Chapter 3: A Bleak Future
Things aboard the X-jet and the Velocity were a mess. Confusion reigned as some complained while others speculated as to what was going on. The Professor got just one phone call from Jean then he evacuates everybody from the institute. It was brash by any standards, but to do it without giving a clear reason was especially suspicious. While the X-men were no strangers to sudden crisis, they never acted without reason.
“This is, like, too weird,” said Kitty, “What could be so pressing that everybody has to drop everything and move out to the middle of nowhere?”
“I don’t know, but I sure hope it’s not another supernatural entity bent on entering our world and making a new Hell on Earth,” groaned Betsy.
“Dang it, Bets, don’t even joke about that kind of thing,” said Rogue, “It was bad enough the first time around.”
“Eh for all we know it’s just a false alarm,” shrugged Remy.
“I don’t think so,” said Piotr, “The Professor seemed pretty serious when he told us to evacuate the mansion.”
“Let’s hope it’s not too serious, ja?” said Kurt, “Ve have enough chaos vith Scott and Jean’s vedding already.”
“With our luck, who knows?” mused Wanda.
While the team debated, Emma sat up front while Xavier and Beast flew the X-jet. She was holding baby Jack securely in her arms, trying to shield him from any turbulence. Under normal circumstances she never would have taken Jack away from the protection of the institute. At first she fought Xavier’s order, but he insisted to the point where she contacted Vince through their link and he persuaded her to come. And judging by the seriousness in his tone, this was big.
In times past she wouldn’t have hesitated to get out and help the X-men, but with a baby to look after everything had changed. Looking down at her son, she prayed this wasn’t something that would put him in danger. She couldn’t contemplate any harm coming to him. She’d lost enough in her life to even think about it so she hugged him tighter even though he fussed.
“Shh…it’ll be okay, sweetie,” said Emma softly, “Mommy won’t let anything happen to you. I promise.”
From the pilot’s seat, Xavier sensed this and grew concerned. Jean seemed very worked up when she told him about what happened with the man known as Cable and this Nimrod thing. Evacuating the mansion was a serious move, but he took Jean at her word. And hopefully he would get some answers when he met with this Cable figure.
The New Mutants sat in anticipation as they followed the X-jet, not knowing what this mess was about. Logan was in the pilot’s seat yelling occasionally at everybody in back and telling them to pipe down. He was taking this matter much more seriously since it came from Jeannie and Xavier. His instincts were already on alert even if he didn’t know the details. Thankfully Ororo sat next to him and helped keep him calm.
Mystique and Irene, on the other hand, were much more reserved. Irene was still distant after waking up from her dream earlier that morning and Mystique protectively sat by her. She had yet to tell her the full story, but her instinct told her it was very pressing. And with Irene’s visions, she found it was usually best to assume the worst.
“How bad is it, Irene?” asked Mystique, “How much should I worry?”
Irene took off her glasses and sighed. Normally the future seemed so clear to her. But for the first time in the many years she had been having visions, the future was truly in chaos.
“I’d worry a great deal, Raven,” she said ominously, “I’ve been seeing some very horrible things lately. But that’s not what disturbs me. There’s something different about these visions.”
“What do you mean?” asked Raven curiously, “What’s going on?”
“That’s just it. I’m not entirely sure. But somehow, I sense that the future and the present are becoming entwined. And if this chaos is not reconciled, then the horrors I’ve seen are the least of our worries.”
After making their getaway, Scott drove the X-van through a maze of back roads until they reached an area all too familiar to the X-men. It was the area they took shelter in the fateful day the institute had been destroyed and they were forced to hold up somewhere away from public scrutiny. It hadn’t changed much since that time, still as unpleasant and dingy as ever. But they didn’t have a choice. It was only here in the remote wilderness that the monstrous machine that tried to kill them couldn’t detect them. At least that’s what the mysterious stranger calling himself Cable told them.
Along the way, Jean called the Professor and told him to gather everybody at the mansion and meet them at the cave. It was an awkward moment for her, having to explain why she called for such a serious course of action. She had to hold back her embarrassment when she told them some guy with metal arms, white hair, and a battle scarred face helped fight off a strange robot humanoid that tried to kill them. But given what they faced before he gave her the benefit of the doubt and after some brief debate, Xavier issued the order.
