In the depths of the Colombian jungle, the Adamantium Men that make up Strikeforce X continue their search for Wolverine.
Strikeforce X’s performance evaluation interview tells of how the Adamantium Men spent five days searching through the jungle for Wolverine, twelve against one. They were all trained, state of the art killing machines. They were armed with healing factors, unbreakable metal bones, laser claws, and guns that shoot bullets loaded with various mutating forms of cancer. They thought Wolverine didn’t stand a chance. They figured wrong.
The leader of the Adamantium Men signals for the group to split up. One of the Adamantium Men treks off on his own into the jungle.
The interview continues, saying that Wolverine used guerilla tactics, never facing them in groups or in the open. The interviewee claims that Wolverine set booby traps or would attack them one at a time, like something from a Vietnam movie. Binderup fell face-first into a pit of punji sticks the first night. The next morning, Overfield was jumped and stabbed in the privates. The interviewee tells of how Comfort was mauled so badly he needed to be shipped back for repairs, and that on the third day they thought Pottratz got lost in the jungle. They soon knew better.
The lone Adamantium Man stops in his tracks, weapon drawn, at the sound of intense screaming. “Jesus, what the hell’s he doing to the guy?” the Adamantium Man asks, readying his weapon. A voice comes over his comm.-unit, warning him to make sure he sees his target before he shoots. The cancer bullets cost a quarter million dollars apiece. If they waste the bullets, Roxxon’s CEO will be none too pleased.
The Adamantium Man hears a snap behind him, turning with his weapon pointed straight in the direction of the noise. Through his night-vision goggles, he sees nothing but jungle. “C’mon, out, you son of a—” he whispers as a taunt. Then comes the “snikt” of warning from behind him. Before the Adamantium Man can react, Wolverine launches himself at the Adamantium Man full-force, all six claws extended as he growls, plunging his claws into the shocked man’s chest. In his shock, the Adamantium Man’s gun falls to the grass below.
The interviewee continues, saying that Wolverine is supposed to be a mutant, and that he knows nothing about them, where they come from, or how they do what they do—or even if they have souls. He hopes mutants do have souls, though, because, when the interviewee finally gets to kill Wolverine, he wants to know he is going to burn in hell.
With the Adamantium Man on the ground, Wolverine picks up the gun with the cancer bullets, shooting the man with two bullets. “Heh… best million bucks I ever spent,” Wolverine says in satisfaction as he watches cancerous pustules spread across the Adamantium Man’s skin.
A series of bullets sends Wolverine running as four more Adamantium Men emerge from the jungle, opening fire. He runs off again with two Adamantium Men in hot pursuit while the other two stop over their fallen teammate. He begs for help as the men examine him. The leader tells the second man to call it in as he stares off after Wolverine and his two men. The other man radios in to Station Zebra, reporting a man down for Strikeforce X.
Later, at the Blackguard Security Station, the head of Strikeforce X looks over his fallen teammate, asking the doctors how he is. The doctors tell the Adamantium Man that the cancer is overwhelming his teammate’s healing factor and that they are having to dramatically increase the flow of nanites in his blood. He believes the process could very well prove fatal. The head of the team shrugs off the pessimism. He tells the doctor that his teammate is a fighter. It would take more than 38 kinds of cancer to ever take him out. Another man interrupts the conversation to let Strikeforce X’s head know that the Chief Executive is on the line for him.
Over webcam, the Chief Executive and head of Strikeforce X begin to talk while the Chief Executive pours himself a glass of wine. He asks Strikeforce X’s head if he still hasn’t killed Wolverine. The head explains that Wolverine took down one of the Adamantium Men and slipped off into the jungle. He tells the Chief Executive not to worry, though. The Adamantium Men will succeed. The Chief Executive explains that he doesn’t worry, addressing Strikeforce X’s head as Mr. Klein. For what the Chief Executive paid for the bottle of chateau d’yquem he is drinking, he could have fed most of Africa for a year. He sets his glass down, the head of a lion molded into the ring on his left hand. That, he says, toasting, is a certainty.
