A cabin on the side of a hill in a forest is shrouded in darkness save for the moonlight from above, and the lights inside. A man sits at the table. A woman sits across from him, and their daughter sits between them, playing with her stuffed toy. The man thinks to himself that it was never going to be easy, but he never thought it would get this bad this quickly. By Tuesday morning, Sue and he didn’t have anything left to say to each other - nothing at all. Ginny and Mister Beak had to carry the conversation by themselves. Cooking, washing up, giving Ginny her bath - everything became painful - jagged edged. Like they had to move carefully in case they touched each other, because if they touched each other, one of them might break.
On this night, he takes one of the blankets and slept on the porch, thinking ‘Well, we tried it’. Tried everything and it didn’t work. Tomorrow I’ll leave and that’s it’. He dozes off, still thinking that - so he isn’t sure exactly when it was that the world caught fire - as he looked up, the forest surrounding the cabin is ablaze. He rushes inside, ‘Just leave all that stuff will you? There’s not time!’ he shouts at Sue, who replies that she is looking for her cell, as they have to warn the ranger station. ‘You think they don’t know?’ he calls back as he picks up his daughter, who asks him where they are going. ‘We’re just going for a rude, precious’ he replies, trying to remain calm, he asks Ginny if Mister Beak would like a ride, to which the young girl replies that he is still sleepy.
‘Well, he can sleep in the car while we -’ the father says to his daughter as he rushes down the porch steps towards the car, but he stops in his tracks. As he sees a huge bear, that has caught on fire, blood pouring from its face, looming before him. The man knows that the bear was only running from the fire, and also realizes that it doesn’t matter he and his family are in its way. The bear roars at them, and the man knows he has to get Ginny clear, as far as he can. The bear stands up on its hind legs and is about to set upon the man and his family. But the man’s arms won’t move and his feet won’t run. Suddenly, there is a sound - SKINT. Then something else comes out of the fire - something smelling of burned meet, sulphur and blood. ‘GRAAAH!’ shouts Wolverine a.k.a. Logan as he leaps towards the bear.
The bear turns and seeing Wolverine, slams the mutant hero to the forest floor. The man decides that the bear is at least twice Wolverine’s weight, and twice his reach, as it starts tearing into him, ripping Wolverine apart. But it doesn’t matter - Wolverine just reaches up and shoves his claws through the bear’s mouth, and out his head. Logan retracts his claws, and the bear collapses. Logan tells the family that they can forget about the car, as they are not going to be driving any place. The man holds out his wallet towards Wolverine, ‘Look, mister, I’ve got money, I’ve got a wallet full of money and my cards are all in there. Take it all. Just leave us the car’ he pleads. ‘You deaf? Car’s no use to you’ Logan tells the family, motioning to the fire, he tells them that it is three miles wide and that this track foes right through it. ‘So you run or you’re roast’ he explains.
Logan starts to sniff in another direction, before turning to the girl, and asking ‘Hi. Who are you?’ The girl looks frightened and introduces herself as Ginny. Logan introduces himself, and tells Ginny that he is going to need her help, as he is having some eye trouble. He starts off through the woods sniffing as he goes. The family stand and watch him. ‘Anytime you’re ready’ he calls back to them. The family follow him cautiously, as the man tells his wife that Wolverine is blind. ‘He just killed a bear. You want to get the next one all by yourself?’ Sue retorts. ‘He’s blind and he’s got those things on his hands. He’s not human’ the man declares. ‘Yeah, well. Human is as human does, Peter’ Sue mutters. Peter holds Ginny, who tells him that she is scared, and that Mister Beak is scared, too. ‘We’re okay, now, precious. We’ve got the nice man to help us’ Peter tells his daughter. ‘We’re scared of the nice man!’ Ginny replies.
