Deep inside a secret A.I.M. lab, somewhere in Canada. The hero known as Wolverine has always considered himself a strong man - if you live the sort of life he lives - fight the kind of fights he does - you learn to be tough, to accept that the things you care most about have a way of crashing down around you when you least expect it. That knowledge doesn’t change the fact that right now, his heart has just stopped in his chest. The shell of a man laying before him is the closest thing he will ever have to a brother - his name is James MacDonald Hudson, better known as Guardian, the leader of Canada’s premiere super heroes, Alpha Flight.
“Mac” as he is known, saved Wolverine’s life years ago, when he and his wife, Heather, found Wolverine, sick, and nursed him back to health. Now, Logan prays that he will have the chance to return the favor. ‘Come on, Mac…wake up! I need ya! Your team needs ya!’ Logan urges to the unconscious hero. Suddenly, Mac begins to stir, ‘Logan? Wolverine?’ he asks. ‘The one and only, bub!’ Logan remarks, before asking his good friend how he is feeling, adding that he was starting to worry that he wasn’t going to come ‘round.
Mac, and his synthoid duplicate, codenamed Vindicator, are wearing nothing but their jocks, and sit up as Wolverine exclaims that he doesn’t know what these A.I.M. creeps did to either of them, but he guesses they were up to no good, and adds that he supposes they have been incapacitated for a while. Logan tells the men that he doesn’t know if they remember about how they got here, and explains that the A.I.M. captured them. Mac replies that he remembers that much, before asking Wolverine how he got involved. Logan explains that the minute he went missing, Heather phoned him up to see if he was up for helping with the search and rescue. ‘Heather? Then the rest of Alpha Flight is here, too?’ asks Mac.
Wolverine confirms that they are, before revealing that they are not doing as dandy as he is, for they encountered some resistance before, and he got separated. Logan bets that the rest of Alpha Flight has been captured now too. Logan tells the Mac’s that if they are up to it - and even if they’re not - then they should make a move and try to find the rest of Alpha Flight. Mac gets off the table and replies that he will manage, and they shouldn’t waste any more time. Looking around the room and seeing bodies of A.I.M. personnel scattered everywhere, Mac remarks that obviously Wolverine hasn’t made any friends here, and supposes that more are on their way.
Guardian tells Wolverine that he will have to finish catching him up on current events once they have found a way out of this chamber. Wolverine declares that he has already taken care of that, for while he was waiting for the two of them to wake up, he took the liberty of devising them an alternate route, before joking that the two of them should get monogrammed duds so he can tell them apart. As the two Mac’s follow Wolverine down the exit he found, Guardian asks him if he has any idea where they are going. Logan replies that it is out of immediate danger to begin with, before suggesting that once they have put some distance between themselves and that chop shop, then they can formulate a real plan.
Guardian tells Logan that he really owes him, and explains that since they were captured, he hasn’t been conscious long enough to figure out what the A.I.M. were up to, and escape was not an option under the circumstances. Mac adds that he never thought he would get to see Heather, or the outside world again. Logan glances through a grate into a room, and tells Guardian that from what he has been able to piece together so far, the A.I.M. were conducting a bit of technological espionage - by going straight to the source and swiping the information right out of their heads.
Wolverine announces that this chamber looks more or less deserted, and pushing aside the grate he leaps into it, remarking that it seems to be an unattended lab, just computer equipment, scientific garbage and - ‘What the flaming?’ he exclaims, as he sees something very out of the ordinary. Vindicator looks confused, Guardian looks shocked. ‘It can’t be!’ he exclaims, while Wolverine just looks horrified as he stares up at someone very dear to him…SNOWBIRD!!!
The three men stand close to the tank where the long-dead Alphan is suspended in, and Mac exclaims that it isn’t possible, as Snowbird died years ago. ‘Her death was one of the greatest tragedies Alpha Flight ever had to endure!’ Mac explains to his duplicate that it was during the time where Heather led Alpha Flight as Vindicator in his “absence”, and in many ways, Heather blamed herself for what happened. Mac adds that Snowbird was a superhuman whose physiology they never understood, but even so…. Logan points out that stranger things have happened, ‘You of all people should know that’ he remarks, before asking Mac if he needs to remind him that it wasn’t so long ago everyone thought he was “pushing up daises”.
‘Fair enough’ Mac agrees, before revealing that what really concerns him is why the A.I.M. - who are nothing more than a glorified collective of arms dealers, would have even the slightest interest in Snowbird, alive or dead. At a computer console, Vindicator is at a computer console and informs Mac and Wolverine that they might want to take a look at what he has discovered, revealing to them that there is a directory linking file after file on Snowbird, to an equally large database of information on them. He begins to exclaim that they need to get her out of here, when suddenly, ‘Uh-uh-uh - keep your hands to yourself there, big boy!’
