Cain Marko, in the full regalia of the Juggernaut, sits at a table in a bar which he has trashed – broken chairs and tables lay smashed about, along with bottles, glasses and wall hangings. Several patrons sit huddled in a corner as he drinks another beer - while a full glass sits across the table from him, as if he is expecting a visitor. After downing another glass, the waitress brings him another: ‘Mister, my shift finished an hour ago. I gotta get home to my -’ the waitress begins, but Juggernaut tells her to keep the drinks coming. ‘That’s all you gotta do.’ Cain knocks back that glass, and the solemn waitress brings him yet another, when suddenly a figure walks past the window. ‘Well, damn. Here he is!’ Cain exclaims as Professor Charles Xavier enters the bar.
‘You took your sweet time getting here, Charlie. I thought maybe you chickened out on me after all’ Cain tells his step-brother. Xavier tells Cain that what he has to say to him is private, concerning only the two of them, so all these other people can go. ‘Maybe later. Sit down,’ Cain tells Charles and, motioning to the beer, tells him to drink it. ‘You knew I was coming?’ Xavier asks, to which Cain replies that he has known for days now. ‘It’s the helmet, Charlie. The one that stops you from getting inside my head. I can feel it when someone tries to get in. It’s like tapping on the door. And you’ve got a signature style,’ Cain explains, before telling Charles to sit down once more.
Xavier tells Cain to let the others go, and then they can talk. ‘Okay, let’s see… you. Come on over here,’ Cain declares, pointing at one of the people huddled in a corner. ‘M-me?’ the nervous man asks as he walks over to Juggernaut, who asks him his name. ‘Paul. Paul Meacham,’ the man replies, before Cain asks him if he has a wife and kids. ‘Not – not yet. I’m about to get engaged,’ Paul reveals. ‘Well that’s just swell.’ Cain replies as he grabs Paul. ‘Another time, I’d buy you a drink. But tonight -’ Cain begins, until Xavier shouts ‘Enough!’, and takes his seat, ‘I accept your invitation!’ Xavier exclaims. ‘I’ll drink a beer with you.’ Cain grins, ‘Thank you, Charlie. Spoken like a brother!’ he declares, before tossing Paul across the room, where he lands against a wooden pillar - hard.
‘Only we ain’t brothers, are we? Not under the skin!’ Juggernaut points out. This angers Charles, who shouts ‘If you’ve got a grievance against me -’, before Cain remarks ‘Damned if you ain’t up on your feet again. You wanna pick the next one?’ he asks, to which Charles quickly sits down. ‘Okay, then. That’s better,’ Cain remarks. ‘You came looking for me, Charles. Are you slower on the uptake than you used to be?’ Cain asks. Xavier informs Cain that he knows he is drawing on the full power of the Cyttorak again, that he has abandoned his attempt at reform and reflection. ‘Yeah, well those are your party tricks, not mine’ Cain replies, declaring that he decided to be the Juggernaut again, and asks Xavier to tell him why he is here, while he decides whether or not to kill him.
‘Jagannatha’ Xavier replies. ‘What?’ Cain retorts. ‘The thing you’re named for. The correct term for it is Jagannatha’ Xavier explains. Charles informs Cain that it was a chariot built to carry the God Krishna in procession through Orissa, made mostly from iron and bronze and standing forty-five feet high. ‘On the day of Ratha Yatra it was drawn through the streets of the city by three hundred horses. It must have weighed as much as a small battleship,’ Charles tells Cain, adding that the faithful would lash themselves into a frenzy of penance and ecstasy as they danced along beside the chariot, and some would even go as far as throwing themselves in front of Jagannatha’s wheels to procure the God’s blessing. ‘Which is why we give its name to anything that can’t be stopped – either by external force or by prayers and pleas for mercy.’
‘Is there a point to this, Charlie?’ Cain asks. ‘The point is that it’s a lie. A mistake made by European missionaries,’ Xavier replies, explaining that people fell under the chariot’s wheels by accident, and the story grew from that. ‘Mistakes derail whole lives, Cain. Throw them onto paths they were never meant to take,’ Charles declares, revealing that he is there because he feels somewhat responsible for derailing Cain’s. ‘Because of what happened in the jungle?’ Cain asks. ‘And before that. In our childhood’ Charles adds.
