As part of the next stage in human evolution, the new breed of mutants known as homo superior struggle in a world that hates and fears them. There are those like Professor Charles Xavier and his mutant team the X-men who fight for peace and understanding. There are those like Erik Lensherr and his band of followers the Brotherhood who seek war and domination. These two opposing sides have clashed many times, but their biggest conflict yet is taking shape.
In wake of the Brotherhoods uprising on Genosha, Magneto was sent to prison at GuantanamoBay while his followers were left to pick up the pieces and follow a more peaceful path led by Charles Xavier. That plan gradually went astray as the international community sought to execute Magneto for war crimes, alienating those on Genosha who were promised justice. But Magneto wasn’t finished with his fight.
With help from the shape-shifting Mystique, they broke a mutant known as Forge out of military custody and had him construct a device designed by Magneto himself. This device diverted a large asteroid onto a collision course with Earth. Using this as leverage, Magneto blackmailed the President into releasing him and to make sure the X-men didn’t stand in his way he claimed they were helping him.
Now Magneto has returned to Genosha and the X-men are on the run. While humanity remains unaware of the asteroid, authorities are scrambling to stop the coming chaos before it is too late.
Washington DC – Pentagon
It had been a week since Magneto was released from his cell at Guantanamo Bay. For the President of the United States it was the longest week of his life. He hadn’t slept more than a few hours, he hadn’t seen his family, and he looked at least five years older. He had barely been outside since this all began. His staff and cabinet all insisted he be in a high-security location at all times. It was agonizing, but necessary. He and every last ally all over the world had to work together to stop what was coming.
It was still tremendously sensitive. The knowledge of the asteroid was known only to those elite leaders like himself. No one could know or society as they knew it would break down. Throughout the week he and various other nations set up secret channels to discuss this issue behind closed doors. They kept the press at bay, feeding them cover stories and hoping nobody caught wind of it. But with only a week before impact, they could not contain this news for much longer. Once it got out, it would all be over.
The President was working on his sixth cup of coffee as he sat at a conference table deep within the most secure levels of the Pentagon. His advisors were with him and leaders from several other nations were linked in via video-link. They had been talking for over two hours now, but they had made little progress.
“This is becoming increasingly distressing, Mr. President. You’re telling me that your country with all your advanced hardware cannot get in contact with Magneto?!”
“For the third time, Your Highness. We’ve tried everything. Magneto isn’t talking!” groaned the President as he spoke to the king of a prominent Middle Eastern country.
“But you know he is back on Genosha, correct?”
“That appears most likely, Mr. Prime Minister,” said one of the Joint Chiefs to the Prime Minister of Great Britain, “We’ve sent you a number of images from our spy satellites. We’ve had them keyed in on Genosha since the uprising. But we can’t make out what’s going on. Some strange fog has formed over the island. We can’t get a reading.”
“Then maybe we should consider sending carrier groups. The French have several ships in the area and are prepared to strike!”
“Let’s not get trigger happy here,” said the Secretary of Defense, “We have no idea what sort of traps Magneto has in place. He’s gone to great lengths to keep the upper hand so far. We have to assume he’s not taking any chances.”
“So what are you gentlemen suggesting? We just wait until Magneto contacts us and give into his demands? I don’t see that as a very viable plan.”
“Trust me, we won’t let it get to that point,” said the President strongly, “We’re already putting together a plan to level the playing field. If Magneto thinks he can bully us, he’s got another thing coming.”
“But what is to stop him from just letting that asteroid hit? My Russian comrades have only affirmed what yours have told you. Even our collective nuclear stockpile will not be enough to stop this.”
“I told you, we’re working on that!” said the President, nearly knocking over his coffee mug in the process, “We just need more time and a little more coordination! I don’t want this rock to hit any more than the rest of you! But we have to remember we’re dealing with a very unstable man! If he’s willing to die for his cause then we have to be willing as well!”
“Mr. President, sir, calm down…” said one of his aides.
“Don’t tell me to calm down! I’m the President here and this little nightmare is unfolding on my watch! I’m not going down as the leader who was too weak to face a genocidal madman! And I’m pretty sure the rest of you don’t want that either, so let’s cut the crap and stay the course! You know the plan! Do your part and we just may get out of this in one piece!”
The President’s words were harsh if not somewhat mad. His lack of sleep and intense stress was showing. They were all very stressed as well. They all had the same misfortune of being leaders during such a crisis. Their legacy wasn’t just on the line. Their entire existence was at stake. With that in mind, every leader fell silent. There was nothing left on this matter to say.
“We will stay in touch with or Worthington Industry contacts. But I expect to be kept in the loop when this little stunt of yours goes into effect.”
Then one of the military dictators from an Asian country spoke as well.
“As do I. I think I speak for all of us when I say one country must not be allowed dominion over this operation. We must all play a part.”
“Agreed,” said the President in a calmer tone, “We’ll be in touch.”
The video links all faded. The meeting was finally over, but nobody at the table felt any better about their situation. Their allies were anxious. Their enemies were probably even more frustrated. Despite the prospect of global extinction, the world wasn’t exactly coming together. Divisions, suspicions, and outright fear were working against them. With only a week left to act, they were placing a lot of faith in the President’s plan.
Senator Robert Kelly, who was present for the meeting, stayed silent for the most part. He was instructed specifically not to chime in on these discussions. He got the feeling the President’s advisors regretted that demand. He was the only one here who didn’t seem to be losing it. This plan the President was working on was actually his plan, only with a few minor twists. He saw promise in it, but he also saw a serious lack of leadership.
“Someone’s going to take matters into their own hands,” said the Senator, finally breaking his silence, “Just one of those countries, enemy or ally, could upset the balance and blow this whole thing wide open.”
“Don’t remind me, Senator. I heard it too,” groaned the President, rubbing his temples, “We’re just going to have to risk it for the time being. With any luck, Worthington Industries will come through.”
“With all due respect Mr. President, I agree with Senator Kelly,” said one of the Joint Chiefs, “If we’re going to stand against Magneto, we need a unified front. I honestly don’t see the rest of the world being on board with this.”
“They will be when they see the results,” assured the President.
“That’s placing a lot of faith in Warren Worthington Jr,” said the Secretary of Defense, “I’ve been in touch with him all week. And even he isn’t one hundred percent confident this plan will work.”
“He doesn’t have to be confident. He just has to do his job,” said the President, “In the meantime, I need the rest of you on the phone 24/7 keeping a close eye on every country that knows about this! If one of them even so much as hints at trying to lone wolf this, let me know! I don’t care if they despite me or not, I won’t let them screw this up!”
“So what are you going to do if one of them does go astray? Nuke them?” said Senator Kelly skeptically.
“As far as I’m concerned, all options are on the table at this point! It’s the end of the world, Senator! Extreme times call for extreme measures!”
His tone unnerved even his closest advisors. There was a touch of nervousness and desperation in his tone. This situation really was getting to him. It was getting to all of them, but the President was handling it the worst. What he was implying went against so many protocols. Even if these were desperate times, that didn’t mean any price could be paid. But he was the president. There was little they could do to argue.
With all eyes on him, the President forced himself to take deep breaths and calm down. His face was sweaty and pale. The stress was affecting him more with each passing hour. But he wasn’t going to apologize. Nobody else at this table held the title of commander-in-chief. No matter how this turned out, it was going to be on his shoulders. He would be damned if this was going to taint his legacy.
“Mr. President…” began one of his female aides with a touch of concern.
“I’m fine,” he said in a low but stern voice, “Get Worthington back on the line. I want a full report from him. If he needs anything to speed it up, give it to him.”
“What of the other company you mentioned? Southerner Pharmaceuticals?” asked the Secretary of State.
“We’ll get to them later. Given their history with Worthington, they shouldn’t be much of a problem. For their sake they better not.”
“I believe I can help with that,” said Senator Kelly, “I have a history with the Southerner family as well.”
“You do that, Senator. Do a good job and I might just stop despising you,” said the President.
“Is that all you’ll give me? Considering how these resources you’re implementing are only available thanks to my ‘paranoia’ as you call it?” said the Senator snidely.
“We come out of this in one piece I’ll give you all the time in the world to gloat. I’ll even put it on pay-per-view. Just get this done! Time is running out!” said the President.
