Chapter 1: Brothers
Erik stared out of the coffee house window over Monaco bay as he waited for Charles Xavier to arrive. It had been a year since his former friend and ally had been wounded on the beach, and although Erik had thought about the other man often, he had not contacted Charles in that time, and until a week ago, Charles had not sought to contact him. Or at least Erik assumed that he hadn't, but then he had made himself deliberately hard to locate...
Bitter sweet memories of their short but intense friendship still haunted Erik, he felt guilty about Charles' paralysis...even though it was that infernal human- Moria- who had pulled the trigger, he knew that ultimately Charles blamed him; not her. It infuriated him further that after everything they had been through together, Charles still clung to his naïve dream that mutants and humans could live together in harmony. Perhaps though -Erik thought to himself-Charles had finally come to his senses...
A few days ago a telegram had been delivered to the apartment that he and Mystique had rented for a few weeks while they conducted business in the city. The comunicae had contained nothing more elaborate than a few words: "I must speak with you urgently on a matter of great importance – Charles Xavier" and the address of the coffee house.
The door of the coffee house opened and Erik looked up as a young man in a wheelchair moved towards his table.
"Erik, it's been a long time" Charles greeted.
Erik was momentarily at a loss. Of course he knew that Charles had been paralysed by his injury, but actually seeing it brought a fresh new wave of regret flooding over him.
Erik managed at last, trying not to stare at the wheelchair or Charles' now useless legs. Erik was no stranger to death or mutilation, nor was he squeamish – having his childhood ripped from him by Shaw and Nazis had seen to that- but he'd cared for Charles as a brother, like he was family. Family is different. Desensitization doesn't work the way it does with everyone else. Erik had only allowed himself to consider two other people as his family since his ordeals at the concentration camp. When they'd been torn away, he'd decided he wasn't interested in rebuilding interpersonal connections. He had a knack for losing the things he loved most, and only a fool would court the kind of pain he felt when it happened. Erik looked at Charles ruefully, the telepath may not have died, but in the end Erik had still lost him.
"Charles I'm...I'm sorry..." Erik began
Charles smiled a warm forgiving smile and waved his hand to cut Erik off.
"Erik I'm not holding a grudge. I miss my morning strolls, but you never intended this, it was an accident that could have been much worse, and I know I still have far too privileged a life to mope around feeling sorry for myself" he finished with a lop sided grin.
The statement both annoyed and relieved Erik. He was glad Charles did not hate him for the incident on the beach, but the way he had made light of something so serious made Erik wonder how low a value he placed on his life and well being. Erik sighed...Charles was made for martyrdom, a perspective that Erik would never understand. An awkward silence filled the air.
"So how goes your school?" Erik asked, scraping for something to say. He'd half hoped to surprise the telepath - not an easy task. But Xavier's school for gifted youngsters was supposed to be a secret after all. However if Erik's knowledge of the place did surprise Charles, he showed no sign of it. Instead he smiled and replied:
"Good thank you. Well for the most part. Actually that's one of the reasons I asked you to meet with me here"
"If you're here to ask me to become a teacher Charles-" Charles held up his hand and shook his head to dismiss the assumption.
"If I thought you'd agree, I then I most certainly would. But I don't need to be a mind reader to know your answer. No, I am concerned about the safety of a young mutant who recently left the Xavier institute. Have heard of an organisation known as Omega? "
Erik frowned. Indeed he had heard rumours about an underground organisation that was interested in mutants. The rumours were connected with kidnapping and experimentation.
"I have, but I haven't been able to uncover anything concrete about them. They could even be a myth". Charles shook his head
"I'm afraid not Erik, I've personally met someone who has managed to escape from one of their labs"
Erik's face grew dark, the scenario stirred his own dark memories of monsters masquerading as scientists.
"If this organisation really exists, then it needs to be destroyed." Erik said quietly.
"I know.." Charles replied.
Perhaps there was hope for Charles after all, Eric thought. He had half been expecting some pacifist plan for dealing with Omega, like writing a letter asking them very politely not to experiment on people. "...But we have to make sure nobody gets hurt." Charles continued. Or perhaps not, Erik thought.
"Still trying not to get your hands dirty Charles?" He scowled "Then just tell me where it is and I'll raise it to the ground, and you can keep your conscience clean. "
"What then Erik? You'll go storming in and collapse the place? Or blow it up? " Charles asked shaking his head "Innocent people could get hurt Erik-" When Erik scoffed he continued "-human and mutant. We need to get the people who are being held against their will out safely, and those who are guilty should be turned over to the proper authorities. Not all the scientists are there volutarily-some of them have been coerced, and some are-"
"-just following orders?" Erik finished, his voice a dangerous whisper. "I see time has done nothing to improve your politics...or your common sense." Erik had to concede though, that Charles did have a point about mutants getting caught up in the carnage if they stormed Omega. And Erik knew Charles would never reveal the details of Omega's location if he didn't agree to a non-violent strategy. In addition there was simply no way Erik could allow a threat like Omega to go on existing unchallenged, so he was going to have to at least partially play along with Charles' nonsensical ideals "So I assume you have a plan that allows us all to live happily ever after?"
"We've managed to place someone on the inside as part of Omega's research team, but we need someone to masquerade as a prisoner-"
"And you thought of me? How sweet. Sorry Charles, been there done that. Think of something else. Or better yet, find another guinea pig"
"We need to have a powerful mutant with a high level of control on the inside, and with your magnetic abilities you're best suited to opening holding cells quickly and aiding the evacuation process." Erik raised an eyebrow and regarded Charles with a look of disdain.
"Yet somehow I'm still unconvinced about risking life and limb for group of people I have no personal interest in... I still prefer my idea Charles. Raise it to the ground. If any mutants die, they'll die heroes"
Charles looked aghast. "Erik, in order for death to be heroic, a person has to choose to die for a noble cause that they believe in, not have that choice thrust upon them by others! That's murder!" Erik narrowed his eyes and looked out the window again over the bay. After a while Charles sighed and tried again.
