Alpha Flight’s Omni-Jet streaks across Canada, bound for New York, however inside it is only one member of Alpha Flight who is headed for the U.S. – the diminutive Eugene Milton Judd a.k.a. Puck. Judd radios back to Tamarind Island and apologizes to his teammates for taking off in their only jet without permission, but because it is his fault that their leader, Heather Hudson, has run away from them. He reminds them that he tried to protect Heather when he should have been training her to use the power of her battle suit to protect herself. He declares that he has to now find Heather, apologize and tell her that he will train her – before he does.
Inside Mansion Alpha, Madison Jeffries, Alpha Flight’s ally and resident transmutator asks the question on his companions lips – ‘“he” who?’ Judds face can be seen in a view screen as he declares that “he” is the only other person alive that Heather would turn to for training now that she has adopted the costume of her late husband, one of the original members of Alpha Flight – Wolverine! Roger Bochs, a.k.a. Box informs his teammates that he is tracking Judd and Heather as they vector in on New York, both headed for the X-Men, but there is no way he could overtake them. Arms folded, the sultry Aurora informs Box that he couldn’t, but her brother Northstar could, should he choose to. The handsome mutant speedster, Jean-Paul Beaubier declares that he does not want to.
Northstar reminds everyone that Heather was only named team leader because her husband led Alpha Flight, a simple gesture of sympathy on the team members’ behalf, but since then her powerlessness has nearly gotten everyone killed. Northstar defiantly declares that he is glad Heather is gone so that a true leader can take her place. Aurora turns to her brother and raising her voice she tells him that it is only because he is her brother that she has allowed for his callousness, but no longer! Aurora proclaims that Jean-Paul’s cruelty towards Heather proves that he is incapable of loving anyone but himself. As Aurora turns her back from Northstar, Jean-Paul tells her that he loves her and would die for her should such a sacrifice be necessary. Aurora tells Northstar that she would rather he learned to live – for others.
Judd tells Alpha Flight via the communicator that he doesn’t want them to follow him, as he has to do this on his own. He declares that he can live with the pain of being trapped inside his dwarfish body, but not the pain of living without Heather. Judd has cleared himself with U.S border patrol and he flies into American airspace.
Back at Mansion Alpha, Bochs realizes that this is all because Puck loves Heather and declares that they should still go after them despite his requests. Bochs asks if Alpha Flight is a team or a ‘bunch of hot-headed individuals going his or her own way?’ Northstar boasts that he never saw anything wrong with that and Aurora declares that if they are not allowed some individual freedom then Alpha Flight would feel like a prison. Jeffries tells Bochs that ‘speaking of prisons’ he has been inside the Box armor for too long now. Mockingly, Roger Bochs says that he dare not possess the power of Box too long lest he is able to give it up. As he phases out of the Box armor, Roger wonders why he would want to exchange the armor for his wheelchair, but supposes he will keep his options open for now.
Suddenly the intruder alarm sounds and in his wheelchair, Bochs informs his friends that some unauthorized fool has set foot on Tamarind Island and declares he will check it out. While he was in the elevator going from the basement to the first floor Bochs checked the monitors which revealed that a seaplane is moored at the dock and two beings were approaching the door, the one in the arms of the other radiating incredible but erratic power. Roger declares that all the hidden defense systems are focused on the pair and that if they make on threatening move towards him they will be immobilized.
Opening the door Roger is shocked at who stands before him. Doug Thompson introduces himself and holding Snowbird in his arms he declares that his wife is ill and he didn’t know where else to bring her. Bochs is surprised to learn Snowbird is Thompson’s wife, and when he esquires about it Thompson informs him that there is no time to explain, as Snowbird is in pain and keeps asking for… ‘Shaman!’ cries Snowbird as she turns to face Roger Bochs, revealing to him for the first time her True Fires.
