Two years ago
“Father! Over here!” Emil calls. As Commander Spence approaches Emil he asks him what he’s doing. Emil tells his dad there’s someone he wants him to meet, but when he turns he notices she has disappeared.
Spence asks his son who he’s talking about. When Emil doesn’t answer his father introduces the stranger standing next to him, a priest who’s looking for a red-haired girl a few years younger than Emil. “Is that who you wanted me to meet?” he asks. Emil almost blurts it out, but he hesitates, sensing it would be a betrayal to the girl. He tells his father he was only joking and asks for forgiveness.
The sun begins to creep over the horizon as Bishop and Spence, now indoors, continue their discussion over the missing girl. Spence assures the “priest” that if his student came through his city she would have been noticed. Bishop says she’s terrified and good at hiding, and he’s already visited the other city so that only leaves them.
When Bishop uses the term “city” Spence takes offense, calling their neighbors across the way a pus-filled wound on the face of the planet. Bishop pretty much agrees with his sentiments, which is why he believes his “student” wouldn’t have stayed there long.
Spence takes a long, hard look at Bishop and says he looks familiar. He asks what settlement he originates from. Bishop lies that he’s from New Liberty, on the other side of the continent, and it’s taken them years to reach this far. Spence argues there’s no life on the other side of the continent. Bishop agrees, saying they are the last of their kind.
They walk through a narrow corridor where Bishop professes how much he needs this girl, that he’d do anything to get her back; her life is in his hands. Spence isn’t sure what else they can do to help as they’ve been searching for hours, but Bishop offers up a proposal.
Later, Spence and Emil are sharing a meal in their private quarters. Emil senses something amiss, a distant look on his father’s face. He asks if something is troubling him. Spence brushes off his son, saying he’s fine. He tells Emil to eat for they have much to do. Emil knows his father is lying, though. The priest offered up the nuclear power cell in his arm, the missing component for their escape vessel, if they would find the missing girl. There’s nothing more important to the city leaders than escaping the planet and they are pressuring him to find this girl at all costs.
Looking into his son’s eyes Spence breaks the awkward silence asking Emil that if he saw a stranger in the city would he tell him. “Of course, father,” Emil replies, the lie coming much easier than he thought it would.
Spence leaves the apartment and moments later Emil crawls out the window with his plate of food. He travels through different alleys until finally reaching his objective, the girl of his dreams. He turns over the food, much to her delight. Emil once again offers her a place to stay, saying his father is a good man and that he can help. Hope looks him square in the eyes and makes him promise to never tell. He does, for how could he deny the love of his life such a request.
It’s been two years and Emil’s kept his promise. He’s told no one about Hope. The two of them sit outside along one of the city’s many rooftops. Looking out into the sky Hope says it looks like another blood storm is coming. Emil tells her they’re not so bad as long as you’re indoors so your flesh doesn’t melt away. Hope asks Emil if he knows how strange he is. Emil smiles, reminding Hope she tells him that all the time.
Smiling back, Hope asks if he wants to stay with her and watch. Emil flashes back through the past two years, how he’s kept her to himself, helped her when needed, even had a few close calls like the one time she was getting a shower in their apartment and Emil’s father came home. Hope had to sneak through a vent while Emil jumped in the shower to not arouse suspicion. Though he would often tell her she could trust his father, she wouldn’t, not until her own father showed up she would say.
Cut to five miles outside the city in the outer wastelands where Cable lies supine on the ground. The virus is ravaging his body, his telekinetic ability a faint spark in a vast, cold dead sea. Nathan concentrates on that spark, refusing to surrender to the cold. He gets back to his feet, knowing that as long as there’s a spark he has hope, there is hope.
Elsewhere in the city, Bishop approaches a high-ranking official sitting on a throne in full Stryfetrooper armor. The official tells Bishop there is no hope of finding the girl and that he must honor his end of the bargain. Bishop scoffs at the idea of their bargain, saying it’s been two years and no sign of the girl. The official states she must have gone elsewhere. There is nowhere else to go, Bishop argues. Which is why they need his power cell, the official responds, pointing out they can only recycle their food, drink and urine so many times. Cutting him off, Bishop tells the official he’s not leaving the girl behind.