"Erik didn't want to show you this now, because I didn't want you to think I was trying to manipulate you, but..." Charles pulled out a folder and handed it to Erik "Hank and I have been logging DNA profiles of everyone at the Xavier institute so we can learn more about the X-gene"
Erik opened the folder and found his alias Magneto printed on the first page along with a series of squares representing his unique genetic structure. Erik was not a geneticist of Xavier or Hank McCoy's calibre, but he had studied the subject at University. In addition his ordeal at the hands of Shaw, his own expression of the X-gene made it hard to not to develop an in-depth interest in the science.
"Logging and cataloguing individuals...another group of people had an interest in that...But why should this manipulate me?" Erik asked.
"Look at the other document" Charles replied. Erik pulled out the second sheet from the file, the first few lines read:
Name: Pietro Maximoff
Erik studied Pietro's DNA profile it seemed to reflect an eerily familiar pattern.
The wheels turned slowly in Erik's mind as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing. "He's..." Erik began slowly "He's related to me?...No, no-more than that..." He paused frowning more until a mixture of puzzlement and shock came over his face "This child-the boy you took this profile from-" he looked up at Charles startled "- is my son?"
Chapter 2: Revelations
Charles reveals how he came into contact with Erik's son Pietro.
Erik had not led a monkish lifestyle by any means, he enjoyed sex. But just because he had a libido didn't mean he was ruled by it. He always took precautions whenever he shared his bed with a woman, precisely because he abhorred the idea of becoming a parent 'by accident'. The Nazi's had taken his father from him a year before they'd captured himself and his mother. He'd seen her struggle to raise him alone in a hostile environment, and he wasn't about to visit the same hardships on an illegitimate progeny of his own simply because of a lack of forethought...
Though there had once been a woman whom Erik loved, and with whom Eric had wanted to start a family. To whom he had been married. But that had been a lifetime ago...another world...another man.
"Sorry Eric?" Charles asked. Erik realised that he'd spoken the name out loud and interrupted Charles. The young professor had been explaining how he came to find the boy, but Eric hadn't heard a word of it, his mind had been a whirl with long dead memories. Now Charles' question jolted him back to the present. Erik narrowed his eyes and studied the professor. There was a possibility that the telepath had reached into his memories and somehow concocted this whole thing in order to get him to agree to an idiotic humanitarian mission...but somehow Erik knew that didn't fit Charles' style. The man stubbornly played by the rules, and he believed in honour. Stealing people's memories and making up imaginary offspring just wasn't the way Charles operated, his own rigid moral code wouldn't allow for something as machiavellian as that. Charles had once said he didn't read his friends minds' without their permission, and on most days Erik was inclined to believe him, but on others he wasn't.
"Erik?" Charles asked again.
"I said go on" Erik replied as he arranged his face into an unreadable mask.
"Well as I saying, cerebro located him in New York..." Charles began.
Two months prior to Charles and Erik's reunion a ragged boy with snow white hair and a small frame had watched the patrons of the exclusive New York restaurant intently from behind a dumpster. He hadn't eaten anything two days, and his eyes where particularly drawn to one of the outdoor tables, where a man in wheel chair sat, absorbed in a newspaper. A waiter arrived with a plate of freshly baked pastries and placed them down in front of the customer. The boy smiled to himself, the opportunity was too good to pass up.
He moved like a blur out of his hiding place, darting quickly between the tables and snatched a pastry, then darted between two of the restaurants large potted trees and devoured his prize hungrily.
"Would you like another?" Shocked the boy whirled around. The man in the wheel chair was staring directly at him, he had spotted him between the trees, although no one else seemed to be paying the child any attention. The boy's first instinct, was to run, but when he tried to move his feet seemed rooted to the floor.
"Please don't be afraid, I don't mean you any harm Pietro" The man's voice had spoken inside his head.
Pietro focused all his will into moving his legs, he'd always been able to runaway from trouble, but now his body was trapped. He could hear his breath coming in short uneven pants, he was hyper-ventilating, he had to get away, but his body was failing him, it was weak from the lack of food and his legs were beginning to shake, and he still couldn't lift them. To make matters even worse the man was beginning to move towards him with urgency. "Pietro try and relax-" The boy didn't hear rest of the words, weather they were in his head or otherwise, the blackness enveloped him and he his over stressed, undernourished young body fell to the ground.
"Does your usual method of recruiting students generally involve inducing panic attacks?" Erik asked, interrupting Charles' recount.
"I didn't mean to! I feel terrible about that...at the time I thought freezing him would scare him less that manhandling him...I just needed him to stand still long enough for me to explain myself to him...to explain what we are..." Charles rubbed the back of his head and sighed "Terrifying the child was the last thing I ever wanted to do..."
Eric raised an eyebrow quizzically. Charles' wouldn't harm a fly, but he had an odd perspective on some things. At seven the telepath probably would have found someone speaking to directly into his mind fascinating. At Thirty-four Eric still found hearing some else's voice in his head somewhat unsettling...and he was fairly sure that at seven his reaction would have been even less positive...
"We took him back to the Xavier institute to recover. He was a little afraid of us at first, but after we introduced him to the kitchen, he seemed to warm to us quite rapidly" Charles smiled.
Eric took this all in silently, trying to mull over the situation in his mind. Fatherhood didn't fit in with is current lifestyle. Caring for other people, protecting them - that was complicated and something that he'd never been particularly good at. But the idea of having a piece of Magda's spirit back, that was opening a door in his heart that he's thought was closed forever. Part of him still thought that Charles might be wrong, that he'd made some mistake with the DNA profiling. But there were other factors to consider as well now, like the child's name: Pietro. He and Magda had discussed calling their first child that if it were a boy...but that baby had been a girl...Erik sighed in frustration and ran his fingers through his hair, he couldn't make a decision on anything, until after he'd seen the child...