While they waited at the cave, Cable paced restlessly. He kept scanning the horizon with his gun drawn, looking for any sign that Nimrod had followed them. With each second that passed, it seemed more likely that they finally lost him. That was good in some ways, but he knew they hadn’t lost him for long. Nimrod would never stop and it was only a matter of time before they had to face it again. He only wished he knew some way of destroying that monstrosity.
While Cable scanned, Scott and the others waited by the van with the beacon activated so the Professor could zero in on them. They stayed close, not knowing what to make of this man. He seemed bent on ensuring their safety, but there was something else about him that seemed very off.
“This guy is giving me the creeps,” said Alex, “How much longer are we going to go along with him?”
“He said he wouldn’t give the full details until he spoke to the Professor,” said Scott, “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
“I don’t know,” said the younger Summers brother, “How do you know he won’t try to kill us either?”
“Alex, if he really wanted to hurt us, don’t you think he would have done it by now?” reasoned Vincent.
“Maybe he’s just biding his time until we’re all in one place?” Alex suggested.
“I don’t think so,” said Jean, not taking her eyes off Cable as he kept pacing, “I think he’s telling the truth. I think he really does want to protect us.”
“What makes you so sure, Jean?” asked Alex.
Jean sighed as she watched Cable do more rounds. He seemed to purposefully look away from them, almost as if to avoid making eye contact. Yet every so often his eyes drifted to her and Scott and whenever they did she felt something powerful. He seemed so familiar even though she never met him before. There was something very strange about this man. She just didn’t know what it was.
“Well aside from the fact I’m psychic, there’s just something about him that seems…right. I can see it in his eyes and sense it in his thoughts. Every time he looks at me, I get this feeling…”
“What do you mean?” asked Vincent curiously.
“I’m not sure,” said Jean, still fixated on Cable, “There’s just something about him I can’t quite put my finger on.”
Scott looked over at Cable as well. He noticed Cable look towards him and then look away. But for that brief instant he saw the stern fighter that fearlessly went head to head with that Nimrod thing flinch. He saw something in him and vice versa. He didn’t know what it was, but he felt it in his gut.
“I know what you mean,” said Scott, “Let’s hope we can get some answers soon. Because it looks like Cable’s gonna get his wish.”
The four X-men turned their attention towards the sky where the X-jet and the Velocity were making their final descent. It was a relief seeing the rest of the team approach. Even if this Cable guy was a little off, at least they would have strength in numbers.
Vincent stood in a clearing and waved them in. He was especially concerned about reuniting with his wife and infant son. If this was as bad as Cable made it out to be, he needed to be near them. As long as he was around, no harm would come to them. He would see to it.
The X-jet landed first followed by the Velocity. Cable stood back, doing a scan with his eye to make sure nothing else was coming in. The area they were in was remote, but not remote enough to avoid Nimrod. The sooner he talked to Professor Xavier the better. The Velocity was first to unload. Logan walked out with Ororo by his side and the New Mutants behind him. They were all in uniform, an act of vigilance that Logan insisted upon. He didn’t know what to expect so he was prepared for battle. But that didn’t bother Cable. They were probably going to need it.
Next the X-jet unloaded and Emma was the first one out. She had seen Vincent waving them in from the window and the second the doors opened she rushed to him with baby Jack secure in her arms. Upon seeing her Vince ran over and threw his arms around his family.
“Vincent…” said Emma, relieved to be in her lover’s arms, “What’s going on? What’s this about?”
“I don’t know,” he said, holding back a slight tear, “But I’m glad you’re here…both of you.”
They pulled away from each other and looked down at Jack. He had stopped fussing and was now looking up at them with those beautiful blue eyes of his. Vince and Emma smiled at such a precious sight, holding him protectively so that no harm would come to him.
Cable saw this sight and held himself back from commenting. He put his weapon away as his thoughts drifted back to the past. Had it really been this long? It seemed so alien to him even though it was part of the core of why he was doing this. It didn’t just remind him of a cause, it reminded him of a promise he made to a close friend and a brother at arms.
