‘It’s not the physical symptoms themselves that I’m worried about. Rotted flesh, a collapsed lung, liver cancer. By now, I’m quite accustomed to seeing him recover from such things. But this. There is no precedent for this’ Dr Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast remarks as he points at some DNA strands that appear in a holo projector. ‘Multiple infections that are attacking his DNA directly.’
‘An X-gene virus. Have we identified the source? How imminent is the threat?’ Scott “Cyclops” Summers enquires. The Beast tells Scott to take it easy, as it doesn’t appear to be targeting the x-gene. ‘Can you be sure?’ Scott asks. The Beast announces that he is quite sure, as something like that would be almost banal by comparison. ‘This is attacking the entire DNA structure. Reengineering it to its own needs’ he explains. ‘Which are?’ Cyclops asks. ‘Do I look psychic?’ the Beast snarls in reply.
‘He was speaking to me, Henry’ a voice calls out across the room. It’s Emma Frost, who stands unimpressed as she looks into a room off the laboratory. ‘Thus my straight line’ the Beast remarks as he and Cyclops walk across the lab to join Emma. The Beast adds that he is almost embarrassed that Cyclops missed such a blunt conversational handoff. ‘Yes, banter is generally considered one of my two main powers, but I’m distracted just a bit as I’m currently employing the other’ Emma mutters. ‘My dear, your two main powers are currently threatening to poke someone’s eyes out. Shall I turn down the air conditioning?’ the Beast asks, as Emma folds her arms over her front. ‘What’s it look like in there?’ Cyclops asks. ‘Unpleasant’ Emma responds.
As Emma enters the mind of Wolverine a.k.a. Logan, she sees the horrible things that have recently happened to him. The creatures who had him in their possession. ‘Not that I’m squeamish. Not typically. But without going into overmuch detail - we can safely assume that Logan had an unusually difficult time of it lately’ Emma tells the others. ‘Or does that go without saying?’ she adds.
Cyclops asks Emma if there is any sign of Purifiers, but Emma tells him there is not, however they will want to search for data on a human mutate named Winsor. ‘Tall, pale, very thin?’ the Beast asks. ‘He’s in the system?’ Cyclops enquires. ‘No. Logan gave a vague description of someone he’d had some trouble with’ the Beast explains.
‘He was dissected’ Emma announces, averting her eyes from Wolverine’s decayed and ruined body lying on a table in the next room. ‘It’s happened before’ Cyclops states. The Beast tells him that is all the more reason not to be callous about it. ‘I only mean he’s recovered from it before’ Scott explains. ‘Psychically’ Emma points out. ‘Not in the manner that I or the Professor might delicately peel back the layers of ego, superego and ID’.
Emma continues, declaring that it is more in the manner that one might squeeze his brain from his ears and then pan the meat for bits of his personality thy could play marbles with. ‘When people have messed with Logan’s personality in the past -’ Cyclops begins, as the Beast points out that he has become unstable. ‘I was going to say psychotic’ Scott declares.
Emma has completely turned away from the window into the other room as she tells the men that Wolverine is plenty psychotic, enough to have given her a headache. She announces that she is going for an aspirin. Wolverine’s rotting body lies still, blood seeping from festering wounds that crawl with maggots. ‘Lock down the medical bay’ Cyclops instructs. ‘I’m not certain we need to -’ the Beast begins. ‘Is he going to recover?’ Cyclops asks. ‘I’ve yet to see him not recover from anything’ Hank tells Scott, who once again instructs his long-time teammate to lock down the bay. ‘Scott’ Hank remarks. ‘Yes?’ Scott asks.
‘If Logan recovers, his DNA may be littered with new infectious agents. We need a quarantine’ the Beast explains. ‘Quarantine the bay’ Cyclops instructs him. ‘Scott’ Hank says once more. ‘The level’ Scott amends. ‘Scott’ the Beast calls out. ‘The base’ Scott tells him. ‘Yes’ Hank agrees. ‘Emma and I had dinner plans in the city’ Scott remarks. ‘A shame’ the Beast mutters. ‘She’s going to be very upset, Hank’ Scott points out. ‘I sympathize’ Hank claims. ‘I’m going to blame you’ Scott announces. ‘I exist to serve’ Hank responds, as Wolverine suddenly opens his eyes.