"So the boy is back the Xavier mansion?"
A pained look crossed Charles' face "No...Omega has him..."
Erik's eyes narrowed "How?"
"I don't know exactly..." Charles replied sadly "...he went missing four weeks ago, one of the other children said he snuck out one night...we searched for him in the morning but couldn't find him. I was worried because I couldn't sense him with cerebro either...But two weeks later I received a message from my contact at Omega, she reported that they'd brought in a new mutant, one that fits Pietro's description..."
Erik felt his stomach twist into a cold knot. "Is he...alive?"
"Yes" Charles said quickly sensing Erik's dread "and from what I know relatively unharmed.."
Erik thought about asking what "relatively" actually meant, then decided against it. He'd been a lab rat himself once; he could guess. The priority was getting Pietro out and destroying Omega, the details of the boy's ordeal could wait and would likely just cloud his mind with rage. Occasionally Erik's anger still got the better of him, and he needed to be clear headed if he was going into battle alone and unarmed. A heavy silence hung in the air a while before Erik spoke again.
"I need plans...layouts of Omega's operating base. If I'm walking into hell, I want to know where I'm going" He said with an air of resignation.
Charles looked happily surprised "So you'll do it then? You'll help?"
"Yes." Eric replied.
"Thankyou Eric." Charles said sincerely. He began to back the wheel chair away from the table in preparation to leave he coffee house "I'll arrange two plane tickets back to the sta-" Erik was on his feet and gripping Charles' wrist to stop him from turning the wheel. He leaned in, fixing Charles with one of his intense glares.
"Charles I don't think I've ever known a better man than you...but if I find out that this is some trick to manipulate me for your own ends..."
"-I swear on everything sacred to me Erik, that all I've told you is the truth" The telepath looked genuinely hurt. Erik leaned back and released Charles' hand, but still held his gaze.
"That's good Charles. Because if I find out it isn't, the next time we meet, one of us will die."
"I'll keep that in mind" Charles said without breaking eye contact.
"I'll meet you at the airport in two hours" Erik said as he strode out of the coffee house.
Chapter 3: Lovers
From her bedroom, Raven heard the door to the apartment open and slam. A few moments later she heard Erik's footsteps stride into his own room. Apprehensively padding down the corridor towards his bedroom door, she found Erik with a suitcase open on the bed, hurriedly throwing his belongings into it.
“Are we going somewhere?” she asked
“I'm going somewhere.” Erik replied without looking up from his packing. “You're staying here.”
“Excuse me?” Mystique asked angrily. Erik had always been arrogant and somewhat aloof, but over past couple months his negative traits had been becoming rapidly worse. He no longer seemed to treat her as an equal or a friend. Instead he seemed to look upon her as more of a foot soldier, barking out orders with and not expecting them to be questioned. Prior to the beach, and for a while after, Erik had let down his walls and in doing so had become a catalyst to Raven's acceptance of herself. He had been the first person in her life to find her true form beautiful, the first from whom she didn't feel she had to hide anything. Sure Charles had loved her, and accepted her, but Erik had made her feel desired. Or at least he did. Lately he had been becoming more and more consumed with his mission to prepare for what he believed was an inevitable war between mutants -or homo-superiors as Erik now called them- and non-mutants. He'd cast himself in the role of general and no longer seemed to have room in his life for the kind of connection they'd once shared.
“I'm not your little tin-soldier Erik! You don't tell me where I can and can't go!” Mystique snapped. “You haven't even told me what happened with Charles!”
“It doesn't concern you. I'm going away for a while, I'll be back in a week or so. In the meantime I need someone here to manage my affairs. And a soldier is exactly what you are. What we'll all have to be when the revolution starts.”
Mystique ignored the tail end of Erik's statement. He was becoming disturbingly more like Shaw with each passing day. In the beginning his vision of creating a world where mutants wouldn't have to hide who they were had appealed to her, but now he seemed more obsessed with war. Over the past year they'd been seeking out and recruiting mutants to Erik's cause, he'd nicknamed it the Brotherhood. But Mystique wasn't happy with some of the people they were attracting, or some of Erik's plans. Building a new world, he said, required resources and money. Erik's method for accumulating these, whilst effective, was not entirely ethical, and it certainly wasn't legal.
There was great demand in certain circles for individuals that could operate beyond the range of ordinary humans. The same abilities that ostracised mutants, could also make them the perfect spies, bodyguards, thieves, mercenaries or assassins.
Mystique hadn't seen Charles in a year, and the reason that she had not gone with Erik to meet with her foster brother earlier that day was because she wasn't feeling particularly proud of some of her recent actions. As children Charles had been able to read her emotions even without using his telepathic powers. He just knew her too well. She felt that if they met now she wouldn't know what to say -she wasn't used to keeping secrets from him.
“Is Charles alright? He's not in some kind of trouble is he?” Mystique asked.
“All the man does is look for trouble. He was doing that when we met. Should it surprise you that he keeps finding it?” Erik said irritably but the tone he used was that of a weary parent lamenting the actions of a wayward child. He looked at Mystique and sighed, his demeanour softened slightly “He asked for my help with something, and I agreed to give it. I can't tell you any more. ….I'm sorry.”
The sincere “I'm Sorry” caught Mystique off guard. Erik rarely apologized. She swallowed and looked down sadly.
“You don't trust me.” She stated.
Erik surprised her more by moving closer and gently lifting her chin till their eyes met.
“Raven, I think you're the only person left in the world I still do trust.” Erik said. Raven blinked in astonishment.
“Then why-” The shape shifter began to ask but, Erik cut her off.
“-Emma.” Erik explained in one word. “Frost isn't as polite with her gift as Charles. If I tell you there's a chance she might read your mind. I'll explain it all when I get back...... I promise.”
