At one time, Irene considered herself a pretty open-minded girl. She means, she had to… after all, she was a reporter for the “Inquiring Eye,” a tabloid of ill repute. It was part of the job. She’s got a different job now, one that requires a higher degree of belief on her part. The man she works for calls himself Cable, but that’s just one of his many names. He’s from the future, and not one Irene is in a hurry for to see. That’s why she’s here… to make sure the world doesn’t have to. Last night, Cable arrived home after a quick trip to Egypt. Something happened to him there.
Cable hangs upside down in the ceiling of his safe-house, secluded in a seemingly ramshackle warehouse on Manhattan’s West Side. And he brought his old friend, Blaquesmith, with him. Irene doesn’t want to get started on that guy, but she does owe her life to Cable. Cable asks Blaquesmith if they’re done, and he mopes they’re all done. Cable jumps down and mentions that his head is still pounding. Irene asks Cable what happened exactly, and he wishes he knew. One minute, everything was fine, but the next… well, Nathan has never known pain like that, and it was like his brain was on fire.
Blaquesmith felt it too. He explains it was a telepathic disturbance of extreme proportions. He can only guess where it originated from, but most likely it came from the psionic plane. Cable doesn’t see what the difference is, because what’s done is done. His telepathy is gone, but his telekinesis… all but. So, he wants to hear the bad news. Blaquesmith says the bio-scan indicates what they feared most: without Nathan’s mutant powers holding it in check, his virus is spreading from within. Irene wants to know what kind of virus they are talking about. Cable explains to her that, when he was a newborn, he was infected with what was termed a techno-organic virus. His metal arm is what the virus is.
Irene touches it and calls it weird, asking if the virus is contagious. Cable denies it’s that kind of virus. He didn’t catch it, exactly. It was… a gift… from Apocalypse. “How ironic,” Blaquesmith interrupts. Cable just wants to hear the facts. Blaquesmith says Cable was amidst a similar crisis when they were last together. From what he has learned from Nathan’s files, he was able to regain control of the virus. However, this time it appears he won’t see the kind of obvious physical manifestations he claimed to have suffered before. This could make it more difficult to chart the virus in advance.
Cable doesn’t understand and asks why that is the case, but that’s something Blaquesmith would like to know as well. So, long story short, Cable concludes, the virus is spreading. He won’t see it, but most certainly will feel it. Irene asks Nathan if he’s in pain right now, but he simply answers he felt better. Blaquesmith further says the bio-scans showed something else… something very curious. Cable asks what it is. Blaquesmith smiles according to his readout, Cable may not be completely lacking in psionic abilities. Nathan doesn’t get it.
Blaquesmith shows Cable a scan which shows slight traces of psionic activities in his brain. It would appear the well is not completely dry. Cable thinks about it, and tells Blaquesmith now that he mentions it, he has felt a little something… that familiar tingling… but it’s just beyond his reach. He can’t tap into it like he’s usually able to. Blaquesmith proposes a test, to which Nathan agrees, but on what, he asks. He looks at Irene, who warns him not to even try to read her mind. Cable smiles she can calm down, and thinks about trying to telekinetically lift up her coffee jar nearby. He looks at it, trying to do what he just said, but… he fails. He just can’t do it. Blaquesmith thinks Cable can’t do it on his own, but if he had something he could focus and direct that small bit of energy that remains within him… Cable realizes Blaquesmith is building up to something and just wants him to spit it out.
Blaquesmith warns Cable that he must trust him on that. He tells him this because he sees Cable is in need and he wishes to help him. Cable sighs it’s fine and that he believes Blaquesmith. When he then asks what he’s talking about, Blaquesmith reminds Cable about his ordeal in the Swiss Alps, with the other time-walker. There is something he left behind for him. It’s something Cable was meant to have, but he never got the opportunity to give it to him. And Blaquesmith knows where Cable can find this object. Cable says he didn’t think otherwise, and mocks he’s so certain that his obtaining this thing, whatever it is, has nothing to do with his mission. Blaquesmith smiles that coincidences exist, but Cable just sighs once again, and just wants to know the location. Blaquesmith would advise that, in Cable’s present condition, he better doesn’t travel alone. Cable asks Irene if she’s up to it, and she notices Blaquesmith sure is subtle.
