Rolling his motorcycle into his apartment, Logan thinks to himself that no street punks ever trashed his bike up in Salem Center. He guesses that is what he gotta put up with to live in the East Village.
Once he reaches his apartment, the mime says to him, at long last, they meet again. Or perhaps he should address him by the name those in the West call him – Wolverine. Logan replies that he doesn’t usually exchange pleasantries with lowlifes who break into his digs, even if their voice jogs a memory.
At that moment, Logan notices that the mime is not only juggling knives and cleavers, but also the box that was given to him by Zoe Culloden. Upon seeing that, Logan pops his claws and tells the mime that he just stepped over the line. The box was entrusted to him for safe keeping and he honors his commitments. When Logan charges the mime, the mime leaps over him and asks Logan what he knows of honor. Honor is what separates men from beasts and they both know he is naught but a snarling, untamed animal who relies on his inborn claws of bone and mutant healing factor.
Logan recognizes that it ain’t the voice itself that’s familiar. It’s the syntax, the phrasing, the cold intent. Landing on the other side of Logan, the mime mentions to Logan that he still swings wildly when he is agitated; he sees and the results are the same as ever they were. Logan then proceeds to ask the mime who the blazes is he. The mime replies, “Is his identity so difficult to surmise?” Preparing himself for battle, Logan thinks to himself that there’s a glimmer of recollection. Like a name and a face was just about to slip into place but he gets distracted by the tumblin’ box. Judgin’ by what Zoe said to him when she handed it over, he’s not sure it’s somethin’ that’s safe bein’ thrown all over the place. Outta the corner o’ his eye, he sees the juggler grab a cleaver but his attention is directed on that strange cube. And suddenly, he remembers where he saw it before.
It was in Shanghai, a long time ago. As Logan walks down the street, enjoying an adult beverage, an older man with a white beard rushes down the street after a box. He calls out to his young liege that they must not lose the relic. Its arcane secrets are far too dangerous for it to fall into the possession of those who would do evil. It must be safely returned to their sanctuary. The young man following him calls out to his master the soldiers…
Further back in the crowd, two soldiers push through to get to their quarry. When they reach the old man, one of the soldiers jams the butt of his gun into the back of the old man. As he does, he tells him that he’ll teach him to have respect for the Japanese Imperial Army. The younger soldier behind him calls out to the sergeant that he’s just an old man, there’s no need to…
Just then, the old man’s assistant cracks the sergeant on the shoulder with his staff and tells him to leave the master alone. Doesn’t he know that he is an honored scholar? The sergeant turns around and points his rifle at the young man. He says to him that he dare strike him, gaijin whelp. He’ll have his head displayed on the barracks gate. At that moment, Logan intervenes and grabs the sergeant’s rifle and tells him to let the kid be, you don’t make war on old men and children. The sergeant turns and asks if this cesspool of a town is filled with disrespectful barbarians. Raising his rifle, he goes to strike Logan and, as he does, says that he’ll have two bloody gaijin heads to exhibit. Logan catches the rifle butt and tells him “not hardly” and proceeds to smack him in the face with his own rifle. Loading his rifle, the sergeant stumbles backwards and tells Logan that he is a dead man.
From behind, the captain takes his sword and kills the sergeant for bringing disgrace upon his uniform and his flag. He adds that despite the bloody depredations of lowborn troops and honorless commanders there are still a few of them who serve the emperor as true samurai. With the sergeant dead, the captain raises his sword and tells the younger soldier to meet his death with dignity and to at least have one noble moment in his tawdry life. Logan then intervenes and tells the captain that it ain’t too honorable a thing to be killin’ the kid, at least he tried to stop the sergeant.
Knocking Logan’s hand away, the captain is surprised. Unarmed, he faces a man with a sword, a man by far his better, and yet there is no fear in his eyes, only defiance. The captain informs Logan that he has surprised him this day and that if he should ever decide to study the martial arts, please present himself at the Ogun Ryu Dojo in Kanazawa and he will fill the void within his mind, body, and soul. Heed his words, he will not regret it. Logan replies that if he ever wants to learn how to swing a pig-sticker, he’ll look him up.
