Twenty-four hours ago, life seemed easier for Logan. Only now does he fully realize how fast things can change.
Right now, he was sitting on a plane, headed for Canada. Wolverine had a small cabin up there that not many people knew about. It was a small cabin that he built himself, a place he went when he really needed to be alone.
He thought back to the day before, the battle with the Phoenix, which quickly changed into a battle with Xavier. He was forced to attack his mentor, his teacher, the man who made him an X-Man. Logan was known for his ferocity, but he was also able to hold back when he needed to. Attacking Xavier was not something he could do lightly.
Logan thought that he had beaten Xavier, but Xavier had a trump card: his telepathy. He reached into Logan's mind and send it on a roller coaster ride. The shock affected Logan so deep, that he was having problems with almost everything. His motor skills and other functions like that were still intact, but his thoughts were corrupted, his memories in worse shape than ever. Xavier had gone so deep that Logan's mind felt violated. That was when he had decided to leave the X-Men. He didn't even know if and when he would return.
But as it turned out, Logan wasn't the only X-Man to leave. The day before he had left, Gambit, Rogue, and Marrow had left. The first two because of personal problems, the third transferred to X-Factor, mostly because of personal problems that involved the other two. Bishop had returned to his future, courtesy of the Phoenix, and Logan discovered that Nightcrawler and Colossus were leaving the X-Men to reform Excalibur. That left only Storm, Shadowcat, Beast, Cyclops, and Phoenix as active X-Men. Part of Wolverine didn't want to leave, but the other part knew that he had to.
Logan thought back to the emotional departure. Shadowcat was the only one to show her full grief, since she was the closest to the three men that left. Cyclops and Phoenix didn't show sadness, but Logan had been around them long enough to know that they were sad. Now, it was up to them to get the team restarted. Beast and Storm had sad looks, but were optimistic about seeing their friends again.
Logan handed a set of keys to Beast. "Big guy, please pick my jeep up from the airport after I leave." Beast nodded.
As Logan, Kurt, Peter, and Cable were walking out of the X-Mansion, Cable told the others good-bye and walked to his car that he had had delivered to the mansion earlier. Logan turned to his former teammates.
"So, ya need a ride to the airport?" he asked.
"Ja," Peter replied. "That would be good."
They walked back to the garage, where Logan's jeep was parked. Logan knew that Beast would come to pick it up from the airport as requested. The three jumped in, and threw their suitcases in the back. Kurt activated his image inducer as Logan turned the key. Within a minute, they were cruising down the highway.
Logan leaned back and whispered, "Should we help her?"
Kurt nodded. "Why not? Our flights aren't for a couple of hours. We have time."
Logan pulled the jeep up off the road, near the wrecked car. The trio stepped out. The woman looked up.
"Oh, thank you!" she exclaimed. "I kinda have a problem here."
"How did this happen?" Peter asked.
"It's the strangest thing," the lady replied. "I was driving down the road here, and saw something come from the sky. I don't know what it was. It was like a . . . bubble, I guess. Anyway, whatever it was, it landed in front of my car. The next thing I know, it's on fire. I jumped out and it exploded."
Kurt and Logan were looking at the car. "Strange," Kurt said. "I don't know of anything that can do this to a car in the manner you described."
Peter came over to the wreck. He saw Logan sniffing.
"Somethin' ain't right, guys," Logan whispered, loud enough for only his friends to hear. "That girl's got a funny scent, and this thing here," he pointed to the car, "ain't a car. It may look and feel like one, but it can't be."
"Are you saying this is a trap?" Peter asked.
"I'm not sayin' anythin' but watch yer back."
The three X-Men stood up and walked back to the woman.
"We can give you a ride to the nearest service station, ma'am," Kurt offered. "They can help you more. Ma'am?"
But the woman's eyes were not on Kurt. Instead, they were widened, looking above him. She pointed. "L-look!" she stammered.
Logan, Kurt, and Peter turned around. Running down the hill behind them were a bunch of faceless soldiers.
"Oh, great!" Logan exclaimed.
"What the--?" he thought.
The voice of the stewardess came over the loudspeaker. "Stay calm," she said. "Please remain in your seats. We have hit some turbulence. There is no need for concern."
Logan looked out the window. He couldn't quite see what was causing the turbulence. He didn't see anything unusual, and soon, the ride resumed its smooth course. Logan leaned back in his seat and returned to his thoughts.
As soon as Logan was able to make them out, he groaned.
"What is it?" Kurt asked.
"Sentinels!" Logan replied.
"Sentinels?" Kurt repeated. "Since when have they been human sized?"
Logan popped out his claws. SHULCKT. "We first encountered them back during Operation: Zero Tolerence.*" he said.
*(These newer, smaller Sentinels mostly appeared in X-Men #65-66, and Uncanny X-Men #346)
Peter came running up. "She is okay. She fainted though, so we don't have to worry about revealing our identities."
"Like they won't," Logan said, pointing.
Suddenly, the Sentinels finally hit the three X-Men. They hit them hard. Logan used his claws to knock a few offline. Peter turned into his metal form. By doing that, he knocked the Sentinels off of him. This also gave him more strength to attack. His clothes were unaffected, thanks to the unstable molecules he was wearing, which was a good thing, as he usually didn't wear unstable molecules for a trip like this.
Kurt didn't bother to de-activate his image inducer. Instead, he teleported from Sentinel to Sentinel, punching, kicking, and vaporizing.
