After taking Logan to her penthouse to heal, Tyger Tiger cracks and asks him about Cyber. Logan is not very forthcoming with his responses. He refers to Cyber simply as a guy from his checkered past. When pressed on the matter, he calls him an old associate; someone he looked up to in his misbegotten youth. He and Cyber had a falling out over a woman. Things got ugly. Words were said. Things were done. Scars were left. “But scars heal,” Logan says, gesturing toward his bare abdomen, which has finally recovered from the encounter with Cyber. “See?”
Jessan tells her lover she wants to know more. Wolverine pulls on his mask and tells her she will not be getting any more information out of him. Jessan informs him she has a meeting with Cyber at midnight to purchase a shipment of hallucinogens. These drugs are so powerful she is willing to do whatever it takes to keep them out of the hands of her rival, General Coy. Logan moves away from her. Nothing he tells her will matter, he says. If she is playing Cyber’s game, she will lose. That’s all she needs to know.
Frustrated, Jessan reaches out to him and asks why he is acting this way? This doesn’t sound like him at all, she says. Logan grunts and turns his head. “He beat me,” he admits. “All right? He beat me. Years ago.” Jessan asks why that matters; Logan has been beaten before, after all. His ability to bounce back is a defining characteristic. This situation, Logan says, is different. He barely even remembers what happened with Cyber. It’s as if it was so hideous, his mind wants to protect him. What he does recall come in the form of nonsensical, symbolic dreams. “The details are a haze, and cutting through the haze – like a scythe – is Cyber,” Logan says. “A healing factor takes care of the body. But it doesn’t heal the scars on your brain.”
Jessan asks Logan for his help. She needs him tonight. Logan, however, quivers at the thought of facing Cyber again. When he first saw him, he tried to attack, Wolverine says. It was his guts and instincts which begged him to run. He won’t be of any use against Cyber; his mental block is too powerful. Jessan sighs and walks to the door. “I always thought you’d go through Hades for me,” she says. Yeah, Logan replies, but reminds her not even he can beat the devil. “Maybe not,” she says. “But not trying is a sin.” She shuts off the lights and slams the door, leaving Logan in her living room, in the company of nothing but the moonlight.
Later that night, Tyger Tiger and General Coy, both accompanied by small, personal armies, arrive at the drop point. Neither was expecting to see the other. General Coy breaks the awkwardness by asking Tyger Tiger what she is doing there. “Thinking of the gas we could have saved had we car-pooled,” she answers. Her humor is poorly timed, Coy tells her. He takes a step forward. Jessan also takes a step forward, telling Coy her humor is as well-timed as her business dealings. Coy says this proves his point, moving closer still. “You have a point? How refreshing,” Jessan answers, now standing face-to-face with her rival. He has many points, he says, all aimed at her. “As do I, Coy. Point, counterpoint.” Suddenly, Tyger Tiger looks around and notices something peculiar: have all their men disappeared?
Suddenly a voice rings out from somewhere in the darkness and wishes them good evening. A set of car headlights flip on and illuminate Cyber from behind. “Am I going insane,” Jessan asks, “or are you sitting on top of a pile of bodies?”
Yes and no, Cyber answers. “I am on a pile of bodies – your men, to be precise – and no, you’re not insane. Yet.” What’s the meaning of this, Coy asks? Cyber tells him it depends; he can see it either as a metaphor for the fleeting nature of human life, or just chalk it up to Cyber being a bloodthirsty menace. Both perspectives carry equal weight.
Both infuriated buyers remind Cyber they brought his money. He laughs, and tells them he intends to use their payments to set up his own operation in Madripoor. “You’re mad!” Tyger Tiger yells.
“Not even irate,” Cyber replies. Besides, he kept his word, he tells them. He brought the hallucinogens, as per the deal. He also took the liberty of bringing a hypodermic needle filled with the drug, not to mention the doses stored in his claws. He intends to dose both Tyger Tiger and General Coy, who will then attack and kill each other in a frenzy while he watches. With them out of the way, he will take over the entire crime syndicate of Madripoor. Jessan asks why he is doing this. “Because I can,” Cyber answers.
Desperate, Jessan walks over to Cyber and kicks him in the groin. He doesn’t flinch. He punches her in the jaw in retaliation. At times like this, when one’s life is about to end, Cyber feels some appropriate words should be said. He begins to speak, but General Coy fires a shot at him. Still unflinching, he begins the eulogy. “There once was a girl from Nantucket,” he begins, grabbing Jessan by the hair. Suddenly, Cyber senses something in the air, and pauses. He turns and sees Wolverine, baring his teeth and his claws, crouching in the pouring rain. Wolverine has come to confront his worst enemy, whom he hates and fears more than everything else in the world. Everything, that is, except limericks.
