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Dialogue ... standard text
Thoughts ... italics
Narration ... {...}
Description ... [...]

       by Dean Westerman

Part One

[An airport outside of Hightown in Madripoor. Exiting the Boeing 757, notable among the other passengers, is a short man in a cowboy hat and American western style suit.]

{Madripoor! Jewel of the Pacific Rim. Time magazine called it the "fastest growing economy in the world." Many westerners exit from Flight 666, embarking from Los Angeles nonstop to Madripoor. Indeed, with Hong Kong's return to communist mainland China, an air of uncertainty grips western businessmen wishing for a toehold in the Rim. Madripoor is made to order for westerners, complete with a corrupt royal whose hands are slicked with enough grease to keep all the Ohio machine shops of the industrial revolution running smoothly. Add to that a police department that seems to always look the other way after charitable contributions to the commissioner's favorite charity, his Grand Caymans bank account, and even dealers in the exotic are offerred a blind eye.}

{On the concousre many westerners mingle seamlessly with the numerous races inhabiting this principality. But one westerner in particular, no matter how much he'd want it otherwise, sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.}

Corrigan: LOGAN!

[Logan turns at the sound of his name]

Logan: Hunh??

Corrigan: Logan! Over here!

Logan: Archie Corrigan! Heard he was up and around again, after the slaughter of all those folks I hold near and dear at the Princess Bar. But, he knows I like to play it sly and sneaky when I'm here! And how did he know I was gonna be here? Arch.

[Corrigan embraces a surprised Logan.]

Corrigan: You ol' canucklehead! Damn it's good to see you!

Logan: You too, Arch! In one piece I see.

Corrigan: Sheeoot, Logan, you know I been through worse than this flyin' sorties "in country."

Logan: The "this" Arch is talkin' about was what I believe was a mind-controlled firefight, creatin' an abbatoir at the Princess, thrown down by some of Commissioner Tai's cop boys. That mind-mess was carried out by a flunky of a guy named Genesis. Wanted to get me in a crazy state of mind so he could re-implant the adamantium skeleton Magneto ripped outta me. I rejected the bonding process. Rejected Genesis and his chumps, too. Came back to Madripoor to check on friends caught in the crossfire: Arch here, Rose Yee, O'Donnel. Also to check on some other business alluded to by-

[Abruptly, Corrigan turns toward a woman standing several feet away.]

Corrigan: Zoe Culloden!

Logan: And the hits just keep on comin'.

{Logan stares at the woman who's been neither friend nor foe, more or less business associate. Logan's financial interests have been entrusted to her employers Landau, Luckman, and Lake for longer than he'd care to remember. Mostly it's investments specially packaged for your on-the-go mutant super hero clientel, but some of the arrangements Logan has made in the past elicited mutually beneficial outcomes.}

Zoe: What Logan? No, "Yer a sight fer sore eyes, darlin'?"

Logan: Not hardly.

{The three walk through the airport.}

Zoe: Come on, Logan! I'm a redhead! Or do you only go for redheads who are married telepaths or married Canadians in battle armor?

Logan: When did you buy a sense of humor, Culloden?

Zoe: It was a gift! Doesn't it suit me?

Logan: Speaking of suits, I don't ever think I've seen you out of your union suit.

Zoe: I'm on a working vacation. Rose Yee is recovering and I'm here to help her and get some background on a client she handled for the firm before she retired.

Logan: Anyone I know?

Zoe: Aww, Logan, that would be telling, wouldn't it?

Corrigan: Ahem. Hello? Short-stuff, Zoe? Third person, here, feeling like a third wheel to the Battling Bickersons.

Logan: Sorry, Arch. You'll never see me and Culloden in any funny papers.

Zoe: No, we're definitly "must-see TV!"

Corrigan: Sitcom?

Zoe: Natch!

Logan: How about grippin, emergency room drama?

Zoe: Ooo, the things you're into.

[A control room in a vast copound in Japan. Men cloaked in black helm systems. A Japanese man in a black suit smokes a cigarette and peers at the monitors. The monitors observe various locales, including Madripoor and the man named Logan.]

{It was once said that the criminal terrorist group called Hydra was so powerful and all-encompassing that if you cut off one head, two more would take its place. The same holds true for the ninja cult known as The Hand, only to the nth degree. No man has ever crossed the Hand and it's leader Matsuo Tsuraba and lived. No man, except the mutant known as Wolverine.}

Tsuraba: All is in readiness, Tetsuo?

Tetsuo: Yes, master! But operatives have been unable to locate the prime target, Amiko. She is in the care of the ronin, Yukio, and has been hidden most well.

Tsuraba: Very well, Tetsuo. The plan will succeed just as well with the secondary target.

Tetsuo: Master, if I may, are not both these targets tertiary, while the prime target is the mutant called Wolv-

Tsuraba: You question my judgement, Tetsuo?

Tetsuo: N-no, Matsuo-san! It is simply that ... the Hand has vowed a debt of revenge against the clawed mutant beast...

[Tsuraba places a hand over an eye no longer there.]

Tsuraba: TETSUO!!...Tetsuo, my old friend...what better way to catch a beast, than a tethered goat?

[Massachusetts, Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters. A group of teenagers cavorts around a bench under a tree.]

{The Massachusetts Academy of Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters. Training to be part of society as well as the next generation of the outlaw mutant group the X-Men. However, some of the school's students do not consider the training as essential as others. Case in point: Jubilation Lee, born with the ability to launch pyrotechnics from her fingertips. Everett Thomas, a mutant whose ability involves "synching" any mutant's aura within his proximity and mimicking their powers. Paige Guthrie, sister of the X-Man Cannonball, a metamorph who sheds her skin to take on another form. Angelo Espinoza, dealt the foul cards of six extra feet of skin, which he struggles to rein in, for some sense of "normalcy."}

Everett: All I'm saying, Paige, is that the point behind this and Professor Xavier's original school in Westchester is to teach young mutants to control their powers and fit in with humans on an everyday basis.

