A portly man is chased through the derelict streets of Lowtown. His body aches, but he must escape his pursuers. He wonders if he is safe as he comes to rest against the wooden wall of a shack, but as it smashes into thousands of pieces, he knows he’s been caught. He makes a dash for it, but he’s a big man and out of shape. He stumbles straight into the path of his pursuer’s comrade. This man is tall and thin, almost skeletal with a long pony tail stretching down his back. He takes the life of the man, Chancellor Ranjamaryam without mercy.
Chief of Police Tai oversees the crime scene. Chancellor Ranjamaryam is pulled from the water by two officers who are shocked at his appearance. His skin is ghostly white and his face is frozen with a look of terror. An officer recognizes him immediately. Wolverine arrives, wearing his eye patch to help conceal his real identity. He asks Tai if this is where he rounds up the usual suspects. Tai isn’t sure if that’s meant as a joke or not, but he reckons that if they interrogated every suspect in Madripoor, they’d learn nothing. He enquires what he is doing at the scene, and Patch replies that he heard the radio call requesting Tai’s presence. He figured anything worth dragging Tai outta bed was probably worth a look.
Tai’s detective asks why he permits Patch such liberties. Tai replies that, in matters such as these, Patch has something of a special expertise. Wolverine kneels besides the body. He knew the chancellor well, but tells Tai nothing. Telling the truth about what he’s found would jeopardize his cover.
He asks the chief if he’s logging this as murder. Tai is doing so until persuaded otherwise. He mentions that rumor has it the chancellor planned to recommend to the prince that he acknowledge Tyger Tiger as the new crimelord. Patch asks if he figures somebody aced him to prevent it. Tai isn’t sure, though he knows even the most powerful men would not dare assault the prince’s household without sanction. This is a time when ambition runs as hot as fever, he adds.
As Patch wanders off into the mist, Tai tells him that, as long as crimelords savage only their own, he is free to look the other way. Step beyond those bounds, and he will put an end to it. Patch knows that anyone capable of killing the chancellor won’t mind at all adding a police chief to his list.
(South Seas Skyway, located at an isolated airstrip)
The airline’s proprietor, Archibald Corrigan, is being held against a wall by the throat. His assailant is the giant known as Roughhouse and he is with his companion Bloodsport; the murderers of Chancellor Ranjamaryam. They warn him away from working from Tyger Tiger, and inform him that working alongside them will prove mutually profitable. If he doesn’t do as he is asked, his heart belongs to Bloodsport, who burns his handprint onto Corrigan’s chest.
Patch follows the scent he picked up from Ranjamaryam’s body back along the canal. He smells the two bruisers’ scents, and feels they smell kinda alien. The scent is familiar, but he can’t remember from where. The mess Roughhouse left behind shows him that neither of them should be taken lightly. He makes his way to the prince’s palace.
Madripoor is a society where assassination and kidnap for profit are facts of life. Wolverine knows that Ranja never left his palace without two cars of armed bodyguards for cover, and the compound is laced with the best defenses money can buy. Someone got in and took Ranja out without being noticed. Getting in is no problem for him either, and he stealthily moves his way through the grounds, entering through an open window. He finds himself in Ranja’s room and discovers a handkerchief on the floor. He recognizes the scent on it, and things just become a little more complicated.
Madripoor’s Hightown is as flash as Lowtown is shabby. It races headlong into the 21st century, while its shore-side counterpart stays stubbornly anchored in the past. The Sovereign Hotel bills itself as the finest hotel in the world. It’s certainly the most expensive. Wolverine sneaks into the imperial penthouse and covers the mouth of a young woman sleeping there. It’s Karma, a former member of the New Mutants; a woman whose scent he picked up on the handkerchief. He quickly advises her not to use her powers against him, lest she find herself dead before she can act. His Vietnamese is a little rusty, but Karma gets the drift.
He tells her that the room is rented to General Nguyen Ngoc Coy, and he asks who he is. Karma replies that it’s her uncle, and asks who he is, and how it is that he knows her. Patch gives nothing away, and instead asks what Coy’s business is in Madripoor. Karma replies that he only requires power. She has sworn herself to his service, but doesn’t let on why to Patch. Patch informs her that the chancellor is dead. Someone or something sucked the blood right out of him. He knows she is involved; the question is: is she responsible? He advises her to make sure she knows which side of the line she stands, and be prepared to take the consequences. He slips away quietly, leaving Xi’an to ponder her future.
