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In the Shadows part 3
"To Be, Or Not To Be A Paradox"
by Chip Caroon
"That's explains the package that Joey gave him last night!" Wolverine whispered.

"What do you mean?" The Shadow asked.

"Mr. Sinister collects DNA as part o' his research t' make th' perfect mutant. That means that the vial was someone's genetic material!"

"Excuse me, but you lost me," The Shadow said. "DNA? Genetic material?"

"Oh, right," Wolverine said. "I keep forgettin' I'm in the past. DNA is what contains our genetic material. It won't be fully discovered or understood for at least ten years."

"Okay," The Shadow said, still confused, but dealt with it. "So, what were on those dog tags?"

Wolverine looked around to see if anyone was coming. "I don't think those were dog tags. I think that they were some type of disk with genetic information."

"What kind of genetic information?"

"I don't know. It could be anything."

"You said that he's trying to create the perfect mutant. That means you've probably run into him quite a bit."

Wolverine nodded. "Yeah. Every once in a while, he starts to bug the X-Men. Mostly 'cause he believes that a couple o' our teammates together will produce the perfect mutant."

"I hope they are of different genders."

"They are. Married even."

"That's good."

"So, is this guy from your future?"

Wolverine looked at the man in the control booth. "No," he said. "This is a younger version. The guy's immortal after all."

Both were silent for a minute, watching the control booth.

"So, Shadow, what's our plan?"

"Well, first off, you can't do much. You're from the future. You could cause too much damage to your timeline. Besides, if you kill him now, no saying what could happen in the future."

"I see whacha mean, but what if my being here changed the future in a way that I have to be here for my future to exist."

The Shadow thought for a minute. "You mean a paradox?"

"Somethin' like that."

The Shadow thought some more. "We can discuss that later. But first, I need to get in, but I don't know how."

Wolverine looked straight at The Shadow. "Ya need a diversion."

"Can you create one?"

*SCHULKT*

Wolverine popped out his claws. "I think I c'n manage."

"Good, you go down there and make one. I'll be up here. When Sinister comes out, I'll go in. When he comes back in, he'll answer to me."

"What if he don't come out?"

"Then I'll have to help in that diversion."

"Good. Let's go!"


Chow Yin and Song Chen stood behind the warehouse, waiting for their third partner, Fen Chan. They were the ones that had caused the damage inside. When they came up with the idea, it seemed like a good idea. Now, it didn't seem like the best idea. They needed to do more.

Song Chen was looking inside when Fen Chen came back.

"You got 'em?" Chow Yin asked.

"Yup," Fen said, opening his coat and showing the pistols he carried. "Three of 'em. All beauties."

"Perfect," Chow said as he walked over and took one. He aimed it and pretended to fire. "Song, get one of these."

Song Chen turned from the window, walked over and picked up a gun from Fen Chan. He admired it for a minute.

Chow Yin looked at his partners. "Both of you know that what we did this afternoon wasn't enough. They lose one night's work. Big deal. But this," he said, lifing up the gun, "this'll get us some respect. We need to start a riot. See how the big guy likes that!" He lifted his gun above his head. He motioned for the others to do the same. The ends of all three barrels touched, and they all said a Chinese prayer.


Wolverine was waiting behind a stack of boxes on the floor of the warehouse. It had taken him ten minutes to climb down from the catwalk unnoticed. He knew that eventually someone would walk by. When they did, Wolverine would be ready.

Within in five minutes, some poor soul did walk by with a broom, sweeping up the spilled opium. Wolverine reached out and grabbed the boy before he was seen, making sure that one hand was over the boy's mouth. When he got the boy behind the boxes, he backhanded him, knocking him unconscious. The boy went limp and Wolverine dropped him. He pulled back his own mask and proceeded to put the boy's clothes on over his own. It was moments like this that Wolverine was glad he was short, since that made him about the same size as the boy he had just knocked out.

