Louisiana, some who-the-hell-knows-its-name swamp at the ass-end of nowhere. Two dogs sniff through the watery ground, while a man on some sort of craft glides across the water, while in the shadows of the trees, Wolverine lurks – and pops his claws. This here's nightbirds mumbling and toads crying out, and under it all the sound of predators being too quiet. This here is adrenaline, and the stink of fear, and like it or not, a sick kinda joy lurking inside it. This here is moonlight in the woods, and there isn't a thing in the world that makes you feel more alive. But this isn't where the story starts.
Two days ago:
Logan makes his way through a crowd of people, when suddenly, someone touches his hair: 'Hey, buddy, that natural growth or you got a electrode up your a-' the man begins. Two days ago, minus three minutes, the man lies on the floor, thrown amongst others. This guy called Ben sees Logan in character and goes all good samaritan. 'Uh, mister? Cops just pulled up. I got a car out back...'
Logan realizes that he will have an ulterior motive, and they speed away in the small car marked with flowers, as some hippy-type music plays on the stereo, Ben asks Logan if he has ever gone in for bloodsports. 'Depends on my mood, Bub. Why?' Wolverine asks. 'Oh, no - hey! Home sweet home!' Ben exclaims as they drive towards a series of tents. 'Cops'll never think to look here' Ben adds.
'Hippies. $%&#' Wolverine mutters as he gets out of the car and some people approach him. 'Hey, Moonbeam, check it out! This guy totally aced like a thousand rednecks! He's perfect for the project!' Ben exclaims. 'Hold it. “Project”?' Wolverine asks. 'This got something to do with the bloodsport pop quiz?' he enquires. Moonbeam tells Logan that there is nothing sporting about it. 'Come see for yourself' she asks him. There is a loud noise, and Wolverine asks 'Hell is that noise?' Moonbeam explains that it is a hunting bugle. 'They say it's traditional. And these guys... they're big on tradition' she remarks, as men on horses ride by. 'Tally ho!' one of them shouts as they race after a frightened fox.
Several ugly looking dogs continue to search the swamp, they bite at five hundred pounds per inch. Size relative, these dogs are stronger, faster and tougher than any shaved monkey you have met. The pooch can pick up a scent concentrated one million times lower than a human can, and in a pack he will let his pals keep you busy while he lines up for your throat – and that's just your average mutt. These bastards, Wolverine has the feeling, that they have a higher calling – they are hunting dogs, and using them is just plain cheating. One of the dogs follows a scent to the edge of a ridge – where Wolverine's mask has been placed on a branch sticking out over the ridge. The dog bares down over Wolverine's mask, before Wolverine swings down from above and kicks the dog away. A bottle of alcohol strapped to his belt, Wolverine picks up his mask.
Wolverine lies in a sleeping bag outside one of the tents, while the hippies sit nearby in a circle around a small fire. 'Brit foxhunts... like, seriously? I've seen the videos. Fifty dogs tearing the hell outta one fox. You can't tell me that's humane' Moonbeam remarks. 'These aristo-bastards, they're all “Hey, the foxes gotta be culled or they'll kill our chickens...” but that's a total lame-out' Moonbeam declares. 'Total' one of the other hippies agrees. Moonbeam adds that there are more efficient ways, too which Wolverine looks up from where he is sleeping and asks 'You mind? Trynna sleep here'. Moonbeam tells Logan that she is just saying, in 2004, the Brits made it illegal, lots honked-off snobs. 'And where's the one place loves to see folk killing harmless critters for kicks?' Moonbeam points out. 'Hooray for the US o A!' Ben jokes.
Wolverine puts the pillow over his ears, he has a dilemma and wonders if he slices off his ears whether they will grow back before he gets some damn shut-eye. Ben tells Moonbeam that he doesn't think Wolverine is listening, to which Moonbeam tells him that isn't a problem, for by tomorrow, he will be begging to help. 'And why's that Pixie Dust?' Wolverine asks. 'Because tomorrow you get to meet the morons' Moonbeam smirks.
