A Test of Power
Of war men ask the outcome,
not the cause.
Herucles Furens, ca. 50
He was still angry as plowed down the city streets, his hands
in his coat pockets and a scowl that warned everyone to stay
out of his way. Even on a good day, Nathan Dayspring Summers
was an imposing enough figure that people would naturally
step aside rather than attempt to play sidewalk 'chicken'
with him. Today, one look at his face and body language, and
even New York City's pedestrian warriors gave him at least
a ten-foot berth.
When Rogue had phoned him this morning and without any preamble
informed him that -- that Mr. Sinister wanted to meet with
him this afternoon, he had gone directly to the Professor.
Rogue had filled him in on a few other things that Sinister
had related to her, and to say he was skeptical about what
Sinister had told her was an understatement. This was after
all Sinister that they were talking about. But what
had surprised him most was the Professor's reaction.
Cable had approached the Professor about a potential small-scale
operation to possibly subdue and capture Sinister. This would
be the first time that they had some prior knowledge about
where Sinister would be and he didn't want to squander that
kind of opportunity. Of course Cable was more interested in
learning about Sinister's first hand information about Apocalypse
-- but getting Sinister off the streets so to speak,
was a good thing no matter how you looked at it. Unfortunately
that wasn't quite how the X-Men's founder saw it.
The Professor had looked at him with that insufferable calm
gaze and went on to tell him that Bobby and Hank had actually
been staying at one of Sinister's labs for the past few days.
He related all that transpired and said he had spoken to Hank
at length about some of Sinister's claims.
Cable had blown up at this point. He knew his own reputation
for a 'shoot first ask questions later' type of mentality
-- but some of the X-Men were actually bunking at Sinister's
place and the Professor thought this was OK? This wasn't some
two-bit Friends of Humanity loser they were dealing with,
Cable had told the Professor. This was the murderer of the
Morlocks, a centuries old cold and indifferent killer, who
hid behind the title of Scientist, as if that facade
would excuse the atrocities he had committed in the pursuit
of knowledge. This was the devil himself.
The Professor hadn't gotten excited about his outburst. If
anything, he became even more subdued. He gently told Cable
that he understood his personal reasons for his distrust
of Sinister. He asked Cable to apply the same logic and benefit
to capturing Sinister that a temporary truce or affiliation
could. He also reminded Cable that finding a cure for the
Legacy Virus was worth almost any risk. He pleaded with Cable
to trust his judgment and meet with Sinister to see what he
had to say.
Something in the Professor's tone told him that the Professor
wasn't just throwing caution to the wind and trusting Sinister
without question. The Professor wanted to play this hand out
and some of the cards were going to have to remain face down
for the time being. He reluctantly accepted this but still
maintained that this was a big mistake. The only outcome when
dealing with Sinister was that one or more of the good guys,
somewhere down the line wouldn't make it.
He approached the park cautiously, choosing to enter by the
Metropolitan Museum of Art off of East 84th Street. He didn't
care for museums...didn't care for them at all. They contained
physical representations of the past, things that you could
pick up, touch, and feel. But all those things had come and
gone, and were immutable -- impossible to change. He felt
all this despite the fact that his mission, his entire life,
was devoted to changing the past. Walking amongst living breathing
beings that were part of his past was significantly different
than looking at some dusty inanimate relics. Here he felt
things were still fluid and being part of that dynamic he
could effect some kind of change. At least that's what he
He walked lightly down the few cement steps and immersed
himself into the midst of a throng of people. At this time
of day this was probably the busiest part of the park and
with a few telepathic tricks, blended innocuously into the
crowd. He randomly probed as many people as possible as walked
towards his destination to see if he could detect any of Sinister's
goon squad that he might have placed in the park. He could
detect nothing out of the ordinary, which meant very little.
If nothing else, Sinister was a meticulous planner and left
nothing to chance. He would have taken great care to hide
any of his employees both visually and telepathically
if that was his desire. Cable was careful in his own way as
well and continued his scan none-the-less.
