A few minutes ago:
Croatia, the full moon shines brightly down over a large castle built into a rocky mountain that overhangs a large bed of water and is surrounded by a forest. From an overhanging cliff nearby, a strange creature hangs upside down, and in a strange voice utters 'Nnneeeedd...'. While, inside the castle, a cage houses Daken and Sabretooth who are currently fighting each other, while a cloaked figure sits nearby, and a captive X-23 is led to the cage. 'Why did you do it? Why am I here?' the young mutant asks Skel, who leads her towards the cage. Skel tells X-23 that he isn't really sure, and suggests she asks them, motioning to the cage. Outside, 'Nnnneeeddd...' the strange being snarls as it soars through the air and lands on the side of the castle, where it climbs through a narrow opening.
X-23, Daken, Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike stand near their mysterious captor, while Mystique lies motionless on the floor behind them. 'Who are you?' X-23 asks. Shogun introduces himself, then runs off the list of who is present, including Elixir. 'We know who we are, but none of us are friends' Daken declares inside the cage. 'These trigger words you claim Dr Abraham Cornelius placed into our minds... a sleep word, a control word, a kill word and a fourth word whose purpose you have yet to reveal. You know them, we do not. That is what you claim to be true' Lady Deathstrike declares. 'Here is what we know: you decided to take us prisoner. Everyone in this cell is known for one thing, and it is not forgiveness. Why would you do something so stupid?' she asks, placing her hand up to the cage barrier. Shogun replies that he is happy to explain, but he wants everyone listening – and that includes Mystique. Shogun turns to Elixir and remarks that he can heal people. 'Get Mystique back on her feet' he demands. But Elixir tells Shogun that he is misinformed. 'You see this? Black? That means I don't heal. I kill' Elixir explains, referring to his chrome-black skin. Elixir remarks that if he were gold, he might be about to help him out, but he hasn't been gold in a long time.
'I got this. She's probably faking it. This is Mystique. Everything she does is a lie' Sabretooth declares as he moves over to Mystique: 'Here... show you what I mean' he exclaims as he prepares to slam a foot down on her – but Mystique reaches up and grabs Creed by his foot, and hurls him back into the force field that surrounds them, giving Creed a shock as energy from the force field strikes him. '...told... you...' Sabretooth mutters, slumped over on the floor. 'Good enough' Shogun remarks, as a man in a blue outfit with a faceplate covering his face, save for some panels across his head that reveal his brain enters the chamber. 'They ready to listen?' he asks. 'I doubt it. But it's worth a try' Shogun replies. 'Who's this guy? How many of you idiots are there?' Daken asks. The new arrival announces that there are two others beyond Shogun, himself and Skel, whom they met earlier. He introduces himself as Neuro and adds 'As far as idiots go, last time I checked I wasn't stuck in a cell'. He tells Daken that it doesn't have to be that way, and that they can help each other out. 'It's time to deal' he declares.
Neuro reveals that the five of them were test subjects for Cornelius – lab rats. They were part of an effort to engineer perfect superhumans in an effort to bring about a perfect world. He adds that they were early weapons, proofs of concept for various abilities Cornelius planned to give his real subjects – he never intended for them to live. Neuro explains that Cornelius bnuilt expiration dates into them – generic time-bombs that could kill them at any moment – unless they figure out how to switch them off. 'What does that have to do with us?' Sabretooth asks as he stands next to Deathstrike inside the cell. Neuro remarks that he was listening when Deathstrike said that they are all known for one thing. 'I presume you were referencing to your tendency to murder half the people you meet' he adds, declaring that there is something else – they stole Cornelius' project files when they escaped from his lab – it is how they got the control words and how they know all of their prisoners can heal. 'We think the ket to curing us might be inside one of you' he explains. 'If you know the words that can make us do whatever you want, why don't you use them?' Deathstrike asks. Shogun announces that they aren't bad people, just desperate people and are not interested in making slaves out of them. 'None of you would ever forget it, and you'd hunt us all down on principle'.
