“See ya when I see ya, Larry,” James Proudstar pushed his way out of the bar, managing to only stumble slightly as he stepped out onto the now dark street. Checking his watch, James swore softly. He was going to be late. Add that to being drunk and he was in for an ass chewing. Scott wasn’t exactly forgiving on people messing up his schedule and it wasn’t like he even had a good excuse. He just wanted to feel a little normal for once, to go back to an old favorite bar and pretend like he didn’t live in a prehistoric jungle. In his inebriated state and so preoccupied with his thoughts, James didn’t even notice the two figures descending on him until the last second.
He turned slightly to see who could be rushing to catch up with him; there was a flash of starry lights and then all was darkness.
Warpath faded slowly back into consciousness, as if his body was a computer that had been improperly shut down. The first thing he was aware of was that he was moving, if the humming vibrations that reverberated through his body were to be trusted. The second thing was that he could barely move, his hands were pinned behind his back, and if the lack of feeling in his left arm was to be trusted he had been laying on it for some time. His sense of smell returned next, bearing with it a foreign, unfamiliar scent that made James nearly gag. Vision came last, blurry in the beginning, then sharpening. He was lying face-first in some sort of metal transport, bound with some type of metal bands that shackled him at various points on his body. Before he could stop himself he gave out a confused moan.
“Ah, so you are awake human.” A rasping voice mocked him, cheerfully. “I was afraid Krryx hit you on the head so hard that you would be permanently damaged. Your puny human anatomy is very frail, no? Even the abnormal specimens like yourself are so fragile.” James felt himself being pulled up by his hair and came face to with a green, scaled face with glowing yellow eyes. The green monster tutted softly and propped him up against the silver metal wall.
“Stop coddling the meat, D’zzek.” A deeper voice growled. A larger Skrull, one nearly as big as James himself, leaned up against the opposite wall, sneering down at the X-Man. “Just prick him already so I can do my job.”
The smaller Skrull frowned. “We’re supposed to wait until we get him to the prison, Krryx.” Krryx made an indelicate noise. “Why must we wait to further the cause? These regulations are unnecessary. The human is puny. If you cannot watch over him then you are not a true Skrull. Get on with it.”
D’zzek bowed. “As you command so shall it be done, Infiltrator.” The Skrull reached for syringe lying on a nearby table and whipped it around to Warpath. Before the Apache could even cry out, D’zzek buried the needle in James’s arm, withdrawing a sample of James’s blood. James watched, transfixed as D’zzek injected his blood into Kryyx. The larger Skrull flexed his arm once the transfusion was complete, before shimmering and beginning to change.
James gasped. It was just like looking into a mirror. The Skrull was now an exact replica of the X-Man known as Warpath. The faux-Warpath laughed and addressed his prisoner in the own man’s stolen voice. “Does our plot become clearer to you now James Proudstar? Ah, yes. I know your name. I know your secrets. I know how you move, how you talk, how you fight. We have been watching you for some time. Our abilities to change shape and voices have allowed us to hide among you for some time.” The clone crouched to Warpath’s level and flexed his new fingers pensively. “Yet to copy one of you anomalies, one of your mutants abilities, we require a bit more.” The disguised Skrull tapped his arm where Warpath’s blood had mixed with his own for emphasis. “And such powers… hmmm. You are stronger than I thought, human. D’zzek you would do well to watch him closely.” Straightening, the Skrull crossed over to the other side of the ship and unwrapped a bundle, revealing Warpath’s vibranium knives.
Whirling around, the Krryx grinned evilly. “I like these, human. I think I will use them to carve up some of your little X-Men’s faces. You are already an ugly species. I think it shall be an improvement.” Krryx tied the knives to his waist and waved at the pilot of the vessel, signaling him to stop. He turned back to Warpath. “My rendezvous point is just ahead. Do you have any messages you would like for me to convey to anybody on your planet, Proudstar? Perhaps to the Rourke girl or to the one-eyed one? I think I will let them know just how much she loves them.”
James had taken everything up to this point silently, more in shock at his situation than anything. Yet, he hadn’t been idle. While the Skrull had been gloating over him, James had been furiously working at the bonds that imprisoned him, flexing and relaxing his muscles in an attempt to loosen them. But at the Skrull’s goading he gritted his teeth and lifted his head, eyes meeting his own reflected back at him. He spoke quietly, evenly, with an undertone of seething hate. “If you hurt any of my friends I will find you. There will not be enough room on Earth for you to hide from me. Once I find you I will kill you. And if you hurt or kill anybody while wearing my face, I will find you and rip out your heart with my bare hands.”
The imposter Warpath chuckled, closed the gap between them and scoffed at his prisoner. “That’s the problem with your species, human. You don’t know when you are good and conquered. Also, let me tell you a little secret. You’re not on your little planet anymore.” With that the Skrull struck Warpath a hard blow across the face, made his way over to the side of the vehicle to jump out. James struggled to push himself back up into a sitting position. “Wait,” he called out to the imposter Skrull. “One last thing.” The Skrull turned back to him and crossed back over to the X-Man. “Yes human,” he sneered. “I will hear your last request.”
“You should have taken your own advice, and watched me a little closer,” James growled, as with one final heave he broke the bands that encompassed his arms and hands, lunging across the transport and wrapping his imposter in a bear hug. The Skrull rained savage blows on Warpath’s body but he ignored them, grabbing the knives that were sheathed on the lizard-creature’s belt. He stabbed into the Skrull’s body once, twice, three times and the Skrull’s startled screams faded into a sighing death rattle. Warpath tossed the body aside as it shimmered and transformed back into its Skrull form. D’zzek had been startled by the initial attack by the Apache, and his hesitation doomed him of any chance he might have had at defending himself. James hurled one of the vibranium knives at his other Skrull captive, and the blade embedded in his forehead with a satisfying crunch. As D’zzek was falling, James let fly with the other knife, sending it flying end over end and thudding into the pilot’s neck. Half reaching for a weapon to defend himself, the last Skrull slumped over into a heap. The vessel veered out of control and flipped over, throwing Warpath around and bouncing him off the walls. The vehicle came to a sudden halt, and Warpath presumed they had crashed. He lay dazed on the floor before making himself move, crawling over to retrieve one of his knives from the Skrull’s body. Cutting himself free of his other restraints, James retrieved his other knife and pushed his way out of the wrecked transport.
Heart sinking at the site before him, Warpath realized that Krryx had not been lying. He wasn’t sure exactly where he was but it couldn’t be Earth. Nothing smelled right or looked familiar. His sensitive hearing alerted him to the fact that something else was coming up behind him, bearing down fast. To his left was what appeared to be some sort of civilization, to his right a strange and hostile looking wilderness. James had only seconds to decide. With a muttered curse, he took off towards the wilderness, running as fast as he could. First he would hide, and try to figure out where the hell he was. Then he would make sure to make whatever these creatures were pay. They had made a grave mistake by letting him loose on their planet.