Krokwel’s Temple, Forest of Sorrows
In a brightly lit room there sits a grotesque chair, adorned with heads in expressions of pained anguish. Psylocke is resting in the chair, her business with Krokwel complete.
Krokwel hopes Fantomex was worth Psylocke’s sacrifice and offers her transportation to the nearest Earth portal. He even goes so far as to give her a vial of green liquid mixed with reddish swirls. Krokwell tells Betsy that if the Goat’s forces manage to take her she should drink it. It will kill her quickly and painlessly, he explains, saying she would not want to be taken alive.
Wolverine and Nightcrawler are outside walking by the soldiers and citizens lining the streets. Kurt asks if they’ve reattached the idiot’s (Wade’s) head. Logan says they have, and tells Nightcrawler to go easy on the guy.
Changing the subject, Kurt remarks on how all this death, decay and rot reminds him of back home. Wolverine stops him, knowing where he’s going with it. Kurt tells him they need to help these people, but Wolverine argues they have teammates on trial facing the death penalty. Kurt bites back with some sarcasm, but Wolvie’s not budging, “…all I know is we’re getting’ ‘em out-- alive.”
The poor, malnourished citizens are staring at the two mutants as they argue. Kurt waves his hand in their direction and asks if he really means to leave these people to their deaths. Not originally from our dimension he questions if Wolverine’s X-Men are only focused on protecting their fellow mutants. Nightcrawler says that in his world they protected people to their very last, reminding him they even helped people from Logan’s world. “Human life is worth protecting wherever it may be,” he finishes.
Logan stares down his AoA ward for a few moments before turning around and walking away. He tells Kurt they’ll do it his way; they’ll storm the castle and kill the goat monk. “Hope yer happy… good odds none of us make it out alive,” he warns.
The battle rages between what remains of the Captain Britain Corps and the demonic armies of the Goat, including the reanimated corpses of their fallen brethren. Brian Braddock leads the massed defense shouting orders to his men. A female demon with a pitchfork approaches from the rear and nearly shish kabobs him, but Jamie seizes her with his powers.
Jamie tells his brother he’s too distracted. Captain Britain admits his thoughts are on Meggan and the danger she’s in. Jamie tries to reason with Brian, saying once they protect the Citadel they’ll save Meggan. He says Merlyn had him return the Corps to existence at great personal cost because he knew this war was coming. “Your strength is based on your confidence!” he yells at Brian, telling him to have faith or they won’t succeed.
Inside a large room, a fire roaring in the fireplace, lies Fantomex. He wakes suddenly and cries out Elizabeth’s name. She’s sitting nearby and tells him they’re safe. He puts an arm around her shoulder and asks about her brothers. Psylocke forcibly jokes she probably won’t be invited to this year’s family reunion.
Jean-Phillipe asks if she’s ok, and she responds by listing the tough decisions she’s had to make recently starting with erasing Warren’s personality, moving on to betraying her family and finishing with rescuing a child killer. Fantomex does not know how to respond to that so he just apologizes for everything.
This doesn’t sit well with Psylocke who knocks his hand off her shoulder. She questions if he’s really that sorry, after all he’s the one who convinced her she never really loved Warren. He tells her he did what he had to do, that he saw Warren was lost when no one else could or would. He knew that in order for Betsy to do what had to be done he had to make her doubt her love.
The psychic daggers come out and Psylocke turns like a jungle cat. “Manipulative son of a bitch!” she cries and she’s on him in seconds. She questions why she saved him, wondering aloud what he ever did to deserve her sacrifice. With a dagger pointed at his temple he answers that he doesn’t know. His blunt honesty brings Psylocke back to her senses and she turns away again.
With the heat of the moment passed Fantomex asks where they are. Betsy fills him in on Krokwel and the Forests of Sorrow and how her father had Krokwel sentenced there for eternity. Jean-Phillipe questions how she was able to convince a guy who was sentenced by her father to help them out. Betsy doesn’t explain, telling him all that matters is they get back to Earth since her brothers think everyone’s better off with Fantomex dead.
