The Enemy Within
|The Enemy Within|
|Dates run:||May 16th, 2006 - June 10, 2006|
|Read the logs:||The Enemy Within|
"Apotheosis: n. exaltation to a divine rank or stature; the ascendance to godhood."
After the events of Shattered, Cain Marko was free from the influence of Cyttorak, the so-called "Elder God" that had inhabited the gem in Cain's chest. On a number of occasions in the year to follow, Cain found himself feeling small twinges of chest pain, sometimes accompanied by weakness and vulnerability. He paid these events no mind, not bothering to inform the medical staff of them and just chalking it up to indigestion.
In May, Sebastian Shaw made good on a promise (technically a matter of blackmail) he'd made Cain, providing him with the location of one Cameron Hodge, Cain's former accountant who had embezzled Cain's fortune in early 2005. Taking Scott with him both as a voice of reason and for a much-needed departure for the X-Men's leader, Cain tracked Hodge to a woodland retreat in Oregon. Upon finding Cameron in a nearly-psychotic state, gibbering madly, Cain and Scott managed to get the financial information that was needed and turn Hodge over to the authorities. During their confrontation, however, Hodge made references to "the devil" making him do it, and had scribbled drawings and paintings everywhere of a burning crimson skeleton.
Weeks later, during a shopping trip in town, Cain - along with Moira, Haller, and Kevin - stopped at a small grocery store. Suddenly, random poltergeist-like phenomena occurred, with light bulbs spontaneously shattering and boxes of food exploding on the shelves. An elderly man walked over to Cain and touched him, resulting in a small explosion that left no one hurt, but a good portion of the store damaged. Haller was the only one to notice that the elderly man had the same cauliflower ear as Cain, and a momentary glimpse onto the astral plane revealed the stranger as a construct of flaming bone. After the explosion, the old man was nowhere to be found.
The next morning, words of flame in an unknown language appeared over the boathouse, causing an uncomfortable sensation in those mansion residents with psychic sensitivity. Cain ran into Doug, who had translated the words as a message from Cyttorak, in the same language used on a stone Cain had brought back years before from the temple in which he had discovered the Gem.
At the same time, Cyttorak, bearing mortal form, arrived calmly at the school. He met with Cain, Charles, and Moira and explained that since being cast out from his prison, he was powerless and cursed with mortal frailty. He also explained that the power he commanded was not meant for any mortal vessel, and unless Cain relinquished it, eventually it would turn him into a mindless engine of destruction, responsible for the end of all he held dear. Cain asked for time to decide, and Cyttorak calmly left.
Over the next two days, Cain made the decision to give up his power, trusting Cyttorak's word that he would leave peacefully. He made a speech to the students and staff, finally revealing the truth about his age, his past, and his connection to the school and to the Professor. He went about his business, seemingly tying up loose ends, including an impassioned diatribe at his father's gravesite.
Before making plans to leave for Vietnam to turn over the power to Cyttorak, Cain was confronted by Marie-Ange, Wanda, and Sam - none of whom had any plans to let him face this burden alone. Along with Cyttorak, they boarded the Blackbird and headed off.
Arriving at the ruins of the temple, Cyttorak and Cain began the ritual. However, as expected, Cyttorak attempted to betray Cain and threatened to use the power to destroy the entire planet in a fit of rage. Cain, however, had an ace up his sleeve. Through a prearranged strategy, Illyana Rasputin had been scrying Cain the entire time, and on his signal, opened a portal to Limbo and dragged both Cain and Cyttorak away from this dimension.
In the timeless realm of Limbo, Cain and Cyttorak fought violently, with the Elder God surprisingly falling before Cain's boundless rage and willpower. Physically tearing his way back to the physical plane, Cain emerged wearing the black armor of the Juggernaut, now magically linked to him. Cyttorak also reappeared, bound at the feet of the other Elder Gods, who revealed themselves to Cain and offered him a place in their pantheon to replace Cyttorak. When Cain chose to remain as he was, they simply vanished and left him in peace.
Trivia and Meta
As a result of this plot, Cain can now mentally summon the armor of the Juggernaut. The armor adds little to his already immense strength and invulnerability. It is merely a symbol of the power he now wields.
In most of her previous tarot readings for Cain, Marie-Ange always found the Tower showing up, representing ruin and catastrophe. After he, unknown to everyone else, has planned his subterfuge with Illyana, the Wheel of Fortune card starts turning up, representing a turning point, change, and deception.
The prophecy made to Cain of "the power is yours until you choose to pass it on" was fulfilled in Day Zero when he allowed Marie to absorb his power temporarily, which restored his mortal human form.
The use of specific "five-dollar words" for cut-tags for this plot was an allusion to Dante's Divine Comedy, representing a man's journey into Hell and back.