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Volume 2 -- Issue 42 -- Overlord Part 5

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Overlord Part 5
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As the next stage in human evolution, mutants all over the world endure an intolerant world that hates and fears them. Professor Charles Xavier and mutant team the X-men stand against that intolerance, seeking peace between humans and mutants to build a better future. That future, however, constantly hangs in the balance against those who seek destruction. That balance is on the verge of being shattered forever.

After being imprisoned for his mutant-led uprising on Genosha, Magneto staged a new and terrifying plan to overthrow the human order. Using a machine built by a mutant named Forge, he directed an iron asteroid from space onto a collision course with Earth. With this as leverage, he was released and returned to Genosha to reunite with his Brotherhood. They then sought to refine the machine, making it so Magneto could use it to amplify his magnetic powers to new levels and impose a new order on the world.

But humanity will not go quietly. In wake of this threat, the President and various nations have put together a plan of their own using the mutant hunting sentinels and a chemical developed by Southerner Pharmaceuticals that is poisonous to mutants. They feel they can counter Magneto’s genocidal threats, but now the stakes are higher than ever now that Magneto has revealed his plot to the world via global broadcast. Now civilization and humanity itself stand on the brink and the X-men are stuck in the middle of it all, hoping to stop it at all costs. 


Los Angeles – Downtown

Every culture throughout history had its own vision for how the world would end. But it was pretty safe to say that no culture could ever imagine the end coming on the whims of a madman seeking to overthrow humanity. Magneto was creating his own apocalypse, leaving every man, woman, and child to face their impending fate with fear and dread.

Magneto’s message reached all corners of the world. Shortly after he delivered his profound speech, the world reacted. Chaos quickly consumed every city of every nation. All notions of order and civility completely and utterly disintegrated. There was no more law, reason, or hope. There was only the promise of a fiery doom from a man driven by hatred and anger. Driven by fear and despair, people took to the streets. Riots broke out in nearly ever major population center. There was looting, protests, and outbursts of uncontrolled anguish. It was the end of the world. All that was left was chaos and dread.

But despite the grim situation, there were authorities that tried to maintain some semblance of peace. It was an uphill battle since many police and law enforcement officials had given into the chaos as well. But those that did remain tried desperately to save what was left of this decaying world. John Proudstar was among those remaining authorities. He along with other forces at White Cell, the private military company he worked for, were tasked with picking up the slack left by weakened authorities. Even with mutant powers, it was a losing battle at best.

“THE END IS HERE! IT’S OVER! IT’S ALL OVER!”

“WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE! THOSE MUTANTS HAVE KILLED US ALL!”

Standing on a rooftop, John gazed distantly at the chaotic streets below. It was a horrific sight. Buildings were being smashed, fires were being started, and people were being hurt in the process. Together with his unit from White Cell, he coordinated their efforts to stem the tide and save those who were caught in the crossfire.

“Team Alpha, get those barricades set up!” he barked into a communicator, “We’ve got some SWAT gear coming in and I need sentries on the streets and on the roof!”

“We’re trying, Thunderbird! But too many officers are jumping ship! They’re losing their sanity like the rest of these people!”

“Then get Karma over here and have her control them if she has to! We need that gear!”

“She’s stuck guarding the hospital. If she leaves the riots could overwhelm the area!”

“If we don’t get those supplies the riots will overwhelm everything!” exclaimed John, “Just get her here as fast as you can, Kwannon! We need to stay coordinated!”

The line went down as John leapt from the rooftop down to the streets below. He jumped right into the crowd, which were looting several large buildings. Using his strength and invulnerability, he braved bricks and random gunfire to extract the wounded, they dying, and those just too petrified to move. He helped get one woman’s young son out from a swarm of angry rioters. He also helped a young teenage girl with a broken leg escape a fire that had broken out in the store.

But while the mothers and the victims were grateful for his heroics, his mutant status was quickly identified. Some of the rioters recognized him from his past with the X-men. In wake of Magneto’s speech, all notions of understanding towards mutants had gone out the window. Despite his heroics, he was a target.

“HE’S A MUTANT! GET HIM!”

“YOU AND YOU’RE KIND ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS! YOU’VE DESTROYED US ALL!”

“Gotta love mob mentality,” groaned John as he fought off a couple of rioters, “Where the hell is Kwannon?!”

Not wanting to risk hurting any civilians, he ran back to a hastily constructed barricade at the end of the street. His team was working to secure a couple of blocks for those trying to escape the riots. Working with him was a Japanese woman, Kwannon, a mutant with the ability to sense emotional states and form a psionic katanas that could cut through most anything. She was a tough fighter who he worked with before, but had a tendency to make some bone-headed moves in the heat of combat.

Also working with him was a young up and coming soldier named Xi’an Coy Manh. She was a special psychic that could use telepathy to overtake someone’s mind and body. Originally, she sold her skill to the military as a means to get asylum from her impoverished life in Vietnam. But when they found out she was gay, they kicked her out. Luckily, White Cell didn’t have the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy.

Having gotten back behind the barricades, John linked up with a couple of White Cell soldiers. They were trying to stem the riots by reinforcing the barricades and using tear gas to repel the rioters.

“We can’t hold out much longer!” yelled one of his fellow soldiers, “The wind is clearing the air too quickly! Without gas or riot gear, they’re going to overwhelm us all!”

“Hold on! We’ve got backup on the way,” said John, “As soon as Kwannon gets here with Karma we’ll have the edge!”

It sounded like wishful thinking. But it was all they had to go on at this point. John rose up and took their fire. Since he was invulnerable, it didn’t matter of rioters hit him with bullets or debris. He needed to buy time for his comrades.

Finally, he heard the honking horn of a truck. John turned around to see a tow truck towing a swat car full of gear. Kwannon was in the driver’s seat and Karma was in the passenger’s seat. For a moment, John let out a sigh of relief.

“Kwannon!” he yelled out, waving to her, “Hurry up and unload the tear gas! Karma, get over here and help us with this crowd!”

“Hang in there, Thunderbird!” urged Kwannon as she stopped the truck near the barricade, “We’ve got your reinforcements!”

Kwannon swiftly got out of the truck with Karma, who was looking pretty overwhelmed. She was younger than the rest of them, having just turned nineteen. This was by the worst situation she ever found herself in.

“Oh God,” she gasped as she took in the destruction, “This is terrible!”

“Take in the sights later!” yelled Kwannon, “First help me unload this junk so we can…”

But before Kwannon could finish, she saw something out of the corner of her eye. One of the nearby rioters had a grenade in his hand, which he most likely stole from a gun store. And he was looking right at them as he threw it their way, aiming for the truck. It landed right in front of Karma, who was still too dazed to move. Kwannon, with her propensity to not think before reacting, lunged towards her on a whim.

“KARMA LOOK OUT!” she exclaimed.

Krama was just realizing what was going on when Kwannon shoved her out of the way. Just as she did, the grenade went off. Since it was so close to the truck, it ignited the gas and oil and triggered an even larger explosion. A sharp blast consumed their immediate area, momentarily blinding those unlucky enough to see it. Karma felt the force from the blast wave, but Kwannon took much of the impact. It sent her crashing head first into a nearby street lamp, hitting it so hard she was knocked out cold and had a gaping wound on her head.

“KWANNON!” exclaimed John.

Running out from the cover of the barricade, he ran to Kwannon’s aid. Karma was already there, panicked as she saw the extent of her injuries. Much of her uniform, which included Kevlar body armor, protected her from the blast. But her head had not been protected and the damage looked severe.

When John arrived, he quickly took the wounded woman in his arms. Years in battle taught him to recognize when wounds were severe. He felt blood gushing from the wound in her head. It wasn’t the kind of wound anybody could walk away from, even someone as tough as Kwannon. It seemed she would be another victim in Magneto’s insane plot.

“Damn it, Kwannon! Why do you have to be so reckless?” said John, holding back his emotions.

“Is she…” began Karma, fearing the worst.

“No, but she’s pretty bad,” said the Native American mutant, “And I have a feeling it’s only going to get worse.”

Karma was silent, forcing herself to be tough like a soldier should and swallowing her emotions for her comrade. John held Kwannon protectively, trying to keep her from bleeding out even more. It was a bad sign when one of their toughest could not overcome the challenges of a mission.

But John and Karma didn’t have time to lament for their fallen comrade. As they stood in the midst of all this chaos, something was happening in the skies overhead. Transport orbs, sent by the whims of Magneto, streaked across the sky at blinding speeds. There were hundreds of them, moving too fast to count or track. It caused more panic and fear amongst the crowds rioting in the streets. It showed Magneto was ready to carry out the next and final phase of his plan.

“That crazy psycho is really going to do it,” mused John, “He’s going to destroy us all.”

“So it’s over then,” she mused, “Magneto’s won.”

“Not yet, he hasn’t. The X-men are still out there. They’ve stopped him before. They can stop him again. They just better hurry it up. We’re running out of time.”


Worthington Private Jet – Over Skies of Genosha

It was the moment of truth. The X-men arrived at Genosha where Magneto was carrying out his diabolical plan and not a moment too soon. Like the rest of the world, they saw his broadcast. They heard that angry undertone they knew all too well. It was that of a man driven mad by his rage. Only now, he was unleashing it upon the entire world.

The importance of their mission just went up exponentially. Success was more important than ever before. They not only had to save their planet, they had to stop this madman from inflicting irreparable harm to the world they swore to protect. It seemed even more daunting now. The whole of civilized society was likely crumbling under fear and dread. They had to turn the tide before it was too late.

“Damn…” said Remy upon hearing the end of Magneto’s message, “That homme really has gone off the deep end.”

“Of all the insane, diabolical speeches he’s given over the years, that one has to rank near the top,” commented Bobby.

“Forget the speech! What about that machine he was rambling about?!” exclaimed Warren, “Now he has control over the entire electromagnetic spectrum?!”

“Ah skipped a lot of physics classes, but even Ah know that’s bad news,” dreaded Rogue, “Please tell meh we have a plan, Cyclops!”

