It was just a social call. They didn’t drop in on Aldo Ferro’s little island fortress off Seattle to bust heads and take names. All they wanted was the missin’ pieces of their pasts. They weren’t about to brook no interference.
Popping his claws, Wolverine shouts at Maverick to get out of his way. Maverick, standing between Wolverine and Aldo Ferro, tells Logan no way. He’s there to prevent the outlaws from harming Mr. Ferro, who is under the special protection of the federal government. Wolverine retorts that they just wanted to ask a few questions, get a few answers. They, Wolverine, Jubilee, Sabretooth, Wraith and Wolverine’s long-lost love, Silver Fox, didn’t come there to get heavy with the dude. It was him who threw down on them with a surface-to-air missile. Wraith adds not to mention the body-armored bully-boy he sicced on them, Sgt. David North, AKA Maverick.
Silver Fox, raising her gun, says that she doesn’t need any rationalizations or justifications to blow a well-developed kneecap off of Ferro or Topo or whatever his real name is if that facilitates getting the info she wants. Sabretooth, licking his fingernail, tells Silver Fox that’s tellin’ him. He adds that ol’ Maverick is lookin’ out o’ sorts; he ain’t no match for the rest o’ the old team. Ferro looks at them and mentions the old team. He asks Sabretooth if he remembers a piece of that. Even with all the suppression programs and false memory implants the strength of those old bonds burns through. He then asks Wolverine if he remembers the old team. Wolverine looks at him and says, “the old team...”
In his mind, Wolverine remembers wandering through a forest full of spikes. Silver Fox, Maverick and Sabretooth are along with him. Wolverine mentions that they were never together in this place. Ferro tells Logan that they were. Wolverine replies no, it was only his mind. Ferro indicates that such a meticulously crafted landscape of pain, so rich in horrific detail and texture. He then asks Wolverine if he thinks the spikes are graphic. They conjure so many instinctive revulsions – insect parts, thorns, horns, fangs, claws. He asks him if he thinks he would only use it on him. Wolverine tells him that he’s a liar. Ferro answers that he’s a prince of liars. He asks him if he knows who really lives in the details. Wolverine asks that even his pain isn’t his own? Ferro tells him how can one really tell? It’s all so subjective, isn’t it?
As they talk, Wolverine slashes the spikes with his claws but eventually they overtake him and puncture his body all over. While they do, Ferro tells him that the Professor suspected that he was a special case. It had to do with the way his tissue regenerates itself. Tissue memory, that’s the key. The Professor thought he might be capable of sensory awareness on the cellular level. He only creates the images. It’s his mind that assigns values to them. Are all those points, nerve endings? He asks Wolverine what he is trying to do by slashing them. Wolverine, now transformed to his days as an experiment with Weapon X, when he had wires all over him. Wolverine yells at Ferro to shut up and get out of his head.
As Wolverine rushes out of the spikes, the memories flash back to when he was lying in a prone position in front of a table. Sitting behind the table were Cornelius, the Professor, Hines, and Ferro. Ferro tells them all that as they can see, it’s painfully simple for him, they don’t need any more expensive sets and costumes and all that theatrical junk to implant false memories when Aldo Ferro is around to do the trick. The Professor whispers to Hines that Ferro is the most powerful psi-talent they’ve ever stumbled across; they must have him on the project.
Hines replies that Ferro is also a notorious criminal master-mind. Ferro mentions that don’t they have scruples around there. The only reason he found out about this project was because it crossed over the line to criminality itself. He’s talking about money there, a lot of money. Project money saved from not having to do it the expensive way anymore, more money that he would provide. The results would be more permanent and more reliable all he wants are a few crumbs from the table. At that moment, Wolverine charges the table and asks crumbs? He did all this way with his memory to pick up crumbs? He yells at Ferro that he didn’t care how much he had to torture him and proceeds to slash the table before him.