As the older man gets up, he tells Logan to be warned. He would be better served becoming an acolyte of this undeserving dodderer and plumbing the mysteries of the universe. He possesses powers he is not even aware of. Logan says “izzatso?” and goes back to drinking his adult beverage. He says that he ain’t ready to study anythin’ just yet, he has places to see and things to do. As Logan walks away, the old man’s young follower watches him leave. The old man says to him that the wild side of him wants to follow him but there is still much he must learn from him. In time, his feet will stray from the path, and he will find his way back. But for now, his place is at his side, does he hear him. The young man answers that he does.
The memory came back to him in the wink of an eye and in they wink of an eye, he was back in the thick of it. As the mime goes to take a stab at Logan with his cleaver, Logan instinctively grabs the mimes wrist. To free himself, the mime flips over Logan’s back and tells him that he cannot hold him. He learned the martial arts at the feet of Eastern masters, men whose names exist only in legend now. When the mime lands on his feet, Logan tells him bad move, he just snapped all the bones in his wrist. The mime, with no outbursts of pain, replies that makes it rather ineffectual for combat, isn’t it.
One block away, a woman waits for the light. Her name is Helen Bach and she is the foreman on the construction site where Logan works. She is thinking that she shouldn’t have brushed Logan off the way she did and walked off in a huff. She regrets having been on such a high horse about him fighting those two thugs who trashed his bike. Wasn’t his hand bleeding? Wouldn’t he need some comfort and understanding? Helen thinks she should really go back. And yet, she hesitates. What is she afraid of? Logic intercedes – she just met him earlier in the day. She knows nothing about him. But, yes, she does know something about him. She knows that he is honest and brave and that he is alone.
At that moment, in Logan’s apartment, Logan notices that the bones in the mime’s wrist are broken and his hand is floppin’ around like it was only connected by a thread o’ sinew but he ain’t howlin’ in pain. He ain’t breakin’ a sweat and he ain’t even halfway uncomfortable. He just switches the cleaver to the other hand and keeps on comin’. Logan also notices that there’s somethin’ slightly off about his scent almost like two distinct smells comin’ off one person. It comes to him in a flash that something has taken over the clown-faced yahoo, some controllin’ entity that doesn’t give a hoot about collateral damage to its host. That puts the ol’ canucklehead in a predicament. Just how does he keep from gettin’ sliced and diced without puttin’ a serious hurtin’ on some innocent pilgrim who just happened to get possessed?
On the street below, Ororo Munroe asks Jean Grey if she is certain this is the correct address, it is not what you might term the best of neighborhoods. Jean replies that she never thought Logan would feel comfortable living on Park Avenue and this is the address he gave her when she called. Walking up to the door, Ororo mentions that in some ways, she believes he has always felt himself to be the outsider wherever he has been. Jean replies that he shouldn’t feel that way among them. She loves him like he was her own brother. She adds that she just doesn’t know if now is the time for Logan to be away from them.
At that moment, Helen walks up and hears that last remark. When they notice the bell is broken, Jean and Ororo begin to head inside. Upon seeing Helen they ask her if she’s coming in too. Ororo asks her if there’s something wrong, she looks so stricken. Helen answers that she’s fine, really. And she’s not going inside, she made a big mistake. With that, she heads off down the street alone.
Inside the apartment, the mime continues to hash and slash away at Logan. As he does, he asks Logan where his defense is. Where is his practiced feint, parry and riposte. Where is his fabled berserker rage? Logan replies that his mutant healing factor can keep up with anything he can dish out. All he has to do is stand there and wait until he wears himself out and falls flat on his face. The mime says that he claims there is a strategy to his ineptitude in battle. Can he perceive his strategy through the fog of combat? Does his brutish brain fathom what he really wants?
Ascending the stairs, Jean mentions to Ororo that the accommodations are pretty grim, no wonder he wanted them to come and visit him. Ororo replies that she has lived in worse, back in Cairo. Just then, Jean calls out that she senses trouble inside, a fight. Immediately, the co-leader of the X-Men, Ororo Munroe, Storm, leaps into action. Wind and rain are at her command as well as lighting. Using the lightning, she crashes through the door. Inside, the mime continues his attack on Logan when Jean and Storm enter. He says to Logan that he didn’t tell him he was expecting company and such lithe and lissome company at that. Logan tells the juggler to lay off ‘em, his fight’s with him.