He passed the Obelisk and rounded a corner just shy of the
Delacorte Theater and was shocked by what he saw. There was
Sinister, right where he said he would be -- and he was, the
bastard was playing chess. He was dressed in a long black
cashmere coat, black gloves, and black shoes. Not flashy but
stylish -- right in fashion with the rest of the Wall Street
punks, Cable thought. Cable could make out his face quite
clearly. He was missing his trademark red diamond and instead
of his normal pallor, a healthy peach cast adorned his finely
chiseled features. What was unmistakable and most recognizable
to Cable was the cold aristocratic arrogance that Sinister
always seemed to exude.
Cable moved a little closer and then noticed that Sinister
was not playing one game but several games simultaneously.
All of his opponents were seated at the permanent cement chess
tables deep in thought. Sinister on the other hand Cable noted
disgustedly, didn't sit at all. His conceit wouldn't allow
him to sit because it might give the opposing player the idea
that the two players were of equal skill. Instead, he sauntered
from table to table, pausing briefly, his hands folded behind
his back until he was ready to move a piece. He would also
take the time to grace his opponent with a condescending smile
after each move.
Cable had frequented this part of the park before and had
quietly watched some of the chess matches. It might surprise
some people that he was a rather accomplished player. He supposed
that people didn't take him for the type of person that would
indulge in games, but he actually enjoyed a competitive chess
match. A master military strategist, Cable found that chess
honed his tactical skills, and relaxed him to some degree
allowing him to think more clearly. He was a good enough player
to recognize that the players in this park were far from amateurs
but accomplished players as well. Only devoted chess players
with a true love of the game would come and play outdoors
all year round. Cable had seen first hand that actual Grand
Masters would occasionally visit the park and do exactly what
Sinister was now doing.
Sinister looked up and made direct eye contact with Cable
and smiled. "I have a rather pressing appointment gentlemen.
Let's see if I can move things along a bit. Your bishop's
opening Scholar's Mate was an easily recognizable trap," Sinister
said to the elderly and neatly dressed gentleman seated directly
across from him. "If you favor bishop openings, you might
consider Legall's Mate. Against a novice player, you
might find it to be a bit more effective," Sinister said somewhat
haughtily. "Checkmate in three moves." He moved quickly to
the next table.
"Your King's Gambit opening allows for quite a bit of latitude.
But unfortunately your playing black and must be very careful
to protect the extra pawn on f4. Becoming over-eager can result
in a fatal weakening of the king's pawn cover." Sinister shook
his head apologetically while moving his knight. "Checkmate."
"A Danish Gambit as an opening trap," Sinister nodded his
head in appreciation. "And a somewhat innovative version no
less. I must admit I was caught off guard but you should have
pressed your attack. You unfortunately chose to retreat with
your bishop, which resulted in your present predicament. "Checkmate,"
Sinister paused, forecasting the next several moves in his
head, -- "in eight moves."
For the next two minutes, he went from table to table, thirteen
in total. The outcome was the same in every case -- checkmate
in so many moves.
Sinister walked out of the circle of onlookers who had gathered
to observe the games, then stopped and turned. "Thank you
for a most enjoyable afternoon gentlemen. I might offer a
bit of advice. The opening moves that you employed, going
for the quick kill so to speak, is almost always ineffectual
against an experienced player. Patience in chess as well as
patience in life I find, bears the greatest fruit," Sinister
said with a reflective smile on his face and then turned and
walked away from the gaming area. The players immediately
returned to their respective games to study what went wrong.
"Did you have fun beating up on the little kids in the schoolyard
old man?" Cable called out to Sinister acerbically.
Sinister turned his back to Cable and began to casually walk
across the Great Lawn. He stopped realizing that Cable had
not moved to accompany him. "I think a nice walk around the
reservoir would be most enjoyable -- and highly informative,"
Cable snorted and walked up along side of him. "A stroll
in the park with Mr. Sinister," Cable said acidly. "Did you
pack a picnic basket and blankets?" he asked drolly.
"Not quite, Nathan. I am pleased to see that you haven't
lost your puerile sense of humor."
"All right, what do you want Sinister?" Cable said bluntly.
"What do I want?" Sinister responded. "Nothing really, other
than to talk."
"I'm listening," Cable said -- "for now," he added.
"I'm here to absolve you of your responsibility."
"What?" Cable said choking on something that almost sounded
"As you might have already been told or surmised, I am gathering
a team of the most powerful mutants to dispose of Apocalypse.