‘Never thought I’d see that again.’
Then from the top of the ramp, Professor Xavier wheeled out in his chair with the X-men following close behind.
“Professor, thank God you’re here,” said Jean as she and Scott ran to their mentor.
“I see you bought everybody,” commented Scott, “Did you run into anything?”
“Thankfully no,” said the Professor, “But I am curious as to why you called us out here. And I’m equally curious of this determined killer you spoke of.”
“That’s where I come in, Professor Xavier,” said Cable.
Setting aside his weapon and alertness, Cable approached the man who held the hopes of so many on his weary shoulders. As he took in his appearance he was somewhat taken. His memory of this man was sketchy, but he still had this profound aura to him. It struck the hardened soldier in a way he hadn’t anticipated. But he maintained his cool even as others cast him a curious gaze.
“And just who the hell are you, bub?” said Logan, quickly getting defensive.
“Easy Logan,” said Beast, “Let’s not be rude.”
“Look who you’re talking to,” scoffed Cable, “Hell, I wouldn’t expect anything less from you, Wolverine.”
“Do I know you?” said Logan curiously.
“No, but I know you. I know all of you. And since we’re short on time I’ll cut to the chase. My name is Cable. I’m from the future. I’m the leader of the X-men forty years from now. And I’m here on a mission.”
Needless to say, this earned him plenty of stares. Even though the X-men had faced plenty of bizarre situations before this was a new one on them. A guy who claimed to be from the future either had to be a little off by default, but judging by his looks alone there was definitely something up.
“Okay then…anybody want to stand up and make a comment?” said Bobby.
“Nah, too easy,” scoffed Ray.
“Yeah, seriously from the future?” laughed Remy, “I’ll believe dat when de Saints win de Superbowl.”
“If he told me the winning lotto numbers, I’d believe him,” shrugged Tabitha.
“Yeah, come on,” said Wanda, “How dumb do you think we are?”
“I deal in magic and even I find that a little hard to believe,” said August with a skeptical look.
Cable rubbed his head and groaned.
“I had a feeling I’d get this,” he said.
The Professor shot his students a disapproving gaze, which helped shut them up. Others seemed equally skeptical. Many looked at Cable as if he would attack at any moment. But the professor had a knack for reading people and sensed he was entirely lucid in his claim.
“Cable…” said the Professor, “We mean no disrespect. Please tell us more. What exactly is this mission you speak of?”
“It’s okay, Professor. And don’t worry. I think I know how to prove my point.”
Cable raised his cybernetic arm and activated the mini-computer built into it. He didn’t have the luxury of preparing some kind of message or elaborate display, but he did have plenty of information in his memory banks that was sure to help his case. The first thing he brought up was a three-dimensional holographic image of the X-men. It was a familiar picture of the group photo they all took shortly after the victory over Apocalypse. But this was just the stepping stone to something much grander.
“I’m sure you all recognize this picture,” said Cable, enlarging it so everybody could see, “If memory serves me right this was taken shortly after you triumphed over Apocalypse.”
“Big deal,” scoffed Rogue, “Ya could’ve got that from the internet for all we know.”
“Okay, then what about these?”
The images then changed, shifting from pictures they knew of the past to images they never seen before. They included an image of an older Xavier riding in what appeared to be a high tech hover chair, an image of Logan in a slightly different uniform with a trace of gray hair, an older looking X-23 leading a mature looking New Mutants in advanced uniforms, and a shot of an older version of the X-men which included Bobby, Rogue, and Kitty in new uniforms.
To some it was impressive, offering a convincing glimpse of their future selves. For Xavier, it was even more powerful because the last photo precisely matched the image he had from his visions shortly after the Apocalypse experience. He hadn’t shared those images with anybody since they happened and seeing them again struck him profoundly. It lent credibility to this man’s claim that he was from the future.
“That image…” said Xavier.
“Wow…I like the new uniform,” said Kitty, impressed with her future appearance.
“Yeah, but what’s with the trench coat?” asked Rogue, finding her attire a bit more odd.