Scott, who was still gripping the controls to the plane, ran over the possibilities in his mind. When it came to a situation like this, there were only so many tactics they could use. With the kind of power Magneto described, they were definitely at a disadvantage. It meant they were going to have to be a lot more daring in their attack.

“Not a lot of time for planning, I’m afraid,” said the X-leader, “Our only objective at this point is to knock Magneto out of whether power trip he’s on.”

“Great, so we’ll just get in, tear up whatever gizmo he’s using, and beat him to a pulp! That’s a good enough plan for me!” said Logan intently.

“As appealing as that is, we can’t just destroy that machine,” said Scott seriously, “It may hold the key to diverting that asteroid. We just have to neutralize him and then work on destroying that rock before it hits.”

“And then after the asteroid, we have those killer sentinels loaded with poison gas to deal with,” added Kitty.

“Not to mention a vorld zhat is most likely falling apart vith fear,” said Kurt.

“Yeah, I haven’t forgotten all that,” muttered Scott, “I understand it’s a long list of crises for us to handle. But try and think of it as a simple three-step process. Beat Magneto, stop the asteroid, stop the sentinels. Simple.”

“Don’t forget Henry and the Professor,” said Ororo, still very worried about Hank after everything they had been through, “We need to save them as well.”

“Okay, make that a four step process,” Scott corrected sheepishly, “Like I said, simple.”

They all understood Scott was trying to be the confident leader, but his assessment was overly simplified to say the very least. Each of those four steps he mentioned seemed daunting enough on their own. Having to handle them all at once sounded next to impossible. But the X-men had faced impossible odds before. They had to believe they could do it again and keeping it simple helped keep it in perspective.

“We need to hurry! We’re running out of time!” said Jean anxiously, who was still trying to make telepathic contact with the Professor, “I can already sense some pretty distressing thoughts!”

“Do any of them belong to the Professor? Or Lorna?” asked Bobby.

“I don’t know,” groaned Jean, struggling through the mental strain, “There’s just so much. I’m pushing my powers to the limit here.”

“Try and conserve some of your strength, Jean,” said Scott as he flew in lower, “We’re going to need to go beyond all our limits with this. We may have to take a few big time risks in the process.”

“What kind of risks?” asked Warren anxiously.

“You’ll see,” said Scott ominously.

Taking his own words to heart, Scott gripped the controls and flew the high end private jet down lower in a daring and risky maneuver. It was now flying at high speeds a few hundred feet off the surface of the water, kicking up a large wake behind it. The whole plane shook as he kicked in the afterburner. It led the rest of the team to tighten their seatbelts and hang on. Scott usually wasn’t the one to take big risks. That was more Logan’s deal. But these were desperate times. It still didn’t offer much comfort.

As they held on, they passed through a thick cloud of fog. It was the outer area of Genosha. It had to be. More turbulence followed. They could hear the engines of the plains screeching. It wasn’t a pleasant sound. For a moment it felt like they were going to give out. Then the fog cleared and they saw land in the distance. It was Genosha alright and if Magneto was as crafty as they remembered he was already aware of their presence.

But even as they passed over the shores of the island, Scott didn’t slow down. If anything, he sped up. They were flying so fast and so close to the surface it felt like the plane was going to come apart all around them.

“Uh…Scott? You do realize this isn’t the X-jet, right?” said Warren anxiously.

“I know what I’m doing, Warren,” said the X-leader intently, “I just need to know one thing. Is this plane insured?”

“Okay, that would rank at the top of the list of things you never want to hear a pilot say!” groaned Bobby.

“Does it matter what I say either way?” groaned Warren.

“Just making sure,” said Scott with a half-grin.

The X-leader then turned to his girlfriend, who quickly picked up on what he was about to do. It was crazy on so many levels. It was the kind of thing any normal person would be screaming at the top of their lungs how stupid it was. But there was no time to chide her lover’s tactics. They had to adapt to this insane situation, even if it meant resorting to extreme tactics.

“You ready for this, Jean?” he asked his lover.

“As if I have a choice,” sighed the young psychic, “Gun it babe! I got this!”

“Ooh boy, this gonna be one hell of a ride!” grinned Remy.

The X-men held on as they prepared to make their move. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Storm, Wolverine, Rogue, Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, and Gambit set aside all fear and uncertainty, gathering every last bit of their strength. A lot was depending on them. They alone stood against Magneto. They were prepared to stop him by any means necessary.


Magneto’s Citadel

“YEEEEEESSSSS! THIS POWER IS INCREDIBLE! THE ENTIRE PLANET AND ALL IT’S MAGNETIC POENTIAL! I AM NOT JUST A MASTER OF MANETISM! I AM THE GOD OF MAGNETISM!”

The booming voice of Magneto echoed through his throne room. The machine was going strong at full power, humming with an ominous low rhythm as it churned to the power of his magnetic prowess. Outside, thousands of their mutant brethren cheered, watching as large beams of energy shot out into the sky. The whole citadel shook as he wielded his power, bending the Earth’s magnetic field to his whim. Standing in the center, the master of magnetism hovered a few feet off the ground, surrounded by a bluish yellow halo of energy. He looked calm, but his expression bore the intensity of a man soaking in the rush of the ultimate power trip.

Watching in a mix of awe and horror were the Brotherhood. Exodus, Avalanche, Blob, Toad, and Pyro all stood back, admiring the dazzling light show before them. Quicksilver, Mystique, Forge, and the Scarlet Witch bore more serious looks. As bedazzled as they were by the display of the machine, there were still concerns. For Quicksilver, Forge, and Mystique the biggest issue at hand was the final step of the plan. Magneto had his machine and he had the world falling apart around him. All that was left was to deliver the death blow to humanity.

However, not everybody was so eager to see that final step completed. Wanda Maximoff was the only one who didn’t share the same enthusiasm as the others As she watched her father be consumed by power, she found herself worrying what kind of world they were creating. For so long, she followed her father in the belief that they were going to use their powers to forge a better world for mutants. She used to think the only way to do so was to take humanity out of the picture. But in the time she had been running Genosha with the help of Charles Xavier, she wasn’t sure if such a fate was truly best.

She found herself looking his way numerous times. He was still shackled to the wall with Hank, forced to watch this horrific scene with all the others. He looked so disheartened, watching his friend descend into madness.

“Amazing,” said Exodus distantly, “So much power. It’s…beautiful.”

“Don’t get a boner on us, Exodus,” joked Blob, “These are just the fireworks. When is he going to take care of that big rock coming towards us?”

“Relax, Blob. It’ll all be over soon,” grinned Quicksilver.

“Then he better make it quick,” said Mystique impatiently, “The sooner he gets this over with the sooner I can go about finding my kids.”

“Better hope those spheres got to them,” said Avalanche, “If he lets that rock hit they’re going to be pretty hard to find.”

“But he’s not going to let it hit, right?” said Forge anxiously, “I mean, that rock would do way more damage than just wipe out humanity.”

“You’re not having second thoughts on us now are you, Forge?” said Pyro menacingly.

“Of course not,” said Forge quickly, “I just want him to keep his end of the bargain.”

“Ah you don’t have to worry about that!” said Toad, “Magneto’s a lot of things, but he’s a man of his word!”

“I sure hope so,” said Forge distantly.

The Native American mutant watched on as Magneto pushed his newfound powers. The citadel shook even more violently as he let out more magnetic pulses, which caused the sky above them to flash with brilliant auroras and lightning. It didn’t look like he was too concerned about the asteroid. For his sake he better make good on his word. There wouldn’t be much of a world to make inventions if the world was destroyed.

While the others watched with anticipation, Wanda found herself looking away. She could no longer watch this.

“Man, Lorna is missing a hell of a show!” said Quicksilver, “Where is she anyways?”

“With her mother,” said the Scarlet Witch in a flat tone, “She was just starting treatment with Elixir. I don’t blame her for not wanting to be here.”

Quicksilver gave his sister a suspicious look.

“You okay, Wanda?” asked Quicksilver, “Now is not the time to get sick on us.”

“I…I’m fine, Pietro,” she said, “I just…I have a bad feeling about this. All that work we did to build a new sanctuary for mutants just seems so…meaningless now.”

“How can it be meaningless? We’re still going to have that sanctuary. We just won’t have to deal with the humans!”

Wanda fell silent. She looked at her father and then back at Xavier. She noticed he was staring at her now, as if to indicate he understood. Even without his powers, he could sense her conflict. She tried to brush it off, shaking her head remorsefully to the man who she had such mixed feelings about.

“Wanda please…” she heard Professor Xavier say.

“I’m sorry,” was all she could get out.

There was no stopping Magneto now. He was ready to deliver the punishing blow to the human race that had robbed him of so much. Anger, bloodlust, and vengeance drove him as his eyes glowed brightly in a sea of energy. The cheers of his people outside further encouraged him. At last, mutant kind would be liberated.

“Watch closely, my Brotherhood! You’re about to witness the liberation of our people! On a slight whim, I can create hurricanes, cause earthquakes, and open holes in the Earth’s magnetic field! It is all done so effortlessly!”

“So dealing with that asteroid should be a breeze right?” asked Forge.

“Ah yes…the asteroid,” said Magneto ominously, “I haven’t forgotten. I will take care of that soon. But first, let us have a little fun!”

“Wow, Magneto having fun? Now I’ve seen everything!” grinned Pyro.

“Is it really wise to waste time like this, Erik?” said Mystique impatiently, “Just do it already! For all we know the humans could be planning some sort of counterstrike!”

“Against me? Please!” scoffed Magneto, “I have the power of the entire Earth on my side! There is nothing they can throw at me that I can’t easily manage!”

Mystique didn’t seem convinced and was only further annoyed. But Exodus stepped in, pulling her back from making another comment.

“He’s right, Mystique,” he said, “Magneto has spent a lifetime working towards this moment. At least allow him to enjoy the moment. We need not worry. At this point, it would take the most foolish of fools to try and…”

Then Exodus stopped himself in mid-sentence. His expression suddenly shifted. He went from being totally confident to being completely unnerved. Just when it seemed everything was falling into place, he sensed something with his telepathy. The rest of the Brotherhood seemed to pick up on it too because they heard the cheering crowds outside shift strangely. It was as if they were seeing something that was out of place. And Exodus had a pretty good idea of what it was.