Mystique drew away slowly and walked over to the window, she felt Erik's eyes following her. He'd always reminded her of a cat, the way he moved, the way he stared at people sometimes.....there was always something very predatory about it. Even when she was sure his thoughts weren't particularly malicious, it was like he couldn't turn his hunting instinct off. The way he watched her now brought back memories of six months ago, and made a warmth rise from the base of her spine.
They'd been in Munich, 'resource accumulating'. An arms dealer had paid them to escort his goods across several borders. With their collective skills it had been an easy job for the Brotherhood. Pleased with their work the dealer had the decided to throw them an impromptu party at his mansion, with copious amounts of alcohol and several strippers. Mystique remembered watching Erik slink away into one of the other rooms as the rest of the male Brotherhood members became more and more inebriated. She'd followed him, and found him sitting in the study sipping a glass of rum and ice.
“Not enjoying the entertainment? ” she'd asked.
“She doesn't look a day over sixteen.” He snorted with an air of disgust. Mystique laughed, she'd been secretly pleased that Erik hadn't been drooling over the blonde modelesque girl like the rest of the males in the group. Erik watched her as she laughed, that same predatory look in his eyes, but it wasn't cold like the look he usually got before something died of metal inflicted injuries...This look was full of heat...and seemed full of... desire...
“Sabretooth might like little girls... ” Erik said “..but I...” he paused and ran his eyes over Mystique's frame “...prefer women...” He finished quietly while holding Mystique's eyes with his own. She giggled nervously. Had she had too much to drink? Or was Erik actually flirting? With her?
With the half bottle of scotch she'd consumed an hour before giving her a courage she didn't usually possess, Raven sauntered over to Erik's chair and stood over him hand on hip, a mixture of a pout and a smirk on her face.
“Oh? What kind of women? Blonde?” she changed into an attractive Nordic lady. “Brunette?” She changed into a Latin beauty. Erik watched but said nothing. She leaned in towards him and tried again “No? How about Red Head?” Erik sat up at the last change and leaned in so close their lips almost touched.
“Getting closer...” he whispered. Raven let herself slip into her natural form. Before the change was even complete she felt Erik's lips meet hers. The kiss was everything she'd been fantasizing about and more. When he'd kissed her a year ago, in the Xavier Mansion it had been gentle and almost chaste. This kiss was dark, and rich, and warm with an edge of desperation and danger. It was far, far better than the first. She entangled her hands in his hair and pressed herself against him hungry for more. Her bold reaction surprised him, and he broke their contact first breathing heavily “Raven-”
“-Don't be a tease Erik.” She said pushing him back down into the chair as he tried to sit up. In some still sober, non-lust-filled corner of her mind, Raven wondered what the hell gotten in to her. Was she really speaking to Erik like this? Chastising Magneto? That corner told her to prepare for a consequence, but Erik was regarding her with an expression she'd never seen on his face before. It seemed a raw primitive cocktail of admiration, astonishment and desire, with a hint of...something else...fear perhaps? To Raven it made him seem even more irresistible, she pulled his head back and kissed him again. She was happily exploring his mouth with her own, when a long high pitched scream split the air. It sounded like some kind of wounded animal caught in trap, but with a distressingly human quality to it. Erik and Raven untangled themselves from each other and rushed out of the study in the direction of the sound.
It had come from the hall where the other members of the brotherhood had been celebrating. On arriving Erik found Sabretooth tearing at the throat of the pretty blonde girl that had been dancing for them earlier, she was still screaming that horrid high pitched unbroken sound. Erik had known the mutant was violent and prone to rages when he recruited him, but he had also thought Sabretooth possessed a better level of control. This unpredictable attack was unacceptable.
Mystique rushed forward to confront the feral mutant. But Sabretooth was faster, he threw the girl to the ground and lashed out with his claws, catching her side and tearing away muscle and flesh in a crimson blur. Mystique fell to the floor in agony, she looked up to find Sabretooth over her, pulling his arm back for another swipe. Her body tensed and her eyes squeezed shut instinctively preparing for the blow, but it never came. Instead she heard an odd gurgling sound. Mystique cautiously opened her eyes and saw Sabretooth with a silver candlestick impaled in his throat. Erik stood behind her now wearing his helmet, his arm out stretched toward the silver instrument, Sabretooth tottered forward seemly intent on killing her despite his own mortal wound. Erik gestured with his hand and the entire candlestick ripped itself through Sabretooth's neck taking most of his throat out with it in bloody chunks. The huge mutant crashed the floor with a loud bloody thud.
Mystique looked at the girl, she'd stopped screaming, or moving. The girl's eyes stared vacantly up at the celling.
Emma Frost walked up to the unmoving stripper and prodded the lifeless arm with a white stilletoed toe “Red suits her.” she pronounced. She cocked her head to he side and and examined Raven quizzically “It doesn't go quite so well with blue though....but then what does?” her mocking tone was detached, light and completely inappropriate for the situation. Mystique narrowed her eyes and glared at Emma, she couldn't stand the woman and didn't care weather the telepath knew it or not. She attempted to move towards the girl Sabretooth had attacked, but a fresh pain shot through her side. Frost didn't move an inch to help, but instead stood looking down at Mystique like she observing an experiment.
Their host, a short fat man with a red face suddenly burst into the room and began a hysterical tyraid, shouting and pointing at Magneto. It was all in German, but you didn't have to be multi-lingual to understand that man was furious about the fact that two people had just been slain in his home, and that his emotional state had more do with fear of the authorities than any ethical dilemma.
“Emma, take care of the bodies and wipe his mind. Azazeal bring me the first aid kit.” Erik ordered flatly, sweeping forward and scooping Mystique up into his arms.
Emma smiled vacantly. “Of course.”
Azazeal de-materialised with a fiery puff of smoke.
Erik stalked out of the hall towards one of the abode's many bedrooms.
“Erik, the girl...” Raven said weakly trying to look back.
