After being taken captive by Sapphire Styx and Razorfist, Wolverine finds himself in what can only be described as a torture chamber. He is shackled standing upright, with his legs free, but his arms outstretched above him. What surrounds him is the stuff of nightmares. A rack sits underneath a hanging cage, whilst, behind him, there is a chair with spikes lining the back and a brazier filled with red hot pokers. He’s seen better places; better days. He assumes he’s still in Madripoor, a place he came as a favor to a dying man whose last words were, “Save the tiger.” Things have gone from bad to worse ever since. He doesn’t like cages, or chains and now that he’s woken up, he’d rather hit the road.
Sapphire enters the room, wearing a particularly elegant and showy white skirt and blouse. “Hello stranger, remember me?” she asks as she moves towards him. Wolverine had met her at the Princess Bar the night he hit town. By the time he realized how dangerous she was, it was too late. She strokes his chin and reminds him that she said they’d wake him before the fun began. Actually, thinks Wolverine, she said ‘before you die.’
He tries to struggle but nothing works. He barely stirs the chains as she kisses him. When that happens, his world falls away once more and he is consumed by the darkness. He feels his natural energy shining more and more dimly as Sapphire steals it for herself. Once she’s finished, she tidies her hair and says it’s such a waste to leave him to Roche’s tender mercies. She’s never tasted such a powerful, primal essence. If she dared defy him, she’d steal him for her very own.
Wolverine, in his daze, thinks she’s more beautiful than ever, while he can hardly breathe, and his heart hardly beat. Roche makes his entrance and tells her that, fortunately for her, her desire for self-preservation rules over her passion. He trusts that she has rendered their guest appropriately tractable. “Weak as a kitten,” she replies. Flanked by Razorfist and his very own inquisitor, Roche introduces himself to Wolverine. He is the premier crimelord of Madripoor, which, in this part of the world, is a very great thing indeed.
Gently puffing on a cigarette holder, he informs Wolverine that an upstart known only as the Tiger has risen to challenge him. The late, unlamented Mr. Chapel was an associate of this person and, ultimately, a guest in these very chambers. His faithful inquisitor managed to persuade him to reveal all he knew about his new rival. Regrettably, that proved to be distressingly little. He’d thought Mr. Chapel disposed of, until Wolverine arrived on the scene, having evidently encountered Chapel before his demise.
As he speaks, the inquisitor readies his instruments, placing one metal iron in the brazier to heat it up. Roche says he needs from Wolverine, what he didn’t get from Chapel. Wolverine asks, “Suppose I’ve nothing to tell?” Roche replies that, for his sake, he prays that isn’t so. The inquisitor removes the iron and heads ominously towards Wolverine.
Sunshine lights up Madripoor. At the Princess Bar, O’Donnell is reading his post, when Jessan Hoan enters. She asks if it was a prosperous night and O’Donnell says it was worth the effort. She mentions Roche’s bully boys and understands that a stranger who helped him is in now Roche’s hands. Too bad, replies O’Donnell, in a disinterested manner; he liked him. Jessan asks who he was, but O’Donnell doesn’t know. Jessan says that she’s never seen him before but he knew her, from the old days. As he pours her a hot drink, O’Donnell points out that he knew the woman she was then, not the woman she is now. Anyway, he can’t tell Roche anything that can harm her.
Jessan says that he will die, just as Dave Chapel did. She couldn’t save one but asks, how can she abandon the other? O’Donnell asks if she’s stopped to consider that, maybe, that’s what Roche is counting on; her doing something noble and stupid. She replies that once, not so long ago, she would have, without a second thought. But, those days are gone, the woman no more. The saddest thing is, she doesn’t even miss her.
(fourteen hours later)
The inquisitor informs Roche that further interrogation at this time is pointless. “Stubborn little cuss ain’t he,” says Sapphire Styx, as she files her nails. “But at least, right at the end, Inky, you made him scream. That’s something for a whole days work.” Roche doesn’t need her sarcasm and tells his inquisitor he wants results. He replies that he will have them, but for now he suggests giving their guest the night to recover some of his strength and contemplate the agonies to come. Roche says he is not a patient man and puts his cigarette out on Wolverine’s face. Despite this pain, Wolverine can barely utter a sound.
Roche turns away and heads for the exit. He tells the inquisitor that he is also not kind to those who fail him. The inquisitor grabs Wolverine’s jaw and says that, at last, here’s a challenge truly worthy of his talents. He tells Wolverine that he is a magnificent specimen and, whether he talks or not, he shall enjoy breaking him. He departs with Razorfist following close behind and says that break him, he shall.
With blood, dried on his battered and bruised face, Wolverine wonders whether, if he yells loud enough inside his mind, Psylocke’s telepathy will hear the psychic cries and send the X-Men to his rescue. The blazes with that, he decides, he got into this mess without their help and he’ll get out the same way. Now he is alone, he is free to act. Fortunately, it doesn’t take any physical strength to ‘pop’ his claws. A mental cue triggers the relays that extend them from bionic housings built into his forearms. With a snikt, his claws appear and he twists slightly, which allow the blades to cut through his shackles as if they were made of butter. Once free, he realizes that he has no more strength and collapses in a heap on the floor, unconscious.
Sometime later, he manages to come round, with no idea how long he was down and out. His healing factor is working fine and, given time, he’ll be as good as new, but the more serious the hurt, the longer it takes. Right now, he’s as badly hurt as he can be. He staggers outside into the evening and sees no guards in the garden. Lucky, he thinks, as he’s not sure what he could do if there were any. Suddenly, from behind a hedge comes Razorfist, who tells Wolverine that he’s been expecting him. He knew a will as indomitable and a heart as courageous as his would find a way out of Roche’s abattoir.
Wolverine’s never met Razorfist but he’s heard of him. He had his hands surgically replaced with super-keen swords. He’s always wondered how he eats or gets dressed. Despite his weakness, Wolverine is indeed courageous and heads straight for his opponent. Razorfist stands ready for him and informs Wolverine that, when last they met, his blades were in their scabbards. Tonight, they are unsheathed.
He slashes at Wolverine’s body, telling him that he knows he has nothing to tell Roche, so he offers, instead of the torment of another day in the hands of the inquisitor, the release of a quick, clean warrior’s death. His first attack sinks into Wolverine’s torso with s sickening shlukk and he reels from the pain. His bones cannot be broken but he can be cut. Razorfist lands a follow up on his side, with a further blow catching him in his face. Wolverine’s mind is too tired to think, and his body too wasted to obey. A further attack finds one of Razorfist’s blade going straight into Wolverine’s throat and he falls backwards, spent, into the river behind him. He is carried the short distance to a high waterfall which he sails over, heading for the harbor far below.
Razorfist watches him fall and rehearses his lines. His report to Roche shall say that the prisoner was slain while attempting to escape. His body was swept downriver, over the cliff to the harbor below. He salutes his fallen victim and wishes they had met under different circumstances. In a fairer fight, he is sure Wolverine would have made a worthy foe.