Cable then turned it off, not giving them too much time to take it in. He couldn’t reveal too much. He had to break the news slowly. The others noticed Xavier becoming especially interested. He wheeled in closer to the mysterious figure, heightening the curiosity of the team.
“Professor?” began Betsy, but the Professor carried on.
“Okay Cable, you have my attention,” he said strongly, “What’s this about?”
“The future…” said Cable as he loaded another program on his arm, “A future so terrible that the human race is an endangered species. The time I come from is a planet left barren by decades of war. Every city, country, and continent has been wiped out. The land has been ruined, the sky darkened, and nearly every trace of human achievement has been destroyed. Life as we know it is on the brink. And it’s all because of one thing…”
Then to everybody’s dismay, Cable brought up an image of a sentinel. It was a sight that everybody knew and despised, but they listened on now that the Professor was fully engaged.
“Ugh, I knew zhose sentinels vould come back to haunt us,” commented Kurt.
“You don’t know the half of it, Nightcrawler,” said Cable, “Not long from now, those metal-heads will start prowling the Earth by the thousands. Their mission then will be the same as it’s always been…hunt down and kill all mutants. They’ll come in swarms, blotting out the sun and showing no mercy to all those born with the X-gene. They know no nation, language, or allegiance. They’ll do exactly what they’ve been programmed to do and nobody will stand in their way.”
Then the image shifted, showing images of the sky filled with massive robot sentinels. Having gone toe-to-toe with these things before, it sent chills down everybody’s spine. But nobody was more disturbed than Professor Xavier because this wasn’t the first time he had seen this.
“My God…” he gasped, “So it really will happen…just like in my nightmares.”
“You’re nightmares?” said Irene, “You mean you’ve seen this too, Charles?”
“Indeed I have,” said Xavier distantly, “Since Apocalypse I’ve had a dream where the sky fills with sentinels and they attack everywhere without warning. I’ve always thought it was just my fears manifesting in some dream, but you say this really happens?”
“You’re damn right it happens,” said Cable in a dark tone, “I know because I saw it. One of my earliest memories was watching these things begin what came to be known as the mutant massacre. It all happened so fast. It spread all over the world in the span of a few months. Nobody knows just how many people died, but it’s a pretty safe bet it was in the tens of thousands.”
“Good Goddess…” gasped Ororo, “But how? How could something like this be allowed to happen?”
Cable switched gears again and activated the history archives stored in his arm, bringing up images from his past and the near future of the X-men.
“It all starts with an assassination. One death and everything goes to Hell. The target will be future president, Edward Kelly. Shortly after being sworn in, he will be murdered in cold blood by a disgruntled mutant.”
“Kelly?!” exclaimed Sam, “That guy becomes president?”
“Yes, and a lot of mutants will feel threatened by it,” said Cable, “You will, your enemies will, and so will your allies. You all know the guy better than I do. You know how he feels about mutants. It was all part of a time of growing tension between humans and mutants that was kept in check for the most part by you guys. For a time you reached out to him and it looked like he wasn’t out for war. But even the X-men couldn’t have stopped what was already set in motion.”
“Son-of-a-bitch,” said Sage, rubbing her head in disbelief, “Who did it? Was it someone we know?”
“Not yet,” said Cable as he brought up an image of the killer, “But it’s not that simple. Believe it or not, Kelly was only part of a much bigger picture. And it all goes back to a group I’m sure some of you all remember well…the Hellfire Club.”
The mention of that name sent shivers down everybody’s spines. Jean, Emma, Vincent, Kurt, and Rogue were especially struck by their mention. They endured the worst of Hellfire’s wrath, much of which they were still struggling with to this day. And to find out they were still active came as an agonizing shock.
“No way! Not a chance in Hell!” yelled Rogue.
“Easy cherè,” said Remy, holding Rogue back with the help of Mystique.
“Why am I not surprised?” said Sage coldly, hugging her shoulders in distress
“That makes two of us,” said Jean in a grim tone, leaning into Scott’s arms.
“But we took those monsters down!” shouted Vincent, “Every last one of them!”
