Over a game of ping-pong, Tyger Tiger and General Coy discuss how to resolve their current predicament. Because Cyber killed both Coy’s and Tyger Tiger’s men, both crimelords of Madripoor are victims. Therefore, Tyger Tiger says, they have no reason to fight each other. Not so, Coy says; if word spreads that both crimelords are susceptible to attack, then others might emerge from the woodwork and make their own attempts. How does he suggest they solve this problem, Jessan asks? General Coy suggests they kill each other so no one finds out. Jessan suggests they can accomplish the same end by killing everyone else in Madripoor. Both are extreme measures, Coy says. He could always promise not to tell anyone what happened. Tyger Tiger could do the same thing, if she didn’t so distrust her rival. The feeling is mutual; Coy doesn’t trust her either. However, there is security in their mutual distrust, he says. “True. So true,” Jessan replies, hitting the ping-pong ball back across the table.
Meanwhile, the flatbed truck has come to rest at the bottom of the wooded ravine, but both of its occupants have leapt to safety. Cyber, standing on a branch of a tall, defoliated tree, congratulates Logan on a successful escape; men like them are not destined to die in truck crashes, after all.
Wolverine hangs from a nearby branch in silence. Come on over, Cyber says. Logan doesn’t respond. Cyber leaps over to his tree branch. Wolverine dodges his swipe and leaps away. They chase each other from tree branch to tree branch, with Wolverine on the defensive the entire time. He scolds himself; he should be attacking, but cannot seem to get over his fear of Cyber.
Finally, he stands his ground. As Cyber approaches, he spins around and lunges toward him with claws extended. Cyber catches him by the wrist and slams him back up against the tree. “Nice try,” he says. He draws attention to the obvious truth of the situation: Wolverine has adamantinum-laced bones, while he has an adamantium-laced epidermis. “Which is why you can’t get under my skin,” Cyber says, holding Wolverine by his outstretched arms, “and I can get under yours. Any time. Remember the old days? Remember what I did to you, Logan?”
On a nearby precipice, Wolverine’s canine and feline friends stand in watchful silence. They stare at Cyber’s back menacingly. He is only a short distance away.
Meanwhile, Cyber tells Logan he should have learned from their history together. He looks forward to giving Logan a refresher. Holding Wolverine’s hands at his waist, with the claws pointed towards the forest floor, Cyber spits on his forehead. Incensed, Wolverine, wriggles free of Cyber’s grip and arcs his claws up and outward, slashing Cyber across the one section of his body unprotected by adamantinum skin: his face.
Screaming, Cyber jerks away and leaps to another tree, clinging to it as it sways with his added momentum. He puts his had over his left eye, hoping to conceal the wound. His remaining eye opens wide. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, Cyber,” Wolverine tells him. “It’s more than a metaphor. It the way I live my life.” Cyber took something from him long ago, but now, they’re even.
Logan springs forth from his tree and lunges at Cyber. Despite his injury, the villain remains as imposing as ever. Big words, he tells Logan. Little man, but big words. He can barely see Logan, but he doesn’t think he needs to. Logan thrusts a claw at Cyber’s face; Cyber catches it and holds it still. In fact, he holds it so tight, Wolverine cannot retract it. He plans to pull Wolverine’s adamantinum skeleton right out of his body. As he stares menacingly at Logan, with the blood from his ocular cavity dripping onto his head, Cyber reminds him to have no hard feelings. “I just want you to know,” he adds, “you coulda been a contenda.”
Suddenly, the wolf and the cat leap into action. The wolf growls and clamps its jaws on the back of Cyber’s neck. He winces. The cat falls from the wolf’s back, but Wolverine reaches down and catches it by the tail. Cyber and the wolf, however, fall from the tree. Just like that, they’re gone.
Wolverine sees them fall right onto the truckload of hallucinogens. Although Cyber usually has a supply on this hallucinogen on the tips of his claws, it never contacted his skin, and therefore, never affected his state of mind. Ample amounts of it now seep through the gaping hole in his head. By the time he recovers from the crash, Cyber’s world has gone crazy. The first thing he sees as he turns his head is the wide-eyed, bare-toothed head of a psychedelic wolf seemingly borne from a nightmare. No, keep it away, Cyber screams! He throws his hands in the air and runs for his life. The monster from whom he flees, however, is nothing but the dead wolf, its body lying motionless after being smashes on the rocks.
