#7 - X-Cution!
Editor's Note: This story takes place after events in Weapon X Annual #1.
Cain Marko watched as the airplane flew off into the sunset.
His long-time friend, Black Tom Cassidy, was returning home to Ireland to rest and recuperate after the harrowing experience that was the Weapon X Project.* Tom had assured Cain that this was what he needed; he had friends in the I.R.A.** that could keep him safe, and he had also assured Cain that he wouldn't be gone long.
* see the Weapon X Redux crossover that began in Juggernaut Annual #1 - Eric
** Irish Republican Army - Eric
He turned and headed out of the J.F.K. International Airport terminal, oblivious to the fact that he was being watched from the shadows of the massive Airport building. The figure looked on as the Juggernaut began the long trek home, and silently nodded to himself. It was time...
Cain decided to walk back to the warehouse he currently called home; he didn't want to risk almost breaking another Taxi's rear axle as he had almost done on the ride to the airport. Besides, he needed time to think over recent events.
Tom was cured and had gone home, so Weapon X was behind them both now. His recent encounters with the Wendigoes* and before them, Cyttorak,** were the events playing on his mind the most. Cyttorak had practically demanded Cain put his villianous ways behind him or else face losing his powers - a situation Cain wanted to avoid at all cost! Then, with the Wendigoes, Cain had actually helped them instead of just doing what he'd usually have done - beat up on the critters...
* see last issue - Eric
** back in issue #5 - Eric
Maybe his time with the eXiles* had changed him more than he thought? He'd tried to return to his usual ways after returning from that parallel universe, but then the business with Onslaught** had, though he would never admit it, humbled him in a way, and forced him to rethink his situation. And what Cyttorak had said clinched it - he had to change.
* see the All New eXiles series up until issue #5 when Cain was returned to the Marvel Universe - Eric)
** see the lead-up to the Onslaught saga, and also X-Men Unlimited #12 - Eric)
It was well past dark when he returned to the warehouse he currently called home. The walk had been a long one, but had given Cain the time he needed to think. No way was he going to become one of Chuck's sheep in the X-Men, but maybe he could stop knocking over banks every time he needed cash... besides, it wasn't as much fun without Tom around...
He slid open the large doorway to the warehouse, clicked the light switch, and watched as the fluorescent lights flickered to life. And then he took a step back...
The warehouse was trashed. All his furniture, all his belongings, everything - ripped, torn, smashed, broken, shattered...
Almost without thinking, Cain used the magic of the Ruby of Cyttorak to transform his civilian clothes into his crimson armour. He could feel his anger rising as he picked his way through the remains of his home. Nothing was left undisturbed, he noticed, as he headed upstairs to the second floor, the metal steps groaning in protest under his massive footsteps. It was the same upstairs - everything had been turned inside out, as if whoever did this was looking for something... or someone...
Tom?! Was it Tom whoever did this was after? Being an internationally wanted terrorist does lead you to have many enemies, but if those enemies were of any note, they'd know Tom was on a flight back to Ireland.
A noise downstairs startled Cain out of his train of thought, and he leapt over the balcony, crashing down onto the ground floor, leaving two huge impressions in the floor where he landed. He quickly scanned the room, not seeing any signs of trouble. Before Cain could take a step, a blast of some kind hit him square in the back, knocking him over the ruins of his favourite couch, onto the floor where he landed on his chest.
"Marko!" came a cold, metallic voice from behind him. Cain picked himself up, and slowly turned, the rage smouldering in his eyes.
Before the Juggernaut stood a figure dressed in blue and green armour, with chainmail on his arms leading down to silver gauntlets with golden cuffs. There was a belt around the figure's waist, with several small pouches on it. The figure carried a futuristic-looking lance, and Cain guessed it was this he had been shot with just moments before. The figure's mask was made of black material, with a blue faceplate.
"And just who the hell are you?" Cain growled.
"I'm your X-Cutioner!" replied the figure, as he brought his lance to bear on Cain once more. A quick tap of the trigger midway on the lance, and a beam of red energy shot forth, hitting Cain in the chest.
This time, though, Cain was ready, and the beam only managed to knock him back a few inches. Underneath his mask, the X-Cutioner was surprised. He had researched his foe - he knew all about the Ruby of Cyttorak; knew about the Juggernaut's forcefield; knew about his strength and durability - and had tailored his weaponry to suit. Yet, the Juggernaut had stood his ground!