“Not everyone,” said Cable, “Recognize this asshole?”
He then brought up the image of a neatly dressed man with blonde hair in a white Victorian suit. He wasn’t as distinguishable as Shaw or Selene, but they did recognize him.
“Donald Pierce?” said Emma, hugging her son closer.
“You mean the man with the robot limbs?” said Piotr.
“Didn’t we leave him a whining torso the first time we fought Hellfire?” inquired Warren.
“We did. I guess that wasn’t enough,” said Scott grimly, “So what happened? Did he revive Hellfire or something?”
“Not exactly,” said Cable, “Although we didn’t find out until much later, it turns out that Pierce had much greater ambitions after Hellfire went under. The seeds of those plans were already in motion when he commissioned the sentinel project several years earlier.”
“Wait, I thought Bolivar Trask was the one responsible for the sentinels,” said Beast.
“That’s what they wanted you to think,” said Cable ominously, “But Trask only provided the know-how. Pierce provided the resources and technology. It was his idea from the get-go. He developed this crazy belief that pure flesh mutated or otherwise was inept and cyborgs were the future.”
“Little bastard,” scowled Sage, “I always knew he was up to something.”
“You have no idea…” Cable went on as he shifted modes again, “While Trask was the scapegoat for the first model, Pierce consolidated his resources towards creating a vast army of sentinels. Technically, they were under the name of the Friends of Humanity. It was convenient for Pierce because he already resented mutants, especially after you guys humiliated him. And while everybody thought those things were scrapped, he was making them more advanced and sophisticated than we ever could have imagined.”
Grainy images of advanced sentinels being assembled and flown out shifted across Cable’s holographic screen. It filled the X-men with anger in many ways because they were told by Fury and the government that these things were scraped. Then again Hellfire did have an extensive reach. It seemed as though no matter how much they beat them back they managed to rear their ugly heads somehow.
“And you say this man played a role in the assassination?” said Xavier, intent on knowing more.
“Not directly, but let’s just say it worked out in his favor,” said Cable, “He was actually pretty sneaky about it. On one hand he was one of Kelly’s biggest contributor, but on the other he was stirring unrest among disgruntled mutants. One of which was the Morlocks.”
“The Morlocks?” exclaimed Ray, having been a part of them in the past, “No way! They’d never cut a deal with a nut like him!”
“He didn’t have to,” said Cable grimly, “He only needed to appeal to the more militant faction that arose in the Morlocks.”
“But I thought the Morlocks just wanted to be left alone,” said Ororo, “They haven’t caused any trouble since that Power8 incident. Evan has told me this repeatedly.”
“And he’s telling the truth,” said Cable, “But that’s now. In the near future, the Morlock population will increase. And with greater numbers come greater problems. The sewers will get crowded and a few bad apples will really start to rot. One of them is named Feral. And he’s the one Pierce appeals to. He’ll be the one who carries out the assassination. Just as easily as he got Kelly elected, he’ll get him deposed. Feral, like Kelly, is just another pawn. And from there everything falls apart.”
Cable switched his imager to show old news clips he had archived in his arm. He didn’t have many, but they were enough to get the point across. It showed images of Kelly’s funeral procession, the protests in the streets that follows, and the widespread outrage that sparks the next course of events in the upper echelons of power.
“The day after Kelly is laid to rest, the government authorized the Kelly Act. This bill puts the fate of every mutant on the planet in the hands of Bolivar Trask and his Friends of Humanity. With that authority, they unleash the sentinels. On paper they were only supposed to ‘contain’ mutants that were a problem. They hunted down the Morlocks, the X-men, and Magneto’s soon-to-be-formed Mutant Liberation Front. They were so successful they took it a step further and started hunting anybody possessing an X-gene.”
“So…they attack us,” said Jamie as he anxiously gazed into the images, “Do any of us die?”
Cable hesitated before answering. While he had to tell the X-men the full story of what will happen, there were some details he just couldn’t reveal. If they knew which one of them was destined to die in the initial attack, they may lose their will to fight and he couldn’t have that. The stakes were too high to risk it.
“I can’t say,” he answered.