Senator Kelly grinned calmly as he got up and left the room. As this crisis unfolded, his credibility was growing while the credibility of his critics was waning. They once called his obsession with the mutant issue mad. With the fate of humanity hanging in the balance, it didn’t seem so mad anymore. It was a good thing he had ties to families like the Southerners, who had an unpleasant history with mutants as well. They may prove important allies once this crisis was over.
Once the senator was gone, the President set his coffee aside and sighed. Even though he was supposed to be the leader, he didn’t sense a lot of confidence from his advisors. He could tell they were anxious and missed their families as well. He wasn’t exactly inspiring them like a leader should but so long as he was President they didn’t have a choice.
“Let’s try to find some good news in this mess,” muttered the President, “Any luck on finding the X-men yet?”
“No sir,” said one of his Joint Chiefs, “Since they slipped away from their institute, they’ve been completely silent. I’ve have the NSA looking for them as we speak.”
“Did you find anything in that school of theirs?”
“Not yet. They locked it down pretty tight before they left,” said the Secretary of Defense, “We suspect there are secret sub-levels to the complex, but they got a hell of a security system.”
“Well blow it up if you have to. If there’s any lead on these punks and how they’ve been helping with Magneto, I want to know about it,” said the President.
“With all due respect sir, we don’t know if what Magneto said is even true,” said one of his aides.
“It makes too much sense for it not to be and we don’t have time to second guess,” said the President firmly, “Now I don’t care if you or the public thinks they’re heroes or something. As far as I’m concerned, the X-men are war criminals. And so help me God, I’ll make sure they face the same punishment as Magneto!”
Rochester, New York – Quick End Groceries
It had been a long week for the X-men to say the least. After being attacked in their home by their own government, they were officially on the run. There was no training, no classes, and no missions. It was all survival at this point. To make matters even worse, Magneto was still out there with the Professor as a hostage. He had the world at his mercy and they were stuck ducking the authorities.
The only positive side to all this was the world seemed blissfully unaware of the incoming asteroid. Naturally, governments around the world were keeping a tight lid on the situation. If everybody found out they were facing mass extinction, civilization as they knew it would fall apart. Not everything could be kept secret though. Word got out something big was happening on Genosha and rumors about Magneto’s status were rampant. But the secret couldn’t stay hidden for ever. The asteroid was due to impact in a week. The X-men had to act before them or all would be lost.
For now, the team remained in survival mode. Logan, Rogue, and Kitty were out on brief shopping trip to get supplies. They filled two carts with food, batteries, and what not to keep them going for the rest of the week if necessary. Kitty and Rogue were doing most of the shopping while Logan was standing watch.
“Got enough cigarette cartons there, Rogue?” Kitty commented as they passed the smoking isle.
“Don’t tell meh you’re gonna lecture meh on the merits of smoking at a time like this,” groaned Rogue as she stuffed three cartons into the cart.
“Like that’s ever stopped you?” scoffed Kitty, “I just think it’s worth reminding that we are operating on a limited budget here. The money in that account the Professor set up isn’t unlimited.”
“You’d think a guy as rich as him would put more in an emergency fund. Didn’t he ever watch old gangster movies?”
“Well he didn’t. So let’s at least try and be a little frugal here in case we need this money for something more important than getting a nicotine fix.”
Rogue cast Kitty a harsh scorn. But she didn’t have the energy to argue with her. In times like this they had to avoid petty feuds at all costs, even if it did annoy the hell out of her. Begrudgingly, she put one of the cartons back on the rack and wheeled the cart forward.
“There now, ya happy?” she said bitterly.
“I won’t make a big deal of it if you won’t,” said Kitty, trying not to smile too much, “Let’s just pay for this stuff and get back to the dump we have to call home.”
While Kitty and Rogue made their way to the checkout area, Logan was standing near the front door watching a TV that the clerk was watching. He had with him a bottle of whiskey that he bought with his own money. If ever there was a more appropriate time to drink, this was it. He had already gulped half of it down as he watched a news report come up. It was about Magneto, but lacked a few important details like the truth.
“More controversy emerges today as the White House remains completely silent on growing concerns about Magneto. Reports earlier this week indicated something went wrong at GuantanamoBay where Magneto is being held. Some are speculating a breakout while others suspect he may have been executed. Others point out the recent loss of contact with Genosha as indication that peace plans for the island have failed. The status of the troops stationed has not been clarified. Uproar in mutant communities throughout the world has been growing since the trial. Other protests throughout the country have erupted as well with citizens demanding answers from their government. As of now, the White House has not commented.”
Logan snarled at the images of mutant protesters in Washington. He always had a strong resentment for the authorities. After his experience with governments and weapons programs, he had no trust in any stiff in a suite who claimed political power. But the repot wasn’t done.
“In a related story, authorities are on the lookout for Professor Charles Xavier and his mutant team, the X-men. The well-known advocates of mutant rights have been missing for nearly a week now. The FBI and ATF released a statement earlier today that they are wanted for questioning on matters of national security. They were last seen in the Westchester area. If anybody has any information as to their location, please call the number below.”
The number appeared on the screen, followed by a stream of images depicting each member of the X-men. As it just so happens, Kitty and Rogue were pushing their cart up to the counter while their images appeared on the screen. The middle-aged clerk watching paled when he saw this. He paled as he looked at the TV and then back at the two girls. The similarity was uncanny. It had to be them.
“What?” said Rogue, oblivious to what was going on the screen behind her.
“Uh Rogue…” said Kitty nervously, who saw what the clerk was looking at.
But the clerk didn’t wait for them to process what was going on.
“It’s you!” he exclaimed, “You’re those freak X-men!”
“Wait! You don’t understand!” Kitty began.
The clerk didn’t listen. He reached under the counter and pulled out 357 magnum. With shaky hands he pointed it at the two girls.
“Get back!” he said nervously, “I’m turning you into the authorities.”
“Pal, we don’t want any trouble,” said Rogue, trying not to lose her cool.
“Shut up! I always knew you freaks were bad news! Now back up or I’ll…”
But he didn’t get to finish. Before he could even cock his gun, a distinct ‘snikt’ echoed from his left and in a brief flash three metal claws sliced through his gun as if it were tin foil. Shocked, he fell back and turned to see a very angry Wolverine standing in front of the counter.
Having seen his image on the TV, Logan had a feeling this would get ugly. They were already attracting the attention of a few other shoppers. But his menacing snarl and intimidating claws was enough to freeze anybody where they stood, especially the clerk. If they knew what was good for them, they wouldn’t say anything to anybody.
“You heard the lady, bub! We ain’t looking for trouble! But you wanna start something, you gotta go through me!” said Logan, pointing his claws right at his face in a threatening manner.
“Please, I just…” the clerk trembled.
“Just bag this shit, let us pay, and keep your damn mouth shut! You so much as even try to call anybody, I’ll hunt you down and…”
“That’s enough, Logan!” said Kitty, stepping between them before he could finish his threat, “I think he gets the message.”
Logan cast the clerk one last threatening snarl. But he pulled back and withdrew he claws, allowing the clerk to breathe a brief but welcome sigh of relief.
“Better make this quick, sugah. Our friend here has a bit of a temper,” said Rogue coyly.
The clerk only nodded anxiously and quickly went about scanning their groceries. Logan kept an eye on the other shoppers, making sure they got the message too. Nobody said a word, standing completely still until the clerk was finished. His hands shook the entire time, staring at the three X-men with a mix of fear and resentment. Having fugitives in his store wasn’t just bad for business, it was a personal affront. He may not be able to stop them, but they couldn’t run forever.
Once he finished, Rogue grabbed the bags and rushed out with Kitty. She took out a cigarette in the process, needing a smoke after an affair like this. Before they left, Kitty turned back and cast the clerk a sympathetic gaze.
“Sorry Mister, but for the record we’re innocent,” she said, trying to sound light-hearted, “There was just a little misunderstanding with the government.”
“Save it, Kitty,” said Rogue as she puffed away past a no smoking sign, “Now let’s get out of here.”
Kitty shrugged and waved, much to the chagrin of the clerk. Logan lingered a bit longer, keeping his eye on them until the girls were out of the store. Looking back up at the TV screen, he saw their images being broadcast again. The government must be stepping up their efforts to capture them. Soon, they would have the whole country looking for them.