Someone who is more familiar with Narya’s True Fires is the man her husband brought her to Tamarind Island to see – Dr. Michael Twoyoungmen, a.k.a. Shaman, the man who attended to Narya’s birth, however he is not on Tamarind Island, but on a mystical quest for peace. Shaman sits before the spirit of his Grandfather who informs him that he is Fortieth in a long line of Sarcee mystics, thus he came into a rich heritage. Shaman’s Grandfather tells him that he gifts bestowed upon him were great but that a man is only as strong as his faith in himself. Shaman tells his Grandfather that the fact his ghost is even talking to him now indicated that he already knew of Michael’s failures even in the land of the Great Spirit.
Shaman reminds his grandfather that as a doctor he failed to save the life of his beloved wife, while as a hero he nearly lost his daughter Elizabeth. Shaman’s Grandfather tells him that as now sets forth on this pilgrimage into the Barrenlands seeking power once again. Shaman tells his Grandfather that he needs to know whether any power existed within him rather than from within the bag of tricks. The Grandfather reminds Shaman of how he once believed that the magicks of the medicine were of his own conjuring, Shaman adds that they were plucked from some other realm when the need arose, but that the realm almost took his daughter and he must be free of it! Shaman asks if he has no powers of his own, to which his Grandfather replies that to determine it he must be tested by the spirits who attend this place of power.
Shaman gets up and continues to walk as the spirit of his Grandfather fades as he tells his grandson to walk across the Barrenlands following the cairns raised by his ancestors many years ago, as the trail will lead him to the power…or death!
Westchester, New York, where Heather Hudson has found solace with her old friend, Wolverine, formerly a member of Alpha Flight, now of the X-Men. However during Heather and Logan’s reunion they were interrupted by a woman called Lady Deathstrike who, armed with an army of samurais has come for Wolverine. Logan unsheathes his claws and tells his mysterious foe that by her calling him a thief it tells him that she is looking for a fight. Deathstrike informs Wolverine that though the truth may be hard to bear for a man of honor it is nevertheless the truth, and declares again that his power is misappropriated and must be returned to her.
Heather steps forward and asks Logan if he and the mysterious woman are speaking Japanese before hurling a dozen other questions at him, such as did he learn it after he left Alpha Flight and who the woman is why she is threatening him and what she wants. Logan tells Heather that he cannot give her any answers until he finds out himself. In Japanese Logan tells his foe that his friend wants to be introduced but he didn’t catch her name. Deathstrike re-introduces herself and adds that she has come to avenge the honor of her clan and father.
Logan asks Deathstrike how she knows who he is and she informs him that she only knows him by his reputation, adding that from what little information is available of him that she heard he was once an operative of the Canadian Secret Service and now the X-Men, not to mention betrothed to Lady Mariko Yashida of the Clan Yashida. Logan snarls that Deathstrike knows as much about him as he knows about himself.
Armed with a sword, Deathstrike reveals that clan Yashida is second only to the Emperor of Japan in power, to which Wolverine declares he is aware of, and as she points her sword at Logan, Deathstrike admits that Clan Yashida would stop at nothing until Logan’s death had been avenged. Deathstrike adds that she did not expect to find Logan in possession of that which he stole from her father but honor compels her to reclaim it, despite he threat of future retribution, and whether or not Logan actually had anything to do with it. Logan declares that he understands honor and Heather sees him getting ready to fight Deathstrike so she asks him what is going on.
Deathstrike speaks English now, telling Logan that for his companion’s sake- so that she may recount the reason for his death to those who inquire of it - that she has come to recover the fruits of a scientific experiment conducted by her father, stolen from his laboratory over a decade ago and implanted into a human subject. Deathstrike says announces that she has come to claim Logan’s adamantium skeleton, shocking both him and Heather. Deathstrike reveals that the adamantium skeleton and retractable adamantium claws that extrude from Logan’s reinforced skeleton were never his, but a product of experiments conducted by her father, Lord Darkwind, and she begins the tale of the origin of adamantium.
It was Lord Darkwind’s dream to resurrect Japan’s honor by creating an army of invincible warriors, but the dream was dashed by the intervention of American hero Daredevil, who sought to prevent Darkwind from mending the shattered spine of his mortal enemy, Bullseye. However, Lord Darkwind’s death came at the hands of his own daughter! Yuriko hated her father for the mark he had caused her brothers and herself to bear, a scar setting them apart from others, marking them as loyal to their father’s cause whether they were or not.
