Nathan Grimshaws’s Reflections (AN: Takes place after issue 77)
The state of human affairs has always been plagued by wars. For as long as there has been civilization, there have been people fighting over whatever it is they choose to fight for. Sometimes it isn’t even a choice. Sometimes war is an unavoidable state in a world with only finite resources and infinite reasons for uncertainty. Those tasked with fighting these wars are often key contributors to the pages of history. Few were equipped to handle that kind of responsibility. General Nathan Grimshaw was one of the rare few who had been shouldering that responsibility for decades.
He had been engaged in the business of war for most of his life. The job of General for the United States of America was not an easy career path to say the very least. Few lasted for very long and even fewer were remembered for their contributions. In his considerable experience he had seen many conflicts won and lost. He always saw himself as the kind of General who was meant to be part of a very big conflict. Just recently he thrust himself into such a conflict he did not have to be part of. Unlike other Generals, history did not call upon him to fight this war. He volunteered and it had the potential to lead him to greatness or ruin.
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. The great Chinese General, Sun Tzu, said those words over 2,000 years ago and only a handful of tyrants, liberators, and rebels have heeded them in that time. I’ve always tried to take lessons from history and it’s not just because of the old adage of being doomed to repeat it. I believe there is a wealth of knowledge in the past that this country and every country for that matter would be wise to heed.
There’s always a war on the horizon. Every nation, even the Swiss, are just a few unlucky events from an all out medieval blood feud. That’s what happens when politics get too complicated for the people to handle. The talking heads on CNN and Fox News love to paint overly simplistic pictures, but anybody who actually does this shit for a living knows full well that these political junkies never get more than twenty percent of the overall picture. If they even got somewhere near forty percent, they would quit their little act and go to work for the nearest fast food joint because the painful truth is that all wars are political in nature and politics will always be corrupt.
The burden always falls upon the Generals tasked with winning the conflicts that the politicians create. In a ways the General of an army has the hardest task of all. He can’t just be a politician and bloviate endlessly about what to do and how they’re going to do it. They are different from all politicians in the sense that they actually DO these things on the battlefield where the margin for error is a lot smaller than simply signing pieces of paper.
I suppose that’s why I’m now on the front lines of the biggest possible war for this millennium. The human/mutant conflict has more potential than any other conflict to spark a war that would make every war in the 20th century look like a chili cook-off. Most reasonably minded people wouldn’t touch this conflict with a fifty mile pole and fully sterilized gloves. I’m either crazy or foolish to want to get involved with this mess. Then again I’ve always been a hands-on kind of guy.
I make no secret about my methods. I have a very low tolerance for people saying one thing and not doing anything. In some ways I actually admire hypocrites more because at least they’re working up a sweat in what they do. That makes it a lot harder to admire politicians who insist on staying behind the scenes, trying to understand the human/mutant conflict from the point of view of a faceless bureaucrat. If history has one lesson to teach about war it’s that a bureaucrat can never understand a conflict as well as a soldier.
The past, present, and future were all pressing the spirits of this accomplished General. In the present he had the responsibility of taking action on a conflict that nobody understood or even cared to understood. In the future he had the prospect of a war that could literally wipe the planet clean of all civilization. It was even a worse prospect than nuclear war because at least with nuclear war, the destructive power of the conflict was contained in machines and not people. In the past there were the harsh lessons that Grimshaw had spent his entire life trying to understand. On a rainy day in Washington DC, they took form and substance in the form of a monument to a conflict that cost so many lives.
In the shadow of the Washington Monument, there was a memorial to all those who fought and died in World War II. The General had a rare break in his work and was touring the area in the midst of a heavy downpour. He always found it helpful to visit these monuments to the past because in them, he felt the ghosts of history sending their knowledge to the present. There was much to be heard for men like him if only they were willing to listen.