“And that was that,” Irene writes in her journal. A few phone calls were made next and she and Cable were on their way in his helicopter. She even surprised herself. She didn’t even bat an eye when she learned of their destination. Like she was saying, she has become more open-minded than she ever thought possible. Her perceptions are growing even wider, while the world is quickly becoming a much smaller place.
Meanwhile, at SHIELD Helicarrier “Hermes”…
Time: 07:33 PM
There are many dark corners within the behemoth that is the SHIELD Helicarrier, perhaps the United States governments greatest technological weapon, but this is, by far, its darkest. Agent Clay Quartermain leads fellow agents Seth Waters and Sitwell to another room. He asks Walker how things are at the Washington Bureau. Waters reminds Quartermain that he knows better than to ask him that question, so he’ll have to resort to his pat answer: “Why, everything is fine, Clay. Just routine, nothing unusual.” In return, Waters asks if they’re all ready for the meeting because they’ll need some privacy.
Clay promises all the arrangements have been made. And thanks to his scrambler, any further discourse they embark on will be for their ears only. Walker notices Clay is a man who thinks of everything. They stop in front of a big, closed door with a SHIELD logo marked on it. Clay explains this is a hidden room that was built strictly for those discussions that involve the highest questions of national security. Only the real higher-ups know it exists. They call it the Defcon Chamber and it should suit their needs quite nicely. Clay presses on a button on a small machine he holds in his hand, and the door opens. They walk through another small corridor, where Waters compliments on behalf of the private sector, he couldn’t think of a better use of the taxpayers’ money. Clay just answers what those people don’t know won’t hurt them.
They arrive in a room, which has a circle in it and around it is a table where other SHIELD agents are seated. Clay tells Waters to take a seat in the tribune, so they can begin their business and explain the true purpose of his visit here.
Elsewhere, in Cable’s plane…
Irene admits that she has been around the world, but Greece was even new to her. Actually, they aren’t even close to the mainland. And Cable’s burrowed helicopter took them to a group of islands in the Aegean Sea, near the Turkish coast. The place is called “The Dodecanese,” which loosely translates as “The Twelve.” Cable paled when he heard that name, but hasn’t told Irene why. In any case, their ultimate destination was the tiny island of Syrna. There were a few times during the flight when she looked over at Cable, and she could tell he was in pain. A trip like this was probably the last thing he wanted to do, but she thinks Nathan felt like he had to. And, like Blaquesmith said, it wasn’t a good idea for him to travel alone.
The helicopter lands on the grass near an ancient temple. Irene gets out of it first and remarks the temple doesn’t look like much, and that it seems deserted. Cable admits she may be right, and actually hopes she is. Irene can’t believe Cable is actually hoping for a nice, quiet visit for once, but then she remembers the virus. She asks Nathan how he feels right now, and he answers “uneasy.” His virus is one thing, but the loss of his telepathy has changed the way he perceives everything. He’s not used to opening a door without having a pretty good idea what’s waiting for him on the other side. Irene jokes it’s tough being human. Cable angrily opens the door, and behind it awaits a big, dark room. Irene tells Cable she didn’t mean what she said. She knows just because she doesn’t fully understand his situation doesn’t give her the right to make light of it. She’s sorry for saying it. Cable smiles he isn’t disagreeing with Irene, and knows it’s tough being human. He prepares to go inside.
Nathan takes a few steps in the room, and it only gets bigger and darker. He needs to trust on his instincts now, and they’re telling Nathan he’s walking in an ambush! But from where? Cable hears a sound above him, and ninjas fall out the sky. They attack Cable, calling him a trespasser. He has invaded their sanctuary and, for that, the penalty is death! Cable sighs, and starts fighting the monks.