Jean Grey, Phoenix, the most powerful psi-talent on the planet at this time uses her telekinetic power to disarm the knife-wielder with ease. Storm then uses her powers to conjure up a whirlwind which knocks the mime across the room. Able to breath for a second, Logan tells the ladies not to be comin’ down too hard on the joker; he’s just some innocent street entertainer who happened to get his body taken over. Jean replies that she can remedy that with a telepath probe. Before she can act, the demonic wraith-entity that had possessed the juggler ejects itself from its host and implants itself in another – Jean Grey. Free, the mime runs out of the room grabbing his wrist in pain.
Grabbing her head, Jean says that her mind is being penetrated by some malevolent presence. She adds that it’s so angry, like nothing she’s ever experienced before. Now possessed, the being possessing Jean asks Logan that he still hasn’t figured it out yet, has he. Pulling a knife out of the wall, they tell him that they’ll give him a hint. They’ll tell him what they want. They want the box, they want his head and they want the very souls of everyone he holds dear. Storm calls out to Jean that she must regain control and cast out the evil entity while she restrains her body with a gale force wind.
Suspended in mid-air, “Jean” tells Storm that her compassion for her friend is her weakness and that she would have been better served to render this one incapable of counter-attack. That mistake will cost her her life. At that moment, the knife flies out of Jean’s hand and hurtles towards Storm. Instinctively, Logan leaps in front of Storm and takes the knife in his gut, saving Storm.
Checking on Logan, Storm tells him that she could have deflected it with a wind blast, he didn’t have to… Logan tells her pure instinct. The entity controlling Jean is momentarily dumb-founded by the selfless act it has just witnessed. It remembers another act of bravery, integrity and bold honor. It remembers something else. It remembers for a brief moment what it was before the long darkness enveloped it and the jolt of that memory weakens it. It is enough for the mutant known as Phoenix to hurl the intruding entity from her mind and send it howling into the ether between consciousness, a disembodied revenant with the hollow voice of despair.
With the entity gone, Jean tells Ororo that it got the jump on her. She let her guard down for a second and it had her. Ororo assures her that it was no match for her, thanks to her telepathy and fierce will. Logan informs them both that thing ain’t givin’ up. He’s gotta go track it down and finish this business after he heals up a bit and changes into his fightin’ togs. He then tells the ladies that he’s trustin’ them to keep an eye on the box while he’s gone. Whatever that thing is, what it wants is that weird cube an’ he’d like to handle this alone.
On the street below, Helen thinks to herself that she almost embarrassed herself to death back there. Those two women looked like they stepped out of Vogue and she’d be lucky to make it into the back of Popular Mechanics. Just then, the entity that had earlier possessed the mime and then Jean Grey enters into her body. As she turns the corner, she runs into Clive and Kristin. Kristin asks Helen how Logan’s first day on the job was and mentions that they almost sold out of the latest volume of Clive’s poetry journal. Helen responds by pushing Clive’s wheelchair over and telling him to get out of the way, pathetic cripple. While Helen walks away, Kristin asks her what in the blue blazes is wrong with her. Clive asks Kristin if she saw that look in her eyes. That sure wasn’t the Helen they know.
Meanwhile, at Fire Lake in Massachusetts, a demonic glow illuminates the necromanteion of Daimon Hellstorm. One-time priest and former costumed adventurer, he is possessed of a rather unique pedigree. The scion of a mortal woman and evil personified, he is now charged with maintaining a preternatural balance between light and darkness. The son of Hades does not require the arcane apparati of mere mages and common conjurers to work his magic but the ancient crystal had once belonged to the former sorcerer supreme. Smuggled out of Tibet, it made its way through the golden triangle to a disreputable dealer in antiquities in Andover, where it made its presence known to one who had the power to plumb its mysteries – the reigning king of the underworld.
Looking at the image of a box in the crystal before him, Daimon says that there in Fire Lake, where angels and demons fear to tread, the cursed orb spews secrets that would strike blind seraphim and confound the imps of the seventh circle. There is a thread of evil spun in antiquity, that reaches into myriad distant futures and binds the destinies of many. He has heard tales of the box, thought to be lost forever. But somehow it has returned and with it – mortal danger.