‘Why did the nickel jump off the building but the dime didn’t?’ the mercenary called Deadpool, wearing a white and black x-uniform asks as he stands on a large statue, which has green colored water pouring from the statue’s mouth into a pool below. ‘Dime had more cents’ Deadpool answers his own joke as he dives into the pool, “riding” the waterfall down, swords ready. ‘Down! Down! Down dives our hero into the menacing green mist! Selflessly risking life and limb for those who fear, nay, loathe him!’ Deadpool continues.
He lands on a platform below and looks around at the strange complex, with various large statues, all with the green water pouring down, and strange symbols on the walls. Deadpool remarks that this seems like the sort of place you would find a horde of super-charged scoundrel-types. ‘Glowy-power-handed, razor-clawed, teeth clenchers out to spoil our hero’s assignment’. Deadpool begins running across some stepping stones in the water. ‘What do I get instead?’ he mutters, before coming to a doorway. He pauses and looks at the gargoyle-statue on the top of the door. ‘Hmmh. No sense of villain fortress feng shui’ Deadpool remarks as he enters the doorway.
Emerging in another part of the complex, Deadpool approaches what appears to be a large fortress. Several buildings of various sizes surrounding a massive black tower, with a purple globe at the top of it. Green waterfalls spill down the side of surrounding square cliffs. ‘Okay, now that’s what I’m talking about. Ominous fortress of impending doom! Inspires dread. Sets a tone’ he exclaims, before firing a weapon that has a retractable cable on it, which pulls him towards the top of the black tower. ‘What manner of evil lies within Citadel de Creepsville, ponders our hero?’ he jokes.
‘Puckering in my posterior - a warning perhaps? Has the valiant champion’s tuchus developed precognition?’ Deadpool tells himself, before landing at an entrance way on the citadel. ‘It’s all right, pinky - think of the bank account. She doesn’t aspirate what I do to keep her fed’ Deadpool remarks as he crawls along the small space. ‘What manner of decrepit villain has out handsome hero…stumbled upon…’ Deadpool’s voice trails off as he gazes down to the chamber below - and what he sees is a sight to behold.
Four people stand around a small coffin-like chamber, which has several cables connected to several devices around the room. ‘All for you, our father’ one of the people exclaim. ‘All for you, our father’ another remarks, before the other two do the same. A woman steps forward, ‘I offer all willingly!’ she booms - before two of the men shoves deadly weapons into her stomach. She falls to the floor, and blood pools around her - while the eyes on the image decorated on the coffin suddenly light up - and the coffin opens - smoke pours from it - as a small figure emerges.
‘Hey - okay - wow - I found the place. It’s him. No doubt. Not the terrible ska band, but as in “no doubt I’m sure it’s him”. No, I’m deadly sober. Really. Mostly. Hold on. I hear something -’ Deadpool radios to someone, before spinning around - where he sees some sort of beast-like creature loom over him ‘Ah, dammit -’ Deadpool mutters, before the creature hits him in the head with an axe.
In Psylocke’s Dream:
Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock walks through the Morlock tunnels beneath Manhattan. Bodies of slain Morlocks line the sewers, and a voice cries out in pain: ‘Don’t! Don’t do this! I’m rich…I’ll give you anything! Anything you - no! No - YYERARGHH!’ Betsy rounds a corner - where she finds Angel, pinned to the wall with harpoons through his wings - and Archangel hovering before him. ‘Please…Betsy…help me!’ Warren Worthington III calls out. ‘I’m all broken…and he’s going to take me…erase me…’ Warren calls out. ‘Don’t listen to this naïve infant’s gibberish’ Archangel declares. ‘I’m fixing him. For his own good…just wait - I’ll fix you too!’ Archangel exclaims as he unleashes his razor sharp wings at Betsy.
Betsy sits up in bed with a gasp. She gets out of the bed she shares with Warren, and puts a robe on. ‘Bad dream?’ Warren asks, sitting up. ‘N-no…it was nothing’ Betsy replies. ‘Sure. Okay, Bets. We’ll lie to each other. Best foundation to rebuild a relationship’ Warren replies, before getting out of bed. Betsy gazes out a window and informs Warren that, occasionally, in deep sleep, she dream walks. ‘End up in a bad neighborhood?’ Warren asks. ‘Was it him?’ Betsy tells Warren that he doesn’t frighten her. ‘Yeah, well, the bastard does frighten me’ Warren replies, before putting some shorts on and standing up.
