(a few years ago)
Cable, armed with a couple of really big guns, asks Professor to bodyslide by one. Professor duly obliges and brings Nathan back to where he came from.
When he returns, he is serviced by a group of small, hovering robots named after people Cable knows. Jean figures that the Guthrie boy is not so easy to look after. Cable admits that he lives in an interesting time and there is a lot going on. Luckily, there are still a few months before his ‘awakening.’ He hands Jean one of his guns and Scott removes his ammo pack and second weapon.
Cable asks Scott where Hank is. The robot replies that he’s currently updating and improving the timeslide equipment. Nathan quips that that’s what he pays them for. Scott reminds him that he doesn’t pay them anything. Nathan tells him that it doesn’t mean he appreciates them any less.
Soon, Hank joins him and brings a pot of coffee. He informs Nathan that he’s nearly out of beans, and he should bring some back with him on his next return trip. He takes a sip and thanks Hank for the heads up. He also thanks him for maintaining the timeslide equipment. He wouldn’t want to get lost on his next journey.
Seated before a large computer console, Nathan asks Professor if he has anything to report. The computer doesn’t have anything yet, but he’s continuing his research and is getting closer to repairing his full database every day. Soon they will have all the information contained within his matrix at their disposal. Nathan asks to be notified as soon as it’s done. Professor asks if he’d like the other databases bringing up, but Nathan tells it that he wants to step back from his work to allow for a clearer, objective view of it. He can get lost in the excitement if he doesn’t do this occasionally.
(back in the past)
Guards patrol the exterior of a Hydra base, not knowing that they are being watched from the tree line. Wolverine and Jubilee, the latter wearing bright yellow despite their clandestine operation, are keeping an eye on their targets. Jubes asks again what they’re doing in this place. She knows there’s a mall out there somewhere that could use at least one more teenager doing nothing inside it.
Logan asks her to be quiet. Jubes asks what’s with all the cloak-and-dagger nonsense. Their targets are like a mile away and it’s dark. They can’t hear or see them. Logan puts his hand over her motor mouth and reminds her that, despite appearances and their questionable fashion taste, Hydra is the real deal. They don’t usually make their fortresses easy to break into. If they’re discovered, he doesn’t want to have to worry what they’ll do to her. If they play their cards right, this job will be easy. He brought her along to teach her something. They should be able to get in, grab Fury’s item and get gone. He asks her to stay low and follow him.
Moments later, Wolverine takes out one of the guards and removes his costume, handing it over to Jubilee. It’s way to big for her, so Wolverine asks her to stand behind him, keep the guard’s gun pointed at his back and make sure they don’t get a good look at her. “That bad, huh?” she asks. Luckily, Wolverine only needs to fool them for a few seconds. He tells her that he understands she is nervous, but this is going to work. He puts his hand on his head and begins walking.
They soon arrive at a checkpoint where two Hydra soldiers meet them. Jubilee asks them to open up. Logan quietly prompts her to speak with a deeper voice. Jubes checks herself, and asks them to open up again. She informs them that she found Wolverine snooping around and thinks he was trying to break in. She thinks they should shoot him. “Enough,” snaps Logan under his breath.
The door is opened, but as they wander inside, one of the guards asks what happened to the uniform. Before he can get a response, Wolverine attacks him, slashing at his chest. Jubilee opens fire, but the recoil from the gun lands her on her butt. “Thanks for the help, kid,” jests Wolverine, as he deals with the second guard.
They make a dash for the next building, and Logan asks Jubilee to keep her eyes open. The longer they go without being discovered, the easier it’ll be. Logan uses a claw to remove a small window and they hop inside. Once there, Jubilee asks what it is they’re after, exactly. Logan replies that it’s better she doesn’t know. She must simply understand that it’s very dangerous and shouldn’t be in Hydra’s hands. That’s why Fury has sent him to get it.
They notice a group of guards running away from something - and it’s not them. As the soldiers run, they are enveloped in a huge burst of energy, and through the burst of light that accompanies it comes the Mandarin. He assures the soldiers that if they stand aside and allow him to retrieve the object he seeks, they won’t be harmed. He’ll kill them should they get in his way. Jubilee asks if they still need to play it quiet. Not a bit of it, replies Logan. It looks like the Mandarin’s after the same item as he is.
Professor apologizes for interrupting, but it has found something that needs to be brought to Cable’s attention. In repairing its database, it came across an account from the late twentieth century. There was an incident involving Wolverine that didn’t go well. There is still information missing because of the damage done to its database, but it appears to be possible that he died at that time. “Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,” quips Nathan. Professor reminds Nathan that he himself once said that Wolverine would be invaluable to him in the coming war, despite their differences. Nathan sighs. He’ll help him out, and make sure the poor thing doesn’t get hurt… in a couple of weeks or so. He asks Professor to remind him.
(back in the past)
The Hydra soldiers understandably don’t stand there and passively let the Mandarin by. They stand their ground and pay the price for their bravery. Logan and Jubilee continue their task. They’ve got an opening here. While Hydra is occupied with him, they’re not likely to even notice them.