In a fit of frustration, he growled and drew his claws again. He then stabbed it right into the small TV, causing it to spark and short out in a loud burst. Every one in the store tensed. They were still paralyzed with fear, but that didn’t bother the former living weapon. He was an unstable man in an unstable situation. He didn’t need anybody making this situation worse for him.
“No news is good news,” he snarled.
“You monsters! You will pay for that!” exclaimed the clerk.
“You really wanna threaten a guy who has the whole damn government after him?”
The clerk fell silent again. Logan pointed his claws at him for good measure. He then gulped down the last of his drink and tossed it on the counter.
“Have a nice day, bub,” he said snidely, “Recycle that, will ya?”
The feral mutant withdrew his claws and followed Kitty and Rogue out. They were already sitting in a car they rented, ready to go. Before he got in he looked back into the store suspiciously. Despite his threats, he had a feeling one of them would get the balls to call the authorities sooner or later. They were too scared not to. It was just like the Professor said. People rarely do the right thing when they’re scared.
The walls were closing in on them. The team was going to need a plan soon. Once people started looking for them, the authorities would catch up with them. If they were caught before they stopped Magneto it was over. And they couldn’t let that happen.
“Better step on it, Stripes,” said Logan as he got into the car, “Won’t be long now. Pretty soon we’ll every fed on the east cost breathing down our necks!”
“How do you know? Ah thought you threatened those people enough,” said Rogue as she started driving.
“Trust me, I know. Even I can’t scare people that much.”
“This mess just keeps getting worse and worse,” lamented Kitty.
“Then somebody better have a plan when we get back! Because we’re running out of time!”
Rochester, New York – Abandoned Car Lot
“What do you mean we still don’t have a plan?!” exclaimed Logan angrily after having just returned with Kitty and Rogue.
“Do I have to give you the definition of each word, Logan?” groaned a very frustrated Scott Summers, “We still don’t have a plan.”
“We’ve been holed up in these dumps for a week now while Magneto is holding the whole damn world hostage! What the hell are you waiting for Fearless Leader? You trying to make a freakin’ challenge out of it?!”
“Calm down, Logan! Losing your temper isn’t helping us think any faster!” yelled Jean, pulling Logan away from her boyfriend.
Logan snarled at in frustration, but listened to Jean and backed off. Thankfully, Scott didn’t start another argument. He was just as frustrated as he was. A week in a situation like this was practically a lifetime. Being on the run while Magneto had his way with the world was not an easy predicament. They were the X-men. They were supposed to be able to handle challenges like this yet here they were powerless to do anything.
Logan stormed off to get himself some more liquor. Jean sat down next to Scott and slipped her arms around his waist in a comforting gesture. A heavy silence fell over them and the rest of the room. The team had been going through quite a rough patch since this mess began. As soon as they escaped from the mansion, they ditched the boat at an old dock and started running. The first thing they did was get their hands on Professor Xavier’s emergency funds. Jean was able to obtain it by ‘coaxing’ a bank teller into forgetting to check their ID. Then they got some civilian clothes and rented a car. Since then they just stayed in hotels, laying low and contemplating their next move.
They had little to go on. Magneto had Professor Xavier and Hank McCoy. Since they took the X-jet to Gaunatanamo, their ability to travel was limited. With the authorities now after them they couldn’t use public transportation or get on a plane. They couldn’t even get in touch with emergency contacts without risking exposure. But being fugitives wasn’t what frustrated them the most. Being stuck in this mess while Magneto carried out his insane plan without interference was what haunted them most.
The X-men sat in silence on the dirty floors of an abandoned car lot. It would have been nice if they could plan their next move in the comforts of a hotel, but they couldn’t afford to leave a trail of any kind at this point. This place wasn’t air conditioned and it had antiquated plumbing at best, but at least it had electricity and it was boarded up so nobody would notice that someone was staying here.
“So now the news is blaring our mug-shots all over the country?” said Remy, “Dang, what else can go wrong?”
“The President must be getting desperate,” said Warren as he and Kurt munched on some chips, “He can’t stop Magneto so he’s going to settle for us.”
“How does zhat make any sense?” wondered Kurt.
“When you freak out, you’re entitled to do stuff that doesn’t make sense,” said Rogue, working on her second cigarette since he got back, “Guy’s got the end of the world hangin’ over him. He’s gotta punish somebody.”
“Whatever his reasons, he’s making our job that much harder,” said Scott, “With the Professor in Magneto’s hands, he has every reason to believe we’re helping him.”
“Perhaps we should consider seeking him out first before we confront Magneto,” said Ororo who was standing watch near a boarded window.
“You’re not suggesting we let ourselves get arrested, are you Miss Munroe?” asked Bobby.
“Of course not, but with the stakes this high it may be a risk we have to take. There’s no way around it. We cannot hope to counter Magneto in our current state.”
“Better here than a prison cell,” muttered Logan, who was already gulping down a new bottle of whiskey.
“I’m with Logan. Ain’t no way they’re gonna let folks like us anywhere near the guy. He probably be in some underground bunker anyhow.”
“That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try,” said Ororo, “We’re going to have to reach him and all the authorities eventually.”
“You’re probably right, Ororo. We’ll have to worry about our reputation later. Right now, our sole focus should be on stopping Magneto,” said Scott strongly.
It was hard to contemplate which would be more difficult, stopping magneto or winning back the support of the authorities. It sure didn’t take much to convince the President that they had switched sides on him. Just like before, they were going to have to prove themselves and they couldn’t do it just by sitting down and talking it out.
It really was risky, but at this point Ororo was willing to take some if she had to. She owed that much to Hank. Despite the chaos of the past week, it wasn’t lost on her that he had been abducted as well. Even though they were broken up now, she still worried about him. And they never did have that talk she promised they would have. She prayed they would still get their chance when all this was over, no matter how it panned out.
“So help from Uncle Sam is officially off the table,” said Kitty, “But if we’re going to fight Magneto, we have to find a way to get to him first. And nobody’s heard a peep from him since he escaped from Guantanamo.”
“Probably just biding his time,” said Scott, “For now, we can only assume he’s on Genosha. That’s where this all started. It’s reasonable to assume that this is where he would want it to end.”
“Great, so all we have to do is hop a flight to Genosha and do what we do best,” said Bobby dryly.
“If the news is any indication, we’ll be lucky to get within a hundred miles of that place,” said Warren, “I wouldn’t be surprised if every military in the world was surrounding that place now.”
“Me neither,” said Jean, “Which kind of makes me worry because Magneto’s never been the patient type. He’s had a week to make his move. So what’s he waiting for? Why hasn’t he told the rest of the world an asteroid is on its way to destroy the world?”
“Yeah, you’d think a guy like him would take a perverse pleasure in watching the world go to hell,” said Rogue dryly.
“That could only mean he’s got something else planned. The question is what,” said Scott.
“Who gives a damn about the what?” scoffed Logan as he gulped down his drink, “Let’s just find a way to get to Genosha, catch up with old Mags, and beat up on him until he agrees to send that rock packing!”
“That’s a wonderfully simplistic plan, Logan,” said Scott dryly, “But apart from it being foolhardy on a ridiculous level, getting to Genosha at this point is next to impossible.”
“So let’s hijack a plane! Let’s steal a ship! It ain’t like we don’t have to tools!”
“Hijacking, Logan? That’s so heroic. Ah’m sure the Professor would be so proud of us for that,” said Rogue dryly.
“To hell with heroics!” exclaimed Logan, “This ain’t the time for mutant outreach! We gotta stop this madman and we can’t afford to be heroic about it!”
“You think defeating Magneto warrants becoming like him?” said Scott strongly, “If that’s what we’re being reduced to then what’s the point of stopping him?”
Scott was outraged Logan would even contemplate going to such lengths. Everybody was. Even if they wanted to stop Magneto as much as him, they still had to remember that they were X-men. There were certain lines they wouldn’t cross, even in times of great crisis. It didn’t make their job any easier, but the Professor trained them to be better.
“Scott’s right, Herr Logan,” said Kurt, “Ve have to consider our methods carefully. Zhey may play an important part in how zhis pans out.”
“If by panning out that means watching the whole damn world go up in flames from some space rock, why the hell would it matter?” scoffed Logan, “We can’t just keep waiting here hoping we’ll get lucky! In times like this, you gotta make your own luck!”
