Following Nathan’s exhaustion from the full use of his powers, the techno-organic virus has begun to fully ravage his body. Turrin tells Slym and Redd “there’s nothing more [they] can do for him”. He explains that the trigger of the virus, which had been in remission for years, could possibly be the onset of puberty. But they do not know enough of the disease or the Dayspring Unit “to draw any definitive conclusions”. Despite their worry, Slym urges them not to give up hope that Nathan might recover. The ‘Healer’ tells them that the metal of Nathan’s body is actually part of him, that it’s “alive”. Nathan may turn fully into a grotesque metal form, and will be “beyond help”. But Slym and Redd refuse to believe that the only way out for Nathan is to end his suffering.
At Apocalypse’s citadel, Apocalypse prepares Stryfe as the host for his next vessel. Prelate Ch’vayre meanwhile urges Apocalypse to “abandon this madness” as Stryfe is but a child. Ch’vayre sees now that Stryfe meant nothing as a living being to Apocalypse, only to serve as his vessel to store his “near infinite power” so he can live on and continue to dominate the world already cowering in fear beneath him.
Apocalypse: “I named him [Stryfe] after an ancient enemy of mine -- a man whose machinations nearly destroyed me -- But who, in the den, only made me stronger. But just as I ultimately triumphed over all who have dared oppose me over the eons -- So, too, am I prepared to use the young boy as the final vessel for my near infinite power!”
Back at Crestcoast, the psyche of Nathan is brought onto the Astral Plane by Mother Askani, his sister Rachel revealed to him in “[her] favourite version (of herself)...Rachel Summers at fourteen”. She has come to explain to Nathan why he’ll “never have a home”. Because of his “heritage” (the combined genes of the Summers and Grey families will produce the most powerful mutant), Apocalypse wants to use him as a vessel for his powers. With Nathan’s powers, he is able to telepathically “sense a stray thought a continent away” and telekinetically “could extinguish a star with something less than a conscious effort”. Slym and Redd were brought to his time to protect him from Apocalypse and train him in the use of his powers to overthrow Apocalypse. The training Redd gave him was to help him “telekinetically hold the techno-organic incursion back from completely enveloping [him]”, even though he has to sacrifice his other abilities.
Rachel: “An entire world is counting on you...You can do it. You’re a Summers. You can do anything.”
Slym holds Nathan’s hand as he watches over his son. Redd comes to inform him that “tonight is the culmination of three years of raids”. It is now or never to stop the Legacy Virus from being released by Apocalypse’s scientists. Slym tells Redd he can’t leave Nathan.
Slym: “He needed me once and I let him go. Even if there is nothing I can do -- other than to be here for him -- I won’t...I can’t...leave him alone. Again. I’m sorry, Jean. You’ll have to do this without me."
Redd: “Never without you, Scott. You’re always with me...In my heart.”
Slym: “I love you, Jean Summers.”
Redd: “As if I didn’t know that already?”
Redd prepares to leave, telling Slym to reassure Nathan that she’ll return safe and sound. Redd and Turrin make their way to Apocalypse’s citadel. An eerie light (from Stryfe’s transfiguration) fills the sky. Redd senses the light is “almost pure psionic in nature” and that they could be walking into a trap. Turrin is subsequently attacked psionically. Cha’vayre emerges from the shadows. He offers to help Redd stop Apocalypse.
At that point in time, the healer is losing Nathan’s vitals. On the Astral Plane, Nathan is currently separated from his techno-organic portion of his body. His suffering “is happening because [he’s] not trying hard enough" to control the techno-organic portion of his body. Just as the healer proclaims Nathan ‘dead’, Nathan fights back, pulling itself together from all the mess of metal. Slym is overjoyed and relieved to see Nathan well and alive. While he urges Nathan to rest, Nathan tells Slym that Redd is in trouble. Nathan: “She needs us.”
Back at the citadel, Apocalypse attempts to make the psionic leap into his next host Styfe. Apocalypse: “Do you [Xavier] see I was right all along? That I outlived you...Magneto...Sinister and Holocaust...Even you descendants, the Askani! I outlived you all! I stand where all the others have fallen! Just as I predicted...I have survived!”
Redd and Cha’vayre lauch a psi-attack on Apocalypse, who takes them out with a psi-blast of his own. As Apocalyse makes his final move, he realises that Stryfe is but a clone of the mutant he intends to take on as his new vessel. Stryfe “possesses the ability...but not the capability to maintain [his] essence”. But in any case, Apocalypse still needs to make the transition, and Stryfe would serve as a temporary vessel until a suitable one is found. But Stryfe resists him, and Apocalypse turns to find that Redd is joined by Slym and Nathan (“the boy who would become Cable”). The three strike as one, defeating Apocalypse by severing the psi-bond between Apocalypse and Stryfe.
During battle, Slym and and Redd sense a psychic tug at the back of their head, similar to the one that sent them to the future in the first place. Their time here is almost up. Following the defeat of Apocalypse, Redd is being sent back into her present time she came from, Slym soon to follow. As she attempts to hold Nathan one last time, she finds she can’t, because she is existing on a different plane on her way home. Rachel approaches Redd. Rachel had been indeed watching over Nathan even though she was in a coma, and that her “physical body finally died” five minutes ago.
Rachel: “Apocalypse had practically destroyed our family...But we managed to take it back from him. We rose from the ashes again. I...won’t be here for the rest of the fight, Mom. So I was wondering if you’d take back the one thing I took from you. I’d like you to carry it with you, and think of me. I know there’s a lot of pain and hurt attached to the name Phoenix -- But there’s a lot of good, I hope, as well. I tried to do the right thing for all of us. I tried to save us all. Please, Jean -- will you?”
Redd: “I -- I’d consider it an honour. Rachel --”
Rachel: “I -- I know, Mom. I love you too.”
As Slym is also being pulled back into the timestream, he bids his son a final farewell. Nathan doesn’t want him to go, he wants Slym to stay with him, he doesn’t want to be left alone. Slym tells Nathan he’ll never be alone, “not in [his] heart...Not in the only way it really matters”.
Slym: “You’ll be many things to many people...Sometimes loved and respected. Other times feared and hated...almost always misunderstood. Someday, you’ll be a cable that unites the past with the present and future -- Yesterday with today and tomorrow. You’ll be all those things, Nathan Christopher...But know that you’ll never be alone.”
Previous: The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix #3
A flashback heartwarming moment from Scott and Jean’s trip to the future can be found in the Marvel Valentine Special.
Scott and Jean return to their present time in X-Men (Vol 2) #35.