Vindicator turns to the direction of the voice and looks shocked - its Weapon X! Garrison Kane, as he is otherwise known, tells Vindicator not to look so surprised. ‘Department H sent you two to find me, didn’t they? Well here I am!’ Mac declares that he should have known Kane was involved in this, for it seemed a little too convenient that the A.I.M. abducted him and Vindicator when they did. Logan tells Mac to calm down by going and getting Narya out of the tank, while he handles “Weapon X”.
‘In your dreams, old man!’ Kane exclaims before he and Wolverine lunge at each other. Kane remarks that both of their lives have been reshaped by the same government program, but boasts that he is better man. Guardian watches Wolverine battle Weapon X, until his duplicate reminds him that Wolverine can take care of himself, but that Snowbird needs their help. ‘Right…of course, lets get to work!’ Mac exclaims, while Weapon X exclaims that Wolverine is slower than he remembers. ‘You lost your touch?’ he asks as his steel fist smacks Wolverine in the face.
‘Ain’t lost a thing, Garrison - got my touch right here!’ Logan exclaims as he slices Kane with his bone claws. Kane falls back as Wolverine asks him what this is all about, as it is not like him to be mixed up with the likes of the A.I.M. Logan adds that the last he heard, Kane and his “lady friend” were making a go at having a civilian life in San Francisco. ‘Things change - people change!’ Kane exclaims, before exclaiming that it doesn’t matter, for he does what he has to. ‘And if that means I have to break every bone in your body…then so be it!’
Wolverine falls back, and Kane asks him what is wrong. ‘Finally sinking in that you’re way out of your league?’ ‘Yeah, Kane…I am out of your league…cause he stopped playing with the minors long before you were even signing up for batting practice!’ Logan exclaims as he lunges at Weapon X. Guardian informs Vindicator that he has released the last of the feed cables, so Snowbird should be ready to come out of the tank. He begins to start draining the fluids from the tank, and instructs his younger synthoid to get Snowbird out of the tank. But before he has the chance, Weapon X is thrown across the room, and crashes into the tank, shattering it and striking Vindicator to the ground.
Kane gets to his feet as Guardian tends to Snowbird. Kane asks Logan if he thinks that is all it will take to slow him down, therefore he must underestimate him. ‘Prepare for pain, runt - when I’m through -’ Kane doesn’t get to finish his sentence, as he is struck by an electromagnetic charge, causing him to scream and fall back to the ground. ‘It appears he underestimated me!’ Vindicator jokes, before Guardian congratulates him on some nice work.
Mac wipes the fluids away from Narya and announces that she is still out of it, but her pulse is strong, so he thinks she is going to be okay. Logan tells him that they may not be able to say the same for the rest of Alpha Flight if they don’t get a move on. ‘Just point me in the right direction, Logan!’ Mac tells him.
Elsewhere in the sprawling A.I.M. complex, the rest of Alpha Flight appear to be unconscious as they are strung up against a wall in their restraints. ‘That’s Alpha Flight, eh? They don’t look like much!’ one of the A.I.M. scientists remarks, before motioning to Michael Twoyoungmen a.k.a. Shaman and asking if he is supposed to be some kind of sorcerer. ‘Is he? I thought he was a mutie, like the Scarlet Witch!’ another scientist replies, before exclaiming that if he is a real shaman, then they will need to notify Modok, as he may prove useful later.
Heather McNeil Hudson, Alpha Flight’s former long time leader and now liaison to Department H thinks to herself that the scientists comment was curious, for why would the A.I.M. be interested in someone with super natural powers? Heather knows that in the past, the A.I.M. has always been chiefly interested in manufacturing weapons, though she realizes that doesn’t seem to be the case at this particular installation. Heather decides that based on the looks of this place, it could very well be an A.I.M. unlike anything anyone has encountered before!
Looking at some of the equipment in the room, Heather thinks that it is so strange and surreal, when suddenly, Modok approaches her and informs her that it all serves a purpose - ‘Not that you’ll ever find out what that purpose is!’ The hideous being tells Heather that her life and the lives of her friends were forfeit the moment they launched their ill-advised attempt to rescue her ex-husband and his synthetic counterpart. Grinning, Modok introduces himself and reveals that this has all been his doing.
Modok tells Heather that, incidentally, there is no escape, and they are all his to do with as he pleases. ‘If you’re trying to intimidate me by reading my thoughts, color me unimpressed!’ Heather exclaims, before warning Modok to trust her when she says that they will get out of this, for Wolverine - Modok interrupts, informing Heather that her dear friend is indisposed at the moment, ‘Leaving you and your pathetic excuse for a team…quite doomed!’