Then in a fit of frustration, Logan threw his empty whiskey bottle across the room so it hit an old TV set they found when they first entered this place. Kitty and Bobby were able to fix it up to get it working, but with the news telling them nothing they didn’t already know they turned it off. Whether it was luck or sheer coincidence, the bottle hit the TV in just the right way to turn it on. And the first image they saw caught everyone’s attention, especially Warren.
“Breaking news in the unfolding story surrounding the Genosha affair. Billionaire industrialist, Warren Worthington Jr., is actively denying rumors that he and the military are mobilizing sentinel technology to help contain the escalating situation on Genosha. According to an anonymous tip, Worthington has been in contact with the Pentagon about using sentinels to back up troops stationed on the island nation. These reports haven’t been verified, but they are fueling rumors that something has gone wrong on Genosha. In other news…”
The news report continued, but nobody was listening anymore. They heard everything they needed to hear. Suddenly, there was hope in the midst of this otherwise bleak situation and it came from a place they least expected. Now all eyes were on Warren, who found himself in a very uncomfortable position.
“Can’t believe I be saying this, Logan, but you outta drink more often,” grinned Remy, “You may of just given us a trump card!”
“I’ll ignore that lame ass card pun, Cajun. But I ain’t afraid to admit I may have been wrong when it comes to luck,” grinned the former living weapon.
Warren got up and quickly turned off the TV. He didn’t like where this was going.
“Stop looking at me like that guys! You’re freaking me out!” said the winged mutant, trying to hide his anxiety.
“Cut the crap, Warren, you know what we’re thinking,” said Jean as she and the rest of the team stood up, “If you’re going to be dense about it I can always broadcast our thoughts directly into your brain.”
“No! Absolutely not! There’s no way we’re bringing my father into this!”
“If there’s anything to that so called leak, he may already be involved,” said Kitty.
“It doesn’t matter if he is! I’m not doing it!”
“We haven’t even asked you to do anything yet, Warren!” said Rogue.
“But you’re going to and I have a pretty good idea what it involves!”
The winged mutant attempted to walk towards the door, hoping to avoid this situation. But just as he was about to slip out, Kurt teleported into his path and stopped him.
“Please, mien friend. Be reasonable about zhis,” coaxed the German mutant.
“There’s nothing reasonable about it! You’re all looking at me as if I’m the only one who can do it!”
“You are the only one who can do it, Warren,” said Scott as he approached his winged friend, “Logan had a point. We need a way to Genosha and your father has the resource to get us there.”
“He also has the sentinels at his disposal. Even if that report was wrong, it could provide us with the edge we need to stop Magneto,” added Ororo, “I know it’s asking a lot, but he is your father. You’ve been able to reach him before.”
“Forget it! It’s not happening!” said Warren, trying to get away again.
This time Logan got in his way and gave him the threatening look that so many dreaded.
“You really wanna be selfish at a time like this? We got a killer asteroid heading our way for crying out loud! You got a chance to get us to Genosha, stop Armageddon, and take it to Magneto before he sends the entire planet to Hell. Ain’t that worth graveling to your old man?”
“It’s not that simple!” groaned Warren, now starting to feel the pressure, “We’re talking about my father here!”
“If anybody can reach him, it’s you, sugah,” said Rogue.
“Would you feel that way if it were Mystique?”
“The day mah mama gives up being a lying, manipulative bitch and gets a job running some big industrial company, Ah’ll let you know. Now how about you suck it up and be a team player?”
“Look at it this way, man. We’ll all owe you big time afterwards!” said Bobby.
Warren looked away and groaned. As much as he hated to admit it, they all made valid points. It really was their only shot. His father was the only man who could help at this point. But it meant him having to gravel to the man who once tried to take his wings and kept him from being with the girl he loved. That was a high price to pay for him. But letting his friends and his team down was not only selfish, it meant paying an even higher price. One way or another, he was going to have to swallow his pride.
Sensing he needed a bit more persuasion, Kitty and Jean came up to him and gave him their best puppy-eyed look.
“Please Warren?” said Kitty with a coy smile, “I know it’s a lot to ask of you, but we really need you to do this.”
“We’ve always covered for you, haven’t we?” said Jean, trying to match Kitty’s look, “Remember all those times I did your chores so you could meet up with Candy?”
Warren groaned again, throwing his hands up in defeat. They just had to put him on the spot like this.
“You guys suck,” he muttered.
“That be your way of saying yes, non?” grinned Remy.
“Just don’t ever give me that look again and we’ll call it even,” said the winged mutant.
“That’s our angel!” chirped Kitty, giving him a hug as reward.
It definitely helped to lift everybody’s spirits. For the first time they had some semblance of a plan.
“But I have to warn you guys, my father might just turn us in,” said Warren, “He’s been known to screw people over, even close family members.”
“That’s a risk we’ll have to take,” said Scott, “With any luck you can hold that intel we found on him and Shaw Industries as leverage.”
“Hopefully that won’t be necessary,” said Ororo, “We just need his help getting to Genosha and a means to clear things up with the authorities.”
“We’ll see,” said the X-leader, “If what that report said is true about him using sentinel technology, we may have a whole new problem on our hands. One that may be just as dangerous as Magneto.”
“Let’s try and focus on one global crisis at a time, ja?” said Kurt, shuttering at the notion of having to deal with the sentinels again.
No one could argue with that. Compared to giant killer robots, a doomsday asteroid and a power hungry Magneto took precedent. If Warren’s father was crazy enough to resurrect the sentinels, they would deal with that another day. For now, they just needed his help getting to Magneto. One week was too much time for him. The longer they waited the harder he was going to be to stop. In addition, the lives of Professor Xavier and Hank McCoy hung in the balance. They had to proceed carefully if they were to save them and everyone else on this world.
With the plan set, the X-men packed up their supplies and prepared to head out. Scott, Jean, Warren, Bobby, Logan, Ororo, Rogue, Kitty, Remy, and Kurt all faced a daunting challenge both as a team and personally. A lot was riding on this. They couldn’t afford to let the Professor and the world down.
“Then it’s settled,” said Scott, “Let’s hit the road and get to Manhattan before rush hour.”
“Any chance we could stop somewhere so I can call my folks to let them know I’m okay?” asked Kitty, “They’re probably worried sick about me.”
“Yeah, same here,” said Bobby, “I also need to check on Lorna. There’s no telling how much she’s been freaking out with rumors of Magneto being let out!”
“Sorry guys, but we can’t risk sending out any communications at this point,” said Scott, trying to not to sound too heartless to his friends’ concerns.
“Come on, can’t we find a way to encrypt it or something?” Bobby complained.
“With the entire government on our backs and no Beast expertise, what do you think?” said Logan.
Bobby and Kitty’s expression fell under Logan’s crass words. Kurt felt it too since he wanted to contact Amanda as well. If the world was coming to an end, hearing from loved ones was important. But Scott was right. They couldn’t put the mission at risk for personal reasons.
While the others prepared, Jean offered her friends a compassionate gesture. It was a gesture they each took comfort in, knowing they had the support of their teammates.
“I’m sorry, guys. You’ll get your chance with them. You know you will,” she said, “Just keep looking forward to it when we’re on our way to fight Magneto.”
“For a chance to see Lorna again, I’d face him a hundred times,” said Bobby distantly, “It feels like forever since we last spoke. I hope she’s okay.”
“Lorna be a tough girl to be Magneto’s daughter,” said Remy as he followed the others out, “I’m sure she be fine.”
St. Michael’s Hospital – One Week Earlier
“Lorna? Lorna, are you still there? I can’t see you,” said a weak, but warm tone.
“I’m here mom,” said a saddened, but strong Lorna, “Just relax. The doctors say the treatment will blur your vision for a while. You’re going to be okay.”
A warm smile formed on the weak woman’s face. Lorna tried to smile back, but it wasn’t easy. For the past three months she watched her mother whither away under cancer’s relentless assault. Despite the best treatment Professor Xavier could offer, hope was fading fast and Lorna was at a loss.
Sitting at her mother’s bedside, Lorna held back a wave of sobs. Looking at her now, it was hard to believe her mother had once been a vibrant, healthy, beautiful woman who drew respect from everybody she met. It was part of what made her so good at her job, counseling rape victims and war refugees. She had a talent for reaching people with hardened hearts. Unfortunately, that talent didn’t get passed along to her. She sure could use it right about now.
