Cable (1st series) #94

Issue Date: 
August 2001
Story Title: 
Countdown, part two: Armageddon Approaches

Robert Weinberg (writer), Michael Ryan (penciler), Terry Pertzborn & Harry Candelario (inkers), Avalon Studios (colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letterers), Pete Franco (assistant editor), Mark Powers (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Weeks ago, Rachel Summers attended a rally of Students Against Mutants, and, claiming to be an FBI agent undercover, prevented the Sisterhood from setting off an explosionthat was meant to incite more anti-mutant hate. Rachel then leaves the university, knowing she has to find Cable. Today, Irene Merryweather, under her disguise of Margaret Brundage, investigates the sudden mass appearance of women whose memories have been wiped. During her investigation, she is visited by Alecto, who gives her some cryptic advice. Irene gets a phone call from Cable, who asks her to meet him. Irene does, and finally reunited with her friend, she learns that Cable knew his associates would take care of her following her car crash. They discuss their present situation, while revealing that neither of them have had word from the missing Blaquesmith. Cable has been investigating the Sisterhood, and reveals the complex history that he has uncovered. He explain that ever member of the Sisterhood is a descendant of the Dark Mother. He tells Irene about how the members of the Sisterhood have been placed in important positions throughout the country, and how recently men, like GW Bridge, have been transferred out. At the same time, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate are both killed in co-ordinated attacks, which the media announces Cable is responsible for. Irene realizes what the Dark Mother’s plan is, and when Cable tells her that the plan is called the Sixth Progression, Irene tells him that the Sixth Progression is the order of succession to the White House - meaning Gina Anderson, sixth in line to the Presidency and currently the Secretary of Defense, will be sworn in as President if all of those ahead of her are killed - and it looks like the plan will succeed, as Gina Anderson is flown to Washington, while the President holds an emergency meeting.

Full Summary: 

Her name is Margaret Brundage. But her real name is Irene Merryweather. Once she worked as a reporter investigating mysterious cases like the one she is at the hospital enquiring about now. Then, she took the job of recording the adventures of the mutant warrior-hero called Cable. Now, she is in disguise because a secret organization, the Dark Sisterhood, wants her dead.
‘What’ the doctor doing?’ Margaret enquires as she stands outside an observation booth into a room where a doctor is working away on a woman. A nurse explains that the doctor is doing a full laser scan, searching for something unexplained. ‘This “memory plague” is a top priority. We’re using the most advanced medical technology in the world to try to find a cure’ she explains. Margaret point out that there is a hundred women like her, and asks how they handle them all.

Te doctor replies that they can’t, so the women are spread out in hospitals all over the city. ‘Discover any leads?’ Margaret enquires. ‘Not one. A condition that only attacks the memory of young women is unheard of’ the nurse points out. Margaret asks if they will recover, but the nurse tells her that she doubts it, as this isn’t some kind of memory loss, it is not amnesia, it is as if their minds have been wiped clean. The women with amnesia all belong to that group the Dark Sisterhood. They’ve been stripped of their memories - but not by any disease. Margaret - Irene - is positive it is by Cable. The nurse tells Margaret that she can see why her insurance company would be concerned, as the cost of re-education these women is going to be enormous.

The phone rings, and the nurse excuses herself as she reaches for the phone - she appears frozen in place, the entire room seems frozen - nothing is moving. Another person would think she has gone insane, but Margaret has experienced this sensation before - she is now outside time, which can mean only one thing - the arrival of a being who controls the very nature of reality. She calls herself Alecto. Who or what she is, Margaret has no idea. ‘Where hast thou been, sister?’ Alecto demands as she materializes before Margaret, wearing an extravagant red costume. ‘Cut the Shakespeare quotes. Maybe it impresses Cable, but I’m in no mood for Macbeth’ Margaret snaps. ‘You messed up my life, almost got me killed. And have me on the run’ Margaret declares, adding that she wants some explanations, not poetry.

‘A fair request’ Alecto replies, before asking if she is in Twenty-First Century, Earth, North America, and states that she needs a moment to adjust. There is a burst of smoke, and Alecto appears on a large red motor cycle, while wearing a leather outfit. ‘Is this acceptable? In this space-time zone I go by the name of Cyanide Jane. What do you wish to learn?’ Alecto asks. “Cyanide Jane?” Margaret asks, before announcing that she really wants to know who Alecto is and what she wants with her. ‘I followed your advice and began investigating Cable’s early childhood. The next thing I know I’m being hunted down by a monster called the Dark Mother’ Margaret explains. Alecto reveals that she is the second of three, and that they serve the Lords of Probability and Possibility. ‘It is our responsibility to ensure the Multiverse functions in an orderly fashion’ she adds that they possess the power to manipulate space and time as needed.