(the next day in Lowtown)
Lindsay McCabe and Jessica Drew are wandering through the market before heading back to San Francisco. Suddenly, Roughhouse grabs them both from behind and lands a smacker on both of their lips. He is in a jovial mood, but Bloodsport reminds him that they are there for reasons other than fleshy entertainment. Roughouse tells the ladies not to fret. Business is business, but he promises they’ll get some playtime soon. Jessica is all for showing how offended she is, but Lindsay holds her back. She has respect for a guy the size of a Mack truck.
Suddenly, a scream forces them to turn, and they see a woman staggering towards the market area, bleeding and crying, “Help me… for mercy’s sake… demons… murderer!” Lindsay rushes over to help, whilst Jessica sneaks away into an alleyway to check things out. There are no windows in the building the woman came from, so Jessica leaps to the rooftops and climbs to a doorway, which is chained shut. Still possessing the strength she always did as Spider-Woman, she wrenches the door off its hinges and descends a rickety staircase within.
She opens a door and finds several bodies lying on the floor. “Good lord,” she exclaims, as she sees an empty safe with the words, ‘The Tyger is dead’ scrawled in blood on the wall. Jessica leaves the place, only to discover the woman with Lindsay is dead. Jessica is afraid they’ve jumped right into the middle of a full-fledged gang war.
It’s nighttime. Lindsay and Jessica join Patch at the Princess Bar, in which he owns half an interest. Lindsay and Jessica have had an inconclusive chat with the local cops, but they give Patch everything they know. They are familiar with this General Coy. Jessica was instrumental in driving him out of San Francisco, and she knows that he’s a nasty piece of work. Patch replies that his niece is exactly the opposite. She’s a mutant, and can physically possess people to use as puppets. Working for Coy goes against everything she believes in.
He adds that she would only work for him if he has some hold over her. They need to find out what it is and set her free. Meanwhile, they need to nail Coy’s enforcers before they do any further damage. Coy has hit Tyger’s protection and her money. The house Jessica searched was Tyger’s major ‘bank.’ She can’t survive many more body blows like that. Through the doorway steps Tyger herself, dressed in an expensive dress with a shawl draped over her shoulders. She informs them that she didn’t claw her way to the top of the mountain simply for the view, and she’s far from ready to relinquish her place to another.
Patch reminds her that her predecessor, Roche, probably felt the same. She dumped him, and Coy figures to do the same to her. Lindsay and Jessica introduce themselves to her, and Tyger senses some hostility from Jessica. She tells the crimelord that she doesn’t like criminals, no matter how fancy their appearance or airs. “I am what I am,” replies Tyger, nonchalantly.
She informs Patch that she’s been summoned to the palace, and wonders if he would like to accompany her. Patch feels it’s not like the prince to involve himself in Lowtown affairs. Tyger feels that he must involve himself now his chancellor is dead. She supposes he needs to settle matters and head off another war before they get out of hand. Patch thinks it’s a pity he doesn’t realize that they already are.
Patch is driving Tyger to the palace. She wishes for him to eliminate Coy, and tells Patch that, if he’d seized his niece when he had the opportunity, they would have had a valuable bargaining chip. Patch replies that he doesn’t work for her, and he’s especially not her pet executioner. If anything, he’s her conscience and, right now, she’s dancing on the edge of an abyss. If she wants to play by Coy’s rules then she can drive herself the rest of the way.
Suddenly, Patch sees a huge bearded man standing in the road. Nice car… a real classic, he remarks, before smashing the Rolls to pieces. Patch and Tyger are thrown from the destroyed vehicle and, before he knows it, Roughouse turns his attention to Patch – ‘the bodyguard.’ He punches him with great force, and follows up to make sure he’s done the job right. Patch has an unbreakable adamantium skeleton, which means, when he taps a normal guy, he’s out for the count. He hits Roughouse with a strong right, but Roughouse simply laughs the attempt off. Patch is caught by surprise, and receives a jackhammer to the gut in response.
Tyger Tiger jumps on the villain’s back but only manages to rip his jacket. As soon as she gets off him, her arms are caught in Bloodsport’s grasp. He holds her off the ground with his outstretched hand, and her hands begin to bleed. Patch sees what’s going on, and irrationally tossing caution to the wind, he pops the claws on his left hand. Only a berserker rage is going to end this now.
As soon as he stands up, he is pummeled to the ground once again by Roughouse, who he’d completely forgotten about. Roughouse prepares for another punishing blow but, thankfully, Karma appears wearing her old New Mutants costume. She seizes control of both Roughouse and Bloodsport’s minds, and stops them in their tracks. She tells Patch to get his lady and leave. Make it quick, she adds. She can’t hold these two forever.
