Wolverine, though bloody and having gone a few rounds with Razorfist, is ready to find Roche. The last time he came to Roche’s villa, atop the ultra-exclusive heights that overlook Madripoor, he was his prisoner. Now the tables have been turned and he is now the hunter. Roche, crimelord of Madripoor and ruler of the island’s underworld, is his prey.
The army that protected his property is either dead or has long since fled. Wolverine makes his way through the building, picking up the scent of the man he is looking for. He soon arrives in a room, the door of which has been smashed. Inside the room sits O’Donnell, wearing a bandage on his head and holding an automatic weapon. Wolverine enters and says that it looks like he’s had a lively night. No less than you, replies O’Donnell. He asks to be pardoned for not rising but he figures it’s a minor miracle that he’s still breathing. He doesn’t feel inclined to push his luck any further.
Wolverine can smell Sapphire’s scent on him and asks if she made a play for him. O’Donnell tells him she almost sucked the life right out of him, only Jess chased her off and Roche’s inquisitor too. He picks O’Donnell up and places his arm around his muscular shoulders. Leading him from the mansion, he asks where Jessan is and O’Donnell replies that she’s gone after Roche. She patched him up first and left him some hardware to defend himself. She rightly expected Wolverine to be along shortly. “Sorry to keep you waiting,” Wolverine replies.
O’Donnell warns Wolverine about Roche’s new enforcer, Razorfist, but he replies that the bruiser is no longer a problem. “Must’a been some scrap,” says O’Donnell. Wolverine replies that it had its moments. It’s now dark, as they move through the gardens. O’Donnell tells him to leave him and go after Jess; she needs his help. Wolverine tells him they’re both his friends; the difference being she is healthy and he isn’t. Once he’s safely off the killing ground, then he’ll take care of her.
Suddenly, out of the bushes steps Roche, wielding a Franchi Spas-12 automatic combat shotgun, which he fires several times. Wolverine drops O’Donnell, as he takes the brunt of the blasts. The scents of the flowers prevented Wolverine from picking him up and he’s paid the price. Roche is a good shot and Wolverine falls after taking the entire round on his breastbone. As soon as he lands, Jessan appears from nowhere and, wielding a sword above her head, cries, “Murderer!” as she leaps for Roche. Wolverine gives the man credit; he tries his best to stop her, but his best just isn’t good enough. She decapitates her rival with one swift stroke, not even giving him a second glance as she runs to her friend.
She cries out, thinking Wolverine has been killed. O’Donnell hangs his head. That’s twice he’s been saved. He owes Wolverine his skin. Jessan brushes her fingers gently over Wolverine’s eyes and closes them. She says that she owes him so much more. It isn’t right, it isn’t fair. She never wanted this. She kisses Wolverine tenderly, telling him it wasn’t his fight. She dragged him into it. “No time for miracles, eh, dear friend, as on my junk!” She is comforted by O’Donnell. She would cry for Wolverine but Tiger has no tears to shed. They depart Roche’s estate and O’Donnell tells her she’s won. Roche’s crown, his estate, his entire organization are hers for the taking. Tiger replies that, if that’s the case, then they had better be worth the price they paid.
Wolverine hears them leave, with O’Donnell assuring her that he’ll clear up the mess and see that Wolverine’s corpse is treated with proper respect. As if Wolverine cared; as if that mattered. By the time O’Donnell returns, he’ll be ancient history. He can’t help but groan, as he picks himself up. The shells hit him like sledgehammers but his bones are laced with adamantium and don’t break. His healing factor knits up his broken skin, pumping out replacement corpuscles to make up for the blood that he has lost. He doesn’t die easy, for real that is, but he’s getting a lot of practice faking it though. As far as Jess is concerned, he is, that’s certain.
He leans against a tree and looks out over the city of Madripoor. He is pleased that the team’s secret is still safe. Their cover, that the whole world thinks the X-Men are dead, remains unbroken. There’s nothing to stop him returning to Australia to hook up with the rest of them. The trouble is, he likes it here.
