mad about what I do, Logan.”
“Yeah, it’s all for the greater good or some shit like that,” droned the former living weapon, “Don’t try and sugarcoat it bub. I’m a product of mad science. I got insight and I know the real deal when I see it.”
Sinister scolded his remarks and stopped briefly in their trek. They were now standing next to a table laden with chemical vials, DNA computers, and exotic biological specimens. It was just one of many displays of Sinister’s advanced mastery of genetics and he wouldn’t go a step further until Logan came to appreciate it a little more.
“You don’t want it sugarcoated? Fine, I’ll spare you the fancy rhetoric,” he said in a more stern tone.
“Good, I was ready to cut off my own ears off,” quipped Logan.
“I’ll try and ignore those brutish manners of yours and be serious,” he went on, “For you see, there is a reason why I call myself Sinister and not Nathanial Essex, the name I was born with.”
“With a face like yours, I figure it helped remind you to avoid all mirrors.”
“Hardly,” scoffed Sinister as he turned towards his table of equipment, “It has to do with the history of science, of which we are both a very big part of.”
The mysterious figure then picked up a small vial of glowing fluid and held it up. He smiled at it ominously as he admired the exotic contents.
“When Nicholas Copernicus first proposed that the Earth was not the center of the universe, he was considered mad. When Galileo later proved it for all to see, he was deemed a heretic and imprisoned for the rest of his days. Then when Darwin came along and asserted that life evolves and always has, he was labeled a madman and his work an affront to all things good and pure.”
Sinister set down the vial and turned back towards the stoic Logan, his eyes flashing with a dark and serious intent.
“All these men were brilliant and ahead of their time. But they had the misfortune of living in a society of fools. They were labeled deviant, evil, and sinister. The way I see it, I’m just following in their footsteps and saving myself the trouble.”
“So you get a little plastic surgery and start calling yourself Sinister. Right, ain’t nothing mad about that,” said Logan dryly.
“You think this is the result of surgery?” laughed Sinister pointing at his complexion, “Wrong again, Weapon X. What you see before you is the result of one thing and one thing only…evolution. That is where our paths crossed, you see. It is that same path that has led us to our current predicament.”
Sinister turned back to his table and picked up a few high tech artifacts. One was a small cube-shaped device with strange markings on it. To Logan it didn’t look like much, but when Sinister tapped the tip it started glowing with a mysterious radiance. It was a radiance that felt strange, yet familiar.
“That light…” he said, “Why do I think I’ve seen that before?”
“Probably because you have. In fact, you saw it very recently,” said Sinister ominously, “I’m sure you recall your recent encounter with the alien craft on Genosha.”
Logan’s eyes widened. In a mix of shock and outrage, he drew his claws and grabbed Sinister by the neck.
“How the hell do you know about that?!” he exclaimed.
“Oh don’t look so shocked,” taunted Sinister, “I’ve managed to abduct you X-men twice. Isn’t it a given I keep tabs on you?”
“Keep talking! I’ll give you something to keep tabs on!” Logan snarled as he held his claws up to his neck.
Madelyn, who was standing back, was about to counter attack. But Sinister waved her off. He was not daunted by his reaction. He was only lightly amused.
“Oh no you won’t. Not if you want to know the truth!” Sinister grinned.
“What truth? That you’re as crazy as you are dead?” said Logan, his claws now touching his neck.
“How about the truth that the alien ship you encountered was just one of many. And some of that alien technology fell into human hands…some of which ended up with Weapon X.”
This time Logan’s shock overshadowed his outrage. The Professor said he suspected these aliens had encountered humanity before. But he never could have imagined them affecting Weapon X. It was enough to make him withdraw his claws and listen on as Sinister continued.
“It’s true. The technology of these aliens, known collectively as the Shi’ar, has had a far reaching impact on humanity. That ship on Genosha was just the beginning. Many others have found their way to our humble planet over the centuries. They don’t make their presence known because they have no interest in conversing with primitive, unenlightened primates.”
“And you know this, how?” said Logan angrily.
“Because…I’ve met them.”
That didn’t surprise Logan as much as it should have. It did explain where Sinister got some of this hardware. It also explained why he was a few stars shy of a galaxy to put it lightly.
“They won’t talk to the rest of the world, but they’ll give you the time of day? What did you do? Abduct them as well?”
“Hardly,” scoffed Sinister, “It was an act of fate. For you see, before World War II I was but a lowly researcher trying to give the new field of biotechnology a good name. With other programs like the trinity project and the super soldier program gaining so much ground, it was difficult. I had the theories, but I didn’t have the technology. That’s where the Shi’ar came in!”
Pulling away from Logan’s grasp briefly, Sinister set the small cube aside and retrieved another object from the table. This time he retrieved the fateful metal tube-like structure with a light at the tip, the very same he kept concealed during his time at Weapon X.
“It was sheer chance that I was doing my research while scouts from their fleet were searching for resources in human laboratories. I encountered a member of their Imperial Guard, much as you did on Genosha. Only this was a powerful telepathic being known as Oracle. She was on a top secret mission to develop enhanced beings for use in their forces. They were in the middle of a Civil War back home so they needed a quiet place to develop their research and someone brilliant enough to carry it out without evoking suspicion from the rest of the Shi’ar.”
“And you were the guy they chose? Guess they ain’t advanced when it comes to judging assholes,” scoffed Logan.
“They provided me enough resources to get involved, didn’t they?” grinned Sinister, “Not only that, Oracle imparted a wealth of knowledge through telepathy and provided me with advanced Shi’ar hardware to help me develop their technology with Earthly materials. It led me down a new path, one that eventually met up with Weapon X.”