Later, a figure lurks through the X-Men’s base, passing a room where the Beast sits in an armchair, reading a magazine and examining data on a laptop. ‘Well now, that new sequence looks almost vaguely normal. K-Fed. You are looking largish’ the Beast declares, dividng his attention between the magazine and the laptop.
In her quarters, Emma is naked and lies on her bed. Clenching a pillow with one hand, the other touching her lips, she asks ‘Do you know how hard it is to get a reservation at Poultice?’ Cyclops responds by asking ‘With or without psychically manipulating the maitre d’?’ Emma tells him that how she makes her reservations is beside the point, and that the thread for the gown that she was going to wear tonight was the product of worms with a genome she commissioned three months ago to produce an ivory silk that perfectly complimented both her skin tone and the red booth-leather at the restaurant. ‘The effect would have been snow on blood’ she remarks. Cyclops tells Emma that, had he known, he would have told Wolverine to choose another night to become patient zero for a plague. ‘You joke, but it was bound to happen. All of the filthy places he runs off to’ Emma comments. ‘He’s a big boy. So to speak’ Cyclops replies. ‘You need to concentrate on your apology’ Emma pouts.
‘I’m apologizing as quickly and as neatly as I can’ Cyclops replies as he paints Emma’s toenails with nail polish. ‘Yes, but now your apology needs to be applied in a northerly direction’ Emma tells him. ‘I think you mean westerly’ Scott points out. ‘Upwardly, is what I meant’ Emma explains, to which Scott tells her that she is on a horizontal. ‘Enough geometry and geography. My lips are up here, come apologize to them’ Emma orders. She rolls onto her front and adds that then they will talk about what else needs an apology.
Suddenly: ‘Oh. Oh damn. Henry, we need you’ Emma calls out. ‘Emma, I owe you an apology, and Hank is an old friend, but there are some things I won’t do’ Scott declares. ‘We need to go to the kitchen’ Emma announces. Scott tells her that if she expects him to cook, she will be the one who is sorry.
And shortly, Scott and a near-naked Emma meet the Beast in the kitchen. ‘Oh filth’ Emma gasps, putting her hands to her face. The trio look into the kitchen and hear strange noises - kneeling on the floor is Wolverine, chomping into a chicken, food scattered all around him - along with his rotting outer layer of skin which he has shed. ‘Hungry’ Logan manages to utter as he stares at the trio. ‘If he’s gone feral, he’ll break for the door. I’ll hold here. Hank, you -’ Scott begins to instruct the others, as Hank leaps over the counter and says ‘Provide a nice animalistic distraction for his predator instincts to focus on? Yes, Logan and I enjoy tearing one another to ribbons. We do it so well’. ‘Do it with fewer words’ Cyclops tells him, as he starts to instruct Emma on what he wants her to do, but Emma interrupts him: ‘Put up a psychic inhibitor on his berserker nature. Yes, I do so love getting a close look at the heaped dead bodies in his subconscious guilt-closet’.
‘You know what I love about X-Babies? They shut up and follow orders’ Cyclops snaps. ‘Familiarity, Slim. You remember what that breeds?’ Wolverine asks as he continues to devour the chicken. ‘Speaking of which, must have been too long since we all tussled. I go feral, I ain’t making for the exits. I’m looking for fresh meat’. He tells Hank with all due respect that the only time he ever got the upper hand on him was when he got devolved to a girly boy. He informs Emma that he felt her poking in his head before, and offers her some advice: ‘That wasn’t the worst of it. Jar something’ loose, I might lose track of where I am. Get ugly’. Tearing apart the chicken, Logan turns to his teammates and points outs that he has the ugly market cornered just now. He adds that he is going to finish filling his belly and suggests that anyone who doesn’t want to puke should leave.