She explains that their goals are beyond human comprehension, and that at this moment, her young sister is in Hellenic Greece, serving as the Oracle at Delphi, while her older sister is a million years in the future, ands a thousand realities away, explaining quasi-dimensional calculus to the inhabitants of Rukad IV. ‘I don’t care what’s happening thousands of years in the past or millions of years in the future. I’m focused on the here and now!’ Margaret exclaims, grabbing Alecto by her top, and demanding to know why she is destroying her life and what this has to do with Cable. ‘Trillions of worlds, parallel dimensions and alternate time tracks make up the Multiverse, Irene. Each and every one is different. In simplest terms, we three are the caretakers of creation’ Alecto explains.

Alecto continues, telling Margaret - Irene - that they work for the good of not one world, but millions upon millions. ‘We appeared to Cable when he was contemplating his future. They assumed the guise of the three witches of Macbeth to catch his attention and make sure he remained true to his destiny. ‘We dared not risk that he make the wrong decision’ Alecto adds. ‘You’re manipulating Cable to act the way you want?’ Margaret asks. ‘To act the way he must to insure stability in the Multiverse. Nathan Summers is a nexus of time and space’ Alecto explains. Mist spills around Margaret as she asks ‘Who crowned you three gods? What if Cable doesn’t want to follow your advice? Or I don’t want to chronicle his adventures? Then what?’ ‘Then thousands of timelines and alternate realities would perish’ Alecto reveals.

Alecto explains that they are not gods, but Night’s black agents, trying to maintain order in the universe, but that they are forbidden to fight the battles that must be fought. ‘Only the inhabitants of the Multiverse can do that’ she explains. Margaret asks Alecto why she told her this. ‘What if I reveal everything to Nathan?’ she enquires. ‘You are the chronicler. You need to know the truth’ Alecto replies, adding that without proper knowledge, she cannot tell the tales that must be told. Alecto assures Margaret that her stories are more important than she can ever imagine. ‘And I know you will keep our secrets. History tells me so’ she adds. Margaret points out that Cable is a telepath, so Alecto explains that to insure the secrets Margaret has learned remain hidden, she has scrambled her thought patterns.

‘Anyone trying to read your mind, even the most powerful telepaths, will encounter only gibberish’ Alecto explains to Margaret, adding that it is a gift that will prove useful - she guarantees her. ‘You said only the inhabitants of the Multiverse can fight their battles. What does that make you?’ Margaret enquires. ‘Who says there’s only one Multiverse? There are more things in Heaven and Earth Irene, than are dreamt of in your philosophy’ Alecto replies, before announcing that she must depart before she is missed. ‘But one final piece of advice’ she remarks. ‘What?’ Margaret - Irene - frowns. ‘Answer the phone, Irene’ Alecto tells her as she vanishes.

‘- pick up the phone’ the nurse concludes, as time is restored. The nurse then hands the phone to Margaret, explaining that it is her boss. ‘You once said I reminded you of a movie character. Who?’ a voice says down the phone. Margaret looks concerned, but keeps calm and replies ‘Tom Cody’. ‘Be at the Marshall Fields Clock at noon’ the man, hidden in shadows, tells Margaret.

Margaret has been searching for Cable for days with no luck. No surprise, he is a soldier and he knows how to disappear. She assumed he would find her if he was looking. Margaret enters an elevator, and a panel above opens. ‘Up you go’ Cable a.k.a. Nathan Summers calls down as he holds a hand down to pull Margaret - Irene - up. ‘What about meeting under the clock at noon?’ Margaret asks. ‘Don’t trust open phone lines. This way is better’ Cable replies. They go into some sort of workshop, and Cable tells his friend hat the ambush of their car took him by surprise, and that he was still fighting the Sisterhood when they attacked. ‘By the time I finished, you were already safe with “Spooky”. I knew his group would take good care of you’ Cable adds.

According to the government, Cable is the most dangerous mutant terrorist in the world. He has been framed for treason and murder by the Dark Sisterhood. Their leader, the Dark Mother, fears him, though Cable is not sure why. He plans to find out, and then strike.

