“I’m Wolverine. I’m the best there is at what I do. I used to be a secret agent. I used to be a hero. Now I’m drunk. And loving every minute of it.”
In a local bar/fighting arena, Wolverine is locked in combat with a man by the name of Takahashi. He’s a sumorito, a sumo wrestler. He could have been a champion, but he cheats. He was blacklisted from the professional ring, now he earns his living in these illegal barroom bashos. In this arena, he’s undefeated. Right now it looks pretty good as he has Wolverine in a reverse bear hug.
When Wolverine challenged Takahashi, he laughed. Sucker isn’t laughing anymore now that Wolverine is able to lift him over his head as if he was a paperweight. In the front row center for this fight sits Yukio. Right now, she is his lady. Takahashi may be a renegade, but he’s got pride. He doesn’t like losing so he decides to do something about it. He slams his fist into Wolverine’s face. That was a bad move - it makes Wolverine mad. When he’s mad, he’s not very nice. Instead of killing him, which wasn’t worth the effort anyway, he throws him outside the window of the bar. Takahashi lands in front of Asano Kimura, who is waiting outside.
Wolverine is feeling no pain, as he and Yukio head outside. He’s a mutant, his body possess a natural fast-healing ability that enables him to resist any disease or poison, to survive almost any wound. It comes in real handy when he’s partying. Speaking of, they’ve been partying pretty much non-stop since he met Yukio. Raising Cain from one end of Tokyo to the other, living like there’s no tomorrow. Wolverine has other talents as well. He’s strong, fast, and his senses are keener than most animals. Even as blitzed as he is. He recognizes the man waiting for them – Asano Kimura, Japanese secret service.
Upon seeing him, Wolverine asks him what is going on. Asano replies that he is well. It is a pity the same cannot be said for Wolverine. He then asks him what he is trying to prove. Wolverine responds that he’s not trying to prove anything; he’s just doing what comes naturally. Asano then asks Wolverine for his help. Someone has taken over the entire Japanese underworld and welded them into a power base from which he means to seize control of the country itself.
Wolverine asks what that means to him. Asano puts his hand on Wolverine’s shoulder and informs him that his government wants this plot smashed and the man responsible neutralized. Asano can’t do the job alone; he needs Wolverine. Yukio grabs Wolverine’s arm and pulls him towards her; she needs him too. Asano pleads to Wolverine, as a friend. Asano gets his answer when Wolverine informs him to move his hand or lose it. Asano lets go of Wolverine’s shoulder and they go their separate ways. Up above lie a number of ninjas, members of the Hand. The time to strike is not yet. They must wait for the perfect time.
Out on the train tracks, Wolverine asks Yukio what they are doing out in the middle of nowhere. He thought they were heading back to his place. Yukio replies that will be later. The night is still young; there is still much to do. Wolverine responds that if she says so. Just then, he loses his footing and lands in Yukio’s arms. She points out that he is a heavy weight. She cannot hold him. They fall to the ground, laughing. She lands on top of Wolverine, in his arms. It feels good to him, a perfect fit.
Yukio tells Wolverine that this is her secret – her favorite place. Logan is the first she’s ever brought there. Wolverine responds that he’s honored, now what do they do. As Yukio kisses him she asks if he even has to ask. After the kiss, she tells him that they will wait for the final moment, and then they go. Wolverine asks what are they waiting for. Yukio replies that he will see.
Just then, Wolverine’s liquor bottle falls and smashes. Wolverine is hazy because of the booze and neither senses nor skill are operating anywhere near peak efficiency. The pieces are there however, a vibration in the earth, on the tracks, a rush of air, a subsonic rumble. It takes a while for Wolverine to sort them out. When he does, he moves fast, barely getting out of the way of the oncoming train. On the side of the tracks Wolverine notices the train as the Shinkansen!!!
He asks Yukio if she is crazy playing chicken with a 200 mile per hour bullet train!!! Does she want to die!?! Yukio replies with her own question – does it matter? She will eventually, so will he. Until then, she wants to live, every moment, to the fullest and when she dies she wants to die spectacularly. Whether he admits it or not, her love, Wolverine, is the same. Her observation falls on deaf ears, as Wolverine is fast asleep. Yukio tells him to sleep and not to fear, she will protect him.
