Spore continues its assault on La Bandera. As it does, it laments to her that she is a brave child. Her followers are gone, her powers faded and her only hope, Wolverine, has been consumed and is now a part of him. Even with all of that, she continues to stand before him. That is very brave. Or perhaps, she maybe too frightened to flee! Problem is, La Bandera can’t say. Either way she dies!
Before Spore can ultimately consume La Bandera, something makes the living disease hesitate. Some feeling within it. Something battering at the outer core of Spore. One! Two!! Three!!! Four solid jabs with his claws and Wolverine breaks free of Spore!! Spore is in complete and utter shock. He doesn’t understand why Wolverine isn’t dead. No one survives being absorbed into it, becoming the grist from which he thrives and grows. Not the Externals, whom he battled in prehistory, not even their foes, the Deviants who created him, no one!!
Wolverine, semi-covered in Spore parts, indicates that he must be overdue then. He continues to inform Spore that he has an unbreakable adamantium-laced skeleton and claws to match. Add to that a mutant healing factor. All of those got him through the belly of the beast in a place called the Savage Land and it should be good for a couple of more trips there. He continues that maybe he can’t finish him like those outerspace heavyweights, the Celestials, did eons ago, but he’s going to find him painful to digest!!!
With that, he lashes out at Spore, hacking and slashing at his exterior. At that point, Wolverine lets go of the animal, the berserker, the mad rage inside him that makes his life a war for control. He realizes that there’s no need to hold back. He won’t survive to feel the shame.
As Wolverine continues to slash away at the monstrous creature, Spore, what’s left of La Bandera’s followers are noticing that it can be hurt, and if that is so... La Bandera completes the thought - it can be fought!! She implores them to not let Wolverine do it alone. Hiding in fear won’t save them. She points out that they rallied together against the stronghold of the dictator Caridad. They need to rally again!!! With those inspirational words, La Bandera and her followers join the struggle. Inspiration - it’s a pretty dangerous mutant power. There’s a lot of ways to lead folks wrong with it. But against Spore, it could be their only chance and maybe Wolverine’s as well.
From her staff, a blast of energy emits from it and smacks into Spore. Wolverine is glad to see they’re working again. He can use all of the help she can deliver. La Bandera informs Wolverine that, when her followers inspiration faltered, she had nothing to draw upon, to rechannel as energy bursts through her staff. She then points out to Wolverine that even Caridad’s troops are leaping to join them. With all of that, they’re doing some real damage but the cost is too high. Spore is still growing and he’s consuming too many folks. Wolverine yells to La Bandera to pull her people back!! They need to get out of there until they can find some cover, a place to make a stand!
Hiding behind a building outside of the compound, Wolverine and La Bandera discuss their predicament. La Bandera points out that Spore didn’t follow them. Wolverine points out that they were successful in hurting him. He’ll probably take his time and absorb bodies and stragglers so he can get bigger, stronger, and unstoppable. That’s when he’ll come after them. He adds that it would be a great time for an air strike, only if they could get one.
He is interrupted in his train of thought by Sister Salvation that indicates that Spore is a disease grown out of her husband and the tainted cocaine he madly experimented with. She continues that a disease can be healed and she is blessed with a healing touch. Angrily, Wolverine yells at her that she should have gone to safety when she had the chance. Especially with her own son infected by his dictator poppa’s experiment!! Salvation responds that, for the moment, she has done all she can for Palo. Besides, she wants to see if her gift can serve an even greater need.
Turning to Roughhouse, Wolverine asks him if he was sappy enough to fall for that, to let her come back to this mess. He trusted him; he figured he cared about Salvation. Roughhouse, holding Palo in his arms, retorts that they both care for her. The difference is, only one of them seems to have faith in her too. Wolverine thinks to himself that duty, honor, the good fight and a worthy death are all a part of him. But faith is not really his nature. It comes hard and takes time. Spore has given that to them, until he’s ready.
As Spore begins to lumber through the compound, lights from all over, bask light him up from the darkness. Spore calls out to Wolverine and tells him that first it will be him and that sweet child of his, La Bandera, then it will be their pitiful rabble of an army scattered around to annoy him. From behind a bunker, La Bandera appears and blasts Spore in the eyes with a bolt of energy from her staff. She indicates to Spore that they’ve all been waiting for him and then proceeds to ask him if her blast is annoying enough for him. Thanks to the lights, La Bandera was able to get in a good shot and temporarily blind the creature.