“Oh hell, I know that look,” groaned Mystique.

“Hey, what happened to the cheering outside?” wondered Toad.

Then over the noise of the machine they heard a growing roar. It sounded like the engine of a jet or something. Magneto was too lost in his power to realize it, but Exodus picked up on it and acted swiftly.

“Everybody get back!” he yelled as he shoved everybody off to the side.

It all happened in a flash. For a brief second, the Brotherhood saw a plane flying right towards them at high speeds. It was small, but fast and big enough to make them want to take cover.

It hit the throne room of the citadel with punishing force, sending a blast wave of fire and debris all throughout the area. The blast was so intense it charred half the room. Exodus was forced to protect the Brotherhood with his telekinesis while Magneto diverted it easily with a powerful magnetic field. There was only smoke, fire, and twisted metal in its wake. But through the debris, Magneto and the Brotherhood were able to make out some familiar figures. It was the X-men and they were all hovering in a protective telekinetic bubble, courtesy of Marvel Girl.

“Honey, we’re home!” proclaimed Iceman.

“Feels good to have the element of surprise for once!” grinned Shadowcat.

“I agree. Now let’s put it to good use!” said Cyclops as he and the others touched down.

“With pleasure!” snarled Wolverine, drawing his claws, “Hrrrrrahhhhhhhhhh!”

It was the last sight the Brotherhood wanted to see at this point. The X-men had arrived in full force. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, Storm, Wolverine, Rogue, Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, and Gambit stormed the throne room and quickly set their sights on Magneto. But for Beast and the Professor were being held, who were still restrained in the back of the room, it was a welcome sight.

“My X-men,” said Charles Xavier proudly, “I know they would come.”

“Now let us hope they are not too late,” said Beast.

Despite their sudden appearance, Magneto wasn’t too concerned. He was more annoyed than anything else. Why should he be threatened when he had more power than they could ever dream?

“Foolish X-men, you’re not even worth my time,” scoffed the master of magnetism, “Brotherhood! Subdue them!”

“Just once I’d like a plan to work without the X-men butting in!” groaned Avalanche.

“Quit your whining, Avalanche! Just do as Magneto says!” said Exodus, “They mustn’t interfere!”

“Bring it on. Gambit could use a warm up!” said Gambit as he took out his bow staff.

The Brotherhood charged, jumping between the machine and the X-men so that they would have to go through them if they wanted to stop Magneto. Avalanche, Blob, Toad, Pyro, Exodus, Quicksilver, and Mystique got into position. Forge and the Scarlet Witch hesitated, staying back for the most part. They could only watch as the battle unfolded.

Exodus took charge, using his telekinesis to take to the air and attack. He clashed with Marvel Girl, who met him in the middle of the room in a telekinetic surge. The two psychics each showed a determined resilience, meeting in a stalemate above the throne room and staring each other down with determined rage.

“You will not stop us! You’re too late!” exclaimed Exodus as he pushed the young woman back.

“Guess I’ll have to just take my frustrations out on you then!” grunted Marvel Girl, “And I won’t be alone! Right Angel?”

“Truer words were never spoken, Marvel Girl!” said Angel as he flew in.

While locked in a telekinetic grapple, Exodus tried to counter the incoming Angel. But Marvel Girl took up too much of his power. Angel flew in and delivered a punishing blow, leveling him with a punishing uppercut. It left the mysterious mutant dazed and allowed Marvel girl to hit him with a telekinetic pulse, shoving him back and nearly crashing into the wall. It put Exodus on his heels, allowing Marvel Girl and Angel to stay on the attack. The rest of the Brotherhood faced a similar situation.

On the ground, Cyclops led Iceman and Gambit against Blob, Toad, and Pyro. Blob, after the ringing in his ears stopped ringing, let out an angry grunt as he charged the three X-men with his teammates backing him up.

“You X-men are doing down quicker than a late night snack!” he yelled.

“I got this guys! Take down, Toad and Pyro!” ordered Cyclops.

“He’s all yours,” said Iceman, quickly getting out of the way with Gambit and leaving his friend to face the charging Blob.

Knowing he would need extra force to stop this, Cyclops set his visor to maximum power and unleashed a punishing optic blast right into Blob’s oversized gut. It momentarily stunted his charge, but did little to stop him.

“Is that all you got?!” taunted Blob.

Pushing hard with his arms, Blob endured the forceful blasts. Scott concentrated harder, having to step back to avoid his intimidating presence. He grunted in determination, watching as the oversized mutant got closer and closer. Blob seemed unaffected and very confident. He was pushing through his optic blasts and preparing to strike. But that was just what he wanted him to do.

“Quick physics lesson, Blob. What happens when you concentrate a lot of force on a small area?” said Cyclops.

“Huh?” said Blob in confusion.

Cyclops grinned and adjusted his visor again, this time narrowing his beam to a point where it was no thicker than the width of a pencil. He then directed this beam up towards Blob’s forehead. As soon as he it hit, it looked like he had just been struck in the face with a wrecking ball. The lumbering mutant fell back, clutching his head and groaned in pain as the punishing force left him with a pounding headache.

“Augh!” he groaned.

“Class dismissed,” said Cyclops triumphantly.

“Nice job, Cyclops!” said Iceman, who was taking on Pyro, “Now how about a little help over here!”

“Hahahahahaha! What’s the matter, ice cube? Can’t take the heat?” laughed Pyro.

“Didn’t you use that same pun in our last fight?” groaned Iceman.

The battle between them had been a stalemate. Pyro kicked up a massive fireball and surrounded his enemy with it, making it hard for him to aim. Iceman countered with some concentrated blasts, but Pyro was able to brunt his every attack. The heat was also getting to him. Despite the ice shell over his body, he was feeling it and could not form the kind of ice blast he needed in order to finish the crazed Australian off.

Upon seeing his teammate’s distress, Cyclops re-adjusted his visor and took aim at Pryo. Unlike Blob, he wasn’t going to have to use sheer force to take him down. He just needed a single well-placed shot. He set his sights on the fuel pack on Pyro’s back, which provided the fuel he needed to start a flame. He took aim and fired, hitting him right on the back and knocking the pack right off him. The circle of fire he had been using to keep Iceman contained quickly burned out.

“You wanker! You have any idea how expensive that gear is?!” exclaimed Pyro.

“Not half as expensive as your hospital bill is going to be,” grinned Iceman.

With renewed strength, Iceman went in to finish him off. He didn’t need anything fancy this time. He just jumped in, slugged him with a right cross, and iced up his legs so he couldn’t get up and retrieve his gear. Pyro was officially out of the fight. Just across from him, Toad was hoping not to share his fate.

While Cyclops and Iceman were taking down Blob and Pyro, Toad set his sights on the Cajun. He started with taunts, leaping around him and over him in a powerful display of nimble acrobatics. Gambit didn’t seem too intimidated though. He just kept grinning while clutching his bow staff, looking for the right time to strike.

“Come on! Show me what you got, Cajun!” said Toad as he leapt around, “You’re new here so allow me to give you your first Brotherhood beat down!”

“That be mighty kind of you, homme. But Gambit never goes into a fight without havin’ a good hand,” he said confidently.

While wielding his staff in one hand, he skillfully unveiled a deck of cards he had stashed in the sleeve of his uniform. While Toad was showboating, he gave them a quick charge. Then when he landed in front of him again, he released them in a ways to shower the area with charged cards. He made sure they exploded all around the amphibious mutant, making him unable to leap around anymore and forcing him to stumble about trying toa void the onslaught.

“Ah-ee-ooh-ahhhh shit! That stings!” he stammered as one card exploded right in front of him.

“Ain’t gonna sting as much as this,” grinned Gambit.

The Cajun then lunged forward with his staff, driving it right into Toads gut. He then did a swift spin move, knocking his feet out from under him and sending him tumbling to the floor. Then for good measure, he pushed the tip of his staff up to his neck. It left Toad defeated and unable to counter.

“A little advice, homme,” taunted Remy, “Next time before a fight…do everybody a favor and shower first.”

“Ugh,” groaned Toad.

The Brotherhood was dropping fast. The X-men came prepared and determined. It was embarrassing to be losing like this on their home turf. This was supposed to be their moment of triumph. They couldn’t let them ruin this like they ruined the uprising.

Quicksilver and Avalanche tried to pick up the slack. Avalanche was staring down Rogue while Quicksilver was trying to get a hit on Nightcrawler. The speedster was running around the throne room wildly, trying to zero in on the nimble mutant as he kept teleporting out of the way ever time he was about to land a hit. It was really annoying and Quicksilver was getting increasingly frustrated.

“You’ll have to be quicker zhan zhat, Pietro!” taunted Nightcrawler.

“Errrrr! Hold still you little furball!” grunted the speedster.

He kept running around in a blur, swinging wildly at Nightcrawler wherever he appeared. But all he got was a face of smoke and sulfur. He stepped up his attack, trying to get a step ahead of the teleporting mutant. While he was struggling on his end, Avalanche was trying to overcome Rogue’s newfound powers.

It was an ill-advised matchup. Avalanche didn’t know the extent of Rogue’s newfound powers. He saw them briefly during the televised trial for Magneto when she fought Exodus. But he had no idea they were this strong. He tried attacking her with a tremor, but Rogue avoided it by taking to the air. There none of his powers could affect her. He could only watch and get frustrated as she hovered over him with a snide glance.

“You ought to learn to pick your fights better, sugah,” she told him.

“I don’t need advice on fighting!” grunted Avalanche.

Clutching his fists, he directed his seismic tremors upwards. Only instead of the ground, he had them travel along the walls and ceiling. This triggered cracks in the metal and caused some heavy debris to fall down onto Rogue. She was stunned at first, taking a good shot to the head with some heavy shards. She quickly recovered, defending herself with her arms and punching away the heavy pieces with ease. But Avalanche kept up the tremors. It was making the area unstable and with Magneto drawing more power, that wasn’t a good thing.

