Cable (1st series) #72

Issue Date: 
October 1999
Story Title: 
Broken Pillars

Shon C. Bury (guest writer), Chap Yaep (guest penciler), Marlo Alquiza (guest inker), Mike Rockwitz (colors), RS & Comicraft’s Saida Temofonte (letters), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (chief)

Brief Description: 

Late at night, Cable feels someone inexorably calling him to the now abandoned Morlock Tunnels. There, he discovers Post, the mutant he had once rescued from Mandarin’s clutches in China and who later became Onslaught’s servant. Post has decided to consign himself inside the tunnels and blames Cable for how his life has turned out. Having believed in various “dreams,” such as those of Professor X and Onslaught, and finding himself, time and again, manipulated and experimented in the hands of men such as Mandarin and Onslaught, Post has felt victimized all his life. Even though Cable reminds him of the numerous times he saved his life and how Post has repaid this by betraying him, Post still somehow holds him accountable for how everything in his life has gone awry and attacks him. After a brief battle, Cable makes Post see that he can start from scratch and build a new life for himself. Post bids him farewell, determined to confront his inner demons and find the answers he seeks.

Full Summary: 

It’s late. An unseasonably cold Manhattan wind bites at his heart and blows at his hair, but Cable ignores his environment. Instead, he focuses on the faint, taunting voice dancing on the fringes of his mind. He has found himself telepathically drawn here, to an entrance to the Morlock tunnels. He intends to find out why. He had woken at the sound of his name: Nathan. He had felt the inexorable – almost familiar – tugging at his mind. Someone – something – calling to him mentally, pulling him to these long-abandoned subway tunnels.

Nathan descends into the tunnels, flashlight in hand. Whoever his ‘caller’ is, it’s obvious they want to be found.  The real question is why they’re hiding. The strange thing is that, ever since his encounter with Rachel, his telepathy has been slowly coming back. He doesn’t know if it was her doing or not, but it couldn’t have come at a better time. When he finally faces down Apocalypse, he’s going to need every weapon at his disposal.

Looking around with his flashlight, Cable asks “Who’s there?” He demands the person summoning him there to show themselves. He promises he won’t hurt them; he just wants some answers. “Blasted tunnels!” he curses. These tunnels have seen so much murder and heartbreak; the psionic echoes are wreaking havoc with Cable’s telepathy. He suddenly hears an unnerving laugh somewhere close by. He really doesn’t like this. He detects another marker pointing to an archway up ahead. Whoever this mysterious person is, he or she looks like they’ve got the home turf advantage. For their sake, Cable hopes it’s not a trap. Cable crosses the archway… and what he sees stops him in his tracks. He is unable to believe what lies before him. It can’t be – they defeated him!

Before him stands a life-size stone statue of Onslaught, the near omnipotent psionic entity that nearly succeeded at remaking the world in his own dark image. Cable wonders who would have done this. Is it possible a remnant of Onslaught somehow survived all these months?

Just then, someone leaps to the ground behind Cable, startling him. “Hello, Nathan,” he greets him. Cable is taken aback: it’s Kevin Tremain aka Post! But how did he… “Conceal myself from your vaunted telepathy?” Post scoffs. It was a gift from Onslaught before his defeat. Merely one of the many gifts he bestowed on his followers. “But surely you must have had a feeling it was me… old friend?” he adds.

“Old friend?” Cable cringes. Last he heard, Post had hooked up with the Brotherhood of Mutants and been taken down, brought to justice by Machine Man. Post clarifies that X-51 hurt him, like no one ever before, but once he fled the scene it wasn’t hard for Post to escape from those army medics who were supposed to be taking care of him. One might say Post took care of them instead. Cable knows what he means: like Post took care of Cable’s mentor, Blaquesmith, and left Nathan to die on the docks of Baltimore harbor!

“Don’t feed me that bull!” Cable suddenly lashes out at him with his telekinesis. The only thing Onslaught did was make a bad situation worse. He brought man and mutant closer to the genetic war that Charles Xavier dedicated his life to avoiding. As he recovers from Cable’s attack, Post notes that his telekinetic blast was very effective. Fitting, isn’t it? The pillar of a fallen new order among its own ruins. Better than to remain erect only to stand helpless against the ravages of time, he adds, and then bursts into laughter.

“Blast you, Cable!” Post growls and now it is his turn to attack Cable, hurling rocks at him. Better he had let Post to die at the hands of the Mandarin than to suffer this hollow mockery of a life. He ‘owes’ this existence to no one but Cable – his ‘old friend.’  Cable targets him with his firearm. Does Post feel a little guilty about buying a sham dream? About joining up with Mystique’s pack of soulless mercenaries? What’s past is past; he can’t change that. Cable suggests Tremain stops living in it – or does he want to be called Post? Post has to admit that, unfortunately, the past is all he has down here.

It all began falling apart in Northern China. Does Nathan remember Northern China? The Mandarin’s complex? The day Post’s life was destroyed forever? Tremain was young then and very foolish. He believed in ideals. He believed that the world could be changed. So, he dedicated his life to the cause of liberty as a government operative. The agency knew that the Chinese ultra-nationalist, the Mandarin, was a potential threat to the precarious détente between America and China. As it always went, Tremain was called in. Someone had decided that the status quo was better than what the Mandarin had to offer and it was up to Tremain to do the agency’s dirty work – or so he was told.

As fate would have it, something went terribly wrong. In the lexicon of Langley, he had been ‘made.’ Aborting the mission seemed the only feasibly course of action. “Groundhog to Control. We’ve been compromised. Requesting immediate evac,” Tremaine contacted his colleagues. The response was swift: “Denied. Maintain radio silence. Control out.” Tremain realized he was expendable.