Still waiting outside, Irene writes in her journal that the monks dropped out of nowhere, and that they mean business. She can tell Nathan is no mood to put up with a sneak attack but, in situations like this, he just seems to go into auto-pilot mode. He simply fights, like it’s the only thing he knows. And all Irene can do is watch, try to stay out of the way, and pray that this won’t turn out to be Cable’s final battle.
The SHIELD agents prepare to begin their meeting, and let Sitwell stand in front of them and begin his presentation. A projection is prepared with images that will appear on a wall behind him. Sitwell explains what they are about to hear is sensitive information and the knowledge they will gain cannot leave this room. Having said that, Sitwell wants to go straight into it, and mentions that their target is known under a lot of aliases, but most commonly as Cable. SHIELD classifies him as a terrorist.
A picture of Cable is shown with him arriving at the Kennedy Airport, which was taken by a security camera. Sitwell admits it’s unknown why Cable was there, but normally, his movements are extremely covert in nature. They did manage to discern some background information about Cable: he is a mutant and, by all accounts, a very powerful and dangerous one. They also know Cable has telekinesis and possibly telepathy as well. However, what they do know about Cable pales in comparison to what they don’t.
He shows another security camera shot, taken later on the same day. Apparently, some sort of political protest was staged in the international terminal. Their target, Cable, and several of his companions arrived on the scene, and soon what began as a minor protest erupted in a full-scale riot. If they’d like to chalk that up to coincidence, Sitwell couldn’t care less. He shows pictures of Cable blocking bullets with his metal arm and rescuing a security agent, and later him in battle alongside Domino.
SHIELD’s next contact with Cable was a few weeks later at a top-security research lab in Kentucky. The automated security system proved ineffectual and the purpose of this break-in remains unknown. It does serve to illustrate how their target frequently operates outside the law. For instance, his apparent leadership of a young band of mutants known as X-Force. There’s got to be some endangered laws being broken there. This group encountered commanders Fury and Bridge on an orbiting space station, possibly alien in origin, but definitely linked to Cable somehow. The station was subsequently destroyed following the melee, and can only be described as miraculous that there was no loss of life.
Their target also actually infiltrated this very Helicarrier on one occasion, to rescue Cyclops, a member of the outlaw X-Men, whom they were holding prisoner. Commander Bridge personally confronted Cable on this occasion. However, they were unable to contain Cable, nor could Bridge keep Cyclops incarcerated. Bridge’s own report on this incident is sketchy in many places. Shortly after this, Cable was involved in a situation in Baltimore, Maryland, where he engaged a physical confrontation with the Hulk. SHIELD satellites closely monitored this incident, and more specifically, the psi-division did. What they discovered is of great interest to them, which Sitwell will get to in a moment.
Psi-division also registered a massive burst of psionic energy just days ago that matched the Baltimore signature. Upon investigation, SHIELD recovered Blockade in Hell’s Kitchen. His real name is Dexter Parrish, a contract killer from Chicago. At the moment, he lies comatose in SHIELD’s psych ward. Eyewitness accounts placed Cable at the scene. Apparently some sort of altercation occurred, resulting in the complete mind wipe of this man. Now, back to Baltimore, which is where SHIELD’s interest lies. Sitwell shows them a magnified picture of Cable’s metal arm he wants everyone to focus on. Their analysis confirmed that their target possesses, as part of his actual physical make-up, a living techno-organic substance, the likes of which their scientists have never seen. He thinks if commander Bridge knew about this, he would have never divulged it to SHIELD.
In any case, their own Dr. Belgrade, head of the carrier division of Extechop, informed them that the possible applications of such technologies are limitless, should they ever come into possession of it. Working with Mr. Waters in Washington, as well as Mr. Keaton, who represents Shaw Industries, they feel that the most obvious use of this techno-organism would be to aid the installed Nemesis Program. As Sitwell said before, Psi-division tracked their target most recently in Hell’s Kitchen. They believe Cable is still there, and SHIELD wants him caught.
