In prison, Carl “Crusher” Creel continues to punch away at a very human looking Hank McCoy. As he delivers another blow, he says this one’s fer the time he an’ his Avenger buddies tossed him into the East River. Does he know how fitly the East River is fer Pete’s sake? Continuing to pummel away on Hank, Creel mentions that it’s a shame. He was almost the heavyweight champ a’ the world but lost his chance battlin’ Jack somebody. Too bad fer him, he ain’t him!
Welcome to the Cage. Chances are ya never heard of it, an’ believe him, that ain’t by accident. There’s a reason why my buddy the Beast ain’t blue an’ furry an’ like his normal mutant self anymore. Usually he’d be able t’ put up a better showin’ against the Absorbing Man, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Bet yer also wonderin’ why I’m lettin’ him take a beatin’ like this. Bottom line is, in the cage he’s got no choice but to fight .The cons gotta know he ain’t an easy mark when I’m not around. Creel’s just too much fer him, is all. An’ although he’s fought the good fight, now’s the time t’ end it.
With that, Wolverine tells Creel that he’s had enough. Recognizing Wolverine’s voice, Creel calls out his name and says that he still owes him from when he cut off his arm during that Secret Wars thing. Dodging his swing, Wolverine tells him to count his blessings these restraints are keepin’ him from poppin’ his claws. Otherwise, it’d be more than just an arm he’d be losing’. Pinning Creel to the ground and holding his arm behind him, Wolverine tells him the way he figures it, they been fightin’ every day since they got there. Maybe it’s time he killed somebody an’ proved himself once and fer all. He then tells Creel that there’s about forty-three different ways he can kill him now – pick one!
From the other side of the room, the Wrecker holds Hank around the neck and calls out to Wolverine to let Creel go or McCoy gets offed. When Wolverine asks him if that’s so, the Wrecker tells him that it is and pulls out a shiv. Brandishing it, he tells Wolverine that in fact, his boy there is about to get himself a Colombian necktie, Wrecker style. Wolverine tells him real smart makin’ a shiv the size of a crowbar, it’s not like the hacks can’t spot it a million miles away. He then adds that his threat only matters if he thinks he, Wolverine, can’t get there fast enough.
Just then Montgomery Battle, the prison warden walks in, flanked by his guards. He is known as “Constant” Battle to the cons. He has a severe obsession with control. In other words, a fella who seriously needs to unclench. Comes from somethin’ that happened when he was in the military. Word is that Battle walked into the jungles a’ Nam with a whole army under him an’ he’s the only one who walked out. Nobody’s ever had enough sand t’ ask him what happened though.
Seeing Creel involved, Battle yells at him. Creel replies that it wasn’t him, he swears. He was mindin’ his own business when… Battle cuts him off and says yeah, yeah and the check is in the mail and the dog ate your homework. He then asks him if he wants two weeks in the hole. Creel tells him that he’ll be good, he promises. As he is carted away by a couple of guards, Battle turns his attention to Wolverine and McCoy and says to them that they’ve been trouble since the day they hauled their sorry butts in there. Putting on his glasses, Hank says that surely he can see they’ve been targeted since their arrival. Perhaps if he put them in protective custody…
Before Hank can finish his thought, Battle’s head guard smacks Hank with his baton and tells him not to sass the warden. Grabbing the other end of the baton, Wolverine tells the guard, that wasn’t necessary, he didn’t do nothin’. The guard replies that he’ll decide what’s necessary. The guard’s name is Caleb “Reb” Tillis. He is Battle’s right-hand man an’ the meanest hack this side a’ Hades. It’s only a matter a’ time before things get real ugly between he and Wolverine. Wolverine tells him that he’s been ridin’ them since they got there. They’ve singled them out an’ he don’t like it. Tillis informs him that he don’t care what he likes and calls Wolverine a mutie runt. Nor does he care for his freak a’ nature kind, for that matter. All he cares is that he knows his place an’ it don’t seem that he does.
Depressing a button on the other end of the baton, it sends an electrical shock through Wolverine’s body which in turn knocks him to the ground. Tillis adds that if they ain’t learned how things work around there yet, he’ll be more than happy to teach him. Walking away, he tells them to have a nice day.
