Deep space, where it is 0699 hours, Standard Galactic Time. The year is Epsilon something-or-other – also known as 2021 if you're from Earth. Nathan Summers a.k.a. Cable is here, inside the vessel known as Graymalkin II. He has been away for a while, taking a long nap – of the dirt variety. But, someone else is due for their wake-up call today, Graymalkin II itself. Between the stealth cloak and the “Bodyslide” translocation tech, both decades ahead of anything in this era, Graymalkin gets very shaky on approach. Even so, if Cable gets any closer to this planet nearby, they will spot Graymalkin II, and if that happens, Graymalkin II will be space junk. Cable knows that the people of this world really like to break things – which is why it is called the Breakworld. But Cable is okay with that, as he likes to break things himself.
Cable talks to his artificial intelligence called Belle, instructing her to seal the inner air lock membrane. Belle appears as a tattoo riding a bullet on Cable's bionic arm, and she asks 'Have I mentioned that this is way beyond what the shield arm was ever tested for?' 'Duly noted – duly ignored' Cable responds, telling Belle that it was designed to withstand heavy combat, and if it can't handle this, he wouldn't have it in the arm-ory. Belle rolls her eyes and tells Cable that “heavy combat” is fighting drone tanks. 'You're about to flight a planet, Nathan -' Belle begins, but Cable interrupts her and declares that he is about to beat one. 'Burst outer air lock membrane!' he instructs Belle. The outer membrane makes a pop, like pouch snap opening. Cable thinks that is fitting as he is propelled into space, wearing a mask over his mouth to enable him to breathe. 'What do I keep in the pouches? Bullets' Cable thinks to himself.
Graymalkin II vanishes behind Cable, he knows it will translocate out before the next scanner sweep. Wearing massive jet boots on his feet, Cable tells himself that they will get him up to around ten times maximum terminal velocity – the ultimate HALO drop, without the LO part. 'High altitude, hard acceleration. HA HA' Cable thinks to himself, as the boots self-destruct to reduce drag, and he knows that at this speed, he will hit atmosphere in about an hour – and thirty seconds after that, thry will explore how his shielding handles an impact that would atomize most of Rhode Island – nothing to do until then but fall – and remember the briefing.
(one hour ago)
'This'll be my second demonic invasion this month' Cable frowns as he sits in a chair on the Peak for his first official briefing as SWORD security chief. He remembers the Peak just how it was when he was a kid – by their timeline, that was only days ago. Station Commander Abigail Brand tells Cable that the Dread Dormammu is more an extra-dimensional sorcerer, but it is the same principle – he is using shock troops, Mindless Ones, to attack five magically significant planets – and if he takes them all, it is game over. Brand adds that SWORD is fighting to prevent that – as part of the new Galactic United Front. Cable decides that Brand is still working out how she feels about the “new old him”. Cable tells himself that looking back, it is obvious - “Kid Cable” was a political appointee to keep the influential Summers family sweet, and decades of combat and experience later, he is finally the security chief that Brand needs. 'But here I am, quite literally twiddling my thumbs' Cable tells Brand, adding that he assumes there is a plan. 'There is' Brand scowls.
Cable glares at Brand, he knows that the trouble is both he and Brand like to be the ones in control. 'So now she's counting the cooks in the kitchen. And so am I...' Cable tells himself. Brand removes her glasses and smirks at Cable, telling him that it is not her plan, but that she contributed to some necessary intel to make it work. 'You're working with someone now? Now I know this is serious. Who's the genius in question?' Cable asks, frowning. Cable decides that it should have been obvious – it would need to be one of the greatest tacticians of all time. 'This guy!' a voice calls out. Rocket Raccoon, wearing a blue suit, enters and introduces himself to Cable. 'And yeah, I know – I'm a raccoon-like individual and that's weird for you 'cause you live on a mud ball. Go ahead, muscles – get it all out of your system' Rocket tells Cable. 'Sir. This will be an honor' Cable declares as he stands to attention and salutes Rocket, who is at a loss for words, before muttering 'What the flark – I'll take it'.