Ten hours ago, give or take:
'Ah, brandy!' one of the men in red jackets exclaim as several of them have gathered. Some get onto their horses. Dead foxes hang from a wire that has been tied between two stakes, and dogs await their instruction. 'Not so hard, dash it all! Fetch a bloody ladder!' someone grumbles as others struggle to lift him onto his horse. 'Half an hour and we're off. Another lug fer the line, eh?' someone calls out.
'I say. Chums – natives!' one of the hunters declares as Moonbeam, dressed in a white jacket, approaches, holding a tray with some food on it. 'Compliments of the locals, sir' she remarks. 'Oh, top hole!' the hunter replies. 'Thought you Yankee types were meant t'be minus the manners, what! Jolly good show!' a female hunter exclaims. 'Actually, ma'am – I'm Canadian' Logan replies as he stands holding one of the trays, and also wears a white coat.
'You there, the short wallah! Stand still, chappie! Upsy-daisy! Spare the damned ladder, eh!' someone calls out as they climb up Wolverine's back to get onto their horse. Wolverine drops his tray of food, while a man with a moustache asks 'Canada... all forest, ain'it? Lashings've furry little devils to hunt, shouldn't wonder...' he begins. 'Furry little devils. Yeah' Wolverine snarls, before returning to the hippies.
'Cut three straddle straps!' one of them boasts proudly, while Moombeam explains that there is laxative in the snacks. 'Boot-prints on my back. I'm in' Wolverine tells them.
Wolverine trudges through the swamp and thinks to himself that, for the record, it isn't like he's against hunting through and through – he would be a hypocrite if he was, right? The way he sees it, if you pit yourself against the wild, there better be a good reason.
'GAH!' Wolverine calls out as one of the ugly hunting dogs comes up behind him and bits his lower lef. 'Like maybe you're hungry and all you want's a damn feed' Wolverine thinks to himself. 'Maybe you're cold and a hindskin'll save your life'.
More dogs lunge at Wolverine who pops his claws and pushes them away, thinking that maybe you are just after proving something to your palls, your pack, whoever – and if that's all it is, long as it's a fair fight, there ain't no shame involved.
Wolverine climbs up one of the nearby trees, narrowly dodging two darts which are fired at him and land in the trunk of the tree below his feet. The dogs rally around the tree, and Wolverine thinks 'Sometimes, like in the fairest fights of all, staying alive in spite of the wild... that's all the reward you need'.
'Hm' remarks someone behind a metal mask as they hold the gun that fired the darts, and Wolverine thinks that the way he sees it, long as there is something to gain, least a man's got an excuse for his killing.
Eight hours ago:
But this – this ain't got an excuse worth spit.
The dogs race after a fox, with the horses and their riders not far behind. Suddenly, part of a tree falls down, and the dogs crash into it, while the fox runs to safety. The riders become confused as their saddles come undone, and they start to fall off. 'What the deuce?' one of them asks. 'Bally saddle!' another exclaims. 'I say... where are Julian and Gregory?' another hunter asks, while the missing hunters hang upside down, rope tied around them, and tape across their mouths, they dangle from a tree nearby.
Wolverine decides that these cowards have nothing to gain but a cheap thrill and a pack-mauled pelt – it ain't a fair fight.
'There's the bounder, by jingo!' one of the hunters calls out as he aims a gun at the fox.
Wolverine decides that he doesn't have to be fair either – and slices the hunter's gun in half.
'...the devil?' the hunter gasps, confused. 'Um... anyone seen a loo?' another hunter calls out. 'Oh dear' they utter as the hunter with the gun is thrown from his horse, as Wolverine makes his presence known, punching his way through the hunters – nothing lethal, nothing permanent – just enough to let them know that the tide has turned.
'Great scott!' a hunter declares, as he pulls back on his horse in front of Wolverine.
'And no killing horses, neither' Wolverine thinks to himself, as it isn't their fault they got #$%& onboard.
'Hmmm' one of the hunters remarks.
The mysterious hunter with the metal face mask rides the cycle-like vehicle over the swamp muck, while the dogs continue to track Wolverine. 'No killing horses, right? Heh heh heh' Wolverine thinks to himself as he drops down from the trees and lands on the hunter's vehicle, slicing his claws into it, while the rider falls into the water. 'Soft parts, Mr Logan. Remember?' the masked man calls out. 'Huh?' Wolverine asks, before the hunter fires a dart, which lands in Wolverine's neck. Wolverine starts to get away, 'Dammit...' he mutters as he pulls the dart out.