Picking himself up, Logan thinks to himself that it’s his fault Hank’s there. He was with him when his dream about murderin’ a senator came true an’ the man wound up dead fer real. They then went on the run, tryin’ t’ figure out if he was responsible or not – they’re still up in air on that one. Still up in the air on a lot o’ things actually. Like who sent that ghost-like bounty Hunter the Shiva Man after them fer instance. Truth is, all they really do know is that S.H.I.E.L.D. captured them and brought them there to await trial.
The Cage is the ultimate in what passes fer state-of-the-art superhuman incarceration these days. Complete with a dampening field that mentally prevents the cons from usin’ their powers; in his case, his healin’ factor an’ enhanced senses. Hell, most people don’t even know this place exists. Ain’t no contact with the outside world, fer one thing. They even go as far as t’ wipe the inmates’ memories of it clean when they leave there, all in the good name a’ security. Not like anybody’d be able t’ find it anyway. This stink-hole ain’t exactly what ya’d call visible. It’s inside a mesa on an island in the middle a’ nowhere built over a French prison originally constructed after the revolution if ya can believe it. Every now an’ then, supplies arrive and just disappear inside an’ their dirty little secret stays safe fer another day.
The dynamic a’ the prison’s different than anythin’ he’s ever seen too. Goons like the Wrecker an’ his pal Thunderball might hire themselves out fer muscle on the outside but they don’t mess with the toughest S.O.B.s in there – guys like Batroc the Leaper and the Kangaroo. He couldn’t believe it himself when he first heard it but in a place where nobody’s got any powers, it’s the cons with fightin’ skills that are the toughest in there, no matter how lame in the real world. An’ that suits the rulin’ class there just fine; people like Mo Money, a rap mogul who used super-goons t’ lean on his competition. Wound up there when one of his hip-hop rivals took a forty-story swan dive. The brickhouse with him is his bodyguard, a fella by the name of Axe. He ran afoul of the New Mutants a ways back if memory serves.
Mo Money heads up the black faction in there, the Brothers. Needless t’ say, they ain’t too friendly with the Skulls. They make skinheads look like Catholic schoolgirls. They worship the Red Skull like he’s some sort of messiah as sick as that sounds. Their leader calls himself Aryan, a real dirtbag if he ever saw one – he has a large red skull tattoo on his face. Then ya got yer wild-cards like the General. He’s former KGB, current Russian mob boss. He doesn’t just come after you, he comes after yer family, yer friends, yer first grade school teacher. Not a character ya wanna mess with, especially with the Red Ghost and his Super Apes watchin’ his back. Yeah, only in a place like this can ya find monkey’s locked up with men.
Up next, ya got the Cruisers. He doesn’t even wanna tell ya what these licebags are into. Let’s just say they were the first mooks in there he had to beat the snot out of. All these factions constantly vie fer control, but the top dogs right now are the Maggia. Thing is, they’d have a lot more power if they weren’t always fightin’ amongst themselves. One side’s led by Hammerhead, street tough through an’ through, an “any means necessary” type a’ guy. The other’s headed up by Silvermane, an “old school” mobster who sees himself more like Don Trump than Don Corleone.
So there they all are, all these factions with all these differences, havin’ just one thing in common – all of ‘em want the two of them – a Logan and Hank – dead. Why? Well ya know how ex-cops fare in prison don’t ya? They wind up with prices on their heads like the ones they’ve got. It makes no difference to the folks in there that the world at large sees the X-Men as no better than they are. To these men, they’re just two more “super-rats” and mutant ones at that – to get out of the way. An’ that suits Battle and his bull hacks just fine.
Entering their cell, Wolverine asks Hanks what that is. Hank tells him that he would think by now he’d be used to the daily correspondence with their fellow inmates as well as their ever present misspelling. On the wall, the words “your already dead” is written out in red. Logan tells Hank that it isn’t that; he’s referring to the note on his bed. Picking it up, Logan learns that it’s from Maverick. Good to see that his old Team X buddy ain’t forgot about him in there.
As Logan reads the note, he learns from Maverick that the whole mess of his is getting stranger by the day. He’s learned that the senator he’s accused of murdering was only one of many. People are getting bumped off like it was the Kennedy assassination all over again. When he did some background checks on these people, he learned they have mysterious inaccessible files too. Just like his senator friend. The thing they were all involved with, whatever it was, has to be the connection to this whole affair. On a different note, somebody snagged out their old buddy Creed. He hasn’t found out if it’s related, but he’s working on it. Putting down the note, Logan thinks out loud that if Sabretooth is mixed up with this now, what he is involved with there.