"Fall, damn you, FALL!" cried the X-Cutioner, as he increased the power of his lance.
Cain still stood his ground, and with a roar of defiance, began to step forwards. With each painfully slow step, Cain managed to ask the question that had been playing on his mind.
"Whaddya... want... with... me...?"
"You must pay for your crimes, Cain Marko," was the X-Cutioner's reply, still firing a continuous stream of energy at the Juggernaut, "you must pay for all the damage you have done, the hurt you have inflicted!"
"Nothin'... compared to... the hurt... I'm gonna... give you..." Cain grunted out, still advancing slowly.
"ENOUGH!" ordered the X-Cutioner, as he reached into one of the many pouches on the belt he wore and pulled out an alien-looking device. He tapped a button on the side of the small, circular orb, and watched as it leapt up into the air and hovered there.
The X-Cutioner switched off his lance, surprising Cain momentarily. This was all the time the small device needed, and it speared through the air and attached itself to the Juggernaut's arm.
Cain looked down just in time to witness the small orb emit a blinding flash of light as it jolted his nervous system. Dazed, he glared at the X-Cutioner as the device took hold, shutting him down, and causing him to fall, face-forward, onto the warehouse floor.
"And so it begins..." muttered the X-Cutioner.
Cain Marko awoke to find himself restrained. No matter how much he struggled and strained against the metal clamps that held his wrists and ankles in place, he could not break free.
"Ah, you're awake..." came the electronically-hidden voice of his captor. The X-Cutioner approached the device that the Juggernaut was attached to - a large metal slab on which Cain lay restrained formed the majority of the machine. The rest was a tangle of wires and electrodes, along with several monitors. It almost looked like the device that had brainwashed him at the Weapon X project.*
again, see Juggernaut Annual #1, Part 1 of the Weapon X Redux crossover - Eric
"I've been tracking you for what seems like an eternity, Marko! You've cost me a lot of time and resources, but I believe the end result will be worth it!"
"You think?" muttered Cain, as he continued struggling.
"I've taken down bigger than you before Marko - like the one called Tower whom I tracked to South America and killed for his crimes with the Alliance Of Evil.* But none have managed to stand up to the force of my lance, and so you actually managed to impress me!"
back in Uncanny X-Men Annual #17, featuring the X-Cutioner's first appearance - Eric
"Glad to be of service..." Cain mumbled sarcastically.
The X-Cutioner snarled as he turned to face his captive. He screamed, "You have NO idea what it is I do! You have NO idea how long I waited for you and your insipid sidekick Cassidy to be separated! You have NO idea how long I have tracked you, my Valjean! I am your Javert!"*
if you haven't seen or read Les MisÚrables, this comparison will be lost to you! - Eric
Composing himself, the X-Cutioner swept one chainlink-clad arm in front of him, indicating to the device that Cain was imprisoned on. "I suppose you're wondering what this device is?" the X-Cutioner inquired, as Cain still attempted to break free, but to no avail.
"Struggle as hard as you will, even your much-vaunted strength will not get you free. There is a Xantarean* Inhibitor keeping you restrained. The more you struggle, the more it keeps you restrained. The device you're being held on is a Levian* Punishment device. It's function is to force the prisoner's mind to relive their crimes, from the perspective of the innocents those crimes harmed. Over and over again until the prisoner's mind overloads, killing them."
* the Xantareans were first seen waaaaaay back in Tales To Astonish (1st series) #73 - Eric
** the Levians were first seen back in Thor (1st series) #256 - Eric)
Cain suppressed a look of surprise at his captor's words. The X-Cutioner was obviously mad! Or was he...?
"It's my mission to make mutants, and those that associate with mutants such as yourself, pay for the crimes they have committed. And you, Juggernaut, are responsible for many crimes over the last few years!"
Cain ceased struggling, realising he was going nowhere. He hoped that he would be able to overcome whatever this device had in store for him, and then he'd make the X-Cutioner regret ever messing with him!