Back in real-time, Wolverine notices that he just slashed Ferro’s work-out bench. He then accuses Ferro of still messin’ with his head. Ferro tells him that it’s not just his. Wolverine looks back to see Wraith, Sabretooth Maverick, and Silver Fox all going through mental torture. Ferro tells him that he’s giving all of his old teammates a taste of their own bad memories. Silver Fox is reliving an encounter with Sabretooth in that cabin on his birthday. Sabretooth is getting a close shave in a sawmill. Wraith is taking a ride, chained to a cruise missile. And Maverick is getting stomped by…
Ferro stops short when he is clocked in the head with a brick thrown by Hines. Jubilee congratulates her, while Hines says that Ferro didn’t just come in and plant those false memories in all of them. He’s the one who came up with the idea to link their false memories to their pain receptors! His theories came with a load of pseudo-scientific baggage to make it all palatable. The initiation rites of the Mandans and the Australian Aborigines, African tribal scarring – pain and memory reinforcement linked to cultural survival. Hines adds that they went along with it because it worked so much better than their own method but even they realized that he enjoyed it. Ferro didn’t want any crumbs, he wanted to live forever. He’s a psi-borg. He did it because he wants your…
At that moment, Ferro grows his arm and extends it to connect with a punch to Hines, breaking her neck. As he does, he tells shut up and calls her a little punk stoolie. He tells her that she deserves to get her neck broke. As his upper body starts to expand exponentially, he tells them all that they’re all chumps, cause they think they can ever find out the truth about themselves. And if they ever did find out the truth, they’re chumps fer thinkin’ it would make them happy. Just then, Ferro explodes and pieces of him splatter on Wolverine and Jubilee. Jubilee is grossed out because this is the second time in two days that she’s been splattered with disgusting slime. Wolverine tells her that there’s nothing on her, Ferro is just messing with their minds.
Maverick checks on Hines and reports that she is dead but her neck isn’t broken, not even bruised. She was scared to death. Silver Fox points out that Ferro is some sort of hyper-psi-talent, perhaps artificially enhanced. She asks what did Hines call him, a psi-borg? He can make them see whatever he wants. Chances are good that they don’t know what he really looks like. Wolverine adds that, if Ferro was the guy who actually did all the tampering with their memories, he’s the one who must know what’s real or not. Ferro’s the dude who can fill in all the blanks in their pasts. He says to Fox that maybe he can find out if this memory he’s been carryin’ around all along about their time together at the cabin is true maybe whatever it is that she remember that makes her hate him isn’t true. Maybe they can…
Fox pushes him away and tells him hands off. Maybe they can take that up when and if they find out. Seeing the exchange, Sabretooth laughs aloud and tells Logan once a chump, always a chump. Maverick mentions that he thinks he knows how Ferro did his vanishing act. He points to the floor at a faint outline of a large circular trapdoor in the floor. Wraith tells him that it’s a steel floor and that it might require some artful placement of shaped charges…
In Salem Center, New York, Professor Charles Xavier tells Jean Grey that was odd - there was a brief surge but very powerful. He adds that an incredibly strong psi-talent is out there. He tells her to look at the reading, it is off the scale and it disappeared completely after it peaked. A psi that strong doesn’t just pop up like that. He has to develop. The only explanation is that this one has been masking itself from Cerebro all this time and, just momentarily, the mask slipped. It would take enormous amounts of energy and concentration to put up a barrier against Cerebro’s sensors for this long. Perhaps this one was distracted. Had to divert powers to some other task? He asks Jean if she got a directional fix. Jean tells him yes; it’s an island off Seattle.
Back in Ferro’s fortress, Wraith blasts a hole in the floor to reveal a massive staircase spiraling down deep into the ground. Silver Fox immediately takes charge and tells Logan to take the point and for Sabretooth to be the slack-man. She’ll follow as command element with Maverick as security. Wraith will take the drag and provide extraction cover. Jubilee asks where she goes. Fox tells her that she doesn’t. As Wolverine and Sabretooth start down the spiraling staircase, Sabretooth asks what is this, an appliance showroom? Wolverine tells him they’re computers, to which Sabretooth asks if he’s sure he’s got enough of them. Wolverine calls out that their sector is clear and to report it in to which Sabretooth gives the clear notice.