From there, Wolverine leaps off a rooftop onto Spore, it’s his turn! Inside of Wolverine, the beast within him rejoices, howling for carnage. His body obliges. He slashes away at Spore unmercifully. Spore is a mass of wildly multiplying cells, repairing almost as quickly as he destroys, but not without pain. Not without danger either. Wolverine surmises that, if he strikes swiftly enough, deeply enough, the mind that drives this engine of disease might be pierced. This all makes Spore flail at Wolverine and then awkwardly stagger, and ultimately - fall!!
As Spore hits the ground, La Bandera calls out to Wolverine that he has done it!! Wolverine thinks to himself that according to the plan he has. The rest is a matter of faith. With that, Salvation walks up to Spore and lays her hands on him. At first, Spore laughs. Wolverine, noticing Spore’s flowing tendrils oozing towards Salvation, screams and moves, even though he knows he can never beat him. Doesn’t matter though, as the healing begins. From her touch, Spore screams that her touch is searing him, searing like the fire the Celestials rained upon him!!! Much like when he first felt the touch of that fire back in history, Spore is consumed by Salvation’s healing touch and burns up into nothingness.
However, like most victories, there’s a price. Takes someone reviving from a different combat to notice. That someone is Palo, who notices that his mother’s hands are burnt. Salvation looks down at her hands and indicates that they are numb, not like any other burn she’s treated. Wolverine orders La Bandera to go and get a medical kit brought anyway and fast. When she returns, Wolverine bandages up Salvation’s hands and asks her why take chances. They don’t really know what really happened there tonight. Maybe the Celestials figured Spore might rise again and imbued some of humanity with a genetic talent for “curing” just in case.
Salvation responds that perhaps it’s because she is a mutant with special powers like La Bandera and himself. Not sharing her faith, Wolverine won’t share another simpler explanation. Wolverine retorts that he has to accept what works for him, the important thing is the job got done. As Salvation walks over towards her son, Palo, and Roughhouse she wonders aloud if she’s fulfilled her gift’s true purpose and if it exists any longer.
In the morning, La Bandera is telling Wolverine that they’re a real army now. She asks Wolverine to join in - he’ll miss the revolution!! Wolverine responds that, once word spreads about Caridad’s death, she won’t be lacking help for her cause. He’ll see her in Puerta Verde. As he walks away from La Bandera and her departing caravan, across the jungle, he notices another caravan. This one consists of Palo, Roughhouse, Sister Salvation and a couple of natives.
Wolverine points out that Palo is strapped down to the gurney. He asks if the effects of the poison inflicted on him are coming back. Salvation responds that he isn’t cured yet. She was able to help some before her clash with Spore and perhaps when her hands mend, she can help him again. Wolverine asks what if the healing touch is gone? Salvation answers that, by informing Wolverine that she still has her medical skills. At least her son and her will be together. In the meantime, she has a mission to rebuild.
From behind her, Roughhouse assures Wolverine that whatever happens, he’ll be around to protect the boy and the lady. Wolverine shakes hands with Roughhouse and tells him that he got into this to save a good sparring partner and worthwhile enemy and it appears that he’s lost both - to something better. Roughhouse tells Wolverine that there’s work for more than one strong man rebuilding that mission that Salvation’s husband destroyed.
Salvation touches Wolverine’s face and tells him that’s all there can be and as much as she’ll cherish that their paths crossed, she doesn’t believe. Wolverine agrees, he doesn’t believe either. As he walks them walk away, he thinks to himself that someday he’ll be a rebuilder, but for now his skills and needs run in the opposite direction for his animal senses are already on the job. Unfinished business. Part man, more machine - Geist!!
Back near the presidential palace, Geist is running through the streets that are littered with flyers about the revolution. Geist thinks to himself that he is too late; the revolution has already reached the capital and mobs have already swept the presidential palace. However, there is still hope if...