History books often paint World War II as the good war. So many legendary names and compelling stories emerged from this conflict. Politicians and Hollywood producers love to frame it as this grand and noble struggle where America represented everything that was good and the Axis powers represented everything that was evil. It makes for good campaign fodder, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
I’m lucky enough to know part of that story because my own father was a high ranking Colonel during the conflict. He’s not a famous name and probably won’t ever get a reference in a History Channel documentary, but what he experienced is every bit as important as what the newsreels convey. I remember these experiences because my father never hid them from me. He never hid anything from me or my siblings. To him the war was a lesson in conflict and he wanted to convey that lesson to his children.
My father, like me, had a very low tolerance for nonsense. He didn’t ignore the ugly details for the sake of framing a pretty picture for others to consume. That’s why he was always surveying the battlefields, noting how the conflicts unfolded and reporting to his superiors what this meant for future confrontations. During these surveys he met a lot of amazing people from both the Allies and the Axis. He had so many fond stories about his friends from Britain and Russia, but it was the stories about the Axis that always fascinated me.
One story always stood out among the others. In 1944 my father met up with a captured German soldier named Herbert. He was part of an artillery squad that got captured shortly after the invasion of Normandy. The man was no insane Nazi scumbag. He was just a 20-year-old kid who joined up with his friends to serve their country. What really confused me is that he didn’t speak very highly of Hitler. In fact, he often cracked jokes about how Hitler had such a weak stomach and wouldn’t even eat a salad it if had chicken broth in it. So my father went onto ask why he was fighting for the Nazis and his answer was a microcosm of the whole conflict.
After World War I, Germany was so crippled by the defeat and the treaty they were forced to sign that the average German was practically pulling their hair out in frustration. Herbert was a kid still in school at the time and his father lost his job because of the economic disaster that followed. Then when Hitler came along promising to revitalize the economy, they gave him the benefit of the doubt. They didn’t expect him to start a full blown war. When it did happen, Herbert joined up and not because he hated Jews or wanted to conquer the world. He joined because that’s the only job he could find. He loved his country and if he could serve it while drawing a paycheck, so be it.
This is a story my father heard many times before, but none were as honest about it as Herbert. It had in it a profound implication. This terrible war that unleashed the Blitzkrieg, the atom bomb, and the holocaust weren’t just the result of typical human barbarism. This war was due in large part to the piss poor handling of another war. If the politicians and military heads weren’t so damn full of themselves after World War I, then guys like Hitler never would have gotten their opportunity. The lesson for me was that war can lead to more war if too many people think with their gut and not their brain.
World War I may not have made World War II inevitable, but it certainly set the stage. My father never forgot that and whenever someone would talk about the war with me, he would always pull me aside to give the real story. Nothing bugged him more than hearing other people who weren’t even involved talk about how the war made America great and how the Nazi’s came so close to wiping out our way of life. My father knew better. He understood that men like Hitler are not the evil masterminds that history books make them out to be. In fact, most are painfully human. Men like Hitler never came close to winning the war for the simple fact that the guy had more luck than brains. My father described him as the guy who sat down at a blackjack table and beat all the seasoned pros because he just got lucky time and again.
Eventually, that luck ran out. All luck runs out. In war there will always be a certain element of luck involved and that is why you need both luck and brains. My father understood that better than anybody and he told me that if I ever had to be involved in a war, I needed to make sure I had one to compensate for the lack of another. Since luck can’t be taught or acquired, I focused on the brains aspect. That’s what led me into a life of war and I haven’t looked back since.
A round of thunder echoed over the dreary skies of DC. They were like the voices of the past shouting warnings to men like Nathan Grimshaw who was always trying to listen. Walking up and down the memorial, he gazed over the famous field of stars. There were a total of 4,048 bronze stars, each representing 100 service personnel who were killed in the conflict. It was a daunting notion, these symbols representing the loss of so many lives. They represented the cost of war and why it was so terrible.
