“Because it’s there.” That’s what a Brit mountaineer by the name o’ George Leigh-Mallory said when somebody asked why he was going to try to climb Everest. You ask me, Georgie-boy was crazy as they come. Climbing the Himalayas is about the most dangerous thing you can do on this planet. He, Logan, is only working on a medium-sized peak, and while it’s not Everest, it ain’t “barefoot in the park,” either. No matter what mountain you’re trying to climb, you better have a very good reason for doing it. He is there to save the world. His name’s Wolverine. He’s the best there is at what he does.
As he slips off the mountain and plummets towards the hard ground below, he laments that it’s too bad it ain’t flyin’. Popping his claws, he figures that attempting to stick them into the side of the mountain is either going to work or not. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t work the first time and he continues to fall down the mountain. As he falls, he thinks to himself that it’s stupid what goes through your mind when you’re lookin’ to punch out. How’s that old joke go? “It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the landing.” With that, Logan’s second attempt to stop himself using his claws is unsuccessful and he lands with a thud on the hard ground below.
In Hightown, on the southeast Asian isle of Madripoor, Khan tells Viper that Wolverine was dropped at the foot of Namjagbarwa Feng thirteen hours ago. He adds that he fears they lost communication with him six hours after he departed base camp. He could have a search party assembled and in the air within the hour if she…
Viper cuts him off and tells him that he will do nothing but await her next instructions. Now, he will leave her to her thoughts. Alone, she begins to think to herself that no one ever said married life would be easy. Even her “courtship,” so to speak, with Logan was a challenge. One she relished. She had to drug several of his closest companions from the X-Men into submission and use them to force Logan into her arms where he had no choice but to repay a debt of honor he owed by taking her had in most unholy matrimony. Though the ceremony was interrupted by one of their closest foes, the killer known as Sabretooth, she was able to turn even this to her advantage by using Logan, his young friend Kitty Pryde and their vicious enemy to destroy the plans of the Hand and Hydra, the rival criminal organizations which threatened her power.
Logan’s desire to unite the country to prevent a bloody power struggle combined with the respect her symbolic union with him brought her left the people of Madripoor no choice but to kneel before her as the undisputed leader of their vast underworld. For a time, she ached for her new husband’s death, but she soon realized that his usefulness to her had not ended and she now plans to continue to make his married life very difficult indeed.
Making her way over to a panel on the wall she utters the access code – virus filoviridae. Inside a laboratory, she asks her lieges what the status is of the infected Hydra agents. One of the men informs her that she might want to put a level four suit on, there’s some real bad mojo in there. Viper tells him, Akihiko, that he forgets who he’s speaking to and asks again what the status is. Akihiko informs her that this subject just went room temperature on them a few minutes ago. He’s the second to go. The last one’s barely hanging on. He then asks what exactly the men were exposed to if she doesn’t mind him in asking. Viper tells him that she does and orders them to dispose of the body. With that, the two men toss the subject into a fiery pit.
On the mountain, Logan works on climbing back up the mountain. As he does, he thinks to himself one out o’ seven. That’s how many people die tryin’ to conquer these old hills. He’s been a lot o’ things in his life but he ain’t never been a statistic. Luckily, he has the benefit of not being your average rock-climber. He’s a mutant with animal-keen senses an’ a healin’ factor that let him get up from the spill he just took. And when you lose your pitons in the snow, the claws ain’t too shabby either to anchor yourself to the mountainside. Still, pain to the tune o’ forty below sings in his arms every time his bones pierce rock. He has to fight past it, stoppin’ is the same as dyin’ at this point. The only way he’s gonna touch summit is to take her step by step by step.
Some five hours later, Logan is even surprised to find himself still kickin’ at the mountain’s apex. No time to stand around congratulatin’ himself though. He’s wasted enough hours with stupid mistakes already. As he learned yesterday from the woman he has the misfortune of callin’ wife, lives are at stake. Logan recalls back to his conversation with Viper. He said to her that she said this was urgent; he doesn’t have time to…
Viper cut him off and told her “lover” to have patience. She promises that this will be well worth his wait. Viper then asks him if he’s ever heard of Shangri-la. When Logan replies aw, hell, Viper asks him what, doesn’t he believe the legends of the lost city? Logan tells her that belief don’t have anythin’ to do with it, he just thinks that lost cities oughta stay lost. Viper says that she’s afraid she disagrees. After she took control of Madripoor’s underworld, the first thing she did was send twelve Hydra agents in search of this mythical land. Only three of them returned and, after showing Logan one of the men, she tells him this is what they brought back.