It is upon seeing Rocket that Cable knows for sure – bounce through time long enough, you get one of these moments: “where were you when...?” Cable then asks Rocket what the plan is. He already knows, but he wants to hear Rocket say it. While Brand flicks a control device that brings up a holo-screen in front of them, Cable thinks to himself that Ranger Rocket was a galactic folk her in his era, even on Earth, and people tell stories – he is remembered like Alexander the Great crossed with Jesse James. Brand reports that Dormammu has possessed Ego the Living Planet, his beachhead and anchor point in this dimension. Rocket tells Cable that no ship gets close, as Dormammu has got an infinite Mindless Army, plus his own magic – and Ego is no pushover, either. 'Fighting them fair...that's not gonna be possible. So we ain't gonna. We're gonna cheat' Rocket declares. 'He's a legend. And today is the reason why' Cable thinks to himself, as Rocket tells him that is where he comes in.
As Cable hurtles towards the planet, he thinks to himself that legends lie, and futures change – there is nothing stopping his dying right here. Atmospheric friction begins to charge Cable's shield arm with thermal energy, and he uses that to overclock the defense field while he makes like a speeding bullet at 1,700 miles per hour, and thanks to the field, Cable floats in a state of zero inertia – the perfect cushion against catastrophic impact – unless the field burns out – which it does, and Cable begins to free-fall towards the planet. He tells himself that there is no need to panic, and decides that even at this speed, there is seven seconds to impact. He pulls his cybernetic thumb from his cybernetic hand, and counts down – before he strikes the ground, creating a large explosion which sends rubble into the air.
When the dust settles, Cable emerges from a crater that formed in the ground upon impact. He tells himself that any landing you can walk away from is a good one. His cybernetic arm is destroyed, half of it is missing. He realizes that rebooting in time to save him has fried every circuit. 'Jettison scrap' Cable remarks, deciding that it was better his arm was destroyed than wasting time being dead. Cable then initiates a hard light holo-prosthetic, which manifests when the remains of his cybernetic arm are disengaged and fall to the ground. Cable thinks to himself that mutants get second chances now, but missions don't. Besides, he came with a backup. No matter what happens on an op – he is always heavily armed. His holo-prosthetic is fully formed, and a devil tattoo, the Nicky combat suite, appears on the holo-prosthetic. 'Nate! Baby! Long time no see! Are we gonna see some excitement today, or what?' Nicky asks.
Cable reminds himself that Nicky is a combat-tuned AI, less of an all-rounder than Belle, but he fits the situation. Cable informs Nicky that their entrance was noisy and so Breakworld troops will be on the way. 'So bring 'em on! Auto-targeting's got your back, babe!' Nicky replies. But Cable isn't relying on Nicky alone. He holds up a seed and begins to dig a hole in the dirt. Making planetfall was just phase one. Phase two is to assemble the team. A Krakoan portal grows quickly from the seed planted in the thin Breakworld soil – essentially, Cable can carry every mutant on Krakoa with him in a single pouch – but he only needs his tight five. Five mutants step through the portal – Sam Guthrie a.k.a. Cannonball (for air support), Tabby Smith a.k.a. Boom-Boom (for demolition and explosives), Takeshi Matsuya a.k.a. Wiz-Kid (for tech support), Khora of the Burning Heart (for stealth combat and power augmentation) and Lila Cheney (for long-distance teleportation).
