The Steel Co. Factory…
Cable is busy training his Psimitar lance against some battle drones. Behind him are the observing Blaquesmith and Irene. Cable keeps on fighting without taking a single moment to rest, and Blaquesmith shouts at him to stop it, fearing Nathan is pushing himself too hard. Cable reluctantly agrees and, on voice command, tells the program to pause itself. Irene takes a look at Cable and tells him he doesn’t look so good. Cable jokes she’s as blunt as ever. He asks what’s next; something he doesn’t already know? His mutant powers are inexplicably gone, allowing his techno-organic virus to run rampant throughout his body. He asks how that’s possible.
Blaquesmith mocks Cable is very thorough, but there is more to it all. And none of it good. He shows Cable a scan of his body on a computer screen. He explains the virus is accelerating exponentially, spreading itself further and faster each day. Nathan’s health tissue is in a severe state of atrophy and Blaquesmith is afraid it’s only a matter of time now, unless… Cable has heard enough. He thinks it’s almost funny. After all this years in this era, coming into possession of a Psimitar, the weapon of the Askani, Nathan can’t believe he doesn’t have the psychic power left to use it properly. He never realized how much he missed the feel of the lance in his hands, or the perfect balance of it. Blaquesmith confirms this is the instrument Cable was meant to wield in the final battle against Apocalypse. Now he fears Cable won’t live to fight that war, much less win it.
Cable sarcastically thanks Blaquesmith for his confidence, and then feels a bit of pain. Irene asks if he’s okay, which Nathan says he isn’t. The pain is like waves of pain, seizing his insides. Blaquesmith warns Cable to listen to his instructions, but Nathan refuses. He just wants to restart the training program, as he’s not ready to lie down and die just yet.
Meanwhile, at the African continent, Republic of the Sudan, 5.40’N 31.28’E…
For every man, there is a moment. A defying moment, a moment that separates him from the life he has known so far. It propels him toward the next level of his existence. Every man has to find that moment and discover it for himself. This man is still searching for that moment. And the thing he is going through right now certainly won’t be that moment.
The man, driving a jeep in the jungle and is out hunting, lost in his thoughts and now has gotten too close to a gigantic elephant. The elephant stampedes towards the man, wanting to kill him, but the hunter gets a clear shot at the elephant’s brain and shoots it down! A clear shot is all this hunter needs. “Some vacation,” he quietly thinks in himself.
He returns to the local camp, where an African resident informs him that he has a gentleman waiting for him, and also says the man is aware that the hunter is staying here. The African tried to convince the gentleman otherwise, to respect his wish of privacy here, but the man refused to leave until he had spoken to him. “What man,” the hunter asks. Agent Gerard of Foreign Operations interrupts and says hi to Agent Truman. Gerard noticed this place truly is in the middle of nowhere, but Truman, a bit angry, cuts in that nobody was supposed to know he was here. Gerard is aware of that, and Truman wants him to get to the point.
Gerard has a package for Truman. He opens a suitcase to take it out. He gives Truman an envelope claiming that everything he needs to know will be in the dossier inside. Gerard concludes Truman knows the drill, and that there’s a transport waiting for him at Khartoum. Truman answers that’s fine and tells Gerard he can leave now and be a desk jockey again. Once Gerard is gone, Truman thinks to himself that the bureau is full of weasels like Gerard, but realizes that goes with the territory.
Truman opens the envelope on a table and also places his gun on it. In the envelope is a map, a disk and some photos of Cable. Truman recalls his last op was a six month stakeout in Tunisia, where he acted as an embassy bomber. It was a real hardcase. One thing his target’s file from that day file didn’t tell Truman is that he was a manic depressive. By the time he closed in, he’d already taken his own life. Truman felt cheated, as six months were down the drain. So, he came there to unwind and guesses it’s now time to wound up again. He does a quick scan on the material he has been given. He thinks he’ll have plenty of time for the in-depth stuff later. On the surface, this all seems fairly routine. He believes Cable is a state terrorist… flashy, but adept at covering his tracks. But that’s nothing new to Truman. But he gets intrigued when he reads Cable is a mutant.