Sensing her daughter’s distraught state the sickly woman squeezed her hand with what little strength she had.
“Lorna, sweety, there are some things I’ve been meaning to talk to you about,” she said.
“Mom don’t,” sobbed Lorna, “Let’s not have this conversation again.”
“No, it’s not that. It…it has to do with your father.”
Lorna shifted uncomfortably. She had long avoided this subject. She sensed it was a difficult issue for her mother and she didn’t need that in her current state. But she wasn’t willing to ignore it any longer.
“I’ve heard about what’s been going on with him,” she said sadly, “And while I still have the strength, there’s something you should know about him.”
“I think I’ve learned enough,” she said distantly, “I’m not sure I want to know any more.”
“Don’t be so quick to push him away. I know what people say about him. You’ve probably only known a certain side of him…the side that harbors so much resentment for humanity.”
“He tried to wage war on the whole world! I would say that’s more than just resentment.”
“It is. But it’s not just about his anger. It’s about his pain,” she said in a deeper tone, “He grew up in the worst of environments, having to live through the holocaust and watch his family get slaughtered before his eyes.”
“I’ve heard that story. It’s not an excuse for what he’s done!” said Lorna strongly.
“I’m not saying it is. I’m just saying there’s more to him than you think. When I knew him, he was a broken man. He just lost his wife and was struggling to raise his two children. I was working in the Balkans at the time and I found him standing over a mass grave, weeping silently. He was so lost and distant. I did my best to reach out to him. But he was the one who reached me.”
With diminishing strength, the sick woman turned to her daughter so she could look her in the eye. Her vision was still blurry, but she could make out the distinct outline of her little girl who had grown into such a beautiful young woman.
“I’ll spare you certain details. All you need to know is that I stood by him. I…felt for him in ways I haven’t felt for anyone else. I saw in him a man so full of anger and sorrow, who wanted nothing more than to leave it all behind. I tried to help him. Just as Charles Xavier tried to help him. I thought I could succeed because I sensed in him a tortured soul…one that was worth saving.”
“So what went wrong?” asked Lorna, “How did he become such a monster?”
“That was another tragedy,” she said sadly, “There was another attack…a horrific attack by bandits who had been displaced by the war. The atrocities they committed in their impoverished state were horrendous. But what sent your father over the edge was when they tried to kill his children and rape me.”
Lorna gasped at such a revelation. It was almost too hard to contemplate, facing such hardship with an already hardened soul. She could easily surmise what happened next.
“He…he took matters into his own hands,” said her dying mother, “He went on a rampage, slaughtering every last bandit in a metal storm. I still remember the look in his eyes to this day. They were not from the man I came to know so well. They were that of a monster, one that had given into his hatred and rage.”
She squeezed her daughter’s hand harder, gathering her strength as the haunting memories came rushing back to her.
“I was so horrified by his actions. I…I could barely look at him after it was over. That’s when I realized I had failed. I couldn’t reach him in time. So I left. That’s when you came into the picture…a parting gift from the man I failed.”
Lorna held back more sobs as her mother reached up and caressed her face. She smiled warmly at her, despite the horrific details of her story.
“I still believe to this day that you embody all that was good about Erik Lensherr,” she went on, “I failed him. I’ve done everything I can to make sure I don’t fail you.”
“You haven’t, mom,” said Lorna, more tears forming in her eyes.
“And I couldn’t be more proud,” she said warmly, “I…I only wish I had a second chance with your father. He is a part of my life just as much as he is a part of yours. Even after everything he’s done, please don’t think of him as a monster. I still believe there is a part of that man I once knew deep inside him. He just…he just needs someone to reach out to him again…someone to have faith in him.”
Lorna wiped the tears from her eyes, trying to stay strong in wake of her mother’s desperate words. It was as if she was personally passing the responsibility along to her. It was a responsibility she wasn’t ready for. She had seen what her father was capable of. She wasn’t sure if there was any trace of that man her mother described.
Then Lorna found herself thinking back to the trial. She remembered that speech he gave where he laid out his case against humanity. There was so much anger in his words, but there was still a trace of humanity. He had in him a sense of right and wrong, a sense she shared in a ways. It had been on her mind ever since. It really showed how strongly her fate was tied to this man. Her mother was right. He was a part of her. She couldn’t avoid him forever. Something had to be done before the courts determined his fate. If she couldn’t do it then no one else would.
Lorna watched as her mother let go of her hand and lay back in her bed. She looked so tired and weak, the cancer’s assault taking its toll. Lorna still refused to contemplate her not getting better. She wasn’t ready to go on without her. She still needed her.
“Get some rest, mom. I love you so much,” she said softly.
“I love you too, Lorna. You’ll always be my most precious gift.”
Lorna smiled and held back more tears as she got up and left her mother to rest. She tried to gather herself as she stepped back out into the hall. It was late at night so the hospital was fairly quiet except for a few nurses and doctors. She should have gone home an hour ago. She had school tomorrow and a date with Bobby later, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave yet. Not after what her mother just told her.
Hugging her shoulders, Lorna looked back at her mother through the window leading into her room. It looked like she was already fast asleep. These treatments were taking it out of her and not getting any results. She would have to talk to the doctors tomorrow. If her mother didn’t get better soon, someone was going to have to give her some answers.
While she stood lost in thought, she felt a strange gust of air blow past her. Then in the reflection to the window she saw a figure she didn’t expect.
“Nice hospital. Got lousy snack machines though,” said the crass voice of Pietro Maximoff.
Lorna shot around to see her half-brother standing in front of her in street clothes, casually eating a bag of chips. She instinctively got defensive, having not spoken to her siblings since the uprising.
“Pietro! What do you want?” she demanded.
“Take it easy, half-sis. I’m not here to fight,” he said with his mouth full of chips, “I’m just here to pay a friendly visit to the only girl in our family who doesn’t seem outraged by the way they’re treating our father.”
“I am outraged! But if you think you can get me to turn my back on my friends or my mother, you’re going to be disappointed!” she said, making some of the metal around her move, “Now are you going to leave me alone or am I going to have to make you?”
“Wow, Wanda was right. The women of the family do seem to inherent father’s temper,” commented Pietro.
“I’ll take that as a no,” grunted Lorna as she levitated a couple of chairs around her.
At this point, Pietro quit the jokes and got serious. He threw away his empty bag of chips and held his hands up innocently.
“Whoa there! We’re already in a hospital, Lorna. Let’s not add to the body count,” he said calmly.
“Then explain yourself or go away!” she said.
“Fine, but you’re going to owe me big time after I do this little favor,” he said.
“Favor? What are you talking about?” said Lorna, letting the chairs down.
“This,” he said as he pulled out some folded up pieces of paper from his pocket, “I did a little rummaging through the files here. Turns out the doctors have been keeping a few secrets from you.”
Pietro then handed the papers to Lorna. Curious but suspicious, Lorna kept her eye on her estranged brother as she unfolded them. They appeared to be some kind of medical records, not unlike the ones she saw the doctors carrying around all the time. She recognized them as belonging to her mother. They were a detailed record of her treatments since she arrived at this hospital, but what really caught her eye were the comments made at the bottom.
Her heart jumped up into her throat when she read those ominous words. Words like terminal and irreversible dominated every sentence. The line at the bottom was the hardest to read. It confirmed what she had been dreading for so long now.
“Six weeks…that’s all she has?!” sobbed Lorna, “Six week before…”
She couldn’t even say it. She dropped the paper and had to lean on the wall for balance. Pietro quickly caught her to keep her from completely falling over. She was on the verge of breaking down. Her mother was dying and now she had a time limit. Just six weeks at the most and she would be gone.
“I’m sorry, Lorna. I really am,” said Pietro in as sincere a tone he could manage.
“No…it can’t be!” she sobbed, “Xavier said this place was the best! This is where she could get the treatment that would…”
“Xavier makes a lot of promises he can’t keep. It’s sort of his thing.”
“Shut up! My mom is dying and you’re using this to spite Xavier?!” she exclaimed.
“I’m just stating facts, Lorna,” he said bluntly, “Trust me, I take no joy in saying this. But it’s too late for your mother. There’s nothing you or Xavier can do for her.”