Suddenly, there is a loud ‘Ahem!’ and Wolverine reveals his presence as he stands over the bodies of some A.I.M. personnel he just disposed of, before informing Modok that it is his errand boy, Kane, that is all out at the moment. ‘You really should think about getting better help!’ Wolverine jokes. ‘Sapristi!’ exclaims Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier, before asking what it is that Wolverine is up to. ‘He can’t possibly believe he is capable of taking on an entire platoon of A.I.M. agents alone!’
‘Fools!’ shouts Modok. ‘He’s one man, kill him!’ he orders as the A.I.M. all engage Wolverine in battle. Heather tells Northstar that she has known Wolverine to take on bigger challenges and win. But just to be on the safe side, Heather orders Sasquatch to revert to his human form while Wolverine has the A.I.M. distracted. Walter Langkowski does so, telling Heather that he was just waiting for her to give him the word.
Suddenly, one of the A.I.M. personnel asks what is going on, as the floor begins to shake. A giant A.I.M. device has entered the room and begins tearing through the A.I.M. personnel. Wolverine tells the A.I.M. that this will teach them to leave their “tinker toys” unattended. Modok has fallen onto his side, and explains that his armor’s anti-gravity mechanisms have been damaged. ’Quickly, fool - before I tear apart your very psyche!’ he exclaims to one of his workers, ordering them to help him. But the operative tells Modok that there is no time, as the mutant is psychotic.
Walter exclaims that this A.I.M. android is even bigger than the one they encountered before, though it seems to be on their side. Suddenly, he sees Guardian and, Good Lord! Snowbird!?’ he exclaims. Mac holds onto Snowbird and tells Walt that there is no time for questions. He orders him to turn back into Sasquatch and free the others so they can get out of here.
Wolverine continues to slice his way through the A.I.M. personnel. ’Die, savage!’ one of them shouts as he fires his weapon at Logan. ’Alpha Flight is escaping! Stop them!’ Modok shouts as he sees Canada’s finest engage the A.I.M. soldiers in battle also. Suddenly, Modok uses his vast psionic powers, striking at the giant android that was slaughtering his men. Wolverine tells Alpha Flight to get out of the way and motions to the giant android as it comes crashing down to the ground. As it does so, Modok is blasted away, and fire begins to fill the chamber.
Shaman asks Heather if she is all right, to which Heather replies that she is fine, but that they need to vacate the premises ASAP, as there is likely to be an explosion the way that fire is spreading. Sasquatch motions to Modok who was rescued by some of his surviving lackeys and points out that they are already making their exit - ‘They’re hightailing it out of here like nobody’s business!’ Guardian hands Snowbird over to Jeanne-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora and tells his team to just let Modok and the A.I.M. go, as they have enough to worry about. Northstar asks Mac where his synthetic counterpart is, to which Mac reveals that Vindicator is still in the giant battle suit. He approaches the flaming mess, telling his teammates to help him get Vindicator out before he burns up.
Wolverine grabs Guardian and tells him not to - as there is no way any of them can get into that fireball. Logan adds that, frankly, the chances of Vindicator still being alive are next to nothing. Suddenly, the explosion occurs as the android blows up, with Vindicator still inside. Alpha Flight are blasted backwards and shield themselves from the explosion.
Shortly, Wolverine, Guardian carrying Snowbird, Heather, Sasquatch, Northstar, Aurora, Shaman and Puck have made their way out of the complex and Logan declares that it is over. Walt motions to the sky where several aircraft are flying away and remarks that it looks like the bad guys are cutting their losses and moving to greener pastures. Wolverine remarks that it is too bad Alpha Flight’s losses are not so easy to cut, for although Mac is safe, and Snowbird is back, it wasn’t without a cost.
Heather asks her estranged husband if he is all right, to which Mac replies that he honestly doesn’t know. Mac declares that Vindicator fought just as valiantly as the rest of them, ‘He more or less was me during the time I was missing!’ Mac adds, before remarking that without his sacrifice here today, they would not have even been able to get out of that installation. ‘Sure, we can chalk this one up in the “win” column…but I can’t help but feel as though I’ve lost something here to day…some small part of myself’ he says solemnly.
Later, at Department H, Wolverine enters a lab where Mac is doing some research and informs him that Dum-Dum Dugan and a couple of other S.H.I.E.L.D. boys are heading over from snooping around the A.I.M. site, and informs him that he is going to tag along with them back to the States, though they were thinking of grabbing a beer or two before they leave, and asks Mac if he wants to come along. Mac doesn’t glance up from his microscope as he tells Wolverine he would like to, but cannot. ‘Figures you’d say that. This Snowbird business really has you upset, huh?’ Logan asks.