‘You feel responsible?’ Cain asks, before grabbing Xavier by the neck and shoving him against a wall. ‘Like nothing was ever down to me? What I decided? Like my entire life was just a ricochet off of something you did or said?’ Cain asks. ‘N-no. Not that, but -’ Xavier begins to protest, but Cain interrupts: ‘Let me tell you something about mistakes, Charlie. Cause this is where I’m the expert!’ Cain shouts.
Cain tells Xavier that, almost the first time he ever fought Charlie’s X-Men, he got sucked into the dimension inside the Gem of Cyttorak. Cain explains that time doesn’t pass normally in there and, while it was a couple of months for the rest of the world, it was an eternity for him. ‘Later on, I spent most of a lifetime in a place called oblivion. Grew old and died there,’ he exclaims. ‘Until it spat me out – alive again, somehow.’ Cain tells Charles that, another time, he sat on a rock in empty space for about a year, and a personal favorite was being buried alive in solid concrete for six months, courtesy of Spider-Man. ‘That’s a whole lot of derailing by my count. And every damn time, I found myself thinking back to one moment in my life’ Cain declares.
A foreign land, where war rages and rain bears down. ’Cain! You’ve got to stop! Go back to your position!’ Charles shouts. ’Leave me alone, Charlie. I’m warning you!’ Cain shouts back as he rushes through the jungle. Cain declares that he has enough of just sitting around and waiting to be picked off by a sniper or mortar shell. ’But desertion - Cain, that’s a court-martial offense! I can’t let you -’ Charles exclaims, before Cain smacks him with the end of his rifle, causing Charles to fall to the ground. ‘Let me? Let me? You don’t get to tell me what I can and can’t do, you self-righteous little worm!’ Cain exclaims, looming over his step-brother with fists formed, he tells Charles to read his mind. ‘No!’ Charles replies, getting up. ‘Read it. Maybe then you won’t be so quick to…’ Cain begins, his voice trailing off as he sees an entrance to some kind of tomb, and he goes wide-eyed…
‘This is ancient history,’ Xavier states, to which Cain asks ‘Isn’t that what you came for? A little archeological dig? You been seeing that moment as my big mistake, Charlie. It wasn’t. It was yours’. Cain declares that he wasn’t deserting because he was scared. ‘I was mad!’ he reveals. ‘I just hated sitting still and being shot at for some decisions some other idiot made. I was sick of people telling me what to do!’ Cain remarks that he was never scared of his dad. ‘You were’ he tells Charles, revealing that he was working up to killing his father only for him to die of his own accord.
Picking up Charles’ beer, Cain asks ‘You don’t really want this, do you?’, and he knocks the beer back, before smashing the glass with his bare hands, exclaiming that it is like Cyttorak saw into his heart and gave him a blessing. ‘The power to keep moving, no matter what gets in my way.’ Cain shouts that the only times he ever regretted were the times when he slowed down. ‘Stood still. Backed off. The times when I tried to be you!’ he tells Xavier.
‘Thank you for helping to save the X-Men, Cain’ Charles tells his step-brother, who replies ‘I got ‘em into the mess. Least I could do’. Charles points out that Cain will need a place to stay while he recovers, and offers for him to stay at the school for as long as he needs. ‘Well, maybe I will, at that. For a day or so’ Cain replies, joking that it will be kind of a novelty living at the mansion instead of trashing it. ‘But I will never do any less than hate your living guts, cue-ball. Do don’t waste your time hoping we might someday be loving brothers!’ Cain adds, to which Xavier replies ‘Cain, you should know by now that I am capable of nothing less than eternal hope.’
‘You’d have me believe that was a pretense. That you wanted to catch us off our guard’ Xavier calmly tells Cain, who replies ‘Nah, I was weak. That blessing I talked about? It was running on empty around about then. I was starting to doubt myself.’ Juggernaut tells Charles that is a super power he probably doesn’t realize he has: ‘To get in between people and who they’re meant to be. But I beat you in the end’ he adds, ‘And that isn’t just poetic license, Charlie. I mean it. This is the end!’ Cain exclaims, before reaching out to smack Charles in the head. Xavier pulls away in time, and asks Cain ‘So you’ve made your decision?’ ‘Yeah, a little while back there,’ Cain replies, smiling. ‘You’re going to kill me?’ Xavier asks. ‘If it’s all the same to you,’ Cain replies, smacking his hand down on the table.