Weeks ago:

‘Burn, mutie, burn!’ someone calls out at a Students Against Mutants rally. Rachel Summers and two of her classmates stand amongst the riled crowd, while a woman on stage, Connie Moore, has erected a scarecrow with “mutant” painted on its chest, and hung it from a beam. She plans to burn it. Rachel Summers is a mutant from another time and place. In a way, she is Cable’s sister. She has come to this campus to try and lead a normal life. But there is a bomb in the effigy, put there by Connie Moore to stir up more hatred against mutants. Rachel has been involved in this war all her life, for a long time on the wrong side. Standing here, she realizes that as long as hatred between man and mutant exists, there is no time for her to take things slow. She had her few weeks of rest and relaxation. Now it is back into battle.

Two women on stage with candles move towards the “mutant” when suddenly, Rachel leaps onto stage. As the bomb explodes, she pushes the two women to safety, and holding a weapon announces that there is nothing to worry about, and that she is from the FBI. ‘We’ve been watching Ms Moore for weeks now. Please remain calm. Don’t panic’ Rachel tells the crowd. It takes superhuman coordination to explode the bomb, then channel the energy so it doesn’t injure anyone nearby, but Rachel shares not only the mutant abilities of telepathy and telekinesis with Cable, she also possesses the same iron will, and succeeds in protecting everyone. Holding up a card, Rachel announces that Ms Moore planted a bomb in the dummy that would have killed and maimed dozens of students, and that she planned to blame mutants for the crime.

Rachel continues, explaining to everyone that SAM isn’t pro-peace, but they are anti-mutant terrorists who are willing to kill innocent people to stir up strife between man and mutant. It only requires a minimal amount of telepathic manipulation to transform the ID card into an FBI badge, and a small psychic nudge sends everyone scurrying for the safety of campus housing. Rachel declares that the police are on the way and that it is time for everyone to clear the square. She turns to Connie Moore and tells her that the courts will left her off with a slap on the wrist, as they don’t know the Dark Sisterhood controls the SAM. ‘I do. And I want to know more’ Rachel warns Connie, who, crying, replies ‘Not in this lifetime’. Rachel leans into her and suggests that if she leave without answering all her questions, Connie will never feel safe again. ‘You can’t scare me’ Connie replies. ‘Wanna bet?’ Rachel snaps.

Soon, in her room, Rachel is packing, and her two classmates are with her. ‘You can’t leave now, Rachel. You’re just starting to fit in on campus. All the girls know you’re cool. And all the guys wanna ask you out. That’s what college life’s all about’ the blonde tells her. ‘Besides, you haven’t even declared your major yet’ the other girl points out. ‘Girlfriends, I appreciate the thoughts but I have to follow regulations’ Rachel explains as she packs a suitcase. She adds that once her mission is over, she is gone. ‘Besides, I’m too wired to just relax and let the world go to hell’ she adds.

Rachel hugs the girls as they go outside to where a cab is waiting. One of the girls asks Rachel if she is going back to the FBI, and Rachel tells her that she is going back into action wherever she is needed. ‘Well, take care of yourself’ her friend tells her, and the blonde reminds Rachel that she has friends here. There is a flicker of energy above Rachel as she tells herself that school has been fun, but playtime is over. She was born in a world of conflict where humans and mutants were deadly enemies. She has vowed to not allow that to happen here. It is time for her to return to the fray and time for her to find Cable.


Margaret asks Cable how he caused the memory loss. Cable explains that memory is fragile, and if you block the flow of a certain blood vessel to the brain, you can wipe out years in an instant. As a telekinetic, he knows how to block the blood flow. ‘You defeated a hundred sisters. Are there many more?’ Margaret asks. Cable tells her that there are thousands, too many, and the only way to defeat them is to destroy the Dark Mother. He adds that he knows where she is, but that she is too well guarded. ‘I’m one against thousands’ he declares. ‘Two against thousands’ Margaret - Irene - corrects him. ‘It’s not your fight. The danger -’ Cable begins, causing Irene to spin around and snap ‘Not my fight? These sisters tried to murder me, made a fugitive afraid to open the door or answer the phone. It’s as much fight as yours, mister! And don’t you forget it!’