With Darkwind’s death however came tragedy for Yuriko, as her lover was one of Darkwind’s most fanatical followers, and many of Darkwind’s followers felt themselves unable to live without him, Yuriko’s lover Kira was one of them. Yuriko fled from her father’s house, but there was no escaping her father’s fervor, as she could not flee his memory. As Yuriko’s grief ebbed she began to wonder who her father truly was and what he stood for that inspired such devotion in others, and she found that she knew so little about her father’s past.
(Flashback, ca WWII)
Yuriko learned that her father had been a war hero in 1945, a famous pilot, who volunteered for a kamikaze suicide mission when the tides of war turned against Japan. Honor had compelled Darkwind to crash his explosive-laden plane into an American ship, but his deadly cargo failed to detonate and he was denied a glorious death. Scarred and shamed, Darkwind became a prisoner of war, but from that day forth he was determined to restore Japan’s tarnished honor and his own.
Darkwind’s code of honor attracted devotees and he scarred his children as he himself had been scarred as a sign of superiority. As a soldier of the empire, Darkwind believed that one must be strong in both mind and body. In his quest for the ultimate warrior he turned to science, inventing a process for bonding to brittle human bone the very rare near-invincible metal called adamantium. Then Darkwind’s formula was stolen, he never knew by whom. It took Darkwind precious decades to reinvent the process, only to die after seeing it successfully restore the paralyzed Bullseye.
Deathstrike concludes her story by telling Logan and Heather that after she understood what drove her father, after slaying him she eventually came to embrace his goal of restoring their homeland’s honor through the creation of super-soldiers. However, the secret died with Darkwind and she knew that she had to find someone who had benefited from the process, which meant tracking Bullseye by his adamantium implant. But to Deathstrike’s surprise, that search led her to Wolverine. Logan asks Deathstrike if what she is saying is that whomever stole her fathers process used it on him. But no one is as shocked as Heather, who remembers seeing something….
Heather became Mac’s secretary when he was head of Department H an assigned to gather unique individuals with super powers. Heather walks into Mac’s office and declares it is ‘tea time’ and asks Mac if he is ready. Mac quickly shoves a file he was reading under several others and tells Heather he has to file them first. Hugging her husband, Heather tells Mac that she can do that later for him, but Mac replies that he will do it as some ofd them are pretty private and he wouldn't even know where to ask Heather to put them yet. ‘What else is new?’ Heather mumbles glancing down at the files….
It seems odd to Heather as she remembers how quickly Mac rose to embrace her, as if to keep her from seeing the titles of the reports lying across his desk, one of which was “A report on the process of bonding adamantium to the human skeletal structure”. Heather remembers that a year after that, she and Mac discovered Logan roaming the hill country a raving wild man, whom it later appeared had been reduced to that state by the shock of having his bones bonded with adamantium. Heather quickly wonders if their finding Logan was not an accident, but that Mac knew he would be there….
Did Mac choose their honeymoon location hoping they would find his “creation”, of that Logan would find them? When Logan attacked, was it out of hunger, or hatred for the man who made him a monster? When Mac left Heather alone with the pain-wracked Logan, was that part of some secret “experiment” too? Did Mac really ski away to get help, or did he deliberately abandon his new bride with Wolverine…to see if beauty could calm the killer beast?
Looking at Logan, Heather wonders what kind of friend and husband Mac really was to use her and Logan that way, adding that if Logan had indeed known about it he might have killed Mac, and proclaimed his love for her. Heather wonders if she would have had Logan, and thinks that if she had known what Mac did to them both, then she would have. But it is too late now, as Logan has moved onto the X-Men and Mariko Yashida, while Heather is left with suspicions which a dead man’s lips cannot dispel.