Your quest -- your Askani holy grail, is unnecessary and futile".
Cable had a look of amused annoyance on his face. "Thanks
for telling me now. And what the flonq do you mean, futile?"
"You never could defeat Apocalypse, with or without the techno
organic virus I might add."
"Thanks for your vote of confidence," Cable chuckled arrogantly.
"And I guess we'll just have to see about that," Cable shot
back at what he perceived as Sinister's disparagement. "So
let me get this straight. You told Rogue..."
"Let me save you some time," Sinister interrupted. "You believe
that my purpose in creating..." Sinister paused, a thoughtful
look on his face and then continued. "You presume that my
purpose in manipulating events that resulted in your birth
was to fight Apocalypse."
"And you told Rogue that wasn't true," Cable said impatiently.
"So what is it? You just thought you'd would play matchmaker
between Madelyne and Cyclops."
"Ah Nathan, sardonic to the bitter end," Sinister chuckled.
"It's quite simple really. I knew many years ago that it would
take a mutant of enormous power to defeat Apocalypse. Nature
at times can be quite fickle and time was a luxury I really
didn't have. So I simply decided that it would be necessary
to make one."
"Make one," Cable repeated disgustedly at Sinister's indifference.
"You arrogant flonq. So I guess that's where I came in."
"Yes but not in the way you think," Sinister answered. "A
mutant powerful enough to defeat Apocalypse would have to
be able harness and command tremendous energies. To that end
I discovered that these energies seemed to have a pernicious
effect. At relatively low levels, psionic energy has little
or no effect on the user. But past a certain threshold and
after long-term usage, there can be some damaging consequences.
The result, a variety of physical maladies primarily affecting
the outer layers of the brain that control perception, reasoning,
and memory. This deterioration of dura matter leaves the victim
with an increasing skewed view of reality leading to insanity
and eventually in many cases death. Proteus, Legion, Magneto,
and your beloved Professor in his Onslaught personae have
suffered from this to varying degrees. Quite simply the energy
would literally eat you alive. I worked for many years to
overcome this problem and found what I thought was the answer
in the joining of Jean Grey and Scott Summers DNA. The aggregation
of their most unique DNA structures resulted in not only a
mutant of multiple abilities and almost unlimited power, but
also possessed with an extreme resiliency to psionic energy.
But alas, I forecasted that even your sturdy structure would
eventually give way to the raging energies and break down.
Your carbon copy refugee from another reality Nate Grey, would
have eventually succumbed to this condition. Unfortunately,
I had failed."
"And then something entirely unexpected," Sinister said with
an expression of surprise. "Apocalypse infected you with the
techno organic virus that I created, which had an unforeseen
effect on your metabolism.(1)
The use of your telekinetic ability to control the virus in
conjunction with the virus itself, had a dampening effect
on the harmful repercussions of the great psionic energies
you possessed. So much in fact that it rendered you completely
immune to the lethal consequences."
They had reached the reservoir and began to walk around the
large body of water, all but invisible to the endless parade
of joggers deeply involved in their daily constitutional.
"You're a real trip Sinister," Cable said with a short and
bitter laugh, "and you have to love the way you operate. You
don't let anything get in the way of what you want. You think
Jean's dead, but you don't let that flonq up yours plans.
Nope, you just reach into your bag of DNA tricks and pull
out Madelyne. Well she's a dead ringer for Jean thanks to
your Sear's cloning catalogue. Scott's so grief-stricken,
he can't help but fall in love with her. Put one and one together
and you get three -- in this case me."
"Quite an experiment -- even a failed one at that," Cable
said contemptuously. "How many people got flonqed up along
the way? Look at what it cost Maddie and what that cost a
hell of a lot of other people. How about Scott and Jean?
"And what about you Nathan?" Sinister asked voicing Cable's
"What about me?" Cable spit out the words his fists balled
at his sides. "Like you give a shit about me or anyone else.
You're a user Sinister, there's no mystery there. A professional
liar," he said vehemently. "A flonqing murderer, worse...maybe
worse than Apocalypse," Cable stammered with rage.
"Once again, an argument about ethics, my ethics of course,"
Sinister sighed and waved off Cable's comments dismissively.