“And Ah thought Logan needed anger management,” she mused as she turned to her brother, “Hey Nightcrawler! Care to show our pal here a few tricks?”

“Certainly, mien sister,” grinned Nightcrawler, knowing what she was referring to, “Give me a moment.”

Nightcrawler narrowly avoided another blow from Quicksilver. He had to duck this time to avoid it before teleporting. It showed the speedster was getting closer to landing a hit. It gave him more confidence and more determination, helping him to step up his speed. But this is exactly what Nightcralwer wanted.

“Ooh, almost had me Herr Pietro!” teased Nightcrawler.

“I won’t miss this time!” grunted Quicksilver.

The speedster quickly gathered himself and charged towards Nightcrawler for another attack. This time he went full speed, preparing his best right hook for this annoying mutant’s face. Nothing would have satisfied him more than to wipe that stupid grin right off it. This time he wasn’t going to escape.

In the span of a few fractions of a second, Quicksilver lunged at nimble mutant with his most punishing blow yet. But in his determined state, he didn’t realize that Nightcrawler had teleported next to Avalanche who was still concentrating on his tremors. Just as the speedster was about to make contact with his face, he teleported out of the way so that instead of hitting him he slugged Avalanche right in the jaw.

“Ack!” gasped Avalanche.

“Ooh crap,” groaned Quicksilver.

Just as the speedster was processing what he did, Rogue flew down and laded right behind him. Not wasting a millisecond, she delivered a well-placed ‘tap’ to the back of the head to effectively knock him out. She had to be careful not to hurt him too much. Her strength could be lethal if she didn’t use it right. But Quicksilver was annoyingly tough. He would recover, but not without a massive headache.

“Guess he was right. He didn’t miss this time,” said Rogue.

“Neither did ve,” said Nightcrawler, “Now let’s see if ve can stop our mother from going overboard vith Wolverine.”

“Ah’m not worried,” said Rogue bitterly, “She deserves a good ‘time out’ for helping Magneto pull a stunt like this!”

Nightcrawler shifted somewhat at his sister’s bitter words. He understood she had much more reason to resent Mystique than he did. But that didn’t mean they should forget about her in this most grave of circumstances.

The shape shifter had her hands full with Wolverine, who she immediately went for as soon as the X-men entered. They quickly got into an all out brawl with Wolverine snarling intently while Mystique attacked with ferocious intent. After taking an early swipe at her with his claws, she had the feral mutant on the defensive. She used her nimble agility and top notch fighting skill to land several punishing blows on his face and gut. When he tried to counter with a roundhouse kick, she ducked and got in a solid blow to the groin. This stunned Wolverine briefly, allowing Mystique to rise up and land three solid punches on his face. He recovered again and tried to charge her with another slash attack, but before he could get any momentum going she drop kicked him and he fell back against some of the plane debris. And as it just so happened, he landed right on a shard from the engine that literally impaled him through his lower abdomen.

Seeing her chance, Mystique grabbed a mangled rotor blade from the engine from the debris. It was sharp and still burning with gas-fueled fires. It seemed perfect for cutting into this man’s flesh and ending him where he stood. Gripping the shard intently, she gave Wolverine another kick to the neck to keep him from getting up. He was obviously in a lot of pain, but his determined grunts showed he was prepared to fight on.

“That healing factor of yours is pretty strong, Wolverine,” taunted the shape shifter, “Let’s see how resilient it is when I cut every major vein and drain you until there’s nothing left!”

“Don’t waste your time! It won’t kill me! It’ll just piss me off even more!” roared Wolverine, as he struggled to push himself off the shard.

The shape shifter raised her makeshift weapon and prepared to strike Wolverine. The feral mutant braced himself, knowing this was going to be a test of his durability. Then something happened he didn’t expect. There was nothing stopping Mystique. Nobody was close to swooping into stopping her. Yet for some reason, she wasn’t doing it.

Mystique stood frozen in place, her face tensing with determined rage. She wanted so badly to strike him and finish him off. But for some reason, she couldn’t. Something was holding her back. Her brain was telling her body to do something, but it wasn’t happening.

“What are you waiting for?” grunted Wolverine, “Loose your nerve?”

“Shut up!” grunted Mystique.

But before she could recollect herself, Wolverine shot up from his position and countered. He figured this was some sort of fluke. Never one to miss out on a good opportunity, he moved in for the finishing blow. He sliced the shard she was using as a weapon to pieces with his claws. Then he delivered a powerful kick to the head, nearly knocking the shape shifter out cold.

Stammering to his feet, he was still in a world of pain. His abdomen was bleeding and he was forced to cover it with his hand until his healing kicked in. But the pain wasn’t on his mind. Mystique was a strong fighter and a trained killer. For her to hesitate like that against him of all people wasn’t just strange, it was next to impossible.

“What the hell was that about?” he wondered.

While Wolverine was recovering, Exodus came crashing down next to him. He had just taken a severe blow from Marvel Girl, having let his guard down just long enough for her to get in the finishing blast. Angel came in and made sure he stayed down with a blow of his own. He was now lying not far from the wreckage of the plane. Upon seeing Wolverine’s bleeding abdomen, she quickly flew with Angel down to assist.

“Are you okay, Wolverine? What happened?” she said anxiously.

“I’m fine, Jeannie. I’ll walk it off,” he muttered, his eyes still locked on Mystique.

“Yeah, just like everybody walks off being speared through the gut,” commented Angel.

While he leaned on Marvel Girl and Angel for support, Rogue and Nightcrawler came running up to their downed mother. She was groaning in pain. Blood was coming out of her mouth and nose. But she was still conscious and sensed her two children near her.

“Mother! Ve’re here!” said Nightcrawler as he helped her up.

But while Nightcrawler showed more concern, Rogue showed only disgust.

“Damn it, mama! What the hell did you do?! Is helping Magneto destroy the world like this your way of getting back at us?!”

“No,” she coughed, “I did it because…it was necessary. I don’t expect you to understand. But what I did…everything I ever did…was for you.”

Rogue and Nightcrawler exchanged looks. They weren’t sure if it was the lingering pain from Wolverine’s blow that was talking. But she seemed sincere. There was no regret for what she had done. She did what she did and it was all for them. That kind of twisted logic from this woman would take a moment to sink in.

While the rest of the X-men were taking on the Brotherhood, Storm and Shadowcat slipped through the chaos and made their way towards Professor Xavier and Beast. Standing in their way was the Scarlet Witch, but she didn’t seem nearly as determined or enraged as the rest of the Brotherhood. Her hands were still glowing with hex energy, but it looked as though she was holding back. Off to the side was Forge, who didn’t seem poised to fight with her.

“Are you going to help or not, Forge?” she asked.

“Um…I’m a techno-whiz, not a fighter,” said Forge warily.

“Wow, that has to be the smartest thing ever uttered by someone in the Brotherhood,” said Shadowcat, “You could be that smart too, Wanda, if you got out of the way.”

“I’m sorry, but I have to do this!” she said, her hexing powers glowing brightly.

“You’re sorry?” said Storm curiously, “Wanda, nobody apologizes before a fight. Now I know we’ve had our differences, but it doesn’t have to be like this. You can still help us.”

The Scarlet Witch froze, her hands still glowing menacingly as she stared down the two X-men. She looked at them and then back at Xavier, who was watching intently. He knew as well as she did that she had reservations about this plan. Despite her history with the X-men, they cast her father’s ideas in a new light. The battle she once never questioned now left her so uncertain.

“She’s right, Wanda. It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Professor Xavier, “I can see it in your eyes. You know this is wrong.”

The young woman continued to hesitate, gazing warily towards Charles Xavier. She had so many reasons to despise this man and so many reasons to trust him. Then she looked over at her father, whose eyes were now glowing brightly as he stared at the scene before him. Holding her head low, her decision wasn’t clear. But she made a choice.

“No…I can’t!” she said with renewed grit, “I have to…”

But she didn’t get a chance to finish. Just as she turned back to face Storm and Shadowcat, she was met with the unexpected sight of Shadowcat delivering a punishing kick to the head. She hesitated too long, not able to get off any hex bolts. When the young X-woman hit, she made sure it counted. Her swift if not brash actions surprised even Professor Xavier.

“What? You would rather I wait for her to hex us?” shrugged Shadowcat innocently.

“No but that doesn’t mean you should…” began Storm.

“I know. It was a little uncalled for,” she said dryly, not letting her finish, “That’s what you get when you take lessons from Wolverine.”

It still earned her a look from Storm, but she didn’t get a chance to go into it any further. Shadowcat rushed ahead of her to their bound friends, who were still shackled to the wall. She was greeted with great relief from Professor Xavier and Beast. She swiftly took their hands and phased them out of their restraints. Shadowcat let the Professor lean on her for support while Storm turned towards Beast.

The moment quickly became awkward. Storm bore a solemn look when she saw her ex-lover. He could tell there was a touch of guilt in her gaze. They never did get a chance to sit down and talk like they hoped. That was largely her fault lately because she had been avoiding the issue. She had clearly been worried that they may not get a chance to lay these issues with their relationship to rest.

“Hello Hank,” said Storm distantly, “I…are you okay?”

“I’m fine, Ororo,” he replied, “I know we have some issues to work out, but at the moment we have much graver concerns.”

“Yes…you’re right,” said Storm with a smile, “And I won’t avoid it this time. I promise.”

That was all the assurance Beast needed. The former lovers quickly gathered themselves and turned back to the conflict before them. By now, the rest of the team had handled the Brotherhood and were setting their sights on Magneto. The master of magnetism had been a silent observer, showing neither anger nor frustration at the sight of the X-men defeating his team. His mindset was beyond such things as petty annoyances.

It was a disturbing, ominous sight. After Shadowcat phased the inhibitor collars off, Professor Xavier felt his powers return to him. He quickly picked up on the strange thoughts of his old friend. Magneto usually didn’t project because of his helmet. But he wasn’t wearing it at the moment. Every thought, feeling, and intent was so focused and intense. His anger and hatred for humanity fueled this amazing display of power. He was almost deranged, utterly losing himself in this profound state of control.

