(Today, New York)
Wolverine storms into the offices of Warren Worthington III (a.k.a. the Angel) and asks him what the blazes he’s playing at. Warren looks over at him from behind his desk and replies, “God, god of commerce, remember? And I’ll need to have a long talk with the new gatekeeper I suppose.”
Wolverine replies that he scares easily enough, that’s for sure. He stares at one of Warren’s paintings and asks what he’s doing here and Warren tells him that considering all the time he’s been spending lately with Betsy, between dimension-hopping to recover her soul, and just lying around at home getting to know each other, he feels he’s been neglecting the family business. His parents and grandparents put a lot of time and effort into the company and he isn’t exactly ignorant of his responsibility to the thousands of employees worldwide, who’ve kept it going since then. He figures he could spend a few days there to catch up on things that demand his personal attention.
Wolverine puts his arms around him and pops his claws behind Warren’s back, asking why he shouldn’t gut him right here and now, for trying to destroy them all. Warren steps back, shocked at Logan’s behavior, asking what this is all about. He replies that the neutralizer, Forge’s neutralizer, the same one that once took away Storm’s powers is being reverse-engineered by his people down in North Carolina. Warren is totally unaware of this, asking if he means the plastics application facility outside of Raleigh-Durham. He says that they have some government contractors there, who he thinks are researching some kind of top-security camouflage process; he has the paperwork right here. Logan looks at the painting again and asks him how much it’s supposed to worth.
Before Warren replies, Logan threatens to ruin it with one of his claws and Warren is infuriated. He tells Logan that this is ridiculous; there’s no way he’d allow his companies to be involved with anything like what he’s talking about. Logan replies that he knows him all right, and he knows his sources. “Who spy-guy?” Warren asks, “Who’s out there mouthing off about me and my business? Fury and his S.H.I.E.L.D spooks? Or the K.G.B, or even the D.V.X now? Give me the names and I’ll have them in court so fast…”
Logan replies that they’re people without names, without faces, but people who he’s a lot more reason to trust than some poor little rich boy in his ivory castle, especially one who used to work for Apocalypse. Warren presses a button, opening the large window in his office. The name of Apocalypse still causes him to shudder. His wings recently returned, suddenly and painfully, and the wounds are fresh. He tells Logan that was a cheap shot, beneath even him. He expands his wings, which rips his shirt apart, and tells Logan that he doesn’t have to believe what he has to say; he should come and see for himself. With that, he leaps from the building with Logan leaping after him, grabbing Angel’s ankle as he heads onwards and upwards.
The man Warren calls Logan is mad, mad as a hatter, but worse still it the fact that miles and miles away, the real Logan is totally out of his mind or, more accurately, his mind is totally out of him. He crouches in a foetal position, alone again, trapped somewhere dark and damp, awash in his own blood, occasionally lapping at it for strength. What scares him though is that the body he is trapped in is not his; it is Sabretooth’s. His throat is slashed from ear to ear and he lies in a corner of a half-empty freight car on a train hurtling southeast from Aspen, Colorado.
Wolverine takes the opportunity to take in some skiing and wears a purple and black suit with matching skis. It enables him to sort his head out after the recent problems with Bastion’s Operation: Zero Tolerance and the three new kids on the block who’ve been dumped on the X-Men, two out of three of which he wouldn’t trust to save his seat on an empty bus. He also thinks about how he’s coped with losing his adamantium all those months ago. That was supposed to change everything, as if removing it could make him any less different. Suddenly, he hears a woman’s scream and heads towards her, picking up an all too familiar scent as he gets nearer. When he arrives, he sees the woman lying on the ground, with Sabretooth kneeling over her with her hair in his fist. He growls at Wolverine and says he guesses they share a taste for the sporting life, “Hope yer hungry!” The woman cries for help.
(Today, North Carolina)
Warren is unaware of the deception, believing the man he travels with to be Logan. Creed is impressed; private jet waiting at the airport on a moments notice to wing them down to the Carolinas and luxury sports cars waiting in every state, just in case. As they arrive at the plastics application facility, Psylocke’s name enters the conversation but Creed tells Warren to save it for someone who cares about that trash. He’s more impressed that she lived through a claw-to-claw with Sabretooth, managing to survive a nasty gut wound that should have killed her. He leaps from the car and approaches the gates but is stopped by two uniformed guards, one of whom points his weapon at Creed.
