The Hindu Kush. X-Force’s jet crashes to the ground after being attacked. They weren’t expecting trouble. For the X-teams, these past few years their world had been substantially at peace. If they had known, perhaps it would have made a difference. But that is the luxury of hindsight.
A horrified Cable runs towards the jet, shouting Domino’s name, followed by the names of the other X-Force members. Panicked, he sifts through the debris, using hands and telekinesis both, looking for survivors. His partner, Irene Merriweather, watches him with cold detachment. As a warrior he should be used to casualties, she thinks. Yet this attack has shaken him to the core. Did he expect the X-Men to live forever?
Cable finally announces that he has found Domino. He senses her thoughts: she’s alive!
Irene announces that, barring a miracle, she wouldn’t get her hopes up about the rest. She changes her mind hen she comes across several huge balls. One of it breaks up and Warpath emerges from within, asking if everyone’s ok. Soon as they were hit, Puffball… Irene interrupts him, as she looks at another globe, which is impaled and bloody. She announces that Puffball didn’t make it.
Cradling the still unconscious Domino, Cable gathers the survivors – Metdown, Shatterstar, Warpath, Rictor and Feral – as well as Irene - around him and explains that this ambush gives credence to Cyclops’ global alert. Their first priority is to deal with the immediate threat. He asks Irene to look after Domino, unaware that he is already a target. A bullet is fired at him. Shatterstar reacts instinctively and deflects it with his sword. Two bullet fragments hit both him and Irene.
Moments later, Shaitan – still in the form of Storm – comes at them, announcing to Cable that once again they are at odds. But even with his “children” beside him this time he will not escape. Warpath attacks but Shaitan easily dodges his attack and turns his momentum against him. He reminds the mutants that he is champion of a thousand dimensions, even though he is cursed with this body.<>P
Unimpressed, Shatterstar and Rictor jump at Shaitan at the same time. More boasts and threats from Shaitan are answered by one of Meltdown’s timebombs. Her moment of triumph is short-lived, as one of Shaitan’s allies, Divinity, appears, covering Meltdown with the black ooze his body is made of. Cable starts shooting, hoping to blast Divinity before he assimilates the young woman. One moment later, he himself is hit by a blast in the back – courtesy of the sniper Scalphunter.
Totally covering Tabby’s body, Divinity forms a grinning head from it and sadistically asks if that hurt. He adds that he is already feasting on Meltdown’s soul. The body he’ll keep for a while.
With a grin Scalphunter, who perches in a ridge, takes aim at Cable again. Suddenly, he sees Domino getting up. He tries to shoot her several times but she dodges each shot, as she comes closer to him. Is she part jackrabbit? he swears in exasperation. What she is, Domino announces, as she fiercely attacks him, is judge, jury and executioner!
Below, things look less rosy for Cable as all three villains from Doomworld – Shakti, Technarx and Dinvinity, who is still assimilating Meltdown, are closing in on him. Divinity invites Cable to take his best shot. Cable fires a harpoon gun at him and Divinity reshapes his malleable body to dodge it. Missed, he gloats. He never misses his target, Cable replies and Technarx, who was standing behind Divinity, screams in pain.
X-Force and Irene regroup behind Cable, who tells the villains he’ll make this offer once. They are to release Meltdown, unharmed, and surrender. Or, by the Askani who raised him, he’ll personally see them through the gates of hell. Does he call that a threat? the sorceress Shakit boasts, as she starts gesturing. The nether gates are where they go to play.
Her spell takes effect on Irene, who screams that she is burning. Moments later, the form of Apocalypse emerges from Irene. Shakti explains, with a triumphant smile, that her soul spell stripped away all artifice. Cable cant believe it: all this time his friend was host for his mortal enemy?! How could he have been so blind?
Suddenly, a spear strikes him deeply in the back. Shatterstar, who holds the lance, screams out in horror - what has he done?! He profusely apologizes. He can’t stop himself. Feral urges Cable to use his telekinesis to stop the bleeding and Warpath angrily shakes Shatterstar. What was that about?
Query proceeds from false premise, Shatterstar suddenly announces in a different voice: his face turns black and takes on the techno-organic nonfeatures of Technarx: unit nomen “Shatterstar” no longer exists as an independent entity. He has been assimilated into Technarx. Warpath shoves him away in horror but, already, tentacles emerge from the being that was once Shatterstar and burrow under his friend’s skin. Within seconds, Warpath, too, is assimilated.
Divintiy grins and uses Meltdown’s plasma charges to fell the running Domino, who is still some distance away. He, in turn, is felled by an energy beam emerging from Apocalypse. They are but pawns in this game, he angrily announces. Driving him from his sanctuary will do nothing but hasten their inevitable doom.
On the ground, Cable reaches out to Irene. What a poor friend he was to let this come to pass, he laments. Part of him hopes this is the end. It’s like losing his beloved wife all over again.
Shaitan addresses Apocalypse, telling him they have chess where he comes from. And, if the game is properly played, a pawn may take a king. Apocalypse suddenly finds his body changing against his will. Techanrx infected him with techno-organic nannites the same way he did Shatterstar, through the bullet whose fragments struck them both. They couldn’t touch his essence while he was bonded to Irene Merriweather but, when he became corporeal, that same infection could claim him as well. Best of all, Shaitan continues, that same process will corrupt the one living being who is heir to both Apocalypse’s power and that of Phoenix.
Cradling Irene, Cable sheds a single tear and uses what is left of his telekinesis to transport Rictor and Feral to safety. It’s too late for him, but their job is to tell the tale. Now, he whispers.
On the ridge, Domino takes aim at her old friend, wishing him good-bye. She intends to spare him the horrors ahead by mercy-killing him, but Shaitan walks in front of the bullet and shrugs it off. He tells Domino not to worry. His master will make sure she and Cable will meet again. One final time.
Domino orders Rictor to take his shot. There is nothing left of their friends down there, so he is to give them a decent burial. Rictor uses his seismic powers and a ridge opens beneath the feet of the villains, the assimilated X-forcers, Cable and Irene and swallows them all.
Feral shouts out in grief: things weren’t supposed to end like this. Grabbing some guns, Domino announces that she is wrong. For Cable, it couldn’t end any other way. She never forgave him, Maria accuses her. That’s right, Domino states, matter-of-fact, as she tosses Rictor a gun. Not for Jean, not for trusting Irene. And now he’s paid the price. But she came when he called. It’s time to move.
What’s the point? Feral demands. Cable’s gone, so’s most of X-Force, even Apocalypse is dead. Who cares what happens next? This isn’t then end, Domino replies. Sinister just took out his arch-rival and took control of one of the most powerful X-Men on the planet. These are strategic moves. He’s no fool. He knows Cyclops will move heaven and earth to save his son … or avenge him.
Back at the Xavier Institute, things seem to be normal so far. Rahne has told Cyclops of her “encounter” with Dani and Scott asks her to work with Martha and the Spikes. The next time she and Dani are in sync, they’ll try for a solid location fix. Rahne excuses herself, as Emma enters. She tells her husband that she’ll take the children to Rogue’s house. When Scott says he believes they’ll be safer there, Emma states that her instinct tells her differently. She’s buried too many students. She won’t risk the same for her babies. He can look after the school. She’ll take care of their family.