Irene then asks Cable if there is any word from Blaquesmith, but Cable tells her that he lost mental contact with an instant before their car went into the river. Irene asks if Cable thinks Blaquesmith is dead, but Cable doubts it, as Blaquesmith is resourceful. ‘He’ll turn up again’. Irene picks up some papers and asks Cable if he is trying to pick the right lottery numbers. As he works on some equipment, Cable informs Irene that he has been investigating the history of the Dark Sisterhood. ‘Why?’ Irene asks.

Flashback illustrations, narrated by Cable in the present:

Cable asks Irene what she knows of the Sisterhood’s ultimate goal, and Irene tells him that Sister Bonita said the order wanted to take over the world. ‘That’s only part of the truth. Only the higher-ups ever learn the Dark Mother’s entire plan’ Cable replies. ‘Which is…?’ Irene asks. Cable tells her that the Dark Sisterhood wants more than just power - they want to establish a global matriarchy, a world where women rule and men - who in her mind, have poisoned the planet - are slaves. ‘How long does she expect this to last?’ Irene enquires. ‘Forever’ Cable tells her, before revealing that in 1660, a fiery meteor fell to the ground near Hamburg in Germany. Six children on holiday found the stone, and whatever the glowing material was, it dissolved into dust before any scientists could match it.

However, within six monts, five of the children died, and only one, a boy named Hans Knoblach survived, seemingly with no problems. Hans came from a wealthy German merchant family, and in 1670 married Lady Gertrude Hunter, daughter of an English Lord. A year later, Hans and his wife were awarded a large tract of land in Virginia, and moved to the new world. In 1673, Gertrude gave birth to a daughter, Gloria, and two years later saw the arrival of her second a child, a boy called William. Her third and final child, Fiona, was born in 1680.

Cable continues, revealing that tragedy struck the family in 1692, as Gloria went to visit on of her mother’s relatives living in Salem, Massachusetts, and was accused by one of the village children of being a witch. Gloria was judged guilty and hung in June of 1692. In 1695, apologies for the witch trials were sent to the relatives of those executed, but it was of little comfort to Gloria’s parents and siblings. Their daughter was dead and no apology could bring her back. Fiona was especially bitter, and there are stories she tried to hire a group of mercenaries to attack Salem. The final straw was when William Stroughton, the most rabid witch-hunter of the trials, was elected governor of Massachusetts. Fiona was so enraged over the election that her parents feared for her sanity, and she was confined to the family mansion for a year, her only visitor being a minister who read to her from the Bible. When she emerged, she never spoke of her sister again.


‘Very interesting, but what does this have to do with the Dark Sisterhood?’ Irene asks. ‘Be patient’ Cable tells her, before continuing.

Flashback illustrations, narrated by Cable in the present:

In 1700, William traveled to Europe on a business trip, selling tobacco for his father, only he never returned. Rumors had it that he was studying the occult in India, or Tibet, and during that period, he changed his name to Clarity. In 1705, Hans and Gertrude died in a family boating accident, with Fiona being the only survivor, and she inherited an estate worth millions. Newspapers described her as incredibly beautiful and extremely strong-willed. But, in a world where most women were considered property, Fiona had little freedom. She married John Jones, a wealthy land owner in 1707, and she gave birth to three children, all girls, before Jones died under mysterious circumstances five years later.

Fiona soon remarried to another millionaire, Andrew Benedict, and gave birth to three more children, again all girls, before Benedict perished in a strange fishing incident in 1718. Then, in 1720, Fiona married Vernon Reaves, an extremely wealthy shipbuilder. Like his predecessors, Vernon died within a few years, but not before Fiona gave birth to her seventh child, another girl.


Holding up some papers, Cable tells Irene that this is where things get interesting - all seven of Fiona’s children scattered through the United States and married, and all of them had children, mostly girls, those children got married, settled down throughout the growing country and raised families. By the time Fiona supposedly died in 1780 at the age of one hundred, she had twenty grandchildren and more than sixty great-grandchildren. ‘Supposedly?’ Irene asks, confused. Cable explains that no body was ever seen and the service was private. One of Fiona’s grandchildren then took control of the estate, and she was described as looking exactly like her grandmother.

Irene tells Cable that she thinks she understands - Hans was affected by the radioactive meteorite, and all three of his children were also affected. Gloria was killed in Salem as a witch, William became “Clarity” who is over three centuries old, and his young sister, also immortal, became the Dark Mother. Cable adds that Fiona became “Finality”, an extremely powerful mutant seeking revenge against all men for the death of her sister. His eye flares up as Cable tells Irene that he has done the research, and that after ten generations, Fiona has nearly thirty thousand descendants - every member of the Dark Sisterhood is one of her descendants. ‘The organization is truly a sisterhood. All the members are related. These are Fiona’s children many times removed, and she truly is their Dark Mother’ Cable adds.