After he changed clothes, he grabbed the broom and stepped out from behind the box. He pretended to be sweeping the floor, and just walked randomly. He knew that soon enough he would run into someone. The perfect way to start a senseless fight.

Five minutes later, he ran into someone. The person appeared to be an American, about 25 years old.

"Hey, old man," he said. "Watch were you're going!"

Wolverine dropped the broom and stood up to the man. "Hey, yerself," he said. "Why don't you watch were yer goin'!"

"That's it!" the younger man said, and brought his fist back as if to hit Logan.

In a flash, Logan's fist was in the man's gut and he was bending over. Several of the man's friends saw this and ran over to help. They all piled on Wolverine, trying to subdue him. Wolverine let them push him down for a while, and then he lifted up and dropped all of them.

Meanwhile, all over the warehouse, fights were starting. Men and boys everywhere were either throwing punches or being knocked down onto the floor.

Ten more guys were charging at Wolverine. Wolverine braced himself, and when they finally piled on top of him, he was swinging. However, they were pushing him down.

"Only one way to help this!" Wolverine thought.

*SCHULKT*

Wolverine popped both set of claws out and began swinging at everyone.

"Hey, this guy's a freak!" someone yelled.

"Oh, crap, man! Freak's got claws!"

When Wolverine heard this, he ran over to the guy and held his head between two claws of his right hand.

"Hey, bub. I got three claws on this hand. You know where two o' them are. You wanna know where number three'll end up? That's right, it'll go straight through your head!"

The guy turned pale and fainted. Wolverine picked him up and threw him at the foursome rushing at him. All five ended up unconscious. Then Wolverine ripped off the clothes he had "borrowed" and pulled his mask back on.

Just then, Chow Yin and his friends charged through the door, guns ablaze. Several of the workers tried to rush after them, but most ended up getting shot.

The Shadow looked down at Wolverine and saw that he was having fun. "This must be a typical barroom brawl for him," he thought.

"Head for the catwalk!" Chow Yin told Song Chen. Song Chen ran to the catwalk and stood where Wolverine and The Shadow were when they found the control room minutes before. He aimed his pistol and shot at the glass. The glass shattered.

"This is it!" The Shadow thought. "Sinister has to come out!"

Sure enough, the door to the control room slid open. Mr. Sinister stepped out, followed by two men who looked similiar to the two who killed Joey. Sinister walked to the railing of the catwalk and leaned against it. As he did this, everyone quieted.

The Shadow took this opportunity to run into the control room.

Sinister began to speak. "People! Please calm down! There is no need for violence!"

As he said that, the back wall of the warehouse exploded. Someone walked in. Someone who looked a lot like . . . Joey?

"ESSEX!*" he shouted.

*(Mr. Sinister's real name is Nathaniel Essex)

"Joey?" The Shadow thought. "Impossible!"

The man continued to speak. "You killed my little brother! And now, I'm gonna kill you!" He raised up a machine gun aimed directly at Sinister.

Sinister appeared to be shaking. "No," he whispered.

The entire warehouse was silent. No one dared move.

No one . . . except Wolverine. Stealthily, he walked over to the catwalk and climbed up. He walked over the Song Chen, who still had his pistol aimed at Mr. Sinister. Wolverine retracted the middle claw on his right hand and put the other two around his neck.

"Don't, bub," he said. "Not now."

Song Chen lowered his weapon and Wolverine retracted his claws.

Joey's brother walked closer. "You have thirty seconds to give me a reason to spare your worthless life."

Wolverine was now at a crossroads. Should he stop Joey's brother from killing Sinister, or should he do nothing?

"Twenty seconds!"

Sinister stood, at a loss for words. "I . . . I . . . " he stammered.

"Ten seconds!"

The Shadow knew he had to do something. And he only had ten seconds to save Sinister's worthless life.

"All right, Essex. Time's up!"

The Shadow laughed his trademarked laugh, and then shouted "Sinister!"

Mr. Sinister turned around. "Huh?"

Joey's brother started firing, but missed when Sinister turned around.

