“Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge” – Paul Gaugun
‘Now’s the time to hit the rest of ‘em. Before someone gets to Gateway’ a voice exclaims as Lady Deathstrike stands over the body of Wolverine, beaten and bloody. ‘Go. Kill at your discretion’ Lady Deathstrike tells the Reavers.
One hour earlier…EVA hovers over Cavern-X, Sedona, Arizona, with the five members of X-Force inside. ‘So, I tells Ida, I tells ‘er, Smooth Wilson is going to Australia whether she likes it or not. Ida, and her cronies at the DMZ, they act like they don’t even know me!’ Deadpool a.k.a. Wade Wilson exclaims. He continues: ‘And what did Smooth Wilson find in the land down under? Vegemite! Magic! Yahoo Serious! Free Clinics! Oh, and I did recon on that creepy town you told me to look into – found a little Aboriginal dude on a hill’. Wolverine a.k.a. Logan explains that his name is Gateway, and he is the teleporter who got the X-Men around when they were hiding in the outback.
‘According to the little fellow you were really just X-squatters. The base belonged to a jerk cyborg gang called the Reavers’ Deadpool points out. ‘Chumps gave us some bad trouble’ Wolverine remarks, to which Deadpool declares that the way he heard it, the Reavers nearly annihilated their squatting x-asses. Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock explains that their means of escape led to her being re-programmed and turned into a Hand ninja assassin for a time. ‘These “men” almost cost me all I was, Wade’.
An image of Lady Deathstrike appears on a monitor behind Deadpool who informs Betsy that she is about to have her shot at payback. ‘And here’s a tidbit to get your Wolveriney percolating – they’re with Lady Deathstrike’. Deadpool adds that according to Gateway, the Reavers are planning an attack on Utopia, and Gateway told him to bring help. ‘He said to bring some of my “mean friends”’ Deadpool explains.
‘He wants us to know this is do or die. No soft options on this caper’ Logan exclaims, adding that the Reavers are tough, so if they surprise them, and hit them hard, then they can stop them. He points out that Deathstrike is a different story though, and remarks that there are not many people he is willing to admit being fearful of, but Deathstrike is one of them. He declares that Yuriko Oyama is a cyber-genetic, high ninja with adamantium dipped bones and talons, who blames him for spreading her father’s adamantium-bonding secrets, and figures that by killing him she will restore her family’s honor.
An image of the Reavers appears on the monitor behind Logan, who announces that Cole, Macon and Reese are former Hellfire Commandos, and that he diced them up good back in the day, until Donald Pierce put them back together, while Bonebreaker, Skullbuster and Pretty Boy are original Reavers – bad customers with big love for mutant corpses. ‘Betsy ain’t kidding. These ding-dongs came about as close to eradicating the X-Men as anyone ever has’ Logan adds, while Deadpool declares that a little “How’s your - father-sword-to-cyborg style – sounds like a wonderful party-time afternoon delight. Warren “Angel” Worthington III declares that they need to be absolutely certain to learn the details of the Reavers’ plot before killing them. ‘Once we’ve put the kibosh on their scheme – kill at will’ Wolverine announces.
Fantomex inquires as to whether he should expect any on-site deliberation from Miss Braddock – any last second change of heart, and remarks that if so, now would be the perfect time to reveal any cyborg sympathies. Betsy is annoyed, and frowns, before striding away. Wolverine catches up to her, and remarks that he knows Betsy has mixed feelings about Fantomex pulling the trigger on the Apocalypse kid, but now is not the time. ‘You gotta compartmentalize it, keep it out of the work at hand’ Wolverine tells his friend. But Betsy replies that Jean-Phillipe is not her concern, that Fantomex is transparent and is overcompensating with bravado to mask his self-loathing and guilt. ‘I don’t have to live with the consequences of his actions’ Betsy points out.
Betsy gazes out the “window” and hugs herself as she explains that it is the Reavers and the memory of what they did to the X-Men. Wolverine tells Betsy that he knows, and reminds her that the Reavers crucified him. ‘Things like that leave a lasting impression. Figures it earns ‘em what we got to give, yes?’ But Betsy explains that it is not the morality of the mission that frightens her – but her elation at the opportunity to repay those devils. ‘If you’re feeling happy about killing, well, you’re right to be frightened by that’ Wolverine remarks, adding that this is work, not revenge, that there is no place for elation. ‘As long as the end result is killing them, what’s the problem?’ Betsy asks. Logan turns away from Psylocke and tells her that the problem comes when you start to enjoy the killing.
