People form groups for a multitude of reasons. They have the capacity to achieve more than individuals acting alone. They can keep people safe, helping them to achieve what they're not strong enough to by themselves – but every group needs a leader. An individual who takes responsibility, who exerts their power and opinions over others – a person who can see danger before it happens – because there is always something out there, waiting for them.
Under the moonlight, a small village of wooden huts sits on the edge of a ravine. Several children suddenly run through the village. 'This way, guys! It's a shortcut!' one of the kids calls out to the others. But as they round a corner, 'WATCH OUT!' Nathan Dayspring shouts, wide-eyed. 'It's gonna get you!' he screams as the marge techno-organic monstrosity called Metus appears before them. Nathan pushes two of the kids away, and leaps towards another who Metus towers over, knocking the kid to safety. 'Ow...' the kid mutters. Nathan looks up, and sees that Metus is not there. 'What the hell is wrong with you, Dayspring?' one of the other kids asks. Nathan hangs his head. When a leader gives in to his fear...they're no longer equipped to take the reins because it puts the whole group at risk.
The Adirondack Mountains, New York.
It's 6:00 AM, and a shirtless Cable a.k.a. Nathan Summers is working on a large piece of equipment in one of the labs. Domino stands nearby and Cable tells her that he feels like he is losing them, that the team still doesn't trust him. 'They're just kids and you're asking them to be soldiers. That change doesn't happen overnight' Domino points out. Cable tells her that he knows, but that his rule has always been to whip them into shape with a stern hand – only they are starting to resent him for that. 'They revere you. They just wanna follow a person, not a set of commands. I hear the way they talk -' Domino begins as Cable climbs up from under the equipment he was working on and reminds Domino that he can read their minds, and he knows they think he is a grumpy old man, too tough and too militaristic. A large blue circle on the machinery glows, and Cable tells Domino that he is afraid they could be right. Cable then instructs the computer, Professor, to route power to the central holo-core and initiate booting sequence.
'Maybe I'm not cut out for this. I never exactly asked for it...' Cable remarks, to which Domino points out that the people best suited to lead are those who don't seek it out. 'Leadership is thrust upon them, and they accept their duty because they must. Just like you did with X-Force'.
Cable sits at a console which overlooks a large empty room. Domino folds her arms and suggests to Cable that he prove them wrong, to tell them about his past, show them that he is just like them. 'They're not ready. Not yet' Cable replies. 'Sounds like you're the one who isn't ready' Domino points out.
Cable ignores her and instructs Professor to initiate simulated environment testing. The Professor responds by beginning to run through a gamut of locations, firstly, the Savage Land, and a lush landscape complete with dinosaurs suddenly fills the empty room. 'How can you expect them to follow your orders if they don't know the real you?' Domino asks, to which Cable tells her that soldiers only need to operate with what's present at hand.
Another change in the holo-simulation, and the Mutant Liberation Front's base appears in the room, as Domino asks Cable if that is what all this is for. Cable tells her that they have proven time and time again that they are not ready for the real world, and adds that he doesn't even know if this is the best course of action, admitting that he is doubting himself at every turn.
Another landscape change, this time, to the Astral Plane, and Cable reveals to Domino that he hasn't been like this since he was a child. 'They're still kids. Just remember, they have a lot to learn from you' Domino tells Cable as she puts a comforting hand on his shoulder.
Several hours later, at 11:00 AM, Cable and Domino are now wearing their pouch-laden uniforms, as Cable paces in front of his team who stand before him: Tabby Smith a.k.a. Boom-Boom, Sam Guthrie a.k.a. Cannonball, James Proudstar a.k.a. Warpath, Maria Callasantos a.k.a. Feral, Domino and the mysterious Shatterstar.
'At attention X-Force!' Cable shouts. He tells his team that he hopes they enjoyed the extra rest, and that while they were taking their beauty sleep, he finished installing a new toy.
'It's too early for this, Sarge' Boom-Boom complains. Cable ignores her and welcomes the team to the skirmish field of their very own Danger Room. He informs them that every morning from now on they are doing one hour of intense combat simulation, and adds that to who he means business, he won't be joining them in the field. Cable walks away from his team as he reports that he will be watching from the observation deck. He warns them that these holograms pack a punch and suggests they don't disappoint him.