Logan continues to sniff, as he leads the family up the side of a hill. Peter hates to admit it, but Sue is right. They are moving due east, but he couldn’t find east on his own with one of those journey planners from the Triple-A - they do need Wolverine’s help. He watches as Sue trudges after Wolverine, and it make his stomach twist a little see her cozying up to him. ‘What happened to your eyes, Mister?’ Sue asks Wolverine. Logan explains that it was the fire - some kind of toxins in the smoke. Logan unsheathes his claws and slices some branches away, explaining that normally he heals up real fast when he is hurt, but that whatever is burning here it is bad news, that is why they have got to head straight into the wind. They reach the top of the slope - and Logan declares ‘That just got a little harder, didn’t it?’ before asking the family to tell him what they see.
Standing on the edge of the ridge, the ridgeline extends for a considerable distance. Beneath them, is water, with a large gap across to the ridge on the other side of the river. ‘Tell me what you’re seeing’ Wolverine asks. Sue tells him that there is a steep drop of thirty feet or so, and the stream below is moving fast, with the edge of the land across is fifteen feet away. Logan ask if it is higher or lower than them, to which Sue explains that it is lower. ‘Then we jump’ Logan announces. Peter declares that he can’t jump that far. ‘With flames at your back? You’ll be surprised at what you can do’ Logan replies. With his daughter on his shoulders, Peter points out that Ginny can’t jump that far. ‘She won’t have to. I’ll throw her and you’ll catch her’ Logan explains. ‘Dear God! You’re serious!’ Peter gasps. Logan tells the family that if they detour north or south, the fire will be right on top of them, and one gulp of the smoke is going to kill them. ‘Your choice’ he tells them. Sue tells Peter to do it, that there is no time to argue. Peter tells himself that there is a part of one’s mind that shuts down when one is looking death in the face. A big part. Wolverine then gives Peter and Sue and extra push, to help them jump across to the ridge across the stream.
Peter lands, but Sue doesn’t quite make it, and tetters on the edge. Peter tells himself that if you are lucky, you can still function with what you have left. Peter grabs Sue, and pulls her to safety, while Wolverine asks Ginny, who he is holding in his arms, how she is doing. ‘I’m okay, but Mister Beak is still scared’ Ginny replies. ‘Well, you can tell him he can keep his eyes closed. But he’ll miss all the fun’ Logan replies, before remarking ‘Ready. Steady. Go’ and he throws Ginny over towards the other ridge - where she lands in her father’s arms. ‘I’ve got you, precious!’ Peter exclaims ‘I’ve got you!’ he smiles. Wolverine lands beside the family and tells them to get up and keep moving, as the wind is starting to shift.
The family continue to follow Wolverine, ‘The fire’s gaining on us!’ Peter remarks. ‘Four miles and the trees start to thin. If we can get that far, the front will slow and we’ll be okay’ Logan replies, before announcing that he is getting human scents from up ahead - three or more. He asks the family if there are any more cabins around here besides theirs. ‘Not in this direction, no. At least we’ve never -’ Sue begins to reply, when suddenly, several men in green uniforms, who are in a clearing, a panel in the ground has been opened. Some sort of transport vehicle is beside them, and they have several crates which they are carrying, look up. They are agents of Hydra, and they raise their weapons. ‘Logan, they’ve got guns! They’re -’ Sue calls out, before Wolverine is struck with red laser beams.
‘Oh- oh God! Oh God!’ Sue gasps as she stares down at Wolverine in shock. ‘Seven, I told you to give us a perimeter!’ one of the Hydra agents declares. ’I’m sorry, leader. I abase myself’ the agent replies. ‘Later, just finish them’ the leader orders. The agents surround the family, ‘Turn around!’ one of them orders. Peter explains that they are running from the fire. ‘I swear to God, we don’t care who you are, and we won’t tell anyone we saw -’ he begins. ‘Okay, the hard way, then…’ one of the agents begins, before Peter lashes out, ‘Get away from us!’ he shouts, punching the Hydra agent backwards. However one of the other agents retaliates, and slams his weapon into Peter’s stomach. ‘Peter! No!’ Sue calls out. Peter drops to his knees while two agents stand over him and ready their weapons. ‘No! No! No! Noooo!’ Sue starts to cry. ‘Hail Hydra!’ one of the agents declares - before they both call out in agony, as Wolverine shoves his claws through their backs and they fall to the forest floor.
