Stryfe’s Citadel. The Throne Room…
Cable, Bishop, Warpath and Wolverine—those Stryfe considers the weak—have fallen. Stryfe hadn’t understood their mission or known that which they sought. He couldn’t grasp why they were willing to sacrifice so much. Now, he understands. Now, he knows why the girl is so important to them. The subconscious mind of their mutant healer Elixir—whom Stryfe currently holds by the neck—surrendered all of the girl’s secrets without even knowing them himself.
Choking to death, Elixir begs Stryfe to let him go. Stryfe merely sneers at his ignorance and weakness. He understands now he has been focused on the wrong prize all along, blinded by that traitor Bishop. Now, he understands, though: the girl is all that matters. Stryfe tosses Elixir away like a rag doll and marches toward the defenseless Hope Summers.
Celestial City. The Greymalkin Ship…
Domino, holding a gun to Deadpool’s head, asks him to please clarify: what does he mean when he says Stryfe is in his head? Is this whole thing one big trap? Deadpool readily admits it is and he was supposed to kill all of them for his master, only he got distracted. Domino curses. They have little more than half an hour before they’re yanked back to the present, and that’s assuming they can find the chronal net. If they can’t, they’re stuck in this future, where their bodies will quickly die.
X-23 asks Domino to keep an eye on Deadpool while she and Vanisher locate the source of the chronal net. If Deadpool moves, she orders Domino to blow the rest of his brains out. “Hey, what do you mean rest?” Deadpool asks. Staring down the barrels of Domino’s handguns, Wade asks her to listen to him for a moment. He realizes his betrayal upset her, but he reiterates she needs to leap home the moment Stryfe kills the girl. He knows what Stryfe has planned.
Suddenly, Vanisher calls to Domino and tells her to come see something right away. He and X-23 think they found the source of the chronal net—but Telford doesn’t want to be the one to unplug it. He points toward an immobile, elderly woman strapped to a device with tubes and wires running into her body. Vanisher asks who the woman is. “One of us,” X-23 gasps.
Stryfe’s Throne Room…
A horrified Cable wakes up and discovers Hope is missing—along with Stryfe. As he struggles to his feet, he prays he didn’t just expend the last of his telekinetic ability. If he did, the virus he’s been keeping in check within his body all his life will overtake him in a matter of hours—and he’s no good to Hope dead.
Behind Cable, Bishop—now with only one functional arm—crawls along the floor toward a machine gun.
The Celestial Ship…
Domino cannot believe it; the time trap is a mutant? Who is she and how is she still alive? “Her name’s Kiden Nixon. She is… was my friend,” X-23 says. Deadpool explains that Bishop and Stryfe picked her up back circa 2009 or 2010. He also asks if they’ve decided on a name for that decade yet. Moving on, he states Stryfe is forcing Kiden to using Kiden’s mutant power to stop time but amplifying it over the entire continent.
“…stopitstopitstopitstopit,” Kiden mutters. Deadpool adds that Kiden, like him, has a telepathic connection to Stryfe as well. However, he points out that unlike Kiden, he is not drooling all over himself and repeating the same phrases over and over again.
They have to help her, X-23 declares. She suggests they pull the cords out of her body. Domino disagrees; they have no idea what that would do to Kiden or the chronal net. Vanisher asks why they should care if some old broad dies. If they don’t shut off the chronal net, they’ll all die. Why are they even discussing it? Domino tells him to be quiet; Kiden is saying something. She leans closer and hears Kiden muttering something about daddy chasing the girl, but Domino doesn’t quite understand. Deadpool clarifies for them. “You know that annoying little messiah kid?” he asks. “I think she’s about to get killed.”
Citadel Service Corridor No. 4738XB…
Running for her life, Hope leaps off a platform and grabs for another. She searches for yet another access corridor in which to hide. However, she hears a voice in her head telling her to not bother; surely she doesn’t think she can hide from her pursuer in there. Hope gasps; Stryfe is in her head! How can he see everything she does? Telepathically, Stryfe explains he can see through her eyes. He knows everything about her, thanks to her friend Elixir. She has no secrets from Stryfe. Hope tells him to shut up, but Stryfe continues speaking to her, telling her this situation of hers is the reason for her birth. Didn’t they tell her?
Hope rounds a corner and unfortunately runs into Stryfe. She gulps. As Stryfe grabs her by the waist and hoists her into the air, she tells him to keep his hands off of her—and even punches him across the jaw. Stryfe grins. Cable taught her to fight, it seems. However, he neglected to teach her about her potential. He hurls Hope through the air but catches her in a telekinetic bubble. “Let me instruct you,” he says.
Stryfe’s Throne Room…
Bishop, holding a gun to Cable’s head, tells him to give it up; the chase has ended. Cable, wondering how he let Bishop catch him off guard, realizes he must be getting old; he would never have turned his back on an enemy in his youth.
Without any further hesitation, Bishop fires the gun, but Cable leans backward and miraculously dodges the bullet. It merely grazes his cheek instead. Cable internally thanks Bishop for drawing blood. Because Logan’s brain is still damaged from his self-inflicted stab wounds, he’s essentially an animal, reduced to his most basic needs: the need for blood and meat. The blind Wolverine leaps at Cable as if on cue and forces him to the ground. Cable, somehow managing to keep him held at a safe distance, calls out to Logan and asks him to reassert control of himself.
Logan, lacking his eyesight, views Cable through a primal lens of smells and muffled sounds. His brain lacks the higher functions needed to associate meaning with Cable’s words. All Wolverine can see is a body pumping blood through a still-beating heart. Cable calls out to him; does he want to fail his mission? This time, however, the words seep into Logan’s brain with the meanings still attached. He hears the final three words—“fail your mission”—and lets out an anguished cry.
