In Tyler’s base, Stryfe, not at all happy about being used as a pawn in someone else’s game, confronts “his son”. Stating that now the time has come to discard his mask, he threatens to kill Tyler for his impertinence. Tyler, however, is defiant, stating that since Stryfe’s physical body had been destroyed in the vortex after the events on the moon, the only way he could get any semblance of revenge on both him and his father was to put them both in the same body.
Stryfe states that he was able to track Tyler through the Askani, as well as questions what he’s going to do with the two of them. He goes on to exclaim that he can destroy them both as simply as his helmet, which he promptly steps on and smashes. Tyler growls that Stryfe cannot deny what he is, simply a failure, unable to accept that that has always been the case. Tyler smirks at the irony, Stryfe doesn’t realize that he is in fact just a clone, and that the man he has always hated because he believed that he was the copy, was in fact the real McCoy. Stryfe angrily calls Tyler a liar, and blasts him with his gun, blowing him across the complex in a trail of smoke.
Then, turning his attention and his gun on the Askani, Stryfe goes on to explain that the order of the Askani has long since been crushed, and even then they were nothing more than the whispered words of a mad woman. Askani disagrees, stating that the order still exists, though badly broken by Apocalypse’s forces, and if indeed they no longer exist, why is she still there? But in the end, it doesn’ matter since she has already accomplished sending a warning to the “chosen ones” about Stryfe’s return. Annoyed, Stryfe blasts the Askani’s containment field, and scatters her like smoke.
Tyler warns Stryfe that he has been in telepathic contact with the Askani, and that now that she has been disseminated, all those ghost of what was and what is yet to be will form through him. Just then, an image of a great army appears before Stryfe, led by a shadowed form of Apocalypse behind them. Stryfe asks what he is being showed, at which point Tyler answers that they are seeing the truth.
Camp Verde, Arizona:
Zero stands before the assembled members of X-Men and X-Force, reiterating his manifesto that in order to preserve peace; they will have to destroy Stryfe and ultimately Cable as well. Professor X points out that such actions would in fact be contradictory, especially considering that Cable is no longer in control of his own mind. Zero confirms this, and goes on to show them the events that transpired directly after Stryfe and Cable were sucked into the vortex on the moon months earlier.
Stryfe is shown to indeed have been destroyed, and Cable survived survived, though displaced far into a future node. It then shows that Cable was repaired using the technology of that timeline. However, even though Styfe’s body had been lost, an electromagnetic flux combined with their genetic similarities resulted in Stryfe still being active in Cable’s body. However, only one is capable of being in control at any given time, and only when a specific frequency alignment occurs can one dominate the other.
Professor X is able to deduce that Mr. Sinister managed to isolate the frequency and then use it to cause Stryfe to gain ascendancy. Zero points out that Xavier is correct, but the longer that Stryfe remains in control, the likelier the transference will become permanent. Jean realizes that this may be their last chance to find out the truth about not only Cyclops’ son, but the cure for the Legacy Virus as well.
Zero points out that they no longer need to believe what Stryfe previously told them, that in truth it is Cable who is Cyclops’s real son. Professor X asks why Stryfe hasn’t made another attempt at revenge against Cyclops and Jean Grey, which is promptly answered by Zero who states that Stryfe had detected the Askani and Tyler, which required his attention first. Jean is then able to put together that it had been the Askani who had warned her of Stryfe’s return. After asking if they wish to proceed in protecting Cyclops and Jean, he promptly teleports them away, leaving behind Rictor and Siryn due to their injuries.
Events of the past (or the future if you will) continue to unfold, despite Stryfe’s attempts to choke the life out of Tyler. He becomes distracted when the image of Apocalypse standing over two children appears. One of them is the clone, the other is the original. Tyler goes on to show Stryfe more, as they witness the tragic events continue to unfold.
They see the Mother Askani and a technician talking, that despite their original assessments, the original child would live after all. Just then, another member of the order bursts into the room warning them of a Canaanite attack. The Mother Askani orders Boak to remove the children and orders Throeblood to prepare for evacuation. Boak is able to remove one of the children when the Canaanites blast their way into the room, and seemingly kill the Mother Askani with one blast. Throeblood orders Boak to escape, while he saves the other child. But before Throeblood can do so, he too is cut down. Soon after, Apocalypse himself enters the room, and though he believes that he has gained the original child, he in fact has the clone – Stryfe!
Stryfe, of course, doesn’t believe what he is seeing. So enamored with his own self-importance, he can’t believe that his glorious destiny was simply because his chamber was opened second.
Suddenly, Stryfe is blasted from behind by Cyclops’s optic blast. The X-Men have arrived with the help of Zero, but before they can get close to Stryfe, he unleashes a telekinetic attack which knocks them away. Stryfe curses Zero for his betrayal, for bringing the X-Men there. Before Stryfe can enact revenge, however, Zero channels the energy form of Askani and uses it to bind Stryfe in place. Seeing their chance, Professor X and Jean use their combined telepathy, despite her initial hesitations, to get into Stryfe’s twisted mind.
Once inside they witness firsthand the cruelty and harsh conditions in which Stryfe grew up, and from that twisted tempering, the black soul that he eventually became.
The Askani pleads to Stryfe to let the X-Men help him. She lets him bear witness to the tragedies of Cyclops’ life, first with the loss of his own parents in a flaming plane crash while he and his brother, Alex, their parachute on fire, fell helplessly to the ground. He also witnesses the pain of Cyclops as he gives up his son to an unknown future. She then turns to Cable’s memories, of his learning to cope with the techno-virus which ravaged his body to the day he was forced to shoot his own son. And finally, to Tyler who survived that fateful confrontation thanks to efforts of Parridan Haights’ scientists who sought to use him as their tool of revenge.
Seeing these others somehow emerge triumphant from their personal battles while Stryfe allowed his life to become a tortured quagmire becomes too much for the madman to handle. And realizing that his last act would be far more vicious than anything he could possibly do in life, Stryfe simply gives up, knowing that he in turn will be taking all the secrets of the Legacy Virus along with him.
The Askani separates Stryfe from Cable’s mind, who crumples to the floor…the puppet’s strings cut. Cyclops rushes to the side of his son, realizing that Cable is indeed his child, the irony being that Cable is now old enough to be his own father. Cyclops apologizes to his son for everything that happened to him; however Cable calls out for his own son. Professor X informs Cable that Tyler escaped during the confusion, and that he cannot trace him while they had been in such a fragile union. Jean points out that she futilely reached out to Stryfe in an effort to find some clue about how to cure the virus. Professor X only strengthens his resolve to find a cure. He then points out to Cable that though this is their first meeting, he possesses the oddest feeling that they had met before. Cable states that he has been a part of Xavier’s ideals for more years than he knows, but he’s just one of those crazy relatives you don’t want visiting.
As he walks away, Cyclops pleads for him not to leave with things the way they are, he then asks him if there is anything he wants to know. Cable stops, and then turns back to ask if there is something he could tell him about his mother.