“There's nothing you can do for her now.” He replied without emotion. Death must be nothing to Erik now, Raven thought. She couldn't imagine ever getting used to seeing bodies.
Erik laid her down on the king size four poster bed of an opulent looking room. He gently examined her side, she winced slightly as touched the claw marks.
“The cuts are deep. You'll need stitches.”
“Erik...I can't go to a hospital...I don't think I can use my powers with my body like this..” Raven said worriedly.
“You'd be surprised what you can do with the right motivation...” Erik said without emotion still staring at the cuts. Raven stiffened and felt even more worried, Erik's methods of 'motivating' people weren't always particularly pleasant, especially when his voice became cold and detached like that. He looked at her then, his eyes twinkling slightly with mischief, warmth had returned to them. “...But I wasn't actually suggesting a suicidal trip to a hospital.” Raven groaned.
“Do you think you could you possibly refrain from teasing me while I'm bleeding to death?”. Erik smirked at this.
“Just trying to provide a distraction from the pain” He said winking a her ”And you're not dying...well not today at any rate.”
Azazel re-materialised then with the first aid kit. Erik took it and the other mutant disappeared as quickly as he'd arrived. Erik opened the kit and cleaned Raven's wound. When he was done he took out a needle thread. Raven eyed it warily.
“Do you actually know what you're doing?” She asked.
“I've had a lot of practice.” Erik replied. Mystique furrowed her nose, still sceptical.
Erik cocked his head to the side and raised and eyebrow condescendingly.
“Would you rather I took you to a hospital?” Mystique didn't reply, Erik handed her a vial of clear liquid “Drink it. It will dull the pain.” Mystique did as he ordered, she was too tired to argue anyway. Soon she felt a pleasant drowsiness settling over her. As she drifted off, she felt a few sharp pricks in her side as Erik begun suturing.
Raven awoke the next day with a terrible hangover, and the pain in her side back to full strength. Groggily she sat up and groaned, holding her head in her hands.
“Sleeping beauty finally awakens.” I dry male voice said.
Raven whipped her head round too fast and felt lurch of nausea. Erik stood by the window, looking out on to the grounds. Had he been there all night? Or had he just come in? Raven wondered. He looked perfectly dressed and as usual not a hair was out of place, so it a night vigil was unlikely .
“Morning Erik” she muttered massaging her head. There was silence for a few minutes.
“Raven...” Erik started “...last night-”
Oh God. She thought, as the memories came flooding back. Raven wanted to melt into the floor, and was for once grateful that her blue skin hid the blush well. This was unbelievably awkward. Erik was obviously about to make it clear that he found her either too unattractive or immature – or perhaps both- to be of any possible romantic interest to him while he was sober. Mystique decided she'd save them both the embarrassment.
“-God...last night I was so drunk! I got a little crazy, I wasn't thinking straight....”
Erik turned then, a shadow flickered across his face, but it was too brief for Mystique to match an emotion to it. A moment later Erik's had put his walls back in place and his eyes where now cold and unreadable. He gave her a curt nod.
“I need to finish cleaning up last night's mess. Get yourself ready to leave.” He said as he walked out of the room. Leaving Mystique to process his mood change, had she said the wrong thing?
Neither of them had brought up what happened in the study since.
Back in the present day Mystique jerked her attention away from her memories. She looked back at Erik who had finished packing.
“If you really don't trust Frost then why do you keep her around? She jumped into bed with that psychopath Shaw and now she's merrily skipping after you. What's to stop her betraying the Brotherhood?”
“Fear...and lack of a better offer” Erik replied “She's a telepath. The Brotherhood needs her skills.” He moved to the bed and picked up his suitcase. “I have to go now...”
“Tell Charles...” Mystique began, but she wasn't sure what she wanted Erik to tell Charles...she still cared about her brother a lot, but what message could she send that would convey her feelings in spite of her abandonment “Tell him I asked after him....” she said at last. Erik nodded.
“I'll be in contact when I can”. He said as he left the building.
Erik found Charles waiting for him in the airport lobby.
“So where's the party Charles?” Erik enquired.
“Alaska.” the other man replied as he handed Erik his plane ticket.
Chapter 4: Doubts
Erik agrees to the rescue mission and encounters his son Pietro in the laboratory holding cells.
“Why not just use your powers to infiltrate Omega Charles? Avoid the collateral damage you're so concerned about?” Erik's breathe formed frosty clouds in the cold subarctic night air. After they'd landed at Point Hope, the pair had boarded a small ferry, and were now bound towards an island that only existed on the most exclusive of maps. The two were alone on deck, staring out into the flat expanse of the Bering sea.
“I've tried...but with little success I'm afraid. I suspect they have some kind of telepathic shield around their facility.”
Charles had explained his plan during the journey. He would introduce Erik to his contact in Omega and she would smuggle him into the facility under the pretence that he was a new test subject. Once inside Erik was to help the prisoners escape, and cause only the “necessary minimal damage” to his surroundings to fulfil the mission.
“The people held in that place will undoubtedly be traumatised enough without having to wade through a sea of bodies to claim their freedom. And it will be far easier to convince them to follow you, if you don't appear homicidal. ” Charles had cautioned.
Erik thought that that was complete and utter unfounded rubbish. In his opinion the vast majority of people who'd experienced torture would do anything to escape experiencing it again. Seeing retribution visited on your former jailers was an added bonus. However Erik kept these thoughts to himself...he'd make amendments to Charles' plan later...he couldn't do any damage until he was inside the place anyway...
“I hope your contact is trustworthy Charles...”
Charles nodded “I assure you she is my friend.”
The ferry dropped the two men on a deserted stretch of rocky beach. As it sailed away, Erik noticed a flash of light in the distance behind some evergreens, like sunlight bouncing off a mirror...
Charles touched his finger tips to his temple “Ah good, Dr Goldberg is already here.”