Mac looks at Logan and tells him that he doesn’t understand, for Snowbird was killed years ago and everyone who was part of Alpha Flight at that time saw her die. ‘To find her resurrected inside an A.I.M. lab…I’m not sure if it’s a miracle or an abomination!’ Logan asks Mac if he has been able to talk with Snowbird yet, but Mac replies that he hasn’t, for while Narya’s condition is stable, she has yet to regain consciousness. Mac explains that he and Walter are correlating every piece of data they have on Snowbird in an effort to solve this puzzle however.
Logan asks if Snowbird is the real deal, or if they were able to somehow get a DNA sample to clone her. Mac replies that he has considered that possibility, but that the initial tests he has run lead him to believe that possibility is doubtful, and for his own part anyway, he is quite sure this is the same Snowbird they are all familiar with - which is the most frightening of all possibilities. Wolverine asks what the word from the “brass” is, as they must be tickled over the prospect of putting the original Alpha Flight back together.
As the two men walk towards another lab, Mac replies ‘You’d think’ before revealing that Department H didn’t welcome the news - and in fact, they seemed downright distressed by it - even more so than the fact that Vindicator was killed when they escaped the A.I.M. installation. Mac remarks that he knows not everyone was comfortable with Vindicator, but in his estimation, he was a valuable asset to this whole operation. ‘He certainly proved his courage!’ Mac remarks, before telling Logan that the Department is mourning his passing about as much as they would an out of service vending machine. ‘Maybe even a little less’.
Logan tells Guardian that in his mind, there is something wrong with this whole set up, and asks him if it didn’t strike him as a little odd that the A.I.M. managed to conceal an installation on Canadian soil, without the Department so much as batting an eye? Mac replies that the Department has certainly changed over the years, and most of the people are different now, before telling Wolverine that now that he mentions it, there was very little reaction to the fact that Kane, a former Weapon X, was involved in the A.I.M.’s scheme - and it was their search for him which started this whole affair.
Approaching Walter Langkowski, Mac asks him how it is going. Walt smiles and replies that it is going good, and that he thinks he has hit on something that explains Snowbird’s miraculous reappearance - how and why it happened, the exact conditions that triggered it. The three men look at Snowbird who is lying on a table as Walt remarks that he will need to double and triple check the results, but that so far they are supporting his theory that what they are dealing with is an advanced form of cellular rejuvenation. Walt remarks that whatever brought Snowbird back to life is in her biological make-up, most likely a by-product of her unique genetic heritage. Walt adds that the whole process isn’t too far off from the way Wolverine’s body heals itself.
Walt explains that, whatever the case, he believes that once Snowbird’s body was buried and began to decay, this regeneration process was initiated and then carried to fruition over a considerable length of time. He adds that further tests should be able to provide information as to exactly what kind of time frame they are looking at. Mac suddenly declares ‘Good Lord! Walt…you’re absolutely right!’ Mac remarks that everything he has been saying seemed so familiar, and exclaims that this might sound crazy, but that it is all coming back to him - why the A.I.M. captured Vindicator and he, and why they had Snowbird - why their whole operation seemed so different. Logan tells Mac that it is okay, and to take it easy. Mac reminds Logan that he said it himself, that the A.I.M. were siphoning information from their minds - but everything that Walt is saying fits too, for the A.I.M. was specifically culling data they had acquired on Snowbird in an effort to create other beings like her.
Guardian exclaims that he doesn’t know where the A.I.M. found her, but he believes they see her as some kind of link between science and the supernatural, and needless to say, they want to exploit that link for their own purposes. Wolverine remarks that in all the stories he has read, the A.I.M. and the supernatural have never been on the same page. Mac agrees, but reminds Logan that they weren’t dealing with a typical A.I.M. operation, as they have been decimated in recent years, and this was more of a techno-cult that has developed under Modok’s leadership.
Mac remarks that the upside of this is of course that once Snowbird recovers, Alpha Flight - the real Alpha Flight - will be whole again, but in exchange, the potential threat posed by this new A.I.M. cult could be greater than anything they have faced before - for there is no knowing how much they learned from him, Vindicator and Snowbird, or what they’ve gained from that knowledge. ‘But just between the three of us? I’m afraid to find out!’
Elsewhere, an A.I.M. craft lands at a snow-covered complex, and several A.I.M. operatives rush over to it, while the A.I.M. soldiers emerge from it - with two strange beings held in capsules….