‘Even after all our work?’ Psylocke asks. Warren tells her not to get him wrong, as she has helped him a lot. ‘But being able to control the transformation isn’t the same as controlling Archangel’ he explains. ‘He’s buried so far down, rooted in like a bloodthirsty tick. If I were to remove him…it would fracture your mind irreversibly’ Betsy tells Warren, who puts a hand on her arm, telling her that he knows, and that what she has accomplished is remarkable.
‘I wish I could do more…’ Betsy declares as she walks away from Warren. Angel tells Betsy that he has X-Force for the rest. ‘Helps me make sense of it anyway’ he tells her, adding that there are evil things out there that demand Archangel’s brand of resolution. ‘If I can use him to help ensure the survival of our family - I’m at peace with my situation’ he explains. ‘And Scott?’ Psylocke asks. ‘He wants to think things are different. So we let him’ Warren replies. ‘We do the work. Keep everyone safe. Buy Scotty a clean conscience’. Warren adds that he needs to know Betsy can keep him in control out there - stop Archangel from going too far.
Betsy puts a hand on Angel’s face and tells him that she can temper Archangel, reduce his influence, increasing Warren’s own, enabling him to be more present when he transforms. ‘But only when you’re around?’ Warren asks. ‘Literal ball and chain. To be so dependent on someone, so entangled…it doesn’t worry you?’ Warren adds. ‘Not in the slightest. It merely requires I trust my feelings. But that’s not what you’re truly afraid of…is it?’ Betsy asks, while Warren look out the window at the moon shining down on them.
Suddenly, an alarm sounds, ‘Saved by the bell’ Betsy remarks. ‘Expecting a call?’ she asks Warren, who goes over to the computer and informs her that only one person has this code. ‘Probably just drunk again…’ he adds, before reading the message. ‘Everything okay?’ Betsy asks. ‘Hmmm? Yeah…just surprised is all. I never really expected him to find anything’ Warren replies. Betsy’s butterfly signature appears as she tells Warren that he is lying. ‘You don’t need to. I’d be frightened as well’ she remarks. ‘I’m not frightened’ Warren assures her. Betsy turns from him, ‘Mm-hmm. Best possible foundation to build a relationship on. I’ll go get dressed for work’ she announces.
Meanwhile, gliding down the side of the Tower of London is the mercenary called Fantomex. He thinks to himself that a man can only go so long without his poison, that it is the denial of pleasure that leads to the cancer. He grabs a window ledge, and swings himself around. ‘It’s the repression of desire that leads to the crime’ he tells himself as he crashes through the window. ‘So I skip the middleman’ he thinks to himself. ‘Allowing myself the crime in the first place’. Fantomex manipulates two guards that approach him, by telling them that he is a termite inspector and that they can go on a break. Mind controlled, they walk past him. ‘Power of misdirection. Highly recommended’ Fantomex tells himself, before tapping into a keyboard, while contacting EVA - ‘The lock, if you would be so kind’ he remarks.
The door to a vault springs open. ‘Gads’ Fantomex mutters as he sees Wolverine a.k.a. Logan leaning against a table inside the vault. ‘You lose. You owe me one case of cognac’ Logan tells his companion. ‘Henri IV Dudognon Heritage to be specific’ Logan adds. ‘Dudognon is two million dollars a bottle! How does someone like you even know of such a thing!’ Fantomex exclaims. ‘Google’ Logan mutters. Fantomex replies that a bet is a bet, and that the bottle of cognac will be delivered tomorrow. ‘And I sincerely hope you choke on it’ he adds. Logan informs Fantomex that he is not going to drink it. ‘I’m a Molson man’ he remarks, explaining that he is going to use it to shine his claws, and maybe disinfect the commode back home.
‘Diabolical…you truly are the best there is at what you do’ Fantomex tells Wolverine, adding that “wealth” is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it. ‘C’mon, Hemingway. Got a call for a secret rendezvous’ Logan announces. ‘It’s Ben Franklin, you philistine’ Fantomex corrects Logan. ‘Who is?’ Logan asks. ‘The quote’ Fantomex tells him. ‘Sounds like Hemingway’ Logan replies. ‘It isn’t!’ Fantomex exclaims while Logan walks away from him. ‘You don’t go put those Crown Jewels back you can ask ‘em yourself’ Logan warns Fantomex.
Shortly, EVA soars across a stretch of water, after picking up the others without so much as a hello, or so Fantomex thinks to himself. ‘My X-Force debriefing consisted of a single name. Halfway across the Atlantic before anyone says another word’ he adds. Inside EVA, Wolverine, now dressed in his black and white X-Force costume, sits alongside Archangel and Betsy, and remarks to Archangel: ‘Gotta tell ya, flyboy - when you give bad news, you don’t mess about’.