Warren steps in, saying it’s okay and the two enter the facility. Warren is already sick of Creed’s attitude and disrespect and says, as soon as they’re finished here, they’re going to have a long talk. As they wander into the building and through an array of scanners to ensure they’re not carrying weapons and they are not impostors, Creed tells him that he isn’t exactly the all-American Mr. Clean he’s cracked up to be either; hiding his true blue skin with an image-inducer. “Ever even consider anything darker first; something a little less whitebread?” he teases.
Warren replies that this is the color of his skin, the skin he was born with. Apocalypse turned him blue artificially for his own purpose, to use in his survival games. Creed doesn’t let up, saying that he’s still Apocalypse’s pawn then, he’s just better at hiding it. Warren shrugs off the remark and points out what is what in the facility. On the left there are the research scientists, on the right are the research assistants and there are research cataloguers in every other closet. He asks Creed if he is impressed and he replies that security’s everything he heard it was and it’s one tough nut to crack.
Wolverine knows that Sabretooth’s presence can’t be a coincidence but as he’s right here in front of him. He doesn’t care and he leaps at his nemesis, slashing him across the chest with his first attack. He warns him that if he’s hurt the girl, he’s gonna put him down once and for all. Creed falls and clutches his chest. Wolverine thinks that it was too easy; he walked right into that attack, letting him open him up like some kind of amateur. Creed replies that if he hadn’t done it, he’d have done it himself.
(Today, North Carolina)
The plastics application facility is quiet. A guard lies on the grass, his weapon slashed into several pieces as his colleague lies face down nearby. Another man lies almost naked and unconscious. Along a piece of machinery, three claw marks stretch from end to end. It appears someone else has arrived on the scene.
Wolverine approaches the woman and tells her to calm down, there’s nothing to be afraid of. “Wrong,” she replies. He sees her face and realizes she is no ordinary human. It’s too late, though, as she grabs him by the arm, the most delicate of touches, and reaches over to Sabretooth with Wolverine helpless in her grasp. She tells Creed that this had better work. “If your psi-patterns once again prove too feral to match your target, if I suffer this agony, the loss of more self without result…”
Creed cuts in, telling the woman named Hoo that it’s like he told her employers; just because she couldn’t get him into Worthington himself, doesn’t mean he can’t get into Worthington Industries, through a mutual friend. Hoo is a merchant, a trader in singularly unique and valuable goods. She’s a mutant with the ability to switch selected human minds on contact, for a price she pays herself. The process causes Creed to vomit but, just before the switching of minds occurs, he rips his own chest apart, just to ensure Wolverine won’t be able to stomach this walk on the wild side. Creed stands up, his mind now occupying Wolverine’s body, and laughs.
(Now, North Carolina)
Creed, in Wolverine’s body, and Warren Worthington III reach the last sub-level, restricted solely to maintenance and waste-disposal crews. Warren tells Logan to admit that he was wrong; that his big bad sources were wrong. He says they should call off this stupid search before he really gets offended. He’s cut him some serious slack already but only because he’s known him for so long. Creed apologizes. He appreciates the guided tour but the only thing he’s admitting is that he runs a clean place here; too clean, especially down this particular hall.
He walks down the hall and cannot pick up any scent, not even soap to cover a scent, and he’s learned to follow his nose, no matter how far off the beaten track he is. Warren is angry, informing Creed that he has led them to a dead end, leading absolutely nowhere. Creed sniffs back. “Dead end, bird-brain, is exactly what this ain’t.” He unleashes a ferocious attack on the wall with his claws and rips a hole in the wall, revealing behind it, a group of armed guards.
Warren can’t believe it. The guard’s leader tells his men that they know the drill; no witnesses this deep. Warren unleashes his wings and calls for Creed to get down. He uses his wings to knock the guards off balance and warns Creed that nobody dies here unless and until he says so. He does, however, say that he needs to have a long talk with the facility director about trigger-happy practices to start with, and maybe a word or two about secret underground sections hidden even from him. Creed tells him to shove his talk and immediately leaps on one of the guards, killing him with a ferocious slash of his claws. Angel grabs him and pulls him away, warning him to back off; they’re already inside.
Creed turns on Warren, saying he’s got that right, which is why he doesn’t need him no more. He takes a swipe at him and catches one of his wings with his claws. Warren now realizes that it’s not the erratic behavior, nor the words or grammar that has alerted him to this fact, but the eyes. “You’re not Logan,” he says. “Not by a long shot,” another voice behind them says. Creed turns to see his own body behind him, the one occupied by Wolverine’s mind, ripping a uniform off. Warren is understandably concerned for his own safety at this point.