'I will make short work of this simulation' Shatterstar boasts as he grabs his swords. 'No. We'll fight and succeed as one' Warpath tells Shatterstar, to which Boom-Boom asks 'What if we trash the place?' and Cannonball shrugs his shoulders, muttering that this is bogus.
X-Force soon find themselves in a holo-scenario where they are in a dirty alleyway. Cable's voice can be heard over the communicator, instructing them to fall into position and watch each other’s six. 'Why's he up there if we're down here?' Boom-Boom mutters. 'Hard-ass old man's taking the day off' Cannonball suggests. 'Go figure. This is such -' Boom-Boom begins, but doesn't finish her sentence, as she and Cannonball didn’t notice someone come up behind them and smack their heads together.
'What the #$%& am I doing here? It's because of the movie, isn't it?' Deadpool asks as he stands over the motionless Cannonball and Boom-Boom.
Warpath and Feral turn back and rush towards Deadpool, who calls out 'Another Danger Room? Reaaaal original, Cable!' Deadpool slams Feral into a puddle of water, while kicking Warpath hard in the face. 'Dammit, sweet D! Enough with the $%&#ing bullets!' Deadpool calls out at Domino as she opens fire at him. 'Shatterstar, what are you waiting for?' Domino asks as she and Shatterstar rush towards the action. 'For you fools to clear the way. The glory is mine!' Shatterstar shouts.
Shatterstar leaps towards Deadpool, who unsheathes one of his swords, 'Wayne Gretzky called. He wants his helmet back!' Deadpool jokes as his sword clangs against one of Shatterstar's. 'Flattery will not get you mercy. Only the tips of my blades, heathen!' Shatterstar responds. 'What? Who invited this guy?' Deadpool mutters, as Shatterstar warns him that his confidence will be his undoing. 'Ugh. You're the worst' Deadpool replies as he kicks Shatterstar. 'Jump in there. I'll flank the loudmouth!' Domino calls out to Feral. 'My Star!' Feral hisses as she leaps towards Deadpool. 'This is not how we operate. Attack together!' Domino tells the rest of X-Force, who are slowly gathering themselves. 'Why don't you guys talk more while you're fighting?' Deadpool asks as he slams his foot into Feral's face, causing her to screech in pain. 'Feral, look out -' Domino begins, but too late as Feral falls backwards into Domino.
'Pathetic' Cable thinks to himself as he watches from the observation booth. He telepathically asks X-Force how many times will he have to repeat himself that unity is essential in combat. He instructs them to lick their wounds and listen for his orders. X-Force do as they are told, get to their feet, they begin to surround Deadpool as Cable tells Domino and Boom-Boom that they are the distraction, that they need to find cover and fire from range. 'Yes, Sir' Domino responds. Boom-Boom leaps onto a large garbage can and throws plasma time-bombs at Deadpool, while rain begins to beat down on them. Domino fires her weapon at Deadpool as she runs for cover. 'Dodge, dodge, dodge' Deadpool jokes as he evades the bullets. Cable telepathically instructs Domino and Boom-Boom to cease fire, and for Cannonball to take Deadpool down hard. 'This'll shut you up!' Cannonball exclaims as he blasts into Deadpool's back, shoving him forward to Warpath, who Cable tells to face Deadpool head-on and not to let up the assault.
'Shatterstar, take his six!' Warpath calls out. 'With grace and honor, my companion!' Shatterstar calls back as he lunges towards Deadpool, and slices his swords down through Deadpool's legs, below the knee and through the thigh. 'Keep him spinning until he's cornered!' Cable instruct. 'Nothing sweeter than a little tip-to-tip action' Deadpool jokes, while Cable orders Feral to lie in wait. 'Ready on my go...' he adds, while Deadpool, careening backwards through the air opens fire at Shatterstar: 'Bye-bye legs!' Deadpool exlaims, while Cable gives Feral the command to pounce. 'I'll rip your throat out!' Feral shrieks as she lands on Deadpool and digs her claws into his chest. 'No! Bad kitty!' Deadpool calls out, while Cable speaks over the communicator, telling his team that victory is easy when they reliquish conceit. 'Well fought, soldiers' he adds. 'Umm, teacher? Mr Dayspring? May I be excused?' Deadpool asks.
