Cable (1st series) #46

Issue Date: 
September 1997
Story Title: 
Moving Target: part 2: Siege

James Robinson (writer), Randy Green, Steven Harris & Studio (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Mike Thomas (colors), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Cable has rescued the sick Caliban from his room, but now has to make it through the many Operation: Zero Tolerance soldiers and their leader Bastion. Cable activates a program he installed in the Danger Room, activating spiked balls to distract the soldiers so he and Caliban can make their escape to the Morlock Tunnels below. There, Cable and Caliban say their goodbyes to another, and Caliban thanks Cable for all the trust he has given him in case he can’t later, and also for making him a part of X-Force. Cable promises he’ll never forget Caliban, and thinks about a pleasant moment the two had together and also about Domino. After Caliban leaves to find X-Force, Cable runs back into battle and makes it to the computer room, where he downloads and burns the Cerebro files, the Mutant Underground files and the Xavier Protocols onto a disc. He stores the disc into his costume’s utility pockets and sets his costume to self-destruct if OZT should manage to kill him, so that all the files will be destroyed along with him and Bastion will never get his hands on them. Cable also fears about Jean’s parents and Scott’s grandparents, thinking Bastion could have sent soldiers after them, and telepathically contacts Nate Grey and convinces the boy to help out. Cable briefly reminisces about the moment Scott revealed to him it was he and Jean who raised Nathan in the future before he blows up the whole computer system. Just as Nathan is about to leave, however, Bastion enters the room, wanting to talk to Cable.

Full Summary: 

Cable and Caliban are under a full scale attack from the soldiers working for Operation: Zero Tolerance. Refusing to give up, Cable resolutely tells Caliban to keep on fighting, no matter what. They have to keep moving and fighting. If they stop, the soldiers get the upper hand. And they can’t let that happen. Cable fires a telepathic blast at one of the soldiers, who reels at the blast. A moment later, however, Cable and Caliban are overrun and grabbed by the soldiers. When Cable asks the panicking Caliban if he remembers the activator device he just gave him, Caliban replies that he does. To this, Cable thinks pressing it now would be a good idea.

Very large spiked balls come out of the ceiling and they hit a lot of soldiers! Cable orders Caliban to stay down, and he does as told. The balls punch the soldiers to the other side of the hall. They regroup in another hall, and the soldier’s leader checks on Bastion to see if he’s okay. Bastion mopes that he’ll live, but promises Cable will do quite the contrary. He demands to know where Cable is now, and asks for a status report. The leader explains they were all too busy diving for their lives. Bastion can’t believe he’s hearing they lost their target. The leader sadly has to confirm Cable has really vanished, but Bastion isn’t so sure about that.

Bastion orders the soldiers to start looking for Cable and his ally. After all, he says, this place may be a large dwelling, but they have to be somewhere. The soldiers check the library, the war room, the dinner hall, the swimming pool and even all the bed chambers, but Cable and Caliban are nowhere to be found.

Somewhere dark, somewhere deep underground…

Cable ignites a flare so he and Caliban have some light. Now safe, Caliban asks what it was that hit the soldiers. He knows that they were Danger Room balls, but still doesn’t understand. Cable reveals that, when he brought X-Force to the Institute, he reconfigured some of the systems, including the Danger Room. And the activating device Caliban just pressed, that opened the doors. It summoned those balls.

Now informed, Caliban next asks why they have come there. It reminds him of a lot of… lost friends. It reminds him of being alone… and afraid. Nathan explains they’re in the Morlock Tunnel, which runs underneath the estate. The conduit they are in now will lead them to the network of passageways underneath Manhattan that were once Caliban’s home. But there is no reason to be afraid, Cable promises, because the tunnels will lead to Caliban’s freedom. Caliban notices how Cable doesn’t say “their” freedom. Cable mentions he has to go back. Getting Caliban out of the mansion was only part of his mission. Xavier’s computer files need to be saved, too.