As General Grimshaw walked up and down the wall, he trailed his hand over rows of stars. It was difficult to comprehend the stories behind these stars and the lives they represented. These were fathers, brothers, sons, and lovers. Who knows what lives they could have lived without this conflict? Maybe there was another Einstein or a Mozart among the dead. History would never know. That was the unseen cost of war that often went unnoticed and one that was never far from Grimshaw’s mind.
I figured out early on that I was going to be a military man. When I was just a kid, I would spend hours with my little toy soldiers simulating these elaborate wars. I planned everything down to the last detail. I even gave names to the commanders. If that weren’t enough my father would often play the game with me. He would even show me these complex formations and strategies, teaching me the kind of tactics that made Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan, and Napoleon Bonaparte such brilliant tacticians. I would learn from him for hours until my mother would yell at us to come in for dinner. It may have been fun and games, but it prepared me for more serious endeavors.
When I turned 16 I enrolled in this upscale private military academy. Thanks to my father I had a ridged scholarship, but it was anything but a free ride. My family wouldn’t allow it. I had to earn my place and earn it I did. I showed my superiors that I was focused, hard-working, and determined to serve my country. This was enough to get me a shot at West PointMilitaryAcademy. This is where soldiers become Generals and I was determined to rise through the ranks.
I never did anything halfway. I put everything I had into proving I could be an officer. The more I immersed myself in the art of war the more certain I was that this was what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a General. I wanted to weave my way into the course of history by being part of the wars that so often guided it. I learned plenty about the military, modern combat, and history. I also learned that I was very different from my superiors and my own peers in the way I approached a conflict.
I realized this shortly after entering my junior year. At the time Vietnam was really going badly and everybody had their theories about what should and shouldn’t be done. Some thought the war should be expanded while others thought that America should just pull back, play defense, and let the North Vietnamese tire themselves out. I practically turned myself into a pariah when I posed the audacious idea of using a different kind of strategy. I argued that America should use diplomacy to make an ally out of China. That way we would have a means of applying a new kind of pressure to the North Vietnamese. I was practically laughed out of the room. Everybody told me I had been hanging out with too many hippies. I came close to being a laughingstock.
Then a few months later, Nixon visited China and my once outlandish idea was vindicated. Overnight, everybody who doubted me shut their mouths and looked at me as if I just bankrupted them in a lucky hand at poker. But there was nothing lucky about it. I based my strategy on the tenants of war I had been studying all my life. By being broad in my thinking, I could come up with novel ways to fight and resolve a conflict. Thanks to Tricky Dick Nixon I was vindicated and more confident than ever that I was destined to be a great officer.
When I graduated West Point at the top of my class, I was ready to hit the battlefield. I was so ready I would have run head first into the jungles of Southeast Asia or the deserts of the Middle East. It’s part of the youthful energy all new officers tend to get when they finish their training and prepare to hit the battlefield. What they never teach you in any classroom is that the road to being a top ranked General is long and arduous. There’s a little something called bureaucracy you have to work your way through first. All points considered, that process is a war in and of itself.
The General reached the end of the field of stars. He took a few steps back so he could take in the sight of the entire wall. Going over each individual star was a good way to connect with the stories behind the men and women who fought in this great conflict. Standing back and looking at them all as one painted a different kind of picture. These brave warriors when put together were an army. Like all armies before them, they forged the path which the war had unfolded. It was a lesson that all great military men learned to respect. While they may formulate the orders, it was the armies that did the heavy lifting.
From the military academy to West Point, he trained and studied the many ways in which to lead an army. What he didn’t learn was the logistics of actually having an army to lead. It was only recently that he was in a position to do so. For most of his career, he was a General without an army. He had to prove himself within the ranks of the United States Military that he was equipped to handle such a great responsibility.