Meanwhile, at Cooterman’s Creek, in North Central Australia, the Reavers are drinking beer inside a bar. ‘Whadda ya call two hundred mutants at the bottom of the bay?’ one of them asks. ‘A good start!’ he exclaims. Another of the Reavers laughs, and remarks that Gateway is going to send them to that mutie island, Utopia, and they will send it right to hell. ‘Wipe the mutie freaks off the face of the planet and take their bay area real estate. That’s what my old man would call a “win-win”!’ another declares. ‘Boss lady expects us to do it right. Clean. Nothing traceable’ the first points out, while another Reaver demands another pint of beer.
Skullbuster tells his teammates that Lady Deathstrike does not need to worry about reprisal, as no one gives a rat’s ass about the muties. ‘Hell, we should televise it as we sign their corpses with urine’ he suggests, boasting that the entire world would be throwing the Reavers a parade. Suddenly, ‘Adoration is not the goal, Skullbuster. Humiliation of Wolverine is!’ Deathstrike declares as she enters the pub. Deathstrike looks at a photo of Wolverine on the wall, and remarks that overreaching has been their failing for too long, and that it is entirely possible that there is no killing Wolverine, that he is a cockroach, so to continue to do the same thing expecting different results is insanity.
Deathstrike declares that they will focus their attention on the mutant population, striving for a mass casualty scenario, though she expects Wolverine to survive. One of the Reavers asks if they are going through all of this just to irritate Wolverine a little bit, to which Deathstrike announces that Wolverine is a failed samurai, that he could never meet the standards required of him, yet is forever striving to. ‘Paramount to him, above all else, is honor’ she smirks as she holds up a gun, aims it at the photo o Logan and fires it. ‘To kill a man in search of honor, do not aim for his head – aim for his heart’ Deathstrike exclaims as the gun releases some sort of grappling rope.
‘Speaking of heart, gotta go drain mine’ Skullbuster remarks. Another of the Reavers exclaims ‘Prepare Gateway. We leave on the hour. No good mixing the volatile components we got strapped on you with rowdy drunks. Hate for the mission to end prematurely’. Another Reaver clenches a fist and exclaims that Skullbuster is probably used to premature endings. ‘Har-har’ Skullbuster mutters.
Around the corner outside the bar, Wolverine, Deadpool and Fantomex watch as the Reavers make their move. Skullbuster sings “People dying’ on the street, but the suburban scumbags, they don’t care, just get fat and dye their hair! I love livin’ in the city!” Wolverine contacts Psylocke, who has opened their minds to each others thoughts, ‘Bets, we got motion. Need the skinny from Gateway, now-like’ Logan tells her.
At that moment, Angel carries Psylocke as he lands on a rock near Gateway, while Warren’s thoughts tell Betsy that he will extract the information from Gateway one way or another, to which Betsy suggests to Warren that he is letting Archangel do the thinking, and points out that Gateway is not here of his own volition, that he is one of the good guys. Betsy turns to Gateway, and speaks to him telepathically: ‘Greetings, old friend. We came as quickly as we could. What have these fiends plotted?’ Gateway doesn’t answer, he stares ahead, while Skullbuster is still singing as he approaches the rock: “I love livin’ in the city! People pukin’ everywhere! Piles of blood, scabs and hair. Bodies wasted in the stree-“ he stops himself when he sees the mutants up ahead. ‘Skullbuster, long time no see, mate’ a voice exclaims.
‘You remember my three sisters of doom?’ Logan asks, as he claws are extended towards Skullbuster, who turns around to see Wolverine, Deadpool and Fantomex. ‘Them dames got incisive tongues’ Deadpool mutters. ‘You don’t know me’ Fantomex exclaims, aiming a weapon at Skullbuster. Suddenly, Betsy looks panicked, and telepathically tells Logan to pull back, announcing that it is a suicide mission. ‘Last time we met, I made you an’ them claws a guarantee. Came back from the dead to keep my promise – to send you to hell’ Skullbuster exclaims, before pressing a detonator – and an instant later, Skullbuster explodes, with Logan, Wade and Fantomex seemingly caught up in the explosion.
Betsy and Angel look horrified, before Angel announces that they have to get down there. ‘Wait – Gateway is communicating with me. He says we can’t go. Can’t leave him alone’ Psylocke announces. ‘Why?’ Warren asks. Betsy replies that Gateway cannot refuse the Reavers’ request, or they will kill his tribe. ‘What request?’ Warren asks. Betsy explains that the Reavers want Gateway to open a portal to Utopia – as they are going to blow up the island.
Nearby, Deathstrike stands over the bodies of Logan, Wade and Fantomex, and tells the Reavers to go and kill at their discretion, while she remains behind to collect her family’s honor. ‘Happy to oblige, boss!’ one of the Reavers exclaims. Deathstrike looks down at Wolverine’s body: ‘Come now. Dance with me, my dear Logan. On the corpses of your comrades’ she exclaims, when suddenly, Logan pops his claws.