"You and your rather obtuse friends can not be held completely
accountable. After all, my ostensible motivation has always
been to create an impression of moral turpitude. But what
I find objectionable is that now you seek to take the moral
high ground," Sinister said derisively. "Forgive me, but I
didn't know I was in the presence of a saint."
"I never said anything about being a saint. You can twist
and turn everything I say but that doesn't change what you
are," Cable said acidly. "I don't pretend to know why you've
been pushing a lot of crap to people lately -- but I know
it's not the truth."
"Really Nathan. And here I thought you had such a high opinion
of me," Sinister said in such a fashion as though nothing
could be further from the truth. "I shall speak the plain
truth, indisputable even coming from me because they are things
you've experienced firsthand." Sinister put the palm of his
hand under his chin as if in deep thought. "Where to start?
I find that comparisons tend to put things in perspective
quite nicely. Perhaps we should discuss the morality of killing
another human being. When you shoot at an enemy from a distance,
is that all you see in your gun sight Nathan... just an enemy?
Do you ever wonder whether that rival solider has a father
or a mother, a wife, a son or maybe a daughter? Does that
ever give you pause?" Sinister went on relentlessly.
Cable said nothing, but his stony expression betrayed feelings
of anger as his eyes began to smolder.
"But you're fighting a war -- and people die in wars," Sinister
continued. "I can hear you now extolling all the virtues of
the X-Men or your comrades in arms. Let me go one step further.
How about all the decisions you've had to make that resulted
in deaths of other people -- strangers, friends, even loved
ones. Your son and even your wife, fighting by your side..."
He quickly turned towards Sinister and grabbed the lapels
on Sinister's coat, the veins throbbing at his temple. He
only succeeded at drawing himself closer to Sinister and not
the other way around as he had intended. Sinister was incredibly
strong and he was well aware that in a physical contest, he
would lose and lose badly. Sinister had pushed his buttons
and had probably gotten the reaction he wanted. But flonq
it, he still didn't have to tolerate the use of his family
as the subject of Sinister's jibes.
"What I do and what you do are two different things," Cable
said his voice dripping with spite. "Don't use my family to
make any of your points," he said raising his voice as his
left eyed glowed dangerously bright to further emphasize his
"Perhaps my choice of words was -- unsettling. But please
remove your hands from my person and calm yourself Nathan.
I have no desire to create a spectacle. I must say that I
prefer the taciturn soldier that I've come to know to this
stentorian ruffian standing before me."
Cable snorted and released Sinister. "You don't know me."
"Ah but you know me, correct?" Sinister said nodding his
head in mock understanding.
"I know what you do -- what you've done. I've known a lot
of guys like you -- killed a few whenever I could," Cable
said with a predatory smile. "But none of them were as bad
as you. None of them with your gift of gab -- rationalizing
everything as the 'greater good,'" Cable said mockingly. "The
Professor let me in on some of the stuff you told Bobby and
Hank. I don't buy any of it."
"You believe people like me are responsible for all of the
ills that the world suffers, don't you Nathan?" Sinister asked
seeming genuinely curious.
"All, no. I guess I can't hold you responsible for the traffic
problems in Manhattan, can I?" Cable said with a vicious smile.
"Ignorance." Sinister said emphatically.
"What are you talking about now?" Cable glowered.
"Ignorance Nathan. A societal cancer that has eaten away
at the fabric of what we call civilization since its inception."
"And what am I ignorant of?" Cable said knowing that he was
opening himself up to another one of Sinister's petty comments.
"What has transpired -- all that has transpired to bring
us to this point in time. You are also ignorant to the fact
that I truly wish to unburden you of the task that you believe
that the Askani have placed solely upon your shoulders. As
much as you might like to deny it, I am after all responsible
for your being here and feel a certain measure," Sinister
paused and incredibly seemed to be groping for the correct
words. "I feel duty-bound to see that my -- my work is not
wantonly squandered on a fool's errand."
Sinister didn't say the word 'creation', but Cable could
hear it in Sinister's voice none-the-less.
"Oh give me a flonqing break," Cable blurted incredulously.
"And why not?" Sinister quickly responded. "You've suffered
enough -- more than most."
