22.4 hours remaining...
"I'm not really seeing this, am I?" Wolverine asks as he overlooks what appears to be a Celestial city. Deadpool confirms it is, and tells him to meet the new boss who happens to be the same as the very, very old boss.
Cable looks upon the site with dread similar to Wolverine's. Why did this, of all things, have to appear in the middle of this hellish Earth? Hope senses her father-figure's discomfort and asks him to explain what it is. Although it's a simple enough question, Cable doesn't know what to tell her. How would he even explain it? Would he tell her they're looking at the home of an ancient mutant who has tried to kill him since the moment of his birth? Does he tell her this mutant is the boogeyman who has haunted his dreams his whole life? No, there isn't time to explain any of that right now - not with everything crashing down around them. With his machinery malfunctioning, Cable cannot even take Hope out of harm's way. He puts his hand on her shoulder and asks her to stay close to him.
Wolverine, meanwhile, puts his hand to Deadpool's throat, unsheathes his claws, and demands answers. Deadpool asks him to stop with the manhandling; his healing factor isn't working like it once did. Anyway, he says it's a long story and asks which version they want to hear: the Tolstoy version? The Cliff's Notes version? The Previews-catalog-solicit-blurb version?
Wolverine stabs Wade through the chest. "Abridged version it is," Deadpool says while looking at the new wounds in his body. His story begins in approximately 2034 - approximately, because he lost track of time after the first few centuries - when he worked for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
Wolverine, already growing impatient, tells Wade his hands go next. Wade asks if they want to hear his story or not. He supposes Cable probably knows part of this story already. He recalls that, for some reason, the Turnpike Authority seemed to have a bone to pick with Cable. Although Wolverine doesn't understand the reference, Cable assures him Deadpool is actually making sense. He asks the decrepit assassin to continue.
Deadpool continues. He explains the Authority hired him to crush some rebellion, led by a blonde chick with a big gun. However, things were not going well for Deadpool's employers. "The super-rebels were super-determined, as rebels tend to be," he explains. So, he ducked into an industrial freezer to wait out the fighting - namely any suitcase nukes. "Worked for Harrison Ford once," Wade adds. "And I don't even remember who the hell Harrison Ford was." He planned on waiting it out and offering his services to the winner.
Looking back on it, this was not one of his better ideas. An explosion rocked the outside world, and all Deadpool could hear from within his storage container was the rumbling of the building falling down around him. He was trapped inside the container, and no one - not even his mommy - could rescue him. "Eight hundred years passed," Deadpool says. "Which, let me tell you, sucked." He passed the first two decades by playing Tic-Tac-Toe, his favorite pastime. He played Hangman too, but found it boring - until he figured out how to cultivate a split personality. This new game became less fun, however, when Deadpool's new personality started winning.
Wolverine interrupts and gets in Wade's face. He'd better find the point quickly, he says. Once again, Deadpool claims this is the abridged version; he doubts they would want to hear what he used for Monopoly pieces.
Something suddenly catches Archangel's attention. He hears a faint buzzing noise coming from beyond the mountains that no one else seems to hear.
Wolverine, meanwhile, threatens to eviscerate Wade once again. Finally getting the point, Wade jumps ahead eight hundred years in his story, to a day he was lying slumped against the wall with his costume in tatters and he heard a loud explosion. Something had blown up outside the freezer. After hearing a lot of scraping and even more explosions, a group of armed soldiers pried open his coffin with crowbars. These soldiers later told Wade they were hoping for a hidden cache of rice, grains or even some potable water. Instead, they found him. His first words to them were to insist his pizza should be free, as they took way longer than thirty minutes.
Although his healing factor had deteriorated, Deadpool claims he was still able to overpower the soldiers and take their meager weapons. "That's right, bitches. I'm your leader now," Wade had said to them. "Take me to your food, weapons and women. Especially your women. Centuries in a fridge, people. I'm blue in places you haven't even scratched." As he said these words to the soldiers, however, Deadpool noticed the submissive expressions on their faces shift into those of terror. They began to run. At first, Deadpool wondered if he had given them too much information, when he realized it wasn't him of whom they were afraid. No, they fled from a man... a man who sneaked up behind Deadpool and grabbed him by the throat - whose name, Wade says, rhymes with "butterknife".