Meanwhile, General Coy and Tyger Tiger continue deliberating over how to present the deaths of their men to the criminal community of Madripoor. Maybe they could say their men engaged in a grudge battle without their knowledge, Coy suggests? No, Jessan answers, instead suggesting they claim their men were extremely depressed and killed themselves. Suicide won’t work, Coy says. Maybe they should just admit Cyber killed them all. Jessan refuses; admitting all their people were killed by one man will look terrible. They should say they were killed by something else. But what? Terrorists? Satanists? Ninjas? Aliens? “Aliens. That’s ludicrous,” Tyger Tiger says. It’s so ludicrous, they couldn’t possibly have made it up, Coy offers. It’s so ludicrous, who would dare say it wasn’t true?
The two crimelords set their guns on the table and shake hands. Coy asks her what she is doing on Saturday. She tells him not to press his luck.
Back in the woods, Wolverine, carrying the corpse of his canine friend, follows Cyber’s trail all the way to the edge of the sea. There, the trail ends. It seems Cyber drowned himself in his delirium. Logan understands things are not always what they seem. There are layers one must strip away to get at the truth, but usually, one only finds more layers.
Tyger Tiger finally catches up with him. From a distance, he appears to carry something in his arms, but by the time she reaches him, his hands are empty. After he explains what happened to Cyber, she confesses she thought she saw him holding something; wasn’t there a wolf here? Wolverine turns to her, puts his arm around her neck, and pulls her in for a kiss. “There still is, Tiger Tyger. There still is.”
While Hank McCoy and Jennifer Nyles kiss, the Constrictor and the Frenchman fight for their lives against the gun-toting Lieutenant Commander Courage and his army of Were-Borgs, and the three Super-Apes fight whomever they please. Hank and Jennifer do not even notice. Whoever said a kiss is just a kiss apparently never kissed Dr. Jennifer Nyles.
After they pull away, Hank explains that long ago, when he first joined the X-Men, it was crucial no one remember Hank McCoy was actually the Beast. Jennifer, immediately understanding what happened to her memories, reminds him he was her best friend. “It was if one day I woke to discover a piece of my soul was missing,” she says, “—yet I had no idea why.”
The accusatory Commander Courage interjects and explains it was that very longing which made Dr. Nyles a better scientist. So obsessed by her subconscious knowledge her brain had been reprogrammed, she easily fell prey to Courage’s exploitative Techno-Organics research project based of the studies of the late Dr. Herzog. Hank admonishes him for taking advantage of an emotionally distressed woman; such behavior would hardly earn him an entry in the Guinness book of World Super-Villains. He taps out a command on the keyboard without taking his eyes off of Commander Courage. The once-vicious Were-Borgs, now under Hank’s command, begin to dance ballet. The Constrictor laughs and compliments Hank’s genius; first he reprogrammed the Super-Apes, and now, he’s turned Commander Courage’s private army into a bunch of prima ballerinas!
Hank takes a moment to ask his foe a pressing question: if he didn’t want Hank attending the World Symposium on Mutant Research, why did he invite him in the first place? Jennifer reveals it was not Courage who invited him; it was her. Commander Courage surmises her subconscious compelled her to do this. Maybe she wanted Hank, the man who incited this direction for her life, to be the one who stopped her.
Courage then admits to his part in the scheme. He hired the Constrictor to kill Beast in order to frame the Red Ghost. He hoped the aging super-villains arrest would compel Hank to leave. After all, he didn’t need an Avenger on-hand, any more than he needed a traitor! He abruptly whips out his machine gun and fires several rounds into Jennifer’s chest. Hank screams as he watches his former lover fall.
The ensuing moment of stunned silence is interrupted by the Constrictor. “Jerk,” he says to Commander Courage, before running him through with an adamantium coil. The Frenchman does his part by shooting the villain in the back of the head.
Meanwhile, Hank holds onto Jennifer as she breathes what may be her last breaths. She calls out his name; he assures her of his presence right beside her, where he should have been all along. No, Jennifer tells him. He lived the life he should have. He should have no regrets.
“Idiots!” To everyone’s surprise, Lt. Commander Courage rises from the floor, the Techno-Organic implants in his body now readily apparent. So, he’s a Were-Borg, the Constrictor says, reprimanding himself for not having guessed earlier. Commander Courage laughs. By the time Beast finds out how to reprogram his circuitry, he and his friends will be nothing but memories, speed bumps on his road to ruling the world!
“I can’t believe you just said that,” the Constrictor says. Although he has been a super-villain for several years, and has admittedly spoken some bad lines, he has never heard a threat so corny.
Meanwhile, continues to cradle Jennifer. Tears stream down his face as he begins an apology. Jennifer silences him. She may have lost a best friend, but the world gained a super-hero. It was more than a fair trade. She is just glad they found each other so she could tell him she loves him. “And I love you,” Hank says.