He explains that tomorrow morning, Congress will hold hearings on whether or not to grant Roxxon a multi-billion dollar defense contract. The Chief Executive has spent a considerable amount of money to insure that the outcome will also be a certainty. The last thing that Roxxon needs now is for their dealings in Colombia to become an exposé on the evening news. He tells Klein that he and his troops were designed to be superior to Wolverine in every way, that this should be like killing their grandfather and that he has already promised to bring Wolverine’s head to the next shareholders’ meeting.
In regards to the hostage that Wolverine has taken, then, the Chief Executive asks, what are the chances this man will talk? “No chance at all, sir,” Klein assures him. “My men are tougher than snake turds. That soldier won’t break, I promise you...no matter what that bastard does to him.
Back in the Colombia jungle, Wolverine washes his hands and arms of blood in the small flow of water outside a cave. Once finished, he returns to the cave, talking to someone inside. “Healing factor don’t make it hurt no less, does it, kid? You seen the light yet?”
“Go to hell,” comes the sharp reply. Wolverine, disappearing in the mouth of the cave, tells the man that is not the answer he wanted to hear. The next thing to emerge from the cave is an excruciatingly pained scream.
It is night in San Francisco, where a man hands Melita Garner a manila folder, explaining that this is the information she wants. He wants her to take the folder and leave him the hell alone. Melita explains to the man, Mr. Bender, that she told him on the phone that her research has raised some serious questions about Blackguard’s business practices. She was just hoping that, as vice president, he could help her answer some of those.
Bender protests, telling Garner he just gave her every answer she’ll need. Garner, sifting through the files, asks if they are personnel files from Roxxon’s security forces. Bender explains that they are files on Strikeforce X, Blackguard’s elite combat unit, currently making a trial-run deployment protecting Roxxon’s coal mines in Colombia by slaughtering local protesters. Anger begins to rise in Melita’s face as she pores over the files. These men, she says, are all ex-military, and every single one of them was dishonorably discharged. She can see that their charges ranged from rape, to torture to murder of civilians—and Blackguard actually targets men like this for recruitment?
Bender’s eyes widen. He tells her that they wanted the men a little crazy, especially since they had to be crazy to sign up to begin with. Melita asks Bender if he recruited these men. He admits that he did at the directive of the chief executive, but now? Now he just wants out. However she found him, he doesn’t want her to do it again. He’s quitting Blackguard. He doesn’t want to be a part of what’s coming.
“Why, what’s coming?” Melita shoots back. Hands shoved in his pockets, Bender tells Melita about the congressional meeting tomorrow. He says the meeting is occurring as a formality because the chief executive has already bought off enough senators to ensure that Blackguard gets a massive new contract for the government. Pointing to another file, Bender tells Melita that, this time next year, there will be Strikeforce X units deployed in every hotspot around the world and that, in five years, Blackguard will be the United States’ de factor military. Melita’s eyes open wide in disbelief. With all the talk of change at the election, she can’t bring herself to believe the new administration would ever allow that to happen.
Turning away from her, Bender tells Melita to grow up. The person in charge at the White House at any given moment is irrelevant. The only presidents who really matter anymore are the ones that Blackguard puts on their money. At that, he bids her good night, walking off alone into the dark.
It is there, alone, that he finds himself stopped in his tracks as someone calls out his name. Bender finds himself confronted by four men in suits and ties from Blackguard’s human resources department who have reason to believe he may have violated his confidentiality agreement, stressing that this is a terminable offense. Drawing their guns, the men indicate a nondescript red van behind them. They are going to need him to come with them.
Bender struggles, telling the men to wait even as they haul him toward the van. One of the men expresses that the Chief Executive is very disappointed with Bender, directing one of the men to get the woman. He runs off, gun drawn, in search of Melita. He barely makes it up a handful of steps when his heck is rocked backwards by a bullet piercing his skull. Two more of Bender’s captors fall to sniper rounds in seconds. The last man shoves Bender into the van, yelling for the driver to move. Another bullet shatters the front windshield of the van and enters the right temple of the driver. Reaching for his headset, the final member of Blackguard’s human resources team holds on gun on the cowering Bender, calling in that they have an emergency. A final bullet finds its way into his head, too. Seeing his captors all dead, Bender runs screaming from the van.
