“If I count up their percentages, I know they’re getting rich, but they haven’t taken everything - those paybacks are a &*$%” - Billy Joel
Wolverine is in combat with some guards dressed in Mandroid armor. He’s the best at what he does, and this is what he’s doing today.
(one week ago, New York City)
Wolverine arrives at the headquarters of Damage Control, located in the Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue. Some clients are waiting their turn as the receptionist fends off callers. Wolverine is in his costume, which surprises the clients, but doesn’t faze the receptionist. He demands to see Walter Declun, but is told to go home, call his secretary and make an appointment, like everyone else who’s not fashion-impaired. She informs Logan that she’s not impressed by the costume. She’s the woman who once told the Punisher he could take a number. Logan leans in and replies, “Darlin’… do I look like the Punisher to you?”
Twenty seconds later, he is in the boardroom. A white-haired woman appears and Logan reiterates his request to see Walter Declun. She replies that she wants a zero-calorie chocolate cake and a Maserati. What he’ll get is her and five minutes. Logan tells her to get Declun in the office right now. She isn’t one to be bullied. When Logan asks who she is, she explains that she’s Ann-Marie Hoag, the president of Damage Control. Declun’s the CEO. She wonders what he wants to talk to him about.
Logan tosses her a small pill bottle. He tells her that it’s MGH or Mutant Growth Hormone. It gives humans powers. Ann-Marie is familiar with them, having seen a piece on 60 Minutes. She asks what this has to do with Declun. Logan replies that he gave MGH to the guy who blew up Stamford, and her company got the clean-up contract. Ann-Marie is shocked. She replies that the recession hit them hard. She had to take the company public to raise capital. Declun and his investors bought a controlling share of the stock, and muscled his way onto the board. From there, he took the CEO spot. She knew he was an ass, but never suspected…
Walter Declun arrives and orders her to stop talking, right now. Wolverine reminds him that it’s a free country, but Declun replies that it’s not a country; it’s a company - his company, and Logan is trespassing. He adds that S.H.I.E.L.D.’s response time to a 911 call is two minutes. He called two minutes ago. Logan grins and accepts that he must leave, but as his closing shot he warns Declun that he’s gonna have some fun taking him down. Unseen by Declun is a small device left by Logan under a table.
Later, Wolverine avoids the security guards and retrieves the device, taking it to Forge in Dallas to see what he can find out about Damage Control. Logan knows that this is bigger than Declun, as his president lady said he had people backing his plays It wouldn’t make sense to cut off the head if the body can still live. You’ve got to cut the whole monster into pieces, then burn it to ash.
Forge tells him that it’s a data-miner. It’s similar to the tech the NSA uses in its domestic wire-tapping program. It scans computers, looks for key phrases in data and e-mails, etc. Logan says he doesn’t want a science lesson. He planted the device and recovered it. Now what? Forge connects it to his computer and has a look to see what they’ve learned. He explains that over breakfast he wrote an A.I. program to cull through and interpret the data.
He looks at the screen and tells Logan that he’s right. This isn’t pretty. He starts from the beginning, explaining that super-hero fights super-villain and a big mess is made. Damage Control gets paid to clean up the mess. What he’s seeing on screen, from Damage Control’s own records, is Damage Control doing everything they can to increase the number of superhuman fights. The more fights there are, the more money Damage Control gets. This explains why they were hooking Nitro up with MGH. The Registration Act is the motherlode for them. In addition to cleaning up after the battles, they get paid for superhuman registration, evaluation, training and so on. Forge adds that he saw this kind of thing in ‘Nam, the first Gulf War and Iraq, too. Where there’s war, there are profiteers. Logan doesn’t think there will be for long.
Forge asks if Emma and Scott know about what he’s doing. They’re not gonna be happy. Logan says they’re not gonna know, asking Forge to just tell him what to hit. Forge reckons it’s not that simple. He’s going up against a corporation; an artificial person. Logan replies that he’s gone up against enough Sentinels, Doombots and LMD’s to know you kill an artificial person the same way you kill a real one. You cut on it ‘til there’s nothin’ left. All he needs to know is where and how deep.
(New York City, Pier 46)
Forge directs Logan to New York City’s Pier 46, where he discovers a garage holding Damage Control equipment.
(Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands)
Logan then visits the Royal Bank Financial Group, where he takes out security, slicing the security guard’s pistol in three, before heading straight to the manager. Logan grabs the manager by the collar, lifting him clean off the ground. He explains to Logan that the company’s assets are secured by insurance, and their holdings are backed up by electronic records stored on servers… off-site. Logan puts him down, but leads him to the walk-in safe. He asks in which one of the safety deposit boxes Damage Control keeps their money.
(later, the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Westchester)
Emma Frost isn’t happy with Logan, and threatens to psychically remove all his potty training. Logan points to his head and asks her to take her best shot. He has level 9 psi-shields installed, courtesy of Charles Xavier himself. A furious Emma replies that seeing how she’s a level 10, they shouldn’t be much of a problem, though their removal might reduce him to the mental equivalent of a three-year old, thus giving him a heretofore undeveloped maturity!
Scott asks her to calm down. He then reminds Logan that he remembers specifically telling him not to become involved in the human’s mess. Instead, he not only ignored him, but he violated fourteen different state laws, six federal laws and the sovereignty of Grand Cayman. He’s still headmaster of the school and, as long as Logan’s affiliated with it, he’s going to answer to him. What does he have to say for himself?
Logan pauses, before asking Emma if Scott knows that he used to team up with Iron Man… so to speak. Emma looks stunned, and Logan informs her that, when Rogue swiped her powers, she took her memories, too. He then tells them both that he remembers being given his orders, but he also remembers telling them where to stick them. And, if he had listened to them, Nitro would still be at large and nobody would have known Damage Control was profiteering, all on account of them being scared of offending the humans. He thought the whole idea of dressing up in spandex was about getting involved. Emma and Scott look suitably embarrassed.
Wolverine is causing Damage Control some damage of his own. Walter Declun and Henry are discussing a possible change of logo away from the Bulldog image. Walter is then informed by another employee that it’s happening again; this time it’s the Westhaven Mutual Fund. They’ve liquidated their holdings - over 36% of Damage Control’s stock. Declun finds this impossible to believe. Joel Begleiter manages that fund. He’s always been loyal to them. That’s why WMF holds so much D.C. stock. He’d never cut and run like this, unless he wasn’t given a choice. He wants Larry in acquisitions and Amy in public relations on the phone immediately.
A new report comments on Damage Control’s remarkable public display of confidence. Walter Declun has announced the five-point-three million dollar purchase of Roxxon’s Long Island offices, for the site of their new corporate headquarters. This sizeable investment, it continues, comes hot on the heels of a bad couple of weeks for Damage Control. Wall Street’s confidence has been shaken by a spate of costly accidents and a negative restating of profits. Mr. Declun refused to comment on what was behind Damage Control’s recent reversal of fortune after three years of record growth.
Wolverine arrives at the former Roxxon offices on Long Island. When Walter Declun announced this last-minute purchase, he just had to pay a visit. It’d be a damn shame for Declun to go to all this trouble, and not have Logan go ahead and spring his trap. As he slips through the offices in near-darkness, he confronts several armored guards, greeting them by asking if he’s late. One replies that he’s right on time, calling him ‘shortie’ in the process. Logan tells him nobody ever called him short before and lived to tell about it. He leaps at the guy and slices his chest open through the armor. He quickly takes stock of his opponents. They have Mandroid armor, S.H.I.E.L.D. weaponry, Stark Industries tech and organic implants. He scratches that last one when he realizes it’s just the guy’s spleen.
As Wolverine is grabbed from behind, he thinks about where Damage Control is getting all this from. It seems they’ve been doing more than just hauling junk from battle sites. They’ve been salvaging it. It’s like throwing down with a flea market. He throws one guy over his shoulder and then narrowly avoids being caught with a saw blade fired from one of his assailant’s gauntlets. He recognizes it as having belonged to Whirlwind. Logan took him down six months ago.
Another guard grabs him around the neck and tells him that Whirlwind’s right arm sends its regards. He explains that they took one of his buzz saws and gave it a makeover. The only thing that can cut through adamantium, is adamantium. The blade begins cutting into Logan’s neck. “Heads up,” remarks the guard, “Heal from this shortie!”