In a remote region in the Swiss Alps, a stranger with a terrible purpose addresses his followers. His head shaved and wearing ornate green robes, the teacher informs his students that today they will examine another lesson from beyond tomorrow. How even good men can be consumed by the most base of human emotions - hate and grief. Matters he himself understands all too well. Once he traveled the dark path, he explains, but then he found contrition and, with it, the resolve to accomplish an unattainable goal. What he asks of them, his disciples, as he does each and every day, is that they are prepared to share that goal – and the sacrifice it will demand.
Kneeling with the rest of her fellow students, one of the disciples speaks up. Telling her mentor that he is well aware that they have ceded their very lives to this – what they want to know is when will they seek out the other? If his oral histories are to be trusted, the very fate of the planet is in question. They approach the millennium, and mankind is threatened by plague and war. Only the Chosen One can lead them through the end-struggle.
So, she wants to hear of the one they call “savior,” he tells her. Be warned. He may be their savior, yet… Nathan Dayspring Summers, he who is called the Askani-son is in the future… the man today called Cable is not their savior yet. In demonstration, the mentor pulls a rope, which releases a purple tapestry. Once properly hung, the tapestry contains in its center the representation of a golden eye, which shines brightly. Continuing, the mentor tells his charges that, if Cable is to be their salvation, it will not be though weapons like this… but through his heart and mind.
When the same student asks the mentor to tell them more, he replies that he will recount for them a tale set in his era – two thousand years hence. It is about an impulsive child, not unlike the student. It is the story of one soul seduced by enmity… and another nearly shattered by heartbreak. It is the tale of how the best and the worst of humanity… lives in them all.
The mentor explains that, today, Nathan has mastered his mutant abilities of both telekinesis and telepathy. He has been forced to become proficient in the use of nearly every weapon ever created, and many that have yet to be. He has won many battles his own body and its techno-organic virus have waged against him… but even as a younger man, Cable was leading battles. He inspired others to struggle against the seemingly impossible odds of a terrifying future. Today he bravely fights against that abhorrent world becoming a reality. But this is a parable of his past, an apocalyptic nightmare that – if their efforts are successful – will never be.
(the story / the future)
Nathan Dayspring tells his troops to move double-time. That’s New Canaanite fire over the clearing! Unfortunately, when one of the men calls out that he’s been pinned down by enemy fire, Nathan tosses his pistol to another soldier, telling her that she will need it in case she hits opposition on the way back. When she begins to protest that he should come with them, he orders her again to fall back. Now! He can handle it solo.
When another soldier call out to Nathan, already moving down the hill, that he’s not even armed, Nathan replies to Tetherblood that he needs him leading the retreat. One of their guys is caught in the middle of that… and he has to get him out. When Tetherblood again begins to protest, Nathan interrupts, telling him that he does this now or he’s dead. He has a responsibility to that soldier. To this, Tetherblood asks what of his responsibility to the rest of the clan? They need him as their leader. They believe in him. Besides, what would they do without the “Chosen One?”
His left eye flashing in frustration, Nathan rejoins that they are both above that “Askani bunk.” He’s no savior. He’s just another soldier. Nathan then adds that he appreciates his friend’s concern, but he can take care of himself. Tetherblood scoffs at this, pointing out that ever since Aliya died, he’s been deliberately reckless. He knows how much Nathan loved her, but he has a chance to do so much with his life, why risk it all acting like a lunatic? Does he think Aliya would want this? Ignoring this, Nathan leaps over the ridge and to the advancing New Canaanite troops below, closing in on the trapped Askani soldier.
Cable perches on a fire escape, readying to leap into the fray below, just like from that far-flung future. However, instead of New Canaanite troops closing in on an Askani soldier, it is a gang of humans, closing in on another human, though one bearing a button labeled “Tolerance.” Having caught up to the youth, the mob leader tells him that, on behalf of decent humans everywhere
(the story / the future)
“…I sentence you to death,” the lead Canaanite troop leader announces. Rather than displaying horror, the Askani soldier smiles widely, announcing that he is saved. Above the group, Nathan Dayspring floats, two long daggers drawn. He orders the New Canaanite troops below to put the weapons down. Now. The troop leader is dumbstruck.
Floating down to the alley below, Cable tells the mob that, if they lay a finger on the boy, they are going to need a priest. When one of their number asks “what in God’s name is that?” Cable replies that the real question is what are they? Look at themselves, he tells them. They say “decent humans,” but they were about to beat this boy to death. He’s a child! What could any of them possibly have lived through to make them act this way?
To this, the lead youth replies that it’s actually the kid. He’s the one acting like an animal. Almost in agreement, the “Tolerance”-button wearing youth emits a growl, causing the rest of the mob to recoil in pain. One of the mob accuses Cable of doing something to their minds, but Cable defends himself that he has not. Meanwhile, the former victim returns to his feet, his arm outstretched to the mob. “I… hate… you all!”
(the story / the future)
When Nathan instructs the New Canaanite soldiers to move away, they are unimpressed. Their leader remarks that Tribune Haight had their armor psi-shielded. Now, once the legendary Askani’son is gone, his pathetic little clan will follow. Then they’ll hunt down that last Askani witch…
Still confident, Nathan interrupts, asking the troop leader he didn’t honestly think he’d confront them alone, did he? His whole group has them surrounded. This said, he orders them to throw down their weapons or pay the price. Last chance. When the troop leader remarks that he’s bluffing, Nathan rejoins that there’s one thing he should know about him. “I DON’T bluff.”