From afar, looking down over the scope of his sniper rifle, Maverick watches.
Daylight creeps into the cave as the Adamantium Man looks up, finding Wolverine standing resolute in front of him, outlined against the stalactites. Wolverine asks the man if he is ready to talk now, but the man in silent. Listen, Logan says. He’s been where this man is now and knows what he’s been through, what the program did to him. He knows that they messed with his head, making him feel nothing but hate and bloodlust. To them, he is nothing but a killing machine, but it doesn’t have to be that way. He still has a choice. He can be his own man again. So what does he say? Does he want out of the cave?
Cowering behind Logan in the corner, the man says yes, please let him out. Logan holds out his left hand, telling the young man to give him his hand. He made the right choice. Grinning savagely, the man says that he knows, extending his laser claws and taking Logan down to the ground with a hit to the face.
On the ground, Wolverine thinks that he can’t say he didn’t see that coming. He knew the first night when he grabbed the young man that there was no hope of turning him back. Watching the man take off through the jungle, Wolverine thinks that either Blackguard took all the humanity that was left in him or else there was never any to begin with. He knew all along that he would never break the man, which is why, when he was passed out, Logan hid a little tracking device behind of his eyeballs, hooking it to his optic nerve. Now, wherever he runs, Logan can follow, so maybe now he’ll finally meet whatever fat bastard is running this show.
In Washington, Congress begins to hear the talks of hiring Blackguard for their defense contracts, thanking the chief executive for taking time from his busy schedule to talk to them. The chief executive says that he and his company are here to serve and that he appreciates the chance to clear the air regarding Blackguard’s record.
Back in San Francisco, Melita Garner listens to the broadcast of the hearing as she returns home from a jog. She scoffs at the chief executive’s statement. If he wanted to clear the air, why did he turn down her interview requests? The thought is interrupted as she hears a creaking of the floorboards, letting her know someone is there. As the door opens, she kicks into the door, running away immediately. The man, holding his hand to his wounded head and wielding a knife, screams for Melita to come back. Behind him, the door is kicked open by a familiar foot.
Maverick rushes in, guns blazing, sending both the assassin and Melita’s cat scurrying. The assassin takes advantage of the lull in gunfire to attack Maverick, but Maverick snaps the man’s wrist with his hand, taking out his shin with a swift kick. With Maverick’s boot on the assassin’s neck, the assassin tells Maverick to go to hell. He won’t tell Maverick a thing. Maverick responds that this is fine, because he’s not asking. He pushes down with his foot, crushing the man’s windpipe with a sickening crunch.
Turning around, Maverick finds himself looking down the barrel of Melita’s gun. She tells him not to move, demanding to know who he is and what he’s doing in her apartment. Maverick holds up his hands in surrender, telling Melita his name and that he is a friend of Wolverine’s. He is only there to help.
The Senate hearing continues as one of the senators addresses the chief executive, saying that he has repeatedly talked about how Roxxon is only there to help, but that an article in the San Francisco Post accuses Roxxon of committing gross human rights violations in Colombia. The chief executive explains that he and his lawyers both have seen the article, and that it is riddled with falsehoods and outright lies.
The senator presses further, asking if the chief executive denies that Blackguard’s forces are currently active in Colombia, targeting all local opposition to Roxxon’s mining interests. The Chief Executive shoots back that they employ security forces, not assassins. They are very particular about the character of the men they hire, the vast majority of whom previously served in the military. The way these men see it, he says, is that they are continuing to protect their country and its interests from terrorists.
Regarding the Colombia operations, the chief executive explains that those have been discontinued and that he has pulled his forces out of that area, knowing that such slanderous lies could potentially put those men at risk, because nothing means more to him than the safety of his men. He sees them as a proud and courageous lot and promises that they will do America proud, no matter where she needs them. The senator thanks the chief executive, telling him that he believes they have all they need from him for now. He expects that Roxxon will be hearing from the Senate soon.
Meanwhile, back in Colombia, Wolverine continues on the trail of his tracking device, following it to one of the company’s remote mining operations. There, he finds the tracking device, the eyeball he had placed it behind, and the knife the Adamantium Man used to carve it out with, all plunged into the trunk of a tree…