Not long after I graduated, I was appointed to the Pentagon. Officially, I was a Lieutenant Colonel, but unofficially I was a glorified desk jockey. My first few years as an officer were pretty uneventful, not to mention frustrating. My youth was my greatest shortcoming and I had to work my way up through a painfully slow process. The ironic part is I still rose through the ranks quicker than my peers.
Around this time, I did manage to establish a decent civilian life. I did some traveling, I got married, and had a few little soldiers of my own. My wife happens to be a military woman mind herself. She worked as a nurse with the Veterans Administration and today she’s a full fledged doctor. She, more than anyone, encouraged me to take on the responsibilities of a General. She always came home with one too many stories about soldiers who had seen too much war and were seriously wounded by it in more ways than one. It was a constant reminder that nobody hates wars more than warriors and as a General, I needed to remember that as I forged ahead with my career.
Eventually, I rose to the rank of Colonel and was given a series of real operations. It was nothing terribly Earth-shattering. Most of the wars I fought were these small, proxy wars that nobody else wanted to fight. I spent some time in South America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East managing conflicts in the way I had been trained. With every conflict, I proved to myself and others that I could handle the challenge of fighting a war. I quickly earned a solid reputation within the military community. I had a unique style that set me apart, some of it good and some of it controversial.
This conflicted praise was best shown in one of my first missions as a General. I was given the daunting task of trying to stem a conflict in Columbia concerning a new militia with ties to the big name drug cartels. Nobody had been having much luck stopping their growth or stemming the violence. So I took a shot with some quick, daring raids that gave some of my superiors heart attacks. I organized a series of covert operations that put spies right into the heart of the militia. I used that intelligence to do some quick sabotage of their communications network and then I threw a little tension into the mix by messing up some of their money transfers to foreign banks. I then convinced the top brass to give me control of a large contingent of Green Berets, which I admit was like trying to convince a crack addict to give me all of his crack. But they gave me a chance and with these soldiers, I delivered a blow that nobody thought was possible.
In a one-night operation, I struck each major compound simultaneously. Thanks to the spies I set up, I didn’t just hit their weapons caches or their drug reserves. I hit their the areas where they were moving the money in and out of their territory. Suddenly, they had all these resources and no money with which to govern themselves. It didn’t take long for chaos to set in and the whole militia disbanded within months. It was a quick, clean, decisive victory. It caused some political backlash due to my use of Special Forces, but the results spoke for themselves. Even though a new militia took the place of the old one within a few years, I showed that I could get the job done.
Quick, smart, and rough…that was the essence of my strategy. I didn’t leave room for politics or coordination. I kept it simple and focused. While it may have worked, it did clash with a lot of the other officers in the top brass at the time. Ever since the Korean War, there always had to be room for politics. These operations were too compact and brief. They didn’t leave room extra diplomacy or potential political maneuvering. I always argued that this was a bad way to conduct wars. By making them bureaucratic, the wars get drawn out and no country ever benefits from wars like that. History has shown that time and again. But this was a sensitive period in world history. Politics were weaving their way into everything because the world was getting so much smaller and more complicated. The tactics of old school Generals seemed to not apply anymore.
Even if my methods were controversial, that didn’t prevent me from eventually gaining the rank of General. It took years and by the time I had the fancy uniform and title, it was somewhat bittersweet. That was because even after I had the rank, I was still stuck with the same job. The only wars the military would let me fight were the small wars. They reasoned that this is what I was good at. They enjoyed the luxury of having me do the grunt work while they dealt with the much larger issues at hand. I wanted to be part of those larger issues as well. I sure as hell didn’t want to spend the rest of my career fighting battles that would only be footnotes in pages of history.
As frustrated as I was, I did what I was told like any good soldier. In some ways this grunt work was good for me because it allowed me to gain more combat experience than I would have otherwise. That experience was invaluable because along the way, I noted the trends that were emerging in the constantly unfolding geopolitical landscape. I could sense that there was a much bigger conflict on the horizon. Just like the signs before World War II and Vietnam, societies and nations were on a path that had plenty of potential for a very bloody war the likes of which nobody had seen before.