The Reavers approach Betsy, Warren and Gateway, while Betsy telepathically announces that Wolverine, Deadpool and Fantomex are all down, that they are alone. ‘Look who we got here, mates. Purple-haired Brit don’t know what race she is’ one of the Reavers exclaims, while another suggests that they leave her intact for reformatting, as it would be a real shame to ruin such a first-class frame. Betsy tells herself that she never knew how much rage for these creatures that she had kept inside her, while Angel shouts ‘Get behind me!’ as the Reavers unleash weapons fire, but Betsy and Gateway are protected as Warren extends his metal wings in front of them, acting as a shield. ‘How much rage I would feel upon seeing them’ Betsy tells herself, before Warren asks that, given her distaste for them, he wants to know how she would like to proceed. Logan’s voice warns Betsy against entering into this for revenge – but she does it anyway, leaping over Warren’s wings, and with her sword ready, she lunges at the Reavers.
As Wolverine slowly rises, Deathstrike tells him that she will rend the flesh from his bones, forged in the adamantium refuse of her father’s stolen dreams. ‘I will leave you alive to feel it all, low dog’ she adds. ‘So many of you jerks have lost the art of the diatribe’ Logan remarks, before standing up, he tells Yuriko that it is nice to see she is still rocking the pontification groove, and that it is nice to know she plans on keeping him alive. ‘Gonna be upfront with you as well, darling – we got different plans’ Logan exclaims as he lunges at Deathstrike, who dodges him and tells him that whatever his plans may be, they will remain unsatisfied – and she shoves two of her clawed fingers through Wolverine’s cheeks. Blood spurts about, and Logan cries out in pain.
Nearby, Betsy realizes that she and Warren are outnumbered, and if they waste one second, they are dead. Pretty Boy fires a gun at Betsy, who blocks the bullet with her sword. Warren slices another in half with his razor-sharp wings, while Pretty Boy tells Betsy that their minds are guarded from telepathy, so they will have to keep this a purely physical encounter. ‘My intention all along’ Betsy claims as she slices the hand off Pretty Boy. But suddenly, another Reaver snaps Archangel’s wing off, causing Warren to scream in agony. Betsy falls to the ground, ‘You take my hand – I take your body. This Pretty Boy’s partial to a gorgeous Japanese gal with a British accent’ Pretty Boy adds has his cerebral tendrils emerge from his eyes and wrap around Betsy’s body.
This opens a direct link to Pretty Boy’s mind, while Warren’s agony reverberates in Betsy’s head, almost knocking her out. Betsy instead uses the agony, rerouting it and piping it directly into Pretty Boy’s brain. The Reaver squeals, and Betsy cannot stop her smile. Prety Boy suddenly falls off the nearby cliff – and still connected to Betsy, she falls with him, telepathically calling out to Warren for help. ‘On my way!’ Warren calls out as he fires his razor sharp feather “knives” into his opponent. But at that moment, Gateway opens the portal, and the remaining Reavers rush into it. ‘While I’m falling to my death’ Betsy telepathically calls out.
‘Took you long enough!’ Betsy calls out as Warren suddenly swoops down and grabs his lover. Warren tells Betsy that the last minute makes you appreciate it more. They fly back up to the top of the cliff – ‘Now! While the portal is still open!’ Betsy calls out, as Warren throws her to the closing portal. But Betsy knows that in two seconds she will be in the middle of Utopia – wearing an X-Force uniform. ‘Tres faux pas’ she tells herself.
Deathstrike throws Wolverine against a building after what felt like thirty seconds inside a tornado of kitchen knives. There is a single incision across Logan’s eyes and into his nose. He cannot see and cannot smell – Deathstrike is working on him like a surgeon. The villainess lunges at him, but Wolverine holds her back – except a claw goes through his throat, so he cannot talk anymore. Logan’s left eye grows back in time to see what is next – as Deathstrike punctures both of his lungs, making it impossible for him to breath. He decides that Deathstrike has tussling with him down to an art.
But Logan suddenly smashes Deathstrike in the face with his foot – only Deathstrike doesn’t even flinch. She doesn’t feel pain – she is more machine than woman. Logan grabs her and smacks her head against a lantern on the wall, causing it to crack open. ‘With your senses blotted you fight like a clumsy old man!’ Deathstrike exclaims as she kicks Logan backwards. But Logan tells Deathstrike that she might need to look into her olfactory components, and looks up at the poster of him against a wall, where the taser gun is stuck to. ‘Through all this blood - even I can smell you’re doused in kerosene’ Logan declares as he fires the gun – the taser clings to Deathstrike, and she erupts in flames, screaming as she runs from Wolverine.