Seven hours ago:
'Don't like this...ain't natural' one of the hunters remarks. 'Didn't even see the bugger! Like a... a bleeding ghost!' another declares, while gathered nearby, Wolverine and the anti-hunting group are readying the next part of their plan. But to Logan, this fight doesn't feel normal – no spandex, no super-villains, no slugging it out in the street. 'OOOOOOOOOO!' two of the hippies cry out through the trees.
'S... see?' one of the hunters gasps. 'Don't be ridiculous. Just some hairy little plebian trying to give you the willies' another hunter declares. But Logan knows that on the other hand, he is supposed to be a super hero – there's always a costume involved some place, and he leaps through the trees, claws at the ready, wearing a large fox costume. 'Raaagh! REVENGE!' he shouts. The hunters start to run, 'Bugger' one of them mutters. A fox looks over at Wolverine, who takes off his fox mask. 'Heh. Drinks're on you, Bub' Wolverine jokes.
Four hours ago:
'Yeah!' the hippies exclaim as they raise their mugs. 'Logan, dude – you were awesome!' Ben shouts as they watch the hunters start to leave in their cars, towing their horses in floats behind them. 'They're totally going home! Yeee-haw!' another declares. 'Since when did I tell ya my name, kid?' Logan asks Ben as they walk between two of the tents. 'Huh? Last night, man – don't you remember?' Ben replies, before changing the subject: 'Hey, check this out! Local moonshine, bro!' Ben exclaims as he holds a small vial up to Wolverine, and tells him that he has to try some. 'It's, like, traditional!' Ben claims. 'So tradition stinks like $%&#? Who knew?' Wolverine replies, before he slurps back the concoction. 'Dude, no way! They're praising the Earth goddess! Let's go!' Ben calls out. Wolverine wipes his mouth and makes a noise that indicates he is not impressed. 'Knock yourself out. Figure I'll commune with nature in my own way. Like finding someplace sells beer' Wolverine remarks.
Wolverine runs through the swamp and thinks that right about now, beer would go down a treat, though he isn't sure how long it would stay there. '#$%&ing sedative's playing Krakatoa with my guts' Wolverine thinks to himself. He rubs his head and tells him to c'mon, as he is too long in the teeth to be upchucking like some space out hippy.
Suddenly, he comes to a stop, as he sees tents at the edge of the swamp, and snoring coming from one of them.
Two hours ago:
Logan is in a diner that claims to be home of the Obese-Ifier. 'Eugh. #$%&ing moonshine' Logan grumbles, putting a finger in his mouth, complaining about how the taste lingers. 'Matter of fact, Sah, it's designed to...' a voice calls out. 'The hell d'you want?' Wolverine asks, turning to the man in a purple coat that approaches him. 'A simple introduction, Mr Logan' the man replies, introducing himself as Sir Damien Spencer, until so very recently, the master of their little hunt. 'Out of a job, huh, bub?' Wolverine asks. 'In a manner of speaking. But then... one door closes, another opens...' Sir Damien points out. 'Yeah? Exit's that way. Go open it' Logan tells him as Sir Damien sits down beside him and snaps his fingers, while telling Mr Logan that he hopes he won't think of him as a braggart if he tells him that he has hunted game the world over. 'Brandy, m'dear' he tells the bar staff, before remarking to Wolverine 'Oh, yes, Berkshire to Bangkok... my idiot chums have always been most effective at galvanizing the local handwringers'. Sir Damien looks over to the drink that is being poured for him and adds that some people collect stamps, while he collects indignant protestors.
'You piss 'em off on purpose? Why?' Logan asks. 'Ha! Because foxes are just too bloody easy, old bean!' Sir Damien replies. He reveals that the truth is, he has been searching for one of these self-righteous ecoplebs brave enough to make a bally fight of it – and idealist like that, now that would be prey worth hunting. 'Heh-heh-heh. You're sick in the head, Bub' Wolverine tells Sir Damien. He pops his claws and places them to Sir Damien's neck, 'The hell makes you think you'd catch me?' he asks. Two bar patrons turn and observe as Sir Damien replies 'The same thing that persuades one's agents to so thoroughly research – for example – a wandering mutant. The same thing that induces a yokel to start a bar-brawl with a perfect stranger, or convinces a chap in one's employ to feed that same stranger an easily-trackable pheromone-marker cocktail. Money, Mr Logan. Everything has its price – even worthy quarry'. 'The moonshine? That #$%&ing hippy...' Wolverine mutters.
