Sabretooth proclaims himself, “King of the World.” Sabretooth doesn’t have many enemies, mainly because he’s killed most of them. His main rival has always been Wolverine; a man that’s always been just a small step behind him in every respect. What sets the two men apart is Wolverine’s lifelong quest to become a moral being and to keep a tight hold on his humanity. Sabretooth couldn’t care less about morals or humanity. At his core, he is simple, glorious chaos. He does whatever he pleases, just because it pleases him. He picks up Kitty, and wonders, since she’s below the legal limit, whatever is he gonna do with her?
Armed factions of Hydra troops and Hand ninja make their way through town, bickering amongst themselves as they walk. Suddenly, a figure leaps towards them from the rooftops, silhouetted against the full moon. He is carrying a shield, and appears to have little wings at the side of his head. The Hydra soldiers are confused. “It can’t be him!
He strikes with venom, giving the assembled villains no time to organize themselves. He throws the shield, knocking one guy clean out, telling them it’s a pretty brazen play - attempting a hostile takeover of an entire country. As he cleans up the gun-wielding Hydra forces, one of the ninjas orders his men to deal with the Gaijin dog from a distance. What of their Hydra comrades? one asks. Their leader takes out several shuriken and hurls them at the soldiers. What of them? he replies. They sacrificed their lives to ensure their victory.
Their assailant expects such treachery, but it’s too bad their strategy won’t do them any good. He leaps and bounds through his opponents with incredible speed and agility, leaving only one ninja left standing. He throws his shield once again, striking the ninja’s torso. As it collides with a wall and comes to rest on the ground, the ninja realizes they’ve been deceived. It isn’t a shield but a garbage can lid. It wasn’t Captain America as they had thought.
As he ponders the situation, their assailant pops out of the shadows behind him and attempts to force some answers from him. He wants to know the whereabouts of Tyger Tiger, Viper and Jessica Drew. The ninja replies that only his Jonin knows. That isn’t a problem, and the guy asks where he can find him. The ninja tries to free a hidden knife from his sleeve; a knife tipped with poison that will make this accursed hero a ghost.
Suddenly, a lone Hydra soldier appears, aiming his weapon at the ninja. He fancies returning the compliment for the death of his colleagues, but before he can pull the trigger, he sees the face of their enemy. “You!” he exclaims, before turning to grab a colleagues gun. He fully intends to kill himself rather than get taken alive, and he grabs a weapon. He informs his enemy that each gun is keyed to a specific individual. Should any other person attempt to fire it, they’re in for a nasty surprise. As a shuriken hits him in the chest, he pulls the trigger, and is blown to smithereens in a huge explosion.
The detonation sets of a cascade of similar explosions that lays waste to the waterfront. In a hover car, a Hydra cadre leader is informed that all the bio-tags for their team have flatlined. The data indicated that they were killed in the blast; the ninjas as well. It is thought doubtful that their attacker survived.
Nearby, Wolverine staggers out of the river. He figures that he’s more than a mile from the fire, so he should be clear of any spy drones. If all goes well, they’ll look at their data and figure they have an Avenger on their hands. He doesn’t think this will stop them, though. They have a lot of resources, but at least it might slow them down a tad. The Hand has been after Madripoor for as long as he can remember, only each time before, Seraph was able to stop them. This time, it’s his turn.
In the busy working port, no one notices a rusting old tanker, and of course, this is the general idea. On board is Matsuo Tsurayaba. He is told by a Hydra assistant that the night goes well. All significant opposition has been eliminated and all their primary objectives have been achieved - right on schedule. Tsurayaba is concerned about the reported ambush. Any force that can neutralize a patrol of genin is not to be taken lightly; especially if an Avenger is involved.
A guy monitoring a computer databank turns to Matsuo and informs him that they have an alarm from their datalink to the local immigration registry. Indications are an American named Joe Fixit entered Madripoor this afternoon and is now registered at the Excelsior Hotel. Their database informs them that ‘Fixit’ is an identity once utilized by Dr. Robert Bruce Banner, the Incredible Hulk. The assistant asks how he could have known. Why would he get involved? Matsuo says it’s irrelevant. He is here and must be dealt with immediately.