Caliban wants to help Cable, who reminds him he’s still too weak from his recent sickness. If they had another fight like the one they just went through, he’d be too concerned about Caliban’s wellbeing. And that would compromise him. It’s better Caliban goes to find X-Force. Caliban wonders what’s going to happen if he doesn’t see Nathan again. Cable promises he will… at least, he hopes Caliban will. And, if not, that’s all the more reason for him to go. Cable wants Caliban to live. Caliban says Cable never treated him like a worse-case, sorry mutie. He made him a part of X-Force and accepted him. But he never thanked Cable for that, but wants to do that now.

Cable smiles that Caliban is a good man in a scrape, so what more could he ask for? He thinks he’d better leaves now and mentions he still has to set the explosion that will seal this tunnel off. Caliban asks Nathan if he will remember him. Cable thinks about it for a while, and remembers a nice moment he shared with both Caliban and Domino. He promises he will always remember Caliban. He takes off.

Several levels above, in the control room to the Danger Room…

Soldiers have surrounded the place and one of them wonders if Cable will come here. Another explains Bastion seems to think so, but yet another isn’t so sure. He thinks that perhaps Cable just came to save his buddy and then split while he could. Anyway, they have to do periodic infrared sweeps of the ceiling of the room. The soldier is confident Cable won’t drop from the sky, like he did with the guards guarding the sick Caliban. Another soldier hopes Cable will show his face, because he would love to pop him.

The previous soldier asks if anyone ever wonders about this thing they are doing right now. After all, he wonders, aren’t mutants people like them. One of the soldiers points his gun to the soldier who just said that, and tells him he better hopes he isn’t anything like the mutants, because otherwise he’ll be popped too. He claims that muties are God’s mistake. Humans being born with those freakish powers? The soldier believes the mutants are getting what they deserve. The soldier’s brother, he got on the bad side of one of the mutants and has been in a hospital bed ever since.

The soldier wants to know which mutant it was, to which the guy says it shouldn’t be a surprise that it was the mutant with the claws. One of the soldiers recalls that the soldier’s brother was an arms dealer. The guy confesses his brother wasn’t doing his Sunday school homework anymore, that’s for sure. Still, he thinks it didn’t give that mutant the right to cut his brother up.

Suddenly, a loud “rumble” noise is heard and the entire room shakes! The guards all take out their guns in surprise, wondering what just happened. One of them thinks the noise came from deep below and had to be an explosion. Perhaps it was Cable and one of their boys found him. Trooper Pulver is contacted over intercom by Bastion, who explains they felt that explosion as well, and he thinks it came from somewhere below the estate. He has sent men to investigate. He asks if they’ve got any sign of Cable from where they stand, but they haven’t got one.

On that moment, Cable bursts through the floor and grabs a soldier through the hole he just made! The other soldiers freak out and inform Bastion, requesting immediate backup. Darnell and Pulver think if they should go after their buddy Mason, but Pulver is a bit too scared to be down their with Cable alone. And right on that cue, Cable jumps back up again and pulls Mason back down with him!

And without a single warning… the lights go out! It’s completely dark at the room. One of the soldiers manages to find a switch and puts the light back on, but then they discover Pulver is gone, too. The lights go off and on again for a while, until all the soldiers are taken out. Cable climbs out of the hole, and puts the lights back on. He notices this went easier than he thought, and hopes the rest will go as smooth. He stops in front of a closed door and realizes he has to seal this door to keep reinforcements from getting to him. He could do it manually, reprogram the system, but that would take too long. He shoots his gun at the panel, which shuts down the system but only for a moment or two. Cable knows he has to move with haste now.

He goes to sit behind a computer and starts accessing some files, which is split up in four parts. He manages to open the first file, and reads that they were opened for an instant by Bastion before the computer’s secondary auto defenses kicked in. Bastion’s file retrieval system was advanced enough that it managed to download the Cerebro-related files before it was scrambled and encrypted in Shi’arese. Nathan can’t imagine Bastion could actually decode files written in an alien language, but then again, the man behind OZT has made it this far.