Inside one of the hippy tents, there is a loud vomiting sound, before Ben wakes up, 'Aaagh!' he exclaims, rubbing his face, 'The #$%& is this? And what's that smell?' he asks. He looks up into the shadows of the tent and sees someone standing over him. 'L... Logan? That you? I'm freaking soaked here, dude' Ben exclaims. 'Sorry, Ben. Guess that moonshine disagreed with me' Logan replies. 'Figured you should have it back' Logan adds. Ben sniffs his fingers that he previously ran across his face, 'This is? Oh, gross... this is mutie barf?' Ben gasps. Logan tells Ben that he is just sharing the scent, and that he bets those pheromones of his stink the same new or recycled. 'Say... you still wanna praise the Earth goddess?' Logan enquires. He exits the tent, and Ben follows him. 'Now's the time' Logan points out, as the ugly hunting dogs surround Ben and start barking. 'Oh no' Ben utters.
Ninety minutes ago:
'You think money's gonna make me play your... your damn fox?' Logan asks. Sir Damien pours himself another drink and tells Logan that as a matter of fact, he was hoping he would do it for free. 'And why the hell'd I do th-?' Wolverine begins. 'Same reason you knackered my bally hunt. The love of a fair fight' Sir Damien responds. Logan grits his teeth: 'Me and you? Bub, that don't come close to fair'. 'Perhaps. But as I said, Mr Logan, money brings so many rewards. Perhaps even enough to balance the odds' Sir Damien replies, snapping his fingers. 'For instance?' Logan asks. 'Ohhh, say...a customized combat suit with an IR tracker and a satellite-linked HUD' Sir Damien boasts as he removes his purple coat, revealing his armor, and a helmet slides up over his head. 'A bleeding-edge hover-steed with a soundfield muffle and a spiffing weapons cache... and the twenty absolutely enormous hounds in the truck outside' Sir Damien adds, while outside, the ugly dogs bark. Sir Damien reveals that the dogs were bred in a high-grav incubator, exceptionally aggressive and pumped with more military-grade chemicals than a steroidal super-nova.
'One came prepared, Mr Logan' Sir Damien boasts. But Logan gets up to leave, 'No dice. I ain't your damn toy, English' he replies. 'Pity. Then I'm afraid you leave me no choice, old beam... run. Mr Logan. Run as fast as you can' Sir Damien declares as he raises a weapon and readies it to fire. Wolverine turns back to the other man, who asks 'Something amusing?' Wolverine explains that if his agents of his really did their homework, he would know a gun ain't much incentive to him. 'Going for a leak. Don't be here when I get back' Logan tells Sir Damien as he enters the restroom. But Sir Damien announces that they are tranquilizers, and that he will have Logan counting sheep before those toothpicks of his are even bared. He adds that he is willing to wager there are one or two soft parts of Logan's anatomy lacking a metal core. 'They won't look too impressive hung above my mantel, no doubt... but, by God! What a conversation piece!'
Ben calls out to Logan, who has climbed up a tree, and asks him to talk this over. 'Where'd you...I...I stink, dude! They're gonna think I'm y-' Ben calls out, before the ugly hunting dogs lunge at Ben, who pleads for help. 'Ouch' Logan remarks as he lights a match and puts it into the bottle of alcohol he was carrying around – and drops it from the tree, where it explodes, and the dogs squeal in fright.
One hour ago:
Logan tells Sir Damien that he has a quick metabolism, and asks if his tranqs are up to it. 'It's your jugular on the line' Wolverine adds. 'So I'll shoot you twice, Sah' Sir Damien responds as he raises a second weapon. 'At any rate, I don't believe either of us wants to find out here, eh? At least in the woods you have a...a sporting chance. And ain't that just the ball point of all this?' Sir Damien remarks. Wolverine growls, before picking up a beer, 'For the road. You're buying' he tells Sir Damien, who sips another brandy. 'One hour, Mr Logan. Then hell rides with me' Sir Damien exclaims.