"Not possible," Cable says, maintaining his composure. "Stryfe's dead." Besides, he reminds Wade there is Celestial technology all over the place, which can only mean one thing. Lifting his hands in a gesture of surrender, Deadpool tells Cable to calm down and listen while he explains what happened. Cable isn't having it. He grabs Deadpool by the collar and tells him he can plainly see Apocalypse's ship standing in the middle of the city! Is he suggesting Stryfe somehow commandeered it?
Moving on with his story, Deadpool explains that because of some global catastrophe that wiped out most of the people on Earth, Stryfe was able to step in and fill the leadership void. He had enslaved the human race and transformed the world in his - and therefore Cable's image. The day Deadpool stepped out of the freezer and came face to face with the planet's new ruler, he put a pistol in his face and pulled the trigger. For whatever reason, Deadpool's gun did not fire. Stryfe hurled him against the wall. Quickly assessing the situation, Deadpool realized the skinny little people who had saved him were the last free humans on the planet. Stryfe had them outclassed, outgunned, outnumbered - pretty much out-everythinged. These people were in desperate need of help, protection, a bar of soap and a couple of hugs. So, Wade did the only thing he could.
"You joined Stryfe," Wolverine concludes.
"I joined St - hey," Deadpool says, surprised Wolverine beat him to the punch. "Did I tell this one already?"
Wolverine turns to Cable and asks why he didn't notice all of this stuff already. Hope interrupts, saying they were busy timesliding and opening up a rocket and drinking the pee from old astronauts. After asking her to quiet down, Cable turns to Logan and states he doesn't have to explain anything to him. "No? Prefer to tell it todaddy?" Wolverine sneers.
Not one to endure being ignored, Deadpool speaks up and finishes his story. He pledged his allegiance to Cable's brother Stryfe and helped him round up the last of the rebels - regardless of how much they smelled. Now, he says, Stryfe is the big mutant in charge. If that's the case, Wolverine asks, why is he out here alone? Won't Stryfe miss him? Stryfe has gone too far, Deadpool says - even for him. "Trust me - the Age of Stryfe pretty much makes the Age of Apocalypse look like the Age of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm," Deadpool says.
Cable doesn't believe it. He doesn't think there is such a thing as "too far" for Wade Wilson. He advises X-Force to gut him and dump him; they would be fools to trust him. As Nathan turns to leave with Hope, she grabs his arm and asks who Stryfe is, and what he meant by gutting and dumping Deadpool. "Not now, Hope," Cable says. She persists. Cable looks her sternly in the eyes. "I said. Not. Now."
Growing weary, Deadpool says even he has his limits; that's why he's out in this world surviving by his wits. Wolverine says he must be starving, then. After mock-laughing at this jab, Deadpool turns to X-Force, opens his arms wide, and says it's just like old times! "We're the X-Men!" he says. "We can take him together!" Logan reminds Deadpool he was never an X-Man, at which point Wade calls him a continuity stickler.
Domino approaches Cable and suggests they stick together - especially if Stryfe is indeed involved. Cable claims it isn't Stryfe. Even if Stryfe were alive - which he doubts, because he saw him disintegrate with his own eyes - he could never defeat Apocalypse by himself.
Meanwhile, on the border of New Celestial City, formerly Westchester, New York, Stryfe and Bishop walk through the wastelands together. Stryfe, holding his helmet in his hand, claims he has a world to run and should not be wasting his time walking around with Bishop. After all, it's quite possible Bishop's technology made an error - meaning they came out there for nothing. Bishop doubts it. He detected multiple time jumps. He knows Cable is out there somewhere, and he isn't alone.
Stryfe dons his helmet. He has no reason to remain out there. Besides, he has armies who will bring his imposter brother to them. Bishop listens in silence. Stryfe is impatient, he realizes. He has not had a real challenge in a long time - not since Apocalypse. Bishop must do everything he can to keep Stryfe's eyes on the prize. He reminds Stryfe that they're talking about Cable, his clone. Does he truly think Cable won't outsmart the little soldiers Stryfe sends? As he utters this sentence, Bishop remembers the very mention of Cable's name drives Stryfe nuts. Therefore, he uses it sparingly - when he needs to keep him interested. "That imposter will suffer for what he's done!" Stryfe shouts.