Commander Courage quickly overwhelms his opponents and anoints himself their undefeatable superior. Suddenly, he chokes on his words, as he notices an intangible spike of metal protruding from his chest. The Red Ghost, standing behind him in his intangible state, asks Commander Courage if he feels a bit disoriented; it’s only a natural side-effect of having molecules phase through his bio-circuitry. Courage is stunned. How has the Red Ghost returned? He has been trapped in a catatonic state ever since he lost control of his Super-Apes! Once Beast released them from Courage’s control, he got better, Kragoff says. “A word of advice, Courage,” he adds, suddenly returning to his solid state. “Never come between a father and his sons.” Courage looks down and realizes the once-intangible metal shaft has regained its substance. A look of horrified realization crosses his face just as his body explodes.
Commander Courage’s detached head bounces across the floor, passing by Hank, but Hank barely notices. He is completely focused on Jennifer, whom he cradles in his lap. He notices she still breathes. However, the damage to her body is so tremendous, a hospital would do her no good. The doctors would basically need to start from scratch and reprogram her entire body. A piece of Courage’s circuitry bounces over toward Hank, and he picks it up off the ground, thinking maybe it isn’t such a crazy idea after all.
Sure enough, Jennifer comes to a full recovery only a week later in the hospital. After giving her the good news, the nurse asks if the gentleman who sent her the lovely bouquet of flowers is her boyfriend. Jennifer says he might have been years ago, but life got in the way. “Thankfully, we’re still friends,” she adds. “Just friends.”
Beast, watching over Jennifer from the tree outside her window, struggles once again to accept his loss. Fortunately, in his first few days with the X-Men, Professor X taught him how to hold onto one dream, even if it means letting go of another. He cries his final tears for Jennifer Nyles.
Elsewhere, a computer monitor displays the sole directive of the Techno-Organic programming in the body of Dr. Jennifer Nyles: live.
Cable and Ghost Rider fall into the endless void. The prospect of just giving up tempts them. However, both of them are fighters and refuse to die this easily. Cable reaches out and rejoins Ghost Rider on his fiery motorcycle. Seeing a set of openings in the walls below, Ghost Rider throws his magical chain, connecting with both openings and creating a tight, razor-thin bridge which spans the gap. His motorcycle lands right on the center of the chain, allowing him to drive through the opening in the pit. Mercy to those who have attempted to kill these two warriors and failed.
As they ride through the mysterious tunnels, the two do not speak. Cable understands Ghost Rider is in charge, and yields to his judgment. The tunnel leads them to a vast opening, and at the bottom of its large, recessed opening lays an enormous amount of skulls and bones. They have discovered a catacomb.
“Nice landing,” Cable says as they come to rest in the pit of bones. “These guys friends of yours?” He adds that because they lived through the fall, the Ungrateful Dead will likely come after them. This room is probably another place they are not supposed to see. Ghost Rider agrees; he senses a malevolent entity in the tomb. Cable feels it too, noting it surrounds them, and it’s spooky. The catacomb worries him most, however, because of the failures it represents. He shudders at the thought of his protégés, the team of mutant youths known as X-Force, winding up here amongst “Yorick and family.” He takes the opportunity to learn a bit about Ghost Rider: isn’t he the spirit of vengeance? Does that mean he serves the dead, who in Cable’s opinion are the ones most in need of vengeance?
“Blasphemy!” a voice shouts, reverberating through the chamber. Cable and Ghost Rider turn and see an imposing hulk of a man standing over the field of the dead. He admonishes Ghost Rider about claiming to serve the dead. This room, a cathedral of the dead, is off-limits to all but a select group of chosen. Cable and Ghost Rider are not among the chosen. Therefore, they must die.
An army of undead emerges from the pit of bones. Although they suddenly find themselves engaged in battle, neither Ghost Rider nor Cable has much of a problem. Both men are well-seasoned combat veterans, and know how to eliminate their opponents swiftly and effectively. They do. The battle is brief.
With his first wave of minions defeated, the overlord calls off the attack. He blames himself for showing mercy when he should have shown none. Their deaths at the hands of his acolytes would have been swift, he tells Ghost Rider and Cable, but that option is no more. He lets out an ungodly screech. His call summons more evil beings from below, who reach up through the bones and pull both heroes under, into the unknown depths. They are now food for god of the Ungrateful Dead.