‘One left?’ Wolverine asks. ‘One left’ Sue replies, as the remaining Hydra agent has his gun pointed at her head. ‘He got a gun?’ Logan enquires. ‘Yes’ Sue confirms. ‘Does he look stupid enough to use it?’ Wolverine snarls. The Hydra agent then throws his weapon to the ground. Wolverine moves over to him, and places his knuckles under the agent’s face, asking him what the deal is. The agent explains that there is a Hydra base under the forest floor and that they were testing a new incendiary, for an Eastern European client, and reveals that they could not control the reaction. Logan sniffs the air once more and asks the agent what the stuff is that they are moving. The Hydra agent tells Wolverine that it is explosives, engineered viral payloads, neurotoxins, and explains that they have to get them out of the path of fire. ‘Or - you can’t imagine it! There won’t be anything left!’ he exclaims.
Wolverine instructs the family to check the labels on the boxes. ‘Why? What for?’ Peter asks. ‘Powdered aluminum. And anything with the letters “FE” on it’ Logan replies. Logan turns back to the Hydra agent, ‘You saw what I did to your friends’ he states. ‘Yeah’ the agent responds. ‘Weighing a little on your mind?’ Logan asks. ‘Oh, yeah’ the agent admits. ‘Good’ Logan tells him, before pointing out that this good family wouldn’t know a detonator if it sat up and cooked them an omelette. ‘So you dig one out for me, three-minute release. High-end thermal mechanism’ Logan explains, adding that the Hydra agent might live to see how this comes out.
Holding up a capsule, Sue informs Wolverine that it is labelled FE03, while Peter raises a container and reports that it is powdered aluminum, before asking Wolverine how he knew it would be here. Wolverine explains that they are the main ingredients for iron thermite, and that a lot of explosives use them as abase. He tells the family that they need to get these boxes back to the top of the ridge. ‘You with me?’ he asks. ‘What’s the alternative?’ Peter asks. ‘A lot of people die Logan replies. Peter tries to think of answer, but Wolverine has already moved onto the next thing. He instructs Sue to take Ginny and walk in the other direction, counting as they go. ‘When you get to five hundred, lie flat on the ground. Better yet, find some kind of hollow to hunker down in. Then just wait’ he orders. ‘Wait for what?’ Sue asks. ‘You’ll know it when you see it’ Wolverine replies as he puts one of the crates onto his shoulders.
‘Fine. Well - I’ll see you then’ Peter tells Sue. ‘Yeah. Be - be careful, Pete. Okay?’ Sue replies. ‘I’m just juggling high explosives with a blind man in the path of a forest fire. I’m sure we’ll be fine’ Pete replies, before picking up his daughter and telling her to stay close to her mother. ‘I’ll just be a couple of minutes’ he adds. ‘Mister Beak wants a kiss’ Ginny replies. Peter thinks to himself that Mister Beak has always been too physically demonstrative for his liking. ‘But what the hell can you do?’ he asks as he kisses his daughter.
Wolverine carries one crate on his shoulders, while the Hydra agent assists Peter with the other. ‘You even think about pulling anything, pal, and I’ll smell it in your sweat’ Logan warns the Hydra agent, before asking him if he has that detonator. ‘Bowater Bluefield self-charge thermo-couple’ the Hydra agent replies. ‘Keep it handy’ Wolverine instructs him. They reach the edge of the ridge, and Wolverine tells them to set the stuff down. He tells them that they need a good mix of the iron oxide and the aluminum. ‘Pour one box into the other, then rake it with your fingers’ he instructs. Peter does so and Wolverine starts to pour something into the box, asking how far away the fire is. ‘Maybe a quarter of a mile’ Peter replies. ‘Good. The closer the better’ Wolverine remarks.