Cable arrives in this time fully armed and carrying the two guns as before. He spots the danger, and asks Professor he it couldn’t have sent him back to before the fighting started so he could get his bearings. He’s been thrown right into the thick of things. As Wolverine runs, he asks Jubilee, who is lagging behind by now, not to make him regret bringing her along. Jubes assures him that she’s trying. Maybe he should have brought Quicksilver. “Too much baggage with that one,” replies Logan.
As they round a corner, they run straight into Cable’s path. He’s taken down a few soldiers of his own, and he aims his gun as they surprise him. Jubilee quickly recognizes him, and wonders if X-Force came too. She could get some hair care tips from Shatterstar. As soon as Cable sees who it is, he lowers his gun and joins them in their sprint. He apologizes for that, but didn’t know who was coming round the corner. Wolverine tells him that he’s either helping him or he’s in his way. He asks Nathan for a favor. “Don’t be in my way!” Cable assures him he is there to help.
After heading down some corridors, they come across a lime green tube with their prize inside it. Wolverine spots it, and informs them that it’s a piece of the Cosmic Cube. Fury caught wind of Hydra having it and sent him in to get it. There are too many of those things floating about without them having to worry about the fragments too. Cable asks whether they’re destroying it or stealing it. Wolverine replies that they’re stealing it. He doesn’t think it can be destroyed without special S.H.I.E.L.D equipment, so they’re taking it back to Fury’s floating city in the sky.
Logan asks Jubilee to turn off the force field, but as she prepares to blast it with her fireworks, the Mandarin appears and destroys the housing himself. Jubilee is sent flying as the Chinese villain shouts, “Unhand my prize!!” Wolverine unsheathes his claws, but keeps a hold of the cosmic fragment. Cable leaps at the Mandarin, which distracts him as Wolverine and Jubilee run for it. The Mandarin uses one of his rings to levitate Cable, but it’s bought them enough time to escape.
As they retreat along the Mandarin’s trail of destruction, Wolverine asks Jubes to place the fragment in her pocket for safe keeping and get to the transport. He’ll meet her there soon. It looks like all the Hydra soldiers are unconscious so she shouldn’t have any trouble getting there. He’s heading back to help Cable.
As soon as Jubilee departs, Cable comes flying through a wall, narrowly missing Wolverine. The Mandarin flies through the hole in pursuit and grabs Wolverine by the wrists, demanding to know where the fragment is. Is he willing to die for it? The Mandarin warns him that his life will end if he defies him. Wolverine flips him over his head and prepares to attack, but as soon as he turns, the Mandarin unleashes a ball of fire at him. He has already used his disintegration beam on some tanks earlier, luckily for Logan. The fire burns much of his uniform and skin away, yet he continues to move towards the villain.
Suddenly, a dagger slices straight through the Mandarin’s palm and he screams in pain. Cable follows up this assault by opening fire with both guns, whilst ordering Wolverine out of there. He’s not saving him a third time. Wolverine replies that his healing factor has got him through worse scrapes than this before, but Cable reiterates his command for him to leave, and to take the girl with him.
The Mandarin’s ears prick up on hearing about the girl. Wolverine launches himself at the villain, but is encased in ice along with Cable as the Mandarin heads off to find Jubilee. Outside, a S.H.I.E.L.D. vehicle awaits Jubilee, but before she can reach it the Mandarin intercepts her. He wants the fragment of Cosmic Cube, but Jubilee isn’t prepared to part with it. She summons plasma and prepares to defend herself, but the Mandarin is way too powerful. He hurls her against a tree, rendering her unconscious. He then takes the fragment for himself and flies off.
(an hour and three S.H.I.E.L.D. armadas later)
A recovering Wolverine is seated alongside a now conscious Jubilation Lee. He recounts the episode for the benefit of Nick Fury, explaining that they managed to take out the whole base, so that must count for something. Fury knows Hydra will be back before long. The main fact is that the Mandarin is a major bad guy. He has ties to the Hand and has all kinds of influence in the east. He was already a major threat, and now he’s got a fragment of Cosmic Cube. Who knows what he plans to do with it. Eventually, they’re gonna have to take him out, and thanks to them, he’s now about three times as powerful as he was before. He wonders where Cable has slithered off to.
Cable arrives back having slid back to his base. He hands his weapons, still dripping with melting ice, to Hank and then informs Professor that Wolverine is alive, but in saving him it appears he empowered a major threat to an alarming degree. Professor knows all about the Mandarin. However, he sees no instance of the villain using this Cosmic Cube fragment. He reminds Nathan that the original outcome was always that the Mandarin got the fragment. He was just there to ensure Wolverine’s survival. His mission was a success.
The Mandarin pays the aged Chen Hsu a visit. The enigmatic Hsu is levitating, and tells the Mandarin that he would have to be near death for him to sneak up on him like that. He should stop embarrassing himself. The Mandarin is impressed as always. He explains that he has recently acquired an item of great power. Now he needs Hsu’s assistance for a task he thinks only he can complete. Holding out the fragment, he grins as he informs Hsu that he feels it’s time the ten rings of the Mandarin became eleven.