At S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Sharon Carter tells Brent Jackson that, although she commends him on capturing the fugitive Wolverine and his possible accomplice the Beast, he can’t condone the way he used Colonel Fury like that. And he can’t possibly imagine he’s thrilled about it either. Jackson smugly asks her that he was actually able to call him from the Quivering Hills old folk’s home to tell her that? No offense, but let him worry about grampa.
Just then, Fury enters the room. When he sees him, Jackson tells him that they were just talking about him and proceeds to stand up. Extending his hand, Jackson tells Fury no hard feelings on the whole “Wolverine” thing, right, as long as they got their man. Punching him out, Fury exclaims “how’s this for hard feelings punk!” With Jackson knocked out on her desk, Carter asks him if this would be a bad time to tell him she told him so.
Back at the Cage, Logan and Hank sit alone in the mess-hall. Observing his “meal,” Hank says that it’s not potatoes, he’s pretty sure of that. Although lumpy, he’d say it wasn’t rice so he has to ask Logan when their government’s prison system starts serving mucus. Logan tells Hank to shut up and eat it whatever the freak it is. They’ve gotta maintain their strength in there. Hank says point well taken, and then remarks that Logan must be weakened with all those shots they’ve been giving him to compensate for adamantium poisoning. Logan replies yeah, a little.
Just then, a small, bald creature with pointy ears walks up to them and asks if Peepers can sit down with them. Peepers is mutant like them. He is glad they are there, less beatings to take. As he sits down, Hank mentions that he remembers him; he was a member of Mutant Force, wasn’t he? He was a bit more articulate as he recalls. Peepers replies that he was electrocuted. Logan tells him to take a seat; damn sure nobody else in this hellhole wants to.
At that moment, one of the inmates drops a note off at Logan’s table. Reading it, Logan discovers that it’s from a friend, the mysterious caller who gave him some info when he was on the run. The note says “You are the connection.” Looking around, Logan wonders who dropped off the note and if “a friend” is somebody in there.
While he’s looking around, Logan looks in the direction of the Skulls table. Catching the glimpse, Aryan asks his crew if the genetic trash is eyeing him. Standing up, he exclaims that he’ll be damned if he lets some genetic abomination pansy stare him down. Walking over to the table, he asks Logan if he’s sweet on him. ‘Cause the way he’s looking at him, he’s thinking maybe he’d be more comfortable at the Cruiser’s table.
Standing up, Hank informs Aryan that he can assure him that they are not looking for any trouble. Logan tells Hank to speak fer himself and proceeds to stand up. Getting in Aryan’s face, Logan informs him that he wasn’t eyeyin’ him so why don’t he and his Nazi buddies goosestep their way back to their table before he gets angry. Aryan asks him what if they decide they like it better there, what is “she” going to do about it. One of Aryan’s buddies calls out that it looks like one of the other mutie freaks has a staring problem. Stammering, Peepers tells him that he wasn’t, no, no, no. The member of the Skulls tells him that he better keep his bug eyes on his food and proceeds to slam his face into a tray of food.
Grabbing a tray, Logan smacks Aryan in the face with it and tells them that he wishes they hadn’t done that fer their sakes. He then grabs Aryan in a reverse headlock and flings the tray into the neck of the Skull that slammed Peepers face into his food. Seeing another member of the Skulls come behind Logan with a chair, Hank tackles him. While he does so, he says that he may not be the blue and furry stud he used to be but he’d be the sorriest piece of filth since “Battlefield Earth” if he let him sneak attack with a chair.
At that moment, the guards move to intervene but Reb tells them to slow up a minute and see how this plays out. This may be their chance to red themselves of their little mutie problem. While Logan tangles it up with another member of the Skulls, Mo Money tells his bodyguard, Axe, that there’s no sense kickin’ in t’ that bounty if they collect it themselves. Axe replies that he knows what he’s saying and pulls out a shiv. As Axe runs up behind Logan with the shiv, Logan is able to turn his opponents back in the line of fire. Before Axe can stop his momentum, he drives his shiv into the back of the head of the Skull Logan was fighting.