The holo-simulation fades away, returning the room to a large empty space. 'Was it necessary for that hologram to speak?' Warpath asks. 'I guess the old grump was right' Boom-Boom remarks, while Shatterstar boasts that there was never a seed of doubt that they would hail victorious. 'We all saw you get your ass kicked back there' Domino tells Shatterstar, while Cannonball flies up to the observation booth and asks Cable for a real challenge next time. 'I think we can call it a -' Cable begins, when something goes wrong, and the communicator shuts down, as the room begins to shift. 'You're cutting out. We can't hear you!' Domino calls out. Cannonball suggests that it is part of the test, and tells the team to get into position 'Something's wrong!' Boom-Boom utters, while Warpath remarks that he doesn't like this.
The holo-simulation shifts to the front lawn of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, and a being resembling the recently deceased New Mutant called Warlock towers over X-Force. 'I am returned self-friends!' he grins. 'No! Nonono not Warlock! You're... you're dead...' Tabby exclaims. 'Did Cable mourn self when self died?' Warlock asks. 'This ain't cool. Even for you, Cable!' Cannonball shouts as he blasts up towards Warlock, but, in the observation booth, Cable goes wide-eyed, 'This isn't...' he begins, before telepathically telling the team to get out. 'Will he mourn selffriends when their time comes?' Warlock enquires. Feral and Shatterstar begin to run up the many large wires that hang from Warlock's waist, while Warpath warns them not to engage. 'Fall back. Find cover!' Domino calls out as she fires her gun towards Warlock. Cannonball blasts nearby, while Warlock slams Feral to the ground. 'Such meaningless violence' Warpath remarks as he goes over and helps Feral up. 'Look out!' Cannonball calls out, but too late, as Warlock slams one of his heavy wires into Warpath and Feral, squashing them into the ground.
In the observation booth, Cable asks the Professor why he can't shut down the system, when suddenly, wires burst forth from the console and attack Cable's cybernetic arm. The Professor informs Cable that it seems there is an alternate power source surging through the base.
'Domino, lend me your luck!' Shatterstar calls out from where he hangs upside down in Warlock's hand, as Warlock warns him that he will extinguish his lifeglow. 'What is this infernal beast?' Shatterstar asks. 'Warlock's a technology... computer being... thing' Cannonball explains poorly. 'He was our teammate!' Tabby exclaims as Cannonball blasts towards her. 'But he's been dead a long time now' Cannonball adds.
Cable is frustrated that the systems are not responding. 'Work faster -' he exclaims, before crying out as the wires latch onto his cybernetic arm. The Professor tells Cable that there is something wrong. 'I'm afraid I'm not feeling well...' Professor adds.
'Fighting a fallen comrade for combat training. Messed up, Cable' Domino remarks as she fires her weapons towards Warlock. 'Cable, you coward! Where are you?' Tabby calls out from the rooftop of the Xavier Institute where Cannonball has dropped her. She tosses some time-bombs at Warlock, while Cannonball frees Shatterstar from Warlock's grasp. 'We're getting torn up out here!' Cannonball shouts, while Domino tells them all to shut it and focus.
The Professor reaches critical malfunction and begins to shut down. 'Goodbye...' the Professor remarks. 'Professor!' Cable shouts as he falls backwards from his chair.
'Cable, stop the test!' Cannonball calls out as he drops Tabbby back down on the ground. 'They're really getting hurt! Do you want them to...to -' Cannonball begins, while Warlock stands up and rubs his head, 'FriendTabitha. Aren't you glad to see FriendWarlock?' he asks.
'This isn't fun anymore!' Tabby shouts as she checks on Warpath and Feral. 'Selffriends not having good time? I do this for you' Warlock remarks. 'This is over!' Domino shouts as she rushes in front of Warlock. 'Negative. Family. Foe. Separation. End. Flee. Alone' Warlock responds as he raises his hands over his head – but before he can bring them down, Cable blasts into the holo-simulation room and fires his weapon at Warlock, blasting off one of his arms.
'GET AWAY!' Cable shouts. 'His arm...' Tabby utters as she sees Cable's cybernetic arm has mutated. 'This is getting really weird' Cable remarks. Domino is speechless, before Shatterstar exclaims that they must help their leader. 'No...stand down. Await his orders' Domino tells Shatterstar, as Warlock's form changes into that of Metus.