Cable laughed out loud. "Sorry Essex, compassion coming from
you? Even you can't sell me on that."
"Maybe so, but I also wanted to keep a promise to your sister,"
Sinister said with a furtive glance at Cable.
Cable stopped abruptly and fixed Sinister with a withering
glare. "What the hell do mean my sister? "You never..." Cable's
voice trailed off at Sinister's raised eyebrow expression.
"I've never what, spoken to your sister?" Sinister said pointedly.
Cable said nothing, waiting for Sinister to continue and
answer his own question.
"First ask yourself this Nathan. Your sister had the ability
to transfer the essences of both Scott and Jean, their souls
if you will, into two host bodies and bring them 2,000 years
into the future.(2) She also supposedly
created Stryfe, a perfect duplicate of your own body but minus
the techno-organic virus. I know you've spoken to your father
about this. Rachel herself told him her entire plan. Interesting
Nathan," Sinister said with a puzzled look. "I wonder why
she didn't take your essence and place it into Stryfe's
perfectly healthy body? To possess this ability, yet leave
a defenseless baby, her own brother no less, in a body ravaged
by a terrible virus seems unusually cruel. To also knowingly
condemn Stryfe an innocent baby, to the childhood he endured
under Apocalypse might have been even a crueler fate than
"She did what she had to do," Cable said harshly. "Rachel
and I lived when that bastard's plans were realized," he added
with a wild- eyed expression. "You know better than most what
Apocalypse plans for the future are."
"Indeed I do," Sinister said earnestly. "Yet you would condemn
my actions and excuse or justify your sister's when our objectives
were the same and our methods virtually indistinguishable.
But you expect me to be contrite and apologize for my actions
-- beg for forgiveness maybe?"
Sinister was Satan, Daniel Webster, and every Philadelphia
lawyer all wrapped into one nasty package, Cable thought.
"You're twisting the truth again," Cable said sneering.
"Am I?" Sinister responded sharply. "You don't even know
"And I'm going to get the truth from you?!" Cable laughed
"Think for a change Nathan. Try to pierce the veneer of hatred
you hold for me listen to what I am saying," Sinister said
with a piercing look. "Why did Rachel bring your parents forward
in time? Why risk their lives in a world infinitely more dangerous
than our own present? Did you ever consider why she didn't
decide to create two, or even three Nathan Dayspring clones?"
Sinister went on in his incessant query. "Why not create a
clone to house your soul, another to 'trap' Apocalypse, and
yet another to fight along side you?"
"I ... I don't know," Cable said with the tiniest bit of
doubt creeping into his voice. "I'm sure she had her reasons."
"Not her reasons ... my reasons," Sinister said coldly.
That stopped Cable dead in his tracks. Even after his father
had filled him in on all that had transpired when Rachel had
brought both Scott and Jean into the future, -- the future
where as Redd and Slym they had raised him, where for the
first and only time in his life he had felt genuinely happy,
and even normal, -- even then he had questioned the logic
or even the sanity of his sister's plan.
Stab his eyes, he had asked the same questions, had the same
doubts that Sinister had just voiced. In a discussion with
Scott once over this very same subject, Scott had reluctantly
admitted that he had his suspicions that Rachel had never
told them the whole truth. Rachel knew what Nathan would be
forced to endure...what Stryfe would become and how many people
that maniac would torture and kill. Rachel flonqing knew,
yet she had gone ahead with her plans anyway.
There were so many conflicting thoughts and emotions going
through his head. He also remembered that Scott had told him
that he was eternally grateful for the time they spent together
raising him, and he and Jean wouldn't have traded anything
for that time. He had echoed those sentiments to Scott --
to his father, he mentally corrected himself. He had at least
tried to tell his father how he felt about that time -- in
his own clumsy way.
Through all the trials and tribulations he had been through,
it was that time in his life that had centered him.
Whenever he had grown despondent, tired of his fight, tired
of his life, tired of seeing everyone around him die -- and
those times had been too many to count. It was his time with
Redd and Slym that he remembered and drew strength from, allowing
him endure, allowing him to go on. He had told his father
that without him and Jean, he would never have made it. His
father, a man known for expressing very little emotion, --
his father's eyes had brimmed with tears. Cable guessed he
wasn't as bad as he thought with conveying how he felt after
But if Sinister was involved...if this was somehow one of
his plans. Jesus flonqing Christ, Rachel, he
thought. Rachel had made a deal with the devil.