Cable continues to fight the monks and recognizes their fightstyle, but thinks it’s impossible, because they’re swarming all over him, and that’s strictly an Askani technique! He wonders where they learned it. Luckily, he knows every possible counterattack to a swarm scenario, and this situation is no exception. Without his powers, it’s the only advantage he’s got. One of the monks tries to kick Nathan, who compliments him on the nice move, but grabs his foot and throws the ninja away. A female ninja hits Cable from behind… which actually takes him down!
Another ninja tells Sister Sophia to finish Cable now that she’s got the chance. Cable realizes he made a stupid mistake by letting someone slip behind him. That never used to happen. Nathan thinks about maybe convincing Sophia that he’s more hurt than he actually is, and let her get in close. He does so and Sophia moves closer to give Nathan the finishing punch, but he then grabs her arm and she panics. Cable gets back up again and continues to fight Sophia. He compliments that they’re good… but not that good. He wants to hear some answers now.
Sophia, startled, takes a look at Cable’s face, and then his metal arm, and is shocked to realize it’s really him. Cable stops hitting Sophia, noticing she’s just a kid. Sophia falls on the ground and in a tone of disbelieve, says to Cable “by the bright lady… you are the Chosen One!”
Outside, Irene notices how quiet it has gotten all of a sudden and goes to check it out. Inside, she finds all the monks now… worshipping and bowing in front of Cable! She jokes she must be interrupting something, to which Cable isn’t sure. He notices at least one of his former enemies isn’t bowing and seems to have some sense. Caesar introduces himself, pointing out he doesn’t kneel before false idols. Cable smiles that’s good for him, joking there is always one in every group. And as for the rest of them, Cable shouts that they need to get up now, look him in the eye and tell him what’s going on.
Sophia answers they wondered if the Chosen One would ever show up, and now he has. Another ninja apologizes for attacking Cable, but he doesn’t mind that. He just wants to know who they all are. Sophia reveals they are the Order of the Askani, disciples of the one called Ch’vayre. For years, they trained under his tutelage in the Swiss monastery where he was raised. Recently, Ch’vayre took it up on himself to contact Cable personally, but through his enemies. Cable wonders how they ended up in Greece. Caesar reveals following Brother Ch’vayre’s instructions, when he failed to return to them, they burned the monastery and relocated and ever since have been awaiting Cable’s arrival. Cable asks if he is to presume they have something for them here. “Of course, brother,” Caesar says.
Cable thinks Caesar has a problem with him, but he doesn’t. He says, if Cable is who he says he is, then it shall be their pleasure to see him take possession of what is rightfully his. Their Order has remained strong, despite Ch’vayre’s presumed death. And now they shall see, with their own eyes, the so-called “Chosen One” holds the weapon in his hand he was born to wield. Irene notices Caesar doesn’t hold back the sarcasm. Caesar points Cable a door he has to walk through, and behind it he shall find the weapon he is looking for, and only then he shall prove to their brothers and sisters that it’s really him.
SHIELD, after the meeting…
Keaton congratulates Sitwell on the thorough presentation. Of course, it didn’t give them a clue on how to go from here, and how they bring Cable in. Quartermain explains he can get the necessary men and materials. His crew will carry out any orders he’ll give them without question and without fail. Keaton thinks Sitwell is joking. Waters realizes Sitwell wants to take a SHIELD crew into Hell’s Kitchen and smoke Cable out. He calls the solution very understated.
Keaton agrees, and tells Clay they need stealth in this matter, covert all the way. Waters asks Sitwell what he can add here. Sitwell reads on some files that all the data they’ve obtained on their target indicates that he is a highly skilled combatant. A frontal assault, as Clay suggests, would be ill-advised for obvious reasons, one being commander Bridge, whom Sitwell has mentioned before. Waters agrees with that and thinks there’s something going on between Cable and Bridge.