“We must stop Magneto!” said the Professor strongly, “X-men, get him out of that machine!”

“On it, Professor!” said Cyclops assertively.

“Time to derail his little power trip!” said Rogue.

The X-men gathered near the center of the throne room where the machine was going full throttle. It all came down to Magneto, the man behind all this chaos. Now sitting against the wall, Professor Charles Xavier watched as Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Angel, Beast, Storm, Wolverine, Rogue, Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, and Gambit prepared to take down his old friend.

“You’re wasting your time, X-men! This battle was lost before you even set foot in my sanctuary!”

“Like we haven’t heard that before,” scoffed Angel.

“And I’m pretty damn sick of it!” growled Wolverine, “So let’s just skip the crazy prick speech and get to the part where I beat the living shit out of you! Hrrrrrrahhhhhhhhh!”

But Magneto wasn’t having it. Wolverine barely took two steps into his attack before Magneto casually raised his hand and used his vast new power to end this fight before it could begin.

In a powerful display of his mastery of metal and magnetism, Magneto warped the metal in the floor so that it became a flexible, liquid like state. Guided by his whim, this liquid metal rose up from underneath each of the X-men and engulfed them in a metallic voice from the neck down. Since they were surrounded by metal, it was unavoidable. Within the span of five seconds each of the X-men was frozen in statue-like state.

“Ugh! The hell?!” grunted Gambit.

“That’s a new trick,” groaned Iceman, now feeling very confined.

“Can anybody break free?!” exclaimed Cyclops as he struggled.

“Ah’m trying!” groaned Rogue, trying desperately to get free, “Stuff is too dang thick!”

“Not for me it isn’t!” said Shadowcat.

Using her phasing powers, she managed to get out from her metal confines. Upon seeing this, Magneto made another casual gesture with his hand. Suddenly, Shadowcat felt the entire floor underneath her give way. She would have fallen quite a ways down through the citadel, but at the last second Magneto ripped a panel of metal from the wall and suspended it over her. Seeing it was the only thing to grab into, Shadowcat jumped up and held onto it for dear life.

“I wouldn’t recommend doing anymore phasing, Miss Pryde. The drop is quite unpleasant,” said Magneto menacingly.

“Yeah, I noticed!” said Shadowcat nervously as she looked down at the steep drop below.

Now all the X-men were bound in an unbreakable vice. Some like Wolverine, Cyclops, and Rogue struggled mightily to get free. Others like Iceman and Marvel Girl tried to use their powers to break out. Others like Gambit didn’t even try, seeing a show charging metal he was incased in would be like wrapping his body in a bomb.

It was a devastating display of his power. Magneto didn’t even break a sweat doing it. He showed how he could easily end them on a whim. All it would take is a mere thought and he could squeeze the life out of them or cut off their air supply. The machine rally had taken his powers to a new level. It was a power the X-men could never hope to match.

“Your tenacity is admirable, X-men. But you’re interference has tried my patience for the last time,” said Magneto in a dominating tone, “You stopped my revolution before. You will not stop it again. I have the power of all the magnetic energy in the world at my disposal. There is no way I can be stopped. This time, humanity will be defeated! Mutants shall emerge victorious!”

“Zhis your idea of victory? Mass destruction and genocide!” spat Nightcrawler.

“It is the fate humanity rightfully deserves! Their barbaric ways have shown them to be unfit to inherit this world!”

“Like you’re an improvement?” scoffed Rogue.

“Yeah, you’re the barbaric one!” exclaimed Marvel Girl, “Millions of people are out there suffering and scared because of this asteroid and you take a perverse pleasure in it!”

“I assure you, I feel no joy in doing this, but humanity has no one to blame but themselves,” said Magneto, “Now they are doomed.”

“If you don’t stop this we’ll all be doomed!” yelled Cyclops, “Mutants will suffer every bit as much as humanity!!”

“Oh please,” scoffed Magneto, “Spare me your emotional pleas.”

“I’m dead serious!” said the X-leader seriously, “Right now, there are sentinels en route to Genosha! The President and the UN have been rebuilding them since the uprising! If you don’t back down, they’ll destroy us all!”

Magneto scoffed at this revelation. He should have known the humans would formulate some sort of response. But he expected something more than this.

“Sentinels? Don’t insult my intelligence, boy! I have enough power to destroy an army of sentinels in the blink of an eye!”

“That’s exactly what they’re expecting!” Cyclops went on, “But those sentinels are strapped with canisters of a gas that’s poisonous to mutants! You destroy them and you’ll unleash it over the entire island!”

“You’re bluffing,” spat Magneto.

“He’s telling the truth!” exclaimed Angel, “My dad’s company helped make that gas! I know what it can do! You won’t just be responsible for the death of humanity! You’ll be responsible for the death of your own people! Is that a price you’re willing to pay?!”

Magneto stared down the winged mutant and his associates. It felt like a ruse, but it sounded too reasonable to be a lie. He had seen in humans like Hodge the ability to pull devious surprises. It was a huge risk on their part, attacking the man who could stop the asteroid. But the humans were desperate. This would definitely fit such tactics.

But even if what the X-men were saying was true, the mere thought of backing down was outrageous. He had come so far. There was no way he was going to let some foolish human ploy stop him now.

“If this is humanity’s way of taking a stand, so be it,” said Magneto, “It will not do them any good. The asteroid will still hit. They are still doomed to extinction.”

“Erik, listen to reason!” urged Professor Xavier, who had by now crawled up to the base of the machine, “This war you wish to rage on humanity will not have any victors! All these deaths that you attribute to humanity will be a burden you and you alone bear!”

“It’s part of mutually assured destruction, Charles. If the humans are willing to wipe my kind our, I am willing to do the same. I would rather die with my kind than let generations suffer under human tyranny!”

“You’re being irrational, Eirk! All that power is deluding your thinking!” exclaimed Charles Xavier.

“You’re wrong! My thinking has never been clearer!” said Magneto, seething with power and rage, “If humanity wants an endgame! I’ll give them an endgame!”

Professor Charles Xavier was at a loss. He now sensed in the mind of his old friend that he could not be reached. He was too consumed with power and rage. There was no stopping him now. Now flushed with near limitless power, he seemed to have abandoned whatever sanity he once salvaged. All hope seemed lost for the friend he once treasured.

“Okay, it’s official. Magneto has lost his dang mind!” said Rogue.

“You’re just figuring that out now?” grunted Wolverine, “When I get my hands on him, I’ll…”

“I don’t zhink anybody vill reach Magneto at zhis point, Wolverine,” lamented Nightcrawler, “God help us all.”

None of the X-men were ready to start praying. They continued to struggle from their confines while Shadowcat tried to kick her legs to reach the edge again. They couldn’t allow Magneto to win like this. He was willing to kill them all, even himself, to defeat humanity. So long as they were still breathing, they were going to fight this madman. But they may end up needing divine assistance to get them out of this one.

The X-men were powerless. Magneto in contrast was all powerful and going insane from power. They had sentinels with poison gas coming their way and an oversized asteroid still on a collision course with Earth. Magneto was content to let it all come together in a final stand. But for Forge, who had been avoiding the fight and watching from affair, it was not the outcome he hoped for this endeavor.

“So…you’re not going to stop the asteroid,” said Forge, “You never intended to.”

“I do apologize, my dear Forge. But it was necessary,” said Magneto in a flat tone, “I don’t expect you to understand the grandeur of what I’m doing. This is how it must be.”

“Oh I understand perfectly,” said Forge defiantly as he approached the master of magnetism, “I understand you’re a lying, manipulative, ass. I don’t care what kind of insane doomsday plot you’re pushing, but you better stop that asteroid!”

“I would watch that tone of yours, Forge. You’re in no position to make demands,” said Magneto menacingly.

“Wrong again! You see, I didn’t exactly follow your plans to the letter,” said Forge ominously, “Just like the rest of my inventions, I always have a failsafe.”

Forge pushed a small button on his artificial leg. A hidden compartment opened up, revealing a small remote control with an ominous red button. When Magneto saw this, his expression tensed with even more anger.

“Here’s the deal,” said Forge as he held up the remote, “You stop that asteroid and I don’t push this button. Trust me, you don’t want this. It’ll take you down in the worst possible way. Now are you going to keep your promise?”

Magneto stared down the Native American mutant, mediating on this dilemma. He had no doubt that Forge was capable of such feats. He proved it in the way he was able to construct this machine without him. But he had come too far to turn back now. Without even saying a word, he made his decision.

Suddenly, Forge found himself hit with a punishing force. Or more accurately, he was pulled by a punishing force. The metal floor beneath him became liquid-like as it had with the X-men. Only instead of it being forced up along his body, he was literally yanked down into the floor as if he had fallen into quicksand. It came as such a shock he dropped the remote in the process. Now he didn’t have his leverage against Magneto and was at his absolute mercy. The master of magnetism made his annoyance known, using his powers to relentlessly squeeze the life out of Forge.

“Ack!” he choked, blood now seeping from his nose and mouth.

“You insolent punk! You dare turn against me?!” bellowed Magneto in a rage, “I am the master of magnetism! The savior for all mutant kind! This is my destiny! You had your chance to be a part of it! Now like the rest of humanity, you shall suffer!”

Magneto continued choking the life out of Forge, ready to set an example for the rest of his team. But as he was carrying out this act of punishment, the small black remote levitate in mid air and fly across the throne room. Magneto quickly noticed this and turned just in time to see it land in the hands of a new presence that had just entered the throne room. When he saw who it was, his expression paled with dread.

“Lorna?!” he exclaimed

“I’m sorry, father,” she said remorsefully, “You had your chance too.”

Then without hesitation, she pushed the little red button.

“NOOOOOOOOOO!” exclaimed Magneto.

Immediately, there was a reaction from the machine. The glowing ground plate shifted colors from blue to green and let out a sharp, powerful burst that filled the room with a blinding light. When it consumed the master of magnetism, he let out a howl of pain. The metal all around him warped and buckled, indicating erratic magnetic fields surging through the area. He tumbled from his hovering state, clutching his head as sparks flew around him. Every light in the area flickered and machine let out a low pitched hums. Every component went dark and all the power that once flowed through Magneto ceased.