Scott, Emma and Hank turn and leave the kitchen. ‘Hank, I want to know -’ Scott begins, as Hank interrupts: ‘How he got out of the quarantine tank without sounding an alarm? I’m guessing he employed his decades of experience as a covert agent and assassin’. ‘Emma, as soon as you can, I want -’ Scott starts to say, but Emma knows what he is going to ask: ‘A Cerebra reading on Wolverine so we know if he’s going to kill us all in our sleep?’ But Scott tells her that he was going to say that he wants her to put on some clothes. ‘No you don’t’ Emma remarks. ‘Just while we’re out of our room. The rest of the time, as you wish’ Scott replies. The Beast casually remarks that he was hoping nudism might become the new vogue for X-Men and Women at their leisure. Emma tells Hank that he has both the figure and the pelt for it, but that there are some X-Men she would prefer to remain covered, no matter how infirm their sense of fashion.
‘Yes, gossip in the workplace! Let us name names and heap humiliation upon our fellows without their knowledge’ the Beast suggests. Cyclops asks the others not to make fun of team unity, to which Emma points out that seeing another person naked is a bonding experience. Hank remarks that he and Scott have known each other since late adolescence, so they have seen it all. ‘Hank’ Scott protests. Hank adds that the curiosity when he first became blue and furred was uncomfortable, and Jean, of all people, put an actual bounty on the first viewing of his equipment. ‘Consider my interest piqued’ Emma declares. Hank adds that in those days, before the mansion had been repeatedly demolished and remodeled, the boys shared a locker room and showers. ‘Warren’s wings must have been difficult to accommodate in the shower’ Emma points out. ‘Warren’s wings were the least of it, Emma’ Hank remarks. ‘I’ve heard as much’ Emma replies. ‘You’ve not heard it all’ Hank tells her. ‘Hank!’ Scott repeats. Emma tells Henry to just think the rest, and she will get the picture, while in the kitchen, Wolverine continues to devour more food.
‘Better and better’ Hank remarks to himself as he looks at the DNA hologram, while in their quarters, Emma and Scott are back in bed. ‘Oh, oh, Warren, your wings are soooo big’ Emma mocks. ‘Not funny’ Scott replies.
In the bathroom off his quarters, Logan stares in the mirror. ‘Crap. Crap. You look like crap, bub’ he tells himself as his body slowly regenerates. ‘Take that’ Logan snarls as he punches the mirror, shattering it. He has put some underwear on and stands in front of his closet. ‘Bub. You got to get some new things to wear’ Logan decides.
Wearing just his dressing gown, he goes into the living area and sits on a sofa. ‘I don’t know. Just sometimes you get sick of yourself, right? Sight of yourself, smell of yourself. Sick of the idea of yourself’ he remarks to a blonde woman sitting on a sofa nearby. Logan drinks some beer, his hair is starting to grow back, and he wipes his lips. ‘Sick of twitching like a dead frog’s leg every time someone hits you with a little current. Wolverine: wind him up and watch him kill!’ Logan declares, raising his can of beer. ‘Why are you talking to me? You never talk to me. Why are you talking to me now? ‘Alison Blaire a.k.a. Dazzler asks, seated nearby. ‘Like I said. Ya get sick of the idea of yourself sometimes, Dazzler ol’ girl. What am I gonna say to the others I ain’t said before?’ Logan asks. He points out that Scott, Hank, Kurt and even Peter have heard it all before, and that Frost has been in his head so much she has seen stuff. ‘See, you, you’re a woman, right?’ Logan asks Dazzler. Unimpressed, Dazzler frowns: ‘Please don’t let this be a come-on’ she asks.
Wolverine tells her that talking with Kitty was easy, because she was a kid, there was no danger. ‘Set a pattern of me, talking to kids, like, what are they gonna say that’s gonna challenge me?’ Logan asks. He continues, ‘But a full-grown woman? What do I ever say to a woman? I’m either stumbling over my own tongue, pledging eternal love, or stabbing them in the gut’. That is what he knows to do with women.
‘I really, really hope this isn’t a come on’ Dazzler remarks. Wolverine ignores her comment and looks at his beer can, stating that he is talking to her because he has never talked to her before, and he is sick of the idea of himself. ‘So it’s not a come-on?’ Dazzler asks, changing the television channel with the remote control. Logan continues to heal, looking better as time passes, and remarks that the funny thing is, he doesn’t know how much of him is actually him. ‘Just now, in less than a night, I’ve replaced like a quarter of my mass. Healing factor broke down what I ate, metabolized it, turned it to muscle and bone and whatever. A fourth of me wasn’t even in me a few hours ago’.