With that, laser blasts erupt from nowhere, mowing down all three New Canaanite soldiers. Emerging from the ridge where they were fired, Tetherblood apologies for cutting it so close. He didn’t have enough firepower of his own, so he had to circle back for the rest of the crew. As another Askani soldier emerges from the other side, Tetherblood has a realization. Nathan didn’t know they were there, did he? Replying that he didn’t Nathan shakes his friend’s hand and thanks him just the same. Remarking back to their earlier conversation, Nathan then admits that he misses her. He knows, Tetherblood replies.
Nearby, the other Askani soldier goes to his fallen, though still-living Canaanite counterpart. In anger, he begins to punch the soldier’s face to a pulp, asking how does it feel?! However, Nathan stays his hand, informing him that that is more than enough.
The Tolerance-button wearing youth recoils at Cable’s grip as he holds him, telling him that he can’t stop him. Now understanding, Cable says that it’s really him. He’s a mutant. He tells the youth that the fight is over. However, the youth disagrees, sporting a clenched fist and telling Cable that they have to pay. They have to pay for hurting him! Trying to calm him down, Cable tells him that he’s not going to harm him. He just wants to look in their minds and see what they’ve… done…
A moment later, Cable finds himself in a shared mindscape, seeing what the former mob is seeing. It is a nightmare world, with horrible and monstrous creatures emerging from the darkness. When Cable asks him what he’s doing, the youth replies that he’s showing them his nightmares. Making them feel his fear!
Grabbing the youth, Cable tells him that he has to listen to him. He’s got to stop! This could permanently damage their minds! When the youth smiles “Good,” Cable becomes incensed.
(the story / the future)
Cable continues to pull the Askani soldier away from the Canaanite, telling him the battle is over. Almost in tears, the Askni soldier replies that he hates him. He’s a Canaanite! As long as he lives, so does everything Apocalypse stood for! If Nathan wants his legacy to end, this… thing needs to die. To this, the angry Nathan replies that if he kills him, he’s keeping Apocalypse’s ways alive! Still unconvinced, the solider asks how can Nathan understand. The Askani-son is more than they are. He doesn’t feel what they do… He doesn’t suffer like ordinary people. In response, Nathan says that he wishes with all his heart that were true… but he’s known pain and more.
His expression grim, Cable tells the mutant youth that his nightmares start ending right now. When the boy asks what he did, seeing all of the monsters having disappeared, replaced by fireworks, Cable explains that he telepathically stopped him from doing something he would regret. He knows how he feels. He was the same once – young, confused, terrified. And, if he can keep a secret, he’ll tell him another thing… sometimes, he still is.
But, he continues, the two of them were given something extra when they were born. They can do things most people can’t… and because of that, they have greater responsibilities. This is not the last time that people are going to try to hurt him – it’s part of human nature, and it’s in all of them. But when those times come, you can’t allow your emotions to govern you.
(the story / future)
You can’t deny your anger is there, Cable tells the Askani soldier. But he can control it. He should let it carry him out of his foxhole, when trepidation tells him to stay. But he can never surrender that anger to hatred.
He wasn’t much older than he is now when his mutant abilities manifested, he tells the youth. He was lucky enough to have someone around who loved him and prevented him from lashing out when things were difficult. Things like hate, fear and sadness are dangerous to have in charge of his power. It can kill off everything around him, and then turn inward and destroy him.
(the story / future)
Does he understand? he asks the Askani soldier.
Replying that he does, the youth asks about the mob. Examining them, Cable replies that they’re unconscious. Hopefully, when they wake up, they’ll have learned from this too. In the meantime, he tells the youth, he should get himself home to his loved ones… and keep them close.
Finishing his story, the mentor tells his disciples that, if Cable is to lead them to their objective, it will be because he follows the path he told the young soldier. To this, one of the disciples says that, if what he told them of this future is true, this world has no time to wait! They must seek out the Chosen One now! Grimacing slightly, the mentor remarks that the student is so like Cable. His brashness is both his curse and his blessing. He should not be too eager to begin this journey… for it will be fraught with adversity. For now, he should be patient. – and ponder the lesson of today…
Several thousand miles away, in a mansion in Salem Center, New York, Jean Grey-Summers remarks to herself that it’s not fair. Standing in a VR contraption, its helmet covering her eyes and displaying her program, she thinks how Scott and Nathan shouldn’t have to go though all of this again.
In the goggles, she sees an image of Scott Summers, with the infant Nathan Christopher, along with his mother, Madelyne Summers, Scott’s wife. Viewing this, Jean remarks to herself that they looked so content then. Scott and Madelyne were happily married, Nathan had just been born… It must have seemed like nothing could hurt them. But then, Madelyne discovered she was a genetic duplicate of her, Jean, created by a madman known as Sinister.
Suddenly, the image changes, now showing the image of Madelyne again, but one of years later, when she had donned the identity of the Goblyn Queen. Again, holding the infant Nathan Christopher, her expression is not one of motherly love, but evil. It drove her to evil, Jean continues. Not only did she nearly destroy the X-Men, but she came within an inch of murdering her own son. When she died, it almost seemed merciful… like her pain was finally over.
Now removing her VR helmet, Jean is still horrified that, now, Madelyne’s been somehow recreated. She can’t shake the feeling that Cable is going to have to confront the ghost of the woman who gave birth to him… and she’s the only one who can warn him of the danger he’s in!