(The Swiss Alps, thirty years ago)
Ch’vayre has mysteriously arrived in the present. He is unconscious when found by a group of monks, and they bring him in from the cold, leaving him to recover on a table in the nave. His arrival surprises them, as there are no tracks in the snow to suggest how he got there. It’s as if he fell from the sky. As the young Ch’vayre sleeps, he is rudely awakened by a woman’s voice.
Floating before him, bathed in an ambient golden glow, is Sanctity. She introduces herself to the astonished young man as the guardian of the sacred timeline and high priestess of the Askani Church. It is by her power alone that he has been torn from his native era and brought to the twentieth century. Ch’vayre wonders if he is dreaming, but she assures him that this is his reality from now on. He asks why and she replies that, in decades’ time, there will come another from their epoch. He must be controlled and made to follow the path they have chosen for him. His name is Dayspring, Summers, Cable… some even call him savior.
Sanctity continues to inform him that he will return to this century, the crux upon which mankind’s fate turns, with one objective - to prevent their dark future. It is up to Ch’vayre to engineer a confrontation between Cable and Apocalypse, whose malignant presence is still felt in their time. She sees Ch’vayre’s hesitation in his eyes, but asks him to fear not, for they will speak again. When the moment comes to play his part, he will be ready. As she departs, she reminds him that he has no other choice.
This was the first of countless visits from Sanctity that cursed Ch’vayre over the next thirty years. She always delivered the same message: to bring Cable and Apocalypse together any way he can. So, he now finds himself in the company of evil men, and he questions if he has done the right thing. Was there no other way? Riding alongside him on one of the Hellfire Club’s crafts are Sebastian Shaw, the club’s Black King, and his subordinate, the cyborg Donald Pierce. They are intoxicated by the very notion of Apocalypse’s secrets and how they might help them fulfill their petty dreams. Their lust for power sickens Ch’vayre.
The massive military force moves across the snow-covered Swiss mountains and through the valleys on a course with destiny. For Pierce, the fruition of the ‘Tomorrow Agenda’ is at hand. He looks through a pair of infra-spectral binoculars, which are able to penetrate any cloaking mechanism that Apocalypse might have, and is elated to discover an Egyptian statue surrounded by hieroglyphs embedded into the mountainside. He congratulates Ch’vayre on saving his own hide yet again by proving he is still useful to them.
At Wilhelm Lohmer’s palatial residence, Cable confronts the man about his past. Cable tells him that he knows that he’s a Nazi super-criminal and Hitler’s personal lapdog. He’s one of the most wanted men alive and has barely been seen since World War II. Everyone assumed he was dead, but it turns out he’s been living off riches plundered from the weak and helpless for half a century. Cable adds that he’s never been held accountable for his crimes. Wilhelm admits that he is correct on all counts.
Cable asks why, if this is true, did he save them from Shaw’s hit squad? Wilhelm explains how he became Master Man as part of a series of secret government experiments; how he fought alongside Warrior Woman and, eventually, in the heat of battle, how his powers failed him. He was spurned by his love, and chose to end his own life. Even then, he met with failure. He didn’t die, but was instead blown into the sewers of Berlin. What little of the super-soldier serum that remained in his body kept him alive, but his true age began to show. His career as Master Man was at an end. It was a blessing, he adds. His days of villainy are over. He now serves a different purpose.
Irene asks if it’s safe to come in, and Nathan assures her that it is, and that Wilhelm was just explaining how he’s turned over a new leaf. Wilhelm admits that he’s not proud of his past. The memories haunt him to this day, and as long as he lives he will bear the weight of that burden. Nathan is skeptical and asks if he truly believes that the fact that he’s sorry can erase the countless lives he has destroyed. Of course not, he replies, but he can try to make amends. He mentions the group of Believers that share Cable’s ideals. He has met one of them. The man found Wilhelm at his lowest ebb, gave him direction, and told him what Cable stands for - hope for the future.
Cable says he isn’t interested in any of this quasi-religious nonsense. He’s heard it half his life. Wilhelm begs to be heard out. He may live in seclusion, but he does have the means to keep tabs on the rest of the world. With the equipment he possesses, he can tap into N.A.T.O. satellite uplinks and track military troop movements in the European theatre, including the men Cable wishes to follow into the Alps.
Irene is adamant that this man cannot help them. He’s a bona fide war criminal. Wilhelm wants his shot at redemption, and Cable is willing to hear him out. He ushers Irene away from him before she does something she regrets, and Wilhelm prepares for departure, assuring Cable that he does believe. Nathan then tries to assure Irene that time is of the essence, and he has to find Shaw and Pierce before they find Apocalypse. Irene resigns herself to having to trust Nathan and asks when they’re leaving. He tells her it’ll be a few hours yet and suggests she get some sleep. He’ll wake her when they’re ready.
Two hours later, Nathan visits Irene in her bedroom. She is asleep as he places his fingers on her temple. He doesn’t need to touch her to carry out this procedure, but he does anyway. He induces a deep sleep, which will keep Irene there for as long as is necessary. He doesn’t like doing this, but he feels it’s the only way.