What he sees is rapid replication of infected cells leading to massive internal bleeding, festering pustules and, eventually, a forced evacuation of all the body’s internal organs. It makes ebola-zaire look like swine flu. She states that because of his, Logan, healing factor’s natural resistance to disease, he’s the only one who can bring back whatever they found. Logan asks what ever made her think he would help her and her goon squad. Viper tells him that it’s because she needs a pure sample of the virus so an antidote can be derived. The idiots he sees before him weren’t smart enough to quarantine the disease. Now it’s loose on the streets of Madripoor, and by the end of the month, the entire world could be facing the most vicious plague in the history of mankind.
On top of the mountain, Logan’s sense of smell picks up a familiar stench – blood. He finds it hard to tell how fresh it is with all the snow but one thing’s for certain, it came from a human. Digging in the snow, he finds what he’s looking for, the torn remains of the gear from one of Viper’s Hydra agents. Continuing up the mountain, Logan can tell somethin’ ain’t kosher about all this. Last time he checked, viruses don’t normally tear through a victim’s clothes before killin’ him. Only way to make sense of all this is to stay on the trail of the team’s scent and find whatever it was they stumbled across. A few hundred yards of impossibly high drifts later, he thinks he finally found it – the opening to a cave – but he doesn’t like the smell of it.
Entering the cave, Logan thinks to himself that he’s been alive a long, long time and he’s cataloged a lot o’ scents over the years. Death is a familiar one, the cave reeks of it. The only thing that bothers him more than that stench o’ carnage is the smell o’ something totally unfamiliar. This place has got just one o’ those. Further into the cave, he comes across the remains of a busted-up steamer trunk. It’s old, certainly not standard gear for Hydra. Someone else was in there a long time ago, looks like they ran into trouble. That’s when he smells it, someone’s still alive in there. When he finds a solo Hydra agent who cries out for Logan to stay away from him, Logan realizes that somethin’ tells him the ol’ ball an’ chain didn’t give him the whole story there.
In Madripoor, Akihiko enters Viper’s chamber and informs her that the last of the afflicted men just expelled what was left of his heart and they tossed him in the pit. Viper tells him that is of no concern to her and asks where her husband is. Akihiko replies that Mr. Logan still fails to respond by radio. However, the tracking device they secured in his gear finally became active again. He is on the move. Upon hearing that, Viper states so Logan yet lives, most impressive. She then orders Akihiko to inform her when his tracking device stops moving indefinitely – that should happen when he finds the virus.
Inside the cave, Logan tells the Hydra agent to take it easy, he ain’t gonna hurt him… probably. The Hydra agent stammers that he thought he was the creature! Logan grabs him by the collar and tells him that he doesn’t know what creature he’s talking about but he’s gonna make him wish it got to him first if he doesn’t tell him where that virus they found is. The Hydra agent asks virus, did Viper send him? They never found it. Logan asks that he never found the virus? Viper lied to him, he thought so. Figured he’d better make the trip to be sure whatever she’s got planned doesn’t happen. Logan then asks the Hydra agent if he’s married. When the reply comes back no, Logan tells him that he’s a lucky boy and if he wants to stay lucky, he recommends he start tellin’ him what’s really going on there.
The Hydra agent begins to spill his guts. It started about six weeks back. Some of the agents close to Madame Viper told him that she was visited by some old monk who had information he thought would interest her. The next day, Viper said that she was sending them on a mission for some virus that scientists from all over the globe had been trying to find for years. You can’t very well say no when you’re part of an organization like this. So, a week later, he’s part of a Hydra hazmat team disguised as explorers looking for some lost city. They dug for ancient vials, old bottles, took samples of everything – the whole nine yards. They didn’t find a thing. How did she expect them to find a virus anyway?
The climb down was a nightmare. Most of them got caught in the storm. He was stuck in a squall for hours, but still he’d rather be there than with the guys who made it back and had to tell Viper they failed. Logan replies but those men were dead, he saw them and they were infected. The Hydra agent states that, whatever disease they had, Viper probably gave to them, used those guys to convince him to come there for some reason. He recommends to him that he get outta there if he were him. He’d leave the cave too but he thinks he’s been seeing things, some kinda animal. So, for the last few days, he’s been hiding from… Just then, the Hydra agent points behind Logan and exclaims no, God no, it’s here!
Looking behind him, Logan catches that unfamiliar scent again and sees a spider-like creature. By the time he finally sees it, he realizes it may be the last sense he ever takes in. As the spider-like creature attacks him, Logan thinks to himself “because it’s there,” huh? Well, he thinks he just found “it” – doesn’t seem worth the climb. Whatever it is, it’s small, but unbelievably fast, and seems to have some kind of…
Just then, the spider bites Logan with its tentacles. Once it does, Logan tosses the spider away. Popping his claws, Logan tells the Hydra agent to take notes, he’s about to see how many ways a man can kill a thing. Big talk, but he’s actually hurtin’ bad now. His healin’ factor’s good at patchin’ up just about anything, but “it” stabbed him with some kind of venom. Now there’s a brawl goin’ on inside his bloodstream an’ it feels like someone’s rollin’ over his veins with a pair o’ spurs.