Paige: Fit in?? This isn't about conformity, Ev, it's about individuality and celebrating that!

Everett: Of course, but during that celebration we have to be sure we don't flash-fry any innocent bystanders.

Jubilee: HEY!!

Everett: Not you, Jubes. And by "fit in" I meant that we can live side-by-side with normal humans.

Paige: I've noticed you're big on "normalcy." Ashamed of bein' a "mutie"? At least you're not covered in scales or-

{All eyes turn toward the mutant named Skin, whose genetic "gift" made him one of the less glamorous mutants on the block.}

Paige: Ohh-Ang, ah'm sorry! I didn't mean-

Angelo: De nada, country mouse. You know, a year ago I would have stomped off on my own to wallow in my own self pity. But I see someone else has the market cornered on that.

{Angelo and the other students look toward the library where Jonothon Starsmore, Chamber, stares off into space, alone. They feel guilt over any pity they might have harbored for themselves. After all, they, at the very least, all still have faces.}

Angelo: So, the way I figure, if we wanna live with the norms ... shouldn't we be able to live with each other first.

{A silence falls on the four students, until, it is broken by the only one among them for whom silence has always been quite a challenge.}

Jubilee: Hooo-kay! Well, this convo just went from heavy to out-and-out depressing! Too much for this mallrat. I'm Audi.

[Jubilee roller-blades toward the bio-sphere.]

Paige: Anyway, Ev, don't we have a moral and ethical responsibility to-

Angelo: Caramba! Too heavy is right! Hey Jubes! Wait up!

[Angelo runs after Jubilee.]

Everett & Paige: What got into him?

{Jubilee sees Angelo and throws him a smile. Then she accelerates!}

Angelo: Fine, chica, you want to race? Then a race you-

[A flash of light stops Angelo momentarily, coming from the corner Jubilee has just rounded.]

{Angelo has gotten to become very good friends with Jubilation Lee in his time at the Xavier School. He's gotten to know her moods, her joys, her pains and her pafs. That wasn't one of Jubilee's pafs.}

Angelo: Jubes! Chica!

{As Angelo rounds the corner where he saw Jubilee encounter a flash of energy, he finds ... nothing.}

Angelo: Jubes? Jubes? Gone. Man, this is gonna get worse before it gets better.

[Madripoor, Lowtown. Logan, Zoe and Archie exit a car and head toward the Princess.]

Logan: So, Culloden, I guess you told Arch and the gang that I was coming into town.

Zoe: Come on, Logan, after what you did to Tai's boys and Coy and Prince Baran you're-

[A teenaged buy rushes by on a skateboard and stops.}

Boy: Hey, you're Logan! Where's the patch, man?

Zoe: -Somewhat of a Lowtown celeb, I'm afraid.

Logan: Grrr ... Culloden, me and you are gonna have words about what you said-

Zoe: All in due time, Logan, darling, all in due time. But now it's time to celebrate!

{Zoe throws open the door to the Princess and Logan sees a sight that reminds him of one of his last visits here. A welcome home party, complete with all his friends he thought mortally wounded.}

[O'Donnel, Rose, Tiger Tyger and many of his other friends descend upon Logan in joy. Logan is swept up in the celebration and heads to the bar to throw a few down with old pals.]

Logan: Rose still has somethin' of a limp, O'Donnel's still got a wing in a sling but they look none the worse for wear. Tiger here is a vision as always, but right now I got another woman on my mind. Culloden! Time for those words I was mentionin'.

Zoe: Now's not a good time, Logan, dear.

Logan: Wrong. Now's the best time, Zoe, dear.

[Logan grabs Zoe's arm and ushers her toward the back of the bar.]

Zoe: Was this really necessary?

Logan: Quit playin' flamin' games with me, Zoe! Back when all that Genesis crap was goin' down, you told Cannonball that worse was yet to come for me! Well, Zoe, what is it? What could be worse than that?

Zoe: Logan, I can't-

Logan: You can and will, girlie! Or is it that this "investment" has outlived his usefulness?

[Zoe looks at the ground, solemn.]

Zoe: No, Logan ... you're about to become very useful ...

Logan: Still talkin' in riddles. The hell with you! I'm goin' back inside with people who care.

[Logan leaves her.]

Zoe: Very useful to someone else ... whose needs, God forgive us, coincide with the firm's.

[Japan, The Hand compound. Jubilee wakes in a cell with manacles covering her hands.]

Jubilee: Ooohhh ... anybody catch the license on that Blackbird that hit me ...?

Tsuraba: Greetings, little Jubilee, how nice to see you again.

Jubilee: Tsuraba! What is this?? Didn't I give you Hand geeks enough punishment the last time you kidnapped me?

Tsuraba: Ah, little flower of the east, you pose less than an annoyance to such as I. However, your guardian angel's been more than a thorn in our side.

Jubilee: You're after Wolvie again? What you want a matching set?

[Tsuraba slaps Jubilee hard across the face. He then rubs his patched eye.]

Tsuraba: Do not ... test me, Jubilee. Otherwise, when your time has come to die I will not be quick and merciful, as I planned.

Jubilee: Wh-what are you gonna do? Kill Wolvie?

Tsuraba: Nothing so mundane, child. No, my revenge against that aberration of nature will be complete and total. I will strip him of his veneer of honor and remake him into the thing he despises:


End Part I

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