It was a shock to the system like no other. Erik Lensherr went from the highest of highs, wielding power that was nothing short of god-like. That power was literally ripped away from him, leaving him reeling in agony. But it wasn’t agony in the sense of pain. It was agony in the feeling of powerlessness. Now lying weakly in the center of the still glowing ground plate, he groaned in despair. Not only could he not wield his magnetic powers on a global scale, he couldn’t wield his magnetic powers at all.

“My powers…” he gasped weakly, “Gone…it’s all gone.”

The X-men and Forge felt the grip from Magneto’s metal confines loosen. Over with Shadowcat, the plate she had been hanging onto for dear life was no longer being kept up by Magneto’s powers. When it fell, so did she.

“Whoa!” she exclaimed.

But luckily, the Scarlet Witch had recovered from the blow she had taken earlier and caught her.

“Hold on, I got you,” she said, still clutching her head.

“Um…thanks,” said a very surprised Shadowcat.

“Don’t get the wrong idea. I haven’t forgotten how you kicked me in the head,” muttered the Scarlet Witch.

“Would it help if I said I was sorry?”

“Barely,” she replied, “You’re lucky I’ve got too much on my mind to be mad at you.”

She was still very much a product of the Brotherhood. But Shadowcat would take it. She waited as she was floated back onto solid ground. She then ran over to her friends to free them from their confines. Lorna met up with her and helped out using her own magnetic powers. She freed Iceman first.

“Lorna!” he said with glowing excitement, “Boy are you a sight for sore eyes!”

“Nice to see you too, Bobby,” said Lorna in a strangely flat tone, “But save the sweet talk for later. We’re not out of this yet.”

“She’s right,” said Cyclops who was still encased in metal, “Just get us out of here and we’ll finish it!”

While Lorna and Shadowcat quickly freed the rest of the team, the Scarlet Witch helped her brother up and turned their attention to Magneto.

”Father!” grunted Pietro through the pain, “What the hell did you do to him, Forge?!”

Forge, who was still catching his breath, was just being phased out of the floor by Shadowcat. He was the only one not surprised by what he saw.

“Relax, he’ll be okay,” assured Forge, “The failsafe triggered an emergency shutdown, cutting off power to all the amplifiers. I also took the liberty of adding in some gear from those dampening collars you used on Charles Xavier. That last pulse from the ground plate was a little shock to the system that will keep him from using his powers. But it’s only temporary. They’ll be back in a few days.”

“You ungrateful punk! I swear I’ll rip off the rest of your limbs for this!”

“Take it easy. You don’t want to hurt me,” coaxed Forge, “The machine is still operational and only I can boot it up again. Unless you want that asteroid to kill us all, you’ll back off.”

Quicksilver was livid. Looking at his wounded father, he was so enraged he was almost willing to let the asteroid hit just so he could make this man pay. Thankfully, his sister held him back.

“Leave it, Pietro. Help me with, father,” said the Scarlet Witch, who was helping the weakened Magneto out of the machine.

Quicksilver cursed Forge. But his sister drew him away from his anger. Rather than belabor the point, he turned his focus to their father.

While the Maximoff twins were helping Magneto recover, the X-men were all freed. They reconvened near the machine with Forge. Professor Xavier was with them as well, leaning on Storm and Cyclops for support. Lorna was also there, staying close to Iceman. She still showed concern for her father, but the most pressing matter at the moment was the incoming asteroid.

“Well that be one crisis down,” commented Gambit as he looked over at Magneto, “You got a bold femme there, Drake.”

“I know,” said Iceman, smiling proudly at Lorna, “We all owe her big time.”

Lorna smiled and blushed at their praise, but there was little time for adulation.

“Indeed we do,” said Professor Xavier, “Now we can focus on stopping that asteroid.”

“Leave that to me,” said Forge, “I’ll have the machine up and running in a few minutes.”

“We’ll help you,” said Beast strongly, “Remember, we still have the sentinels on their way. They will undoubtedly attack this citadel first.”

“I haven’t forgotten. But that’s going to complicate things.”

“I was afraid he was going to say that,” groaned Angel.

“Can’t say I’m surprised,” muttered Wolverine, “Just how complicated are we talking here, bub?”

Forge looked over his creation and knelt down to access one of the panels on the base of the ground plate. After a quick reading, his suspicions were confirmed.

“That failsafe drained most of the power. That means I can’t use this thing like I did last time to draw the asteroid in. But it still has enough juice to work the amplifiers. I need someone with the right kind of mutant powers to pack enough punch to deflect that rock.”

“It’s a good zhing ve’re on an island of mutants,” said Nightcrawler, “Someone vith zhe right powers shouldn’t be too hard to find.”

“Well Magneto used magnetism and I was the one that stopped him,” said Lorna, “So I guess it’s only fair that I be the one to stop it.”

“That’s incredibly brave and very hot of you, Lorna. But as your boyfriend I’m compelled to say are you crazy?!” said Iceman, “I don’t need to be a tech head to know Forge is going to say it’s dangerous!”

“That sort of goes without saying,” said Forge awkwardly, “Magneto is a high level mutant and the process may be too much for your body to handle.”

“I’ll take that risk!” said Lorna, “If it’ll undo the damage he’s done, it’s worth it!”

“But Lorna…” said Iceman, sounding very adverse to this plan.

“There’s no time to debate this with you, Bobby!” exclaimed Lorna, “Someone has to do something before it’s too late!”

Iceman still wasn’t sure. He wouldn’t let go of Lorna’s arm, not willing to see his girlfriend take a risk like this. But before he could make another comment, something unexpected took the whole team by surprise.

The whole citadel was rocked by a deafening bang. The X-men and the Brotherhood, who were starting regaining consciousness, fell back as several powerful tremors shook the structure.

“Guess that’s the universal sign that it’s already too late,” said Marvel Girl.

“What do you mean? What the hell is going on?!” demanded Quicksilver.

The speedster got his answer when the metal roof over them was literally blown open, revealing a stormy sky above them. It also revealed the source of the tremors. Hovering just over this opening were three imposing sentinels. With glowing red eyes and their hand mounted cannons glowing with energy, they took aim with their weapons.

“It’s the sentinels!” exclaimed Storm.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me?!” growled Wolverine.

But it was no joke. The X-men barely had time to react as the three robot monstrosities took aim. They set their sights on Magneto, who was no doubt the primary target. He was still weakened, being protected by the Maximoff twins, and very prone to attack.

“Target Magneto identified. Objective: Destroy.”

“Oh no you don’t!” said the Scarlet Witch, her eyes glowing with hex energy.

The sentinels all fired at once. The Scarlet Witch put out a large hexing field around them to deflect it. But the energy in the blast was greater than she expected. When they hit, the devastating beams were diverted wildly throughout the throne room. Some of the force still made it through, knocking the Scarlet Witch back and nearly rendering her unconscious. The rest of the beams hit all over the area, forcing the X-men to take cover and protect both the machine and Professor Xavier.

But one beam struck to close to avoid. It impacted right where Lorna and Iceman were standing. The resulting blast sent them both flying. Iceman tried to guard Lorna, but he wasn’t fast enough. He took a heavy blow that nearly blew off his ice shield and Lorna hit the metal floor hard, nearly being knocked out as well.

“Bobby!” cried Shadowcat.

“Lorna…no,” gasped Magneto.

“Gambit! Storm! Hurry, before they fire again!” exclaimed Cyclops.

The three X-men quickly acted. Cyclops shot one sentinel with his optic blast, Gambit struck another with a barrage of charged cards, and Storm hit the last one with a blast of lightning. The three robot humanoids took damage and were blown back, but they were not out of the fight. They were already preparing to renew their assault.

“You have to hold those things off!” exclaimed Forge as he shot up and ran to the machine controls, “If they destroy the machine we’re done for!”

“But who is going to use it now?” said Nightcrawler anxiously as he teleported next to Lorna and Iceman, “Lorna is in no condition to go through vith it!”

“I don’t know, but we need someone!” said Forge as he began working feverishly.

 The X-men scrambled to defend themselves while also contemplating who would step up this time. If Lorna couldn’t do it, someone was going to have to take a big risk and take her place. Forge’s earlier warnings still rang strongly. There was a danger to using this machine. But that didn’t dissuade some from taking the chance.

“Tell me something, Forge, can that machine amplify telekinesis as good as magnetism?” said Marvel Girl, who was protecting the Professor with her telekinesis.

“It should in theory,” he said anxiously, “But I’ll have to make some adjustments.”

“Then make them!” said the young psychic as she ran into the center of the machine.

Upon seeing this, Cyclops quickly grew concerned. Just as Iceman had reservations about Lorna doing this, he had just as many bad feelings about Jean taking a chance like this.

“Jean wait! Are you sure about this?” he asked anxiously.

“Yeah, pig-headed risks is my thing!” added Wolverine, who seemed equally concerned.

“Just trust me!” she urged, “Keep those sentinels off me and I’ll be okay! I promise!”

Cyclops still wasn’t convinced. Even the Professor seemed concerned. But she was not one to make promises she couldn’t keep. He could see it in her eyes. She was confident she could do this. The best thing he could do as her lover was support her.

“You heard her, X-men! Let’s do this!” ordered Cyclops.

“Of all the bad habits she could have picked up from dating me, why did she have to get that one?” groaned Wolverine, still having reservations.

“Just be glad she didn’t get your drinking habits,” commented Rogue as she took to the air, “Now you wanna sit here worrying or kick some sentinel ass?”

“Tough choice,” grunted Wolverine as he drew his claws, “Hey Angel, I need a lift!”

“I hear you, Wolverine!”

While Forge went to work and Marvel Girl waited for her moment, the X-men attacked the sentinels just as they were preparing to launch another attack. Cyclops, Angel, Gambit, Wolverine, Storm, and Rogue led the charge. Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, and Beast stayed back to help Forge and protect the injured Iceman, Lorna, and Magneto. They guarded their friends and enemies closely as the sentinels took aim with their cannons again. This time they didn’t get off a shot.

Cyclops and Gambit hit them with another round of charged cards and optic blasts. Rogue and Storm followed suit, taking to the air and drawing their fire away from the machine. Rogue laid one out with an uppercut, showing off her newfound strength and nearly knocking it’s head off. Storm used the clouds overhead to form a punishing lightning assault, which knocked out the blasters on their hands and destabilized its thrusters. The remaining sentinel tried to shoot her and Rogue to stop the attack, but not before Angel came flying in holding Wolverine by the arms. As soon as he was over the robot humanoid, he dropped him down so he landed right on the sentinel’s head.

“You’re mine, tin can!” he roared, “Hrrraahhhhhhhhhh!”

Wolverine relentlessly dug his claws into the head of the sentinel, attacking the vital brain components inside. The sentinel reached up with its oversized hand and tried to brush him off, but it was hit with another lightning strike from Storm. Wolverine continued to rip through wires and computer hardware, striking deep at the sentinel’s core. He could feel it faltering. All three sentinels were showing signs of distress.

“Is it just meh or are these things slower this time?” wondered Rogue.

“They must still have kinks,” said Angel, “Thank my dad for spotty engineering!”

“Be careful! Remember what he said about those gas canisters!” reminded Cyclops, “We have to take them out before they release it!”

The X-men continued their assault, but the sentinels picked up on this. Before they could fully disarm the mechanized behemoths, their emergency protocols kicked in.

“Systems compromised. Initiating attack sequence omega.”

The eyes of each sentinel flashed bright red. Then the panels in their chest opened to reveal that the superweapon that Cameron Hodge once had installed there had been replaced by a large black canisters with ominous symbols. It had to be the gas Warren Jr. mentioned.

“Looks like ain’t taking any chances!” said Gambit, “They gonna release the gas!”

“Damn it!” said Cyclops, looking back to see that Forge and Marvel Girl weren’t ready.

The X-leader thought quickly, determined to give them more time to act. His girlfriend made a promise that she could take care of the asteroid. It was only fitting he keep his promise as well. He quickly formulated a plan.

“Rogue! The canisters!” he exclaimed, “Try and rip them out from the chest! Storm, I’ll need your biggest tornado yet!”

“Consider it done, Cyclops!” said Storm, her eyes flashing as she summoned her power.

“Ah got ya, sugah!” said Rogue, who quickly picked up on what he was planning, “About time this new strength of mine pays off!”

Rogue worked swiftly, flying down to the chest of one sentinel and punching out the hastily constructed clamps keeping the canister in place. Summoning all her strength, she grunted as she ripped it out, nearly tearing the sentinel in two. She did the same thing with another sentinel, flying into the chest and ripping out the canister so that she w scarring two in each hand.

Meanwhile Wolverine descended the sentinel he was on, using his claws to scale down the torso. He then ripped off the clamps with his claws, allowing the canister to tumble out. It would have fallen down on the citadel, but it was quickly sucked up by the growing whirlwind. By now she kicked up a powerful tornado. It was so strong Angel had to fly back into the citadel to avoid it.  The whirlwind extended high up into the sky, creating a huge column of air leading anything in it up into the heavens. With her hands full, Rogue flew up to the whirlwind and threw the canisters into it as hard as she could.

“They’re all yours, Storm!” Rogue called out.

“Thank you, Rogue! The winds can take it from here!” said the African woman.

Pushing her powers to the limit, Storm intensified the tornado before her and narrowed its direction so that it carried the canisters high into the sky. Her eyes glowed brighter as thunder and lightning roared around her. As the canisters soared higher, she made the tornado narrower so that they were bunched in close and could not escape. Once they were as high as she could get them, Storm triggered a massive lightning assault. From all directions, the lightning hit the canister causing the metal to rupture and exploded under the pressure. The lethal gas was released, but quickly contained within the tornado before being dispersed harmlessly into the air.

While the gas was taken care of, Rogue and Wolverine finished off the sentinels. Rogue did one more pass, striking each sentinel in the head and sending them falling to the ground away from the crowds of dazed mutants, who had no idea what was going on. Along the way she caught Wolverine as he leapt off one of the sentinels and flew them back to the citadel.

“That’s another crisis down!” said Rogue, “Now it’s all on Marvel Girl!”

“I ain’t worried,” grinned Wolverine, “Jeannie will come through. She always does.”

Back in the throne room, Forge was just about ready to fire up the machine. He enlisted help from Hank and the Professor, who manned another control panel near the wall while he worked on the one built into the base plate. Marvel Girl waited impatiently, taking deep breaths and preparing her mind for what she was about to endure.

“I’m getting a full go from the amplifiers!” said Beast urgently.

“Good! Power it up!” ordered Forge, “I still need to make a few more adjustments. I didn’t exactly design this thing to handle telekinesis!”

“Will it be enough?” asked Xavier anxiously.

“I don’t know, but we’re about to find out!”

Forge kept working while Beast fired up the amplifiers. Within seconds the ground plate lit up and the machine began to hum again. Marvel Girl stood strongly in the center, waiting for the final word. The Professor and the rest of her friends cast a worried look. Cyclops especially was concerned. She managed a slight smile, reassuring them that she wouldn’t let them down.

They all stepped back as the humming intensified. The amplifiers came to light and Marvel Girl soon found herself engulfed in the mysterious yellow light. She could feel the energy building around her. She tried setting aside all fear and uncertainty, thinking instead of how she and her friends were going to celebrate when this was over. She could already picture her and Scott sharing a passionate night together after this. There could be no mistakes. Everybody was counting on her.

Forge anxiously wiped the sweat from his brow, typing feverishly on the controls and tweaking a few electronics. The machine was almost at full power. This was the moment of truth. He crafted countless exotic inventions before that failed him. This was one time when he needed it to succeed.

“Here we go, Marvel Girl! I’ve triangulated the position of the asteroid! I just need you to give it the right push at the right time!”

“The right push…got it,” said Marvel Girl as she looked up into the clear sky, “I’m ready, Forge! Let her rip!”

Forge entered the final command, unleashing the full power of his machine. It was all on Marvel Girl’s shoulders now. Hopefully her powers were enough to handle this.

The machine erupted in a bright yellow glow, consuming Jean Grey completely. The amplifiers pulsed as the spun rapidly around the circular machine. The young psychic let out a pained groan at first. Her body tensed as the energy seemed to coalesce around her. Cyclops and the rest of the team watched on anxiously as her face contorted in discomfort. But that look soon faded. Within seconds, she was hovering a few feet off the ground plate in a calm, almost serene state. It was almost as if she was in a state of euphoria as her powers were expanded to new levels.

“I…I feel it!” she said as she clenched her fists, “The power…it’s so strong!”

“Stay with us, Marvel Girl!” urged Forge, “I need you to shoot everything you got into the sky when I say so! We have a narrow window! Make this shot count!”

“I…I will!”

Flushed with this new power, Marvel Girl looked up into the sky. Feeling so flushed with power, every ounce of her being urged her to let it out. That same madness that consumed Magneto was trying to consume her. The pressure kept building. She fought it hard, that fragile control she spent her whole life regaining being pushed to new limits. She had to remember her friends, her home, and Scott. She had to maintain control for them.

“Okay! Do it now!” ordered Forge.

With a cry of determination, the young psychic unleashed the full force of her mind into the sky. All that pressure that had built up came gushing out, filling her with power unlike anything she ever felt before. It was almost godlike, directing her mind into the depths of space at speeds should couldn’t contemplate. It was almost as if she herself was flying up into the heavens, seeking out the killer asteroid.

Within moments she felt it. The asteroid was passing into that narrow window. The overwhelming power she just unleashed clashed head on with the dense space rock, creating a powerful burst that shook the entire asteroid. But it was coming so fast it was still hard to move it. Marvel Girl didn’t let up, pushing this newfound power beyond its limits and causing the machine to spark and shake. It still wasn’t enough. This rock was stubborn. Refusing to fail Marvel Girl pushed even harder, letting down all the barriers she usually kept up.

“It’s going to blow out!” exclaimed Forge.

“Hold on, Jean! You can do it!” said Professor Xavier.

“We’re with ya, Jeannie!” yelled Wolverine.

From that encouragement, Jean Grey unleashed every last ounce of strength into one final burst. As she did, something strange happened. Her eyes flashed a fiery red briefly and she let out a cry that didn’t sound like her for a moment. Then the brilliant yellow light shooting up into the sky turned to a reddish-orange, almost as if it were a fire of sorts only much more brilliant. Her friends watched on in awe while Cyclops looked deeply concerned. But he kept his faith in her.

When this powerful surge hit the asteroid, it finally gave way. The enormous space rock was diverted so it was no longer on a collision course as well. And it was just in time too because upon making this final push, the machine gave way. Sparks flew as the amplifiers and components shorted out. Marvel Girl gave way as well, her eyes still glowing as she let out a pained cry.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

In a blinding flash, the machine went dead as all the vital components were friend. And Jean Grey collapsed in the center of the ground plate. She had pushed herself so hard and unleashed power even Magneto hadn’t reached. It was too much for her body and she went limp with exhaustion.

“JEAN!” yelled Cyclops.

Braving the sparks and scattered components, the X-leader ran to the aid of his lover and took her in his arms. She looked so weak and tired, barely able to move after so much exertion. Cyclops caressed her face tenderly, gazing at her with worry and dread.

“Jean…Jean, come on! Please, don’t do this to me! Please…”

The sound of his tender voice was enough to break through unparalleled exhaustion. Jean Grey opened her eyes to see the loving gaze of her boyfriend. Still too tried to move, she smiled weakly at his gesture.

“Scott…” she said weakly, “Is it over?”

Cyclops looked over towards Forge, who was checking the damaged yet still functioning monitor. If the look of relief on his face was any indication, the danger had passed. He turned towards him and nodded, affirming that Jean had pulled through.

“It’s over, Jean. You did it,” he smiled warmly, “You saved us all.”

The young psychic smiled back, sharing in his relief. The world was safe again. The X-men had once again succeeded. Feeling reassured, she allowed herself to fall asleep in her lover’s arms.