“You can’t or you won’t?” said Mystique harshly.
“Both,” answered Cable, “All you need to know is they destroy the Xavier Institute, force Magneto into exile, and kill some of you in the process. But you won’t be the only ones. Other countries will be scared into allowing the sentinels to purge their mutant population as well. It’ll begin what we come to know as the Sentinel Wars.”
More horrific images flashed through the projector. Scenes of sentinels filling the skies and chasing defenseless mutants sent chills down everybody’s spine. Emma and Vince were especially struck, hugging their son and dreading a world of war for their baby to grow up in. Couples like Scott and Jean, Warren and Betsy, Kitty and Piotr, and Kurt and Wanda moved closer at such horrible sights. Some like Logan, Sage, and August scowled at such needless bloodshed. But most were too shocked to comprehend such horrors.
Even Cable could not hide his reaction to these images. They brought back a lot of painful memories that still haunted his nightmares. But nobody was more devastated by this revelation than Professor Charles Xavier, the man who dedicated his life to stopping this sort of terror.
“Then I failed,” said Xavier in a morose tone, “All my work was for nothing.”
“No Professor,” said Cable strongly, “It wasn’t for nothing. The reason I’m here and the reason I’m telling you this is because the future needs the X-men. Because it’ll be the X-men that’ll end this war and take down those metal motherfuckers once and for all.”
“But how?!” exclaimed Wanda, “You already said humanity turned on us!”
“Humanity isn’t the enemy. It never was,” said Cable, “It was the sentinels. It all came back to the sentinels and how Pierce programmed them. See, he knew from the beginning that there was a flaw in the systems. It was a flaw he never revealed to Trask, the government, or even the Hellfire Club. This one flaw will turn the sentinels from humanity’s greatest weapon to its ultimate destruction.”
“Sounds quite menacing,” said Beast as he tried to follow this reasoning, “What exactly is the nature of this flaw?”
“It was part of the sentinel’s main protocol,” Cable went on, “Every sentinel was hard wired with the long term function of protecting humans from mutants. On top of that was a learning program Pierce himself designed. This program allowed the sentinels to learn and adapt. The more it learned the more effecient they became. Trask left it unchecked so nobody had any idea of just how smart these things were becoming. But everybody found out when the sentinels came to one logical conclusion.”
“What conclusion is that?” asked Sage, her computer-like mind intrigued by this process.
“That the only way to fully protect humans from mutants was to destroy the source of mutation.”
“You mean…” said the Professor, who quickly caught on.
“Yes…the sentinels started hunting humans as well,” said Cable as he changed the image on his holographic projected, “And at this point there were so many sentinels there was no way anybody could fight back. Billions were slaughtered. Bodies littered every major population center. But some were kept alive so they could begin integrating human flesh with machines. Emotion, free will, and everything else that makes us human was stamped out after being deemed a threat to human safety.”
“And let me guess…Pierce controlled it all?” said Emma bitterly.
“Do I even have to say it?” said Cable coldly, “The guy has a serious god complex. Eventually he integrated himself the main body that controlled every sentinel. That mainframe is a super sentinel known as Mastermold and it was the enemy that the X-men and I dedicated our lives to taking down.”
Cable then bought up an image of Mastermold. The image stirred a great deal of hatred in both him and everybody else who had first hand experience with a sentinel. It looked like a giant version of the original they all fought, only far more advanced and with a much more menacing face. And out of its core came an endless supply of new sentinels, each one with the same deadly intent as the other. They were mankind’s demise incarnate, but the story wasn’t over yet.
“Wait, I thought you said the X-men were destroyed first?” said Amara.
“Some were, but we were far from finished,” said Cable, “Those that survived went underground and Professor Xavier here was the one that led them. He along with other mutants like Magneto came together and organized the seeds of what would later become the resistance against the sentinels. At first our numbers were small, but after they turned on humanity our ranks swelled and over time we grew stronger and began beating back the sentinel onslaught, freeing prisoners and destroying their facilities.”
“So all hope was not lost. I didn’t fail,” said Xavier with a new light in his eyes.