"Oh how your sister agonized over the decisions she had to
make," Sinister said, sensing that some understanding was
dawning on Cable. "Condemning you to the future that she knew
would be in store for you, leaving your parents childless,
leaving you as a defenseless babe in a ghastly future ruled
by a madman. Finally, using Stryfe knowing how millions would
suffer at his hands."
"How did she know?" Cable rasped, the words tasting like
bile in his mouth. The question had come grudgingly. He knew
asking the question meant that he was slowly beginning to
buy into what Sinister was saying, and Sinister would know
"I told her," Sinister simply responded. "She sought me out
Nathan knowing full well that only I could help her defeat
Apocalypse. She was desperate. You've spoken to your father.
The Askani were all but defeated, a rag tag group of war-weary
refugees. They had no chance."
"I'm sure Rachel was desperate," Cable said, his jaw clenched
like a vice. "That's your favorite type of person, isn't it
Sinister? You can smell desperation like a lion smells blood
on a wounded prey animal. Make's people careless, foolhardy.
She'd do anything you wanted," Cable said, his eyes exuding
"You persist in clouding your mind with misguided anger,"
Sinister levelly met Cable's gaze. "I gave your sister exactly
what she asked for. She needed a way to kill Apocalypse."
Cable's expression remained unchanged.
"You still do not understand," Sinister said firmly. "Your
sister had neither the technology nor the resources to create
the required clones. They didn't know how Nathan...but I did,"
"How is that possible?" Cable said disbelievingly. "Their
technology was thousands of years ahead of where it is now."
"Indeed it was, but not in the field of genetics," Sinister
responded. "The world leaders outlawed genetic research and
in particular cloning not too far off in our own future. You
better than most understand the sensitivity of the general
public to tampering with the genes of humans and mutants,
especially after the incidents with mutates in Genosha and
the Prime Sentinels. Genetics was a dead and forgotten field."
"You mean to tell me you've never once wondered where Rachel
obtained the material 2,000 years in the future to create
clones of your parents?" Sinister asked.
"She...Rachel said she had the Askani sisterhood gather the
material from Scott and Jean's descendants."
Sinister had a dubious expression on his face. "I assure
you Nathan that it is quite impossible to create clones of
your parents to house their essences from their descendents.
Furthermore to create a clone is actually as much art as it
is science. If that were the case, if the process was easy
to duplicate, I would have created a thousand Nathan Daysprings
and even Apocalypse...well I don't think I have to spell it
out," Sinister said with an arrogant smile.
"What about your Marauder's?" Cable asked. You seem to cookie
cutter those bastards out in quantity."
"Cloning some of my associates is more difficult than
it appears, and they are much less than what you are
Nathan. Simply put, the more powerful the mutant, the infinitely
more complex the cloning process is. And if you're wondering,
your parents looked different by design. I simply tweaked
a few genes to change their appearances so they would not
be recognized by Apocalypse should they have met face to face.
I sometimes am a bit overcautious...a harmless idiosyncrasy
of mine," Sinister said as if he were privy to an inside joke.
"She also told you that your parents original bodies would
have never survived the time jump. But Sanctity, the last
member of the Askani sisterhood, managed to transport your
parents back in time -- to the time of my transformation,
in their original bodies. Don't you find that odd Nathan?
Your sister, a full blooded Summers, still possessing vestiges
of the Phoenix force, was unable to do the same."
"Sanctity had to maintain their bodies in that time period
for only forty eight hours Sinister. Scott and Jean spent
years with me in the future," Cable responded quickly.
"Please Nathan," Sinister's expression was one of barely
restrained tolerance. "There are perhaps one or two other
human beings that understand temporal mechanics as well as
I do. Think of your experience as an example," his tone one
of admonishment. "Rachel brought you forward two-thousand
years into the future in your own disease ravaged body,
-- as a baby no less without any difficulty what-so-ever.