Fox informs Maverick they’re on deck and they begin down the staircase themselves. Fox gives the order to cover and advance, leapfrog overwatch. Clear and cover. Maverick calls out clear and to go for it. Fox tells Wraith to move out. Up above, Wraith tells Jubilee to hold the fort and takes off. As he leaves, Jubilee tells him this bites. She’s been up against really tough dudes like Mandarin. Why does she gotta stay behind for this chump? Down in the staircase, Wolverine calls out point-man is clear, Sabretooth – slack-man is clear, Fox – command element is clear, Maverick – command security is clear, Wraith – drag is clear. Fox then gives the order to advance.
Once they reach the bottom of the staircase, Wolverine thinks to himself that they’re a team again. Here he is, not even recovered from the death o’ Mariko, and he’s on a mission with Silver Fox and the guy he thought had killed her. He wonders what’s going through her head. What is the terrible thing she thinks he did? Worse, did he really do it? Does he want to find out? He does know that Sabretooth didn’t kill her. In fact, he was his teammate and later, his partner. Could he possibly be his fa… no!
He then wonders about Maverick. How much does he know that he’s not tellin’ him? Why is he so trigger-happy, but so guilty about it? He then turns his attention to Wraith – is he really a mutant? Is he a space-jumper? How come he doesn’t make a pop like Nightcrawler? How come he didn’t show up on Cerebro?
At that moment, Silver Fox gives the order out to cover her. Wraith gives the order to form a security circle around Silver Fox. Fox starts working on the computer, tapping into the console to find out what’s ticking through all the mainframes they’re tip-toeing past. Fox is shocked when she finds that it has no security codes. She assumes that Ferro must have figured that the place was impregnable. What’s coming up on the read-out… She exclaims that the entire spiral network of computers is devoted to a single task – genetic decoding! It’s been trying to crack one specific genetic code for over twenty years – a code simply taken from a biopsy sample labeled: Logan. Wolverine mentions that was too easy. He asks why the computer would just tell him all that, unless it wasn’t really a computer.
At that moment, the computer morphs into the face of Aldo Ferro. Ferro tells Wolverine that was pretty astute for a chump. He then grabs Silver Fox with his tentacles and pulls her into him. Silver Fox calls out to Logan but it’s too late. Wolverine yells at NOOO and leaps into action. He starts hacking away at Ferro’s form with unadulterated fury. From the side, Maverick asks Wraith what he saw. Wraith tells him that he doesn’t know anymore. He thought he saw the computer turn into a weird tree with Ferro’s face and he thought he saw the tree gobble up Silver Fox. Sabretooth mentions that it sure ain’t no tree no more. It’s back to bein’ a computer, or what’s left of one.
On his knees, Wolverine asks where she is. Maverick notices her medicine pouch and picks it up. He tells Wolverine that Ferro has her and that he could be anywhere. He could be anything. He might even be one of them, or two of them. Wolverine starts to growl and cry and calls out to Ferro to show himself and to bring her back.
Up above, Jubilee asks what is happening down there and if everything is all right. A voice behind her tells her that they can assure her that everything is fine. Jubilee turns around and finds that the voice belonged to Charles Xavier and Jean Grey. She asks them how they got there. Jean tells her that they got a massive reading on Cerebro about four hours ago and zoomed right over in the Blackbird. Xavier adds that whoever this psi-talent is, he’s no match for Jean and him combined. Jubilee calls out to the rest that they’ll never guess who just showed up. They’re going to see some fireworks now. Behind Jubilee, unbeknownst to her, Xavier and Jean start growing spikes out of their faces.