Emil is in the room along with his father watching this little standoff. He realizes the fate and future of this city rests on him telling his father about Hope. He refuses to betray her, though. He loves her.
Cable, meanwhile, makes his way closer to the twin cities. His glimmer of telekinesis has grown and gained some ground against the virus. He’s just glad he can walk again. As Nathan surveys both cities in the distance he determines which city Hope would choose. Though confident with his decision, he’s wrong.
As Cable walks the streets of the Unclean city he sees no one. He does hear their murmurs, talk of Stryfe and whatnot. He assures those within hearing distance that he’s not who they think he is, that he’s there to help them.
The citizens come out from hiding and take Cable to their leaders. Though they don’t trust him they believe having a man who looks like the former leader of the enemy could be an advantage. As Nathan is getting escorted his eyes come across a large ship, something that would have to be designed for interplanetary travel.
Sure enough, that’s just what it is designed to do. Just as the Clean city has their ship so does the Unclean city. It’s for that reason, the need to salvage technology, both cities have been at war with each other for nearly a century.
Nathan is brought to some sort of command center where one of the men in charge points to a screen where a component needed to make their ship operational is displayed. Nathan looks at him cool, calm and collected and tells the man he can bring it to him.
Spence is simply passing the time in his office when one of his soldiers comes in with some alarming news. There have been sightings of a stranger in the Unclean city, he reports. Commander Spence jumps to his feet and asks if it’s the girl. No, the soldier replies quickly, an old man who may not even be human. Though that’s not the most troubling part, the soldier continues, as he looks just like their former leader Stryfe. The soldier asks if he could have returned from the dead. Spence pulls an energy rifle off the wall. “Let’s go ask him,” he says.
Not far away, Emil makes the mistake of telling Hope about the mystery man. Hope asks if he’s sure the man looks like Stryfe. Emil says he is, but is curious how she would know this man. Hope doesn’t answer, just leaps from her hiding spot and follows the dozens of soldiers running through the alley.
A squad of soldiers from the Clean city finally reach their objective, the man who looks like Stryfe. Spence and his men take up firing positions and let loose with an awesome volley of fire. Cable merely stands there, letting the various blasts connect with him. Once they’re done he lifts his own rifle and lets loose with a volley of his own.
Men are ripped apart despite their fancy armor. Commander Spence also takes a hit and is knocked to the ground. Cable calmly approaches him and demands to know where the girl is, threatening to cut him in half. Emil arrives at that moment and pleads with Cable not to kill his father, putting himself between the barrel of Cable’s gun and his father.
Cable orders the kid out of his way, but Emil doesn’t budge. “No!” screams Hope, which causes Cable pause. For him it’s only been a day since he last saw Hope, but for her it’s been two years and when she sets her eyes on him her memory doesn’t match up with what she sees. “No. That’s not you…,” she says disbelievingly.
Cable tells her to come to him quickly. They have to leave immediately. Instead, Hope turns and runs off saying she doesn’t believe him. Emil cries out for her to wait.
Meanwhile, Bishop is awaiting word on the situation from inside a command bunker. He asks the soldier monitoring the radio if there’s any word on the girl. The soldier explains the incoming blood storm is messing up the transmissions. Bishop realizes he won’t just take their word for it. He needs to see her with his own eyes when he detonates the nuke within his arm. He lifts his sleeve revealing the device and looks at it, his mission so close to being achieved.
Back at the battle, the blood storm begins to set in, the flesh-melting rain falling from the sky. People are running every which way trying to avoid the red-tinged, acidic precipitation. One of those running for cover is Cable, who is new to this whole blood storm phenomenon.
After stopping for breath under an awning Cable is quickly found by the Clean city soldiers who are unaffected by the rain in their Stryfetrooper armor. They open fire and Nathan is forced to flee into the rain once more. He lets out a grunt of pain, ignoring the odor of his own burning flesh and metal, his focus solely on Hope.
The soldiers give chase so Cable finds a small nook in a wall providing him with cover and a good hiding spot. As the soldiers march unknowingly by, Cable watches and waits. As the last one passes Cable reaches out into the rain and grabs him by the throat. “I need to ask you something,” he tells him.