Mandarin appeared and seemed to know everything about Tremain, including that he was here right on schedule. A mutant born with enhanced strength and analytical acumen, delivered to the back door of the Mandarin by the very organization he serves. Tremain realized he had been set up by someone within the agency. Mandarin scornfully asked him what how it feels to be betrayed by the corrupt westerners he serves. How does it feel to be delivered into the hands of the conqueror by those who will be conquered? With Tremain’s mutant DNA, Mandarin had been handed the means by which to crush the Occidentals!

Cable should have left Post to die at the Mandarin’s hands. His dreams would have ended. His nightmares would have never begun. Everything he’s ever put his faith in has forsaken him: America; Xavier’s dream; Onslaught; everything!

“Cry me a river!” Cable angrily retorts. Nathan saved Tremain from the Mandarin and risked his life when he didn’t even know Tremain. That didn’t stop Post from abandoning Cable – betraying him – when he thought someone better had come along. Onslaught swayed Post to his cause. First, he used him to test the X-Men’s limits, then he used him to set Cable up! He drew Cable out by blowing up Blaquesmith’s frigate and then ambushed him at Baltimore Harbor. That’s how he repaid Cable for saving him. Maybe Nathan should have left him to die instead of carrying him across China and infusing him with his own blood so he’d live long enough to make it to a hospital. As Tremain lay dying in Cable’s arms, Nathan’s telekinesis was the only thing keeping Tremain’s heart pumping. Tremain had told him he’d never forget his kindness. Nathan believed Post. If he would have known his words to be lies, that he’d hurt people Nathan cares about, he never would have brought him back to America, to Charles Xavier.

Post recalls that Xavier indeed sung into his ears of coexistence between man and mutant. Oh, how Post believed in Xavier! Even after his own fears and frustrations gave rise to a different creature entirely. So, when Onslaught called upon him, Kevin answered. And once again, he was a pawn. Onslaught’s voice came to him in the dark of night, sowing the seeds of doubt and mistrust. He showed him the inherent flaw within Xavier’s goals. He promised him that he would be at his side in a new world of his making. Post succumbed. If only the dreamer’s dream didn’t become his nightmares! Laughing wildly, he explains to Cable that he has consigned himself to these wretched tunnels, beneath the Earth that man and mutant walk. The Morlocks once lived here, their last bastion of hope against humanity, but now it has been abandoned even by those outcasts and is thus fitting for Post, servant of the fallen dreamers.

Cable finds him pathetic. Is everyone to blame but Post himself? When does Kevin Tremain take responsibility for his own actions? Post attacks him and insists that Cable is to blame! If Post is doomed to a life of self-punishment, then Nathan will be vanquished as well! The tunnel walls around them shake, courtesy of Post’s powers. Cable warns him he’ll kill them both. “So be it, Nathan!” Tremain snaps. Nathan urges him to see what he’s doing. Post admitted that he’s moved from one dream to another, abandoning everything he knew before. But by ‘consigning’ himself to these tunnels, he’s only hiding from himself. He’s become servant to his own fears, perpetuating his own nightmares. Upon hearing this, Post insists he should destroy Cable, crush him as easily as he crushes the rock before him!

“Give it your best shot!” Cable roars. “My pleasure!” Post bellows and the two mutants find themselves once again fighting each other. Cable vows he will regret this. A lot of men have tried to take him down but it hasn’t happened yet! He pushes Post off him with a telekinetic blast, making him howl in pain. Nathan asks him if he wants more. “Blast you!” Post curses. “Blast you for giving up every time the dream got tough, for turning your back on those who were faithful to you,” Cable angrily rejoins. He asks him what’s going to be: more fighting? Or a new beginning?

Post is incredulous: would Cable offer him help after all he’s done? He believes there’s no help for him. It truly would have been best if Cable had left him to his fate in China. Post never told Nathan what Mandarin intended to do to him.

Because he was a mutant, Post was to be used as a lab rat at the hands of the Mandarin’s scientists, genetically parceled out, so to speak out, so the would-be conqueror could create his own invincible army. Cable ‘saved’ him from that fate. But ultimately, there was no salvation in store for Tremain. Onslaught had other plans for him, subjecting him to further experimentation, plans that did not include Cable.

“God help me, I betrayed everything,” Post weeps. “Help yourself first, Tremain,” Nathan suggests and offers his hand to him. Seeing this, Post mumbles, incredulous, and finally accepts the hand of Cable, who helps him back on his feet. Post realizes the past can never be changed, so he must strive only for a better tomorrow. Cable admits he’s been learning that himself – the hard way. “Yes… I see,” Kevin mutters. He tells Nathan goodbye and thanks him. Perhaps in some other time, they will meet again. Cable wonders where he will go. He tells him he has friends, people who can help him. Moving away, Post turns down the offer. He knows that Cable’s offer is sincere, but it is time he looks within for the answers he seeks. “G’journey then, Kevin Tremain. G’journey,” Cable sees him off.

Characters Involved: 



Professor X
Mandarin’s agents

Story Notes: 

Cable encountered Rachel last issue.

Cable, like all telepaths, lost his psionic abilities due to the so-called ‘Psi-War’ involving Shadow King and Psylocke. [Cable (1st series) #57]

Post fought Machine Man in X-51 #1.

Cable and Blaquesmith confronted Post in Baltimore in Cable (1st series) #33. The Mandarin events in China were first shown in flashback form in that issue.

The Morlock Tunnels have been abandoned ever since Mikhail Rasputin decided to completely flood them. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #293]

Post will later resurface believing in yet another ‘failed’ dream, as a member of the Brotherhood, before eventually being killed by Pyro in the aptly titled Dream’s End storyline. [Cable (1st series) #87]

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