Ready for battle, Logan tells Deathstrike that he does not know if his bones came from her father’s process, but that if she wants to have them back, then she is going to have to carve them out of him. ‘Wanna try?’ With her army behind her, Deathstrike boasts that she does, when suddenly, Heather fires electromagnetic blasts and declares that no one is going to cut Logan open and hurt him again. Wolverine tells Heather to keep out as it is not her fight, and Heather tells him that it is their fight, one they will fight together. Heather thinks to herself that by using her husbands battle suit she may be able to save his creation. Her electromagnetic blasts cut through the ranks of Deathstrike’s samurai and in Japanese, Deathstrike tells her warriors that although Logan’s companion possesses power she must not be allowed to impede their plans, and she orders them to kill Heather, and take Wolverine, dead or alive.
One warrior leaps forward boasting that they are sworn to Deathstrike’s service as they were sworn to her father, thus honor compels them to obey. The warrior charges into Logan, who informs the samurai as he crashes into him that sometimes honor can get a man killed. As Heather attacks another samurai she realizes that Logan could have disemboweled his attacker but retracted his claws at the last second to just incapacitate him, meaning Logan is not the killer Mac tried to make him. Heather realizes now that Logan is teaching her that when you possess power you have to exercise restraint.
Wolverine and Heather rush through the forest and Logan congratulates Heather on how well she has handled everything thus far. As they rush through the forest Heather asks Logan why they are running away as they have nothing to fear from Deathstrike. Wolverine tells Heather that she has seen how much Deathstrike and her army has to fear from them, and asks why take a chance on hurting them when they can try and ditch them. Heather supposes Logan is right and flies off in a separate direction when he tells her to split.
One of the samurai tells Deathstrike that the forest is hiding her enemies and Deathstrike finds it amusing that Logan talks about honor then runs away. Deathstrike reminds her warriors that their wristbands contain detectors attuned to Wolverine’s adamantium laced bones and orders them to find him. Wolverine finds that amusing and wonders why no one else ever thought of tracking him that way. Logan knows he is a hunter, but is not so sure he likes being the hunted.
The samurai’s detectors go off and one of them wonders if he is behind the tree. Preparing to attack, the samurai is knocked out when Wolverine drops from the tree and declares that he was in it when suddenly a spiked blade is thrown at him.
Flying high over the forest, Heather worries because she hasn’t seen Logan or Deathstrike’s samurai emerge from the woods, and realizes that Logan must be trying to protect her again. Heather swerves backwards and swoops down towards the forest declaring that she will not have it, for it is Logan’s past that is haunting him and his past is intertwined with hers. Heather proclaims that it is the tragedy of the past that she must vindicate. Heather remembers that “vindicate” sounds like the name Mac chose for himself after he dropped the code-name “Weapon Alpha”. Later, Mac would lead Alpha Flight as Guardian, the name the world would know him by.
Heather remembers the Vindicator name again and deciding she likes it and that it suits her, she declares that that is who she will be. She fires electromagnetic blasts at the samurai in the forest and tells herself that in striking out to save Wolverine she is striking out at Mac’s memory. For months she has mourned him but realizes that to hate him now would be too simple, as he was a good man, but she sees now that he sometimes forgot where being a hero ended and being a husband began.
Two more samurai attack Logan and call him a thief, to which he declares that he didn’t like being called a thief by Deathstrike and he does not like being called one by them. He cuts the warriors deeper than he intended and recognizes the anger seething within him as preceding that more berserk state where he cannot control his bloodlust. Deathstrike approaches Logan, telling him that he shatters the swords of her samurai as if they were brittle ice, but that he will find hers was forged in fire!
Back up in the sky, Heather continues to fight samurai, who remind each other that Deathstrike does not care if “this one” lives or dies. One of the samurai tells the others to kill Heather and be done with it. Heather – Vindicator – remembers that Mac designed the battle suit’s forcefields to withstand attacks by ultramodern weaponry. As the samurai hurl their weapons at Vindicator, her forcefields deflect them. Heather wonders how Deathstrike ever hoped to subdue Logan with such anachronistic arms, or for that matter her original target, Bullseye. Heather boasts that Deathstrike’s strategic error becomes her advantage and she dives into the forest, setting off a small electromagnetic pulse she defeats her opponents and flattens some trees, before realizing that the henchmen may be here to divert her, while the real battle takes place elsewhere!