Patch looks at Tyger. She’s pale, real pale. The full moon has more color. He collects her in his arms and sees that she’s fighting to live as hard as she can. He’d like another shot at his two assailants, but he can’t take the risk that Karma will stop him. He tells her he’s obliged for her assistance, and heads back to the Princess Bar. Roughouse and Bloodsport are released from Karma’s grip as she vanishes into the alleys. They don’t know what on Earth happened.
Tyger is in bed recovering with Patch, Lindsay and Jessica watch over her. He’s fine as his healing factor has taken care of Roughouse’s blows. Tyger isn’t so lucky, and Lindsay reckons she needs a hospital. Patch can’t have that. It’s the second place they’ll check after the check the Princess. He informs Lindsay that she’ll have to move Tyger to a safehouse until the dust settles. Lindsay doesn’t know the town that well, but Patch tells her he can’t do it and he trusts no one else.
Jessica tells him that this isn’t their fight. Patch explains that Tyger doesn’t touch drugs or slaves. Her predecessor, Roche, dealt with both, and so does Coy. When Tyger took over, she started moving against the major players. Now, through Coy, they’re pushing back. Jessica may not believe there is a difference between them, but there is.
Lindsay asks where Patch will be for all this. He tells them that Coy’s clout comes from the drugs he ships. He’s probably using that profit potential to buy the prince’s support. Lindsay asks if he’s saying that Madripoor’s ruler is a part of this. Patch replies that he’s a pirate, descended from a hundred generations of pirates. Anyway, he adds, no drugs, no clout and hopefully an even fight.
Lindsay asks Jess what she thinks. Jessica won’t stand by and let anyone be butchered the way those poor people were that afternoon. Lindsay picks up Tyger, and tells Jessica that she needs her hands free in case they run into trouble. As Patch is halfway out the door, he tells them that, if Coy’s enforcers show, it’ll be best to choose discretion over valor. The harder you hit Roughouse, the better he likes it. “Then I should put him in seventh heaven,” replies Jessica.
Patch visits Archie Corrigan at the South Seas Skyway office at the airstrip. He hears Patch approaching and grabs his shotgun. Patch informs him that he’s calling in Tyger’s marker, and he can’t take no for an answer. Archie replies that a twelve-gauge double-barreled buckshot says he will. Patch solemnly asks him to reconsider, and Archie thankfully sees sense and lowers his weapon.
(The Sovereign Hotel)
General Coy chats with his niece, Xi’an Coy Manh. He explains that, after South Vietnam fell to the communists, he considered relocating to Madripoor, but Roche was the crimelord then, and in his prime. He lacked the resources to properly challenge him, but today, thanks to Tyger, he is a memory. His criminal empire, however, is ripe for the conquest. Power is the ultimate addiction. Once tasted, all others pale to insignificance.
A waitress appears and informs him that Bloodsport and Roughouse have arrived. She is asked to show them in, and Coy dabs his mouth after finishing his meal and asks if their news is on par with this most glorious of mornings. Bloodsport replies that, regretfully, Tyger yet lives. The ambush went as planned, until the intervention of some unknown party allowed their prey to escape. The Tyger has gone into hiding.
Coy is displeased. The longer this goes on, the greater the potential for disaster. He says the prince can withdraw his support as easily as he gave it. They should understand that he will not be failed again. Bloodsport replies that they understand. He has tasted the Tyger’s blood, and now they are bound. She cannot hide from him forever.
Roughouse adds that her bodyguard, Patch, skipped town. He took off for parts unknown with Corrigan. Xian tells her uncle that maybe he is bowing to the inevitable and abandoning a lost cause. Coy believes this not to be the case. The best way to counter-attack is to strike at his opium plantations on the mainland. If Patch is saving his own skin, then fine; let him go. However, if he’s off playing hero along with Corrigan, he wants a most appropriate welcome prepared.
Coy pours a drink and toasts to his eventual triumph, and the deaths of all his enemies. He notices Xi’an isn’t drinking, and asks if maybe it’s because she doesn’t share his sentiment. She takes a sip and Coy departs happy. He wants to sit down with his two henchmen and sets about the further dismantling of Tyger’s organization. Once he’s gone, Xi’an smashes the glass in her fist. “What have I done?” she thinks. As tears well up in her eyes, she wonders what she is to do.