He may no longer have a contract on Beast’s life, but because of his current circumstances, the Constrictor still fully intends to kill Hank McCoy. He is, after all, the one who got him into this predicament with the Super-Apes. As swings from a chandelier in the halls of the Belgian Ministry of Defense, he at least has the sense to count his blessings: he only has to deal with two of the Super-Apes. The shape-shifting chimp is nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly, the same chandelier from which the Constrictor hangs begins a strange physical transformation. The Constrictor looks up and sees he now hangs from the dreaded third Super-Ape. It growls at him. The shocked assassin slips out of its grip and asks how he is supposed to respond to its growling; usually he hears nothing but begging from his victims. As he fends off the attacking simians, the Constrictor reminds them he would not be in this mess if someone hadn’t been trying to frame their master, the Red Ghost. Someone wanted to make it look like the Red Ghost hired him to kill the Beast. He finally remembers to whom he is speaking. “Frankie – listen to yourself! You’re talking to a monkey!”
Despite the Constrictor’s awareness of the absurdity of the situation, he continues speaking to the Super-Apes while they battle. He agreed to help find the person responsible for his set-up, thanks to Hank’s gentle persuasion. Mikhlo the super-gorilla grabs the Constrictor from behind and restrains him in a crushing hold. The Constrictor grunts. While nobody makes a fool of the Constrictor, people crush his ribs all the time. Tired of trying to reason with the Super-Apes, the Constrictor finally turns to his adamantium coils, which easily remove Mikhlo from his back and send him crashing into the wall. The Constrictor turns and prepares to battle the two Super-Apes who remain.
Elsewhere in the Belgian Ministry of Defense, Hank McCoy hangs suspended in a wrought iron cage. Dr. Jennifer Nyles and Lt. Commander Courage observe their prisoner from a nearby catwalk. Hank takes the opportunity to compliment Commander Courage on his fine establishment; he has been held captive by notable villains ranging from Magneto to Mesmero, yet none of their prisons were nearly as nice as this one. The Commander advises him to not get too comfortable. Very soon, Hank will be trading it in for a casket. It will not have a view.
Beast scoffs at the notion that he might be soon dying. The villain hasn’t even revealed the totality of his scheme yet; surely Hank has a while left to live! Commander Courage takes the bait and explains that he and Dr. Nyles are merely testing the theories of Techno-Organics pioneered by the late Dr. Meyer Hertzog. Hank asks if “late” translates to “murdered for their cause.” No, the Commander answers. Hertzog died as a result of his own experiment in self-imposed genetic reprogramming. Commander Courage happened to arrive in time to witness the good doctor’s transformation into the first of the Were-Borgs. Unfortunately for Dr. Hertzog, the first of the Were-Borgs were incredibly unstable, and he exploded almost immediately upon transformation. Commander Courage salvaged what he could from Hertzog’s research and presented it to Dr. Jennifer Nyles, a leading scientist in the study of brain reprogramming. She worked in this field most of her life, after all. She was able to perfect Dr. Hertzog’s Were-Borg implants. Hank, however, has yet to encounter a stable model; all of the current Were-Borgs are the reanimated bodies of dead humans. Now, with the research complete, Lt. Commander Courage intends to test his research on living subjects, specifically the scientists attending the World Symposium on Mutant Research! He laughs maniacally.
Thanking him for the synopsis, Beast finally breaks out of his cage and leaps over to the catwalk. The lecture gave him enough time for his body to purge itself of the sedative injected into his body by Dr. Nyles. Now, he hopes to stop a friend from making a regrettable mistake. Commander Courage calls him a fool. He will have Beast’s hide, he says! With the help of what army, Hank begins to ask, before turning around and seeing a literal army of Were-Borgs. The nearest opponent reaches out and clutches Hank’s throat. He slaps it away, lamenting how unfortunate it is that the Were-Borgs are not programmed to respond to his incredible wit. Commander Courage scoffs. Sense of humor wasn’t one of his priorities while he went about genetically engineering the future of mankind.
“You don’t get out of Belgium much, Courage, do you?” Hank asks. “Mother Nature has been redesigning humans all by her lonesome. We call them ‘mutants.’” He smashes the catwalk beneath the Were-Borgs. They tumble through the hole and fall to their deaths. “Imagine that,” Hank says to the now defenseless Commander Courage, “…the entire human race is doing just fine without you!” The commander tells him nothing has changed; his reinforcements will arrive shortly. Hank tells him they will have vacated the premises by the time they arrive. The frightened Jennifer Nyles asks to whom he is referring by his use of the plural. Hank grabs her by the wrist in response and asks for a private consultation from one doctor to another. With Jennifer safely in his arms, he leaps out the nearest window.
Meanwhile, the Constrictor continues his endless battle with the Super-Apes, frustrated not because the fight persists, but because the powerful simians understand none of his attempts at witty banter.