Truman never bagged a mutant before. He takes a sip from his water, and admits he isn’t worried, hoping Cable will put up a fight. He supposes a job like this is tailor-made for a SHIELD manhunter like himself. He takes a final look at one of Cable’s photos, and bravely concludes “the hunt is on!”
Truman stands in front of a huge, round mirror and looks at himself, confident he’s ready for this. He says they knew he always wanted something major to sink his teeth into after that debacle in Russia. He mocks it took them long enough but supposes good things come to those who wait. Truman also realizes that too much time off tends to make a man soft, and he hasn’t been soft for years. He’s already buzzing, and still needs to read the whole dossier and study the intel report. But something tells him it’s big game he’ll be hunting this time and that’s perfect. He looks at Cable’s picture another time. He goes to sit in a chair and starts studying the material he has available.
He can already see the writing on the wall. The opening salvo in the SHIELD dossier stresses the word “mutant terrorist.” He believes the suits at SHIELD are really trying to sell this to him and are really trying to appeal to his moral center. But they don’t have to. One look at the picture and Truman was hooked. Cable looks capable… dangerous. Truman likes that. He checks the itinerary and it looks like he’ll be making a pit-stop in Switzerland. Apparently, there’s a detachment there already and the notes say G.W. Bridge is supervising the recon.
Truman dislikes Bridge. He knows that, for a while, Bridge was in charge of the whole organization and his leadership skills never impressed Truman. Frankly, he has no use for the man. He puts on his SHIELD uniform and travels to the rendezvous point where his transport is awaiting, and later travels to Switzerland where the Stingray T-500 helicopter lands on a snowy mountain which has a crater in it.
Truman likes it. His dossier says that the long-range sensors registered all manner of energy signatures in this region a few weeks ago. Satellites tracked unidentified troop movements, as well as some significant psi-spikes. He just knows something big happened there and guesses Bridge was somehow involved in it. Truman believes there’s some kind of connection between Bridge and Cable. Bridge managed to keep it well-hidden, but he can’t fool Truman. He might as well mess with Bridge’s mind a little.
After getting out of the helicopter, Truman meets up with Bridge. The two aren’t pleased to see each other and Bridge won’t even ask what he’s doing here as he’s sure Truman wouldn’t tell him, either way. Truman confirms it, but asks if Bridge has something to tell him though. Bridge hasn’t, and simply claims whatever happened there is over now and that they’re just the clean-up crew. Truman finds this amazing. He reminds Bridge he was Acting Director, and believes field work is beneath him. He notices there are too many men are here for something that’s “over.”
Bridge admits there was an unexplained phenomenon there and that they’re checking for psionic residue now. Truman asks Bridge if that’s his official line, and if there isn’t anything personal for Bridge there. He denies it, and tells Truman that he thinks his services won’t be necessary. Truman remarks that Bridge is still the same old guy he always was. He’s always playing catch-up after the fact, but agrees that Bridge doesn’t need him around there. He walks back to the helicopter, telling George he may have everything under control, but he wishes George good luck as well, concluding he’ll be needing it.
Later, after Bridge has departed Truman thinks about how he knows Bridge. He knows that soon after their meeting, Bridge headed straight back to the Helicarrier computer database, and that he tried to dig up some dirt on him. At the helicarrier, Bridge is doing the exact thing and on computer files on discovers Truman’s first name is Jack, and nothing more. Truman is so deep inside, so covert, that SHIELD doesn’t want to be officially attached to him. But Truman doesn’t care, confident Bridge will soon have a whole new set of problems to deal with.