Wolverine makes his way into the swamp, 'Stink's priority one. Threads'll be covered' Logan thinks to himself. He pulls his costume from a sack, and notices some foxes hanging from a line nearby. He gets into his costume, then rubs the dead foxes all over him – the pack-mauled pelts are good for something after all, as fox ain't supposed to be on the menu tonight. He rubs some blood over his mask and costume too, camouflage ain't a problem, you can't face the wild and not get dirty.
Wolverine stares out through the trees in some who-the-hell-knows-its-name swamp at the ass-end of nowhere. Waiting for moonlight in the woods. See, sporting chance or not, in any chase there's only one strategy worth a damn: don't be the prey!
Sir Damien removes the faceplate covering his face and whistles. 'Here, boys! Did... did you get the blighter? Boys? The deuce is that blasted smell?' Sir Damien calls out to the dogs. 'That's the boys, bub. Crispy-fried or flame-grilled, your choice' Wolverine calls out. Sir Damien turns to the sound of Wolverine's voice, as Logan leaps towards him, claws at the ready, 'Now... about that fair fight...'.
Wolverine a.k.a. Logan sits in a peaceful garden, meditating. He has had an ugly few weeks behind him – hard resolutions. Some good folks made the mistake of getting close to him and found themselves targeted by some other folks who made the mistake of getting on his wrong side. Wolverine's wrong side gets people killed. It is always there – pacing – waiting for Wolverine to admit he needs its help. He has come here to find a way to put it back in its cage – so it doesn't get its claws in too deep.
A hand reaches out for Logan, who spins around, 'What the -' Logan exclaims 'Pardon my intrusion' an elderly man responds. Wolverine recognizes the man as Klahan, and asks for forgiveness. 'How are you?' Wolverine asks. 'Better since your arrival, Logan. I wanted to thank you, again, on behalf of everyone' Klahan replies. Klahan remarks that Wolverine's help curbing the drug gangs and prostitution runners has had a great impact. They walk down a path towards a temple, where some worshipers are kneeling before a large statute. 'To have accomplished this without resorting to violence... very commendable. You have grown'. Wolverine tells Klahan that it is the least he can do, and admits that it is not entirely altruistic, as these visits with him have near saved his life.
Wolverine looks up at the statue, and points out that the syndicates are viciously out of control. 'I've been able to strike some fear into 'em but without getting a bit more physical I'm not sure how much use I can be'. Klahan turns to Logan and tells him that Buddha says there must be evil so that good can prove its purity above it. 'Sure... I get it, what's good without evil?' Wolverine replies. He smiles and puts a hand on Klahan's shoulder and tells him that it is a challenge he happily accepts, before asking if there has to be so damned much evil.
Wolverine walks back down the path, when suddenly, a woman wearing a purple dress calls out to him. Logan turns to her and smiles. 'Yes, hello... forgive my intrusion' the woman calls out. 'Pretty girl wants to wave me down... she need not apologize' Logan responds. The woman explains that she overheard Logan in the temple with Klahan, and asks 'You are the man who has been helping free our community of the gangs?' Wolverine replies that he has left a few gentle impressions on the local hardcores – the least he can do really. He explains that the real progress around here should be attributed to Klahan and the monks' charitable works. 'Modesty... not common in America' the woman says as she puts a hand on Wolverine's arm. Wolverine smiles and tells her that modesty ain't common in anyone, although his fellow Canucks like to fancy themselves a more peaceful breed, he wouldn't say that he necessarily helps reinforce that opinion. Wolverine puts his hands on the woman's waist as she asks him if he would allow her to prepare a meal as a sign of her appreciation. Wolverine admits that the local noodle house is wearing thin, and asks the woman to wait here while he gets changed. 'And we'll be off to Shangri-la' the woman declares.