At the source of this conflict was an old phenomenon that had literally been evolving for centuries if not millennia. The emergence of mutants had long been part of human history. For the most part it had been relegated to folk tales and sideshow attractions. Then around the beginning of the 20th century something unexpected happened. The mutant population started growing rapidly and by the dawn of the new millennium their numbers had gotten to a point where they were now a force to be reckoned with. Society and civilization was at a loss for how to deal with them and when ignorance and anxiety rule the day, the chance for conflict is practically a given.
I always suspected that the next big war would be a mutant war, but I didn’t feel inclined to thrust myself into it. That all changed when I met a young, arrogant, and dedicated young man named Jack Freeman.
The heavy rain let up slightly, allowing the General to see rest of the monument more clearly. He turned his attention away from the field of stars and toward the array of pillars that surrounded the structure. There was a pillar representing each state, symbolizing the collective strength of America as it fought and sacrificed for the war effort. One pillar in particular drew his attention. It was the pillar representing the state of California, which happened to be the home state of a very special soldier.
California has long been labeled a hippie stronghold, especially in cities like San Francisco. If you want to look for a full-fledged, born-to-serve soldier then this would be the last place to look. Yet this is where Jack Freeman came from and before he put on a uniform, he was anything but soldier material.
Even he admits he was a punk. He had no future and made his living selling drugs out of the back of a pickup truck. Even when he managed to get his act together and join the marines, he did not make a very smooth transition. On top of it all, he was a mutant and a pretty strong one at that. This could have derailed his military career before it started because the United States had signed an international treaty banning the use of mutants in the military. Somehow this kid managed to keep it under wraps. He didn’t tell me how he got his status pass the mandatory medical exam. I honestly don’t want to know, but I’m pretty sure drugs were involved.
To his credit he did not use his mutant powers to make his training easier. He worked, suffered, and sweated through basic like every grunt. He was one of those guys who found a sense of peace in the discipline. It seems counterintuitive, but for some people who have had so little throughout their lives it gives order to an otherwise chaotic life. He embraced that aspect of being a soldier and it helped that he was a natural born fighter as well. I don’t know if it was because he was from a rough background or if it was just in his blood. I just know he excelled in a way that can’t be trained.
Besides being a mutant, Jack did have another obstacle that worked against him. He had the social skills of an immature six-year-old. He constantly clashed with his squad mates and often tried to act tough when he should have tried being smart. His superiors sure lost their patience with him at times. That’s part of how I got involved with him. I happened to be touring a training facility in California at the time, talking to some of the Majors about who would make good candidates for my Special Forces operations. Jack didn’t come up in any conversations, but he did get my attention when I saw him competing in hand-to-hand drills with his squad mates. Although looking back on it, I don’t think they were drills.
I’ll never forget that look in his eye when I first saw him. He was getting ganged up on a bit during the whole affair, but he stood his ground. He didn’t cry foul or anything. He just kept on fighting, taking each challenger as they came. Normally when someone is in that situation, there’s a sense of irrational urgency. It’s the kind of mindset that makes even the best trained soldiers fight erratically. Yet somehow, this kid never lost focus. He took on the task at hand as if it was a mission, never losing sight of the goal and never letting anyone throw him off balance.
I saw in him a potential I had never seen in a soldier. I immediately recommended him for Special Forces. Every Major on the base thought I had lost it. Good thing I outranked them because they had no choice but to comply. I was the one who personally gave Jack the news. When I first met him he wasn’t as respectful as he should have been to a superior officer, but he did show poise and honor in the presence of his superiors. I understood that if I was to really gain this guy’s trust, I needed to earn his respect. I did that by essentially taking him under my wing, imparting to him the same wisdom my own father imparted to me.