'Sam Guthrie reporting for duty, sir. Like old times' Cannonball smiles. 'I know, right? I even wore the old gear!' Boom-Boom grins, before boasting that X-Force is back – and it is kickin' rad! Wiz-Kid points out that X-Force is taken, and suggests they call themselves the All-New X-Terminators. 'Extermination? Perhaps you Krakoans aren't so soft as you appear' Khora remarks. Lila looks confused as she asks if they can take a gate here, why was she called in. 'Bit coals to Newcastle, yeah?' she asks. Cable reminds himself that Cannonball is a family man, but still the man he trained – steadfast, courageous, nigh-invulnerable while blasting. Boom-Boom is another of his former students, and Cable knows that despite her frivolity, he can always rely on her – to blow things up, at least. Cable knows that Wiz-Kid is a technopath, and the secret sauce of the SWORD station. 'When I was young, I thought he was a rock star' Cable recalls. He realizes he has never met Khora, but he knows that she has been at war for her entire life – so they have that in common. Lila is an actual rock star, with an interplanetary fan base – but that is not the talent he needs today.
In answer to Lila's question, Cable tells her that everyone here has their role to play. 'Including them...' his voice trails off, as Breakworlders appear, hovering over the mutants on some alien hover-platforms. 'Aliens! Surrender yourselves now!' one of the Breakworldians calls out. Cable decides that they are right on schedule to investigate the impact site, although he is a little surprised their shooting hasn't started already. 'Those who resist us will die! The weak and the damaged will die! Those we deem strong will fight – in the areans of Powerlord Barrn!' one of the aliens calls out. Cable realizes that this explains it – a new ruler with some new rules. He guesses they got tired of waiting for Colossus to return. 'This is a world of warriors, then?' Khora asks. 'It is indee-' one of the aliens responds, before Khora hurls a dagger at them, which lands in their head. The other Breakworldians look on in shock: 'Commander? There's a knife in your face' one of them utters.
'Khora -' Cable begins as the alien falls from the hover-platform to the ground. 'What? I took him at his word' Khora replies. Cable instructs Khora to wait for his signal next time, and reminds her that she is not a solo operator anymore and that surprise attacks work better if they are not the ones getting surprised. 'Kill them! Kill them all!' one of the Breakworldians calls out. 'That's your issue? She's killed that fella without even thinking -' Cannonball begins as he flies past Cable, frowning. 'When in Rome, son. That said...' Cable replies, before glancing at is Nicky tattoo and instructing Nicky to select nonlethal ammo, as they need the hover-platforms intact. 'Already done, babe!' Nicky replies, waving at Cable. As Cannonball blasts into two of the aliens, knocking them off their hover-platforms, called “skimmers”, Cable tells himself that they do need the skimmers, but that the truth is, Cannonball's idealism tends to rub off on him not to mention they are guests on this planet. 'I'd hate to be rude' Cable tells himself. 'None for the arena, then! Kill them all!' one of the aliens calls out to the others. 'Bo-ring! Tick, tick, tick -' Boom-Boom calls out before she hurls one of her time-bombs towards the aliens. Cable notes that itthe explosion manifests concussion-sized, and is sure that it looks worse than it is.
'I claim this one! Smile, stripling – it's your day to die!' one of the Breakworldians exclaims as they hover over Wiz-Kid. 'Dying on a mission? Please. Do I look like a poser to you?' Wiz-Kid replies, looking up at the alien, before remarking 'The new hotness is a ripe old age...and some very big guns'. Wiz-Kid uses his powers to throw up a shield in front of him that blocks the alien's weaponsfire, before manifesting two large guns on either side of his wheelchair. 'No!' the alien utters, shocked, before Wiz-Kid opens fire, knocking the alien off of the hover-board. The hover-board also falls to the ground, and Cable tells Wiz-Kid that was very flattering. 'You did hear me say we needed their transport intact?' Cable asks. 'It really has been a long time for you, huh?' wiz-Kid replies, reminding Cable that he used to know to let Wiz-Kid work. Wiz-Kid places a hand over the fallen skimmer and points out that there is some pretty interesting flavors of alien tech in it, but he thinks he can improve on them. Energy glows over the skimmer, as Wiz-Kid's powers change it. The skimmer returns to the air, as Cable and the others gather around, and Cable tells Wiz-Kid 'That's the plan'. He then instructs the X-Terminators, including Cannonball, to mount up, as they are riding into town.