Naturally, Logan’s expression tensed with anger upon hearing that name. His fists clenched again, his claws just waiting to come out. But Sinister kept going, unnerved by the rage he was stirring within him.
“I was a changed man after the encounter. I had alien knowledge and resources at my disposal. I moved from the shadows of the scientific world to the top levels of research. And as you well know, Weapon X was center stage in this field.”
“Don’t remind me,” he snarled angrily, “So I take it you joined them.”
“Indeed, I did assist them in putting together the technology to go along with their plans. But before you draw those claws again and attack me, you should know that I also helped sew the seeds of their own destruction.”
“Oh this I gotta hear,” said Logan skeptically.
“It’s true. While I did provide them the materials to carry out their dastardly ploy to turn you into an indestructible weapon, I conveniently miscalculated that they would be able to control you after the process. So in a ways, you owe me your life. Were it not for me, you never would have escaped from Weapon X.”
Logan snarled bitterly. Now he knew this guy was crazy. He helps Weapon X take everything from him and then turns it around and says he helped him? That wasn’t just crazy, it was downright stupid.
“Right, so I should forgive all the poking and prodding those assholes did that your alien inspired tech allowed,” said Logan, his words dripping with sarcasm.
“I’m not asking for your forgiveness. I’m just granting you some perspective,” said Sinister as he set the alien relic aside, “Weapon X was messy and misguided. That much we can agree upon. But it was a necessary part of this process.”
Sinister set aside the relic and began walking through the lab again. He led Logan to the other end of the lab where there was a large, heavily reinforced metal door. It was the kind of barrier meant to keep whatever was on the other side contained. Logan didn’t need his advanced senses to figure out there was something volatile on the other end.
Sinister placed his hand on a scanner, triggering the mechanisms to unlock it. As he did, his ominous grin widened as he continued addressing Logan.
“Despise me all you want, Logan. But the truth is I needed you to further my work. My research along with that of Dr. Cornelius allowed me to take that advanced healing factor of yours and turn it into something far more promising. It wouldn’t just allow you to survive the adamantium bonding process. It would open the door towards a many new possibilities in the domain of mutant research.”
“You ain’t helping your case, Sinister. I still have the urge to gut you!” spat Logan.
“Before you resort to that barbaric rage of yours, you should see the fruits of such research,” said Sinister ominously, “What I took from Scott Summers and Jean Grey was supposed to the final piece. But since you X-men intervened, I had to settle for less. Now to finish this little endeavor, I needed a dose of that wondrous healing ability of yours. Lucky for you, extracting it with my technology is much less invasive than what Weapon X tried to do. All I needed was a blood sample, which you so generously provided while you were asleep.”
That was the final straw for Logan. This guy had pushed his luck one time too many. He didn’t care anymore what secrets he had to his past. He used him once before with Weapon X. Now he was using him again for his own sick ends. This guy had to die.
“Okay bub! Case closed!” growled Logan as he drew his claws again, “I’m through listening to your sick ranting! You shacked up with Weapon X! You used me again as your own personal lab rat! Now you’re gonna die!”
“Very well then,” said Sinister as he entered the final access code for the door, “If you won’t listen to reason, then you can forget about me helping you any further. But before you sharpen those claws on my spine, there’s someone I want you to meet.”
With the touch of a button, Sinister completed the unlocking sequence. The surrounding mechanisms let out a sharp hissing sound as various gears and hydraulics were activated. The heavy door then slowly opened. As it did a strange greenish smoke came billowing out in a thick cloud. It had a very fowl smell, but it was a smell Logan recognized. It was the same putrid smell of the chemicals Weapon X used in the adamantium bonding process. He had to guard his nose as he took a defensive stance.
Once the door was fully opened the insides of the room came into view. Logan saw that it was full of a series of bio tanks, similar to the ones he had been in at Weapon X. Only these were much bigger and much more advanced. They all seemed arranged around a central tank, which looked almost like a womb of sorts. It was this central tank where those putrid fumes were coming from. It was also from this tank that Logan was able to make out a mysterious figure.
“Who the hell?!” grunted Logan.
But just as the figure was coming into view, a massive red beam of energy shot out from the haze and hit Logan right in the chest.
“AUGH!” he howled out in pain.
When it hit, it was like being rammed by a speeding train while simultaneously being burned with a blowtorch. Logan was blown clear across the lab, impacting hard on the far wall and leaving a deep indentation. When he fell limply to the floor below, his body was literally smoldering from the impact. He was still conscious, but he could barely move. When he tried to get up, it was sheer agony.
“Hnn…” was all he could get out.
From the other end of the lab, Sinister smiled in amusement. The figure was now standing right next to him. It was a tall, well-built young man with short brown hair, a clean shaven face, and glowing red eyes. His whole body was simmering with energy, giving off an aura of raw power. His gaze was stoic, but his poise was one of relief and jubilance. It was as if he had just awaken from a long, refreshing nap.
It was a proud moment for Sinister. This was a long time coming for him. It wasn’t just the success of an experiment. It was the keeping of a promise.
“Packs quite a punch, doesn’t it?” taunted Sinister, “Allow me to introduce the source! Meet Gabriel Summers, a mutant powerhouse who packs a hell of a punch!”
“Thanks for the intro,” said Gabriel stoically, “But please…call me Vulcan!”
Next Issue: The Good, The Bad, The Sinister Part 3
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