At the carrier, Bridge is called to the director’s office. There, he meets up with Nick Fury and is startled when he hears his next orders, and isn’t pleased with them. But Fury can’t change them. Bridge wants Fury to forget about the file, refusing to read it and believing it was a mistake. Fury reminds Bridge he knows they don’t make mistakes there. Fury says, since he came back, he’s got everyone, including the president sticking their noses into their business and that they aren’t letting him back in without him having to jump through some hoops first.
Fury figured Bridge, of all people, would know something about that. Of course Bridge does, but he calls this insane. He doesn’t want a transfer to the Washington Bureau and calls SHIELD the place where he belongs. And nobody knows more about Cable than he does. Fury knows, but there isn’t anyone whom he trusts more than Bridge. That’s why he needs Bridge to go along with this.
Nick gets beeped up and asks Bridge to wait a second. It’s the senator on the phone. Fury knows he’s late for their meeting, and lies he’s on his way out of the door right now. He listens to the senator, and concludes he realizes that. He reminds the senator he knows the process, and adds that it goes from the constituents’ mouths to congress’ ears to their findings. He’ll be right there. Fury sighs, ending the call, and admits this isn’t what he had in mind when he returned there. He calls this a very delicate time for them. They’ve all got to toe the line a little, and Fury himself isn’t an exception. He needs Bridge as his eyes and ears in DC. Bridge still isn’t convinced. Fury noticed that Bridge hasn’t even opened his orders file yet. He just said “transfer” and Bridge started yelling at him. He remarks Washington always has been a dark corner and he could use Bridge there. Bridge starts reading the file.
Truman wishes he could have seen Bridge’s face. He realizes Bridge will be suspicious, especially when he sees who’s responsible for the transfer: Quartermain and Waters. But Truman knows Bridge is a company man. In the end, he’ll do exactly as he’s told. Truman’s flight to the States takes a few hours, and that’s plenty of time to do his research. He reads to his dossier ten times, from the start to the finish. By the twentieth read-through, he knows exactly what he’s dealing with. But this one’s different. It baffles him. His target doesn’t read like a terrorist’s file. Truman could take this info and spin it in an entire different direction.
Cable’s not a terrorist at all… but a hero. It makes perfect sense. Cable’s a mutant, misunderstood and often hounded by the authorities. He calls Cable a regular Robin Hood. Truman can picture Cable laying low in a hideout somewhere, training himself, like heroes do, to the peak of their powers. He believes Cable’s a lone warrior fighting what he perceives as a good fight. He thinks Cable’s probably got that passion that heroes tends to have and calls that a good thing. He calls Cable a passionate and driven adversary, which is the best kind there is. Psi-division lost Cable in or around Hell’s Kitchen but that won’t be a problem. Every man has a home, a base of operations he sticks close to. The suits don’t know how to take Cable out or how to bring him into the open… but Truman does.
He sets up shop in an abandoned junkyard formerly known as Ranco Scrap. He says a lot of Hell’s Kitchen, a poverty-stricken area on Manhattan’s west side, is up for grabs. The place he’s in now, for instance, is perfectly suited for his needs. It’s a front company SHIELD bought up. He’s aware his target has psionic abilities, so Truman needs a little assurance, something that would not only draw Cable out, but that feeds on his psionic abilities. Apparently, the thing he’s going to use has a name: Zzzax. It’s a strange name.
This power core Truman is about to tap in is an old acquisition. The empty vacuum containment tube is standard SHIELD-issued. They claimed it was clean, but he took it anyway. Just like he figured, there’s a slight psionic inside it. If you’ve got that trace, he explains, and you need to produce a psionically-charged electromagnetic field without forgetting your own name, this is definitely the way to go.
Truman thinks there are probably less than a dozen people alive who know about the things he does. Truth to be told, the public wouldn’t want to know this stuff. For example, a few years ago, Truman received a dossier explaining to him that one Timothy Dugan was out to kill the president. Seems “Dum-Dum” had blown a gasket and was about to make news. Truman got to him first, before he could perpetuate an act with global implications. Turns out it wasn’t really Dugan, but a science experiment gone wrong.