“Far from it, Professor,” said Cable, “It was your ideas that gave us hope for the future. It was your ideas that brought humans and mutants together to fight against the sentinels. Through battle after battle, we gained ground and learned the weaknesses of our enemies. We lost many along the way and the planet became a barren wasteland, but we came together and fought back. And eventually we learned enough about the sentinels to destroy them once and for all.”
“You mean you stopped Pierce?” said Hank brightly.
“How the hell did you manage that?” said Ray skeptically.
“We took down Mastermold,” said Cable, the memories of the assault still fresh in his mind, “It was the riskiest move we ever made. By attacking Mastermold, we would trigger a defense mechanism in every sentinel that would call them back to protect their creator. And if we could get them all in one place, we could destroy them all with an EMP burst from a device Forge built.”
“Sounds like a suicide mission,” commented Betsy.
“It was, but it was a gamble worth taking. First we found out where Mastermold was based. Then our human allies created a diversion in the ruins of New York City that drew their attention. At the same time, every X-men that had a breath in their lungs stormed the main facility and took Mastermold by surprise. Many died, but together we destroyed Mastermold. When the other sentinels found out they swarmed the area and we were about to detonate the EMP burst, but then Mastermold pulled a fast one on us and that’s how I ended up here.”
Cable turned off his holographic imager. He had shown enough horrid images to get their attention. Now they believed him and he could work on building their trust. He would need it for the other revelations he had in store.
“Turns out Mastermold was smarter than we all thought,” said Cable morosely, “It realized years ago that the tide had turned and it had made a mistake in the early years by not taking the X-men out when it had the chance. That’s why it began working on a fail-safe. I’m guessing it came to the conclusion that if it couldn’t win in the present it would have to go to the past.”
“So what? It built a time machine?” said Jubilee, “How’d a giant robot manage that?”
“Honestly Jubes, you think with everything we’ve seen from the Hellfire Club they wouldn’t be capable of that?” scoffed Bobby.
Jubilee shrugged, finding it painfully obvious. If Selene could open a gateway to Hell then a time machine hardly seemed surprising. Cable alone was proof of that.
“It’s true,” said Cable, “It consolidated its resources to constructing a gateway into the past where it could send a single agent to take down the source of its destruction. In other words, you guys.”
“That way we’d never live to organize humans and mutants against them,” said Scott, now beginning to see the full picture, “Nothing would stand in Mastermold’s way.”
“Defeating the enemy before it even exists,” said Laura, “It’s the perfect tactic.”
It all made sense now. If Donald Pierce and Mastermold were as determined as Cable said they were, this was the only logical course. With their resources they could pull it off and for Scott, Jean, Alex, and Vincent they came too close for comfort to succeeding. But there were still questions.
“I’m guessing that agent was that Nimrod thing,” said Alex, “Just what the hell is that anyways?”
“The most advanced sentinel ever conceived,” said Cable grimly, “Our intelligence about it is sketchy, but from what we know it’s bad news. That thing is programmed to do one thing…kill its targets. It’s made of some kind of advanced quantum metal that can change shape, adapt to new environments, and form weapons of almost any kind. It can also shape shift so you wouldn’t even know it was near.”
“So I noticed,” said Jean, the memory from the mall still fresh in her mind, “I couldn’t even pick up on it.”
“But that’s not the worst part,” he went on, “That thing can also fix itself. Blow it away, cut it up, do whatever you want it just reforms and keeps killing.”
“So how in the heck do you stop it?” asked Sam anxiously.
“If I knew that would we even have this problem, kid?!” exclaimed Cable, “I didn’t plan on following it here. My team and I were ready to blow Mastermold sky high, but our intelligence team picked up on the plan and we had to act. So I jumped in after the thing as it disappeared into the time warp. There was room for only one so I came alone. After that they blew the whole place.”
His tone was dark. They could tell he was disgruntled and understandably so. He had been so close to ending the war only for his enemy to pull a stunt like this. Now even more lives were at stake and not just theirs.
“So…how are you supposed to get back?” inquired Rahne.