Jean-Phillipe says they may be right, but Psylocke, warming her hands by the fire, says her brother Brian once caved in a man’s skull for attacking her so he’s in no position to judge him. Fantomex argues a momentary lapse of judgment is not the same as what he did. He questions whether he has earned his death sentence. Psylocke looks back over her shoulder and tells him if they don’t get home soon it won’t really matter because her brothers are going to kill him.
Cavern of the Insect Nobles
Meggan leads the three members of X-Force into the Cavern of the Insect Nobles. Only Wolverine and Deadpool descend with cautious warnings from Meggan. Deadpool can’t believe the guy who came up with the idea gets to stay behind. Wolverine argues that although what they’re about to do will get hairy, staying behind will be even more dangerous.
Leaving the mouth of the cave, Meggan, Kurt and Widget walk back toward the encampment. Meggan is happy to tell Nightcrawler she’s very proud of him and very similar to the one she knew. She says she’s feels safe having him there, an old friend to look over her. Almost everyone he ever loved was killed before his eyes, Nightcrawler responds, saying he can imagine a familiar face would be comforting.
“Mein Gott,” Nightcrawler declares as a horde of the Goat’s forces, many of them giant-size, draw near. He supposes this will put an end to any good feelings Meggan was having. Meggan turns quickly to Widget and orders him to the Citadel to tell Brian they’re under siege and need reinforcements within the hour. Then Meggan turns to some nearby soldiers and tells them to sound the alarm and gather the guard.
A skeletal dragon rears its head nearby and lights the gathered men on fire with its breath. Meggan and Nightcrawler are knocked to the ground. She looks up at the creature, defeated. It lets loose with another long fiery breath, but this time Nightcrawler grabs her and teleports away.
They reappear up in the air and watch as the center of the town is decimated by two other fire breathers. Meggan says they need to aid them and Kurt says she won’t be alone. They teleport back to the ground where Meggan orders nearby knights to get the civilians into the bunkers and to send every available body to the north wall. She and Kurt are going to deal with the dragons.
The Northern Earth Portal
Psylocke and Fantomex are in the air riding a small dragon of sorts. Betsy has the reins while Fantomex rides behind her. He recalls their conversation from earlier and says Psylocke never answered him when he asked why Krokwel chose to help them, saving his life and giving them “Ploof the Mummified Dragon.”
Once again, Psylocke avoids the question, saying they needed transportation, that he was too weak to call E.V.A. Then she says she’ll discuss it all when they’re safe through the portal. She needs to keep her concentration so her brothers can’t hone in on her psychic signal and tells Fantomex to keep his head down and his mouth shut until then.
They’ve almost reached the portal when an even larger flying dragon meets them head on. Its commander, Skinless Man, is wearing a barrister’s outfit and wig. He says the court recognizes Fantomex and commands his new trial begins.
Fantomex never thought he’d be seeing this guy again. Before he can tell Psylocke to fry his brain Skinlessman sinks his elastic muscle tissue into their dragon’s brain. It goes limp and plummets downward, into a watery ravine.
The pair’s bodies smash into the water. Only Fantomex remains conscious and has to bring Psylocke back up to the surface with him. He realizes he’s too worn out to use his misdirection power and the Skinless Man’s muscles are coiling toward them.
It’s too late; he has both Psylocke and Fantomex in his grasp. The Skinless Man reels them in. He admonishes Fantomex for chasing after James Braddock’s daughter. Then he brings Fantomex close to his face and asks where his skin is.
Cavern of the Insect Nobles
Despite their earlier problems on the battlefield when they first arrived in Otherworld Wolverine and Deadpool are making short work of the nasty creatures located in the cavern. They finally make their way to a wall, which has a long ladder bolted to it that leads to the surface.
As they begin the ascent, Wade marks off reasons why Wolverine suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. Wolverine doesn’t believe he fits the bill, but Deadpool tells him most people can’t detect it in themselves and suggests a retreat in Hawaii sponsored by Dr. Phil, and even offers to go with him.
