Pleased, Volga looks at his captives held in tubes, Marrow, Psylocke and Fantomex. Meanwhile, MeMe is caught in the computer system. Thinking of what happened to Cable, she angrily swears at him, threatening to kill Volga, who chuckles amused.
She had a different name once. That doesn’t matter now. She’s not really alive. She’s not really dead. But Cable is. And her non-existent heart is breaking.
She’s being held in a cage of disconnected data, doomed to linger on the entertainment provided. Volga locked her in the video library. In the library of his best hits. Surveillance footage, some from the yacht, some from his goons, some stolen (by her. When she was his slave. But she is different now).
She’s different and she can’t watch Cable die, so she spirals deeper through favored files until she realizes it’s time to see how the story really began. Back in Alexandria…
File / flashback:
It was a security and defense symposium or really an arms fair. CCTV coverage at every angle. Every nation, every faction, every player of the game – Bonds, Bournes and bin Ladens alike – represented on the floor. And Cable brought his kid. Until now MeMe’d assumed he’d come for the tech. But you can see it from the love in his eye. He came for the simple pleasure of spending time with his daughter and he figured – poor dumb old wardog – guntopia would make a cute venue.
Hope chose to enter the panel “moderating the murder: a debate on arms regulation,” where human rights lawyer and arms reform advocate Ms. Antjie Quoboza was booed by the audience. Unimpressed and smiling, she told the audience to save their hostility for someone they can successfully intimidate. She’d hoped to speak today on the unethical practices of the arms industry. Perhaps even change one or two of their minds not nodding off at the lack of superguns and bikinis on stage.
Hope admired her. But she’s a lawyer, Cable pointed out disturbed.
Sadly, her talk won’t be possible, Ms. Quoboza continued. In fact, she’s been asked to leave the premises by the expo directors. It seems they have learned she is a mutant. An unexpected turn she herself only discovered this morning.
Cable suddenly blinked, having a premonition of horror to come.
Ms. Quoboza continued that, mutant or not, she has the same right to be here as any of them. This is just another example of the Neolithic mentality which prevails wherever boys gather to play with their toys.
Nobody could see the wave-disrupting signal breaching the expo defenses. A signal singing in the lady’s earpiece. MeMe did that. Under order from Volga (Feels like a lifetime ago. She doesn’t remember it.).
Ms. Quoboza groaned and sank to her knees, losing control of her power. Cable tried to get to her through the crowd, probably planning to teleport away with her before she blew. But Volga and his goons were in for the drama. One of the redmasks shot Cable with a dart, injecting him with the drug.
Somebody stop him! Hope cried. Going for a knife, Cable told her to look away as he cut off the arm, hoping to prevent the poison from spreading further.
Now they know that both he and the lady were injected with a prototype of Volga’s biotech.
Hope reached out, trying to help. As a pluripotent echopraxic, she instinctively copied his power signature including whatever weirdness had just poisoned him. An abstract copy of something they don’t even understand in chemical form. She was blown away and lost consciousness.
Ms. Quboza was about to blow and Cable did the only thing he could, teleporting himself and Hope away.
The Alexandria incident took out half the world’s spooks and gunsmiths, right after a noted advocate of weapon reform declared her mutantism. Tighter regulation happened all right. But not on guns. Paranoid planet. Helluva time to be a smarmy arms-guru with a hot new product.
The videos are garbled after that. A few sketchy views from half-dead streetcams and traffic TV.
Cable and his kid ‘porting back to the ashes. Fantomex lurking nearby (why was he there?). Marrow dumped to die (her usefulness over).
And her. She supposes she was with Volga the whole time. In a way. Tortured. Family murdered. Forced to comply. It’s as if it’s not really hers to remember. Not until Marrow headbutted a plane and the memories take over from the filenames and in the haze of it all a face like a warzone leans in and says: You’re safe now.” And after that her life kept on changing for the better. Right up until it didn’t.
MeMe sends swearwords at Volga who muses that she’s being very shouty. Never that crazy when work for him. Why so sad about old guy anyway? Not importing. He erase her now. Use others for target practice, experiment, pinata fun, etc da? And please bring martini, he tells his guards. Also mankini for victory tanning. He is feeling today truly on top of—
A detonation flattens them.
Cable followed by Dr. Nemesis steps through the hole in the wall. Bad penny, he announces. His teammates react shocked. How? Betsy asks. Science, Nemesis replies smugly.
Copies, Volga realizes. Is very clever. He is understand. Cable shoots him. Understand this. While he frees his teammates, he tells Nemesis to release MeMe from the computer system. Go and atomize things, Nemesis replies. Grown-up at work.
Volga returns with more super-powered guards. He speculates Cable’s real body is at home in stasis. And every day the new copy? Memories downloaded with clever 90ies headband. And then kaboom! Just as Volga intended. How many times has his product killed him? How many more times will he die for him? Many as it takes! Cable shouts and hits him.
