(Savage Land, western territory: a S.H.I.E.L.D. geological cartography mission)
A S.H.I.E.L.D. hovercar flies over the canopy of trees that covers this part of the Savage Land. Shanna points out the western coastline and Terror Bay in the distance. Agent McSwiggen asks what is beyond the bay, due west. There’s a small island with a weird carving on the mountain. Shanna informs him that it’s called the Forbidden Island. Elders have told that it’s a sacred place and must not be disturbed. They mentioned something about black magic. He asks if it’s been mapped out by the first surveyor team. Agent Nolan says it hasn’t. McSwiggen asks Shanna if she’s superstitious. “Nope,” she replies. “Good girl,” he says.
He asks the pilot to swing around and ready the buoy markers for further study. He notes that whoever posed for the carving must have been one ugly guy. He asks Agent Nolan if he can get closer, to which Nolan replies that he can, and then moves in to hold steady at three hundred meters from the island. He then mentions that sensors are tracking a weird energy build-up. He localizes the source and informs the agent that it’s coming from the mountain. McSwiggen then notes that they’ve lost aft thrusters but the stabilizers are compensating.
Nervous, Shanna asks what’s going on. McSwiggen replies that he’s not sure but she’d better buckle in. Nolan explains that there’s a magnetic shift. The compass isn’t responding. They’re losing stabilizers. “Full reverse,” orders McSwiggen. “Get us out of here, lieutenant.” Nolan replies that he’s lost forward sensors and they’re now flying blind. The primary computer is offline and secondary systems are not responding. He’s locked out!
Shanna snaps her seatbelt on and prepares for the worst. The mag-gravs fail and the pilot finds himself unable to engage the air-brakes. McSwiggen asks Nolan to override the damn things but they’re unresponsive. He attempts to deploy the chutes but finds that those are offline too. Powerless, the car begins to drop from the sky. A mayday signal is sent out and locations are provided for any rescue party who may answer the call. “All hands brace for impact!!!” cries McSwiggen as the hovercar hits the ground and bursts into flames.
(eight months later)
It’s evening and a full moon lights up the Savage Land. Natives from the Hannanaki tribe notice a bright light in the distance as something appears to fall to Earth. One of them states that the Dark Walker stirs in his sleep again. They must see who he has brought this time. “Send out the reapers,” he commands. A horn is sounded and several Pterosaurs take to the air.
In the distance, lying flat on his back in a clearing is Wolverine. He is in full costume. He looks up at the sky and thinks ‘Cripes. Where am I?’ He uses his senses to check out the environment. It’s humid, tropical, there’s pollen, volcanic ash and a polar breeze. It smells like the Savage Land. He sits up and looks around, smelling something else coming in on the wind. He snikts his claws as a raptor leaps on top of him. Wolverine struggles for a moment under its weight but manages to find an opportunity to thrust his claws into the creature’s jaw. They go right through its brain, killing it instantly. ‘Yup,’ he thinks. ‘The Savage Land.’
Mama Logan didn’t raise a fool, so he doesn’t wait around to see what else is going to show up. He heads off and melts into the jungle, taking the high road in order to survey the lay of the land and to find a river which he can follow to civilization. He soon finds an old footpath and upon discovering some footprints, realizes that he isn’t alone. From the shape of the prints and spread of the toes he determines that they belong to Neanderthals; nasty customers who are very territorial. He peers from the bushes at a hunting party which is wandering past. Using a carrying pole to transport their injured victim, Wolverine decides to move in for a closer look. He is shocked to see that the victim is wearing a S.H.I.E.L.D. outfit.
Silently, Wolverine launches himself at the tribesmen; his training and instinct taking over. He manages to kill three of them before they can respond. He’d figured them for dumb savages and thought they would scatter at the first sign of danger, but he was wrong. They fight back. Seasoned warriors standing their ground with some just as fast and vicious as he. One of them manages to hit him on the side of the head with a lucky blow, but this only serves to bring out the berserker in Wolverine. He disarms an opponent by slicing his arm off at the elbow and then decapitates him. Then, he gets real nasty. In less than ten moves, the fight is over.
Logan goes to the ailing S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and finds him in a bad way. He cuts his bonds but knows in an instant that he’s a dead man. Unfortunately, the guy knows it too. He has a lacerated liver and a punctured lung. He’s drowning in his own blood. It’s a helluva way to die, Logan thinks. With his dying breath, the agent tells Logan that his name is Mike McSwiggen, navigator from the geological department, second team. By pointing the way, he informs Logan where his ship is and then, like a whisper, he passes away. Logan makes time to bury him before he heads off for his ship.
When he arrives he finds the ship exactly where McSwiggen said it would be. The compromised structure and the growing vegetation around it tells Logan that it’s been a good while since it crashed there. It’s also been fortified against attacks, evidenced by a fence erected around it. It makes sense, he figures. The Savage Land isn’t a nice place. It’s another ten minutes before he decides that the coast is clear and he can enter. What he finds is a mess. There are multiple boot prints and footprints, old blood splatters and signs of struggle everywhere. However, there are no signs of survivors.