You stayed in the future for many years. The duration of your
stay had absolutely no bearing on your survival as you can
Cable seemed to hold his breath for an instant, and then
exhaled slowly, a pensive mien shadowing his battle-creased
face. "So Rachel never created the clones at all," he replied
with undisguised effort. "She didn't have the necessary material,
the facilities, or even the no how," Cable said, his brow
furrowed in concentration. "That would mean..."
"I created the clones here in our present, her past, and
Rachel transported all three clones to her future."
"But whose plan was it...?"
"As I said before, mine," Sinister said firmly. "You see
Nathan, your sister brought you to the future in the hopes
that she could do something about arresting the virus. Nothing
more. It was a desperate gamble, a gamble that would have
failed had your sister not gotten the idea to contact me."
"Although I created the virus," Sinister continued, "Apocalypse
somehow altered the virus in a way -- in a way that I didn't
think was possible. At the time, I was unable to discern a
method with which to cure you. But I did communicate a way
to impede or master the virus to a manageable degree."
"But why would Rachel risk Scott and Jean...it doesn't make
"It does make sense, or it made sense to Rachel at least,"
Sinister said with something in his voice that hinted at compassion.
"As I said before, Apocalypse had decimated the humans and
even many mutants of that time. Rachel foresaw the inevitable.
She could not beat Apocalypse. When your sister came to me
Nathan, her spirit was broken. She was weary of the responsibility,
tired of the death and carnage around her. She wanted an end
to it all, but she also wanted revenge. She wanted Apocalypse
dead at any cost, enough in fact to even solicit my
help. She wanted me to devise a method to kill Apocalypse."
"Stryfe," Cable said simply.
"Yes Nathan," Sinister agreed. "But it had nothing to do
with Stryfe being your clone. Buried deep and unrecognizable
in Stryfe's genetic make-up, I encoded a time bomb of sorts...a
bomb that would recognize Apocalypse's foul essence, and destroy
the body he was inhabiting."
Cable found himself not questioning the validity of what
Sinister had just told him because...because using a baby
as bait, bait that would be placed for years right under the
nose of the most heinous tyrant this world would ever see...bait
that would be raised to use its great mutant powers in the
most horribly conceived of ways. That type of patient connivance,
devoid of any traces of humanity, was not something his sister
would ever be capable of. His father had suspected. Only one
mind was capable of that type of machination.
Cable smiled mirthlessly. "Your plan Sinister," he acknowledged.
"And why Scott and Jean?" Sinister asked, replying to Cable's
unanswered question. That was your sister's idea -- or more
her desire. When she attended your mother and father's wedding(3),
she wanted to give them something special...she read your
father's mind. There she saw her father's greatest desire,
his thoughts of you Nathan, even on his wedding day. He wanted
what every man and woman in love want, to raise a family together.
Scott wanted the woman he loved to share in the joys of raising
you, even as unlikely a dream as that was, especially coming
from someone as pragmatic as your father. Rachel could not
help but want to grant her father's deepest and fondest wish
-- and she also knew what it would mean to you."
That sounded more like Rachel, Cable thought pitying
his sister. God how was she able to cope, alone with the fate
of two worlds on her shoulders? "You don't do charity Sinister,"
Cable said suddenly, his mood changing thinking about Sinister's
motivation. "What did you ask for in return for all your help?"
Cable asked not trying to hide his cynicism.
Sinister chuckled dryly. "Your misanthropic attitude brings
to mind a small bit of writing by H.L. Mencken. 'A man who,
when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.'"
"You haven't answered my question," Cable said in a clipped
"I asked for knowledge of the future, " Sinister answered
with a tight-lipped smile.
Cable's expression remained unsatisfied.
"I learned of the Mother Askani, Apocalypse, The Sisterhood,
Blaquesmith, Ch'vayre, Turin, Tetherblood, the Daegon, the
Wysps, Fossil, 'Strator Umbridge,"(4)
Sinister rattled off quickly. "Satisfied?"
"What the flonq don't you know about?" Cable's brow knitted
in thought. "The future? Why would she need to ask you about
what happened?" Cable asked suddenly, returning to an earlier
claim of Sinister's. "When I asked you about how Rachel knew
about what would happen to me and Stryfe, you said that you
told her. All of those things would have already happened
-- and been part of her past."