‘This beer, there’s immediate future me in there’ Logan remarks. Dazzler looks unimpressed still and looking at the television remarks ‘If this show had been on when I started, I would have kicked ass. I mean, they want soulful bubble gum techno disco pop? I invented that sound’. She laments that they just hand you a contract, no lousy club dates, no gropey managers, no embarrassingly bad bio-pics and no years of fighting gangsters and evil mutants and monsters. ‘They just hand it to you’. Logan looks over at Dazzler and tells her ‘They’d have killed ya’. ‘Please, have you even heard me sing? I’m amazing’ Dazzler declares. Logan tells her that he means literally. ‘Things are bad for mutants now, they were worse then. The lynching years. Mutant on TV, they’d have killed you’. Dazzler points out that she isn’t a feeb and would not have used her power or anything - just her voice - it is all she would have needed. ‘That’d made it worse. Someone would have outed ya, and people would have gone bitter over being fooled’ Wolverine suggests.
Dazzler reveals that she had a gig tonight. ‘Canceled?’ Logan asks. ‘Quarantine’ Dazzler points out. ‘Right. Sorry about that’ Logan tells her. Dazzler asks him if he is going to offer her a beer, so Logan tosses a can to her and announces that he has to get out. ‘Don’t let me keep you. One beer won’t get me loose enough for a big make-out session on the couch’ Dazzler replies. Wolverine points out that he can’t go, to which Dazzler asks ‘If you can’t break quarantine, who can?’ But Logan tells her that isn’t it. ‘I got nothing to wear’ he explains, adding that everything in his closet makes him want to puke. ‘Man, I hate this commercial’ he mutters, looking at the television.
‘Show me your room’ Dazzler orders, standing up and putting her hands on her hips. ‘Gonna miss the final vote’ Logan points out. ‘Tivo’ Dazzler replies, to which Logan tells her that he is not going to make out with her. ‘You barely have lips’ Dazzler reminds him as they walk out of the living room. Logan tells Dazzler that just because his self-esteem is low, she can’t take advantage. ‘Your virtue is safe’ Alison assures him.
They pass Hank’s room, where he is sleeping his armchair, magazine and laptop resting on him. Emma and Scott lie tangled in their sheets in their bed.
‘This is weird’ Logan remarks. ‘Why? Because you never did anything but bad-mouth me before?’ Alison asks. ‘I’ve never tried this kind of thing’ Logan explains. ‘You said you wanted something new’ Dazzler reminds him. ‘Feels loose’ Logan declares as he stands in front of a mirror wearing an all-black leather outfit with long trench coat. ‘You said you were still replacing mass’ Alison smiles. ‘You think my ass is big normally?’ Logan asks. ‘You do not, sorry to be the one to tell you, have the ass of a twelve-year old boy’ Dazzler declares. Logan asks if he is supposed to want the ass of a twelve-year old boy, to which Dazzler replies ‘Not unless you’re a runway model’. ‘So I’m -’ Logan begins. ‘Acting like a bitchy little runway model? Yes’ Dazzler declares. ‘Hn’ Wolverine mutters.
Logan follows Dazzler out of his room and tells her that she dropped some stitches here, as he adjusts the coat. ‘You ever alter flexible ballistic compound with pinking shears and a sewing needle?’ Dazzler enquires. ‘No’ Logan replies. ‘Then #### off, Naomi’ Dazzler exclaims. ‘Say, about all that bad-mouthing I have you in training. I saw your movie once. It sucked’ Wolverine tells Dazzler. ‘I’ll add your review to the others’ Dazzler mutters. ‘But you were real good. And I remember thinking that’s a woman could be something if she wanted to’. Logan adds that maybe he pushed a little harder than he needed to. ‘That’s the sweetest non-apology I ever received from a man in my life’ Dazzler smiles. ‘I’m an eloquent ######’ Wolverine replies.
As Logan walks down the hallway, Dazzler asks him where he is off to. ‘Got a girl to see’ Wolverine tells her. ‘She going to get the love pledge or the gut-stab?’ Dazzler enquires, to which Wolverine tells her that he is still deciding. ‘Very weird little interlude there. Oh damn. I’m having horny thoughts about Wolverine’ Dazzler mutters.