Logan realizes that Deathstrike cannot feel it, but knows that some part of her brain remembers – remembers what it feels like to burn. He realizes that Deathstrike could have pithed his brain a couple dozen times, but she wants him alive – so he can watch Utopia burn. ‘Could you use a hand in here?’ Deadpool asks as he enters the bar, still recovering from his injuries.
At that moment, on Utopia, ‘The X-Men got eyes everywhere; they’ll know we’re here!’ one of the Reavers exclaims as they run down an alley. Another announces that the fusion generator that powers the island is a few clicks down the way. The other suggests they split up, as that is better odds that one of them will make it. ‘Always good serving with you, Reese. See you on the other side’ the Reaver exclaims. Reese replies that he hopes the upload works like Deathstrike promised.
Inside the control room, Megan “Pixie” Gwynn informs Cyclops via radio that the intruders are splitting up, that she has no idea who they are, but they are broadcasting a disruption frequency, shutting down surveillance as they go. ‘Unless I’m wrong…it looks like they’re heading towards the fusion generators’ Pixie announces. Cyclops replies that they will not allow that, to which Pixie asks if she should sound the alarm. But as Scott “Cyclops” Summers races down an alley way, with Magneto hovering behind him, he tells Pixie that he doesn’t want the intruders to know that they are aware of their presence. ‘Magneto and I are on it’ he exclaims.
Cyclops tells Magneto that he has a visual on the target, and announces that it is a Reaver. ‘Wonderful. I do so enjoy deconstructing cyborgs’ Magneto replies. Cyclops rounds a corner, where one of the Reavers is waiting for him. ‘Reese, it’s all on you. I’m cornered – got a shot at taking Cyclops with me’ the Reaver radios to Reese, who replies ‘Understood. If you got the shot, take it. Good luck, brother’. But as Cyclops rounds the corner – he finds that the Reaver’s head has been cut off, and blood is splattered up the wall. Psylocke is crouched on a ledge above them. ‘Erik…my target’s dead’ Cyclops reports to Magneto, who replies ‘Dead, Scott? I didn’t think you had it in you –’, but Scott replies that it wasn’t him, that there is a third party involved, someone the system did not detect.
Scott tells Magneto to be on guard, just as Reese pops his head out of a window, ‘Plasma rounds, magnet-man! Hotter than the sun!’ the Reaver declares as he fires the weapon at Magneto, who stumbles. The Reaver boasts that he is close enough to the reactor to do what he came here for and to kill Magneto up close. He holds a detonator in one hand – but suddenly, that hand gets sliced off! Betsy stands nearby, blood dripping from her sword as she tells the Reaver to raise his gun and shoot her. ‘You!’ the Reaver gasps. ‘Quickly, pull the trigger!’ Betsy exclaims, smiling, as the Reaver holds his weapon, with his attached hand, to her head. ‘Now…try and move your head’ Betsy exclaims, before cutting off the other hand. ‘Call it duty or revenge…it feels good’ Psylocke tells herself.
An instant later, Cyclops and Magneto arrive on scene to find the decapitated Reaver lying before them. ‘Dammit. Both dead’ Cyclops exclaims. ‘I’m fine. Thank you’ Magneto remarks, while Scott asks him to go to Australia and see if they are back at their old base. ‘And should I find them?’ Magneto asks. ‘Bring them to me – and Erik – this all stays between us’ Scott warns Magneto, who replies ‘Naturally’.
Back in Australia, Betsy steps through Gateway’s portal, ‘Betsy! Did you -?’ Warren calls out. ‘They are gone’ Psylocke replies, assuring Warren that she masked herself from detection, that no one say her, but they did find the Reavers’ remains. ‘If I know Scott Summers, the X-Men will be here soon’ Betsy points out, before Warren takes her in his arms. ‘My God, Warren, what is happening to me? I took such pleasure in their killings…’ Betsy exclaims. ‘After what they did to you, Betsy – how could you not?’ Warren asks. ‘Once upon a time, I would have taken a higher road…was it so long ago?’ Betsy asks.
Nearby, Deathstrike leans against a console with computer equipment and tells herself that she must upload her consciousness before this frame expires. ‘C’mon, Yurio. Let’s put a pin in this’ Wolverine exclaims as he enters the lab. ‘We have only begun our next stage, Logan-san!’ Deathstrike calls out as she pushes a device against her hand – and she glows a greenish-yellow as she shouts ‘You stand before a new dawn! You cannot stop what comes next! For you and your X-Men – there is no tomorrow!’ Deathstrike’s smouldering body then collapses at Wolverine’s feet.
Soon, Archangel flies Fantomex and Deadpool back inside EVA, while Wolverine and Betsy look at each other. Both are silent, until Wolverine points out that Betsy doesn’t look elated anymore. An instant later, EVA takes to the sky as X-Force leave Australia….