Shogun continues, adding 'We'll use them if we have to – but we'd rather work with you', to which Mystique tells him that it is almost certainly too late for that, but she is not the type to turn down a deal without hearing the terms. 'What do you offer?' she asks. 'It's simple, Mystique. The fourth word' Shogun declares. Shogun raises his fingers as he lists the words: 'Sleep'. 'Control'. 'Kill'. 'Erase'. He informs the captives that the last word removes all of Cornelius' programming, and they would be free. 'And what, we'd just have to let you cut us up first or something?' Sabretooth asks, telling Shogun that he is not better than the mad scientist. Shogun reveals that there is another way – something else that would solve this whole thing, but that they don't think they can get it alone. 'If you help us find it, we can let you all g-' he begins, before the strange creature from outside bursts into the chamber, 'NEEEED' it screeches as it makes his presence known, landing in the cell with the captives. Neuro warns them to stay away from it, as it is another of the Paradise Experiments – Siphon – and even Cornelius was afraid of it. Elixir stands in front of the other captives and boasts that he will put it down – one touch and it is out for hours. 'Stay back, everyone' he tells the others.
Siphon touches the energy field around the cage, 'Oh, no' Shogun utters as energy crackles around the attacker. 'What the hell are you? Besides ugly' Daken remarks, claws at the ready. 'Huuunnngggrrry' Siphon snarls. It then latches itself onto Elixir's arm. 'Don't! You'll die! You're getting too much! Let g – what the... what the hell?' Elixir exclaims as Siphon continues to latch onto him, then shoves his hand across Elixir's face and pushes the young mutant to the ground. 'YEEESSSS...' Siphon hisses. 'We should help him...I...' X-23 begins, to which Sabretooth tells her to be his guest, but he isn't getting near that thing. Elixir lies motionless on the floor as Siphon starts to rise. Mystique tells Shogun that he has to let them out. 'You said you need us. This thing is trapped in here with us. If you don't let us out, it will kill us all' she points out. Neuro agrees with her. 'I know' Shogun mutters. 'Dammit' he exclaims before switching off the force field, and the prisoners escape, while Elixir hasn't moved. Sabretooth moves towards Shogun, who asks him what he is doing. 'Get out of here!' he exclaims. Sabretooth reaches out to grab Shogun, 'Oh, I will. Just gotta kill you first' he declares. 'Ovipositor' Shogun utters, and Sabretooth falls into a trance. Shogun instructs Sabretooth to go wait outside, to defend himself if he is attacked, but not to do anything else until he instructs him otherwise. 'All right, try me' Shogun calls out to Siphon as he readies his sword, and Siphon moves away from Elixir. 'I don't want you' Siphon exclaims, before leaping out through the hole into the wall. 'I want them' he declares as he hovers over the castle.
X-23 runs down a spiral staircase, and through a corridor – but skids to a halt and goes wide-eyed when she glances into a nearby room. 'Oh, no' she utters as she sees Daken screaming as Siphon holds him by his head and starts to absorb his life force. 'Daken...?' Laura calls out. She turns and flees, but then pops her claws and scowls, telling herself to go back. X-23 rushes into the room and shoves her claws into Siphon, who pushes her away from him. 'Don't' Laura tells Siphon as he stands over her. 'Save you... for later' Siphon exclaims, before leaping through a window back outside. Laura asks Daken if he is all right, to which Daken replies that he doesn't know. 'It's not healing' he points out, as he shows her his fist, blood trickling from where his claws pop out. Blood that would usually vanish instantly.
Outside, Mystique and Lady Deathstrike are in a clearing and approach Sabretooth, who is standing still and staring blankly ahead. Shogun and Neuro are with him. 'What happened to Sabretooth? Did the creature get him? Siphon?' Deathstrike asks. Shogun explains that he had to use Sabretooth's command word, but that he will come out of it soon. 'So all that about not wanting to create enemies of us was pure nonsense?' Mystique asks, but Shogun tells her that Sabretooth left him no choice. 'I'm sure you'll use a similar rationalization when you decide to use one on me' Mystique responds. 'Assuming of course...that I give you the chance' Mystique adds as she shapeshifts into Shogun. 'You're all idiots. Posturing, preening idiots. Don't you get it, Mystique? We aren't the only ones who know the words' Neuro exclaims. 'Who knows how many people have access to Cornelius' files? He was just one part of a much larger organization – the Arcadia Foundation. Any one of their people could drop you, just like Mr Creed here' Neuro declares. Shogun announces that Neuro is telling the truth and adds that of all those many people, they are the only ones who are trying to help them.
'So decide right now. Live the rest of your lives in fear, looking over your shoulder, or help us and be free' Shogun offers. Mystique and Lady Deathstrike look at each other, before Mystique reminds Shogun that he mentioned a task – something they could do that would earn them that freedom. 'Something you wanted us to help you get. What was it?' she asks. 'Well...let's talk about that' Shogun replies, while, in Nevada, Wolverine's adamantium covered body shines in the sunlight.