After a moment a figure emerged from the vegetation and made it's way towards the two men. As figure moved closer Erik saw that it was that of an elderly woman in a long grey trench coat. Goldberg had a worn face and her movements looked weary, but her eyes were sharp and intelligent. Erik waited impatiently for Charles to finish the introductions, then spoke:
“So Omega is located somewhere on this island?”
Goldberg shook her head “No. It is never located anywhere for very long” Erik noted she had a slight German accent. A former Nazi doctor with a new set of guinea pigs to play with perhaps? Yes that would fit, he thought to himself in disgust. Had Charles paid her for her cooperation? Or had she made some error that had made her fear the top echelons of the organisation? Maybe Charles was just psychically compelling her? No...he was too moral for that..Erik wanted to ask all these questions, but convinced himself they where irrelevant to the mission and contented himself with an order.
“It moves. Omega's lab is located on board a vessel, if you were to see it, you would easily mistake it for an oil tanker. It's course takes it around the Arctic circle. A mobile prison is ironically easier to keep hidden, especially in such a remote location...and far harder to escape from.”
Eric's upper lip curled in distaste, he studied her. “So I hear I am to play your prisoner?”
“Yes” Goldberg nodded “If you are still willing to help. It is my job to fetch supplies from the mainland and transport them back to the ship. I will tell my superiors that I encountered you there. You attacked me with your powers and revealed yourself as a mutant. So in response I subdued you and brought you back to the labs, believing you'd make a valuable test subject”
“They are expected to believe that you subdued me” Erik raised a sceptical eyebrow. He was loosing even more faith in this plan. Goldberg was several feet shorter than himself and looked as though she might snap if a strong gust of wind caught her, Charles could probably over power her without even using his telepathic abilities...
“I do carry personal protection Mr Lensherr...” Goldberg pulled a tazer from her pocket. Erik's eye brow lowered, his facial expression moved from 'condescending' to 'predatory'.
“I prefer Magneto.” Goldberg stepped back slightly-a reaction to the tone he'd used. Erik noted she wasn't easily intimidated, but she wasn't stupid either. Goldberg had the attitude of someone that was weary of life, but not of someone that courted death.
“As you prefer, Mr Magneto. Before we depart, I must give you this...” She pulled a small jar out of her pocket and handed it to Erik. He unscrewed it and tapped the contents out into his hand. Two pills lay in his palm “You should take them now.”
“I don't think so.” Erik said.
“I really do advise taking them Erik.” Charles interjected “On board Omega you will be exposed to a compound that dampens mutant abilities. It is pumped in through the ventilation system, you will not be able to avoid it. The pills Dr Goldberg has provided will counteract the effects.”
“You will gain immunity to the dampening compound and regain your natural abilities within several hours.” Goldberg added.
“Several hours?!” Erik rounded on Charles narrowing his eyes “You neglected to mention this little detail before Charles” he hissed.
“It may well be a lot sooner than that, you are quite powerful and in the peak of health. Your system will likely adapt rapidly.” Charles tried his best to be reassuring.
“And just what-” Erik spat “-am I expected to do if these parasites attempt to dissect my brain before that time arrives?”
“They will most likely not. New subjects are not taken to the lab until after the twenty four hour observation period has elapsed.” Goldberg stated.
“'Most Likely'?” Erik sneered “How reassuring.”
Goldberg shrugged again “Nothing in life is certain. Except death.”
Erik looked unamused.
“In any event...” Charles interjected hastily “My self , Banshee, Beast and Havoc will be along in a rescue craft before twenty-four hours is up to help with the evacuation. But if you can destroy whatever psychic barrier is blocking me from seeing inside Omega we can arrive quicker. ”
“And if I can't?”
Charles sighed, he knew Erik too well. “Then we will wait for you to emerge on deck before we reveal ourselves...and pray that you remember that mass homicide will only hinder our efforts not help them.”
Erik smiled. Not the wolfish grin that bared all his teeth, but a tight lipped smile of sadistic anticipation. The expression reminded Charles of the way a cat looked just before it pounced into a bird bath and feathers started flying. “I'm getting old Charles, my memory's not what it used to be...but I'll try and remember...” perhaps sometime after everyone employed by Omega is dead thought Erik. He turned to Goldberg “Shall we depart?”
Goldberg nodded “My boat is just beyond these rocks” She started waking in the direction she had emerged from.
”I'll see you soon Charles....I do hope those kids of yours haven't gone soft...” Erik said before following Goldberg.
“Have no fear my friend, they have become depressingly used to hostile situations” Charles replied “and your cooperation on a peaceful resolution would be greatly appreciated!” he called after Erik as the other man departed.
The guards opened the cell door and shoved Erik inside. To her credit, Goldberg had managed to pull off the plan without a hitch. Erik had feigned semi consciousness due to electrocution, and the guards had dragged him the half the length of the ship like a dead weight to the holding cells on the lower deck. Erik let himself land face down as he was thrown to the floor. He didn't move until he heard their footsteps recede back down the corridor.
When Erik was satisfied that he was alone, he righted himself and took in his surroundings. The cell was dark, the only illumination came from a small patch of light which emanated from a two foot wide frosted window above the cell door. Erik couldn't see the walls, or corners of the cell in the gloom, but his senses told him that their structure was mainly composed of metal. The only furniture Erik could make out-if it could indeed be called that- was a bucket sitting in the middle of the floor. As a test he attempted to summon the bucket to him. Erik strained at the metal, it felt like tugging at a limb that was trapped under a boulder, he could feel it, but he couldn’t move it, and it was painful to try. Erik stubbornly ignored the pain and pulled with everything he had, a burning pain crept up his spine, rapidly moving into his muscles and finally exploding in his skull. The bucket twitched. Erik let out a gasp and released his hold on the metal, falling to his knees shaking. The effort had cost him greatly but yielded little reward. He had the discomforting feeling that if he'd continued his experiment with using his powers he'd do his body damage. He conceded he was going to have to wait for Goldberg's magic pills to kick in.