‘Nothing is certain yet’ Archangel states. ‘But we’re marching in on red alert?’ Fantomex asks as he pilots EVA. ‘You wouldn’t be so flippant if you knew what he did to Warren’ Betsy exclaims. ‘Don’t be so sure. I find flippancy the appropriate reaction in most cases’ Fantomex replies. ‘Show some empathy. We’ve all suffered at the hands of evil manipulators’ Betsy exclaims. ‘Or so we assume’ Archangel remarks, suggesting that Fantomex let Betsy probe past his dampening plates so they can see what is going on behind the curtain.
Fantomex looks back at Betsy and exclaims ‘Perhaps Betsy and I could probe each other. I’m game for some “behind the curtain” whenever you are, dear’. Unimpressed, Betsy tells Fantomex to save the lewd comments. Calling him a charmer, she explains that she is involved. ‘Why do you think I made the comment?’ Fantomex asks. ‘Hmmh’ Archangel mutters, while Fantomex notes that the beautiful Betsy oversells her indifference, and the schizophrenic - Archangel - takes note.
Logan approaches Warren and tells him that he knows he called for the unit, ‘But I can’t let you run this job solo’ Logan adds. ‘It’s too personal. You understand?’ Warren looks away as he replies ‘First Betsy…now you. The wings are under my control’ he declares. ‘Yeah? Which one of you? Co-captains. Checks and balances. If we’re about to scrap with who you say…’ Logan’s voice trails off. ‘No, you’re right. I’m emotionally invested. We need to be absolutely certain neither of us becomes...compromised’ Warren declares. ‘And we agree that if it comes to that - it gets dealt with’ Logan exclaims.
Wolverine returns to his seat, while Betsy remarks ‘I can’t help but wonder, is this smart? Just the four of us?’ Logan tells Betsy that there are no four people he would rather have by his side. ‘None that are still breathing’ he adds, before EVA announces that they have arrived. ‘There’s nothing here’ Psylocke exclaims. Fantomex thinks to himself that Eva is piped in, keeping tabs, feeding him team vitals. The benefit of an external nervous system that doubles as a transport. Fantomex exclaims that Betsy is right, that he is picking up nothing. ‘It’s under those mountains’ Warren announces.
Archangel tells Fantomex not to scan for what is there, but for what is not there. ‘Ultraviolet feed through a radio frequency’ he suggests. ‘There it is!’ Fantomex exclaims, while noting that heart rates are all over the moon and adrenaline levels are off the chart. ‘Cut tension with a machete. Serve with brie de meaux’ he tells himself. ‘You’re a tomb raider, no? Find us a way inside. My operative is on short time’ Warren orders Fantomex. ‘Now if this monster lies within, what are our odds of killing him?’ Fantomex asks. Warren just frowns.
Soon, Archangel flies down the side of the green water pouring from the mouth of a large statue, while Fantomex glides down on a miniaturized EVA. ‘Alright. We go in cold and fast with everything we’ve got’ Logan orders. ‘Don’t hold back. We do this or we die trying’ Archangel exclaims. Fantomex notes that there is no jovial sense of adventure, no camaraderie to overcome the tension. ‘I didn’t see that last bit there in my contract’ he remarks in reference to Archangel’s comment. ‘This is not the X-Men’ Fantomex reminds himself. ‘This is something quite different’.
Wolverine and Betsy land on the ground below, while Archangel soars around the chamber, announcing that he has seen these markings before. ‘Your “operative” was here. His stink is all over the place’ Wolverine snarls. ‘Something else…’ Logan adds as he runs toward the door up ahead with a large statue resting on it. ‘The man’s got a reputation as a tracker…so when he attacks a statue…chances are that statue has it coming’ Fantomex thinks to himself as Logan growls as he lunges at the statue over the door. The statues eyes light up as it drops its axe forward, also growling.
Logan claws the statue - before it plunges its axe into Logan’s shoulder. ‘Bloodshed, horror, gore, loss…’ Logan exclaims. ‘He’s possessed!’ Archangel shouts, ordering Betsy and Fantomex to take the creature down while he subdues Wolverine. ‘Murder, fire wraith!’ Logan exclaims as he lunges at Archangel, green plasma gushing from his wound. ‘Sleep giant! Your rest -’ Betsy begins as she plunges her psychic knife into the creature’s head - only for Betsy to also become possessed. ‘All life is an extension of the universe - all war is made through life to serve the universe - war is life - fire is the only solution!’ the possessed Betsy declares.