Nathan tries to access some other files, but fails as they are related to the Mutant Underground, have Danger Room schematics and contain the Xavier Protocols. He can download the files using override programs and, once the files are his, he can destroy them. But, that makes Nathan think, though. The Cerebro files… there would be files about the X-Men, including Scott and Jean. Those files in turn could lead to Jean’s parents and Scott’s grand-parents. If Bastion has sent men after them already, Cable would have no time to intercept, not with what’s at stake here and now. But, there is one person who can, someone Cable shares an intimate link with. All he has to do to reach that person… is concentrate.

Cable does so and, after a short while, locates Nate Grey, who was sleeping. Waking up, Cable asks Nate if he can hear him, mentioning he needs help. Nate angrily tells Cable to get out of his head, reminding him he knows when their telepathy intersects it means bad news. He’s in agony now. With blood coming out of his nose, Cable telepathically shares this is no picnic for him either. He wants Nate to listen to him, so he can break this psychic link. Nate agrees.

Cable tells Nate about Bastion and Operation: Zero Tolerance, and that he thinks there may have been men sent, armed teams, to attack those close to their family. Nate reminds Cable that he has no family here. Cable can pretend Nate belongs there, but he believes he can’t. Maybe not, Cable corrects himself, but he’d say Nate owes something to Jean. They’re both counting on him. Nate agrees to help but warns Cable to never try this again. Cable closes the link and calls Nate a good soldier.

“That should do it,” a relieved Cable thinks. Now, the computer disc with the programs goes into his costume’s storage pouch. He’ll link it to his pulse and vital life signs, so if Bastion’s men kill him, his costume will self-destruct and the files will die with him. Outside the room, OZT soldiers await Bastion’s orders and ask him if they want Cable to come out. Bastion says they need to go in there, and orders to set charges to blow the door. Back inside, Cable says there is one thing left to do.


Nathan starts thinking about something that happened a while ago. Cyclops realized Nathan has known that for some time the couple that raised him in the future were he and Jean. Scott further said when he and Jean were pulled back to the twentieth century, they… he, Scott corrects himself, was afraid they didn’t do enough, and that Nathan wasn’t old enough to remember anything. Cable reveals he never forgot. And he promised it was enough, enough to give him the strength he needed to survive… and to become a man.


Cable shoots the computer system, completely destroying it. He thought about that moment because he shared the moment with his father right in this room. It was a small moment, perhaps, in relation to all he has done and must do. And now it dies… as all things must.

Outside, the soldiers have set the explosives on the locked door between them and Cable. Bastion says they’ve done a good job in that. He orders the soldiers to activate the blast, but wants the leader to tell his men to stand down. When the door opens, Bastion wants to try a different strategy.

Inside, Cable is ready to make his escape but, on that moment, the door explodes. Cable thinks a curse word in Askani language, as green smoke fills the room, due to the blast. He realizes he took too long, communicating with Nate Grey, remembering his time there with the few people who cared for him. All those added seconds conspiring to fight instead of flee. That’s been his whole life. And why should that change suddenly?

Cable points his guns ready to whoever will come through the smoke, and shouts out that he has both the guns and all the psi-power he needs to finish this. So summoned, Bastion comes through the dust alone, telling Cable guns won’t be necessary this time. They must talk.

Characters Involved: 





Darnell, Mason, Pulver and various other Operation: Zero Tolerance soldiers (unnamed)

in Cable’s memories:

Cable, Caliban, Domino (all X-Force)

Cyclops (all X-Men)

Story Notes: 

This issue is part of the crossover Operation: Zero Tolerance.

Caliban got injured due to a battle in X-Force (1st series) #65.

The mutant with the claws that injured Pulver’s arms dealing brother is probably Wolverine.

The Xavier Protocols are a set instructions written by Xavier demonstrating the weaknesses of all X-Men, should any of them go rogue and need to be stopped.

Nate Grey’s battle against Operation: Zero Tolerance can be found in X-Man #30.

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