(New York City)
Irene Merryweather feels she is onto a big story. They tend to start small, like Woodward and Bernstein investigating a break-in. Before they know it, they end up bringing down a president. The Inquiring Eye wanted dirt on the reclusive millionaire Sebastian Shaw. Before Irene knew it, she was running for her life. Luckily, New York City is an easy place to hide. Hell’s Kitchen is even easier. She knows that Shaw is part of a wealthy cabal that exists within the Hellfire Club, which is a very exclusive collection of the world’s wealthiest individuals. The Inner Circle sent its foot soldiers after her, and they would have gotten her too, if not for Cable.
Nate takes Irene to an underground safe house, guarded by a wealth of hi-tech machinery. Irene all but apologizes for her choice of career, but Cable tells her that, if she were such a bad reporter, she wouldn’t have been able to ruffle the Inner Circle like she has. Whatever her skills, he will make use of them. He has a bad feeling, and feels that it’s time events were documented in his life, so that any who follow him can learn from his experiences.
Irene says that sounds fairly egotistical, and Cable replies that maybe it’s more than that. Maybe he just wants there to be evidence that he was ever there at all. He informs her that he’s already entered her mind and senses that she is someone he can trust.
Irene says that he’s a super hero of some kind, but she hasn’t heard of him. What makes him so special? Why hasn’t he joined the Avengers or the Thunderbolts if he’s a hero? Why the secrecy? Nate replies that he didn’t realize it was mandatory, or that they had to seek fame like movie stars. What makes him special? Well, he’s a mutant with special abilities. He’s a soldier from the future that doesn’t belong in this time at all. Is that special enough? “You’re what?!” asks Irene, surprised by his response. “From two millennia to come,” adds Nate.
Irene apologizes for not thanking him for saving her life, and for asking him the wrong questions. She made it seem as though she were testing his worthiness. She just wants to figure out who he is and what all this danger is about. She’s a little shaken after seeing her colleagues killed, and figures she’s still in shock.
She enquires about the Hellfire Club. As Nate moves around the safehouse, picking up items of weaponry and clothing, he informs her that Sebastian Shaw is the leader of the club’s Inner Circle. Her innocent questions about his private life were enough that a kill order was placed on her and her friends to silence the inquiry. Irene asks what exactly this group is all about. Nate replies that the club is, on the surface, an upscale social club for the elite. However, beneath the surface there is an Inner Circle of men and women bent on world domination. It’s this ulterior motivation that they are keen to keep from the world at large.
“And Shaw had an office full of people killed because he wanted to have his secrets?” asks Irene. Nate replies that it wasn’t Shaw. He’s been doing his own investigation, where he learned about the kill order placed on Irene and, simultaneously, he uncovered who had placed a kill order on him, too.
He pulls out a pistol to see how it feels in his grasp. He informs Irene that the man responsible is Donald Pierce. He is one of Shaw’s seconds and his own personal nemesis within the club. They’ve fought before. He’s organizing something called the Tomorrow Agenda. He feared Irene had uncovered something; hence, she had to die.
Nate recalls how Pierce once attempted to seize control of the country of Albania. It took the combined abilities of himself and a couple of passing acquaintances, including Iron Man, to prevent it. Irene asks why Pierce is after him. Is it because he’s a mutant from the future? Nate doubts it. Checking out a small spherical device, he replies that it’s all linked to the Tomorrow Agenda; a name he learned by reading the minds of the underlings that attacked her. He admits to not knowing what the agenda is, but he intends to find out. He informs Irene that he’s going to infiltrate Pierce’s main base of operations, and he wants Irene close by him, for her own protection… unless she’d prefer to remain there?
(The Randall House, Boston, Massachusetts)
The house is an expensive property bought by Anton Pierce from Darcy Randall’s widow in 1872. He was young and brash, and his family had made its money from the trade of cotton, rum and slaves. Pierce was admitted into the Hellfire Club that year and into its Inner Circle two years later. The Randall House has stayed in the Pierce family ever since.
The current owner, Donald Pierce, is having breakfast served by his butler. The food is scrambled eggs and turkey sausage, which is pretty much all his system can handle. These days he is more machine than man. He still remembers the first time he lost his flesh and the man who caused it - Nathan Summers. He asks his butler if there have been any transmissions from Shaw. There are none. Pierce had hoped for word on how the shipments of arms and men were going in preparation for the Tomorrow Agenda assault. Though he knows Shaw has other concerns at present, when he was told the agenda was his alone, he only half believed it. The funny thing is, after wanting more control within the club for so long, now that he has it he no longer cares. He only cares about Cable, and seeing the mutant dead!