It was also during this first meeting that I found out he was a mutant. I quietly had a doctor look him over and they confirmed it. He was X-factor positive. His powers weren’t all that obvious. He had this hyper-adaptive ability that allowed him to adjust his physiology to survive conditions that would leave any ordinary man a corpse. He could breathe underwater if he had to. He could grow his muscles to gain a temporary boost in strength. If this ability got out it would cause all sorts of political problems, but I understood it couldn’t stay a secret forever. So as a means of earning his trust, I told him I could make it so he wasn’t kicked out and allowed to join Special Forces. He was skeptical, but he took me on my word. Thus began a relationship that would link the fates of our respective missions for years.
General Grimshaw found himself smiling at the pillar despite the rain pouring around him. For every officer that ever led an operation, it was easy to forget the individuals behind the soldiers that made these missions work. Soldiers by their nature were trained not to be individuals and fight as a collective. Even when one individual stood out, it was still the group that carried the brunt of the burden.
Then there were those select few that had something very unique…something that took a soldier and made them into something much more. It wasn’t something that could be trained. It was a god-given gift. It wasn’t the kind of gift that Hollywood loved to flaunt with their big name action stars. It was something that couldn’t be captured on film or even on a battlefield. It was the genuine spirit of a warrior, one that could turn one human being into a one-man army capable of making a difference on the battlefield.
I don’t remember how many strings I had to pull to keep Jack in the service. I must have called in over two dozen favors from subordinates, their friends, and their friends’ friends. In this case bureaucracy worked for me rather than against me. A few well-connected individuals managed to get executive approval for what was officially a special unit that wasn’t bound by the mutant-ban treaty. The paperwork itself is about as thick as the bible, but it did the trick. It gave Jack Freeman, a mutant, the chance to be a soldier.
He took full advantage of that chance to say the least. He joined Special Forces with the kind of enthusiasm I had never seen before. He took to that training like it was an amusement park. He loved it even if it pushed his limits to the point where he passed out a few times. He was still lacking in the social skills department. His fellow trainees did not respect him. They all thought he was getting a special pass because of his mutant status and because of his relationship with me. They were dead wrong, but Jack’s overly defensive personality made for some ugly clashes. He made himself so unpopular that no squad wanted to work with him. Even after he made it through training, he would have to be a solo act. That was just fine with him because that only meant he could more efficiently utilize his mutant talents in conjunction with his combat skills.
Once he officially took on the rank of Captain, he became my unofficial right-hand man. Now whenever I needed some deep covert operations, I no longer had to coax a few platoons out of my superiors. I turned to Captain Freeman and he did everything a General could ask of a soldier. I gave him an objective, provided him the tools he needed to achieve that objective, and he did the rest. He entered into war zones that straddled the boarders of Hell and did so without question or reservation. Not only did he conduct himself without fear, he was uncanny in his efficiency in succeeding where ten squads of equally trained soldiers would fail.
In our years together he went on missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Columbia, Bolivia, Cambidia, North Korea, Iran, the Congo, Nigeria, Russia, the Balkan, and even a few exceedingly remote islands in the South Pacific. Pretty much everywhere there was a war, he paid a visit. He took on the jobs that no other soldier wanted. He always did so on his own, never having anyone to fall back on except myself and his own wits. He wasn’t without flaws in this process. At times he was a little careless and on more than one occasion he screwed up on his pursuit of the objective. Regardless, he never left a mission incomplete.
Our success did wonders for our careers. I gained more influence throughout the upper echelons of the military while Captain Freeman gained more respect. He never got the respect he fully deserved. Part of that was because of his mutant status, but another part was probably his attitude. He still rubbed people the wrong way, even his superiors. That didn’t stop them from taking advantage of his skills.
A couple years ago a few officers even enlisted his help to take on missions they hadn’t been able to carry out on their own accord. Some of it was purely political. I’m sure there were a few that the top brass threw at him in hopes that he wouldn’t come out alive. But time and again, he proved his worth as a soldier. Working with him gave me a unique prospective that helped put me in the position I now find myself in.