Wolverine holds the detonator and presses a button, and explains that the thing about the thermite reaction is that it suck the oxygen out of the air and fire can’t burn without oxygen. So, if they make this blast big enough, they have got themselves a firebreak. ‘Won’t we suffocate?’ Peter enquires. ‘If we’re too close, yeah. But we’ll have three minutes to grab some distance’ Wolverine explains. Suddenly, ‘Over here! Over here!’ the Hydra agent calls out when he sees several other agents on the other ridge. ‘Hail Hydra! Cut off one limb and two shall -’ he shouts, before the agents start firing at Wolverine, Peter and their fellow agent, who is struck down. Wolverine and Peter take cover behind the crates, as Wolverine asks ‘What have we got? I need you to be my eyes!’
Peter informs Wolverine that they are on the other side of the ridge. ‘Higher than us. Damn’ Wolverine remarks, before asking what is to their left, and if there is any cover. ‘Just ferns’ Peter replies. ‘I think they’ll see us if we -’ he begins, before seeing more Hydra agents appear to the left. He urgently tells Wolverine that they are on this side too, that they are cut off. The Hydra agents unleash fire, but Wolverine uses one of the crate lids as a shield, though one of the blasts strikes Peter in the shoulder. ‘Logan, they - they shot me!’ he exclaims. Wolverine tells him that it is some kind of laser and that the wound will cauterize. ‘They shot me! Oh God!’ Peter utters. Suddenly, the detonator beeps, and as both groups of Hydra agents continue to fire, Wolverine declares that they are running out of options. He adds that he doesn’t think they could get far enough away from the blast now anyway.
‘You a praying man?’ Wolverine enquires as he grabs Peter by the collar of his shirt, and pulls him along. ‘What?’ Peter asks. ‘If you are - ask for at least six feet of water!’ Wolverine declares as he pulls Peter with him, and leaps off the edge of the cliff. The Hydra agents continue to fire as both men plummet to the river below. Peter screams, and then there is a splash, as Wolverine drags Peter under. ‘Should we go down after them?’ one of the Hydra agents asks, standing on the edge of the ridge. ‘Naw, no way they survived the fall’ another declares. The Hydra agents then salute each other, while one of them notices the detonator in the crate. ‘Hey, what’s…?’ he asks, before the detonator reaches zero. ‘Oh, $%&@’ he utters, before there is a blinding explosion. Wolverine manages to keep himself and Peter submerged under the water.
Shortly, much of the forest has been burned. The sky is black from the smoke. Peter suddenly emerges from the water, coughing and spluttering. ‘Damn! My - my ears! What’s wrong with my ears?’ he asks. ‘Fire’s gone out. Good. Looks like we did it’ Wolverine remarks, looking around, before turning to Peter, he raises three fingers and asks ‘How many fingers?’ But, clutching his head, Peter asks ‘Are you asking me how many fingers? I can’t hear you! Three fingers. I see three’. ‘Yeah, that’s what I see, too. Okay, I’m going to talk to the local law about that weapon’s stash’ Wolverine announces, before suggesting to Peter that he go and check on his family.
After climbing up the cliff-face, it takes Peter a while to find his way back to Sue and Ginny. It is a different world for him now, and it has a heartbeat. There is no birdsong, no wind, just his own heart beating too loud in his useless ears. He throws his arms around his daughter, deciding that it is funny how intense things feel after an explosion. He supposes that it is too much oxygen, rushing in to fill the hole they made in the tortured air. He feels drunk and dizzy with it. He remembers that he and Sue were falling apart because he could never say sorry. He looks at Sue, and she stares back. ‘I slept with another woman and I’m sorry. I’m really sorry I hurt you’ Peter announces.
He has said it now, like a coward, when he couldn’t even hear his own words. He watches Sue’s lips move as she answers him. He tries to pick out a word or two, but nothing. He doesn’t know if she is giving him another chance, or telling him to go jump under a train. So he holds onto her - onto both of them, and simply waits for someone to turn the world’s volume back up again and give him an answer.