“I can’t,” said Cable bluntly, “It’s a one-way trip. It’s just me and Nimrod. As long as that thing exists it will pursue you. It doesn’t get tired, it doesn’t hold back, and it knows no mercy. It’s a cold, soulless machine and it will make sure that Donald Pierce and Mastermold succeed. And the only way to do that is kill each and every one of you. That’s why I’m here. My mission is to stop Nimrod and protect the X-men. And in order to do that I need you all to believe me. But above all, I need you all to trust me.”
Cable was asking a lot of the X-men. His story was dark, disturbing, and disheartening. It spoke of a future full of war, bloodshed, and destruction. It was hardly a future anybody could look forward to. For Vince and Emma, it was a future they didn’t want their infant son to grow up in. For Scott and Jean, it wasn’t the future they wanted their marriage to begin with. For everybody, it was not a world they wanted to wake up to. As X-men this is what they fought to stop, but this man was telling them it was inevitable.
It was a hard pill to swallow. He did answer a few questions, but at the same time he raised many others. Professor Xavier was especially concerned and so was Irene, who still had haunting visions of the future fresh in her mind. But for some, Cable couldn’t earn their trust with his story alone. They just met him and for all they knew he wasn’t telling him the full story.
“That’s it?” scoffed Logan, “You tell us we’re all doomed to a crappy future and you want us to trust you?”
“Somehow I don’t find that motivating,” said Warren with a harsh look towards the stranger.
“If you don’t trust me then how do you expect to stop Nimrod?” shot Cable.
“You said it yourself, pal! You don’t even know how to stop him!” said Logan harshly.
“I know more than you know about this whole mess! And if memory serves me right, I saved your butts!”
“So says a guy who says machines will take over the world while he’s part machine himself,” said Rogue, rolling her eyes.
“Yeah, don’t you find that just a little hypocritical?” said Wanda.
Cable shot the two girls a harsh scold. As much as he was bent on saving these people, the subject of his limbs was very touchy.
“What was that?! You want to run that by me again?!” he said, stomping over towards the two girls.
Then Mystique jumped in front of them and stared down the man who claimed to be from the future.
“Take one more step towards my daughter and I’ll make sure no machine can replace your body after what I do to it!” growled the shape shifter.
“Lady, I swear to God…” began Cable.
But the Professor had enough. This situation was too serious to let petty uncertainties create unnecessary strife.
“Enough!” yelled the Professor, “All of you, I will not have any more of this!”
Cable and Mystique still stared each other down until Irene and Kurt pulled her away. Rogue just rolled her eyes. Future or not, the shape shifter didn’t take kindly to anybody bad-mouthing his daughter. Even if she was indestructible, her protective nature got the better of her.
The same went for Cable. His patience was thin after a lifetime of battle. Thankfully the Professor’s words won out over years of battle fatigue.
“Cable, I believe you,” said the Professor with sincerity in his tone, “But what exactly are you asking of us?”
Cable turned away from Xavier and the rest of the X-men. He was at a total loss. He had been in so many battles and none were quite as difficult as this one. And of course, this battle had everything he ever fought for on the line. It meant more to him than anybody could have realized and even his battle hardened spirit was tormented by it.
“I honestly don’t know,” he said distantly, “Wolverine has a point. I don’t know how to stop this thing. I don’t even know if it’s possible to stop this mess from happening. But this isn’t just a mission for me. Protecting the X-men isn’t just a strategic necessity…it’s personal.”
“Personal?” said Jean curiously, “What do you mean?”
Cable turned around and looked the young woman in the eye. Still beside her was Scott, who stuck close to her even though they owed this man their lives. Yet they were the only ones bold enough to approach him after his outburst. And there was a very good reason for that…one that the battle hardened soldier could not keep from them.
“Because I’m not just protecting the X-men…I’m protecting my family,” he said strongly.
“Your family?” said Scott, his curiosity heightened.
Cable took a deep breath. He had a feeling this was going to surprise everybody, but if nothing else it should help them trust him.
“Yes…my family,” he said, “Cable is just my code name. My real name is Nathan Christopher Charles Summers. My parents were Scott Summers and Jean Grey. I’m your future son.”
Up next: More revelations and family ties are revealed.