"Sinister!" The Shadow repeated. "Tell these people how you used them, how you're going to leave them behind when the cops come!"

People in the crowd started asking themselves "Is this true?"

One man yelled, "Who's saying that?"

The Shadow walked closer to the edge of the catwalk. "I am . . . The Shadow!"

Murmurs of awe ran through the crowd.

"It's The Shadow! Get him!"

"No! Get Sinister!"

Suddenly, all of the men and boys started a charge up the catwalk. Joey's brother dropped his machine gun and pulled out his own personal weapon. Sinister, when he saw this, tried to ran out the back of the control room. Wolverine saw this, and knew he had to stop it. He grabbed a rope hanging from the ceiling and swung to the other side of the catwalk. He landed right it front of the control room and ran after Sinister.

Mr. Sinister had fled to a flight of steps. Wolverine chased him, and jumpped down the steps to the bottom, where he met Sinister. He popped his claws back out.

"Sinister."

"Who are you?"

"You don't know me yet, but you will. And when you do, remember, I will kill you."

Sinister reached into his jacket and pulled out a vial of acid. He popped the cap off and flug the contents onto Wolverine's face.

"Arrgh!" Wolverine cried, as the acid burnt the right side of his face.

Sinister ran away, but only a few steps later, Wolverine tackled him, and pinned him down.

Sinister looked up at his attacker's face. "Your face! How?!"

Wolverine's face was mostly healed. "It's called a mutant healin' factor, bub."

Sinister found he was able to move his knees, and so he hit Wolverine in a very soft spot. Wolverine cried out in pain, and fell off of Sinister, who ran off into the night.


Meanwhile, inside the warehouse, The Shadow was holding off a few hundred men, as police sirens were getting louder in the distance. Fortunately, none of them could see him. He decided that the best course of action would be to run out the control room, like Wolverine.

He ran into the control room and found the buttons to close the door in front of him. Then, he ran down the steps that Wolverine and Sinister had run down just a minute ago.

The Shadow came out to find Wolverine trying to get up, but Mr. Sinister was nowhere in sight.

"Wolverine! What happened?" The Shadow asked, at the same time, dropping his cloak of invisibility for Wolverine.

"I had Sinister pinned, but he kicked me in the . . . um . . . tender spot below the waist," Wolverine said, getting up.

"Ouch."

"Oh, well. I guess it was destined."

Just then, the police pulled up to the front of the warehouse.

"Wait here for one minute, Logan," The Shadow said. "I must tell the police what happened."

The Shadow walked over to the police cars as Commissioner Weston stepped out.

"Commissioner!" The Shadow said.

"Ah, The Shadow!" Weston exclaimed.

"The man in charge got away."

"We know," Weston said, with a smile. "We had a man on the inside the entire time."

"Then you don't need my infomation."

"Unfortunately, no."

The Shadow turned and walked back to Wolverine.

Wolverine put out his hand. "I guess this is it," he said.

The Shadow dropped his cloak of invisiblity. "How do you know you're leaving now?"

"I c'n feel it," Wolverine said.

The Shadow took Wolverine's hand and shook it. "Good-bye, Logan. It was an honor to work with you."

"Same with you, Mr. Cranston." As Wolverine finished saying that, he began to disappear. "I won't forget you intentionally," he said with a smile.

The Shadow smiled and waved as Logan faded from sight. Then he walked to his car, got in, and drove home.


EPILOGUE 1

Nathaniel Essex sat on the train back to L.A., thinking. The New York operation wasn't a total waste. He did get quite a bit of genetic information.

And he learned of that mutant healing factor. He would have to look for it in the coming years.

The rest of the train ride was spent studying his notes.


EPILOGUE 2

Wolverine was flying through the time stream, hoping that he would be returned to his own time.

"Wolverine . . . " a spirit called.

"Who're you?"

"It doesn't matter. Come with me . . . "

Wolverine had no choice but to follow it.

THE END


In Uncanny X-Men #372 - The X-Men are shattering, and Wolverine returns to his own time!