"Yeah. Except we got to find him first," Bishop says while lifting his gun. "And I don't trust anyone else to do that but us."
They search for hours. Bishop finds it strange spending so much time with a man who looks exactly like his sworn enemy. He sometimes worries he might lose his head and jam a blade into Stryfe's through. Other times, he worries he already lost his head, and that he's out marching around the graveyard of North America looking for nothing. Then, sometimes, he thinks about Shard and his parents, and remembers why he is doing this.
Bishop recalls how he and Stryfe struck a deal: Bishop helped him take out Apocalypse in exchange for Stryfe helping him get rid of Cable. Fortunately for Bishop, Stryfe's hatred for both men runs deep. Far in some future - a future other than Bishop's Apocalypse wanted to use Stryfe as the host for his life force. However, he rejected Stryfe as a mere clone and cast him aside. This dismissal drove Stryfe insane with rage. He insisted it was Cable, and not him, who was the clone! This made Stryfe a heavily armored psychotic mutant with daddy issues and something to prove. In other words, it made him the perfect partner for Bishop.
Bishop gave Stryfe the advantage he needed to defeat his deadbeat dad. Once they finished with Apocalypse, they laid their trap for Cable and the mutant girl. Because Cable can only jump forward in time, Bishop and Stryfe only needed to create a temporal catcher's mitt. Of course, Lucas Bishop can only assume Stryfe has a quick death planned for him once he dispatches Cable. To Stryfe, he is just a guide dog with a time machine, after all. This is okay with Bishop; while Stryfe deals with his twin brother, Bishop intends to take his shot - and then everything will go away.
They must return to the citadel now, Stryfe declares. While punching in some codes on his handheld computer, he tells Bishop his soldiers located the imposter and his allies. Bishop, furrowing his brow, simply asks where.
20.3 hours remaining...
Tried of hearing about crap that hasn't happened yet and may not ever happen, Wolverine changes the subject to why they really came. He points his finger at Cable and tells him he messed up. Cable looks down at Hope and tells her to ignore Logan. She begins to ask what Logan means, but Nathan insists she save her questions until later. No, an irate Logan says; they want to deal with this now. He reminds Cable he was supposed to protect the young mutant girl and raise her away from all the madness. Wasn't that the deal they made on Muir Island? He asks Cable to take a look at the life he's given the girl.
Cable gets in Logan's face and locks eyes. "You don't know a damn thing, Wolverine." Surprisingly, X-23 interrupts their stand-off and tells Cable she agrees with Wolverine. He might be doing damage to the girl of which he's not even aware. Although Cable concedes the timeline is not ideal, he thinks bringing her back to the present is a death sentence. Hope is stunned to hear this; is Nathan serious? Does he mean death like as in dead?
Taking issue with Cable's words, Wolverine asks if he realizes how much of an understatement it is to say "not ideal". For a guy who knows so much about possible futures, he says, Cable sure picked the worst possible one. Cable insists he can handle it; Hope must be free to choose her own way. "Sure, her own way," Wolverine sneers. "Straight into a brick wall."
Cable stares at Logan for a moment. Then, he punches him. In response, Logan unsheathes his claws and tells Cable he can consider his mission over. Thankfully, Warpath intervenes and tells the two men they can beat the carp out of each other later. Their first priority is breaking into the Celestial city and destroying whatever it is that is keeping them in this future. Begrudgingly, Wolverine and Cable accept.
Nearby, Hope curls up on a rock. X-23 walks to her side and comforts her. Is she okay? Hope asks to be left alone. X-23 lets Hope know she understands how she feelsâ��more than she might realize.
Suddenly, a mass of dark figures appears over the snow-capped hillside. Upon hearing them arrive, Cable turns his head and his eyes widen while his jaw drops. â��Oh, hell,â�� he says. In mere moments, an army of menacing soldiers with blades and body armor surrounds Cable, Deadpool, X-Force and Hope.
Cable shouts for Hope to run to his side. Meanwhile, Deadpool shrugs his arms and offers his new allies a half-hearted apology. â��Okay, so I didnâ��t mention these guys,â�� he says. â��My bad.â��