Logan watched the teleporting mutant as he himself slashed through some more Sentinels. "Now, that's th' way t' take 'em out!" he shouted as he saw Nightcrawler take the robot's heads off.
The battle continued in the same manner: Wolverine slashed, Colossus smashed, and Nightcrawler crashed.
Finally all of the Sentinels were destroyed. Colossus reverted to his human form, and Wolverine retracted his claws.
But Logan still had a strange feeling. He turned around to see the car. It was gone, as if vanished into thin air. The ground around it didn't even show signs of being charred or burnt.
Peter and Kurt were looking. "We see it," Peter replied.
Suddenly, the woman that they had helped and protected stood up from the ditch. She began to charged at the X-Men. "Uh, oh!" Logan said, as she began to change shape.
"Who is that? Obviously a shapeshifter!" Kurt shouted.
"I dunno," Logan said. "I've ne'er seen her bef're. At least, I don't think I have."
The woman jumped into the air and shouted, "Later, fools!" And then, she was gone.
"I guess that explains the car," Peter said, as the three of them look at each other with confused expressions on their faces.
Logan, Kurt, and Peter walked back to the jeep without another word. Five minutes later, they were back on the highway, telling dirty jokes.
Together, they walked into the airport. As they entered the main area, they looked at each other. Logan put his hand out to Peter. "It's been great, man. Good luck with Excalibur," he said as Peter grabbed his hand and shook it.
"And I hope that you can find inner peace," Peter replied.
Logan turned to Kurt. "Well, elf, I guess we gotta say good-bye again. Good luck to you too with Excalibur." Kurt grabbed his hand and shook it firmly. He had tears in his eyes.
"Fairwell, Logan. Good luck," he replied.
With that, Peter and Kurt turned and walked to their ticket counter. Logan watched them leave, and then proceeded onto his own ticket counter. He knew that things would never be the same.
But then, he thought, with the X-Men, nothing is a guarantee.
It took the pilot a few minutes to land, and a few more minutes for Logan to get off of the plane. About an hour later, Logan had retrieved his luggage and left the airport. He didn't have far to travel to his cabin, so he would just walk.
It would give him time to think anyway.
Most of the afternoon was spent unpacking and rearranging the cabin. He made sure that the phone and power lines were hooked up properly. Later that night, he hooked up his laptop and surfed over to a site known only to a select group of people. He typed in the URL: www.charliex.com*. It was the official site of the X-Men Mutant Underground. Only mutants who were catalogued and registered in the files could access the site. Part of the entrance was to click on a secret link, and then to scan your DNA on a special device that could be hooked up to any computer.
*(I made this URL up. If this is a real web site, I do not know what is on it, and I do not endorse it. If it belongs to you, I apologize and am willing to change it.)
Logan clicked on the link, typed in his password, and placed his finger into the scanning device. It took a sample of his DNA, and analyzed it. A minute later, the screen changed, saying that his identity was confirmed, and he was allowed to enter. He clicked on the link that read 'CHAT.' A second screen popped up with a chat window. He saw the people who were on. There weren't many. He entered a room with a person whose screen name he had never seen before: LIFE_02-1.
"Hi," LIFE_02-1 typed.
"Hi," Logan typed back. "Why are you here?"
"I'm looking for support. My mutant powers manifested. Why are you here?"
"I . . . "
"I am an X-Man. I was in a battle."
"An X-Man? COOL! Who did you fight?"
"Professor Charles Xavier."
"But wasn't he the one who founded the X-Men?"
"Something in him snapped. He went crazy. We had to fight him to stop him. He went inside my head. He totally violated my thoughts. Corrupted them."
"Nothing you could have done, darling. I need to know what my odds are of returning to normal."
"Because he affected me so deeply, I can barely think straight. I'm called the best at what I do, but I may not be able to do what I do. Can I return to the top?"
"They say you can't go back again."
"I will beat the odds. I have before."
"If you say so. I have to go. :( CYL. LIFE_02-1 LOGOFF."
Logan also saw memories of his recent time-displaced mission. He saw the villain, and the hero. He also saw the spirit who called him as he was pulled back through time.
The spirit took form. It had purple and red armor. Magneto? No. This figure had spikes.
"Behold, my mighty hand!" he shouted.
Logan recognized the figure, but was too weak to even whisper his name.
Logan then saw images of his final mission as an X-Man. He saw the imposter, tormenting him. He saw Cyclops returning. Havok, Bishop, Phoenix, all returning. X-Factor broke down the door to the mansion. He saw Rogue fighting Marrow, and then Gambit leaving. He saw Rogue chasing after the Cajun, and Marrow leaving with X-Factor.
He saw fire light up the room, the Phoenix returning. He saw the fight that disabled most of the team. He saw Xavier flipping out. Xavier tossed Storm across the Danger Room.
Logan saw himself attacking Xavier. Someone else attacked him as well. Cyclops? The first X-Man? Yes, the son was attacking the father. Wolverine felt the pain again.
He screamed out loud.
And then, everything faded to black.
Then it hit him. If Xavier hadn't stopped when he did, then Wolverine's mind would have been totally erased. Wolverine knew how Magneto must have felt in those few brief seconds before Xavier had wiped his mind clean.
The only difference now was that Magneto only had to deal with it for a second at the most. Wolverine would be tormented by it for a long time.
Logan stood up and walked into the bedroom, took off his shirt and changed his pants. He then climbed into the bed and fell into a sound sleep.