‘Fascinating’ Irene remarks, and holding up a document, asks if it is a list of the organization’s entire membership. Cable confirms that he downloaded it right off their computers, and that he has noted those women in important positions in industry or government. ‘I also stole all their messages about me’ he adds, explaining that, evidently, the Sisterhood attacked the safe house hoping to eliminate him before the final stages of a plan called the Sixth Progression. And, when they failed, they revised the operation to include him, but he is still not sure what that means. ‘For months, their agents in Washington have been transferring diplomats and military personnel out of the city - like GW Bridge - , moving their pawns into position of power’ Cable adds. Cable inform Irene that the sisterhood have also been coordinating a series of anti-mutant rallies throughout the country, stirring up a lot of trouble, and now the army and the national guard are on full alert in case of major outbreaks of violence.

Meanwhile, at a ceremony, an elderly man steps onto a stage and the crowd starts to clap, as an announcer introduces him as the guest speaker for the evening - the President Pro Temp of the Senate - but he is instantly shot in the chest and collapses. ‘Get a doctor! Call the hospital! The Senator’s been shot! I - I think he’s dead!’ the announcer calls out.

At the same moment, inside a limousine, ‘The President wants to meet you to -’ someone announce, before the limousine explodes. And, down a tunnel a man in a suit finds another man, lying motionless, with “Cable made me do it” scrawled into the wall.

‘As best I can tell from these papers, the most influential member of the Dark Sisterhood is the Secretary of Defense, Gina Anderson’ Irene tells Cable, who exclaims ‘Oath!’ when he sees something on the monitor. ‘What’s going on?’ Irene enquires. ‘When my computer flashes like that, it means that my name is being broadcast on the news’ Cable replies, switching a television on to a news channel. An image of the American flag burning, with “Mutant Terror” underneath it is behind the handsome newsreader, who reports that their top-breaking story is the mutant terrorist, Cable, who has once again struck at the heart of American politics. ‘Only a few months ago, it was Presidential Candidate Senator Robert Kelly. Tonight, in a pair of perfectly coordinated attacks that have stunned Washington, this outlaw has killed the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

‘What was the name of the Sisterhood’s secret plan? Cable, tell me, what was the name?’ Irene asks urgently, grabbing Cable by his shoulders. ‘The Sixth Progression, why?’ Cable replies. The newsreader continues, stating that the Presidential Press Secretary, Breanna McCloud expressed the President’s shock and sorrow over the two killings, and that she announced that an emergency cabinet meeting has been scheduled for late tomorrow. ‘There’s talk the President may put the entire country under martial law’ he reveals. ‘The Sixth Progression. It’s the order of succession to the White House’ Irene explains, as an image of Gina Anderson appears on the television.

Irene explains to Cable that if the President is killed, the Vice-President takes over, and then comes the Speaker of the house, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Secretary of State and then the Secretary of the Treasury. The newsreader The newsreader reveals that Secretary of Defense, Gina Anderson is flying back from her meeting with Asian foreign ministers, and that it is not known if she will arrive in time for the emergency cabinet meeting tomorrow. ‘The Sixth Progression - is the Secretary of Defense. If the Dark Mother kills everyone at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow, one of the leaders of the Dark Sisterhood - becomes the new President of the United States’ Irene announces.

And, the Dark Mother sees her plan taking place - her future coming true, she witnesses Gina Anderson being sworn in as President of the United States of America…can Cable stop her in time?

Characters Involved: 


Rachel Summers

Irene Merryweather / “Margaret Brundage”

Alecto / Cyanide Jane

Dark Mother

Gina Anderson

Connie and other members of the Sisterhood

Hospital staff

College students

Rally attendees



In Illustrative Images

Megara & Tisiphone

Ancient Greeks


In Flashback Images:

Hans Knoblach

Lady Gertrude

Gloria, William / Clarity & Fiona / Finality Knoblach at various stages

John Jones, Andrew Benedict, Vernon Reaves

William Stroughton


Story Notes: 

Alecto and her sisters, Megeara and Tisiphone, in Greek mythology, are collectively known as the Furies.

Issue Information: 
Written By: