In a complicated world that hates and fears the growing mutant trend, Professor Charles Xavier and his X-men stand for peace and understanding. Their struggle has taken many turns from the shores of Genosha to the bayou of New Orleans. While the circumstances may change, the stakes remain as high as ever.
Yet in their struggles, there are those who oppose their message of piece. Erik Lensherr, a long time friend of Charles Xavier, posed one of their most serious challenges to date. With his Brotherhood of Mutants, he led an uprising on the island nation of Genosha where a ruthless dictator named Cameron Hodge was using tyranny against mutants as a means to seize power. Such an uprising wasn’t just meant to stop Hodge, it was meant to assert a new level of dominance over the human world. It was a plan the X-men couldn’t allow to succeed.
Upon successfully thwarting his plans, the man many mutants revere as Magneto was shipped off to a high security prison in GuantanamoBay. There he awaits trial for his crimes before an international tribunal. The results could have a far reaching impact on human/mutant relations. But for the time being, his fate remains uncertain.
Guantanamo Bay – Magneto’s Prison Cell
The grim and confined world of prison was often a test of one’s will to survive. It is also said solitary confinement is a test of one’s will to remain sane. Only those truly hardened can survive both with an intact mind. For Erik Lensherr, the man the world knew as Magneto, it was never a matter of whether or not he was hardened enough. He had already been strengthened by a lifetime of hardships. To him it was only a matter waiting for his fate to unfold.
Residing in his plastic prison, the old holocaust survivor did his best to stay busy. He had few privileges in a place like this. They didn’t allow him any TV or radio, even with his powers dampened. He was allowed only books, puzzles, and paper so he could write. He spent long hours reading whatever they could get him whether it was a magazine or a novel. He would also do puzzles, some of which he had to make up himself. He also liked to play chess with himself, planning elaborate moves and strategies and testing them one-by-one. It was all meant to keep his mind sharp and focused. Even the guards, who were forbidden to interact with him, were surprised by how well he handled himself.
He could handle the confinement, the boredom, and the isolation. He was not a man easily taken by adversity. The real challenge was enduring the long, tedious trial for his so-called crimes against humanity. He was given regular updates on the process, but he cared little for the proceedings.
“Mr. Lensherr. It’s time,” said one of the guards.
Magneto had been in the middle of another chess match with himself. At first he didn’t even acknowledge the call. Then the doors to his cell open and six heavily armed guards in plastic attire entered.
“I know you heard me, old man! Don’t try to ignore us!” he said sternly.
The guard then tossed an inhibitor collar onto the table, knocking over a number of his chess pieces and effectively ending his game.
“You know the drill. Put it on,” he said, “You’re scheduled to take the stand this afternoon. Don’t make this more difficult than it has to be. You have no idea how many people want an excuse to shoot you.”
Magneto, undaunted by his harsh words, rose up and addressed the armed men, all of whom had their guns pointed right at him.
“Tell me, do you humans ever get tired of trying to intimidate me? You know it doesn’t work. I may be a prisoner, but you’re still beneath me in every meaningful way.”
“Save the superiority rhetoric for the judge. I’m sure he’ll take it into account when he hands down your sentence,” scoffed the guard, “Now move!”
The old holocaust survivor remained stoic as he put on the collar and went through the procedures he had grown so used to. On the rare occasions they brought him out of his cell, they took no chances. They surrounded him by no fewer than twelve heavily armed guards and two technicians armed with spare collars and sedatives. It was all meant to give his captors peace of mind. Their greatest hope was that the courts decided he would rot in jail for the rest of his life or he would be executed. Magneto found it pathetic to the point of hilarity. They still didn’t understand who they were dealing with.
Once he was ready, the guards moved in and pinned him to one of the plexiglass walls. They then restrained his hands behind his back and shoved him out in front of them, pushing him forward down the winding halls of his plastic prison. This was indeed an important day, but not for the reasons these simple-minded humans believed. Magneto faced a hostile trial full of hostile people. He might as well make the most of it.
Xavier Institute – Kitchen
The sun had risen on a beautiful day over the mansion. The brisk winds off the lake were blowing in and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was still early, but most of the X-men were up and about. Many were in the kitchen enjoying a hardy breakfast courtesy of Ororo and Remy’s cooking skills. Even though class wasn’t in session today, the team had a busy day ahead of them.
“I love zhe smell of bacon in zhe morning!” said Kurt as he eagerly filled his plate with bacon and sausage.
“Got enough junk on that plate, elf? The rate you eat that stuff pig’s are gonna be endangered,” commented Logan, who was sitting at the table with a helping of pancakes and hot sauce.
“And it can’t be good for your arteries,” added Kitty, who also had pancakes.
“I can’t help it if I have a hyperactive metabolism,” he shrugged as he sat down, “You have any idea how many calories teleporting burns?”
“Phasing is pretty strenuous too, but you don’t see me wolfing down three helpings of bacon,” said Kitty.
“You vorry about your diet and I’ll vorry about mine,” said the German mutant, “Besides, ve’ll be needing zhe energy. Vith Magneto’s big trail coming up, you never know vhat may go down.”
“With Magneto anything’s possible,” sighed Kitty, “Which reminds me, why is Bobby having Lorna come with us? I thought he was just spending the night at her place to convince her to watch it on CNN.”
“Guess he wasn’t convincing enough,” muttered Logan, “But that’s Lorna’s problem. She wants to see her old man get sent to the firing squad, why should we stop her? So long as popsicle doesn’t whine about it. We don’t need someone else with magnet powers going crazy.”
“Ve can only hope Bobby vill be able to comfort her,” said Kurt, “He does seem to love her so.”
“You’re placing an awful lot of trust on a kid who makes a scene every damn time he gets a chance,” scoffed Logan.
“Call me an optimist, Herr Logan. But I believe family matters are important to consider even in zhese dire circumstances. Believe me, I know it can make big a difference.”
His tone fell somewhat, his mind shifting to Rogue. She was still in a difficult state, having to learn how to manage her powers again. As her brother, he tried to be there for her. Anybody who saw how he and Rogue interacted, especially recently, couldn’t deny how strong a factor family ties truly were.
While Kurt fell silent and dug into his bacon, Ororo looked over and smiled. For someone who also struggled with the effects of his powers, Kurt handled himself admirably. Rogue was very lucky in that respect. For that, he deserved another helping of bacon. She put on a new round on the skillet just for him. While she was doing her dishes, Remy worked on the pancakes. Having spent a lot of time in New Orleans, food was a specialty for them. Remy especially prided himself for his knowledge of authentic Cajun cuisine. But this morning, he wasn’t as into it as he usually was.
“Are you okay, Remy? Usually you’re so critical about how little spice I put on everything,” said the African woman.
“Sorry cherè. Remy just ain’t in a talkin’ mood,” he said distantly.
“Are you still worried about, Rogue?”
“Ain’t everybody?” said the Cajun, “She’s been pretty out of it since she found out about her powers. Remy’s been tryin’ to talk to her all week, but she ain’t got much to say.”
“I’m sure she just needs time,” said Ororo, “I remember how she was when she first arrived. It was hard for her then and it’s hard for her now. But she’s a strong young woman. She’ll get through this.”
“Any idea if Hank or the Professor is doing anything to make a new collar or something?” he asked.
“That I don’t know. But if they found a way once, they can do it again. We just need to support Rogue until that time comes.”
Remy sighed and muttered a few curses in French. Supporting Rogue through something like this was pretty daunting. He hadn’t known her long, but he already had a good idea of how stubborn she could be. He had no doubt she was strong enough to get through this. It was dealing with her in the meantime that was going to be a challenge.
“Remy will do his part, that’s for sure. But with the way she been smoking lately her lungs may not make it,” he mused.
“So says the man who handled a pack a day when we were together,” quipped Ororo.
“Pack a day? That’s nothing,” commented Logan, as he took out a cigar, “Between the both of you, you’re still lightweights.”
“You know when Scott sees you with that he’s gonna blast it right out of your mouth,” chided Kitty.
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” shrugged Logan as he lit it up, “But I don’t give a damn. Since he and Jeannie hooked up, he’s had other concerns.”
“I’m sure he has,” said Kurt as he finished his bacon, “You think he vould mind if I had his share of sausage?”
“Knock yourself out, elf,” grinned Logan, “I doubt he’ll be down here before its cold anyways.”
Upstairs – Shower
“Mmm…Scott,” said Jean with a purr of contentment, “Oh that feels good.”
“What can I say? I know how you like it,” he said with a manly grin.
Jean smiled at the feeling. If this was what she could look forward to every morning as Scott Summers’s girlfriend, then she might just have to become a morning person. They woke up early like all the others. Jean spent the night in Scott’s room, where they enjoyed a nice night of lovemaking before turning in. Now they were sharing a hot, relaxing shower together while the others were eating breakfast. In wake of the all the stress they endured from Sinister and the sentinels, it was a perfect way to start a day.
Standing under the hot torrent of water, the two naked lovers smiled as they shared a playful kiss. Scott had just finished washing his lover’s back. Since he had to shower with special goggles that easily fogged up, he had to work solely off feel. But in the short time he and Jean had been dating, he had come to know her body well and evoked many deep moans from her. She returned the favor, washing him as well in the same tender yet sensual manner.
“This is nice,” Jean smiled as she let the water cascade between their naked bodies, “You and me, waking up together and sharing something like this.”
“Would you like to make it a regular thing?” said Scott as he traced his hands down her womanly curves.
“That’s moving a little fast, don’t you think?” she said wryly.
“Bear in mind, I’m coming off dating Rogue. Moving fast is sort of a byproduct,” Scott teased, “I just can’t help myself, Jean. I know we haven’t been together for very long, but after having these feelings for you for so long I guess I don’t want to waste any more time enjoying them.”
“Can’t say I blame you,” said Jean in a more serious tone, “I guess it is a little different considering how well we know each other. It’s almost as if we’ve been dating unofficially for much longer.”
“You may be right, but I wouldn’t mention that to Logan or Rogue. Especially Rogue, given how hard it’s been for her lately.”
“Yeah, I haven’t forgotten either,” said Jean with a touch of sympathy for her friend, “But I’m not implying our relationships with them didn’t mean anything. They did. But I kind of think they already knew. When you step back and look at it, we were the only ones truly oblivious to how we felt about one another.”
“Sure took us long enough to realize it,” said Scott.
“Hey, better late than never,” said Jean with another smile.
They shared another kiss under the hot torrent of water. It was a feeling they had come to savor together. Since that fateful night they came clean, their relationship progressed quickly. Within the span of a week they went out on their first date, shared a few long walks together out in the woods, and made love many times. It had a significant affect on their overall demeanor. Jean smiled a lot more and was more upbeat than she had been in months. Scott, being the leader, tried to stay serous and stern, but even he couldn’t hide how happy he was at times.
It was still surreal in a ways. For many years they had been best friends. The feelings they had now developed later. Now they were blossoming into something entirely new. It was overwhelming in some ways, but Scott and Jean wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“You ever wonder why it took us so long?” asked Scott as their lips parted.
“The thought had crossed my mind a number of times this week,” said Jean as she huddled in closer to his manly warmth, “And I think I may know why.”
“Care to share?” he asked.
“As if your hands on my butt didn’t provide all the incentive I needed,” she said wryly before shifting to a serious tone again, “I think some of it had to do with our friendship. You remember as well as I do how messed up we were when the Professor first found us. Relationships and falling in love were the last things on our mind. We still became close friends and that sufficed for years, but you know full well that didn’t last.”
“Yeah, we’ve established that pretty clearly,” grinned Scott.
“Even if I did start having feelings for you, it was hard getting around the friendship we had. I’m not saying it was an obstacle, but it making a leap from friends to lovers is pretty difficult. That’s why I think the relationships we did get involved in helped.”
“How do you figure?”
“I think it goes back to the whole uncertainty thing we struggled with. I honestly believe we weren’t sure of what we felt and that’s why we didn’t act on it. It just took a little exploration into the world of relationships to fully understand them. Chances are, we probably would have struggled mightily to get around that if we hooked up earlier. And who knows if we would have made it to this point?”
“Guess we’ll never know,” said Scott, “But whatever the reason, I’m glad we’ve come together like this.”
“Me too,” smiled Jean, “It feels…right.”
“Yes…very right,” said Scott.
Scott smiled back and kissed her again, this time getting a little more playful. He trailed his lips down her face and neck while giving her butt a nice squeeze. Jean laughed playfully as she raked her soft hands down his well-built upper body. It was so tender yet so sensual. Jean could sense his desire for her in his mind, which had become much open to her. It was a comforting feeling, both physically and mentally. Soon, their playful gestures became more heated.
“I love you,” said Scott in a deep tone.
“I love you too,” purred Jean as his hands roamed over her naked body.
“You know, the others are gonna want to use the shower soon,” Scott reminded as Jean’s touching.
“We’ve got time,” she assured him in a deep, sexy tone.
“Are you sure? We wait too long there won’t be any breakfast left.”
“You want to worry about food? Or do you want to kiss me again?”
“Hmm…tough choice,” joked Scott, “But one way or another, we’ll need all the strength we can get for Magneto’s trial later on.”
“Give me ten minutes and I’ll make sure you have all the strength you need, Mr. Summers.”
Scott could only smile at her haughty words and continue their wet embrace. They came together in another deep kiss as their loving gestures continued. It didn’t take long for it to get even more heated. Making love was quickly becoming one of their favorite pastimes together. Whether it was in a bed or a shower, it gave them a feeling like no other. With all the tension surrounding Magneto’s ongoing trial, it was nice to have something like this to give them strength for the challenges ahead.
Xavier Institute – Backyard
Marie Anna Darkholme had a lot of reasons to be bitter. Never knowing her real parents, having a deranged shape-shifter for a foster mother, and never fitting in for the majority of her life was bad enough. Having powers that left her unable to touch another human being without hurting them was a ridiculous new level of hardship. Ever since she woke up from Sinister’s abduction, every waking moment was a harsh reminder of how much her life sucked. Even with all the support she got from Kurt, Remy, and her friends it was still a struggle to adjust.
While the others were eating breakfast, she sat outside by herself near the cliff overlooking the lake. It was still early and she had already gone through half a pack of cigarettes. If ever there was a time to indulge in a big helping of nicotine and carcinogens, this was it. Gazing out over the lake, she took steady drags. She tried to enjoy the scenery, but she had never been much of a nature lover.
She tried to look on the bright side. She had amazing new powers on top of the ones that sucked. She could fly through the air as free as a bird and bench press a dump truck. She could also take bullets if she had to and not even feel it. Anybody who had those powers would be ecstatic, but Rogue found it hard to enjoy them. Maybe when Hank completed a new Danger Room scenario for her to tear up, she could let out her frustrations. For now, cigarettes and bitterness would have to do.
“To hell with the world and everything in it,” muttered Rogue as she flicked her cigarette into the lake.
She reached into her pocket for another cigarette. She was so lost in her self-loathing she didn’t notice Warren flying in.
“Good morning to you too, Rogue,” said Warren, having overheard her colorful musing, “How are you holding up?”
“Do Ah look like Ah’m doing any better, Warren?” she said dryly.
“I don’t know. Are you still on your first pack?”
“Not for much longer,” she said as she lit up another cigarette, “Now if ya don’t mind, Ah’d rather be alone before we head off to see Magneto make an ass of himself in court.”
Warren shook his head in exasperation. Rogue had been pretty difficult to deal with since the Sinister incident. He didn’t envy Kurt and Remy for having to deal with it. Scott tried too, but since he and Jean hooked up he had his hands full. Plus, it probably didn’t help Rogue seeing her ex-boyfriend so happy with a new woman when she couldn’t even touch anymore.
“You know, I would try to say something encouraging, but something tells me you wouldn’t even listen,” said the winged mutant.
“Smart boy,” she replied as she puffed away, “Guess this school is teaching you something.”
“Well instead of encouragement, how about a little advice?” he said seriously, “Find a better way of getting through this. Because what you’re doing now obviously isn’t working.”
“What the hell kind of advice is that?”
“Pragmatic?” said Warren as he approached her, “You’re not the only one here who has endured hardships, you know.”
“You’re a rich, handsome fella with wings who can touch. What the hell would you know about hardships?” scoffed Rogue.
“Enough to know when someone’s not even trying anymore,” he quipped.
Warren then sat down next to her and looked at her with a critical gaze. Warren had dealt with a lot of difficult people in his life, most notably his father, and Rogue was being difficult on a whole new level. So long as the others were trying to get her out of this rut he might as well do his part.
“Seriously Rogue, you’re better than this,” he told her, “I’m not going to say I know how you feel because I don’t. I can’t imagine how much it must suck not being able to touch somebody after you thought that problem was behind you. But you can’t use this as an excuse to be a bitch to everybody. You’ve got a lot of friends here and a brother who’s probably worries about you enough as it is. The very least you could do is try not to take your frustrations out on them.”
Rogue cast the winged mutant a bitter look. He was a lot harsher than the others, but he made a good point. As upset as she was about her new predicament, taking it out on the others was just wrong. That was the kind of thing she would expect from Mystique and she wanted to share as few qualities with her as possibility at this point.
Her gaze sank as she tossed another cigarette into the lake. Her gaze went from bitter to solemn, now feeling guilty about what she was putting her friends thought.
“It’s just so dang hard,” she sighed, “You think it would be easier the second time around, losing mah ability to touch. But it’s a lot harder when you still remember how good it felt to just feel someone. It’s like rippin’ of a band aid twice over the same infected wound.”
“I’m sure it doesn’t help seeing Jean being all over Scott this past week,” added Warren.
“Don’t get meh started on that,” she muttered, “But at least one of us is happy.”
Warren watched as she turned her attention back out to the lake. She really was messed up about this. He was somewhat at a loss. There really wasn’t much he could do to make it better or easier. This was something Rogue was going to have to get through. He had all the confidence she would eventually, but she sure could use some help.
Then an unusual idea came to him. It was a long shot, but it couldn’t hurt to try.
“Rogue, there really isn’t much a guy like me can do. I can’t give you a shoulder to cry on like Kurt and I can’t talk fancy like Remy, but I’m one friend among the many you have here and I want to help. If you’re up to it, I can show you a better way of coping that doesn’t involve addictive carcinogens.”
“And what might that be?” she said skeptically.
Warren smiled and rose up, giving his wings a quick flap.
“Tell me, have you taken the time to give your new flying powers a test run?” he asked.
“Not really. Ain’t like Ah’ve had the motivation,” she said as she rose up with him.
“I think I can change that,” he said confidently, “Ever wonder why I wake up early every morning and to go on these morning flights?”
“Can’t say Ah have. Ah always end up sleeping in anyways,” she replied.
“Well come with me on a little flight and you’ll understand. Storm, Jean, and I are all in agreement. A casual stroll at 10,000 feet makes pretty much anything better.”
Rogue looked at him skeptically, but decided to give it a try. Warren then grabbed her gloved hand and led her into the air. She was still getting the hang of her flight powers, but it was pretty instinctive. She followed her winged friend into the clouds, who led her into an elaborate flight with no direction or destination.
Already she felt a little better with the cool air blowing against her. She watched Warren close his eyes and take in the cool air before soaring even higher. Rogue followed him, feeling a strange sense of liberation along the way. She found herself smiling as well for the first time all week. It was strangely surreal, as if she left her problems behind on the ground. It didn’t solve everything, but it was still a refreshing feeling. Maybe these new powers of hers were more useful than she thought.
Downtown Westchester – Lorna’s Room
Today was a big day for Lorna. For the first time since the Genosha uprising, she was going to see her father. Even though it was going to be via satellite link, she was going to be in his presence during a very important event with far reaching implications for him and mutants everywhere. But for her, the impact would be much more personal.
For the past few months, the world had been clamoring for Magneto to face justice. A man who led an onslaught that nearly consumed the world with destruction could not go unpunished. Pressures from people and authority figures from all over the world forced the UN to throwing together this hastily constructed trial. It was moving quickly at the behest of public opinion. Lorna watched updates on it daily. There was a lot of bickering between governments and people alike, but something had to be done. And as Magneto’s daughter, she was a part of it whether she liked it or not.
Pacing restlessly in her living room, Lorna was dressed in the most courtroom-appropriate attire she had. She didn’t get a wink of sleep last night. She was too anxious, second guessing her decision to go along with this at least every hour. It was a good thing Bobby slept over, otherwise she would have driven herself mad. She was going to attend the trial with the X-men so she could be part of this process. Many, including Bobby, urged her not to go. But despite all her uncertainties, she was going through with this. She couldn’t run from it forever.
As she paced, she watched a local news report covering the trail outside the main UN building. As expected, a large crowd of protesters had already formed.
“As you can see behind me, tensions are running high here at the UN. Protesters continue to gather as the trial of Magneto is set to resume in four hours. This marks the first time television cameras are being allowed inside to view the proceedings. Audiences from around the world are clamoring to see what is being done about the man many believe to be a threat to all civilization. Recent polls show an overwhelming majority supports the death penalty for the mutant supremacist. That sentiment has been echoed by New York senator Robert Kelly, who has been a vocal opponent of how the UN has handled the mutant issue. But an official ruling remains uncertain given the unprecedented nature of this trail. It is truly the first of its kind and there’s no telling what may come of it, especially with Magneto taking the stand via satellite later today.”
Lorna hugged her shoulders as the screen panned over some of the protesters, many of whom were carrying hanging nooses and signs reading things like “Death to Mutant Tyrants!” or “Save Humanity Now! Kill the Monster!” There was a lot of bad blood among the crowd and Lorna could hardly blame them. Her father made quite a mess of things with his mad ambitions.
As she paced, the TV was abruptly turned off. Lorna turned around to see Bobby standing there dressed in khakis and a dress shirt. He had been helping her get through this since the beginning and he was still worried for her, and rightfully so it seemed.
“You really shouldn’t be watching this stuff, Lorna,” he said as he tossed the remote aside, “The news these days is worse than video games, heavy metal, and slasher movies combined. And that’s coming from someone who is an expert in all three.”
“I know it’s not doing me any favors,” she said, “But it’s kind of hard to avoid when it all centers around my own father.”
“Just because he’s your father, that doesn’t mean you have to get caught up in his affairs. Remember, he brought this on himself when he tried to unleash an army of killer robots on the world. Considering the over-the-top nature of his antics, nobody would blame you if you stayed home for this.”
“It’s not about what he did…not entirely anyways. I need to be a part of this, Bobby. Wanda has been encouraging me lately to keep up, especially since she and Pietro are barred from his trial.”
“Not to knock your sister or anything, but I would be wary of any advice from Wanda Maixmoff.”
“I always am. Granted, it would be a whole lot easier if I just completely cut myself off from this, but I can’t. I want to be there when my father faces the world.”
“I still don’t understand why,” said Bobby with a look of compassionate concern, “You’ve already put yourself through enough with him. Why push it further?”
“Because…it’s the right thing to do,” she answered.
Bobby shook his head in exasperation. He cared about Lorna a great deal and tried to support her at every turn, but there were times he just couldn’t wrap his head around her actions. It didn’t make sense. Her father was a madman, even she admitted that. Yet she still held onto her ties with him. He understood family was a powerful force and all, but Magneto a man who wasn’t even part of her life until recently. She deserved better than to endure his web of deviousness.
In a loving gesture, he pulled her into a warm embrace. Lorna was so tense, but she still leaned on him for support. She rested her head on his shoulder, her expression not changing as the sheer weight of this endeavor continued to sink in.
“I’m just worried about you, Lorna,” he said, “You mean a lot to me and I don’t want you to bear more of a burden than you deserve.”
“Sometimes you have to carry that burden,” she said distantly, “It’s part of our responsibility in dealing with who we are.”
“But you’re not your father. You’re nothing like him,” he said, holding her closer.
“I know I’m not. But he’s still part of who I am. And as his daughter, I should be there. For better or for worse, it’s still my responsibility.”
“So there’s nothing anyone can say or do to make you reconsider?”
“Bobby, I think we’ve been together long enough for you to know that when I make up my mind, that’s final. Call me stubborn, but when I make a decision I stick with it…even if it comes back to haunt me.”
Bobby still didn’t understand, but he trusted her word. Lorna may have her share of issues, but when it came to facing challenges she was a whole new kind of tough. It’s part of what he loved about her. It was also part of what made him worry so much.
“I’ll be okay,” she assured him, smiling as best as she could, “I’ll be with you and the X-men. If the going gets tough, I know you guys will be there.”
“For you babe, you know it,” said Bobby, smiling back.
“I love you, Bobby.”
“I love you too, Lorna. Even if you emasculate me with your bravery sometimes.”
“You make up for it when it counts,” she teased, “And I’ll try to make up for making you worry so much.”
“You better,” he said playfully, “Because I got a stack of movies and a cheerleading outfit that I hope we can put to good use later.”
Lorna gave him a playful swat before giving him a tender kiss, helping to further reassure him that she’ll do her part. It set some of Bobby’s concerns at ease and it gave him something to look forward to after this was over. With her mother in the hospital and her father on trial, Lorna was in quite a predicament. He knew she was strong enough to endure the strain. Hopefully their relationship could endure as well.
Lorna was still plenty nervous about this. She had a bad feeling some part of the trial wasn’t going to go as planned. But there was no turning back now. She was going with Bobby and the X-men to the trial of Magneto. She was going to be there as his fate was decided.
Xavier Institute – Xavier’s Room
Professor Charles Xavier fixed his suit and tie one last time as he prepared to meet up with the rest of the team. He sensed they were all ready and waiting for him in the hanger. He could also sense how tense everybody was about this endeavor. They were set to attend Magneto’s trial at the UN in just a few hours. They would be among the countless diplomats, lawyers, politicians, and world leaders presiding over the fate of his long-time friend. It was a solemn event for him, having to be there while Erik faced such a hostile crowd. But it was an event of his own making.
‘I can’t believe it has come to this. Why did you have to take it this far, Erik? Was there no other way? Are you truly beyond hope?’
Charles Xavier wrestled with many questions whenever he mused over his long standing relationship with Erik Lensherr. If events continued down their current course, many of those questions may go forever unanswered. But he was nothing if not a man of hope. It may be naïve of him. But that’s what friends did for each other.
Sighing to himself, he turned away from his mirror and wheeled towards his door. There Hank was already waiting for him, dressed in a suit as well that had been tailor made to fit his ape-like body.
“Are you ready, Charles?” he asked.
“As ready as anyone can be for something like this,” the Professor replied, “I spoke with Senator Kelly last night. He’s going to push for the death penalty again.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised. But I highly doubt the judges will heed it,” Hank reasoned, “This is not a traditional court. They’re still fumbling with their own proceedings.”
“But with enough public sentiment, they may ignore such formalities. Then justice may never be done.”
“Under an emotional state of mind, it rarely is. But do you honestly believe the death penalty is not appropriate someone guilty of Magneto’s crimes?”
“I believe it will do more harm than good,” said the Professor firmly, “The sanctioned execution of any mutant leader, even one who has committed such egregious crimes, is destined to cause more conflict in the mutant community. Erik may be a fierce opponent to our cause, but if he is executed he will become a martyr.”
“Are you sure you can convince others of that given your friendship with the man?”
Xavier’s expression hardened as he struggled to keep his emotions in check. As twisted a man as Magneto had become, to Charles he was still his old friend, Erik. No matter how much their opposing views conflicted, that would never change.
“I’m under no illusions, my friend. I am bias, through and through,” he conceded, “But I don’t consider it a weakness. If I’m not there to have hope in Erik, who will?”
“Your humility never ceases to amaze me, Charles,” smiled Hank, “Let us hope that makes this process that much easier.”
The Professor smiled back as he started wheeling down the hall towards the elevator. Hank walked besides him, looking as anxious about this endeavor as the others. He understood like everyone else how important this was. He was expected to be a part of it. It also provided him with some much needed distractions.
“We’ll make it through,” said the Professor confidently, “So long as we don’t lose focus. Which reminds me, you seem to be doing much better in that regard lately. Have you spoken to Ororo?”
“Not yet,” sighed Hank, “That is a challenge I’m still working on. At the moment I feel space is our best course of action. For now, we care content to take on one challenge at a time. And I would say this trail should be more than enough.”
New York City – Outside UN Building
“NO JUSTICE NO PEACE! NO JUSTICE NO PEACE! NO JUSTICE NO PEACE!”
“DEATH TO WAR CRIMINALS! DEATH TO MAGNETO!”
“MUTATION BREEDS TYRANTS! MUTATION BREEDS DESTRUCTION!”
The chants of hundreds of angry protesters echoed for blocks as police and civil authorities struggled to get people into the building. There was a lot of animosity. It was almost as if Magneto himself was coming to this building. Fear, anger, and outrage permeated the scene. Signs full of every hateful and irrational slogan could be scene throughout the crowds. The barricades set up by the police were holding so far, but it wouldn’t take much to send the people over the edge.
It got particularly bad when the X-men arrived. As soon as they stepped out of a series of SUVs, they were bombarded with angry taunts. It was ironic because they were supposed to be the heroes that stopped Magneto. Irrational fears and burning outrage seemed to make them forget all that.
“Ah our adoring public,” commented Bobby, “Remind me again who’s on trial here?”
“Try not to let their mob mentality get to you,” said Scott, “This is what happens when you have big trials and a crowd of angry people with nothing better to do.”
“Tell me about it. Senator Kelly must be as giddy as a cheerleader,” muttered Warren.
“Let’s not give him even more satisfaction by making a scene,” said Ororo.
With the Professor leading the way, the X-men made their way into the building. Reserves from the National Guard had to be called in to guide them through. It got really bad when some people made it personal.
“YOU’RE NEXT X-MEN!”
“YOU’RE NO BETTER THAN MAGNETO!”
“FREAKS AREN’T HEROES AND HEROES AREN’T FREAKS!”
The X-men tried to ignore these chants as best they could. At one point someone threw a half-eaten burger at them that hit Wolverine in the arm. The feral mutant brushed it off and growled as he drew his claws and stared down the crowd.
“You deadbeats wanna pick a fight! Be my guest!” roared Logan.
But Jean quickly stepped in and held him back.
“Take it easy, Logan. It was just a cheeseburger,” she coaxed, “That’s hardly worth causing another bloodbath.”
Logan was still fuming. Then another protester threw a half-full bottle of soda at him. This time Jean deflected it with her telekinesis. It really was getting out of hand. Even Jean started to find it annoying.
“Dang, now Ah’m startin’ to get tempted,” muttered Rogue.
“Let’s keep moving,” said Jean, suppressing her own frustration as she pushed Logan along, “The sooner we get inside the sooner we can get this over with.”
Wolverine reluctantly withdrew his claws and followed the others inside. Keeping his temper in check in an atmosphere like this was a major challenge. He almost preferred a fight with Sabretooth. Others shared his sentiment. Being jeered like this by the very people they helped save was not a pleasant feelings. Chances were they were in for much worse once Magneto took the stand.
This was especially difficult for Lorna, who huddled close to Bobby as they made their way inside. He tried to shield her from any incoming objects thrown by the crowd. One woman tried to swing her purse at her as she passed by, Bobby deflected it and helped her move along. She wasn’t as used to this as the rest of the X-men, but she still maintained her composure. She didn’t care about the crowds or the condemnation they spewed. She cared only about seeing her father face justice.
“Welcome to our world, Lorna,” said Kitty, “Sorry you have to see it like this.”
“Does it look like it bothers me?” she quipped, “Let’s just do this.”
“Spoken like a true X-man,” grinned Bobby.
That got a slight smile out of Lorna, a rare gesture for situation like this. The angry could still be heard even as they entered. But she and the rest of the X-men were shutting them out. A far more daunting challenge lay ahead of them.
UN Headquarters Main Chamber
With TV cameras and leaders from around the world present, the trial of Magneto began. Charles Xavier and the X-men were given seats near the front along with various diplomats and international lawyers who were acting as advisors to the legal teams. On one side was the prosecution, led by Senator Robert Kelly himself. On the other side was the defense, made up largely of experts in international law and a few military figures. They didn’t seem too keen on proving Magneto’s innocence. They seemed mostly there for show, presenting the aura of fairness in a trial where fairness was nearly impossible.
Magneto was present as well, albeit via satellite. Nobody was willing to risk shipping him out of Guantanamo Bay so they had him placed in a specially created area of the prison created solely for this trial. There he sat in a makeshift witness stand where a series of cameras broadcasted his image to the building in real time. The image of his stoic expression was projected on half-a-dozen projection screens, several of which were set up prominently at the front of the room for all to see. He looked surprisingly calm for a man facing war crimes. It didn’t surprise the X-men, but it presented a disturbing image for the rest of the world to see.
The first three hours of the proceedings were uneventful. For this unique trial, nine judges from various countries sat at the front of the room to hear the arguments. The two sides took turns making their case, but there were numerous objections. Neither side was able to agree on how to handle this. It wasn’t a normal criminal trial and it wasn’t a normal war tribunal. There was never a doubt on the severity of the crime. The chief disagreements came from those uncertain how to dispense justice.
At the moment, the defense was on the floor. Making the statement was a lawyer working under the authority of the United States military. A lone American General wearing a decorated uniform and sunglasses gave him talking points as he made his case.
“Gentlemen, we must face the reality of our current predicament. This international body does not and never has had the authority to conduct a trial of this nature. War crimes and crimes against humanity are a serious matter and it is the opinion of myself and various other diplomats that we reconsider the nature of these proceedings.”
“Objection!” barked Senator Kelly from the prosecution table, “You people are just wasting time! This is not a matter of determining guilt or innocence! The crimes are apparent for all to see and the defendant himself has admitted to them without apology!”
“Then tell me, Senator, where in the UN charter does it give us the authority to hand down a sentence? One that if mishandled could further enflame the public?”
“Don’t talk to me about mishandling authority! These were crimes on a global scale! There is no global court so we must use global bodies to administer justice! That is what the UN was founded upon! It isn’t about authority! It’s about duty!”
“At the expense of due process? You’ll be setting a dangerous precedent,” said the lawyer, “If this body hands down a sentence ordering the execution of a single man, monstrous he may be, then it can hand down the sentence of any man, human or mutant! That’s putting a lot of authority into something not meant to usurp regional powers. Name one example where such usurpations have not led to abuse!”
“Name me a viable alternative!” retorted Senator Kelly, “On this one issue, the nations of the world are in agreement! The defendant must face justice! If the will of the people is to see this man hang, who are we to argue?”
The senator’s forceful words earned him a round of cheers from other diplomats and VIPs. His rhetoric really did seem to reflect the sentiments of many. They really did want to see Magneto hung from the highest tree. It was unprecedented, having people from all over the world be in so much agreement. It didn’t bode well for the defense, who seemed to be running out of arguments.
Professor Xavier and his X-men weren’t too optimistic by what they saw. Outrage was winning out over reason. Even the defense didn’t look very convinced of what they were saying. It was setting them all up for a very unfavorable outcome.
“And I thought the OJ Simpson trial was a circus,” muttered Warren, “It feels like we’re the ones on trial as well.”
“I agree. Zhere does not seem to be room for a rosy outcome here,” said Kurt, “Vhat vill ve do if zhey do decide to execute Magneto?”
“That’s assuming they can,” muttered Logan, “I doubt Magnet will take any sentence these shit-brained lawyers dish out.”
“Don’t even joke about that, Logan,” said Rogue, “Ah don’t even wanna think about Magneto getting out from this. That’ll just make things worse!”
“No argument there, cherè,” said Remy, who was sitting next to Rogue, “But Logan’s got a point. In Remy’s experience, bad men always find a way to escape justice.”
“We can’t let that happen here,” said Scott, “Magneto needs to face justice.”
“Doesn’t mean it’ll be good justice,” muttered Kitty.
As the cheering continued, Professor Xavier sighed and looked over towards Lorna. Bobby was holding her hand for support, but she didn’t seem to be paying attention to the trial at all. She just kept staring at the image on the projection screen of her father with mixed emotions. He sensed anger in her, but at the same time there was a touch of curiosity. It was almost as if she was intrigued by all this.
“How are you holding up, Lorna?” asked Bobby, giving her hand a light squeeze.
“I’m fine,” she said flatly, “No surprises so far.”
“Hopefully it stays that way.”
“Yes…hopefully,” she said distantly.
There was a slight uncertainty in her tone. It was almost as if she wanted something to happen. The Professor was tempted to probe deeper, but he kept to himself for now. His primary focus was on the trial of his friend. It seemed increasingly likely that the powers that be would accept only one outcome: execution.
“It appears the verdict has already been given in the court of public opinion,” said Hank.
“Indeed, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right one,” said the Professor firmly.
“As much as I hate to say it, Senator Kelly does have a point,” said Ororo, who was sitting next to him, “What are the alternatives?”
“I don’t know,” admitted Xavier, “But this can’t be how it ends.”
It seemed out of his hand as the cheering throughout the room continued. Senator Kelly looked over towards Xavier and cast a smug grin. He clearly had the will of the people behind him. He was the one pulling the strings. Even the judges seemed impressed by his passion and his rhetoric. As the cheering continued, a few of them conversed before pounding their gavels to bring order to the court.
“Order in the court!” said one of the judges from China, “The senator’s objection is sustained. Would the defense please step down?”
“But your honor, I’m not finished making my argument,” said the lawyer.
“Yes, we understand. But progress is clearly not being made by these statements. It is our opinion that we give time for the defendant to speak. Let him contribute to the record.”
All eyes turned towards the projection screens where Magneto watched stoically, not at all affected by the cheers Senator Kelly evoked. Some looked at him with fear while others gazed at him with anger. He couldn’t see them all because his only window to this affair was a TV screen at Guantanamo Bay. But he could feel the presence of the world on him. Now for the first time since his failed uprising, he could address the world.
“Mr. Lensherr?” said the American judge, “Do you have anything to say on your behalf?”
The master of magnetism remained silent at first, not even indicating that he heard the judges. There was no compassion, remorse, or respect in his hardened eyes. There was only an eerie calm behind an intimidating demeanor. For a moment, the judges were about to move on. Then in front of a global audience, Erik Lensherr spoke.
“This trial is a joke. Everything you humans are doing is utterly laughable. This prison, these proceedings, and these very events are an insult to any rational-minded creature. It is analogs to a being accused by a pack of dogs.”
At that point, one of the defense lawyer rose up.
“Objection, your honor! The defendant is mocking his own case!” he stated.
“I mock only your pathetic attempts at justice! You and every human on this planet may see me as a madman and a tyrant, but it is you who are the tyrants! It is you who are guilty of the most egregious crimes against this world!”
“Your honor…” he continued.
“Overruled,” said the judge from Russia, rubbing his sore head in frustration, “Let him continue. He is clearly going to one way or another.”
The whole defense team grunted in frustration as he sat down, now powerless to stop Magneto’s venomous rant.
“You think you primates can threaten me with death and imprisonment? You think you can make me suffer for my crimes? There’s nothing you can do to me that was any worse than what the Nazis did at the Polish concentration camp where I saw humanity for what it was. As a boy I watched human beings rip the unborn babies from the wombs of pregnant mothers, I watched human beings laugh as they amputated the limbs of crying old man, and I watched human beings rape young girls and then slit their throats. When this is the environment you come of age in, you gain perspective on the futility of man.”
Professor Xavier cringed as he heard him go over these stories. He heard them from his old friend before and he knew where they led.
“Erik don’t…” he whispered under his breath.
“I once naively thought that there was still some good worth saving. But time and again, humanity has disappointed. Just look at the state of the world under your primitive rule. War, famine, and ecological ruin dominates every corner of this planet. In nature, it is the paramount that a species strives to evolve, following the natural course of all life. But humanity has regressed. You keep falling into old habits, finding new ways to maim each other and destroy your planet. Even when something promising comes along, the new breed of life known as homo superior, you don’t seek to follow it like every other life form. You seek to hinder it, thus sewing the seeds of your own destruction.”
Magneto had his audience captivated. Some were amazed by his story, others by his madness. His manner of thinking was truly deranged, leaving some to worry that his message would stir further chaos.
“This is bad!” said one of Senator Kelly’s aides, “This kind of psycho-babble is likely to start a riot! We should cut the feed!”
“You’ll do no such thing!” said the senator sternly, “This is just what we need! The damn fool is making our case for us! Now no one will oppose sending this madman to the gas chambers!”
The aide fell silent as he and everyone else as Magneto continued.
“I am under no illusions. I know what I did on Genosha. You call what I did a crime of the greatest immorality. But is it really so immoral to assert one’s proper place in this rapidly decaying world? You and your petty notions of law and order would have you believe that morality is something that must be adjudicated. You naively cling to the notion that justice must evolve with the times. But I know from my many years in this world that such a notion is foolish. This is not a matter of perspective. In this world there is right and there is wrong. And the current order that places mutants in the lowest rungs of society is not only wrong, it’s criminal. Judge me as you will. Call me a monster and a tyrant. It is you, the human tyrants of this world, who are guilty. Regardless of what you do to me, you and your kind are doomed. The future belongs to homo superior.”
With those ominous words, Magneto fell silent. Untold millions were left to digest this profound and disturbing testimony into the human/mutant conflict. It was undoubtedly a turning point, listening to the words of a man who had dedicated his life to overthrowing human oppression. Now another turning point awaited them and it wasn’t looking good for mutants at large.
“Is…is that all?” asked the French judge.
On the projector screen, Magneto’s expression once again hardened.
“I have nothing left to say.”
Another ominous silence fell over the court room. The defense team was especially demoralized. Their will to continue this endeavor looked completely shot in wake of such a speech. The only one smiling at this point was Senator Kelly.
“Exactly how many years has Magneto just set us back?” said Kitty dryly.
“Longer than I’ll ever life, that’s for damn sure,” muttered Logan.
It wasn’t very encouraging. Professor Xavier’s expression fell in a state of despair. His old friend had once again shown just how lost he was.
“You have to say something, Charles!” urged Ororo.
“Yeah, we can’t let Magneto end it on a note like that!” said Jean.
“I don’t know if there’s anything I can say at this point,” he lamented.
The X-men could only share in their mentor’s anguish. This was hard on all of them, especially him. The only one among them who wasn’t as affected was Loran, who didn’t take her eyes off the image of her father. Bobby remained worried for her, but it seemed the X-men as a whole had much bigger concerns.
The silence lifted as the two legal teams chatted. The judges also had a short conference. They were supposed to be impartial, but it appeared they were just as struck by Magneto’s words as the rest of the world. It left for little debate on the kind of judgment that would be issued.
“Are there no further questions?” said the British judge.
“No your honor,” said Senator Kelly with a grin, “The prosecution rests.”
“As does the defense,” said the lawyer bitterly.
“Very well,” said the American judge, “If there are no further objections, then this court is ready to issue judgment.”
The five judges got together their materials and prepared to make their official statement before this assembly and the rest of the world watching on TV.
Then an unexpected voice rang out from above.
“Wait! I object! I and every other mutant on this planet object!”
Gasps rang out as a bewildered audience and dozens of TV cameras looked up to see a strange hue of purplish energy form near the ceiling. From that energy, a mysterious figure appeared. The figure was tall, bearing light reddish skin as if he had been sunburned. He had messy hair, an unkempt beard, and a complexion reminiscent of someone who had just escaped a mental institution. His attire was hardly courtroom appropriate either, consisting of a beat up old trench coat and clothes that obviously hadn’t been washed in months. But his appearance was the last thing people noticed.
Guided by an aura of telekinetic energy, he descended to towards the bewildered crowd below so he was hovering ten feet overhead. A number of armed guards were there to greet him, but they were promptly knocked away by a punishing blast of telekinetic force. Such a powerful display caused many diplomats and news crews to take cover. This man clearly wasn’t here to object peacefully.
“Call the guards!” ordered the American judge, “Subdue that mutant and evacuate the building!”
“Nobody’s going anywhere!” yelled the man, “Not until justice has been done!”
The figure further showed off his telekinetic force, using it to seal of every exit point in the room. Several guards tried to move in and stop him, pulling their guns and firing at close range. But every shot was deflected. The psionic shield around him was too strong. Grunting with anger, he seized their guns and literally ripped them to pieces before the eyes of a terrified crowd. He then turned to the screen of Magneto and bowed.
“Your message has not fallen on deaf ears, Magneto! When I, Exodus, heard your eloquent words, I teleported myself to this very chamber! If these humans won’t defend you, I will! The world must know that mutants will not take being subjugated! We will not stand by while our champions are demeaned by injustice!”
Magneto actually smiled at the mysterious man’s words. Even if his voice was impassioned and his eyes wet with tears, he understood his message and had the power to take matters into his own hands.
But the X-men were not smiling one bit. If this man could literally just teleport himself here on a whim, then he was a powerful adversary. And in a room this crowded, there was a lot of potential for danger.
“This guy has all sorts of crazy written all over him!” exclaimed Bobby as he iced up, “Lorna, get back!”
“I know the drill,” she said as she took cover, “Do you know this guy?”
“Can’t say I’ve seen him in our villains update,” said Kitty as she rose up, “But Magneto has a way of reaching the crazies of this world. I’m guessing we’re the ones who are gonna have to stop this guy.”
“Would you expect anything less?” said Scott as he slipped on his visor, “You know what to do X-men! Stop Exodus and protect the bystanders!”
“Works for me,” growled Logan as he drew his claws, “Damn trial was boring as hell anyways!”
The team sprung into action. Hank stayed with the Professor, wheeling him over to a corner where he would be safer. Jean went with them, using her telekinesis to protect them along the way. Scott and Bobby opened fire first, hitting Exodus with ice blasts and optic blasts. But like he did with the bullets earlier, Exodus blocked them with his telekinetic shield. Remy tried to help by striking him with several charged cards. The result was the same. Exodus would not go down easy.
“Is that the best the mighty X-men can muster?” he scoffed, “Some heroes you are! You’re a traitor to your kind!”
“Somebody be off his meds,” said Remy.
“I got his medicine right here!” growled Wolverine, “Hrrraaahhhhhhhhh!”
With Scott, Remy, and Bobby providing cover, Logan charged the raging mutant. Exodus used his telekinesis to fling several chairs at him. Logan sliced through each of them with ease. He then tried to pounce, slashing away at his psionic shield. Exodus grunted and backed away from the punishing attacks. But he remained undaunted.
While this battle was unfolding, Magneto continued to watch from afar. He grinned at the sight of the X-men enduring such a battle. Given that Exodus was outnumbered, it was only fair he get some encouragement.
“So…Exodus, you say? If you are truly as dedicated as you say, you can prove it by subduing the X-men.”
Upon hearing these words, Exodus felt a new surge of strength.
“It well be done, Magneto!” he proclaimed.
With a determined grunt, Exodus unleashed a wave of telekinesis that knocked over every table, chair, and stand in the entire room. It also knocked Logan back, sending him flying against the far end of the large room. This really got the crowd to start panicking. Senator Kelly was especially nervous as he tried to make his way out through the VIP exit in the front.
“This day just keeps getting better and better,” he mused.
While the crowds scrambled, Kitty, Angel, Ororo, and Kurt went to work trying to protect them. With everybody momentarily stunned, Exodus began wildly throwing around tables and chairs. Ororo tried to counteract them with wind bursts, but in such a confined space it was hard to get much of a gust going. Warren tried to catch a few, but they were moving so fast it was more dangerous for him than it was for the targets so he focused on helping Kurt get the judges to safety. Kitty helped them slip away by phasing them through the locked doors and into safety. Kurt did the same with the other judges, having to dodge an incoming table in the process. But there were too many people to evacuate one by one.
“Zhis room is too crowded!” exclaimed Kurt, “Ve can’t get everybody out like this.”
“Too bad Exodus locked every door,” said Kitty.
“Perhaps we should make one,” said Ororo as she kicked up more wind.
“Or we can just take him out quicker!” said Scott as he turned to Rogue, “Have you had time to test the limits of your new strength, Rogue?”
“Can’t say Ah have, but Ah guess now is as a good a time as any,” she said as she took off her gloves.
“But how are you going to get close enough to him?” said Warren as he protectively stood over a couple of diplomats.
“Leave that to us, Warren,” said the Professor from the corner, “Jean, I may need your help with this one.”
“No problem, Professor!” said Jean as she clutched her temples, “If this guy is as crazy as he looks, his mind is going to need more than two telepaths!”
While Exodus was on his rampage, now using various flag poles as his projectiles of choice, he rose up higher to avoid more direct attacks. That’s when he started feeling the telepathic attacks on his mind. He suddenly found it hard to focus or coordinate. He was also struck with a splitting headache. It caused him to momentarily stop his attack and clutch his temples in agony.
“Argh! Get out of my mind!” he yelled.
“Wow! This guy has some tough shields!” grunted Jean.
“He must be telepathic too,” said Xavier as he concentrated harder.
The two psychics stepped up their attacks. But Exodus kept resisting. He struggled to stay air-born, falling back to the floor at one point. But he didn’t give in. He turned towards the corner where Xavier and Jean were holding up. He then used his telekinesis to lift a nearby news camera and launch it right at them. Hank saw this and came to their defense, but when he saw how fast it was moving he quickly surmised he couldn’t stop it.
“Hate to break your concentration, Charles, but you might want to…”
Hank was unable to finish. The table hit him head on and despite his best efforts to deflect it with his ape-like strength, it hit with too much force. He was knocked back into Jean and the Professor, effectively disrupting their psychic attack and causing Xavier to tumble out of his wheelchair.
His head still sore, Exodus grunted as he rose to his feet and regained his composure. Still burning with rage, he turned his attention to the Professor and used his telekinesis to levitate him and bring him over so he was hovering right in front of him. Hank and Jean could only watch as they struggled to recover. Now standing eye-to-eye with Magneto’s arch nemesis, Exodus held him in a firm telekinetic grip that was already choking him.
“Charles Xavier! The world’s most powerful psychic!” he seethed, “Tell me, did you find anything interesting while you were in my mind? I know there’s a lot that even I can’t decipher! I’d love to test my own psychic talents against you, but for what you’ve done I’ll gladly end you in front of the whole world! Any last word?”
“Ack! Your back!” choked the Professor.
“What?” said Exodus in confusion.
Suddenly, a voice emerged from behind.
“Ah think he said, watch your back,” grinned Rogue.
Exodus eyes widened with surprise as he turned to see an angry Rogue flying towards him at full speed. He instinctively put up a telekinetic shield, but when she struck he was overwhelmed by the force and lost his grip on both the Professor and his defenses.
“Augh!” he groaned out as he flew back against the judges podium.
“You got some tough defenses, sugah,” said Rogue as she moved in to finish him, “Just not tough enough!”
The bewildered mutant tried to get up and re-establish his defenses, but he wasn’t fast enough. Rogue came in and placed her hand on his face, swiftly draining him of his life energy. He was a fighter, struggling against the drain for a good ten seconds. But he eventually gave in, letting out a defeated groan before falling unconscious.
Once he was out, all the doors unlocked and the crowd let out a sigh of relief. The cameras were still rolling, capturing every moment of the chaotic battle. The X-men all gathered in the central area around Exodus, carefully looking over him in case he woke up. Logan and Hank were a bit slower to rejoin due to the injuries they sustained. Warren, Kitty, and Kurt lingered back as well to help open the doors so everybody could get out. But with Exodus out the threat had officially passed.
“Wow…this guy was a tough one,” said Jean, still rubbing her temples.
“Are you okay, Jean?” asked Scott, staying close to his girlfriend.
“I’m getting there. His mind was something else.”
“Yes, I sensed it as well,” said Xavier as Hank helped him back into his wheelchair, “He is a most peculiar individual with an unusual mental construction.”
“Tell meh about it,” said Rogue as she put her gloves back on, “Ah tried draining some of his memories to find out who he was. But Ah couldn’t get much. Ah ain’t even sure he knows what century he’s in.”
“Great, another guy with messed up memories,” muttered Remy, “That ain’t ever a good sign. No offence, Logan.”
“Shut up, Cajun,” growled Logan.
As the dust settled over this impromptu battle, a number of armed guards stormed the area around Exodus. They were the reinforcements that couldn’t get inside as a result of the doors being locked. They spread out, securing VIPs and media personnel. They also helped Senator Kelly and a few military officials up. But they weren’t as friendly towards the X-men.
“Freeze X-men! Back away from the intruder!” barked one of the guards.
“Go ahead, he’s all yours,” said Kitty.
“Wait!” said Senator Kelly as he pushed through some of the guards, “Your not going to question them?”
“Question us? Dude, we just saved you and practically everyone else in this building!” exclaimed Warren, “You’re not going to arrest us for that, are you?”
“I find it a little too convenient this thug arrived just as the court was about to pass judgment. And you’re clearly opposed to the majority sentiment here! What’s to say this isn’t some elaborate diversion?”
“Somebody’s been listening to too many conspiracy theories,” commented Kitty.
“Vhat do you expect, Kitty? He’s a politician,” said Kurt bitterly.
Senator Kelly scorned such a comment and was prepared to say more. But Professor Xavier was there to cut him off. He wasn’t about to let Senator Kelly use this against mutants any more than he already had. Someone had to stand up to him before he started them all down the wrong road.
“You’re being unreasonable, Senator. My X-men and I had no part in this. And you need not question us. We will cooperate fully with the authorities. But I ask you to step back and look closer at what you just witnessed.”
“What’s there to see? You mutants are once again proving you can’t be civilized! Even when we try to uphold rule of law, you find a way to undermine it!”
“That’s exactly your problem, Senator. You’re not casting judgment on Magneto. You’re casting judgment on all mutants. You are setting this trial up to be an indictment on an entire race of people, many of whom want nothing to do with Magneto’s crimes. And this is what you get when you do that. You get mutants like Exodus who will become desperate and fight back. Ask yourself, bearing in mind the cameras are still rolling, are you willing to make judgment and deal with the consequences? Because the conflict that follows will be on your shoulders, not Magnetos.”
Senator Kelly tensed at his words, resisting the urge to respond with more outrage. But with the cameras on them, he would only be hurting his case if he did so. He looked over at his legal team and the defense team that still remained. They were now chatting amongst themselves, giving him unfriendly looks in the process. They were taking Xavier’s point seriously. As much as he hated to admit it, the man had a point.
“This isn’t over, Xavier,” he said sternly, “You only delaying the inevitable. Magneto is still going to face justice.”
“I hope that he does,” said the Professor sincerely, “But as in every case, justice must be administered carefully. Or the consequences will only lead to more injustice.”
The Professor turned back to his team while the senator was swarmed by reporters. They all saw the same events as him. That animosity towards Magneto was going to be tempered by the deeds of the X-men. Even those who hated Magneto would be wary of making a judgment that would incite more people like Exodus. The X-men’s heroics were complicating his case. The more he dealt with them, the more reasons he was finding to dislike them.
While Senator Kelly walked off the deal with the reporters and the X-men were helping the authorities with Exodus, Lorna stood in a daze in front of one of the projection screens. During the fight, she took cover near Bobby and the X-men. She was tempted to flee with the rest of the crowd, but she found herself lingering and watching the battle unfold. She was tempted to help, but something else caught her attention. The image of her father on the projector screen was still going. At the point where he told Exodus to eliminate the X-men, the feed stopped and the image froze. Despite this, she lingered.
Even as the fight had been going on, Lorna was still processing his words. She had heard him speak like that before. When she was involved in the Genosha uprising, he would speak eloquently to his followers about mutants and why he did what he did. But during that time she never made a serious effort to listen. This time she had and it struck her on a level she didn’t expect. While fixated on the now frozen image of her father on the projection screen, she found herself talking to him.
“I truly didn’t understand before, Father. I still don’t entirely, but I now have a better idea. It makes more sense now. Thank you.”
Her words went unheard by anybody except her, but that didn’t matter. Lorna had to get them out. She remained fixated on her father’s image. She didn’t even notice her boyfriend approaching her.
“Are you okay, Lorna? Magneto isn’t putting some sort of long distant hypno-eye on you, is he?”
“I’m fine,” she assured him, “And under nobody’s control, thankfully.”
“You sound awfully calm after just watching some psycho crash your dad’s show trial.”
“When you date an X-man, you sort of get used to that,” she said with a playful gesture, “It’s okay. I knew you guys would stop him. You always do.”
As a reward, she gave him a kiss. It effectively silenced Bobby and made him blush, especially since some of the cameras were still rolling. Lorna laughed and rejoined the X-men with Bobby, but not before turning back towards the image of her father one last time. She had a new kind of understanding for him and wanted to understand more. But now was not the time for doing so. She was going to have to set them aside for the time being. No use worrying her boyfriend, who sadly could never understand.
For Professor Charles Xavier, the next few hours were sure to be chaotic. More authorities poured in to contain Exodus. He had already been handcuffed, restrained, and sedated to make sure he wouldn’t cause any more problems. His X-men cooperated, keeping a vigilant eye on the proceedings. Scott, Ororo, Logan, and Warren helped fill them in on what they were dealing with. Kitty, Kurt, and Jean assisted Hank in instructing them how to deal with a volatile mutant. Logan, Remy, and Rogue loomed extra close to Exodus’s unconscious form, ready to attack the second he moved a muscle.
The situation seemed contained, but Professor Xavier found himself looking back at the podium where the judges had been sitting. They were so close to passing down a sentence, which would have surely had far reaching implications for mutants everywhere. Many like Senator Kelly would have loved nothing more than to see mutants get their day in court. It was a good thing they were able to stop it. But this wouldn’t solve the issue at hand. It would only change the circumstances.
“I think it’s safe to say this could have gone a lot better. But it just as easily could have been a lot worse,” said Scott as he stepped back to give the authorities some room to work, “You think we made our case today, Professor?”
“I’d like to think so, Scott. But I’m not sure,” said the Professor distantly.
“We still made quite a statement,” said Warren, “We at least tried to balance the mutant hate with some good old fashioned heroics. It should counter some of the rampant Magneto hate.”
“Even if it does, it has not stopped what has already been set into motion. It has only delayed it,” said Xavier, “Magneto will still face trail. And one way or another, the outcome will affect us all.”
“So what do we do? Just wait for it to cause another disaster?” said Bobby, who was holding hands with Lorna.
Professor Xavier looked back towards the VIP area where Senator Kelly was making his leave. He and many others were setting the stage for much greater conflict. They all may have good intentions at heart, but good intentions could not change reality. It was something the X-men may have to mitigate.
“We can only do our best to ensure it doesn’t come to that,” said Xavier, “Right now, fear and anger is driving this trial. Without maintaining reasonable perspective, no justice can ever be done. Like I told the Senator, we must make sure it is only Magneto that pays for his crimes. Not the entire mutant world.”
Armored Convoy – Later That Day
The mysterious yet powerful mutant known as Exodus drifted in and out of consciousness as he was hauled off in chains to the nearest holding cell. The hours that proceeded his attacked passed in a daze. He remembered the X-men putting this collar around his neck that suppressed his powers. He also remembered the guards giving him heavy doses of sedative. He even heard them talk about where they would take him. They mentioned something about putting him in a cell next to this guy named Juggernaut.
Whatever the case, Exodus was too dazed to care. All he could think about is his failure. He made the decision to come to Magneto’s aid. He thought he was the sign he had been looking for. He was the one that would give him the direction he lost. His whole life was one long string of confusion. His memories were an incoherent blur, obscured by conflicting events he could never make sense of. Even with his great power, he was useless without direction. He believed Magneto and his cause could give him that direction. But for his failure, he deserved to return to obscurity.
He groaned in defeat as he sat in a daze, chained to the back of a windowless armored car. He was so out of it he didn’t even know how many guards were with him. At one point he sensed someone leaning over him, putting another needle to his neck. He figured it was more sedative, but could care less at this point.
“Hnn…do your worst. I deserve it,” he muttered in a slurred tone.
But just as the needle entered his neck, he heard an unexpected voice.
“Oh, you need to work on that self-esteem of yours, Exodus. Don’t worry, you’ll have a chance soon enough.”
That voice didn’t sound like a guard. It was feminine and sly, definitely not what he would expect from UN security personnel. It was then he started to feel strange. That sedative he was injected with didn’t feel like a sedative. It felt like adrenaline, which was slowly countering the drowsy effects.
Exodus slowly found himself coming to. He opened his eyes and to his surprise, he saw that there was only one guard watching over him. There were three others, but they were all out cold. It was as if someone knocked them unconscious. His focused remained on the lone guard, who looked like the other two but was smiling strangely. Even without his powers, he could tell he was more than he seemed.
“Your little stunt was admirable, Exodus. But you’re clearly in need of direction. Luckily, Magneto could use someone like you.”
“Magneto?” he said, his vision still blurry, “But how? He’s still a prisoner of those human scum!”
“For now, he is. But it’s not going to stay that way for very long. And if you really want to prove yourself to him, you’ll take what I’m about to offer you very seriously.”
It sounded dubious. Exodus was not one to think or reason with the utmost clarity. With a mind as messed up as his, it was next to impossible. But there was something about this voice that sounded sincere. Whoever this was, they wouldn’t have gone to the trouble to catch up with him like this if it wasn’t genuine. And if he could have a second chance, it would be foolish of him not to take it.
“I’ll do what I have to do,” he said.
The figure smiled. Then before his eyes he watched as the image of the armored soldier was replaced by that of a blue skinned woman with red hair and yellow eyes.
“Just sit tight and let the Brotherhood of Mutants take care of this. We’ve already begun work on something big. It’s something Magneto himself has had in the words for some time. Help us complete it and the humans won’t know what hit them!”
Next Issue: Deadpool
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