Were it not for Jack Freeman, I never would have approached the human/mutant conflict in the same manner. Even though I anticipated mutant affairs as being the driving force for the next great conflict, I never truly understood the people behind the conflict until I met this charismatic soldier. He showed me two important truths to the mutant phenomenon. Mutation is both what someone is and what they do. That’s something most people don’t get. For some they either are what they are or they are what they do. It makes them unique among minorities because both play into how they conduct themselves.
What always astonished me about Captain Freeman was that he didn’t want to be thought of as a mutant. In fact, he saw being a mutant as being a liability. He was Jack Freeman the soldier before he was Jack Freeman the mutant. That’s how he saw himself, but nobody else shared that perspective. He couldn’t escape what he was. He could only set himself apart through actions.
It is this personal conflict that drives the entire mutant controversy. For me, a regular human being with no special powers, it’s difficult to wrap my head around. But after working with a man like Jack Freeman and experiencing first hand the challenges people like him face, I understand in a way few ordinary humans can. It is that understanding that equips me to take on the human/mutant conflict as my own personal mission. If I don’t, then the chances for more World War II style slaughter become too great.
General Grimshaw casually walked down the row of pillars, passing the one representing California and moving along each successive state. In a conflict as big as World War II, every state lost somebody. Everywhere in the country, there was a family who got that message that no family wanted to get. Their loved one had perished in a bloody war that took a greater toll with each passing day. This didn’t even get into the hardship families in other countries had to face. Even on the side of the enemies, there were loved ones who wept for their losses.
That was a lot of sorrow. It was too much to risk another conflict of that scale. Society had changed. Civilization and technology made the cost of war increasingly grave. Now with the mutant conflict, it wasn’t just nations that faced potential ruin. The entire world was at risk of being consumed. That’s why he took on the responsibility of confronting that risk. Whether it was destiny or duty, he was poised to steer the course of history for humans and mutants alike.
With the stakes so high, I needed to put together a plan. I almost didn’t get a chance to implement it because Magneto had a run in with psychosis and nearly destroyed the whole world with his little asteroid stunt. The aftermath of that mess set the stage for my mission. First, it required that a new president be elected. The other guy was so ruined I can’t even say his name without getting pissed. Even though he probably did the right thing, he crippled his legacy and left an unstable military with too many itchy trigger fingers pointed at mutants.
The problem comes down to fear. Mutants can do some extraordinary things with their powers and that scares a lot of people. They don’t know how to deal with it in an orderly society. That problem gained a new level of terror when mutants started organizing with men like Magneto leading the pack. As a minority who routinely gets shafted by bigotry and hatred, it’s easy to see why they would get angry and try to fight back. That doesn’t make Magneto any less a madman for overthrowing Genosha and putting together his own mutant nation, but it does add a context. Mutants want to confront humans and humans want to confront humans. That’s where I come in.
When President Robert Kelly took office both sides were staring down the barrel of a gun. This is a guy who built a career out of stoking the fear of mutants. He stoked it so well he rode it to the White House. For a while it looked like my plan wasn’t going to work. Then word got out his son was a mutant and now he has an emotional stake in the conflict. That changed everything. It meant that maybe he could be reached.
Time was not on my side. The tension between humans and mutants was getting too hot to handle. I had to earn the man’s trust and to do it overnight. So like my father taught me, I thought outside the box. I got Captain Jack Freeman to help me offer the president a token of my sincerity so to speak. I had him steal Magneto’s helmet and give it to the new president as an inauguration present. He was understandably impressed. He was so impressed he gave me the opportunity I had been waiting for my whole life.