SHIELD utilizes advanced android droids called Life Model Decoys for a variety of covert activities. They haven’t proven to be particularly stable. Truman knows you haven’t lived until you’ve cut the throat of an LMD. He presses a button on the power core which reads “engage.” A huge explosion takes place causing sparks to fly everywhere, and people outside of course see it. Truman concludes he has done his part, now it’s time for the hero to do his. He has to come out, wherever he is.
Nathan walks inside the diner and Stacey immediately invites him over for a coffee. He thanks her for it. When she notices aloud that he doesn’t look so good, Cable hopes it won’t be anything a good cup of coffee will do, and asks who the little guy is sitting next to her. Stacey introduces her brother, Kenny Kramer, to Nathan. He lives with her since their folks died about nine years ago. Nathan and Kenny shake hands, and introduce one another. Stacey gives him a quarter so he can pick a song on the jukebox. He does as told.
Suddenly, a black-out takes place in the diner. Nathan is panicked by it but not Stacey. She explains he can ignore it because the lights have been flickering on- and off for the past hour. After that, the lights go back on. Cable asks Stacey if it’s just her and her brother at home. That sounds nice. Stacey jokes he can be a handful, which Nathan doesn’t understand. Stacey explains he’s different and doesn’t really want to talk about that. Nathan promises it won’t scare him. She reveals Kenny has the Down Syndrome.
Nathan is impressed she still takes care of him all by himself. Stacey confirms it’s not always easy but it’s worth if. She calls him a good kid. When Nathan wonders why she didn’t want to tell him about that, Stacey guesses she’s just sick for him being judged over it, and she too. A lot of people don’t understand it. And what people don’t understand… “They fear,” Nathan interrupts. He knows what that’s all about. But he doesn’t want that to wear her down. That kind of blind opposition… the utter ignorance that people are capable off… she can gain strength from that and use it to her advantage.
Stacey jokes he apparently speaks from experience. Nathan explains he has seen hatred and prejudice… all over again. Stacey thinks Nathan just came over to give her some advice. He corrects he just came for some coffee. He asks her to wait as he just saw something on TV. They hear reporter Debra Rodriguez explaining about the explosion that took place and that the entire block had to leave and find shelter somewhere, because the danger is great and that police and the National Guard will be moving in to help. Stacey remarks it’s just a few blocks away from here. Nathan sighs, saying he needs to go but that it will be hard. Stacey wants to know where he thinks he’s going. Nathan lies he has to make sure everything’s okay back at the office. Stacey warns Nathan to be careful, which he promises to be.
Cable is amazed at the monster he faces: Zzzax! He hides behind a wall to check out the situation and sees a lot of people running around scared. He knows these folks have next to nothing and promises himself that he won’t let them down. He only wishes he could have stopped at his home and grabbed his Psimitar lance first, but there wasn’t time.
Zzzax spots Cable and attacks him. Cable jumps into safety and wonders what the thing’s motive is. But there’s no time to think about that now. He runs towards the junkyard hoping to be able to fight the creature on a more isolated ground, away from the bystanders. However, Zzzax quickly closes in on Nathan and manages to hit him with an electrical charge. Nathan reels in pain, but is even more hurt when his techno-organic virus gets out of control!
Zzzax again wants to hit Cable but this time he rolls into safety. He lands in a puddle of water and has an idea. He thinks there must be a water main underneath it. He pulls up one of the nearby pipes and water starts sprouting out of it, and it hits the monster! Zzzax is in pain and begins to discorporate. Cable is relieved the creature finally shorted itself out.
Cable takes some time to gather his strength, but then the pain of the virus attacking becomes more and more frequent. He wants to go back to Blaquesmith, hoping he’ll have a solution. However, on that moment, Truman appears behind him! Cable doesn’t know who he is. Truman tells Cable he wants to give him a sporting chance, which is only fair. He mentions they can do this the easy way, or the hard way. And, since he is loaded with guns, Truman votes for the hard way!