It looks to him like the S.H.I.E.L.D. boys were caught off-guard by the natives. He looks around further and finds notes everywhere. He wonders what they were researching. He finds stone tablets, diagrams and some hieroglyphics. It looks like they were trying to decipher something. He wonders what was so important that these S.H.I.E.L.D. agents would let down their defenses.
As he sifts through their things, he realizes that there is an intruder behind him. He’s good, Logan figures. As silent as a ninja. He nearly got the drop on him and would have if it wasn’t for his heightened senses. He smelled him as soon as he got in the room. Logan pauses a moment and smells the air. He then realizes it’s not a man. He recognizes the scent as belonging to Shanna, but as he turns she plunges a spear into his torso. It manages to penetrate all the way through his left-hand side.
As soon as she’s done it she realizes who it is and her blue eyes widen. “Wolverine?” she gasps. She smiles and gives him a hug, almost forgetting that she just stabbed him. She tells him she’s glad to see him and asks what he’s doing there. She hopes it’s to rescue them. Wolverine asks her to take it easy and get the pig sticker out of him. Shanna apologizes, but she thought he was one of the natives. She asks if they can find McSwiggen and they can get out of there.
Logan gives her low-down on the bright light, waking up in the middle of a field and his encounter with the natives. He also gives her the bad news about Agent McSwiggen. She is furious. “We were so close,” she sighs. “So close.” Logan asks her what happened. Shanna says he might as well know the story from the top. It all started eight months ago, she explains. She was guiding a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. geological surveyors and scientists. Their mission was to map out the remote western parts of the Savage Land for future exploration. They were surveying the island when their equipment suddenly failed and they crash-landed. Fortunately, they were able to recover some data from the ship’s black box about whatever it was that brought them down.
She tells him that there is a dampening field around the entire island. She heard legends about some sort of ancient machine that powered the place but she thought it was just a children’s story. They decided to investigate, but before they could mount an expedition they were attacked by the tribesmen who inhabit the island. Agent Nolan was the first to die from a spear through the heart. They fortified their position and tried to find some way through the dampening field to call home but it was to no avail. The first few weeks were the hardest, she adds. It seemed that everywhere they turned, something tried to kill them. The natives… the dinos… the weather. The elders were right, she feel. The island is cursed.
After a week of non-stop attacks they decided to build a raft and tried to sail off the island. That proved just as impossible. The island’s coastline is fiercely protected by tribes of Mer-People. Their only purpose seems to be to keep anyone from leaving the place. They managed to fight their way off, losing some men in the process and reached open water. There, they lost most of the rest to a large sea creature and they were forced to just admit it… they were prisoners on the island.
She continues to explain that Agent McSwiggen never gave up. Swiggy was the stubborn one. He hypothesized that the machine was real and if they could just find and destroy it, the dampening field would come down and they could call for a rescue. The hard part was finding its exact location. While she studied and researched everything about the island - from the last data recordings of the island’s power source on the ship’s computers to ancient artifacts collected from the natives, McSwiggen built a bomb. It was nothing hi-tech, but it was capable of getting get the job done. Yesterday, they found a map carved into a tablet of the ancient machine buried deep in the base of the mountain. Their misery was nearly at an end and they were going to get off the island.
She frowns as she adds that she could have got back home to Kevin and Zabu. He knows that she misses that smelly cat more than Kevin. She was gathering fresh supplies for their journey but now knows that she should never have left McSwiggen alone, unguarded. “Stupid, stupid, stupid,” she says, chastising herself.
Wolverine asks her not to blame herself. He would have done the same thing. “Rules of the jungle, huh?” asks Shanna, rhetorically. Logan says it’s something like that. He asks her to tell him more about the bomb and asks if that’s it in her hand. She informs him that it is, but it’s inert. It can only be set off with a detonator. Logan asks for it and wonders how it works. Shanna explains that the explosive is encased in the body. You just stick it to a wall and push the two buttons on the top and side to detonate it. It has a twenty-second fuse.
Logan asks her to hand him the radio. He reaches into one of his pouches and Shanna jokes about the fact that they actually use the pouches. She thought they were just for show. “Where do you think I keep my house keys?” he quips. Shanna asks him what the plan is. Logan replies that it’s the same as hers. Find the machine, blow it up, call home and get off this lousy island.
As he speaks, one of the reapers crashes through the ship’s window. Shanna asks Wolverine to get behind her. She has this. She says she has a nice surprise for him. She pulls out a knife but Wolverine doesn’t want to take the chance. He leaps at her and sends them both flying out the window. When they land she asks what he did that for. “I was saving your life, young lady,” he replies. Shanna tells him that she had the situation under control but Wolverine says she was about to be blindsided by the second one. Shanna snaps back that now they’ve lost their tactical advantage by fighting them out in the open instead of in an enclosed space.
One of the reapers then swoops in and grabs Wolverine by the shoulders, using its large talons. It then takes to the air. As he is carried upwards, Wolverine realizes that, like these ugly mothers, Shanna is jungle-bred. She’s tough as nails, but she can’t handle these three beasts by herself. He needs to get down there and help her out, fast. He stabs the reaper through the head and it lets go of him. As he descends at an increasing speed, he just knows this is gonna hurt!