It turns out that Wolverine has created this false information. The real Hulk is bouncing around North America playing hide and seek with Thunderbolt Ross; but as far as Tsurayaba is concerned, he just ordered a room service feast at the Madripoor Excelsior. He plans to thin out their forces so it’s easier to take them down. As he talks to himself, he chokes on his cigar smoke, courtesy of Sabretooth ripping his throat out earlier. He then checks his claws out, broken, again at Sabretooth’s hands. He doesn’t mind that as much as the fact that he has Kitty. Every instinct tells him to go after her and make Creed pay, but there’s more at stake here than her life, or even his own. The odds are next to impossible. One man against the Hand and Hydra. Thinking about it, he thinks, “This should be fun.”
(later that night)
Fog has closed in on the streets. Hydra and Hand operatives watch the Princess Bar because Wolverine owns the place. They figure that if he shows his face, they’ll blow it off. It’s their tough luck it apparently isn’t Wolverine who drops in on the party. From above, he leaps at them, shouting, “Hulk smash!” They’re expecting Logan, so they aren’t expecting this. As he lands amongst them, he sets off a special effects movie mortar, which tosses a vehicle over like it was a toy. The Hydra troops don’t think they can tackle the Hulk.
As they panic, Wolverine moves around and grabs a couple of them, lifting them over his head. This time, he gives them the impression that it’s Ben Grimm, the Thing, by crying, “It’s clobberin’ time!” Amongst the smoke coming from the destroyed vehicle, the Hand regroups and establishes a defensive position. One of them wonders why they should do this, only to have the super heroes stomp them again. Suddenly, a voice from behind them says he hates to add insult to injury, but at this moment, his bashful buddy is the least of their problems. “Flame on!” he cries. As he shouts this, a swirl of orange flame envelops the alley, forcing Hydra and the Hand to evacuate the area as another explosion rocks the place.
Wolverine congratulates himself. It’s amazing, he thinks, what a body can do if he raids a movie studio warehouse. A flame-proof body suit and a flame thrower = one Human Torch. He now needs to keep the pressure up and keep them off balance until they lead him to their base. Once that’s done, though, he wonders what he’ll do then.
(meanwhile, in Hightown)
Party time for one of the local ganglords is rudely interrupted. Their guests look from the balcony to the street below and wonder what all the commotion is. It must be some kind of trouble in the lobby, one thinks. As the elevator ascends to their floor, several men and women await their guest with rifles and pistols. As it arrives, gunfire fills the elevator, only for the door opens to reveal Sabretooth’s gritted teeth.
Bao Tien, the party host, thinks it sounds like a war outside. As he sweats, Shadowcat phases into his private quarters and is immediately shot at. Bao Tien’s weapons have no effect whatsoever. She tells him his bullets might be able to punch through an engine block, but they’re wasted on someone who’s intangible. She approaches him and, with a touch, phases him too. She warns him that she can take the pair of them through the wall as easily as through empty air, but, if she lets go, it’s pretty certain he’ll become a ghost for real. She takes him outside, and informs him that it’s a thousand feet to the street. She wants answers.
It doesn’t take much persuasion from Kitty. Her worst fears are confirmed. His goons bagged Viper when she turned to him for help, and then they turned her over to the Hand. He also informs Kitty where the bad guys are based. She doesn’t even have to ask for that. He expects her to pull him back inside but, instead, Kitty releases him and he falls twenty feet to a balcony below. He’ll live, she presumes.
Kitty phases back inside the penthouse suite and meets up with Sabretooth. She tells Creed that she has the information they need. He doesn’t think she killed Bao Tien, but she bluffs him and asks him to go look for himself. He doesn’t bother, but he laughs and tells her he likes her style. “I can kill you anytime. This is a lot more fun,” he says. Creed likes Madripoor the way it is. If the Hand and Hydra take over, then they’ll bury the island under their rules and regulations. This is his turf, and that ain’t gonna happen.