“Sabretooth,” he cries, but the man he believes to be his old enemy replies that he’s not even close. He tells Warren that, apart from a particularly large guard, who’s gonna find himself out of uniform, the rest of his rent-a-cops are gonna walk away with nothing more bruised than their pride, unless the real lunatic here gets to whatever he’s after at the end of this corridor. He leaps on Creed and battle commences but Creed slips away from him and dashes down the corridor. He shouts back at Logan that the body he’s in isn’t half the one his is and whoever’s wearing it when this is over will be caught dead center of the worst scourge to hit mutants since the massacre itself.
Wolverine says he’s going after Creed but Angel tells him to hold it; Creed is his problem now. He grabs a machine gun from one of the guards and takes to the air, cocking the weapon as he flies. At the end of the corridor, the room opens out into a large laboratory with computer banks on each wall, monitors with schematics and data all around and a large egg-shaped object in the middle of the room. All three of them recognize it as being a prototype neutralizer.
Creed hadn’t realized they were so close, but then none of them ever really expected to see this nightmare resurrected again. No-one anywhere is prepared for the havoc this could unleash. Logan asks Creed what this is all about, “Just another weapon, a weapon you can use against your own kind now, t’make even easier pickings out o’ mutants?” Creed tells him to save it and ask the name on the lease what he’s planning to do with it. Warren says that he can imagine a few mutants off the top of his head, like Marrow or even Dr. Reyes, who might jump at the chance to escape the trap nature set for them. He’s also wondering what effect it might have on the Legacy Virus, an obviously mutant strain of bacteria.
With no scientist around to explain themselves, Warren decides to destroy the neutralizer, blasting it apart with the machine gun, much to Logan’s delight. “That’s the Avengin’ Angel we all know an’ love,” he says as he thrusts his claws into Creed’s back. “H-how…?” Creed gasps. Logan replies that he underestimated him, his will to live, his will to follow his trail, crawling on his stomach before he could rise to his knees and then stumble to his feet. Creed turns to him, telling Logan that, in that case, he must have underestimated his own body’s healing factor and tracking senses and he let him take this puny body by surprise, once. He just wants to know how Logan got past the security procedures and defense measures that Worthington himself was blind to.
He leaps at Logan, telling him it should have been impossible. He looked for a way for weeks but Logan replies that he didn’t look where he looked. He guesses that Creed was trying to find a way in and back out again with the prize, and his skin intact. “It’s the same reason you left me alive in that mountain cave in the Rockies right? So you could have your body back in one piece once you were finished with mine? Difference is, sucker, I don’t really care anymore! So tell me who’s crazier now?!” Logan is now in full-on bezerker mode and Creed knows it. Logan is ready to kill but Angel leaps in between the pair of them and splits them apart, telling Logan that he isn’t a killer, he doesn’t have to be, not anymore.
Suddenly, the same effect that switched their minds in the first place leaps from their skin, stinging, sparking from one form to the other. They scream as Warren acts as a kind of conductor for the mind switch and their minds revert to their original bodies in an explosion which leaves the place in ruins.
(The next day, Hong Kong)
Mrs. Hoo enters a gymnasium occupied by Sebastian Shaw, shirtless and lifting weights. She informs him that, when the two men revived in their own bodies, Sabretooth apparently fled through the path that Wolverine had already cleared for him, but he failed to recover the neutralizer. Initial reports confirm that it was destroyed, she adds. Shaw replies that this isn’t too unexpected and, fortunate for the butcher-beast, considering that he would have been among the first to suffer its wrath when the time came. Despite his occasional use of Creed’s mercenary skills, there is no final place in their mutant empire for animals. Unfortunately, he tells her, it means they have to settle for the success of their secondary goal; sowing discord among the outer circles, so the inner circle will tighten.
Logan and Warren sit together on a ski lift, which carries them up a snow-covered slope. Logan has been getting flashes of himself with blood dripping through his fingers. He wonders if these images he’s getting, these flashes, are from Creed’s possession of his body, some kind of cellular imprint or some lost memories of his own, startled to the surface by the shock of his temporary displacement. No matter how he looks at it, though, it’s still blood, just more blood on his hands.
Warren turns to him and says, “About that lab Logan…” Logan replies, “Government contractors, right warren? Y’didn’t know a thing about it, an’ you’ll make sure no-one ever does again.” He leaps onto the slope, telling him that he’s got to believe that; he’s got to believe a lot of things.