Lorna looked at her brother bitterly and then back at her mother. As much as she resented him, she knew he was right.
“No…not like this,” she said, looking at her mom, “I can’t lose her!”
“You don’t have to,” said Pietro, putting a hand on her shoulder, “Remember those healers father promised you during the uprising? That promise still stands you know.”
“What healers?” scoffed Lorna bitterly, “There were no healers! If so, why didn’t you offer them before when my mother still had a chance?!”
“That was then. This is now,” said Pietro ominously, “The situation has changed on Genosha. Something’s come up…something Wanda and I want you to be a part of.”
“Didn’t we already go through this before?” said Lorna bitterly, “You tried to get me to go along with a war to save my mother!”
“This is different. What we’re planning this time is worlds away from the uprising against Hodge,” grinned the speedster, “You want to save your mother. But what about the world she’s going to live in? Don’t you want that to be something worth living in?”
“That depends. What does this plan entail that’s so different than the last one?” asked Lorna skeptically.
“That I can’t tell you because I sincerely don’t know. All I can tell you is that you gotta decide now because it’s all going down soon. You want to save your mother? You can. You just have to give me and Wanda a second chance.”
It flew in the very face of good judgment. She trusted Wanda and Pietro last time and they nearly sent the world to the brink of oblivion. She studied Pietro’s expression, looking into his eyes in search of the same signs as before. She couldn’t tell whether he was telling the truth or not. She could only tell he was being sincere about her mother. Unlike last time, a lot more was at stake.
Before her mother was just sick and lacked the resources to get the proper care. Now she was dying. There was nothing this hospital could do. Her only hope was with her estranged family. But that meant helping them again, possibly taking part on yet another uprising against humanity. Every logical whim in her body was telling her this was no different despite what Pietro said, but she couldn’t stop thinking about her mother.
Then something occurred to her. Looking back at her mother, she remembered what she told him about Magneto. She urged her to have faith in her father. Someone just needed to be there for him. Even if what Pietro was planning was as devious as before, just being there could give her that chance. It was dangerous and risky, but she owed it to her mother to bear some of that responsibility. Bobby once told her heroes shouldn’t be afraid to take such risks. Whatever this plan entailed, it needed a hero.
“Okay,” said Lorna, not taking her eyes off her mother, “I’ll go with you…again.”
Pietro looked surprised. After last time, he didn’t honestly expect her to give them another chance.
“That’s two Wanda owes me,” he muttered under his breath, “You won’t regret it this time, Lorna. I promise! Just come with me. I’ll explain everything on the way.”
Lorna stayed silent as she followed her brother. But as she left with him, she didn’t realize she left her cell phone behind in her mother’s room. And just as she made her fateful decision, it started ringing. It was a call from Bobby. But it was a call that would have to go unanswered.
Genosha – Present Day
“ALL HAIL MAGNETO! ALL HAIL MAGNETO! ALL HAIL MAGNETO!”
The adoring praise of hundreds of mutants could be heard for miles. The streets of the once impoverished, authoritarian country were flushed with mutants from all corners of the world. Some were mutants who took part in the first Genosha uprising. Some were former prisoners of Cameron Hodge who chose to stay. Others were mutants who came after the uprising, looking to stake their claim with their fellow mutant brethren. It had been uncoordinated, uncertain, and tenuous at times. The imprisonment of Magneto and the active involvement of the UN forged a fragile balance between humans and mutants. Now that Magneto was free from his prison, that balance at tipped in their favor.
It was hard to imagine a more radical transformation of a once desolate island. As soon as Magneto returned with the device constructed by Forge, he took command of the island. Using his powers, he destroyed all communication links with the rest of the world and ordered all soldiers and non-mutants be contained to the old prison dome where Cameron Hodge once housed innocent mutants. It seemed a fitting gesture, one that symbolized his grand ambition to rise above humanity once and for all.
With no more humans in their way and the nations of the world fearing the incoming asteroid, Magneto went about making himself at home on the island. He gathered metal scrap from all over the island and over the course of a week, constructed a magnificent metal citadel in the heart of the former capital city. It was structured like a cathedral of metal, built to house himself and his machine. While he constructed his dwelling, he had Exodus, Mystique, and the Brotherhood rally the rest of their mutant brethren and begin construction on a new round of buildings meant to make the capital of Genosha a symbol of mutant supremacy for ages to come.
Looking out from the top level of his citadel, Magneto admired the new landscape of the island. Bland buildings and homes had been demolished and replaced with more elegant, artistic designs. It looked like a snapshot of a fanciful future, only it was real. It was small and still had various unfinished structures, but he could see the beginnings of a great metropolis. It would be a beacon for the new mutant order, which was set to begin soon.
“People of Genosha!” he proclaimed to his cheering followers, “Our time is almost upon us! The age of humanity is approaching its final hour! Rejoice and become part of it! Continue your efforts and aid any brother in need! Soon there will be many more mutants populating this city! Should any of you have mutant family still suffering under human tyranny, tell my associates and I will personally see to it that they join us! For this glorious occasion, we shall stand united! It’s time the humans accept their new place in the world…a failed species destined for extinction!”
Another frenzy of cheers erupted from below. Mutants of all kinds, those that looked totally human and those that looked completely inhuman, stood together and raised their fists in a show of support to their new leader. Magneto was their leader, the man who would free them from the tyranny of humanity. His efforts had been thwarted last time. Many were confident he would succeed this time.
Magneto waved to his adoring supporters and re-entered his citadel. He was near the top floor, which he marked as his throne room. It was here from where he would govern his people. It was also here where he would deliver the final blow to humanity.
In the center of the vast room, Forge was setting up the machine and recalibrating it to function on a different level. The rest of the Brotherhood was with them, including Exodus and Mystique. They were helping whatever way they could. That blast from the Brotherhood lair was just a prelude. The true power had yet to be unleashed. Magneto grinned intently, looking forward to using it just as he designed.
“How much longer, Forge?” asked the master of magnetism.
“If all goes well, it’ll be up and running by the end of the day,” said Forge confidently as he configured some wires in the center of the base plate, “I just need to calibrate the amplifiers like you specified in the original plans. That way it won’t need five fusion generators for just one burp. You’ll be completely in control!”
“Will it perform to the levels I calculated?”
“Down to the last decimal point,” affirmed Forge, “With your powers as an engine you’ll be able to create magnetic fields so strong you can rip iron from the core of the planet! It should be more than enough to stop that asteroid and turn it into asphalt!”
“Excellent. I’ll keep that in mind once the asteroid gets close enough. I’ve yet to decide what I’m going to do with it.”
“But you are going to stop it, right?” said Forge, “You told me yourself you weren’t going to let that rock hit. It would be the end of all of us if it did.”
“I’m well aware of its destructive potential, Forge. You need not worry.”
Forge stopped working momentarily and looked at the imposing mutant anxiously. It was hard to tell how sincere he was being. There was so much fury and intent in his tone. He couldn’t help but wonder if he was willing to let it hit. But set those thoughts aside. For now, he had to trust Magneto’s word.
“Everything okay, Forge?” asked Pietro, “You’re not doubting my father, are you?”
“Yeah, you wouldn’t like how he deals with doubters!” laughed Pyro.
“Of course I’m not doubting him. I just need an extra vote of confidence, that’s all,” said the Native American mutant, “I’m not doing this for free, you know?”
“Eh relax, Forge! You’ll get your reward,” said Toad, “We all will!”
“I’ve got my plans!” grinned Blob as he lugged some heavy equipment up to Forge, “Soon as mutants are the dominant ones, I’m hitting the best restraints in every country! It’ll be an all-you-can-eat bonanza and for once they can’t kick me out!”
“So much for removing famine from the new mutant order,” commented Lance.
“Shut up, Lance!” spat Blob.
Forge rolled his eyes and turned back to his work. There was a lot he looked forward to with this new order as well. At last he would be free to invent anything he wanted without some greedy corporation or government bearing down on him. It still depended a lot on Magneto though. He still had to do his part when the time came. He could only wait and see how it was going to unfold.
While Forge and the others kept working, Magneto caught up with Mystique who was waiting impatiently near the main doorway.
“If you’re done pandering to your people, Erik, we should start sending out transport orbs to gather more mutants,” said the shape shifter, “If Forge is going to be finished with that thing soon, we need as many mutants here before we throw the switch.”