Cable scours the tunnels beneath Manhattan. The rest of his team, X-Force, is at home in bed. They need their rest. Cable, however, does not. He is a grown man, and this mission has fallen squarely on his shoulders. Somewhere beneath the city, Masque has been causing unrest among the Morlocks, and Cable intends to put a stop to it.
He sees a Morlock patrol squad up ahead and dives to take cover. His reckless motion not only alerts the patrol to his presence, but also exacerbates an existing stress fracture in the wall. It crumbles away and opens a hole beneath Cable. He tries to grab on to something, but his fingers find no solid grips. This is what I get for trying to avoid a fight, he thinks as he tumbles through the opening and into the blackness beneath the city.
Meanwhile, at the Cypress Hills cemetery in Brooklyn, Daniel Ketch pays his respects at his sister Barbara’s graveside. He comes to her grave to find peace every once in a while. Ironically, it was near this very place, and because of his sister, that he first acquired the powers of Ghost Rider. He sets a rose near Barb’s headstone. He has finally learned to accept that he now bears the burden of being Ghost Rider to honor his sister’s memory.
Cable, meanwhile, continues his trek through New York City’s subterranean waterways. The water level comes all the way up to his chest, forcing him to carry his assault rifle high over his head. After an hour of travelling against the current, he reaches some dry land and climbs out of the stream, figuring he now stands somewhere beneath Brooklyn if his internal compass is correct. Fortunately the water didn’t short-circuit any of his bionic body parts. He crawls through a nearby access tunnel, in the hopes it will lead him to a spacious cavern in which he can rest. It only leads him to more trouble.
He hears the frenzied footsteps of a Morlock up ahead. Hiding behind a pillar, Cable wonders how the patrol could have possibly tracked him through the stream. The footsteps draw closer. Cable jumps out from behind the stalactite and orders the runner to stop. The runner, an androgynous teenaged girl, refuses. She drops down and tries to trip Cable, but only succeeds in kicking his ankle. Standing up, she lunges at Cable’s throat with a sai-blade, but Cable stops her hand mid-motion. Nice knife, he tells the frightened youth. The girl looks into his glowing eye and realizes she has made a mistake. “You are not one of them. Who are you?” she asks. Before Cable can answer, however, the girl tells him it doesn’t matter. They need to get away as soon as possible. “They are almost upon us,” he adds. Cable asks who they are. The Morlocks? “No,” the boy says, pointing down the tunnel toward a group of approaching figures. “Them! The Grateful Undead!”
Cable does not need to be told what to do. Tired of running for the day, he decides to fight. The two Grateful Undead members hurl a pair of shrapnel-spewing projectiles. Cable shoots them both out of the air, then proceeds to waste the two assailants. With the threats dispatched, he turns toward the frightened youth and kindly asks who he just murdered. They are not easily killed, the girl says. They are the embodiment of death! Besides, more will certainly come. Their best option is escape.
The girl tries to lead Cable to safety, but loses her own way and inadvertently leads them to some sort of crypt. Cable looks around and sees what he believes are coffins. Before he has a chance to learn much of anything, however, a giant set of monstrous, green hands reaches through the floor and grips Cable by the waist. A guardian, the girl screams! Unnerved, Cable manages to wriggle free his hunting knife and stab one of the creature’s fingers. It releases him. He kicks the guardian’s other hand and steals the stake it carries, which he uses to plunge into the monster’s submerged brain.
Instead of feeling relief, the death of the guardian only fills the girl with dread. Cable has just executed a guardian in this most sacred of places. Now they will both certainly die at the hands of the Grateful Undead. Not so, Cable says. He intends to leave the tunnels alive, and decides to make his own exit. Leveling his assault rifle at the cavern’s ceiling, he fires a barrage of shots so powerful it completely erodes bedrock.
Up above in the cemetery, Daniel Ketch feels the ground shaking beneath his feet. He suspects an earthquake at first. Upon seeing the familiar, eerie glow from his motorcycle’s gas cap, however, Daniel realizes something more ominous is happening. The ground behind him seemingly erupts. A frightened young girl pops her head out and begs Daniel for help, but she is quickly pulled back into the ground. Daniel, realizing this is a job for Ghost Rider, clutches the glowing gas cap and begins his transformation. His flesh boils and sloughs off his body. He is enveloped by mystical flames, which soon burn out, leaving behind the nothing but Ghost Rider’s frightening figure. The blood of the innocent has been spilled once again, and it falls on him to seek vengeance.
He hops on his motorcycle and, using its power combined with that of his mystical chain, bores down into the earth. As he breaks through the wall of the subterranean cavern, Ghost Rider sees Cable pinned to the wall by a mysterious net, and a cult of hooded figures dragging away the frightened girl from the surface. Cable informs Ghost Rider the girl isn’t dead yet; he asks to be cut down so they can save her together. Why, Ghost Rider asks? “Because we are about to have company,” Cable answers, “and I’m pretty good in a fight.”