Wolverine a.k.a. Logan drops from the X-Jet, thinking to himself that full moons are murder on hush work like this - but the gig has to go now. He falls towards a facility, but lands on the outside of a high wall. He thinks to himself that Chief Lacey cannot abide his son in the hands of a psychotic monster like Carmelo SS. ‘Hell, who could?’ Wolverine asks himself, recalling his earlier encounter with Chief Lacey, who told him, “Mr Logan” that he must understand the need for discretion, and reveals that Samuel’s lifestyle is a grave disappointment to him and that he hasn’t spoken to his son in several years, but that Carmelo has crossed a line with this. ‘And I’ll uncross it, Sir’ Logan told him.
‘He needs the best…so he gets me’ Logan thinks to himself as he uses a pole to fling himself up onto the tall fence. Logan has forgotten the kid’s name already, but decides it doesn’t matter, as this is a recovery operation, not “Big Brothers”. Wolverine means to recover the kid indeed. ‘Some trust-fund brat with a meth-problem or a top-shelf government wheel: it’s all the same job to me. They say grab ‘em, I grab ‘em’ Logan tells himself. He sees semi-clothed people dancing around a spit-fire and decides that if these jumped-up psychos get in the way, well, he could use the exercise. As it is good for the healing factor, after all.
Wolverine sees a dishevelled older man, who calls out ‘My friends! Once and again you have all been aggrieved by the corrupt Chief Lacey, the so-called “Drug Czar”. Wolverine recognizes the man as Carmelo de lo Santo Silva, an international crime chieftain, killer, kidnapper and pederast. A boy is lying on the ground, as Carmelo introduces him as Lacey’s degenerate son, who ought to be more careful traveling abroad. The man holding Lacey’s son down is introduced as Dr Yow, and Carmelo explains that he has infected the boy with the orange eater formula. ‘The torturous weeks it takes his son to die will give Lacey something to think about. And this… this is my gift to you all!’ Carmelo exclaims.
Suddenly, it is double-grab, as Wolverine leaps from the fence, he knows that he has to get the target and the antidote, an unforseen complication that could really chafe him - he has to play this smart. A guard is standing watch, but Wolverine takes him out, just as two more guards bring the Chief’s son towards the cabin that the guard was standing in front of. They are none the wiser. ‘Hola, Felix, wake up! The fiesta is done’ one of the guards calls out to “Felix”, unaware that Logan has taken his place. The other guard announces that Senor de lo Santo Silva wants the “nino” locked away for the night. Wolverine tells himself that he has to make sure his enemies don’t see him coming. He then shoves his claws through them both.
The boy is weak, ‘Help me…’ he utters, collapsing in Wolverine’s arms. Logan tells him that he has got him, that he is safe now. ‘Dad? I’m sorry…’ the boy utters, while recalling his father calling him, Samuel, an embarrassment and throwing him out. Logan throws Samuel over his shoulder and decides that he has to get him over the wall and to the chopper left, then sneak right on back for a heart-to-heart with Carmelo’s doctor pal. ‘We’ll shoot the breeze, we’ll talk it over… and by God, I’ll have that antidote before the &%$@ bleeds out’. However, as Logan rushes to the wall, he steps on a trip wire. ‘Dammit!’ he tells himself as a siren blares, alerting the guards to his presence. He tells himself that he was stupid and sloppy. The guards open fire, so he sets the boy down against a statute. ‘Playing it smart right? Too late for that now…’ he realizes as he starts slashing away at the guards with his claws - then screams in pain as several blades are thrown into his back.