The Bowels of the Citadel…
Stryfe stands on a platform centered over a gaping chasm. As Bishop approaches, Stryfe tells him he wishes he had told him about the girl. Everything could have ended so much differently, he says. Bishop tells him the girl must die; he has no idea the horrors she’s capable of committing. She’s a threat to everyone—even Stryfe.
A tangle of cables and wires sneak up on Bishop from behind and ensnare him in their trap. He gasps and fires his gun haphazardly into the air. As Stryfe approaches his captive, he tells him he doesn’t understand. “She’s going to be me,” he informs Bishop.
The Celestial City…
Archangel, carrying the withered Apocalypse by his underarms, flies toward the center of the Celestial City. Apocalypse tells his Horseman they must go to Ship. Archangel insists he belongs to no one. He spared Apocalypse’s life to prove he still retained some of his humanity. He agreed to help him stop his son, Stryfe, because it’s the only way to save his team. As they enter Ship, though, and Apocalypse begins gathering his tools of war—which repower him back up to his menacing form—Warren can’t help but think he’s made a huge mistake.
The Chronal Net Chamber…
Domino doesn’t see any easy answers for this Kiden Nixon situation. Vanisher asks if it would qualify as a mercy killing; would any of them want to be strapped into a machine like this for their entire lives, half out of their minds? Domino tells him he’s all heart. She reminds him it’s not as easy for the rest of them to kill their friends just to save their own skins. “Don’t you idiots get it?” Vanisher asks. “We are going to die here.”
Suddenly, Deadpool interrupts and says he has stood by and allowed the suffering of innocents for far too long. The line must be drawn; it ends tonight! As Deadpool valiantly marches out of the room, he says no one had better try to stop him. They don’t try. “Seriously, I’m going this one alone,” Deadpool says, his voice trailing off as he exits the chamber.
The Bowels of the Citadel…
Bishop repels Stryfe with a charged energy blast to the face, but Stryfe counters with a surge of energy that jolts Bishop’s body into spasms. He knows Bishop can absorb pain; he would like to see just how much he can absorb before his body implodes.
To Stryfe’s surprise, Cable emerges from a nearby access tunnel, his intentions made clear by the angry expression on his face. Stryfe smirks; has he come here to die? “You first,” Cable says. He ducks, revealing his accomplice, the feral, bloodthirsty Wolverine, who leaps at Stryfe with his claws extended. Cable was able to lead Wolverine there, and now that he’s had a taste of Cable’s blood, he can feast upon the blood of his clone.
Wolverine’s claws rip a gash across the side of Stryfe’s face. With Stryfe’s concentration down, Bishop takes the opportunity to take a shot at Hope, who is no longer protected by a telekinetic bubble. He fires first at Stryfe to remove him from the battlefield. Before he can get to Hope, though, Cable intervenes and fires round after round from his machine gun at Bishop. Bishop blocks the bullets with the remains of his robotic arm. Undeterred, Cable continues pushing forward, urging himself to forget about how his body can barely move or about how underpowered he is. He can’t afford to think such thoughts because there is no way he’s going to let Hope down again—and because he can’t stop until Stryfe’s bones have been ground into paste.
As Cable nears Stryfe, his clone grabs Wolverine by the ankles and spins him in Cable’s direction, hoping to catch him with one of Wolverine’s claws. His plan succeeds; Wolverine inadvertently carves a swath across Cable’s torso. Nearby, Bishop draws every last bit of energy he has into his hand and prays it is enough. Before he can fire it, however, Stryfe hurls Wolverine in his direction, creating a gash across his abdomen.
Don’t stop, Cable urges himself. Keep moving, soldier. Don’t stop. As he struggles to get to his feet, Stryfe kicks him in the side of the face. Holding his foot over the head of his fallen clone, Stryfe looks at Hope and asks if she just saw that. Did she see what weakness will bring her? Weakness, Stryfe explains, brings humiliating defeat. He vows to show Hope her true strength, the full potential of her powers. Reaching out to the defiant Hope, he says Hope will soon learn the truth her false father denied her for so long. All she has to do is let him in. With his hand laid on her head, energy begins flowing between Stryfe and Hope. She calls for Nathan to save her.
Her savior, surprisingly, comes in the form of Deadpool, who appears on the platform hoisting a cannon on his left shoulder. “Hey, boss,” he says just as he fires it at Stryfe. “This is me giving notice.” The plasma-cannon blast hits Stryfe squarely in the chest and propels him off the edge of the platform. He seemingly falls to his doom, screaming as he goes. Deadpool approaches the ledge and yells after his fallen master. “And you’d better not try any shenanigans with my vacation days! I want to be paid for ‘em all!”
Turning back to Cable, Deadpool shrugs and says Stryfe wasn’t so big and bad after all. He is bummed, however, that he didn’t get to discuss his severance package before he killed his boss. Cable, meanwhile approaches Hope and tells her to breathe slowly; everything will be okay.
“Stryfe is dead!” Wade shouts. “Long live… Stryfe?” A domineering shadow falls over Deadpool’s face. His eyes widen as he looks upon his master, Stryfe, who hadn’t died at all. Before he can lift his cannon, Stryfe grabs Deadpool by an arm and a leg and rips him into two. This isn’t what he meant by severance, Deadpool cries as his body is torn asunder!
The Chronal Net Chamber…
Vanisher continues begging his teammates to just pull Kiden’s plug. If someone just gives him a gun, he’ll gladly put an end to it. Domino once again tells him to shut the hell up; he’s not making this any easier.
The timer ticks from eleven seconds to nine seconds to seven seconds. When the timer his zero, they could all die, Domino says; they have to do something. X-23 remains motionless as she stares at Kiden. The timer, meanwhile, continues to tick downward: three… two… one… zero.