Seventeen years ago:
Young William Stryker is working on the car when his mother calls him to lunch. His father, an army man, asks why he is not at school today. His wife explains he needs rest. All he ever does is rest, Stryker Sr. scoffs. His fault, his son mutters. It’s his fault his own flesh and blood turned out to be a sick little weakling? his father mocks. He is not a weakling! William snarls. Oh yes, he is, his father assures him. But do what his father tells him now and he will make him stronger.
Times Square, now:
Stryker’s men have gathered the captured mutant kids. Stryker addresses the crowd, reminding the people that the government created those mutants and now demands trust! The fruits of their evil killed millions and now they say they should put the mutants in camps. Spend billions feeding them while humans die of cold in the streets! So that one day they can tell them again what the mutants are is normal? That they should accept them? That’s what they want and they won’t stop until humans have accepted them, until they become them! Until their minds are so twisted by their perversions that they can’t tell the difference. Put them in camps? He says: bring them to him!
Stryker draws a huge knife. A handcuffed, lizard-like boy is brought to him. The boy tries to reason, saying whatever he thinks he did he is sorry, okay? Just don’t hurt him!
Very well then, Stryker announces and touches him. “Be healed!! The boy groans in pain as his lizard scales fall off and he finds himself normal looking. What has he done to him? he demands clearly unhappy. And this is what troubles him, Stryker continues as he stabs the boy. For a man to be able to look at his sin with his own two eyes and still he does not repent.
The White House situation room:
Valerie Cooper wonders where she knows the name Stryker from. Philip reminds her that his father was in the Joint Chiefs years back. The president recalls there was something else. Val remembers William Stryker lost his wife and kid in Magneto’s attack on New York. Afterward, he and a bunch of angry followers gabbed some discarded Sentinel tech and used it to hit Xavier’s school. She isn’t sure what happened to him after though.
Phillip checked up. FBI and Southern Party Law Center have both kept an eye on him. He’s been making the rounds talking to various militia and human supremacy groups, preaching about mutant healing.
The president asks why this wasn’t in his reports. Val reminds him he doesn’t read the reports. And, even if he did, this guy wasn’t a big enough blip on the radar to warrant the president’s attention.
An exemplary job of intelligence gathering, Pietro mocks. Val suggests he leave. The Cerebra discussion can wait for another day when they have room on their schedule for murderous psychopaths…
On the contrary, he tells her. This administration is facing the gravest threat. This isn’t like the flood. The people will demand the president accept full responsibility. The government has admitted its responsibility for the creation of mutants and allowed a domestic terrorist to launch major attacks within hours. The case is easy to make that the president appears to be staggeringly incompetent.
The president points out things are beyond his control and the people will understand. They won’t, Pietro replies. They can bring Cerebra online now and connect the emergent database with the Nimrod Sentinel fleet. Overnight, this means the apprehension of nearly three quarters of the Homo superior population of the United States.
Val point out just getting the technology here would take… Behind her, Pietro points out smugly. Val turns around to find the Cerebra device assembled. Pietro got it from Wundagore while she finished her sentence.
Pietro points out that for the entirety of his term the president has appeared weak, the victim of external forces, perhaps, but weak all the same. He is offering him the silver bullet he has prayed countless sleepless nights for! All it takes is a little decisive action. Dispatch the Sentinels to deal with Stryker, then activate Cerebra! The world will see a leader who has answered adversity once and for all. They will see the challenges, but also that he met them.
Val asks him not to do this. The president politely sends her out.
He’s in his head somehow, Val announces outside. Literally? Philip asks. He thought Worldwide Solutions had set the whole place up with safeguards against telepaths. She doesn’t know, Val admits, but something isn’t right. Get her everything he’s got on the guy. Lensherr or Stryker? Lensherr first, she orders, then changes her mind. Stryker first. None of this is happening by chance.
In Times Square, a teenage, mutant girl is brought before Stryker. Will she be forgiven? he asks her. She orders him to stab himself in the face. Her power doesn’t work. He raises his knife and tells her to close her eyes.
Hey, he knows him! a voice calls. His grandma used to send Stryker ten bucks of her social security every month when he was on cable, Iceman mouths off. The cavalry has arrived! Is that a soulpatch? the Torch mocks Stryker and Jimmy just orders him to let the kids go.
“Well, you finally came back to me!” Stryker gloats, and here he was beginning to worry. He expresses disappointment though. He thought there’d be more.
They are enough! Jimmy snarls. He plans to do the most work on Stryker himself… Does he really think it’s gonna take more than four of them? Bobby mocks. He’s a dude wearing the Windows version of Iron Man.
Stryker tells Jimmy he misunderstands. He wasn’t talking to him. Rogue stands silent, her arms crossed…
Flashback to two weeks ago:
Rogue sits alone in a room with Stryker. Quite a stunt she pulled in the tent revival, showing up like that. If those people knew who she was, they’d tear her apart, he muses. She can take care of herself, Rogue snarls. He admits she can, but from the way she looks now he doubts she’d even put up a fight. Now why is that?
Rogue stammers. No need, he replies. He knows she heard His voice. It’s true then? she asks agitated. That he could heal her? Stryker asks. The Lord has given him many gifts. Please, she asks. He tells her that firs she must repent. She does, Rogue assure him. She knows this is a sin… what she is is a sin. She just wants it to end!
And it could, he tells her, but with deeds, not words. Crying, Rogue promises to do anything. He tells her he thought a great deal about her since that night at Xavier’s school. The way she killed all of his men. The anger, the wickedness, the evil. It occurred to him that, of all the sins her kind manifest, hers must be the worst. After all, she takes their sins as though they were her own. She isn’t just a murderer, but a thief as well.
Crying, she asks him to tell her what he wants. He tells her to come back to New York with them. The Lord has given him an important mission there. He wants her to seek out her old friends from Xavier’s… Find them, gain their trust and, when the time is right, bring them to him, so that he may witness to them as well.
What’s he talking about? Bobby asks confused. She’s sorry, Rogue tells him and touches him, absorbing his power. She creates an ice column which takes out the Human Torch, while Stryker attacks the confused Jimmy and goes for his throat.
Rogue protests that isn’t the deal! They made a promise before God. He only gets them if he heals her. That’s what they agreed to. She kneels down. Say it! he urges. “Forgive me,” she announces.
He is about to touch her when Kitty shows up as the Shroud, announcing she may be getting this mixed up here, but she pretty sure she’s asking that from the wrong guy. Rogue shouts “no.”
In the White House, the order to engage Sentinels is given. At the same time, Val Cooper is getting Stryker’s file and Quicksilver is activating Cerebra. “Oh hell!” Val swears when she reads the file.
The Nimrod units swarm out.
Quicksilver shows the president all the mutant presences in the USA and explains that Cerebra is uploading the data to the Nimrod fleet as they are speaking.
Nice suit, Kitty goads Stryker, then phases through him, making the electronic parts of the suit go haywire, hurting him badly.
The Nimrod fleet has almost reached Manhattan.
Val rushes into the Oval Office, shouting he is a mutant.
Stryker sinks down bleeding. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…” he prays.
Val tells the president that Stryker is a mutant. His old man kept him doped up so he wouldn’t know. Told him he was sick. It’s in his medical records. What’s his gift? Pietro asks. He can control machines! Val bursts out.
“Yet not my will…” Stryker moans, “but… but…”
He falls down, gurgling blood.
“But thine be done…” all the Nimrod units echo as one.