Shortly, three skimmer speed through a city, several feet above the ground. Khora and Wiz-Kid, including his hoverchair are on one, Cannonball and Lila on another, and Cable and Boom-Boom on the third. Cannonball tells Cable that he knows why he wanted him riding this thing instead of flying himself. 'There ain't a soul here. Nobody in sight. If I started blasting I'd be heard for miles' Cannonball remarks. Lila tells Sam that he does get a bit loud. This causes Cannonball to blush. 'My days, you've gone red! I was only messing!' Lila exclaims. Cannonball's other ex-girlfriend, Boom-Boom, watches them and she frowns as she tells Lila 'Guthrie's just, like, this total wife guy now. It was cute at first'. Lila smiles as she remarks that Sam was always a bit of a delicate flower, very proper, before asking how his wife, Izzy, is doing these days. 'I don't think I've seen her since the wedding' she adds. 'Aw, you know. I'm a mutant, she's a Superguardian, we're raising a kid in Shi'ar space... it gets complicated' Cannonball points out.
Cannonball then remarks that it is nice to have an old-time X-Force adventure, as Nostalgia is fun once in a while, before adding that he doesn't ever want them “good old days” back. 'You don't miss the past? Before all the diapers?' Tabby smiles. Sam tells her that the past is written, that there ain't nothing you can do with it but live it again – the future, however, that is something else, something possible, something that grows. 'I guess I'd rather be growing' Sam explains. Cable listens to Sam's speech, he tells himself that sometimes Sam's idealism gets a little rose-tinted – and the future he remembers didn't have much in the way of possibility. 'But then, that's what I've always fought for – a better tomorrow' Cable reminds himself, deciding that he doesn't need to worry about whether the future can change, it always does – what worries him is whether he can change to meet it.
Cable readies his large gun and tells his team to stay sharp, and that using the skimmers means they can get close without arousing suspicion – but only so close. 'Too true, old man. This is ambush territory – I can sense it. This is not a city people live in. it's a blind. A trap. A weapon' Khora calls out as she crouches low on her skimmer. Cable decides that he will need to work with Khora again, as she is good. 'Less of the “old man” Cable frowns, before telling Khora that she is right – this is not a living space. Cable then informs his team that this place is a factory, fully automated to build itself into what it needs to be – a self-evolving machine – and that it houses the weapon they are here to steal, and even with this flying stealth, it will detect them in less than a minute. 'Weapons hot' Cable tells everyone. Wiz-Kid appears lost for words, before asking Cable if he is only briefing them on this now. 'You can't give up what you don't know. Even under torture' Cable replies. 'Gross' Boom-Boom mutters.
Cable reports that the Mark I was as big as the moon – and this is the Mark II, a more compact model. 'But I think you'll find it stands up' Cable points out as the X-Terminators look on in shock as from the city around them an enormous robot takes form, rising from the various structures around them. 'I meant what I said before, Cable. Resurrection or no – I'm not dting for the glory of Krakoa' Wiz-Kid frowns. 'And damn sure not for the glory of you' Wiz-Kid adds. Cable is stung by Wiz-Kid's words, and assumes that Taki still seems him as a gung ho kid. But Cable knows that Wiz-Kid is right – even if they do live again, their lives and their pain are not a resource – so he won't spend them needlessly. Holding two large guns, Cable tells Taki that when they are done they will all be going home. But, Cable knows that war unfortunately has a way of making you lie, and you tell people what they need to hear to keep going – even yourself – especially yourself.
As the large weapon walks towards the mutants, firing an array of explosive devices towards them, Cable tells the X-Terminators to for up and link the skimmers together. He instructs Cannonball to wait for his signal and then tells Khora that she is up, and to get ready to share her power. Khora appears as a skeleton as flames glow around her. 'As you wish, commander. But no warrior of Arakko would ask for hel. It would insult them if I -' Khora starts to say, before Wiz-Kid interrupts her: 'Yeah. I used to think that way myself. You'll grow out of it' he smirks. Cable tells his team to save the backchat and do it, and instructs Khora to link with Boom-Boom, as he wants her at double her full power. 'Tabitha – you know what to do! Fifteen second fuse!' Cable calls out. Khora leaps over to Boom-Boom and puts a hand on her shoulder. Tabby goes wide-eyed as she exclaims 'I – I can feel the fire burning – I thought I knew bombs – but those weren't bombs! Because this! THIS IS A BOMB!' Tabby screams as she creates a massive time-bomb.