Wolverine messes with some wires, then drives out of the X-Men headquarters, as Dazzler enters Scott and Emma’s room. She calls out to them, and from under the sheets, Emma mumbles ‘Lover, kill whoever that is’. ‘Kill her yourself’ Scott replies, to which Emma reminds him that she could psychically compel him to kill her. Scott and Emma then look up from under the sheets and Scott calls out ‘Come in’. Dazzler asks them if they ever do anything else with their free time. Scott asks her what is going on. ‘Um, Logan. He’s acting a little weird’ Dazzler replies. ‘Weird how?’ Scott asks. ‘Talking-to-me-like-I’m-a-person-weird’ Dazzler explains. Scott starts to get dressed, and Emma stands up, sheet wrapped around her, she asks Dazzler if it has to be so bright inside her mind. ‘Oh no’ Emma utters. ‘Has he gone feral?’ Scott asks. ‘He played dress-up with her’ Emma announces. ‘Tell Hank to meet us in the medical bay’ Scott instructs Dazzler.
Wolverine meanwhile, has arrived at another location, the sun rising over the hills creates an eerie pink glow. ‘Are you going to kill me?’ the woman Logan has come to visit asks. ‘Rule of thumb: if you have a reason to ask me that question and I haven’t already killed you, you’re probably gonna be okay’ Logan replies. “Probably” the woman, Driver Reese quotes. Logan tells her that he doesn’t make promise he can’t keep. ‘Too bad. I thought you might kill me before this head cold does’ Driver replies, before asking Logan to come inside. Logan follows her up some stairs into the living area and asks ‘Winsor knew where you could pick me up?’ to which Driver tells him that he must have, as Winsor told her to drive that stretch of the Thirty-Seven at that time. ‘Ask him’ she adds. Logan tells her that it is too late. ‘So you?’ Driver asks. ‘I didn’t. but I left him with someone who had about as much reason as I did’ Wolverine replies.
Driver sits on a sofa and rubs her nose with a tissue, telling Logan that she is sorry, that things got very bad that night, and whatever Winsor gave them, what they came to the parties for, it was stronger that night. She adds that it was morning before she realized how bad it had been, and she was worried about him, but didn’t know what to do. ‘I thought he wanted an X-Man at his party. Because it would be cool, you know. I didn’t know he was some kind of…’ her voice trails off. ‘Super villain’ Wolverine remarks. ‘Really? You really call them that?’ Driver enquires. ‘If the shoe fits’ Wolverine tells her. ‘I was pawned by a super villain. That’s either impossibly cool or severely dorky’ Looking at some artwork on the woman’s wall, Logan tells her that Winsor is finished now, but he needs to find some stuff he had, as it is dangerous.
‘Yes. Anything I can do. I want to help. I had, you know, my, it’s stupid, my biggest regret was, you know, I really liked hanging out with you and. So. Anything I can do. Yes’ Driver replies, before sneezing. ‘Gesundheit’ Wolverine tells her, while green gunk starts to seep from the woman’s nostril. ‘Thanks. Hey, you really look great. I love that jacket’ Driver smiles. ‘Thanks’ Wolverine replies, turning to her, he suddenly goes wide-eyed and shouts ‘Driver!’ as the young woman smiles back at Wolverine, and tells him that she likes him - as a golden falcon suddenly smashes through the window and beheads Driver with its sharp wing as it flies by her. Claws outstretched, Logan lunges to Driver, but her head drops to the floor, glass shattered all around them.
Green energy starts to pulse from Driver’s eyes and mouth. Wolverine looks on, confused. Turning to the rest of her body, he sees more of the green energy rising. ‘Little man’ a voice calls out. ‘Back away there with tour knives’ the voice adds, referring to Wolverine’s claws. By now, the energy has risen to form a large techno-organic, necrotic spider. Logan turns to the two men who have appeared in the room. The golden falcon rests on a man dressed in a pink and blue costume with a long pink cloak. Another man leans against the banister, he wears a low-cut black top with large white sleeves and grey pants. He smirks at Wolverine and tells him to leave this to the professionals. They are Monark Starstalker and Paradox!