The rest of the X-men let out a sigh of relief as well. They faced numerous great challenges and pulled through. This insane plot had officially been thwarted.

“That’s crisis number three,” said Shadowcat with great relief.

“Please tell me that’s the last one,” groaned Iceman, who was still recovering from the blow he took from the sentinel.

“I wish it were,” said Xavier, “But there remains one last challenge to be dealt with.”

The X-men knew exactly what their mentor was referring to. They all turned their sights towards Magneto, who was still recovering with his two children by his side. Lorna joined them, leaning on Iceman for support. It was a surreal sight. Magneto was still weak and powerless. The rush from all the power he wielded and the crushing feeling of losing it all hit him hard. But he still faced the X-men with the same bitter gaze.

“You got a hell of a lot to answer for, Mags!” snarled Wolverine.

“That be for sure!” said Gambit, “A prison cell be too light for a stunt like this.”

“Are you trying to threaten me, X-men?” said Magneto in a weak yet tough tone, “Just because I do not have my powers does not mean I will go quietly.”

“By all means, kick and scream the whole way,” said Shadowcat.

“May God have mercy on your soul for this,” said Nightcrawler.

“Back off, X-men!” spat Quicksilver, standing up and hovering protectively over his father, “You think you can just haul him off, throw him to the humans, and allow him to be executed?! You’ll only destroy any hope mutants ever have of escaping human tyranny! You’ll start a new conflict! I won’t stand for it! All the mutants outside won’t stand for it either!”

“If you want you’re welcome to join him,” said Angel dryly.

“Over my dead body!”

“That can be arranged,” snarled Wolverine.

They seemed poised for another clash. But Professor Charles Xavier stepped in.

“Hold it, X-men! Pietro has a valid point,” he said, “His actions today were horrendous. There’s no denying that. But turning Magneto into the authorities will only further damage human/mutant relations.”

“But not turning him in could be just as bad,” said Storm anxiously.

“I know. But we must remember our priorities, X-men. We must seek peace above all else. Even if it means making certain sacrifices, we must do what is best for both humans and mutants.”

“That’s all sickeningly noble of you, Charles. But utterly fruitless,” scoffed Magneto, “Peace is no longer possible. The humans will never accept anything less.”

“You’re wrong, Erik. I haven’t lost faith in humanity even if you have. There is still a way,” said Xavier confidently, “It just requires compromise.”

“Compromise? With humans?” scoffed Magneto, “I would rather die!”

“Don’t tempt me, bub!” grunted Wolverine.

Xavier fell silent. He was once again at a loss. He wanted desperately to salvage peace from this chaotic affair. But if his old friend was unable to move beyond his anger, then there was no hope. No matter what they did, more conflict would break out. Humans and mutants would never be at peace.

The X-men knew this. The Brotherhood knew this. Lorna also knew this. But she refused to accept her father’s embittered words. Looking at him, she still saw that defiant anger that consumed him when he was using the machine. But at the same time, she saw a man wary and distant. He had been at war with humanity for so long that anger and violence was all he knew. If ever there was a time for him to look beyond it, that time was now. Remembering her mother’s words to her, she set aside her lingering soreness and approached her father.

“Father…” said Lorna in a soft yet desperate tone.

“Do not waste your breath, Lorna. My resolve will not change,” said Magneto strongly.

“Please…I know you feel so much hatred for humanity. There’s nothing that I or Professor Xavier can say to make that pain you feel go away. But I’m not going to try and convince you that what you feel is unjustified. I just want to remind you that beneath all that anger and hatred, there’s still a man inside.”

It seemed like a helpless emotional plea and nobody in the X-men, including Iceman, seemed confident that Lorna was going to succeed where Professor Xavier had failed. But somehow, she drew Magneto in and he was listening intently.

“My mother told me about what happened to you…about how you lost your first wife and how you almost lost Wanda and Pietro. I…I can’t imagine how horrible it must have been. But beyond the horrors, she also told me you were a man who could love in a world filled with hate and fear. You loved her in her darkest hour. And I can tell you love me, Wanda, and Pietro all the same. What I’m asking, not as an enemy but as a daughter, is for you to remember that love. Use it to look beyond the hate and anger. The world you saved my mother from…the world you saved me from…is that really the kind of world you want for the people you love?”

Erik Lensherr fell deathly silent. Looking into the eyes of this beautiful young woman who bore his own flesh and blood, he saw in her an honesty he hadn’t seen from anybody in a long time. It wasn’t a plea for reason or peace. It was a simple plea for a father’s love. It struck him on a level few things ever had before. But she wasn’t done yet.

“You once said it yourself. There is right and there is wrong. You know what you have do. Please Father, do the right thing.”

It was a simple request. One that was asking Magneto to do something he wouldn’t even contemplate before. The right thing in this instance was the most egregious. His every instinct was pulling him one way, but his heart was pulling him in the opposite direction. The X-men were looking at him assuming he would go the way he always had, towards anger and hatred. But Lorna was different. She touched on something even Charles could never understand.

The master of magnetism looked back at his old friend and then at Wanda and Pietro. Pietro looked confused, not sure what he was thinking at this point. But Wanda understood. He could tell she agreed with Lorna’s every word.

“Please father,” said the Scarlet Witch, “Listen to her.”

It was then his decision was clear. His anger and hatred still burned, but he would not let it dictate his actions this time. For once, Erik Lensherr was doing to follow a different path. He didn’t necessarily agree with it, but he knew in his heart it was right.

“Okay, Charles…I’m listening. What sort of compromise do you have in mind?”


Pentagon – War Room

The President and his advisors were in shock. The world had been falling apart. Reports of riots, looting, and mass hysteria were coming in from all around the world. Magnetic anomalies sprang up around every corner of the globe, courtesy of Magneto. Bizarre weather patterns and astronomical phenomenon were detected all around the world. It seemed if the asteroid didn’t destroy them, Magneto’s power trip certainly would.

The President and his top defense officials placed their faith in the sentinels, armed with a poisonous gas developed by Southerner Pharmaceuticals. They hoped they would somehow be able to stop Magneto or at least make him pay a high price for his egregious acts. They all watched via radar and tracking monitors from a carrier group near Genosha as the sentinels began their attack. They were waiting for a report on whether or not their attack had succeeded.

But then something happened that nobody expected. One of the chief science aides came rushing into the room with a stack of papers and threw it down before the President.

“Sir! The asteroid! It’s been diverted!” he said breathlessly.

“Diverted?” said the President with a mix of shock and relief, “How?”

“I…I’m not sure,” he replied, “But NORAD detected another pulse from Genosha a few moments ago. We’re not sure what it was, but the power was tremendous! It literally knocked the entire rock off course! All data indicates it’ll settle into a stable orbit around the Earth!”

It was the best news they could have hoped for. Everybody let out a collective sigh of relief. The doomsday asteroid that was supposed to destroy them all was no more. Civilization it seemed was saved. But that wasn’t the only shocking revelation.

“There’s more,” said the aide breathlessly, “The sentinels…they’ve been destroyed too.”

“Damn,” said the Secretary of Defense, “So the attack failed?”

“What about the gas?” asked Senator Kelly.

“I’m not sure, but it appears to have been dispersed. It doesn’t seem any of the mutants were affected.”

“So then what the hell happened?!” exclaimed the President.

The aide fell silent, still overwhelmed by the information he had received. There were still plenty of unknown details. Crisis like this don’t just resolve themselves. Someone or something had a hand in it. Whatever had happened, nobody was sure how to react.

“What now, Mr. President?” asked the Secretary of State.

“I don’t know,” he said distantly.

“This doesn’t feel right,” said Senator Kelly, “It could be one of Magneto’s tricks!”

“How is destroying his best leverage against us a trick?” asked one of the Joint Chiefs.

“I don’t know! But we’re talking about Magneto here! For all we know he could be preparing for something even more devious?!”

It was a chilling thought, Magneto planning something worse than what he had already done. Nobody was prepared to face something like that again. The world couldn’t take anymore chaos.

Then as everyone processed what was happening, one of the female technicians came rushing up from one of the consoles.

“Mr. President, sir, I…I just got a call from Genosha. It’s Magneto.”

“Magneto?!” exclaimed Senator Kelly, “Now he’s calling us?!”

“Settle down, Senator,” said the President calmly, “Patch him through.”

The wary technician did as she asked and everyone at the conference table huddled around the electronic speaker in the center for which they used for conference calls. After hearing his earlier speech, there was no telling what this was about. Senator Kelly may be right when he said they should always assume the worst.

“Hello Mr. President. This is Magneto. By now, I assume you’re people have uncovered what has just transpired. The asteroid has been destroyed and so have your sentinels. We both have Charles Xavier and the X-men to thank for that. But now that our means of destroying one another are gone, we are left at an impasse. After contemplating this matter, I have concluded that we cannot continue down this path of madness. So if you are willing to listen, I propose a compromise. But be forewarned Mr. President, rejecting it will only lead to greater suffering…for all of us.”

Magneto’s stoic voice didn’t sound as sinister as it did during his earlier speech. Whatever happened on Genosha must have been extreme. It was hard to tell if he was being sincere, given his history. But he still had that threatening undertone in his voice. Whatever this deal was, it was not going to solve all their problems. It may end up leading to entirely new ones to handle.

All eyes were on the President now. It was his call. They could tell he was contemplating on whether or not to respond. Given his bewildered state, he seemed very willing to make a deal at this point. But Senator Robert Kelly was not so easily shaken.

“Mr. President, you can’t seriously be willing to negotiate with this madman!” said Senator Kelly under his breath.

The President didn’t say a word. He just turned towards the senator and shot him a cold glare, forcing him to pull back somewhat. He could tell how dead set against this Senator Kelly was. He didn’t blame him. This country always had a strong policy in terms of negotiating with terrorists. But these were extreme circumstances. Having come so close to complete destruction, the President didn’t have the stomach for more death. It led him to make the most difficult decision he ever.

“I’m listening, Magneto,” he said into the speaker, “What do you propose?


Next Issue: War and Peace

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