‘In that case, I have something for you. By way of a parting gift,’ Xavier tells Cain as he reaches into his suit pocket. ‘A gift?’ Cain asks. ‘Yes,’ Xavier replies, placing a small box on the table before his step-brother, who asks ‘What, and I’m supposed to open that? Set off a mind-bomb or a teleport gate or something?’ he asks. ‘Open it after I’m dead.’ Xavier tells Cain. ‘Any time you want to finish this conversation.’ Cain picks up the box and exclaims that Charles is playing dirty, tickling his curiosity. ‘After I’m dead,’ Xavier declares once more. ‘Nah. I stink at that deferred gratification stuff,’ Cain replies. ‘And if it’s a trap, you know I’m gonna keep right on coming until you’re -’ Cain declares as he flips the lid of the box open, cutting his sentence short when he sees that there is nothing inside.
‘It’s empty!’ Cain shouts at Charles, who replies ‘At the moment, yes it is,’ before restating his offer one last time, and telling Cain that he cannot renounce the power of Cyttorak, but he can fight against it, and try to keep a corner of his soul intact from it. ‘And I’ll help you to do that,’ Charles offers. Cain sighs and puts the box down on the table as he remarks ‘Let me put this nifty little thing where it ain’t gonna get broken.’ Juggernaut picks Xavier up by his head, holding him off the ground, he exclaims ‘You’re offering - for like, the ten thousandth time - to make me less than what I am. You keep crawling along behind me, whining at me, like a sick dog that want’s to be put down!’
Cain declares that he is the Juggernaut, and not by mistake. ‘Not because of anything you did, or didn’t do. Because I chose it!’ ‘And you choose it again now?’ Xavier asks, to which Cain replies that he does. ‘To be the Juggernaut, rather than my brother, Cain?’ Xavier asks. ‘Exactly,’ Cain exclaims, before punching Charles hard in the stomach, and letting him drop to the floor. Cain begins to destroy more of the tavern, exclaiming that the redemption thing is just a game. ‘We dance around each other. Hold off from the kill. Every damn time!’ he exclaims as the patrons and staff make a quick getaway, rushing past Xavier and not helping him up. Busting through a pillar, Cain exclaims that it is not mercy, not human decency. ‘It’s just that we’ve gotten so damn used to each other!’ he shouts as the tavern falls down around them.
Cain climbs through the rubble. ‘Yeah. Thought so’ he mutters, looking at Xavier’s motionless body buried under some of the tavern, blood splattered across his head. ‘It ain’t real until you can see the body!’ Cain exclaims as he pulls Xavier from the rubble, and smashes his body down with a loud KRUNCH. Cain proceeds to walk away, carrying Xavier’s gift in his hands.
Later, Cain lounges on a sofa, eating popcorn and watching a CNN report on the death of Charles Xavier. Juggernaut kills some time by robbing a bank - the police officers’ bullets just bounce off him. Later, he picks up a couple of girls while out night clubbing, before taking on several of the X-Men sometime later. He fixes something underneath his car, much to the shock of his neighbor, who sees him lift his car up with his bare hands.
Still, he always returns to the box. Xavier’s gift. Cain sits on the couch and stares as the box, lined up next to a bucket of deep-fried chicken. ‘I know I’m gonna hate myself for this,’ Cain mutters as he reaches out for the box. Opening it and looking inside, he sees himself – lying in his bed. The box depicts his bedroom. Cain looks confused when, suddenly, Xavier’s voice calls out to him: ‘Cain!’ Charles declares as Cain gazes upwards. ‘I think it’s time we finished that conversation’ Xavier’s image suggests.
Cain looks even more confused, ‘This… this isn’t real! How are you doing it?’ He asks, shaking his fist. ‘I got my helmet on, so you can’t mess with my head. It’s not possible!’ he exclaims. Xavier informs his step-brother that the real Cain Marko is the one lying in the bed. ‘Don’t you understand? I came to you in your sleep’ Xavier explains. ‘All of this, from the bar right through to the present moment, happened only in mindscape,’ Xavier announces. ‘You coward! You damn coward!’ Cain exclaims, getting up from the couch, asking him why he isn’t man enough to face him.
‘Because… as we’ve established… you’d kill me. And a great many other people, along the way,’ Xavier replies. Xavier begins to close the lid of the box, telling Cain that he is right. ‘Redemption isn’t always possible. But understanding is. I understand you better now, and I know you’ve chosen the path you walk’. Cain looks worried as the lid almost closes, and Xavier tells Cain that, for his own sake, not to stray onto his path.
With that, the box closes, and Cain sits up in his bed, screaming…