Logan turns around, to see a man standing on stilts, a woman holding a flaming stick and a shorter man before him. The man on stilts juggles more blades, and exclaims ‘Oh look! I’ve made him into a porcupine! Tee hee!’ ‘I’ll make him into a brisket!’ the woman declares. ‘Me first, you two! I want to fold him up, I do, I do!’ Logan starts pull the blades from his back, ‘Send in the clowns’ he mutters, while the shorter man calls out ‘Fold the little furry one! Drop the little dwarf!’ as he flips backwards, then kicks Wolverine in the face, knocking him backwards. Wolverine realizes that the clown has nearly crushed his throat, as there is no adamantium there. Logan is then knocked into the air by the man on stilts. ‘Ugh. Tall fellas. Never liked ‘em’ he thinks to himself. The man on stilts darts backwards but Logan lunges forward, and cuts one of the stilts, causing his opponent to fall to the ground.
‘Yak now what’s cooking, good-looking?’ the woman calls out as she approaches Wolverine. ‘You are!’ she shouts as she blows fire over him. Logan knows people, friends, even, who might make a “hot under the collar” remark here. But he, he is just going to kill them. He roars, and still engulfed in flames, lunges towards the woman, shoving his claws into her. This causes the shorter man to rush forward, ‘NOOO!’ he screams. He then grabs onto Wolverine,. ‘Fold me up! Fold you up!’ he mumbles as he starts choking Wolverine. ‘Fold…you…’ the short man calls out, struggling against Logan, who manages to reach back, then shoves his claws into the short man’s head. His body smoldering from the fire, he turns to the tall man, who looks up, ‘Please…don’t’ he calls out.
‘Uh, I think these are yours’ Wolverine replies, before throwing the knives into the tall man. Suddenly, ‘Well done, Sir - you managed to defeat tonight’s entertainment’ a voice calls out. Logan turns to see Dr Yow, and announces ‘Oh, good. Just the fella I wanted a word with’ Logan replies, before asking him where his boss is. Dr Yow replies that Senor Carmelo is on a helicopter already, miles from here. ‘He does his best to avoid unnecessary contretemps’ he explains. Logan holds up his bloody claws, ‘But you stayed’ he points out, wide-eyed. Dr Yow announces that he must retrieve his subject. ‘Where is -’ he begins, to which Wolverine suggests that the doctor be more worried about himself right now, and grabs him. ‘You keep away from me!’ the doctor pleads.
Logan shoves a claw through the doctor’s neck and tells him that all he has to do is flick his wrist and the claw will go through the carotid artery. ‘Now, the Orange Eater antidote. Spill’ Logan demands. The doctor laughs, and explains that the Orange Eater formula bonded to the boy’s DNA the instant it was introduced. ‘You might as well cure him of blue eyes or brown hair!’ he declares, revealing that the process is quite impossible to undo. ‘He will die. It will be slow, and it will be -’ the doctor begins while Wolverine detects that the doctor’s scent tells him two things - he is a sick and cowardly man, and that he is telling the truth - the boy was doomed before Logan even got here. He then slices off the doctor’s head.
Logan goes over to the statue where he left the boy. ‘Dad?’ the boy calls out. ‘I…yeah, I’m here’ Logan replies. ‘Please…it hurts so bad…make it stop’ the boy utters. ‘Oh God make it stop…’ he pleads. Logan crouches down beside Samuel, ‘Hush now’ he tells him, and in the darkness a SNIKT can be heard as Wolverine mercy kills the boy.
Later, Wolverine is in the office of Director William Lacey, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Wolverine tells Lacey that his sources say Carmelo SS is in Madripoor. ‘He’ll be found, Sir’ Wolverine assures him. ‘How did it happen?’ Lacey enquires. Wolverine explains that there was a stray bullet, that they were firing at his escape chopper and Sam fell into the sea. ‘I’m sorry’ he adds. Logan realizes that his voice sounds a little higher than usual. He clears his throat, but it doesn’t help. But, the lies come easy. ‘Was there any pain?’ Lacey enquires. Wolverine assures him that it was instantaneous. Lacey tells Wolverine that he doesn’t blame him, and that his effort was noble. He then thanks him. ‘It’s just that one bit of the truth…’ Logan thinks to himself as he puts a cap on, low, over his eyes. ‘That’s the one that really stings’ he tells himself as he tells Lacey that his son was brave, even when they had to run, he wasn’t afraid.