Sinister smiled. The smile seemed different to Cable...almost
genuine. "An excellent question Nathan. You have an underrated
analytical mind. If the very act of traveling to the past
or the future creates another separate and distinct timeline,
then who is to say Rachel's past is your present, or will
be your future? At one time I believed that time travel would
always result in the formation of an alternate or different
universe. Now I'm not so sure."
To Cable, those words sounded alien coming from a scientist
of Sinister's caliber...and arrogance. "What do you mean you're
"This is admittedly a perplexing subject," Sinister sighed.
"Some of your scientists argue conservatively that time travelers
don't change the past; they were always part of it. On the
other hand, paradoxical though this sounds, a version of the
many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics devised by another
of your physicists might allow such history-changing visits.
In this picture, there are many interlacing world histories,
so that if you went back in time and killed your grandmother
when she was a young girl, this would cause space-time to
simply branch off into a new parallel universe that doesn't
interfere with the familiar one. There is direct evidence
of the latter. You yourself are intimately familiar with this
Sinister continued. "One of the United States leading physicists,
Stephen Hawkings has addressed the problem in a different
way, proposing what he calls a chronology-protection conjecture.
He argues, the laws of physics must always conspire to prevent
travel into the past. He believes that quantum effects, coupled
with other constraints, will always step in to prevent time
travel in ones own universe. I agree. The universe isn't stupid
or suicidal. With the number of sentient species that have
reached the technological level to build a device capable
of time travel, in this galaxy alone would conservatively
number in the thousands. Think Nathan, a thousand different
species capable of time travel -- the number of paradoxes
that would result if that travel were possible in ones own
universe. It would take only one paradox, and everything we
know would be undone. Yet here we stand having this conversation
when we both are aware of several such journeys through time.
One could only conclude that time travel in ones own universe
"Time flows in one direction only, and we flow with it like
corks bobbing helplessly in the river." Sinister said with
a measure of finality.
"Really?" Cable said with an annoyed tone. "Then how the
flonq do you explain how this cork," Cable said pointing to
himself -- "has jumped in and out of the river at different
"That my dear Nathan is the conundrum," Sinister said
arching his eyebrows. "Let me tell you something that might
even surprise you some more. There is only one real
universe, one true timeline."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Cable asked more confused
than angry. "You just said there must countless alternate
timelines and universes because of all the time travel that
must have gone on -- or be going on, " Cable added.
"Indeed I did," Sinister responded. "But only one real one,"
he repeated. "The others exist for a time, a relatively short
time and fade from existence. The other universes all stem
from this one, and are just pale echoes of our own timeline."
"You sound so sure about this. How can you be positive that
what you just said is correct," Cable challenged.
"I was told by someone whose scientific acumen dwarfs my
own," Sinister admitted. "Even he -- his entire race, were
ignorant of this fact until recently."
"Entire race?" Cable asked.
"It matters not. What matters is that you have done the impossible
Nathan -- you have traveled forwards and backwards in your
own timeline with no ill effects. There are greater forces
at work here than even I could have conceived."
"I don't understand."
"Your understanding of such things isn't required," Sinister
said bluntly. He then went on more gently as if he regretted
his words. "You are not alone Nathan. Despite what you may
have believed or believe still -- since I learned of his existence,
his purpose, only I have truly carried the banner against
Apocalypse. Everything else -- a charade."
Cable said nothing. He was still absorbing everything Sinister
had just told him.
Sinister opened a tesseract, his back to Cable. "You may
aid me in this cause. You are aware of what I plan and can
join those already willing to help."
"You couldn't stop me," Cable answered sharply. "Just for
the record, despite everything you said, I still think it's
a mistake throwing in with you."
"A mistake?" Sinister turned, his red-lit eyes glowed eerily
even with a bright sun overhead.
"Oh that's right, I guess you've never made any mistakes,"
Cable said bitterly.
A shadow quickly passed over Sinister's face. He looked at
Cable as if he was staring at him from a deep dark pit. Cable
suddenly felt his blood run cold. "One mistake," Sinister
said slowly, separating and drawing out each word.
He then turned and walked into the nothingness of tesseract
space, disappearing from view, leaving Cable to wonder at
everything that had just transpired.
Continued in Chapter Eight.
The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix #1
X-Men - Books of Askani
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