As Wolverine sleeps, he dreams. Dreams of being a warrior. Riding out of the west, to win the hand of the woman he loves. She is Mariko, the daughter of a great house, heir to an ancient, noble line. He is a rude, rough-hewn man of common stock. His skills and courage are those of legend. The warrior thinks that is enough to make him worthy of her. He finds the gates of her home barred, the walls lined with archers. “Turn away gaijin” is what he is told. “You are not welcome here.” The odds are impossible, the cause hopeless, yet not for a moment does the warrior hesitate.
He attacks. When he does, the battle is terrible. His body, riddled with arrows. Wounded unto death, the warrior drags himself into the castle’s courtyard and there, at last, beholds the face of his beloved. The warrior asks “Why?” His love replies that her love is for a man, not a beast clad in human form who knows nothing of honor, or duty, or any of the beliefs she holds most dear. She continues, he is not worthy of her. He is not even worthy of life! Her arrow pierces his soul, casting him screaming back into the abyss, out of which he had struggled so long ago. Although the warrior lives, the proud warrior is in truth no more. As Wolverine dreams, he weeps.
As Wolverine continues to sleep, Yukio is approached and apprehended by members of the Hand. She asks what the meaning of them approaching her are. With his sword to Yukio’s throat, one of the assassins informs her that their mutual employer is displeased with her. She was told to slay Wolverine but she has yet to have done so. He also indicates to her that Lord Shingen will not tolerate such disobedience, even from her. However, out of respect for her ability - and her past loyal service - Shingen has offered an opportunity for her to redeem herself. She needs to kill Wolverine!! Here and now or they will kill her!!
Yukio tells them okay and proceeds over to the sleeping Wolverine. She informs the Hand that his bones are made of unbreakable metal and his body can heal virtually any wound. They tell her to cut out his heart. Yukio indicates that that sounds like a plan to her, but for that she will need her blades. As she pulls out six short knives from her coat, she remembers that the Hand is comprised of the finest assassins on Earth. Also, that there are five of them and only one of her. Her kind of fight!
With that, she flings three of the blades towards members of the Hand, taking out three of them with precise shots. One of the remaining two members of the Hand warns Yukio that she has just signed her death warrant!! Neither Shingen nor the Hand will rest until… He is not able to finish his sentence, as Yukio takes both him and his partner out with blades to the neck and head respectively. She goes over to Wolverine and tries to awaken him from his slumber for they need to get out of there; they’re in trouble!! As Wolverine starts to stir, the name Mariko comes faintly from his lips. Yukio is incensed and responds with a kick to his jaw, knocking him out again. With that, she runs away from the carnage she has created.
In Wolverine’s hotel room, Yukio has changed into an all black outfit. She thinks to herself, rambling, that Wolverine still loves her and he always will - he is such a fool!! She can make him happy, she is right for him - why can’t he see that!! Mariko - may she rot in hell - is the only woman for him, while Wolverine is the only man for her, Yukio. She then curses the day she met him for he has destroyed her!! Thanks to him, her death should be everything she’s yearned for. Shingen always accepted and indulged her wild nature, but this time she has gone too far. He will never forgive her! That poses a problem - whose solution is as obvious as it is simple.
Just then, Yukio hears the door being opened. She thinks at first that it may be Logan, but it can’t be. They’re being too tentative. So, she thinks it is the Hand!! She gets behind the door and pulls a single blade out. The mystery person then enters the room, gun drawn...
When Wolverine awakens he is still sore and aching. No wonder of course, Yukio’s kick nearly snapped his spine. He also finds himself surrounded by the remains of five members of the Hand. Evidently, they disintegrate when they’re beaten. That’s very tidy of them. There was also no sign of Yukio. He figures that she is still furious, his fault really, for babbling Mariko’s name. That they’ll deal with as best as they can. What worries him though is the Hand. Their interest in Yukio should have ended with the death of their employer, the crime-lord Katsuyori. He wonders why they are still after her.
As Wolverine opens up the door to his hotel room, he calls out Yukio’s name. Then, he freezes. There’re no lights on. No need for them actually. The scent tells him that there’s a corpse in the room. Also who it is - it is Asano Kimura and he has a knife sticking out of his neck!!
Wolverine makes his way over to Asano and notices that it is one of Yukio’s. Wolverine laments that he is a loner, by nature and choice. He also doesn’t have many friends. Asano was among the oldest, and the best. Even still, Wolverine is praying that this was all an accident. It happens in their line of work. A body wanders into the wrong place at the wrong time and gets chopped by mistake. Then, he gets a whiff of the blade and it has a familiar scent. The scent has been bugging him all along and now he realizes that it’s too late.