A guard approaches his table. She has news on Cable’s whereabouts. She informs him that he is in Algeria, near one of Pierce’s North Africa operations. Pierce wipes his mouth. It would seem that Cable is preparing to strike. Excellent, he remarks. He orders her to mobilize a squad; double arms. He’ll be going along, and wishes to be in the air within the hour.
Meanwhile, Cable and Irene Merryweather make their way to Boston. On the way over, he explained to her that he maintains contact with a group called ‘The Believers.’ They aren’t a team, but more a collective of ordinary people that Cable has encountered over the years who have come to share his goals. They believe in the future. Two such believers in Africa activated the Cable hologram that sent Pierce and his men jetting off to Algeria. Cable wanted them to think he was there, so he’d be free to work in Boston.
From an adjacent building to the Randall House, Nate fires a grappling hook to a nearby building and slides over towards the house. A guard below is oblivious to his presence. He stops right above him and uses a bungee rope to drop down and take the guard out. He then drops to the roof and enters discreetly. He operates the spherical object he checked earlier and leaves it to do its job. No one is around, so he accesses Pierce’s computer. Access is easy to someone like him. It’s like opening the rusted clasp to a Victorian journal. On screen he reads the Tomorrow Agenda’s attendance log. It says Agent Taft is still in the building. He hadn’t left with Pierce.
Nate moves stealthily through the house and enters a room to find Taft seated next to another computer. He aims his pistol at Taft and demands to hear everything he wants to know about the Tomorrow Agenda. A voice behind Nate orders Taft not to say a word. Nate turns to see the mercenary, Paladin, and several Hellfire Club soldiers aiming their weapons at him. Nate tells Paladin he’s heard of him, and that he’s a soldier for hire. But since when does he work for the wrong side? Actually, Nate doesn’t have time to care. He clicks a switch, which operates the spherical object in the other room. It’s a bomb, and it destroys half the building.
He tosses another similar bomb into the middle of the crowd of soldiers. It’s only a light stun grenade, but it takes some of them out of the fight. He then unleashes a volley of machine gun fire around the room, scattering some more soldiers and hitting one in the throat. Paladin orders the rest to keep firing. He can’t get them all, he figures. Nate dodges their fire, and shoots above them at the ceiling supports. The roof suddenly collapses, covering everyone including himself in masonry. However, Nate is relatively unscathed, and it leaves just himself and Taft standing.
Taft is petrified of Cable, and he takes a small white pill in his fingers, before shoving it down his throat. Nate asks what he thinks he’s doing. Taft replies that he won’t learn anything from him. He tells Nate he’s not afraid, but his eyes betray him. Paladin, meanwhile, manages to recover and he retrieves a pistol. He raises himself to his feet and opens fire at Cable once again, but Nate is an experienced warrior, and manages to shoot the weapon from Paladin’s hand. He gives Paladin a physical beating, asking him who is worse: the villain, or the fool who takes his money? He then remembers Taft, but it’s too late. Whatever it is he has swallowed is poisonous.
Nate grabs him. “Don’t die on me, man! Concentrate on living… fighting the poison while we get you to a doctor!” Nate links his own mind with Taft’s, but he feels Taft’s life disappearing. Nate has known death on the battlefields of his own future and the war zones of the present, but never has he felt death’s ice whisper so clearly in his head, even when he lost Aliya. For one awful fleeting moment, he feels his own life has gone, but he jerks himself back to life. That was close.
Nate informs Irene of everything that went down at the Randall House. She can almost see him standing there, amid the carnage, taking a moment to mourn one more loss in a seemingly never-ending battle. She wonders what sort of a man he is. A refugee so alone in the world, and yet one who has put the weight of the world on his shoulders. Is he a madman, a zealot, or something more? Time will tell, and Irene wants to discover the truth.
Nate says he now knows what the Tomorrow Agenda is. It was Taft’s parting contribution. Someone with knowledge of the future has contacted the Inner Circle. They intend to kill the greatest evil the world has known, or will know. The Inner Circle is helping him. To this end, Taft was organizing a shipment of large amounts of arms and men to Switzerland where they believe this will be accomplished. That is why the kill orders were placed on them by Pierce. This mission is so important, that they didn’t want to risk anything interfering.
Nate knows they have to stop him. Irene asks why, if they’re going to kill this ‘evil?’ Nate replies that he’s a monster, and lives by the credo “Survival of the fittest.” He’ll bring about the world’s ruin and his name is Apocalypse. Irene wonders why they can’t play safe and smart and let Pierce and his friends do their thing. Nate replies that they believe Apocalypse’s power can be harnessed… they’re wrong!