The Hellfire Club soldiers led by Shaw and Pierce arrive at the impressive entrance to Apocalypse’s lair. Ch’vayre informs them that it has stood undetected for countless centuries. They are most assuredly the first and only men to have laid eyes on it. Pierce says that nothing lasts forever and, in a moment, they will tear open this façade and reap the rewards. Ch’vayre turns to him and tells Pierce that once again he displays his ignorance. A frontal assault on this fortress would be suicide. They must move with stealth. He warns Pierce of automated perimeter defenses, just before a large mechanical tendril coincidentally emerges from beneath the snow right beside them holding a laser cannon. It discharges a burst of energy that kills several soldiers instantly.
More cannons appear, and Pierce orders his men to destroy them. Shaw is angry that Ch’vayre appears to have led them into a trap, but Ch’vayre calls him a small, pathetic man. He informs him that he has no idea what he’s involved himself in. He wishes to know the power of Apocalypse? Then he should follow.
Meanwhile, Cable and Wilhelm Lohmer make their way through the heavy snow aboard a small vehicle fitted with caterpillar tracks. Cable tells him that he gave Irene something akin to a post-hypnotic suggestion. It’ll be hours before she awakens. He asks how the tracking equipment is working. Perfectly, replies Wilhelm. He has found them. They’re in a holding position. Cable understands that this means they’ve found the stronghold. Wilhelm thinks they’ll be there soon, but the blizzard isn’t making their journey any easier.
“You’re still not certain about me, are you?” he asks Cable. Cable is honest, and replies that he’s not, but right now he needs his help, so he’s forced to give him the benefit of the doubt. He doesn’t have to like it. Wilhelm understands. If only Cable knew the horrible memories and dreams that torment his sleep, reminding him of everything he did in the name of a madman.
Cable says they all have memories that haunt them, but they also have the desire to rid themselves of these things. He informs Wilhelm that he’s read his mind and shared his memories. He knows all about what he’s done. Wilhelm knows, then, that Cable understands that he has changed, and that it’s now his life’s work to attempt to make up for his actions. Cable replies that when it comes to judging men’s souls, only history is fact.
Wilhelm offers the suggestion that Cable could wipe away his painful memories if he so desired using his telepathic powers. Cable doesn’t entertain the notion for a second. He’s not getting off the hook that easily. A person’s past, their choices… they make them who they are. He asks if that’s why Wilhelm is helping him - so he can free him of the demons that he rightly deserves? Wilhelm assures him that this isn’t the case, but Cable cuts him off, asking him not to speak to him. He must decide what to do with him should they survive this.
Cable then picks something up telepathically. There are other minds nearby bearing down on them. In an instant, he grabs Wilhelm and drags him from their vehicle, which explodes before they hit the ground. Wilhelm is shocked, but Cable goes straight into assault mode. He grabs one of the Hellfire Club soldiers who attacked them as he flies past, whilst Wilhelm stands up, amazed that Cable saved his life. He could have left him to die; a fitting end to a man with his history. He risked his own life to save his.
As Cable grapples with his opponent, Wilhelm sees another one heading their way. Cable is occupied and doesn’t notice his approach. “Nein!” cries Wilhelm, as the soldier opens fire. Wilhelm leaps in front of Cable, taking the blast full in his chest. The soldier realizes his one chance to kill Cable has passed, and he begins to flee. Cable is on him like a rash, and for a split second their minds touch, allowing Cable to extract the information he needs; an exact location. He then leaves him unconscious, and returns to Wilhelm.
The old man is close to death. He tells Cable that this is how it should be, and just as he was beginning to feel as though he could erase the sins of his past. With his dying breaths, he asks Cable to always remember that his actions will define his legacy. The deeds that he has done, that he will be remembered for, have just begun. He should consider them carefully and make them count. He should be the hero they believe him to be. He utters the name Julia, before finally passing away.
Cable closes Wilhelm’s eyes, and later holds a funeral for him. No one will know what happened there. No one will know how a man sought redemption in the last hours of his life, nor how close he came to achieving it. He acknowledges Wilhelm’s sacrifice, but time is of the essence. He grabs one of the Soldiers’ flying crafts and speeds away.
(at that moment)
Back at Wilhelm’s residence, Irene wakes from her telepathically-induced slumber. It takes a minute to remember where she is, but she soon realizes that Cable is gone. He lied to her and left her behind. For the moment, though, there is no anger. That will come later. For now there is only concern and worry. As she looks out of the window, she realizes she may never see him again.
Meanwhile, Cable sees nothing for miles apart from endless snow. Eventually, he drops the flying craft and continues on foot. The goal he has pursued with a near-fanaticism could soon be at hand. If he does confront Apocalypse and somehow defeats him, surely it will erase the horrors to come. So why does he hesitate? Why does this man, who has willingly shouldered the burden of the entire world, find himself in the grip of regret? Why does he find himself asking, “Was it worth it?”
He’s seen nothing for miles, until now. He reaches Apocalypse’s lair, and from his vantage point he sees everything. Bodies of dead soldiers lie all around, as those still alive do battle with the fortresses’ automated defenses. This is a war of attrition; a fight for absolute power, and no matter who wins, humanity loses.