Elsewhere in the city, Bishop has left the command center after learning the stranger and Hope have been discovered. He journeys outside and stays underneath the overhang protected from the rain. He looks out at the storm clouds and thinks to himself that he started this mess centuries ago, that he destroyed this planet. His only comfort is that all of this will disappear like it never happened, as soon as he kills that girl. Bishop takes the hood of his cloak and lifts it over his head and steps out into the storm.
Not much later the storm ends and Cable sets out to find Hope. It doesn’t take long. When he finds her huddled in a darkened recess he admits he guessed the wrong city. Hope asks if it’s really him. Nathan says that it is. She says he looks different and asks what happened, referring to the advance of the t-o virus. Cable tells her he’s been sick.
Cable can’t believe how much she’s grown, but there’s no time to waste and he tells Hope it’s time to go. Timesliding, Hope asks. Not anymore, Cable replies, the Earth is dying and it’d be pointless. Hope asks what he means. Cable tells her to follow him.
What Cable doesn’t tell her is that he forced his prisoner from earlier to bring him to the leaders of the Clean city and announced that he was Stryfe returned, with their salvation in hand, a power source from the Unclean city that would power their ship. As the two approach said ship Nathan tells Hope to hurry as it’ll take off as soon as they’re on board. Hope calls him crazy. “What do you want?” he asks.
Emil steps out from his hiding spot and tells them the craft isn’t ready, that it’s missing pieces. “Emil!” Hope exclaims. She turns to Nate and tells him Emil has to go with him as she wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for him helping her. Cable reluctantly agrees, but says they need to go now. However, Emil says he’s not going without his father who is in the Unclean city looking for them. Hope tells Nathan they need to wait and go get him too.
Bishop, Spence and his soldiers are looking for any sign of Cable and Hope. Despite Spence’s protests to leave the dangerous area Bishop won’t hear of it. He wants those two found immediately. Then all of a sudden the booming sound of a ship’s engine smashes the eerie silence. They instantly recognize it as their space vessel that up until recently was awaiting its power source.
Cable has made his decision regarding waiting for Emil’s father, and the answer’s obvious to anyone witnessing the young girl slung over his shoulder screaming for him to put her down. Nathan tells her there’s no time to go on any search and rescue missions. As she continues to fight against him he reminds her what got them into this mess to begin with.
“I hate you! I hate hate hate you!” Hope continues to scream as Cable carries her on board. Emil reaches out for her and apologizes because he’s not leaving his father behind. His head sinks toward the floor with the realization that the ship will be leaving without him or his father and his heart on board.
On the ship, Cable makes his way past everyone scrambling to get the vessel off the ground. He puts Hope down. She looks up at him solemnly saying she decided she’d rather stay behind with the boy she loves. Cable is ataken aback at the her use of “love” and asks if she’s forgotten everything he’s told her about why they’re there. “You left me for two years!” she cries, folding her arms and turning her back on her father figure. Cable argues that he never left her and was always coming for her.
Hope says she’s not going, but Nathan isn’t having it. He tells one of the nearby control personnel to lift off immediately. The man responds with an affirmative calling Cable “lord Stryfe.”
The heat from the engine blast burns the face of Emil, but he doesn’t care. At least it dries the tears off his face, he thinks.
Bishop and Spence watch as the ship heads toward the outer atmosphere. Spence is furious, but Bishop doesn’t pay him any attention. Scenarios run through his mind about what he should do. He could detonate the device on his arm since the resulting blast could knock the ship out of the sky and send it crashing to the ground, but he decides against it because he wants to see it with his own eyes.
Cable realizes the ship isn’t necessarily the best and the dangers of space are all too real, but for the first time he feels relief, that for now they’re out of Bishop’s reach and Hope is safe.
Emil and his father are reunited on the streets of their city. Commander Spence apologizes to his son for everything. Bishop is also with them and he tells Spence that hope is not lost as there’s still a ship in the Unclean city and he still has a power cell.
Emil looks up at Bishop and realizes this is the man who can bring his love back to him, but of course he has no idea that once he does his plan is to kill her.