In her uncle’s suite at the Sovereign Hotel in Madripoor, Xi’an Coy Manh, otherwise known as the former New Mutant Karma, is thinking about what she’s done. By helping Patch and Tyger Tiger escape the clutches of her uncle’s henchmen, Roughouse and Bloodsport, she feels she’s only made matters worse.
Bloodsport notices that she’s bleeding and, as he approaches Karma, she reels, so as not to make contact with him. She chastises herself for being so afraid of him. He can terrify her with but a look. Bloodsport draws a finger through the small pool of blood on the tablecloth and runs his finger across his lips. He tells her that their lives have now become entwined. They are bound together till death; and maybe even beyond.
Wolverine, in his role as Patch, is flying a Douglas DC3 over the sea, with Archie Corrigan as his co-pilot. Archie remarks that it isn’t the kind of night he would have chosen to fly into the Golden Triangle. The skies are clear and they can easily be seen. Patch replies that there’s no use grousin’ over what can’t be changed. They go tonight because they have to. Archie knows this. Tyger’s life is on the line. He tells Patch to take over as he’s going for a stretch, but Patch knows that there is a residual undertone to Archie’s scent that he recognizes. It belongs to Bloodsport.
He senses that Archie is not himself today, and he pops his claws whilst still holding the plane’s controls. Archie hears the sound of metal sliding past metal, but figures he has the only gun, as he checked Patch out earlier. He takes it from his bag and prepares to use it. Patch is after the opium crop that bankrolls General Coy. If he destroys the crop, then the fight between Coy and Tyger becomes too even for Coy’s liking. If he kills Patch, she’s finished.
Archie glances at his reflection in a darkened window and asks himself if he’s proud of what he’s doing. Is this how he repays their friendship? He then glances at his chest, which has Bloodsport’s handprint across it. He fears that if he doesn’t do as asked, then Bloodsport will come back for him. As he thinks about it, Patch retracts his claws, and Archie hears this noise too. He wonders if Patch knows of his plan. What if he does? What can he do against a bullet? Finally seeing sense, he places the pistol back in his bag. If being in ‘Nam taught him anything, it’s that you stand by your wingman, no matter what.
Suddenly, bullets rip through the windows, narrowly missing Archie. Patch reacts quickly, putting the throttle to the firewall and shoving the yoke all the way forward. The DC3 drops like a dive-bomber, and Archie is thrown around in the fuselage like a rag doll. Patch looks out the window and sees their assailant. It’s a Mustang; and it looks about the same vintage as their aging Gooney. He realizes that the pilot ain’t so hot but, in a DC3, they’re still sitting ducks. Patch figures it’s an old Chinese plane left over from World War II. He reckons a bribe here and a heist there - it’s as easy as sin for a drug lord to get his hands on one.
Archie is concerned by Patch’s antics and calls for him to pull up. They’re way too low. He looks out the window and sees that their port side engine is ablaze. He calls for Patch to feather the engine and hit the extinguisher, but Patch replies that he can’t. They need all the juice they can get. Patch maintains his hold on the stick so Archie can’t move it. He tries to reassure the guy that there’s a method to his madness. He even has a plan!
As the plane descends at speed, Patch lifts the stick at the last moment and the DC3 responds by heading almost vertically against a cliff wall. He’s out of his seat in an instant and moves towards the exit. Archie doesn’t have a clue what Patch is thinking, but sees him leap from the plane without a parachute. Patch drops towards the Mustang. With any ordinary man, the impact would bust him to a pulp, but as he drops, Patch snikts his claws and tears them straight down the fighter’s wing. The plane arcs uncontrollably towards the water below them and crashes in a plume of flame and smoke.
Patch continues his descent, opening his arms wide to try and slow his body down. He falls a thousand meters and hits the water hard. He’d figured that landing would be no more painful than being hit by the Hulk. As Archie flies the DC3 away, Patch is nowhere to be seen.
(meanwhile, back in Madripoor)
Lindsay McCabe supports the unconscious Tyger Tiger as she bangs on a door in Lowtown. The sign on the door reads ‘Landau, Luckman and Lake.’ As she waits for an answer, Jessica Drew appears above her, scrambling down the wall using her spider-like powers. Lindsay tells her it’s always weird seeing her do that. She informs Lindsay that she’s scouted the neighborhood and there’s no sign of the opposition. “Yet,” replies Lindsay. “Our luck won’t hold out forever, y’know.”
She thinks they should leave as no one appears to be home but, as she speaks, a small peephole in the door opens and a man’s eye looks through it. The man is told that they have been sent by Patch and, upon hearing his name, he opens the door wide and allows them to enter. He introduces himself as Chang. Lindsay gives him her name, but says her unconscious companion would prefer to remain anonymous. Chang understands.
He advises them that this isn’t the best place to stay, but he believes he can provide some appropriate alternatives. Jessica asks him to make it snappy. The goons chasing their friend are real hot for her blood… in every sense of the word. She asks Lindsay if she’s okay. Lindsay admits that she’s scared. She doesn’t have super powers like Jessica, and the last time they baby-sat someone was when she almost got killed. Chang tells her that, if she permits, he can offer her a solution.
(meanwhile, in the Golden Triangle)
This area of land is near the headwaters of the Mekong, at the confluence of the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos. Two soldiers are on the lookout for whatever it was that went splat earlier. Shotgun looks through his scope as Battleaxe waits for action. He calls his boss and informs him that their search is negative. They’ve spotted the wreck of their Mustang, but there’s no sign of the Gooney. Their boss, Hardcase, orders them to continue their search. He wants to know what brought the Mustang down.
A bandit working for Hardcase tells him not to worry. Anybody shows up and they’ll nail his hide to the wall but good. Battleaxe overhears his comments and tells Hardcase that those local jelly-bellies couldn’t take down a troop o’ girl scouts. Shotgun reckons that some jobs aren’t worth the bread. Battleaxe isn’t interested in Shotgun’s whining. He wants to roll and finish their sweep before heading back to the barn. Something’s got Hardcase on edge and he’ll feel better once they’re reunited. As they pass by the edge of the river, Patch, wearing gauze over his eyes instead of an eye patch, emerges silently from the water’s edge. As his claws snikt from their casings, Battlaxe hears something, but neither he nor Shotgun is able to cope with someone as dangerous as him.
Tyger is in bed, being tended to by Jessica Drew. She asks Chang if there’s any chance of some broth to build up Tyger’s strength, and Chang replies that he’ll see to it directly after they’re settled. Jessica asks when that will be. Soon, Chang promises.
Jessica takes time to check out the office. She finds a 19th century tintype on the wall featuring Chang and Patch. She finds this most peculiar. She asks Chang if he’s Landau, Luckman or Lake. Given his name, he asks, why would she ask such a question? Theirs is a far-flung enterprise with offices in the most unexpectedly surprising locales. He is but a humble expediter. Jessica knows there is more to the man than meets the eye. She wishes she knew if that was good or bad.
She calls for Lindsay to shake a leg. Lindsay emerges from an adjacent room wearing a strange outfit and carrying a facemask. It’s metal, she explains, but it moves like cloth and fits as comfortably as a second skin. Chang adds that she will also find it is impervious to physical assaults, including blows, projectiles and energy weapons. Jessica asks where it came from, but Chang isn’t at liberty to divulge such information. It is part of an order placed with them by Mr. Patch for a colleague, which is why he can only allow Lindsay to have it on a temporary basis. Suddenly, a voice from behind them says, “Big mistake, old man.” Roughouse comes crashing through the brick wall, followed by his nefarious accomplice, Bloodsport.
(The Golden Triangle)
Patch uses a rope slung over a strong branch to lift Shotgun and Battleaxe into the air. They are bound together and gagged. Lighting a cigar, he tell them that this ought’a keep them out of mischief. He throws their radio into a bag and sprints into the forest after switching on the emergency signal.
Back at base, Hardcase hears the signal and asks the chief bandit to send out a team to discover what’s going on. The chief isn’t interested. He doesn’t feel this is his job. He didn’t sign on to rescue some round-eyed foreign so-called ‘professionals.’ Hardcase grabs him ferociously by the throat and warns him that he’ll do as he is told. The chief takes three Jeeps of men into the forest. They know that they can’t really do anything about Hardcase as General Coy hired them, and they don’t want to answer to him.
