The group tries to defeat the Stranger, but they have no affect on him. He shoots them aside with his eye lasers. Jean tells Mystique to help the unconscious Toad, but the team knows they can’t concentrate on him at the moment. The Stranger tells them they have been unwilling playing their part in the cosmic puzzle. Iceman tells them they are all part of the whole, and that everyone is important, especially Toad, since he spent months aboard The Stranger’s ship. Mystique realizes her survival depends on his survival, and asks how they can save him. Iceman freezes the Stranger while he ice-slides away with Toad and Mystique.
Juggernaut crashes through the frozen Stranger. The Stranger says matter is inconsequential, and he creates a new reality. He tells Phoenix and Juggernaut that Prosh was correct in choosing who to send on the mission. Each of them combined encompasses the full spectrum of the human and mutant affairs on the planet, Jean is the touchstone, Juggernaut the impediment, Mystique the manipulator, the Toad the manipulated and Iceman the potentially. Each of them would have served as the vanguard for the acclimation of the planet’s genetic enhancement; but, unfortunately, Prosh was several million years too early. Juggernaut flips out and Phoenix tells the Stranger he can’t expect him to understand this. The Stranger tells Phoenix that the forces of the universe saw the Phoenix Force as a celestial brushfire and it drew their attention. The Stranger was determined to usurp the controls and conceits of the fundamental forces of the universe. He wants to nurture the seed within humanity to his own desire, and there is nothing that Jean and the others can do to stop him.
Iceman, Mystique, and Toad are traveling on an ice slide towards the medical bay. Mystique asks Iceman how he will treat Toad when the whole ship is frozen. Iceman says he will only unfreeze the medical bay, but this would also unfreeze part of Prosh.
The Stranger tells Phoenix to not be afraid of the resurrection force, which appears in the form of a phoenix. The Stranger tells her she fears the truth, and then she touches the force. Phoenix sees the expanse of the universe and also understands mankind’s role as the universe’s eventual destroyer and savior. Within seconds, the Stranger shows her millions of years of evolution, until humanity becomes eternity; to control human evolution equals controlling eternity.
Prosh tells Mystique and Iceman that he is not infected with the Stranger’s virus right now, but the signal could bleed through. Prosh tells them that now he can not only heal Toad’s wounds, but he can also fix the tampering that was done in the past, and correct his genetic instabilities giving him full access to his powers and allowing him to aid them in defeating the Stranger. Prosh tells Iceman he will need to travel through the ship, unfreezing areas necessary to defeat the Stranger. First he must go to Prosh’s reconfiguration control matrix. As Bobby leaves on an iceslide, Mystique commets that he still doesn’t fully realize his new power levels. He could travel a lot faster by turning to mist and moisture.
Phoenix asks how one race can evolve into eternity. The Stranger says it is just an accepted fact. Eternity appears to Phoenix and tells her they must talk. The fundamental forces of the universe must clarify their position. The universe is perpetually in flux between order and chaos, life and death. The Phoenix is the resurrection force, the assurance of life from death. The Celestials have served the abstract entities of the universe by seeding all of creation with the potential to instigate the end. Earth is the fruition of their work. As Galactus was the only survivor of the Big Bang, humanity will one day survive as well. Oblivion will embrace all. Creation will renew itself. The Stranger wishes to control the tide of the inevitable. He wishes to spark humanity’s evolution now and turn it into a raging inferno which will engulf the cosmos with the end of all that is and leave himself as the sole survivor of a new universe. The Stranger doesn’t comprehend that the abstract entities intended the human race to fulfill that purpose. It is the cyclical nature of the tapestry to weave its own end to a new beginning, to start the process all over again. That is why they created the human race. Phoenix realizes that they want the human race to become greater than the abstract entities, just not on the Stranger timetable. She knows they must defeat the Stranger.
In the medilab, Toad’s restoration is at 84% when the molecular restabilization conduit snaps. Prosh tells Mystique that it is needed to reconfigure Toad’s genetic structure, and without the process fully finished the Toad surely will die. Apparently the cables were damaged by the cold, and only Mystique is present to reconnect them manually. Mystique thinks about the situation, without the Toad they might lose the battle, the Stranger might win and humanity is doomed, yet the energies involved could even affect her malleable body. It’s billions of lives weighed against the risk to her own. Thinking of Destiny, Mystique connects the cables herself, causing her extreme pain. Toad’s reconfiguration is completed and he now feels whole. He has new powers including a long tongue that can grab objects, more control over his resin secretions, and much more strength. Mystique however, finds herself also changed. She now has ridges all over her body. She says her body compensated for its cellular liquefaction. This is now her template body.
Prosh brings everyone online and tells them the plan. Phoenix tells them to hurry because the Stranger just regained his physical form. The Stranger knows that Phoenix has talked to the higher forces and holds her in his hand. Toad bypasses the virus that keeps Prosh under the Stranger’s control and is able to activate the program that Prosh designed. They wake Juggernaut and tell him to knock the Stranger out. Juggernaut knocks the Stranger down. Juggernaut and Phoenix run, and when the Stranger attempts to blast them with his eye lasers, Iceman freezes the beams. Toad activates the program and the team exits the ship. Prosh begins to compress. Prosh compresses almost completely, but his displacement creates a strong vacuum. The vacuum shortly dissipates. The two heroes and three villains decide not to fight and just go their separate ways.
(one week later)
At the mansion, Phoenix and Iceman talk, and Bobby explains that it’s not really his powers that increased but his understanding and perfection of them. Jean agrees that it is similar with the memories she has left of the Phoenix. Iceman decides to rejoin the X-Men.
(two weeks later)
At Seagate Prison, Juggernaut arranges a deal with lawyer Ms. Yama to be released as the CSA’s superhuman bounty hunter.
(three weeks later)
In Manhattan, some people make fun of Toad, and he uses his tongue to hit them with a stool.
(four weeks later)
In Washington, D.C., Mystique sits in a dark corner and is confused. She can’t make sense of the many things she saw and thinking of her late friend Destiny, she wonders what to do, when she sees a newspaper with an article stating Senator Kelly is expected to be the new president.
Elsewhere, the Stranger is now trapped within Prosh, but it doesn’t matter to him, because all he has is time.