Sitting powerless in a dark cell did not bring up positive memories for Erik. True he was not the same helpless child that was taken to the death camps. He was a formidable man now, but one unarmed man was no match for a group of armed guards... He was reliant on Goldberg and Charles being correct in the calculations. Erik hated being dependent on others. It required trust. Erik wasn't good at trusting people.
"I was mad to let Charles talk me into this.....I don't even know where to find the boy" Erik sighed, and leant back to rest his head on the cell wall. But instead of the hard wall he was expecting, he came into contact with something softer. Something that bolted from behind him as soon as he brushed against it. A white blur moved past him. Erik recovered quickly from his surprise, sticking his foot out just time trip his cell mate. The heard a cry of pain as his opponent hit the floor. Erik moved on instinct, pinning the other body to ground, then suddenly froze as the narrow shaft of light illuminated his captive's face. He was holding a white haired child, with his father's eyes and Magda's nose. A stubborn mixture of defiance and fear were painted on the child's face.
Chapter 5: Sons
Erik recounts his failed marriage and the death of his first daughter Anya.
A quick note on Erik and Magda's relationship history: I liked a lot of things about her back story so I've done my best to blend XMFC movie cannon with comic-canon...though it has been extremely haaaard! In the Uncanny X-men comics Erik around 15-14 when he enters Ausvich and 16-17 when he escapes. In the XMF I would place him around 13 at the most when he enters the death camp and I assume he would have been there just under a year, so he'd be 14 when escaped.
Erik stared at the boy. This was undeniably his son. Charles had been telling the truth. Erik felt his chest tighten-the boy looked so much like his mother. His grip loosened. Pietro had lived on the streets too long not to take full advantage of Eric's lack of focus and squirmed away. As he moved backwards the boy kicked out, his foot caught Eric square in the face. Pietro was seven. Eric was a seasoned fighter. As a result the kick didn't hurt much but it did surprise and distract the older man long enough to prevent him from dodging when Pietro hurled the metal bucket at him.
“Hey-!” Eric shouted, wiping blood away from his cracked lip. Pietro grabbed the fallen bucket and swung it again. Clearly intent on knocking his older cell mate unconscious.
“-Enough!” Eric caught the bucket mid swing and snatched it away from the child. Disarmed, Pietro quickly jumped out of Eric's reach, backing away from him towards the opposite dark corner of the cell. An annoyed Eric quickly closed the distance between them by grabbing the boy's wrist. Eric wanted Pietro where he could see him, he'd thought the bucket was the only thing in the room that the boy could throw at him, but he'd thought he'd been alone in the cell too* and he didn't want to discover he'd made another error when another makeshift missile collided with his head.
“Let go! F****** a******! LET GO!” Pietro shouted at the top of his lungs, pulling and jerking at his trapped wrist while punching and scratching Eric's hand with his free one. Undeterred Eric kept his vice like grip and hoisted the boy's arm far above his head so he dangled off the floor. Pietro began kicking again, continuing his colourful string of profanity at full volume. Eric held him at arms length, so despite Pietro's best efforts, the kicks met thin air. Eric noted that the boy wasn't just swearing in English, he was switching between unmentionable Russian and Romani too. The master of magnetism wouldn't have described himself as traditionally moral by any stretch of the imagination, but he did believe in good old fashioned manners. As violent and brutal as his past had been, bad language still offended him, it was one of his odd pet peeves. He gave Pietro a hard shake to get his attention.
“Calm down!” Eric snapped. Pietro's only response was to redouble his kicking efforts and get louder. Eric could feel his patience slipping “Listen boy-” Eric stopped mid sentence, he could feel the vibration of footsteps in the distance, steel toed boots on the corridor's metal floor. A guard was coming. He didn't need any extra complications. In one smooth movement Eric pulled Pietro's body against his own, trapping the boys arms against his chest with one of his biceps; he covered Pietro's over active mouth with his free hand. The boy strained against him and continued to make muffled sounds.
“Un paznic se apropie, aţi face mai degrabă cu el sau cu mine? **” Eric whispered in Pietro's ear, switching to Romani, since though Pietro clearly understood English, requests made in the language had had no effect on his behaviour so far, Eric hoped Magda's tongue might trigger a different response. Pietro stilled, Eric relaxed a little but didn't loosen his hold.
The footsteps passed and continued down the corridor. Their common enemy no longer threat, Pietro resumed his battle by sinking his teeth into the hand covering his mouth. Eric growled in pain, but didn't pull his hand away, Pietro was biting down with such force that if he'd tried the boy would likely take chunk of flesh out of him. Eric's patience was used up, he dug his fingers into the boy's jaw.
“Take your little teeth out of my skin or I'll dislocate your jaw.” Pietro had heard that chilling, precise tone before on adults, not the safe ones like teachers, policemen or the staff at the orphanage, but the dangerous ones. The ones that you hid from on the streets. The ones that didn't have rules. It was survival instinct that made him obey Eric now. It was the same instinct that told you not to poke a tiger with a stick. Pietro inhaled sharply and retracted his bite.
“I'm going to put you down now, and you're going to behave yourself. Do we understand each other?” Eric continued in the same tone.
Pietro nodded quickly. Eric put him down and Pietro promptly backed away from the older man.
“Don't go any further.” Eric ordered before the boy could move out of the light completely. Pietro swallowed but stopped. He watched Eric warily and kept glancing back to the wall behind him, he obviously wanted to put as much space between himself and the other man as possible. Eric sighed and inspected the damage to his hand. Nothing in his life ever seemed to go the way he planned it. They'd just met and his son was already repulsed by his presence. Perfect.
Pietro watched Eric with huge eyes. In the light Eric could see the boy was thin, too thin. There were shadows under his eyes and needle marks scaring both his arms. He didn't look so mutinous now, the defiance was slipping from his face as the adrenaline in his system faded. He looked pale, tired and afraid. Like a rabbit trapped by a wolf and tired of running.