Things settle down again in Madripoor, with Tyger Tiger taking Roche’s place. At the Princess Bar, Jessan checks her reflection in the mirror. She wears a splendid red evening gown with a cloak. “Tonight,” she tells herself, “I go to the Prince to present Tyger Tiger as heir apparent to Roche’s throne.” A voice behind her startles her. Wolverine, once again wearing his patch and a white suit, says there’s a world of difference between petitioning the old pirate and having him say yes.”
She turns instinctively and hurls a dagger towards him. “You….alive?” she cries. Wolverine catches the dagger between his fingers and says it’s nice to see the Tiger has fangs; not to mention the skills to use ‘em. All she needs now is the ability to discriminate between friend and foe. She asks which he is. The answer should be obvious, he replies.
She takes back her dagger and smiles. He wants to be called Patch when in Madripoor. She says that, whatever he calls himself, he remains a hero and, while she rejoices in his survival, she thought his role was to combat such as herself. Wolverine says he never takes anything on faith, or face value. She’s seized Roche’s turf and maybe his throne, but she isn’t him. That earns her the benefit of the doubt. The day she walks his road, then she will answer to him.
Tyger asks if he means to cast himself as her guardian angel; her very own Jiminy Cricket conscience? If you like, he replies. Tyger does not and slashes him with incredible speed with the dagger. Wolverine pops the claws on his right hand and knows he was careless; she could have cut his throat. Instead, she only bloodiess his wrist. The woman has brass, he thinks. She knew the risk she ran as she struck. She turns the dagger on her own wrist and draws blood, giving him a wide smile as he sheathes his claws. The fates only know how close she’s come that moment to joining her ancestors.
Tyger places her wrist upon his and tells him that she could not wish for a better man to watch her life, or should the need arise, to claim it. She places her face close to his and says that she prays she is worthy off his friendship. “Who knows Wolverine; you’ve saved the Tiger’s life and won her heart. You may yet redeem her soul.” They kiss and Wolverine thinks it’s worth a try. He’s won more starting with less. This is an end but, also, the beginning.
Peter is taking time off from the X-Men at an American amusement park. He walks up to a newsstand to buy a paper and is taken aback at how pornography is displayed on the stands’ sides, where children can see it. He points this out to the newsvendor, but the vendor argues that in America they have free press, so he is allowed to show such things. Peter argues that their constitution gives them that treasured freedom, so wht does he slap his government in the face with pornography? Why abuse it?
Peter goes on to muse about what his people in Russia would do with such freedom when the vendor cuts him off mid-sentence. The vendor tells Peter to go back to Russia if he doesn’t like it there and says the Commies are hypocrites. They talk Glasnost and peace but invade Afghanistan, pile up weapons, and supply arms to enemies on every American border. Peter’s people are also supposed to be suckers because they’ll fall for the Glasnost talk and, when all radicals are identified, shipped off to Siberia.
The vendor continues to say the Russians are too stupid to learn from their own history, brains as lumpy as the potatoes they eat, and they are bleary-eyed from all the vodka they drink.
Peter becomes furious and grabs the man by the collar in mid-sentence. He yells that the vendor doesn’t know his people and angrily asks if the man knows what he is saying. He becomes so agitated that his concentration lapses and he accidentally transforms into the steel armored form of Colossus! The vendor calls Colossus a freak and the X-Man loosens his grip on the man to run away, adult mags drifting in the wake of his retreat.
Meanwhile, an average, every-day American family is entering a forest for a picnic. There’s Grampa; Bruce, the father; Roxanne, the mother; and Zackery, their young son. Bruce looks out to the horizon and talks about what a sight it is and how this is God’s country. Grampa agrees and says that Mother Nature will always welcome you back with open arms even if you leave her for years. Bruce laughs and compliments Mother Nature on how she’ll always keep her mouth shut and not yell at him for gallivanting around.