Cannonball and Lila look at the massive bomb in awe. 'That's a bomb, all right' Cannonball utters, before asking 'How many seconds again?' as the bomb is shunted over to him and he holds it overhead. Cable tells Cannonball that he is on delivery and to get the bomb where it needs to go. 'And remember – I said we're all going home. That's an order' Cable adds, hoping Cannonball takes the hint. 'Don't worry about me, sir. I'm a lot better at this than I used to be. And I'm still nigh-invulnerable when I'm -' Cannonball calls back as he blasts towards the massive robot, pushing past missiles as he delivers the enormous bomb straight into the robot's face – resulting a huge explosion, which causes the robot-weapon to stumble backwards – and Cable to hope that Sam doesn't make him a liar. The now headless robot is slumped over in the city, while the X-Terminators look up in shock. 'Sam...' Lila utters, before, suddenly, from the flaming wreckage, a figure emerges. 'He's alive!' Lila calls out, as Sam smiles at his teammates and salutes them. 'All right!' Boom-Boom grins. Cable tells his team 'That's enough! He did his job – we've got ours' while he secretly smiles to himself and thinks 'Good boy'.
Cable then announces that it is time to finish this and tells Wiz-Kid to get going, and instructs Khora to go with him. 'Why? With his power level, he doesn't need me' Khora replies. 'Ugh, that again?' Wiz-Kid asks as he rides his hoverchair, with Khora clinging to the side of it, down into one of the now open neck cavity of the destroyed robot. Wiz-Kid tells Khora that if it makes her feel any better, he doesn't need her – he could come down here by himself, find the nearest access terminal, reach into the facctory's systems and in two minutes could find the exact subroutines they need, activate them and put them in control – in two minutes. 'Or with a boost from you – I could do it in two seconds. So why wait?' Wiz-Kid asks, looking at Khora as they hover in front of a monitor station. Khora puts a hand on Wiz-Kid's shoulder as Wiz-Kid reminds her that she is on the team, and that teamwork makes the dream work. Khora switches to her flaming form and Wiz-Kid is energized by her power, which then transforms the remains of the large robot into a massive gun. 'Now I have a planet-sized super-gun. Ho, ho, ho' Wiz-Kid smiles.
Cable and the others are also now inside the transformed massive gun and Cable turns to Lila, asking her if she needs a boost herself. Lila glows with energy as she declares that she can steal big things as easily as little ones. 'If you wanted me to take it across the street, I might need help...but interstellar distance is what I do – in a heartbeat. Welcome to Port Prometheus, Mars' Lila boasts as the enormous glowing gun suddenly arrives on Port Prometheus, Mars. Cable tells his team that they did good work. 'You as well, Nicky – I should use you and the others more often' Cable adds, looking at his tattoo. 'De nada, babe' Nicky replies. Cannonball and Boom-Boom high-five each other, while Cable thinks that this is faint praise – there is a war on – he can tell his team how proud he is later. Cable is proud – days like this, even his future seems bright. He feels like the world is his oyster – or maybe his pouch.
Cable accesses a holo-screen from a panel on his wrist and Brand's face appears. 'Brand – the X-Terminators have done our part. How's yours?' Cable asks. Brand is with Rocket and she infrorms Cable that it took most of their remaining mysterium, but that with Rocket's help the engineering went without a hitch. 'You've brought us the gun...we have the ammunition' Brand declares as she looks over to a massive bullet which is positioned near the newly-arrived gun. 'And what do I keep in the pouches?' Cable thinks to himself, while Rocket points at the bullet and utters 'Blam'.