‘Now that’s grade A crazy talk!’ Fantomex declares as he lunges at Betsy, pushing her to the ground. He notes that her hair smells like jasmine. Fantomex holds her for a heartbeat too long, and the scent ignites an idea in his second brain. Fantomex holds Betsy as she reveals ‘His mind…a hollow room encompassed by sorrow, echoing an unquenchable lust to conquer an endless desire for more -’ ‘Okay. Good. That helps’ Fantomex replies, before Betsy passes out.
Fantomex turns around and looks at the creature looming over him. ‘The girl - look at her. She’s the one!’ Fantomex exclaims, while the creature raises its axe - ‘Hrmm?’ he asks, before suddenly exploding. ‘W-what did you do?’ Betsy asks as she gets up. ‘You said he was full up of gruesome thoughts so I misdirected his feelings, made him believe he’d fallen in love with you’ Fantomex explains. ‘It didn’t agree with him’ Fantomex points out.
Nearby, ‘Slaughter, consume, destroy, infect!’ the possessed Wolverine snarls as he looms over Archangel. ‘Don’t make me kill you!’ Warren shouts, his razor sharp wings ready to defend him. ‘The monster’s axe contaminates with the cold thirst for war’ Betsy explains as she shoves her psi-knife through Wolverine’s head. ‘Allow me to release it’ she declares. ‘Thirty seconds from start to finish’ Fantomex tells himself. ‘Logan?’ Betsy asks. ‘Fine. Tasted that poison before’ Wolverine replies as he gets to his feet. ‘Let’s move’ Archangel suggests.
Elsewhere, strange beings stand over Deadpool, who is strapped to a table, his mask cut open slightly, revealing his wound. ‘Weapon Plus went outside the hyper-nova discipline for this specimen’ one of the scientists exclaims. ‘Look into the formations. The quarks are organized, rhythmic’ the other declares. From where he is strapped to the table, Deadpool exclaims ‘Rhythmic quarks? Finally an explanation for my love of contemporary salsa beat!’ He begins to sing a song - ‘Miami Sound Machine? Hello!’ he exclaims, referring to the song. Suddenly, the two scientists drop to the ground as razor sharp wings lodge in their backs.
The mutants move down to free Deadpool, with Archangel exclaiming ‘Where is he, moron? Is he near?’ ‘Nice to see you too, angry-pants-the-screamy-boss’ Deadpool replies. ‘All that technology and they didn’t think to gag him?’ Wolverine asks, while Fantomex announces that EVA has just informed him that this giant celestial spacecraft is powering for a matter jump. ‘Any foreign bodies will be dematerialized. It’s time to go!’ he declares.
‘Hey, it’s the fellas who killed that pretty robe lady. Lemme ask you gents a question’ Deadpool declares as they run down a corridor. ‘How do you kill a circus?’ he asks, drawing his two swords. ‘Go for the juggler!’ he exclaims as he slices two of the approaching warriors in half. ‘Operative collected. Omega level monster defeated’ Fantomex thinks to himself, while Deadpool jokes that he always brings down the house. The five approach a large window and jump into it, shattering glass everywhere as they drop down to where EVA is waiting. ‘I’d confess to a sense of relief…but this is just the beginning’ Fantomex thinks to himself as EVA collects Wolverine, Betsy, Fantomex and Deadpool, while Archangel flies alongside as an explosion ensues behind them.
The heroes land nearby and watch the explosion, while Wolverine asks Archangel ‘How long have you known?’ Warren reveals that he has had Deadpool hunting down leads for over a year. ‘We learned that Akkaba had discovered the means to resurrect him. To marry all he was in a new frame’ Archangel announces, adding that he never imagined they would actually manage it. ‘But there’s no mistaking that ship. And that was war we brawled with in there. The Last Horsemen have been awoken. His final disciples. Should all others fail’ Archangel declares.
‘So this is it. The mongrel son of a bitch is making his final push’ Deadpool exclaims. ‘The game is on - probably has been for some time. Which means we’re already out of time. God, as my witness, Logan, one way or another, no matter what the cost…I’m going to kill Apocalypse’ Archangel announces.
And meanwhile, inside the citadel, a horrid creature stands guard over a door. A man holding a drum stands alongside him, while an elderly woman approaches them. ‘Good morning, boys’ the old woman remarks, before the doors open. ‘There he is’ she exclaims as she approaches the boy sitting on the floor, toys and books scattered around him. ‘It’s time for your lessons’ the old woman announces. The boy, dressed in a suit, looks at her with his red eyes, and smiles with his blue lips….