MeMe is out and ecstatic to see Cable alive. He tells her to skip it. He wants the records. She tells him she can’t access the system. They are rigged. He had a more hands-on approach in mind! he shouts. Look outside! New toys. She squees and enters the new flying units.
X-Force fight the goons. Cable tells Psylocke he need a way to shut them down. She points out they are psychically masked. She isn’t, he points at Marrow. Betsy takes over the semi-catatonic Marrow and impales the guards with bone growths.
Addressing Fantomex, Nemesis explains they need to attach these teleportation braindarts to each of the remaining superpowered idiots trying to kill them and since he is the best shot-- Fantomex unexpectedly kisses him on the mouth. Merci for understanding la verité, he tells him. The best. How right he is. The best. Together he manage to hit most of the masks.
Cable orders a widecast psi-beam, excepting him and Marrow. Four tone melody. Handing her a notesheet, Nemesis trusts Lady Snobbington’s Britschool taught her a little music in-between dentistry avoidance and spelling ‘Aluminum’ wrong. She likes to play, Betsy replies and transmits the notes. Cable orders a bodyslide for the guards and in space they explode.
His eyes glowing with green energy, Volga breaks Cable’s grip. He realizes Cable recorded an audio failsafe last time Volga killed him and uploaded it for the next clone to know. Very clever, old guy, he mocks.
But will not work on Volga. He didn’t make himself with same weakness. Weaponized process used on self? Purest. Also bestest. This Volga, he can astral project! He can energy manipulate! He is finest warrior of sexytimes alive! What is limit of his powers? How many centuries does he live? Who can say? Not even him. So, big question, old-guy-who-wants-to-save-his-daughter, is this: How does he thinks he can make Volga tell him anything?
He hulks up and greenish demonlike spirits appear around him. Cable hits him in the groin and grabs him by the throat. He doesn’t need to, Cable replies. He’s got his labs, he’s got his scientists. Volga’s just the *&%$& he skims off the top.
Volga whistles a short tune.
Did the big bad just auto-explode the boss again? Fantomex asks. Psylocke figures the tune is different. MeMe announces it wasn’t Cable’s self-destruct but Volga’s.
Volga begins to deform and laughs madly. Cable shouts they need to bodyslide Volga out of here. Nemesis points out the teleporter is still recharging. Nobody’s going anywhere!
Please not to be thinking this is just sourgrapes, Volga chuckles. Not matter of defeat. Is simply he cannot allow them to learn secrets of his technologies, da? From his labs or his head. It violates most basic principle of aggressive market monopoly.
Cable shouts at Marrow to mourn her kid later. Music’s about to end! While Cable still holds Volga, Marrow jumps in front of the rest of X-Force and creates a protective shield from her bone growths.
Cable vows an army of him will hunt Volga through hell. Volga explodes taking Cable and his lab with him.
Nemesis thinks they have won. Hypothesis is about to be confirmed in the presence of whiskey and blankets. Science blankets. Fantomex points out Cable is dead again. Does that matter? Rather depends on your point of view, Betsy replies. Anyone see any of MeMe’s drones make it out of the wreck?
One of MeMe’s drones sees Volga’s skeleton (or part of it), Cable’s arm still holding his throat, laughing. Who knows what is limit of Volga’s power? So hunt yourself in hell, old guy!
Later in their HQ, MeMe informs the others that Volga is still alive. Sort of. All for nothing. Not for nothing, Fantomex opines. They destroyed the lab and stopped the production of those mutant abominations. Betsy shushes them. It’s him. Is it? the latest Cable clone asks. Kind of up for debate, huh?
MeMe looks at the original Cable in his stasis tank and asks if he is conscious. No, full TV dinner stasis, Nemesis replies while equipping the latest clone. He’s defrosted for a few minutes every time they run the copier, just to transfer basis memory engrams. Then it’s just a matter of passing along the grunt-like notes of previous versions recorded on the thought log and hey presto: A knockoff of the humorless monomaniac they all know and know. Sadly complete with a similarly convincing knockoff of the infuriating explosive, decaying metabolic substrate infecting the source, he mutters.
The original dies two minutes at a time, the Cable clone announces. The rest of them die once a day. But it’s worth it. Don’t they ever doubt that. Small price to pay. For their nation. For their rights. For their place in the world. And for her. He looks at the comatose Hope.
Betsy assures him they will find Volga and get some answers. He tells them he’d like to be alone with his daughter, please.
As they head out, Psylocke telepathically tells MeMe she has to tell him who she is. MeMe plays dumb. Betsy tells her the real MeMe been braindead since the planecrash. She’s been riding piggyback on her powers ever since. “Pluripotent echopraxic,” right? MeMe begs her not to tell Cable. He’d send her away. This is the only way for her to stay close to him.
Cable stands at Hope’s bedside. The real body of MeMe in her container is in the same room.
My name is MeMe. My name is Hope Summers. I’m not really alive. I’m not really dead. But then… that’s okay. That’s all fine, because neither is my dad.