"Your rap sheet is quite a long one, Marko!" exclaimed the X-Cutioner, as he accessed the file he kept on the Juggernaut on a nearby computer. "Oh, here's an interesting one - remember Virginia Airlines Flight 275 from Cairo to Dublin via Frankfurt? The one you hijacked and nearly caused an explosive decompression onboard when you damaged the emergency exit?"
"That was Deadpool, you idiot! He was after me and Tom because we had a briefcase he wanted..."*
* it happened back in Deadpool #2 - Eric
"So quick to blame others, Marko! Ah, here's another - the destruction of the Princess Bar in Madripoor.* Who are you going to blame for that one?"
* back in issue #2 - Eric
Cain sighed, "That was the Hand - they'd captured Tom and I was trying to rescue him, but those damn pajama boys kept comin' at me..."
"Again, you blame others for the destruction you have caused! Well, your reign of terror is at an end... prepare to relive your crimes through the eyes of others!"
The X-Cutioner threw a switch, and the device Cain was strapped to hummed into life. The first memory that came to mind was when he had found the Ruby of Cyttorak, all those years ago.* From then on it was a trail of destruction unequalled by any other villain. He could see it all, through the eyes of others, as he encountered the X-Men, and then later, teamed up with Black Tom Cassidy and encountered his step-brother Xavier's students once more.**
* as seen in many flashbacks, most recently X-Men #54 - Eric
** waaaaaaay back in Uncanny X-Men #102 - Eric
More memories flooded his mind of his past crimes, and he could feel the pain start to ebb from deep within his mind. The X-Cutioner just stood and watched as Marko once more struggled against his bonds.
Cain supressed a scream as his head began to pound intensely. In his mind, he'd passed the incident the X-Cutioner had mentioned with the Princess Bar in Madripoor, and was up to where he encountered Cyttorak once more; when he agreed with Cyttorak's terms.
And that's when it happened...
The pain in his head began to subside, as the device could recall no further criminal events with which to punish its' victim. Sparks sprang to life and smoke began to pour from various parts of the device. The X-Cutioner took a step back, puzzled as to what was going on.
Cain took the opportunity to test his bonds once more. Gathering every ounce of strength he had, he strained until he thought he would burst. Slowly but surely, hairline fractures began to appear in his bonds, becoming deeper and more defined the more the Juggernaut struggled. With a mighty cry, the Juggernaut wrenched his arms free of the device, overloading it and causing it to explode. The X-Cutioner was thrown back by the explosion, but quickly regained his footing as he peered through the smoke, trying to find his captive, lance at the ready.
With a roar, the Juggernaut charged through the smoke, slamming into the X-Cutioner before he could fire his lance. The impact hurled the X-Cutioner across the length of the room. The impact with the wall caused the X-Cutioner to drop his lance, and it rolled away under the ruins of the device the Juggernaut had been attached to.
An enraged Cain Marko strode over to the X-Cutioner, and raised one massive foot as if to crush his former captor. The X-Cutioner cowered, anticipating the devastating blow that was to come. But it never did...
The X-Cutioner looked up to see Cain Marko towering above him, huge arms folded across his massive chest. Cain reached down, and hoisted the X-Cutioner up into the air, shoving him roughly up against the wall.
"Bother me again, and next time I WILL crush you, little man!"
The X-Cutioner meekly nodded, and Cain released his grip. The X-Cutioner slid to the floor, and then looked up at the Juggernaut.
"I've already paid for my crimes..." replied Cain gruffly, as he kicked down the door to find that he was actually in the back of some kind of craft, hovering silently nearby the warehouse that he had, until it was trashed, called home.
He glared at the X-Cutioner, still sitting on the floor of the craft, then turned and headed home.
The X-Cutioner left without further incident, leaving Cain to deal with finding a way to repair the damage done to his home. Picking his way through the shambled remains of his belongings, Cain uprighted his couch and slumped down into it. Removing his helmet, he flung it next to him on the couch and rubbed his aching temples - a reminder of what he just went through with the X-Cutioner.
"Ah, crap..." Cain sighed, "Mebbe it's time I got myself a real job..."
Next: The Juggernaut gets a job! Realising he cannot go back on his promise to Cyttorak, Cain Marko gets himself a job as a construction worker! But his first day on the job may be his last, when he runs into an all-new threat - the villainous Polar Bear! Plus: a new love interest for Cain? You betchya!