“Patience, Mystique. You know we can’t send those orbs out until the time is right. The rest of the world doesn’t know about the asteroid or my release. Sending them out too soon could blow our cover.”
“Why would it matter?” said Mystique impatiently, “So the world would find out. It would just mean humanity going insane and tearing each other apart.”
“It would also mean the militaries of the world acting foolishly. And we can’t risk an attack before the machine is ready.”
“So what? We have an army of mutants here! We could repel anything they try!”
“Under normal circumstances, I’m inclined to agree. But I refuse to take such a chance on this operation. I won’t take any unnecessary risks to have it end up like our previous uprising. We’ll retrieve our brethren, but only when the time is right.”
Mystique wasn’t satisfied with such an answer. Just because he had a good reason didn’t mean it was right. She served him loyally since this whole scheme began. She deserved some leeway.
“Try not to concern yourself with these matters, Raven. I know why this is an issue for you,” said Magneto, “Your worried for your children.”
“You told me I was going to have a chance to get Kurt and Rogue after you turned the authorities on them. I’m still waiting for that chance!”
“That depended on the authorities being able to arrest the X-men. But you know as well as I do that they wouldn’t go quietly. You can hardly blame me for that.”
“But what if they get caught in the crossfire?! You know the X-men will try and stop us! I won’t let them get hurt because of it!”
“I’ll do everything in my power to stop that. Remember, your children have chosen their path. If they prove to be an obstruction, I won’t hesitate to defend what I’ve created.”
“Erik, so help me if they get hurt…”
“Don’t you dare start making threats, Raven!” said Magneto sternly, making the metal vibrate around him to reinforce his point, “It is not my fault you failed to keep Kurt and Marie from joining the X-men. As such, it is you who must deal with the consequences. Oppose them at your own risk because I’m prepared to defend my destiny from enemies and allies alike.”
Mystique’s expression tensed with anger as Magneto walked off. As far as he was concerned, the conversation was over. There was still plenty Mystique wanted to say, but it wasn’t going to do her any good. Magneto made his intentions clear. He was willing to risk her children to get what he wanted. That wasn’t a price she was willing to pay. But there was nothing she could do at this point.
Hiding a defeated gaze, she turned back towards the machine. Along the way her eyes drifted towards Charles Xavier and Hank McCoy. To keep them contained, Magneto had them shackled with metal shards to a wall. He also put inhibitor collars he stole from Weapon X on them to keep them from using their powers. Hank was sleeping while Xavier was conscious. He overheard the conversation and cast a look of sympathy.
“You don’t have to go through with this, Mystique,” said the Professor, “I know how much you love your children.”
“Shut up, Xavier! It’s your fault they’re with the X-men in the first place!” she spat.
“I didn’t force them to join my team. Whatever the reasons, it doesn’t matter. Sooner or later, my X-men will confront Magneto. You know this as well as I. When it does you’ll have to make a decision…Magneto or your family.”
“If you’re trying to get me to free you, Charles, you’re going to be disappointed.”
“I’m not trying to convince you to free me. I’m just reminding you of your priorities. There’s a lot more at stake here than just the future of our kind.”
The shape shifter scolded Xavier, cursing him for butting into her affairs. The last thing she needed was a reminder from the man who turned her children against her. It didn’t matter if he was right or not. She hated his guts for putting her in this position. She hated Magneto too for doing the same. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. All she wanted was for her kids to live in a world where they didn’t have to hide who they were like she did. If Xavier was right and the X-men did come to oppose them, she was going to have to make a decision. But she already knew what she was going to choose. It was just a matter of being able to carry it out.
While Mystique stormed off, leaving the others to help Forge with the machine, Magneto approached the only two members of his team that weren’t helping with this momentous occasion. Lorna and Wanda had been keeping their distance, spending much of their time gazing distantly out of the citadel over the emerging cityscape of the Genoshan capital city. They hadn’t said much since this all began, especially Lorna. They helped, but only on limited levels. The master of magnetism hoped his own children would be more enthusiastic with their kind finally succeeding where they once failed.
“And how are my lovely daughters doing on this glorious occasion?” he asked them, “I would have hoped to see more enthusiasm upon my return.”
“Sorry Father,” said Wanda, “I am glad you’re back. It’s just a bit…overwhelming. This is all happening so fast.”
“I know it is, my dear. But it will all be over soon,” said the master of magnetism with a fatherly gesture, “It won’t be long before we have a bold new world before us. Isn’t that what you want?”
“Of course it is. But these last few months on Genosha have given me a lot of time to think. Is threatening to wipe humanity out really the best way to make the world better for mutants?”
“It isn’t about what is best, my dear. It’s about what is necessary,” said Magneto strongly, “I understand you have gotten a taste of Xavier’s way of doing things in my absence. But surely you can see how such reasoning is hopelessly flawed. I would hope my own daughter of all people, who I would go to any length to protect, would understand that and why I’m doing this.”
“Of…of course, I understand, Father. I just worry we’re asking too much. Isn’t that sort of hubris a trait of humanity you yourself once condemned?”
Magneto was silent for a moment. He was surprised Wanda was bringing this up. Perhaps she had been around Xavier too long. He not only poisoned her with his ideals, he got her to question theirs. That was something they were going to have to work on when this was all over.
“Do not concern yourself with such notions, Wanda. What we’re asking is not unreasonable. We’re just taking our rightful position in the natural order. I’ve taken every such precaution. We will not fall into humanity’s sin. I promise.”
Wanda was still somewhat distant. Then she smiled warmly and nodded, letting her father know she understood. He smiled back and tenderly cupped her chin. Even if Xavier had gotten her to think differently about certain long-held beliefs, this man was still her father. He raised her and protected her. When he made her a promise like that, she was inclined to trust him.
Lorna, however, wasn’t so willing. She cast Wanda a look as she smiled at their father. Then magneto turned to her, still unable to look at him with the kind of daughterly affection he expected from her.
“What about you, my dear Lorna?” he asked, “I must say I was pleasantly surprised when I heard you agreed to join us.”
“That makes two of us. This being a family affair, I figure I might as well be a part of it,” said Lorna, “Then there’s my mother, of course.”
“Yes, I understand,” said Magneto empathetically, “I have my healers working on her now. She may be a human, but I am not without mercy. I have no desire to deny my daughter the warmth only a mother can bring.”
“I…appreciate that,” said Lorna distantly, “But there are a few things I want to talk to you about…things I promised my mother we would talk about when we had the chance.”
“Of course,” he said with a smile, “We’ll have all the time in the world to discuss such matters soon. I promise. For now, I must focus on the challenge before me. I’ve waited a long time for this moment as has the rest of our kind. Let us embrace our destiny as mutants now and save our destiny as family for later.”
Lorna finally looked her father in the eye. She saw he was being sincere about his promise. Even though that cold, hateful glare there was a genuine compassion for his family. It was something she didn’t think too much about the first time they met during the uprising. It took on a whole new meaning after what her mother told her. Assured of his words, she smiled. It wasn’t much, but it helped reassure Magneto that he had the support of his daughters.
Returning to his duties as the mutant messiah, Magneto left his daughters to collect themselves while he helped Forge finish the machine. They watched him for a moment, taking in how he was carrying himself. He was assertive and intent, full of a burning rage for humanity and a powerful desire to lead mutants to a new age. It was hard to discern the leader from the father. It was just as hard to brush aside their lingering uncertainties. Even if Magneto did keep his promise, that didn’t mean it would go as planned.
“You’re worried too, aren’t you?” said Lorna, turning towards her conflicted sister.
“About what?” asked Wanda incredulously.
“You know what I mean,” said Lorna strongly, “You’re have your doubts about what he’s doing just like I do.”
“That…that’s ridiculous!” scoffed Wanda.
“You know Bobby taught me a little trick. Whenever someone stutters when they answer a question, that indicates one of two things. Either they’re lying and they know or they’re lying and they don’t know.”
Wanda fell silent. Dating an X-man made her pretty perceptive. Maybe a part of her was having second thoughts, but it wasn’t enough to make her turn back on her own father.
“Even if I didn’t, which I don’t, why would you still agree to help us? Your mom can’t be all there is to it.”