Before he can finish that thought he reaches his room where he keeps his barber chair. He is dismayed to find his hiding place in shambles. His chair is shredded, his emergency cache - gone. Over on the table he notices they overlooked something of use, one of his razor attachments. From behind him in the shadows, Geist is informed that the looters missed his getaway stash, but no problem. Money, records, samples of Caridad’s special cocaine were all burned!! Giest turns in shock to see Wolverine.
Wolverine tells him that with, Spore loose last night, the best thing Geist could do was steal a truck. This morning, he grabbed a helicopter. He even had time to drop leaflets alerting the city to his boss’s downfall. Geist, enraged, takes a swipe at Wolverine, calling him an animal!! Wolverine easily ducks the assault and asks Geist if he is fed up with politics. He has something that he can relate to, a clean close shave. With that, he slashes Geist in a wild fury.
When he is done, Geist stands there, seemingly untouched, and informs Wolverine that he didn’t touch him. Just then, his mechanical left arm falls off, then does all of his mechanical pieces. Geist screams NOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! He lies on the floor, his armor in pieces. All that is left is a decrepit old man begging for Wolverine to save him. He’ll die without the support of his armor. Wolverine responds that it seems fair, lots of others died over the years to support it.
When he walks out the door into the hall, he is greeted by La Bandera who informs Wolverine that the city is theirs. They were met with almost no resistance; they’ve won!!!! Wolverine informs her to get some medics then. If they hurry they will have the new government’s very first war criminal.
The next night, a big celebration is occurring, complete with fireworks. Wolverine enters the presidential palace to the sounds of arguing. First priority - elections. Too soon - restore order. Need free press. Hampers army’s job. Land reforms, the Indians. Frighten developers. He slams open the door, interrupting the meeting. The leader of the meeting, Enrique condones Wolverine for disrupting their first cabinet meeting. Before he can continue, Wolverine shoots back that while they are busy splitting the pot, someone’s spirited Geist out of the hospital prison ward and out of the country. Enrique responds that that was an extradition matter, settled to Tierra Verde’s benefit. Nothing that needs to involve someone that has no true political status in the new revolution. La Bandera is surprised at what she is hearing. As Wolverine leaves angrily, he leaves one parting shot and tells them that he hopes freeing what they fought against turns out to be a big benefit.
La Bandera takes out after him and informs him that she didn’t know things would go this way. There’s so much to settle and so many different factions. She had no idea. Wolverine stops to tell her that this is part of what he was warning her about in the beginning. Inspiring people to fight is the easy part. Inspiring them to peace - the whole world’s still working on that one. He lets her know that maybe she has the kind of power to make the difference there. He tends to move on when the action stops. He gives her one last piece of advice: most superhero types remove their masks before they cry. It avoids stains. He leaves her, a teenage girl, suddenly alone, suddenly aware of the night, the celebration, of the full weight of her victory in Tierra Verde.
Walking through the streets of Tierra Verde, Wolverine decides that he’s more than ready to be quits with this place, until Tierra Verde and an old acquaintance from the CIA aren’t quite finished with him yet. Jack Bascomb asks him if he’s sneaking out. He then invites Wolverine to have cerveza with him, so Logan can show the world that he’s not a bad loser. Wolverine shoots back that, the last time they talked, Bascomb’s people were backing Caridad. It seems to him, they’re the losers.
Bascomb informs Wolverine that Caridad was useful in his day but his cocaine dealing had become and embarrassment, especially the weird stuff. Wolverine angrily grabs Bascomb by the front of his jacket and shoots back that that weird stuff was the tainted cocaine, the crop Spore grew from!! There’s no way he could have known about that unless... Bascomb cuts him off and reveals to Wolverine that they had a mole informing them of every step - Geist. That’s why they got him out of the country and threw some support to the rebels.