Later, night has fallen, and in a small apartment, Wolverine sits at a table, 'That was incredible, Dao. All Thai women cook like this?' Wolverine asks. Dao sits opposite Logan and replies that cooking like this isn't common in anyone, before informing him that she isn't Thai, she came here from Burma. 'Well that makes us even-Steven on misreading each other's nationalities' Wolverine points out, before asking Dao what brought her to Bangkok. Dao begins to clear the table, and tells Wolverine that she fears he will leave if she tell him. 'Sister, you'd have to hae one hell of an ugly take to get me outta here now' Wolverine replies. Dao reveals that as a young girl, filthy pimps claiming to be showmen snuck her in illegally, and they promised her she would work as a dancer and nothing more. 'Wfter what they made me do...no man of honor would have me' Dao remarks, hanging her head. 'Well, darling, you're in luck – I'm no man of honor' Wolverine declares as he touches Dao's face, then kisses her.
'Then we're both in luck' Dao remarks as Wolverine removes her dress, a dove tattoo can be seen on her lower back. They fall onto the bed, locked in passionate embrace, when, suddenly, 'Wait, Dao. Hold on – I can'y do this now' Logan tells her. 'Am I so revolting...?' Dao asks, pulling a sheet around herself. Wolverine tells her that it isn't on account of her, he is just a twisted mess – a bona fide schizophrenic rageaholic. Wolverine puts his jacket on and announces that he is in Bangkok to get centered, the monks have been helping him control his base level instincts. 'What we're about to do here – it'd wake a part of me I need to let sleep'.
Shortly, rain falls as Wolverine climbs the steps back to the temple. He hated doing that, and thinks that Dao will be sure it was on account of what she told him. Suddenly, he picks up a smell – rich and bitter – fresh human blood. It wakes up Wolverine's wrong side. It knows there is ugly business waiting in the temple, and it wants out. At the top of the steps, monks lay in pools of their own blood, while, in the temple, before the statue of Buddha, several gang members stand before Klahan, who lies against the base of the statue. 'You monks were warned. Still you bring outsiders to try and frighten us?' one of the gang members exclaims. Klahan coughs, 'We did not harm you...please...' he utters. 'You bring men to scare us out of our city!' one of the thugs declares, shoving his foot into the weak monk. 'Scaring you out was Klahan's idea... now we're gonna do it my way... but my way ain't nice!' Wolverine exclaims as he enters the temple and slices one of the gang members' faces into three. 'No, Logan… prove your purity above... the evil...' Klahan utters. 'These subhumans don't deserve purity...' Logan snarls as he grabs one of the thugs, wrapping his arm around the thug's neck. 'Get 'em offa me!' the thug exclaims. '...but they have earned some instant karma' Wolverine declares as he breaks the thug's neck.
Wolverine almost lets the fourth goon go, let him lead Logan to his boss – but Logan leaps towards the fleeing thug and slams his face into the ground. The thug's dove tattoo on his neck tells Logan everything he needs to know. He and the thug's boss have already met. Logan turns to Klahan: 'Didn't leave me no option' he tells the dying monk, adding that he tried purity, but some folks need hard resolution. 'No, Logan...it is a man's own mind that lures him to evil...not his enemy...' Klahan replies as he dies in Wolverine's arms. Wolverine knows that Klahan is right, but some days you don't get much more than dead.
'What do you mean they're all DEAD? Impossible! They were low-dogs! Tough as nails!' Dao shouts down the phone, cigarette in one hand, a gun on the table before her. 'He couldn't have killed all four of them...he was only one man!' Dao exclaims, before picking up the gun as she notices Wolverine out the window. 'That man's gone, angel!' Wolverine snarls as he leaps through the window, sending glass shards shatteirng through the room. 'Now you gotta face me' Wolverine tells Dao, who opens fire, bullets strike Wolverine's chest. Logan slams Dao up against a wall and tells her that he ain't normally very nice to begin with, but now she has got on his wrong side. 'But I heard you speaking with the monk! You promised him you would fight for purity over evil...if you kill me...it will have been a lie. You will have no honor!' Dao exclaims, Logan's hand around her throat. Wolverine grits his teeth and replies 'I ain't no honorable man', before he releases his claws up through the wide-eyed Dao's head, and her lifeless body drops to the floor. 'Honor... that's Logan's struggle. I'm Wolverine' the X-Man declares as he leaps back out through the window and into the rain.