Deathstrike’s sword clashes with Logans claws, and Deathstrike informs Logan that her blade does not break, like his claws. Logan asks her if it is adamantium, but Deathstrike reveals that it is electromagnetically tempered, and that there is no other blade like it. She adds that it was another of her fathers inventions and boasts as she aims to strike Logan that it is fitting she shall reclaim with it what was stolen from her father. Logan dodges the powerful blade, and it swings past him to strike a tree. Logan recalls that he told the X-Men to stay out of this and now he wishes they were here to hold him back, for each time Deathstrike calls him “thief” he wants to kill her. He knows that would be the honorable thing to do and it would clear his name, and while he would like to do it, it is not the X-Men’s way.
High above the forest, the Omniship soars and Judd sees that its instruments have locked onto the electromagnetic waves emitted by Heather’s battle suit, meaning she is somewhere below him. Looking out the window he wonders where she could be, he cannot see her for the forest is very dense, until he spies a unnatural clearing with two duelists facing off against each other. Judd steers the Omnijet downwards and decides that because one of them is emitting a strong electromagnetic pulse it must be Heather. Judd declares that he knew she would need help.
The Omnijet drops silently and Deathstrike sees it coming but gives no sign. Wolverine does not see the Omnijet, but as Judd zeroes in on the electromagnetic pulse he recognizes the former Alphan just moments too late – and Wolverine is knocked to the ground. Whether he can hear her or not, Deathstrike tells Logan that before she uses her sword to carve out his skeleton she will show him how keen the sword is – and she slices the underneath of the Omnijet.
Puck manages to jump ship just in time, before wondering what damage he must have done. Vindicator hears the crash but swerves towards Deathstrike when she sees her standing over the fallen Wolverine. Heather flies straight into Deathstrike telling her that she will not practice vivisection while Vindicator is around. Deathstrike is knocked back against a tree, and when she gathers herself she admits to Heather that she is even more powerful than she first thought, however her armor bore most of the assault. Seeing that Heather wears no armor, Deathstrike asks her if her costume will protect her from her metal-slicing sword. ‘Try me Deathstrike’ declares Vindicator.
Leaping towards Vindicator, Deathstrike declares that she shall and as Logan gets up off the ground, he informs Heather that the sword is as powerful as his own claws. Judd rushes towards Heather as he tells her to get back, asking if she wants Deathstrike to do to her what she did to the Omnijet. Wolverine sees Judd and realizes that it was he who ‘conked my adamantium skull’, and Judd apologizes, blaming the darkness, but Logan tells him to forget it as Heather is not moving and they need to get to her before –
Too late. Deathstrike’s sword slices in on Heather – but it cracks and splinters against Heather’s electromagnetic forcefield. Vindicator tells Deathstrike that her sword is ancient history, as is her scheme to take back Wolverine’s bones. Deathstrike stands humiliated beside Vindicator and Wolverine is astonished that Heather shattered it. Heather informs him that the electromagnetic shields did. Logan jokes that Mac built better than Lord Darkwind, and Heather agrees, before telling Logan and Judd they have both seen what Vindicator can do, and asks them if they still want to offer her their protection. Logan and Judd just frown.
Meanwhile, deep in the ocean Marrina is still being pursued, and though she has swum much of the ocean, not all of it can keep them from her, for Marrina is beginning to tire and he speed dwindles to less than one hundred knots. She is overcome by pain and screams – just as her body betrays her, her pursuers catch their prey and she is netted. An order comes from within the Atlantean fish-shaped vessel to ‘reel her in’, and as Marrina hears that harsh command she abandons all hope that he who chased her was her once beloved Prince Namor. Inside the vessel, an Atlantean informs the commander that Marrina has been placed in a holding tank, and the commander steps forward, ordering for Marrina to be well guarded as befits a special prisoner of Attuma, Warlord of Atlantis!