Now here I am, General to a newly agency of the United States government. The Mutant Security Agency is certainly not what a lot of people were probably expecting from Kelly’s earlier anti-mutant rhetoric. This agency is no mutant Gestapo like I’m sure some mutant haters were hoping for. Our job isn’t to hunt and contain mutants. Our job is to hold mutants accountable to the same standard we hold everybody else. Nobody is above the law no matter what their abilities. This is a fundamental principle of the American ideal and as an American General, it’s my responsibility to uphold that principle.
My reasoning has nothing to do with being pro-mutant or anti-mutant. On this issue I break from my fellow officers and take a neutral position. That’s the only position a man of my rank can take on such emotional matters. There are those who see mutants as the new Communism. Now that the Cold War is over, it’s the mutants that will ruin civilization as we know it. The ironic part of that pig-headed belief is that by treating them as such, that may very well be the case. There’s no worse prophecy than a self-fulfilling prophecy and that’s why I remain indifferent.
As far as I’m concerned, mutants are just another highly scrutinized minority. As such they have the same potential for destruction as everyone else. Except with mutants, their powers put them in a position to inflict a level of destruction no other minority is capable of unleashing. They can’t be held to the same standard in that respect. A mutant that can crush cars with his bear hands is far more dangerous than some ordinary punk with a bazooka. We can’t change the power that mutant wields, but we as law-givers can adapt in a ways to hold this mutant accountable.
We walk a very fine line in this conflict. Just holding mutants accountable to the law isn’t going to stop that one Magneto from losing his mind and going on a genocidal rampage. The temptation to be proactive and aggressively contain mutants as men like Cameron Hodge have tried to do has plenty of allure, but sometimes what’s most intuitive isn’t what’s right. It’s men like Hodge and the crimes they commit against mutants and humans alike that drive mutants to become the Magneto’s of the world. As difficult as it may be at times, we as a society have to hold back. There will always be a certain element of fear. That’s why it’s so important to confront that fear because the consequences are too dire to contemplate.
There are many angles to this conflict, but they are best personified by two people. One is Magneto, the man who seems bent on making mutants the dominant species. The way he sees it, humanity is dead weight and mutants are the future. Since humanity is so inferior, he seeks to put mutants on the top of the world order and let humanity whither away to extinction. He wants this war to happen because he believes his side can win.
The other side is represented by a man named Charles Xavier. He represents the lesser side that deeply respects humanity and seeks peace between humans and mutants. He believes that together, humans and mutants can become equals and forge a better future for themselves if they work together. With his X-men, he fights for that peace and admirably so. But the problem with Charles Xavier is that he’s often too idealistic for his own good at times. His approach to the conflict is like ruffling up a clean piece paper. When you do something to it, you create a flaw that cannot be removed. Even though I consider him an ally, I also consider him a liability because while his intentions may be good it would take only one major misstep to send the entire affair straight to Hell.
I don’t consider myself a champion of peace between humans and mutants. I honestly don’t believe that’s possible. I am in the business of war and right now the human/mutant conflict has the potential to unleash a war that could literally scorch this planet clean of all life. The day this conflict ceases to provoke that war is the day I stop caring about mutant affairs. In the meantime, I will carry out my mission.
General Nathan Grimshaw continued to brave the pouring rain. He took his time, walking by each pillar that symbolized so much history. It was from this history that he hoped to draw on the lessons of the past. With this knowledge, he was prepared to face the conflict that was now such a big part of his life. The greatest Generals in history were often forged in great wars. Depending on how the affairs between humans and mutants played out, his place in history would be one of triumph or infamy.
With this daunting prospect in mind, the General ended his venture into history near a wall where a famous quote from General Dwight D. Eisenhower had been etched in the stone. Through the pouring rain, he read it aloud to himself.
“You are about to embark upon the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle.”
It was as if the ghost of General Eisenhower was addressing him directly. Never one to disrespect a fellow officer, General Grimshaw saluted and responded in the most fitting way.
“I won’t let you down, Ike.”
Next Issue: Lorna
Read Comments ( 1 )