No poison on this planet’s ever given him so much pain, which leads him to suspect this thing may be from somewhere else. Believe it or not, he’s run across a few aliens in his time, and from the Shi’ar to the Brood, they all have some complex agenda or another. Just like your average earthlin’. But lookin’ into the eye’s o’ this thing, he realizes that it don’t want anything at all, but to kill. With the poison slowin’ his reflexes to a crawl an’ the thing stabbin’ him at any openin’ he gives it, he’s beginnin’ to fear that the alien might just get the one thing he wants.
Falling to the ground, the poison churns inside o’ Logan and his veins swell to the size o’ eels that thrash to get free o’ his skin. Pain’s so bad now, the ol’ healin’ factor is givin’ up on him. He guesses it’s pretty much decided that lettin’ him pass on is the biggest healin’ favor it can do. But fightin’ a disease is a lot like climbin’ a mountain. Impressive physical abilities will get you goin’ but at the end o’ the day, only one thing’s gonna get you over it and that’s the power of will.
Just as Logan starts to pull through and heal, the alien starts goin’ for the boy an’ somethin’ tells him he ain’t got much willpower on his side. Logan feels that he’s still weak and one cowardly Hydra goon don’t deserve much from him but he figures his date with this thing just can’t wait.
Jumping at the alien, Logan calls out to it that they ain’t finished dancin’ yet. Slashing away at the creature, he tells it to go ahead an’ prick him with his tentacle. He promises that his blood is the last thing he’s ever gonna taste. Once Logan is able to slice off the creature’s venomous tentacle, its scream echoes through the cave like the sound o’ your own teeth scrapin’ against a blackboard. The silence that follows gives him chance to remember somethin’ that popped into his head during that long climb up there. When battles like this one are over, after all the bravado and posturin’ ends, he’s always left with just one undeniable truth – killin’ a living thing, any living thing, is a difficult, unpleasant thing to do.
When two killers meet, a lot o’ things determine who’s gonna walk away and who’s gonna get put in the ground. A killer’s gotta have a yearning to bring death to his opponent. This thing’s got that in spades. But it takes more than bloodlust to win this contest. It takes something this creature never had. And that’s a blind hunger for life, a craving to survive that’s so powerful, you’re willing to take a life to make sure you hold onto your own. The killers who always live to fight again aren’t the ones to worship death, they’re the ones who love life. As the creature leaps at Logan, he stabs it in its underbelly and kills it.
With the creature dead, the Hydra agent says to Logan that he’s never seen anything like it, not even at Hydra. He then asks what it is. Logan tells him that it ain’t much o’ anything now. But, he’s thinkin’ it was the virus that Viper sent him up there for. Exiting the cave, Logan tells him that it ain’t exactly your flu bug though, is it? It’s probably been livin’ in isolation up there for decades or more, feedin’ on the poor shlubs whose arrogance got the better o’ them when they came there with ideas o’ conquerin’ the mountain.
Noticing a ball in Logan’s hand, the Hydra agent asks him what it is. Logan replies that it’s just a little “vaccine” he worked up and tosses it into the cave. When he does, the Hydra agent says to Logan that he guesses he’s gonna turn him into the authorities now. Logan responds nope, Viper wouldn’t let him live a day in prison. He then tells him that when they reach base camp, he better hit the ground running and keep on goin’ until he runs outta roads. Then, dig a hole as deep as he can, climb in and never show his face in the light o’ day again. He adds that his wife don’t take too kindly to failure.
One 25,000 foot descent later and Logan finds himself standing before the one thing on earth icier than the peak he came from. Viper says to Logan that she trusts he found a sample of the germ. Logan tells her that he found more than a sample, he brought her back a piece of it. When he shows her a vial carrying a piece of the creature, Viper states that it is exquisite. Tossing the vial onto the table, Logan tells her that she’s got odd tastes. When it breaks, Logan adds that he knows what she’s up to. He ran her errand to help her save lives, not end ‘em. Walking away, Logan tells her that she asked him to find her virus an’ bring it back. He found it and brought it. Don’t hesitate to call if she needs his help again.
Enraged, Viper calls him an arrogant animal and tells him they had him tagged. Her men will be able to recover what’s left of the creature because they now know the location of its body! Logan tells his wifey not to worry about it, he doesn’t think findin’ it is gonna be any problem at all. As Viper’s helicopter circles the mountain, a large cloud of black smoke emanates from where the cave was at.