'You've grown so sold' Metus tells Cable. 'But you're still the same' Metus adds. 'A scared little boy, lost in the woods'. Cable looks up at Metus in shock, and exclaims 'No...it can't be you. How did you find me'. Cable turns to his team and tells them to run. 'What's going on?' Cannonball asks Cable. 'It's just mind games!' Tabby exclaims as she helps Feral up, while Domino helps Warpath to his feet. 'Abandon no one!' Shatterstar shouts as he runs towards Metus, swords at the ready. 'No... we can't... fight this!' Cable shouts.
'Tell us what to do, sarge' Cannonball asks as he blasts towards Metus. 'Fall back! That's an order!' Cable shouts. 'Never yield. We are larger than these petty impostor enemies!' But Domino, walking alongside Warpath, calls out 'X-Force, you heard him, move out!' too late, as Metus wraps coils around Shatterstar and Cannonball, while wires bursts through ther ground and start to pull Cable down. 'You've failed them' Metus declares. Metus drops Cannonball and Shatterstar to the ground. 'Don't touch them! You're here for me!' Cable calls out. 'You didn't tell them about us. Even after all this time. And that hurts' Metus remarks, shifting his techno-organic form into a serpent, he slithers after Domino, Tabby, Warpath and Feral. 'You weakened your childish team with secrets' Metus hisses, quickly speeding past the others, he blocks their exit from the holo-simulation room. 'Cable always did like to keep things to himself' Metus remarks, adding that if Cable had shared his fear, the others would have stood a chance. Cable struggles to free himself from the wires, as Metus tells him to watch.
Cable looks horrified as Metus creates copies of more of the former New Mutants – Magik, who slices her Soulsword into Warpath, and Sunspot, who extends cables that wrap around Feral and Tabby, who screams. Cable closes his eyes and turns away, 'I said watch!' Metus shouts, and Cable's eyes are forced open by prongs that extend from Metus.
Another former New Mutants, Wolfsbane, in her wolf form, is created, and blocks Domino from escaping. 'It's gonna kill us!' Domino shouts. 'Don't worry, I hunger for something else' Wolfsbane tells her. 'METUUUUS!' Cable booms, exerting all his energy, he sends a shockwave of telekinetic force through the holo-simulation room, freeing himself, he rushes to Domino, 'Don't make them pay for something I did!' Cable pleads with Metus, while Domino fires her weapon at Wolfsbane, who lunges at her, but Cable pulls Domino aside – too late as Wolfsbane bites down on her.
'They don't deserve this' Cable tells Metus as the holo-simulation room reverts to its regular state. 'No. But neither did I' Metus replies, warning Dayspring that he will always be here to ruin his family – an eye for an eye. 'It wasn't my fault I was just a boy' Cable replies. 'I'm sorry' he adds, but Metus tells him that doesn't matter, and fades away. Those members of X-Force who are still conscious gather nearby, while Cable tells Domino that he is sorry, and holds her.
Tabby and Cannonball sit together in the infirmary. Shatterstar and Feral are nearby, while Warpath sits beside Domino who is hooked up to life support. Cable enters the infirmary and Tabby tells him that Domino barely made it out alive. 'If it wanted us dead, we would be. We were merely toys' Warpath points out. 'Why would you test -' Tabby starts to ask Cable, as Cannonball interrupts, declaring that it wasn't a test. 'We have a right to know what that was about' Tabby adds. 'It doesn't concern you' Cable responds, adding that it is over now and they can put it behind them. Cannonball reminds Cable that he taught them the number one rule of teamwork is honesty. 'Can't even follow your own damn rules' he mutters, while Warpath stands up and asks 'What if that... thing comes back?'
'Then I'll handle it by myself' Cable announces as he walks over to Domino. 'Some leader you turned out to be' Cannonball declares, before X-Force leave the infirmary. Cable doesn't turn to look at them. He thinks to himself that if they didn't hate him before, they do now – and he can't blame them, as he gave in to fear – thinking it would protect them, but he was selfish – he failed to see the danger, to let them in – to show them his past. He then drops to his knees at Domino's bed and puts his head onto her bed, covering his head with his hands.