They reach the surface and move the manhole cover out of the way. They’re right outside the Dragon Monolith as planned. The two sneak under a bridge, which leads to the entrance, avoiding detection from the guards posted outside. They begin scaling the wall underneath one of the taloned legs.
The conversation about the retreat continues, as Deadpool really wants to go. Logan asks if it’s a team-building exercise, to which Deadpool replies that it is. Wolverine says he’s a member of too many teams already and Deadpool agrees, but feels as though X-Force was the most important one. Logan tells Wade it’s because he’s a narcissist, which Deadpool denies. Then he goes off on another rant and realizes that maybe he is a narcissist after all.
They reach the top of the monolith and come down over the dragon’s skull. They sneak down into the chamber and come across a cache of medieval weapons. Logan can smell the Goat, but the scent is flat. Deadpool thinks it rude he didn’t stick around.
Then they come across some scrying stones showing Skinless Man and their abducted friends, the horrors going on at the Starlight Citadel and the battle being fought at the South Woode. After seeing what’s happening Logan says they need to go. Deadpool asks about their plan to kill the wicked goat.
It’s not Wolverine who answers, but Horoam’ce, making his grand entrance. “There never was much chance of that. Not really,” he answers.
The Northern Earth Portal
The Skinless Man has Psylocke and Fantomex intertwined together with his muscle tissue. They’re both leaning over the edge of a cliff. Skinless Man is standing about 15 feet away with a large knife in his hand. He calls the court to order and then warns Psylocke not to try anything with his brain. He warns his muscles act very quickly and if he senses her poking around in there he’s going to crush her.
After determining Betsy knows nothing about him he delves into his past and how he came to make Fantomex’s acquaintance.
Many years ago, he was a successful barrister. Part of his success had to do with his mutant power, elastic multi-sensory skin. He used his fingers to spy out information for himself. He made an impression on a man he knew only as Father who offered him a spot in the secret weapon-building program known as Weapon Plus.
They augmented his strengths, increasing the durability and expansion of his skin. He was given the designation, Weapon III, and was tasked with gathering information from the Soviets. During that time he killed thousands.
One day, Father called him in and told him to acquire the Orb of Necromancy. When Skinless Man arrived in Otherworld he killed a lot of people, but finally found his prize. However, someone in Weapon Plus didn’t want Father to have the Orb and sent Fantomex to stop him. He had known Fantomex from a few jobs they worked together, but that didn’t stop Fantomex from attacking him from behind and leaving him for the Corps to discover.
As punishment for the dozens he killed, James Braddock had his skin removed while he was left alive to feel it. While in jail he had learned his skin was stolen by Fantomex.
With the tale ended Fantomex tells Skinless Man those sentient bullets he made out of his skin came in real handy. He says he used them all over the world in his many adventures, lost forever. This information is a bit disappointing to Skinless Man, but he points out, as they already have figured, that he taught his muscles to do what his skin once did. He then demonstrates that power by squeezing Fantomex’s body to the point of excruciating pain.
Then Skinless Man brings Fantomex toward him through the power of his muscles. He holds the knife about a foot from Jean-Phillipe’s face. He thanks the Braddocks for bringing him there and Fantomex specifically for showing him the way to the Earth portal.
Using his muscle fibers he begins removing Fantomex’s mask. Psylocke yells for him to stop, but Skinless Man ignores her. Instead he brings the knife even closer as the mask is pulled off more. Skinless Man amusingly ponders if this is all a matter of misdirection.
Taking the knife he begins to cut Fantomex’s face. Psylocke screams this time for him to stop, but once again Skinless Man doesn’t listen. Instead, he takes Fantomex’s blood-curdling cries as an indicator that this is no misdirection after all. Once he’s done he tells Elizabeth not to worry, that he’s not going to kill her friend, just take a pound of flesh. He turns, showing a look of childish joy on his face. In his right hand is the bloody knife and in the left, the face of Fantomex.