Wolverine pushes Bascomb over in his chair and viciously asks him if they could have controlled Spore if they would have gotten him out to. Geist is just as much of a disease. He’s an ex-Nazi ghoul and he is protecting him, keeping him in business. As Wolverine stomps off, Bascomb calls after him that it’s just wheels within wheels. The real world’s more complicated than personal feuds and it’s time Wolverine learned that. It’s time he learned there are worse enemies than his old enemies. Wolverine carries that thought all the way back to where this began. All the way back to…
... Madripoor. In a glittering tower in Hightown, Madripoor’s privileged sleep. Privileged individuals like crimelord General Coy. He’s safe and secure in his wealth and power, until he is awaken by something tossed on his covers. It is an eye-patch. He wonders what it is, until he is informed by someone in the shadows that it’s a little reminder of a man named Patch. He’s gone and this new person is there. And it’s not an improvement for Coy. Coy calls out for his bodyguards. This stranger informs him that he can call, but they can’t come. Besides, he’s already found what he was after. It is a vial. Lucky thing it hasn’t been used yet. As the stranger leaps towards Coy he informs him that he has plans for it and for him!!!
One hour later, Madripoor’s ruling prince, Baran, starts the day with a horse ride. He doesn’t finish it.
In the dark, the stranger is talking. If you don’t die from the madness, reduced to animal frenzy, this thing grows inside of you until you’re consumed and it’s free. Nice stuff - Felix Guillermo Caridad’s cocaine. And Coy bought a vile in crack form from his aide Geist, so he can sneak it to his gambling competitor, his friend - Tyger Tiger. Hoping she’d go berserk and maybe kill somebody like Prince Baran. Not that he cares after Baran paid Geist for a shot at murdering him. Coy would be free of paying Baran tribute and rid of a rival. Only problem is, he’s not going to let that happen. As the stranger removes the blindfolds from Coy and Baran, he is revealed to be Wolverine!!
Wolverine continues that he has a better use for Caridad’s poison. They are in Madripoor’s sewer system and the fun is about to begin. Baran and Coy are enraged. While they were unconscious, he didn’t... As Wolverine tosses the open vial into dirty water, he responds that he could’ve given it them but he’s got a mutant healing factor and he is probably the one guy who can actually survive it. Once the vial hits the water it starts to boil. With a wild look on his face, Wolverine continues that both of them might survive being trapped down here with him if they run fast and far enough - now!!!
As he leaps towards the two frightened individuals, he howls. The sound echoes loud and raw. There is madness in it. He used to come to Madripoor to give rein to his animal side but at this instant, it doesn’t seem there was ever any other. As Coy and Baran run madly through the sewers of Madripoor, the stench is that of overwhelming fear. After hours of desperation, Coy and the Baran finally escape from the sewers. They are covered in sewer filth. That is rarely convenient and never dignified. No amount of cleanliness ever quite removes stains to the pride.
In Australia, Wolverine looks out over the skyline. He thinks to himself that his Outback destination is still a long, scorching drive away. Thinking about Coy and Baran will fill him time, thinking about what they’ll never know. He didn’t use the tainted cocaine. He just destroyed it and let loose what was always inside of him. Just for an instant. The length of a howl. But an instant those two will take to the grave. For him, for now, he’s sick of the beast. He doesn’t have Mariko or salvation. But the X-Men are waiting and he has a family to rejoin.
In Washington, DC, a miniature robot is whizzing down the street. It runs into somebody’s foot. That somebody is Geist. He is recognized by someone else who speaks German. When Geist asks who the stranger in the shadows is, the stranger replies that he seems to have startled him despite sending the little toy ahead as a scout. The vendor he purchased it from was selling them in Dupont Circle - it seemed appropriate. He assures Geist not to worry. He understands his nervousness. Obviously the CIA has gone to great lengths arranging a safe house for a man generally believed to be dead.
Geist, having enough, demands to know what type of game this is and who this stranger is. The stranger replies that he is someone who remembers him from the past. Back then, Geist used a different name while visiting a certain concentration camp during World War II. A camp where his wife died. He used a different name then as well. Now he is called Magneto. The master of magnetism some say. Evil mutant is another favorite.
Whatever it is, he has excellent resources beyond taking away the toy and the gun away from Geist. He also has information that, when anonymously alerted to his possible survival, it was no major difficulty in hunting him down. Geist in shock shouts “Lieber Gott!!” Magneto puts his arm around Geist and leads him into the house. As he does, he notices that Geist’s German has come back. He wants to continue their discussion undisturbed inside the house, for he enjoys conversing with former Nazis. There are no limits to where their discussion may lead. In an ominous sign, the mechanical toy falls to the ground and shatters into a million pieces.