Shotgun and Battleaxe are rescued by the bandits, and the Jeeps continue to move deeper into the forest. Patch watches them approaching. He sees that they’ve been around so long in these parts, they’ve grown sloppy, and this suits him fine. He leaps from a tree onto the Jeep bringing up the rear and manages to throw the lot of them out before they know what’s happening. The Jeep in front doesn’t even notice the switch.
Patch puts on one of the uniforms he took off the Harriers and follows the Jeeps to a compound. There isn’t even a guard at the main gate. It’s almost too easy, and he has to remind himself not to get too cocky. He snikts his claws out of their casings and slices them through his transmission. His Jeep dies in a cloud of steam and smoke right in the doorway to the compound – right where Patch wants it.
As several men try to put the growing fire out, Patch slips into the compound, unnoticed. What the soldiers don’t know is that, before leaving the Jeep, he took the cap off the gas cans before he drove in. The Jeep suddenly explodes, scattering soldiers all around the compound. Patch dispenses with his uniform and sneaks around into position. These chumps don’t even realize they’re under attack and, even if they did, it wouldn’t help them much. Patch jumps from his hiding place and takes two bandits out before rushing for cover.
One alert guy raises the alarm, and motions for his comrades to follow him towards a nearby building. All he gets in return is an adamantium-filled fist to the jaw. Two others follow his signal and open the door to the building only to find three unconscious bodies. They begin to wonder just who it is that can drop them left and right. One of them wonders how come he hasn’t killed anybody. Patch listens from his hiding place. He figures that dead is dead. You leave the bodies and move on. It’s harder to abandon a buddy who’s still breathing, and caring for them will slow the others down.
The bandits are spooked and panicking, so Patch decides to up the ante. He starts a fire in the building in order to get more men away from the search for him. The men scramble to protect their opium supplies and get it to safety. They load it into Jeeps and begin rolling out, watching for their ‘firebug’ as they move. They crash straight through the Jeep that Patch left in the gateway, but see Patch standing before them. The screech to a halt, as Patch casually lights another cigar. “Joy ride’s over, boys.”
The men fear an ambush, and gingerly approach the diminutive stranger. Patch informs them that the drugs are destined for Madripoor, and that’s Tyger’s turf. He adds that her feelings about dope are common knowledge. Are they sure they want to cross her? One of the bandits replies that she’s as good as dead, and so is he. He opens fire on Patch who reels from the bullets and drops to the ground. “So much for that problem,” remarks Shotgun.
Hardcase is in the same car, and is concerned that someone who took out their compound shouldn’t go down so easily. He doesn’t like the way they’re all strung out along the ridgeline. Battleaxe notices a plane approaching. Hardcase acts quickly, ordering his men away from their vehicles and to run for the trees. It turns out that Patch had called Archie on a short-wave radio while the bandits were loading their trucks. Archie approaches in the Gooney with a 20mm cannon aimed out the side window. As he pitches the plane towards his target area, the cannon unleashes 6000 rounds a minute towards its target, and destroys the vehicles and their shipment in one devastating blow.
“Gone,” utters one of the bandits. “A billion dollar shipment, all gone.” He thinks the general will have his head, but Patch appears and tells him that’ll be his pleasure. The bandit can’t believe Patch has returned after having shot him earlier. He should be dead. Patch asks if he’d care to try again. The man reaches for his pistol, but Patch snikts his claws and decapitates him in one swift slash.
Hardcase, Shotgun and Battleaxe discover his body. They have some respect for their adversary, but they know that whatever plans General Coy had in store for the shipment, they just went down the dumper. Hardcase realizes that their assailant could have taken them out at any time. Next time, he promises, he won’t have the chance.
Elsewhere, Archie lands the Gooney and tells Patch that he hasn’t enjoyed himself so much since ‘Nam. Patch replies that he did well. Archie asks if this means that they’ve broken Coy’s back. Patch reckons they’ve crippled him for a while, but it won’t count for spit if Tyger isn’t still alive.
At the offices of Landau, Luckman and Lake, the building lies in ruins, with the body of Mr. Chang lying dead amidst the rubble.