Two men dressed in dark clothes and ski caps flee on foot from a building downtown. A bomb goes off in one of its upper stories, lighting up the night sky. When the men finally reach a safe distance, they stop and look back at the destruction they caused. One of the terrorists, Jean-Paul Beaubier, looks at it with an expression of anguish. “You have to learn to revel in the destruction a bit more, Jean-Paul. It’s another blow for our cause,” the man named Glissant says. Jean-Paul, who will one day be known as Northstar, doesn’t need to be reminded of the progress made this night. However, he refuses to bask in the glow of their explosives. The men are suddenly interrupted by the sound of policemen and the glow of flashlights. Halt, the policemen shout! Jean-Paul and Glissant split up and run their separate ways.
At a ski lodge in Calgary, Glissant sits at a bar and stews over a beer and a cigar. Luck was on their side the night he and Jean-Paul bombed the building in Quebec, as they escaped without difficulty. However, Jean-Paul has ridden that wave of good luck ever since, and it makes Glissant furious. He should have killed Jean-Paul back then, before he defected and started for the very government they once swore to destroy. Maybe he should just kill him now. No, he says; better to destroy his character. Wound his pride. It is, after all, the one thing Jean-Paul always cherished most.
Immediately behind Glissant, Northstar gives an impromptu press conference to a group of reporters at the charity ski benefit. Many bystanders are shocked to see him at the benefit, a reporter comments. Northstar asks her why he should care; last time he checked, Canada was a free country. The reporter reminds him of the scandal following the revelation that he was a mutant. Wasn’t he forced to relinquish his title as Olympic champion?
“If you are implying I used my powers to make myself a champion, then you are correct,” he tells her with a stern smile on his face. He asks her a pertinent follow-up question: is an artist wrong for using his talent? Jean-Paul then reminds the reporter there are far more important matters in the world to cover. Shouldn’t she be reporting something actually newsworthy?
An incensed bystander marches up to Jean-Paul and spits in his face. Northstar simply laughs. After brushing off the gesture as overly dramatic, he asks the man’s name. The man, Mr. Richelieu, tells Northstar he is either too arrogant or too stupid to realize he isn’t welcome at this ski resort. After calling him a liar, a cheat, and a disgrace, he leaves in a huff. The reporter, Ms. Montgomery, asks Northstar if he wishes to make a response to Mr. Richelieu’s public denouncement. “Perhaps he should have taken up spitting instead of skiing. He’s far better at it,” is all Jean-Paul has to say.
Glissant, meanwhile, sits at the bar and observes this spectacle in silence. Go ahead and laugh it off, he thinks. Soon, Northstar’s reputation will be further sullied and he will find laughter unthinkable. Glissant’s plan is already in motion.
From the sidelines of the slopes, Jean-Paul watches the competition through a pair of binoculars. Suddenly, an explosion higher up on the slopes rocks the mountains, triggering an avalanche poised to bury alive several of the skiers, including Richelieu. Jean-Paul springs into action without a moment’s hesitation. He flies over to a red-haired woman and her companion and scoops them both up in his arms. After ushering them to safety, he begins running laps around the cascade of snow, creating such a strong force it turns the avalanche into a twister of snow. The snowy twister dissipates and falls to the ground as a gentle snowfall, instead of a crushing avalanche.
Suddenly, Northstar spots a skier he missed. Up on the slopes, Mr. Richelieu skis away from a separate avalanche as fast as he can, but clearly has no chance of escaping. Northstar flies toward his enemy and pushes him out of the avalanche’s path. In the process, he suffers a crushing blow to the back from a chunk of ice. He survives.
The dazed Mr. Richelieu looks around and realizes it was Northstar who saved him. He didn’t have to, he mutters. The news reporter arrives and begins shooting a segment with the hero and the avalanche’s victim. How are they, she asks? Unfortunately, Glissant decides to take this opportunity to ruin both the glorious rescue and Jean-Paul’s string of lucky breaks. He grabs Ms. Montgomery from behind and holds her at gunpoint. It seems Jean-Paul’s good fortune bars him from failure, Glissant says, now aiming the gun at his nemesis. Northstar only has a moment to recognize his attacker before Richelieu leaps up and tries to force the shooter’s hand. Amidst the struggle, Glissant plugs Richeliewu in the torso.
“Richelieu, you fool! You cannot evade a bullet as easily as I,” Northstar says. Glissant turns to fire on him next, but by the time he moves his gun, Northstar has vanished. He reappears behind the terrorist and pummels him in the back of the head with a flurry of punches. Glissant falls to the ground, unconscious.
Later, the medics arrive and take Richelieu away on a stretcher. He thanks Jean-Paul for saving his life. Regardless of how the public has perceived him in the past, today Richelieu now sees him in a heroic light. He owes him his life, and once again, says thanks. “Spare me the adulations, Richelieu,” Jean-Paul responds. In spite of this unfriendly ending to an otherwise touching news story, Ms. Montgomery tries her best to wrap up that night’s segment.