(at that moment, Lowtown)
Another patrol of bad guys finds themselves in a brutally unseasonable monsoon. The rain falls so hard it bruises the skin, and a wind sweeps them off their feet. This is followed by a sudden onslaught of lightning bolts, which strike with a precision matched only by scarlet force beams that impact, a heartbeat later. The coup de grace comes soon after, as a hairy form, seemingly more beast than man takes several soldiers down.
The villains draw the obvious conclusions, with their leader asking Command to be informed that they have positive idents on three X-Men; Storm, Cyclops and Beast. Wolverine watches from above, and is ashamed. He thought they would have had a little more grit. He must be spookin’ them pretty good. He figures he has to make his move before they twig onto his scam. He turns off the giant movie fans that created the rainfall from an open hydrant. The generator he used to power the fans also provided the power for the lightning bolts. A black market pressor rifle, inspired by Iron Man’s repulsor technology stood in for Cyke’s optic blasts, while he himself managed to do a pretty good impression of Hank McCoy. He even knows his fair share of ten-dollar words.
Wolverine reckons the bad guys are calling their bosses as he speaks. They’ll think they’re up against the Hulk, plus elements of the Avengers, Fantastic Four and X-Men. They’ve gotta be asking themselves; is this a fight we can afford? Is it one we can hope to win? It’d be nice if they decide to cut their losses and call it quits. If it was Hydra alone, that would be his bet.
A voice from behind informs him that Hydra is not alone, and the Hand does not give up that easily. Logan turns to find Chief of Police Tai, offering him a hipflask of cognac. Logan smiles as he takes it, and reminds him that, as chief of police, he could arrest them all. Tai replies that he’s no fool. His duty is to protect the people of Madripoor. He cannot do so if he is dead. Neither can he allow these invaders to succeed. This takeover may well provoke a civil war.
Logan says that would finish Madripoor as they know it. Some would say, no great loss. Tai tells him then they would be wrong. What is needed, he continues, is a new prince to sit upon the throne. The directorate is to name their choice tomorrow. It is believed the invaders will propose Matsuo Tsurayaba. They need to find an alternative, he tells Logan. They need a ruler that all the crimelords will fear; married to a champion they all respect. But, rumor is, Viper is a prisoner. “Not for long,” replies Logan.
Hightown has its uses. Pick the right building and you can find yourself a quarter mile above the harbor. It’s the perfect place for Logan to launch a para-sail, which in turn is the perfect way to drop in on someone unannounced. The old ship in the harbor is his destination, and all is quiet when he lands.
He looks around and senses something is not quite right. The hulk should be teeming with scents - rust, residual fuel oil, garbage; but there’s nothing. He’s never seen a place as sterile as this. He pauses, and picks up an all-too familiar scent. He looks over into the bridge and sees Sabretooth relaxing, with his feet against the window. He asks Logan what took him. Why doesn’t he join the party, before they all die of boredom?
Wolverine is quickly in attack mode, and he rushes the bridge. As he reaches Sabretooth, he passes through like a ghost. It can only mean one thing. He picks himself up to find Shadowcat standing behind him. Creed reminds Logan that not only does her phasing make her difficult to touch; it even masks her scent, even from the likes of them. “You’re working together?” enquires Logan. Sabretooth replies that life is just full of surprises. Logan asks what he’s done to her, but Creed replies nothing, except give her a choice, the same as he did with Logan way back when. Unlike Logan, he adds, she is willing to dare the consequences.
Logan asks why he’s there. Creed tells him they have common interests. Besides, he adds, the opposition went to a lot of trouble to prepare this trap. It’d be a shame not to trigger it. Kitty is somehow unable to phase, and all three of them suddenly drop through a trapdoor into the hull of the ship. The last thing Kitty is aware of is Sabretooth, laughing.
Watching on a monitor is Matsuo and his Hydra lackey. His assistant thinks they are mad. They knew it was a trap, yet they came regardless. He feels they are too dangerous, and asks Matsuo to kill them while he can. Matsuo grins, and says no. There are scores to be settled here, debts long overdue to be paid. They believe themselves better than the Hand and such arrogance will cost them dearly. Death is too merciful a fate. Instead, he concludes, they will serve the Hand forever as their loyal slaves.