When he arrived in Japan and went to see Mariko, he was ambushed and hit by throwing stars that were coated with nerve poison. The same stuff that’s on this blade. It was Yukio who nailed him that night. She works for Mariko’s father, Shingen. She’s been lying from the start, setting him up...
From the shadows, Yukio calls out Wolverine’s name - Logan. Without even turning around, Wolverine tells her that she better kill him now for she won’t get a second chance. With a sound that’s part laugh, part sob, she runs, and jumps out the window of the hotel room, onto the adjacent building. Wolverine follows her. Wolverine notices that she slips through the night like a wraith. Fast, sure-footed, daring - taking impossible chances without hesitation and succeeding every time. She’s poetry in motion - a tigress. But he’s a tiger.
Through the street sounds, he hears her. Out of the atmospheric soup that passes for Tokyo’s air, he catches her scent. In light and darkness, he sees her as they continue the chase along the rooftops of Tokyo. As the hunt progresses, the pieces fall into place for Wolverine. Shingen was Asano’s quarry and Katsuyori the last oyabun - crime-lord - standing between Shingen and total control of the major gangs. Yukio conned him into helping her penetrate Katsuyori’s defenses so she could kill him. He gave her his heart, and she killed his friend.
Wolverine is able to get close enough to Yukio to be able to fling one of her knives into her back, just as she is over a glass skylight. She crashes into the room below. When she lands, she pulls the knife out of her back. Wolverine informs her that the race is over. She asks if she is to die now. Wolverine, enraged asks her that after what she has done, does she even have to ask?!? With that, he pops his claws on both of his hands.
Yukio, defiant, tells Wolverine that he cannot. They are two of a kind, soul-mates, born rebels. They make their own rules in society wherein they have no place and which has no true place for them. She tells Wolverine that she loves him, much as he loves her. Kill her, and he kills himself. Wolverine realizes that she is right. He then indicates to her that perhaps that is the case and that is precisely what they both deserve.
Before he can continue, he screams in pain, for an arrow has been shot through his arm. He then hears the sound of members of the Hand. One of them informs the others to seize him and hold him fast! They do so by tossing ropes around both of Wolverine’s arms and around one of his legs. Wolverine’s initial reaction is that Yukio has led him into a trap. Then he catches a glimpse on her face and realizes that she is scared. He thinks more for him than for herself, as Wolverine notices that he is now surrounded by a small army of Hand members.
Wolverine thinks to himself that Yukio should know better than to worry about him. With that, he yanks one of the ninjas that is holding the rope into one of the other ninjas, effectively knocking them down. With another of the ropes, he is able to trip up one of the other ninjas. As he is delivering a kick to the face of another ninja, he pulls the arrow out of his arm and drives it into the gut of one of the other ninjas. With his claws, he cuts himself free of the ropes and delivers a front rolling kick to the face of another approaching ninja. And then, another kick to take out one more. He stands to find himself being attacked on both sides by two more members of the Hand. He takes them out with shots to the face.
When the battle is over, Wolverine finds that Yukio is gone - hardly surprising. He does notice that two of the Hand have her knives in them. He wonders if she was saving him, or herself. Suddenly, Wolverine feels weary. The fight took place in a private garden, patterned after the classic Zen gardens of Tokyo, a place of transcendent beauty, of peace and tranquility. No longer, the garden has been wrecked; it’s patterns broken. Order turned to chaos, the story of his life.
For no matter how hard he strives for inner serenity, he screws it up so why bother? That is Yukio’s philosophy - be what you are, why fight it. By nature they are both scrappers and they like it. When the need arises, they can kill. Yukio wants him the way that he is. Mariko makes him want to change, to grow, to temper the berserker inside of him. He loves them both and has failed them both as well. Worse, he has failed himself because he has lost himself. Yet, the patterns of life are as fluid as those of the gravel he is running his hands over.
As he smoothes the stones, new patterns emerge, chaos becomes order, the wheel turns. And from that order - peace?? Perhaps that is the answer. The key isn’t winning or losing. It’s making the attempt. He may never be what he ought to be or want to be - but how will he know unless he tries. Sure it’s scary, but what’s the alternative? Stagnation - a safer, more terrible form of death. Not of the body, but of the spirit. An animal knows what it is, and accepts it. A man may know what he is, but he questions. He dreams. He strives, changes, grows. Shingen took his dream from him, but only for a time because he’s a man, not a beast! A MAN!!! And that mistake is going to cost him.