“She isn’t. I have other reasons, but don’t expect me to reveal them just yet,” said Lorna distantly, “One way or another, our father is going through with this. And if the X-men can’t stop this, it’s up to someone else to do the right thing.”
“What right thing are you talking about?” asked Wanda suspiciously.
Lorna continued to gaze distantly at the machine. She wasn’t sure why she was saying this to Wanda. Something just told her she was in the same predicament as she was. If the two of them were going to get through this, they were going to need all the support they could give one another.
“You know what I’m talking about, Wanda. In this world, there is right and there is wrong. Doing the right thing means realizing when something very wrong is about to take place. It may go against your every instinct. It may be the hardest decision in the world. But that’s part of what makes it right.”
Worthington Tower – Manhattan
Warren Worthington Jr. rushed feverishly through the top floor of his office. He had just gotten out of yet another private video conference with the president. It was the fifth of the day and they seemed to get more heated every time. It was only logical, given the grave nature of the situation. He was probably the only one outside the innermost circles of government who knew about the incoming asteroid. Since he held the keys to sentinel technology, everybody was turning to him.
The pressure was on Worthington Industries to save the world from the whims of this madman. It wasn’t a situation Warren wanted to be in. Upon hearing the President’s plan, he was shocked and in some ways appalled. He was asking a lot, not just from his company but from him on a personal level. He was also told the X-men were wanted for conspiring with Magneto. It was a charge that had to be false. But nobody listened to him. They just wanted him to do as he was told. Being the good citizen he was, he obeyed. Plus, they had plenty of leverage over him.
The stress was getting to him. He couldn’t just refuse such an order from the government and the world in general. These were people of power and this was a matter of global security. Regardless of how they were treating his son, he had to do something. As much as he hated the plan the government was laying out for him, he saw no way around it.
“Yes! I understand, General! The sentinels were not designed for such functions! I’m asking you to make the necessary modifications!” he yelled forcefully as he spoke to an associate at the sentinel plant over the phone, “Just make sure each prototype is fully loaded and ready to launch within 24 hours! I don’t care what you have to do, just do it! The last components are on their way there! I’m meeting with an associate of mine who will ensure the shipments! I’ll call you with the details in an hour!”
Not waiting for a response, Warren Jr. cut his associate off and put away his phone. He didn’t have time to debate the difficulties of his demands. He already had his best scientists working with the military to put the President’s plan into effect. A week was hardly enough time to implement everything they were requesting. It forced them to improvise. Hopefully it was enough.
Wiping the anxious sweat from his brow, Warren Jr. stormed towards his office. There was still much to be done before this could all go into effect. Even then, there were no guarantees. That’s why he had to meet with important allies of his to make sure this would not only succeed, it would succeed in a way that would mitigate the personal costs he was sure to endure. He already paid a price with Warren. He wasn’t willing to pay that price again.
Upon reaching his office he passed a couple of his secretaries, each of which was working overtime for this matter.
“Hold all my calls and cancel all my meetings for tomorrow,” he ordered, “I’ve got more personal business to attend to.”
“Yes sir, Mr. Worthington,” said one of his overworked secretaries, “I’ve also confirmed your contact has arrived.”
“Good, send her to my office immediately,” he said.
Warren Jr. then entered his opulent office and slammed the doors shut behind him. Once inside he found himself closing his eyes and leaning against the walls for support. He endured his share of stress with this job before, but never like this. He never thought even a businessman as powerful as him would be asked to save the world from a killer asteroid or stop a tyrant like Magneto. It almost made him regret getting caught up with the sentinels.
He took a deep breath and tried to gather himself, fixing his suit and his messy hair. Having not slept much this week, he looked like hell. He had to remain at least somewhat presentable for when his contact arrived. Somewhere in between these dire dealings, he had to find a way to get in touch with his son. Even if he was on the run, he deserved to know what he was now a part of. He may hate him even more for it, but he didn’t have a choice.
“God give me the strength to get through this week,” he prayed.
Still disoriented, he started stammering towards his desk. Then out of nowhere, he heard a voice.
“Hello Dad. Rough week at the office?”
Warren Jr. nearly had a heart attack. He recognized that voice immediately. But it couldn’t be him. Not at a time like this. But sure enough when he turned around he saw his son, Warren Worthington III, standing on the balcony just outside his office with the rest of the X-men behind him in full uniform.
“Warren?! What are you…how did you get up here?!” he exclaimed.
“We’ve got a telekinetic, a weather manipulator, a girl who can fly, and a guy who can teleport. Use your imagination.”
Warren Jr. needed a moment to digest this. He watched as Warren entered his office along with the rest of the X-men. Most of them stayed back, allowing his son to approach him. But a few tried to calm him down.
“Sorry to barge in like this, Mr. Worthington,” said Scott, “But we really need to talk.”
“And in case you’ve heard any crazy stories about us being wanted by the feds, just know it’s all one big misunderstanding,” said Kitty.
“Ah thought you were gonna shut up for this, Kitty!” scorned Rogue.
“If it’s going to come up, we might as well get it out of the way,” she replied under her breath.
“Pipe down, you two!” scorned Logan, “Let’s stick to the one-crisis-at-a-time approach.”
The team fell silent while Warren Jr. sat back on his desk, still taking in the shock of what was happening. If the look on his son’s face was any indication, he wasn’t here by choice. Impromptu visits were not his style, but these were dire times.
“I take it by your reaction you know what’s going on,” said Warren in a bitter tone, “So those rumors the news reported were true. You are using the sentinels!”
“I…I don’t know how that rumor started, but there’s more to it than that, son,” said the older Worthington anxiously, “The situation has become very complicated.”
“Magneto is out of jail and sending a giant asteroid towards the planet and you’re helping the government stop it. Doesn’t sound very complicated to me.”
Warren Jr. tensed. His son hit all the important points. But there was on crucial detail he didn’t know about, one that he knew would make a terrible situation even worse.
“Look, let’s skip the pleasantries. I didn’t come here to yell at you for those rumors. I’m here to beg you for your help,” said Warren in what had to be the most honest tone his father heard from him in years, “Magneto abducted the Professor and turned the feds on us so we’re a little short on resources. So if we’re going to confront him, we need a way to get to Genosha. Last I checked you have a few private jets.”
“You want to go to Genosha?! Warren, that’s crazy on every conceivable level!” his father exclaimed.
“Dad, I don’t have time to argue with you!” yelled Warren, no longer able to stay calm, “I need you to not totally screw me over this time and help us! Not throw an overused cliché at you, but the world is literally at stake here!”
“It’s too dangerous! I…I won’t allow you to go!”
“Dad, we’re the X-men!” said Warren, gesturing to his friends, “Stopping guys like Magneto is what we do! We just need a jet and a little cover from the feds so we can…”
But Warren Jr. didn’t let him finish.
“No, you don’t understand! You can’t go! You’ll all be killed!”
“If you don’t help us so will the rest of the world!”
“That’s not what I was meant! Genosha is going to be attacked! You and every other mutant on that island could be in danger!”
Now the rest of the team started to pay attention more closely. Warren cast an even more suspicious eye on his father. He could tell by the way he was trembling that he had done something overwhelmingly stupid again. It was the same look he had after he requested that he cut of his wings. He had a powerful feeling this was worse.
“What are you talking about?” asked Ororo, trying to calm things down, “What danger are you referring to?”
Warren Jr. hesitated to answer. He had no idea what Warren or his friends would do if they found out about this. But looking at his enraged son, he saw no way around it. They had to know what he and the government were planning to do.
But before he could even begin, the door to his office opened and a new presence entered. It was a beautiful young woman with dark hair in an expensive-looking green dress.
“Mr. Worthington?” she said in a sweet female voice, “Are you ready to…”
But the woman froze upon seeing the scene before her. When Warren saw who it was, his eyes widened with shock. It was the last person he ever expected to see. It was the last person he ever wanted to see. But he would know that face, that figure, and that voice anywhere. It was the love of his life, Candace “Candy” Southerner.
“Warren?” she gasped in astonishment.
“Candy?!” exclaimed Warren, “What the hell are you doing here?!”
The rest of the X-men exchanged worried looks. Some who didn’t know Warren’s romantic history were confused. Others, like Remy, understood just how much more complicated this issue was sure to become.
“Ooh boy,” groaned Remy, “This crazy mess just got a whole lost crazier.”
Next Issue: Overlord Part 4
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