When that occurs, the rest of the Skulls turns their attention towards Mo Money and his crew and a gigantic brawl breaks out. Seeing what has occurred, Reb tells the guards that, seein’ as how things ain’t goin’ like he figured, now is the time to break it up. Logan attempts to tell the guards that it wasn’t their fault and the Skulls started it. His pleas, however, fall on deaf ears as the guards tell him they don’t care and proceed to dog pile him and shock him with their staffs. Once he has been subdued, the decision is made to drag him to the Hole.
Elsewhere, a naked and bald Victor Creed begins to wake up. The figures in the shadows watching him notice this and determine the adamantium bonding process appears to be a success. They tell Creed to relax for he may feel a little disoriented. Creed angrily tells them not as disoriented as their gonna be after he rips their spleens out an’ shows it to them. The man in the shadows replies “tsk, tsk;” such ingratitude after returning his adamantium skeleton to him. He then tells Creed to be a bit more careful with it this time, they don’t exactly grow on trees.
Leaping towards them, Creed states that he’ll show they “careful” when he “carefully” cuts them into Alpo. Falling to the ground in a heap, Creed discovers that he can’t attack them. They inform him that he is mentally inhibited from harming them. So instead of wasting his efforts in trying to turn them into canine cuisine, why doesn’t he calm himself down and listen to what they have to offer him.
Inside Warden Montgomery Battle’s office, Battle proceeds to yell at Reb Tillis and his fellow guard. He tells them that what happened in the cafeteria was inexcusable. They lost control of his prison, and he holds Tillis responsible. Tillis replies that it’s them damn muties. Give it a little time and he’s sure they can set it up so one of the cons… Battle tells him no more favors from the prisoners. Hammerhead and Silvermane live better than he does. He better find a way to get things under control and he means a way that doesn’t involve the guards either. They’ve had enough inquiries these past few months. Battle then asks Tillis if he’s getting through to him and calls him trailer-park trash. He wants things back the way they were immediately!
As Tillis and his fellow guard leave Battle’s office, Tillis’ buddy mentions to him that he thinks the old man’s gone la-la. How are they supposed to get rid of those muties now? One accident’s tough enough to stage, but two? Tillis informs him that it ain’t gonna come to that; he’s got somethin’ better planned. Using his keys on a restricted set of doors, Tillis leads his buddy through a corridor. As they do, his buddy asks him where he’s taking him; he’s never been back there before. Tillis says few people have and that he doubts even the warden himself knows about what he’s gonna show him. Pulling away a piece of metal, Tillis reveals a crack in the wall. When his friend takes a look inside he utters sweet lord o’ mercy… Tillis states that he seriously doubts the Lord has anything to do with this.
In another section of the prison, a couple of guards drag a naked Logan down the hallway. One of them asks the other if he can believe the maggot’s still struggling. They shocked him enough times to kill a whole herd of elephants. The other replies that he can struggle all he wants, won’t do him much good where he’s going. With that, they toss Logan into a deep hole. As they put the wire grate cover over it, the guards tell him to get used to his new home, he’s gonna be there for a mighty long time. Lying in a heap on the floor of the Hole, Logan weakly says not to leave him there. Without him, Hank’s a dead man.
While Logan rots in the Hole, Hank McCoy walks with Peepers. As they do, Peepers mentions to Hank that he is happy Hank is there; Hank is Peepers friend, yes, yes, yes? Hank tells him yes although he does believe now is probably not the best time to have yours truly as a chum. Just then, the duo is surrounded by a three other inmates. One of them is holding a shiv and asks Hank if he’s going somewhere. Hank tells them that perhaps they can be of service; could they direct them to the Monet exhibit? He and Peepers were informed it was somewhere near death row.
Hank then whispers to Peepers to get behind him. The inmate tells Hank that was funny but funny ain’t gonna help without that sawed-off runt to protect him. It just makes collectin’ that chunk on his head all the easier. Before he can stab Hank, the Kangaroo arrives and proceeds to take out the three inmates with relative ease. When he has finished, Hank thanks him though he must admit surprise at anyone actually helping them in this place. The Kangaroo tells him no problem. He wasn’t ‘bout to let these goons cash in on that price on his head, not when he can collect it himself. With that, the Kangaroo pulls a knife out of his suit and jams it into Hank’s gut. Kneeling over a severely injured Hank, Peepers begs him to wake up and to please not be dead. No, no, no…