Roxanne asks her son why he brought his toy gun instead of a fishing pole. Bruce tells her to leave him alone, since he needs to know the feel of a gun, as well as that of a woman and that he needs to get used to guns while young. Roxanne starts to argue when Zackery pipes in that he needs his gun to hunt crack dealers. At school, they are taught that crack kills and that they need to kill the crack dealers that are everywhere first. Roxanne can’t believe they are taught this at school, but Bruce sees no harm in it. He says the Russians are shipping the drugs in to rot America’s youth, their future army; that they drop drugs in America as if they were bombs.
Grampa calls this train of thought hogwash, no different from saying America pumps vodka into Russian rivers to keep them drunk. Roxanne stops the argument by telling the boys how there will be no politics at this picnic. Grampa then asks Roxanne if she remembers a movie with a “little blonde gal” and a picnic scene. Roxanne immediately thinks of the movie and talks about the scene where a guy can’t kill a rabbit due to the look in the animal’s eyes. Bruce laments how these two are a couple of Hollywood dreamers.
Zackery points out a mantis to Grampa, calling it a masterless samurai, practicing the mantis stance. He says this ronin warrior is prepared for an attack from all sides. Grampa tries to explain that the mantis is actually using camoflauge to blend in with the soil so as to hide and is not prepared to fight. He tells the boy the soil is the essence of life, but Zackery won’t hear it and says space is where it’s at. Zackery says not even the samurai can survive a spaceship assault and stomps it despite Grampa’s protests.
This startles Roxanne and Bruce reprimands the boy, reminding him of how his mother is very sensitive and how he is not to upset her. He demands that Zackery sit down to lunch and apologize to his mother, but Roxanne calls him Bruce off. They all sit down and Grampa says Roxanne’s chicken is great. Bruce says his Roxanne can cook and Grampa reminds him that she is their Roxanne. <>
Elsewhere, Colossus runs through a meadow and into the forest. He thinks of how he feels like an alien in this country, even while trying to do something simple like buy a newspaper. It is as if they know something he doesn’t. Colossus softens on the matter as he thinks of how he has encountered such racism before and that the newsvendor probably heard too many “evil empire” speeches. He goes on to wonder if America and Russia are truly so different since the media of both create lies and illusions, Russia’s suppressive and America’s exploitative.
Colossus begins to wonder if America is really free and if Solzhenitsyn and other Russian writers were right when they promised a better life over here. His thoughts shift to how he is on vacation from the X-Men to be plain old Peter for a while. Colossus suddenly looks down the hill he is on to see the family from before having their picnic. He transforms back to his human form and wonders if these Americans looking so happy eating their American pie are really free.
Back at the picnic, Bruce and Grampa are arguing over Ronald Reagan. Bruce says Reagan provided much needed leadership and made everyone proud to be an American again after Vietnam. Grampa says Bruce needs to look at the price of all this, the planet! He points out that scientists say there are only twenty years left before the ozone layer dissolves. Zackery runs from all this unsettling talk to play with his toy plane. He tosses the plane in air and chases it, making up a story about how flying aces escaped the doomed world by flying to a secluded spot away from people and the ozone monster. He picks his plane up from where it landed and lifts his head up to a horrifying sight.
Two men have a third man they call Jack gagged and bound to a tree and leaning above some water. One of the men, the bald one, offers Jack a last chance, saying they can reprogram him. Jack mumbles a negative. The other man says he likes Jack, that they’re buddies, and asks if he really wants to die. Jack mumbles again, a “yes” this time. The bald man supposes they are doing Jack a favor and his compatriot tells him to get out of the way or his shirt will be ruined. This man has a knife and it looks like he plans to cut Jack’s throat.
Suddenly, a black man jumps out of nowhere and grabs Zackery, yelling for his buddies to cool it because they have a witness. The man with a knife says it is just a kid but the bald guy says that kids can talk. He says the police can be handled but this operation is doomed if the newspaper catch wind of any of this. He orders both Jack and Zackery be killed. The black guy says, “Right, mon” and puts a knife to Zackery’s throat.