Clay tells the others not to worry about Bridge and to trust him. He already set things in motion that will get Bridge out of the way. That’s fine by Waters and he asks Clay, with a sarcastic smile on his face, if Clay is familiar with Agent 18. Clay is surprised Waters even knows about Agent 18, and Keaton calls the idea brilliant. Waters tells Clay that he knows as well as he does that Agent 18 is perfect for this type of operation, but Clay claims he doesn’t know what Waters is talking about. Keaton certainly does, and he couldn’t agree more. He asks Clay if he could set it up.
Cable walks into a hall and stops in front of a wall, which has a torch hang on it to light up the room. Also present is a curtain with the Askani sign drawn on it. Below the wall is a small tablet on which lies a weapon wrapped in drapes. Cable pulls the drapes away from it, and proudly holds the Psimitar lance. It’s an Askani weapon from his youth, which efficiently harnesses a telekinetic power and can properly focus it. It’s ironic since Cable is without that power now. Still, the way he holds it, it’s like Cable has been reunited with a long lost friend. For a moment there, Cable is almost at peace, but realizes it won’t last long.
Caesar still doesn’t believe Cable is who he said he is because the weapon isn’t responding. “To each his own,” Cable simply replies. Sophia thinks Caesar can’t see it. Everything Ch’vayre told them, all the legends, this man is the Chosen One! An angry Caesar thinks Sophia is blind. Everything they’ve lived for, it all comes down to this moment! And he can’t believe she would throw all that away before this… impostor. Cable warns Caesar to calm down. He came there for this weapon, not to recruit soldiers to fight for his cause. Though their motives may indeed be noble, Cable wants them to think about how they’re going on about it. They hide away from the rest of the world, never experiencing the things that make the cause worth fighting for. If they believe in the future, then they need to make it a better place for their own sakes, not his. The world is theirs and Cable won’t lead them.
A few minutes later, Irene and Cable prepare to leave again. He wants Brother Virgil to take the Order off this island and go find lives for them. Virgil promises to do so if that’s Cable’s wish, but indicates they have one final mission here, which Cable is fine with. And as for Caesar, Cable tells the boy he doesn’t need to read his mind to see how angry he is. Caesar states he’s only angry at his own blind faith. He thinks it’s obvious Cable has only come there out of pure selfishness and just took what he wanted. And now he casts them out without a second thought. Cable defends he has done no such thing, and instead has given them a chance in life. He suggests they take it. “So noted,” Caesar says with an angry tone in his voice, when he watches Cable and Irene departing in their helicopter.
Everyone agrees to enlist the aid of Agent 18. They want Clay to set it up, and one of the agents remarks the program is behind enough as it is, and he’s sure Dr. Belgrade is anxious to get to work. Belgrade confirms and says this techno-organism will prove quite useful. Waters warns everyone to remember that this meeting never took place, and that mutual silence is the key. He promises Clay they’ll be waiting… and watching. All the agents except Clay leave, and close the door behind him.
Clay talks to the computer, giving it his name. He orders a priority A-1 status and gives the password “intrepid,” and commands it to engage. He presses a red button and a small “red eye” appears. A small beam goes over Clay’s face and indicates it’s really him. Clay orders the computer to open a file concerning the subject Agent 18.
Having also burned down this monastery, Sophia asks Caesar what troubles him. Caesar doesn’t know how Sophia can even ask him that. For years, they have studied and trained and waited for Cable to show them the way, and when he finally does appear, this is the result: the end of everything they are. Sophia doesn’t share his view. She happens to believe the Chosen One was wise in his words. It may be a path they didn’t expect, but it has shown them the way… all of them.
Caesar tells her to preach elsewhere. They have now performed their last act as disciples. Their home burns. And as far as her “Chosen One” is concerned, it is as if they never existed. And as Caesar watches the dream collapse into ashes, he is left with the feeling that this is how Ch’vayre wanted it from the start, for them to have never dared to cross the Chosen One’s path. Caesar is certain Cable is far away from there by now, wasting no further thought to what he has wrought. But he’s certain Cable will think of him again, and when he does, it will be with profound regret as Caesar will take Cable’s life the way he has taken his! Today, Caesar’s life burns in effigy, but one day soon, so shall Cable’s!