The child shivered and wrapped his arms around himself for warmth. Eric hadn't taken much notice of temperature in the cell. The guards had searched but not dis-robed him. He was still wearing his thick winter coat and turtle neck, and hadn't been bothered by the chill. Pietro was only wearing a thin ripped t-shirt and a pair of baggy most likely second hand jeans, meant for someone with more meat on their body. Being underweight, the boy must be freezing Eric thought. He took off his coat and held it out to Pietro.
“Put this on.” Eric said. Pietro hesitated, unsure. He wanted the coat, but he didn't want to get too close to Eric. Eric moved forward to give it to him, Pietro moved back, afraid and wanting to maintain the distance. Eric sighed and stopped, he didn't want the boy to fly into a another panic “I don't mean you any harm. ” He tossed the coat in Pietro's direction. It landed on the floor. Eric retreated to his side of the cell, and sat down slowly in the hopes of appearing less threatening. Pietro moved forward and snatched the coat off the ground, hurriedly putting it on. It dwarfed him, but the colour on his face seemed to improve immediately. Warmer, he still watched Eric, but more with curiosity now than fear.
“H-How do you know Romani?.... “ His brow furrowed in confusion ”You're a Gadjo****... aren't you?” Pietro asked.
“My wife taught me. Her people were Romani, I travelled with them for several years when I was much younger.”
“T-They caught her too?”
Eric didn't need to ask who 'they' were. “No.... She died several years ago.”
“Oh.” Pietro said quietly.”... Sorry...” It wasn't a conditioned response of social politeness, it was the voice of someone who had felt grief and understood it. “How did she die?”
“I don't know exactly...” Eric said softly “She left me some years before I learned of her death”
There was silence for a while. The stillness seemed to make Pietro uncomfortable, he shifted from one leg to another nervously. Eric tried to think of something to say.
“Why did she leave?” Pietro suddenly blurted out. Then his hand flew to his mouth, horrified. He expected Eric to get angry “Sorry, I-I say stuff sometimes before I think about it- ”
Eric sighed, this wasn't a memory he was keen to discuss, and ordinarily he wouldn't have indulged someone's idle curiosity. But this wasn't an ordinary situation “It's fine...It's just a long story...”
Eric wasn't overly keen to sit in silence in the dark, nor was he yet sure how to explain himself to his son, so he began talking.
“I first met my wife when we were school children... My family and I lived in Nuremberg, a town in Germany. She and her mother came to my school every day to tend the grounds.” A smile touched his lips at the memory “At nine I thought her the most beautiful person I'd ever laid eyes on...” Magda had made the draconian school and constant bullying he received as the only Jewish boy there bearable. As outsiders they'd been instantly drawn to each other and formed a firm friendship. “But soon after I met her, my family and I were forced to flee from Germany to Poland....I thought I would never see her again.” Eric paused frowning.
“What happened then? ” Pietro asked.
”Do you know about the second great war? About what Hitler did to Jews, Gypsies and many others during that time?”
Pietro nodded solemnly “My mother told me stories...they sent her and my grandparents to a camp when she was little....she used to say that she didn't believe in the devil until she was sent there... ”
Eric's jaw clenched as he glared into the darkness “The men there were far worse than the devil...” He subconsciously thumbed the numbers on his wrist. Eric had been fourteen and at the concentration camp with Shaw for several months before he made a discovery that both thrilled and terrified him-Madga was there too.
Shaw didn't live at the camp he came and went. Sometimes his absences were long, sometimes they where short. Nor Shaw didn't just believe in physical torture, he liked to diversify, and just because he couldn't be there to administer cruelty in person didn't mean Eric was to be left in peace. The Nazi's had provided lots of opportunities for the scientist to express his sadism. Shaw had made Eric a Sonderkommando. After the first month Eric wished the man had just put a bullet in his brain. During his waking hours he'd be forced to pull the bodies of men, women and children out of the gas chambers, search their teeth for gold then toss them into the incinerators which never seemed to stop burning. In his short time there, he'd seen people shot, beaten and starved to death. He'd seen his fellow workers crushed under piles of rotting bodies. When he closed his eyes to sleep he saw it all again in his dreams. He'd seen spring turn to autumn in the horrible place, and he'd decided he'd seen enough. The worse part was Eric didn't feel repulsed by it any more. He didn't feel anything full stop.
Numbness that had replaced his anger, making his powers harder to summon. Shaw seemed to be loosing interest in his emotionless plaything. Sometimes when he was being beaten Eric could summon something of his gift, but it was a pale shadow of what had occurred when his mother was killed. Amidst the grief and trauma his emotions seemed to have shut down, some sort of survival mechanism perhaps... Finally Shaw had announced he was disappointed in Eric, and hadn't been seen for weeks. Eric was working up the courage to kill himself before Shaw got back. He had a plan, he was going to bash a guard's head to a pulp with a shovel, they'd shoot him of course, but for once there'd be one less Nazi as well as one less victim. The thought of dying brought him an odd kind of peace.
“On the day I decided my life was over, I saw a pretty girl through the barb-wire fence that separated the Jewish and gypsy camp. I recognised her instantly.” Magda was still beautiful despite the gauntness and close cropped hair.... A slight smile appeared on his lips as spoke
“Seeing her, knowing that she was alive renewed my spirit and made me to determined to live... and to escape the hellish prison.” Eric said fiercely. The thought of Shaw finding out about his feelings for Magda and torturing her to get an emotional rise out of him had terrified Eric. Thoughts of escape began consume him, filling him with purpose.
“In October 1944 we planned a revolt and blew up two of the camp's crematoriums, a group of us took advantage of the confusion and escaped. We eventually made our way to Russia where we came across a gypsy caravan who took us in. Some years later we married .” Eric been careful not mention Magda's name to Pietro. For some reason he couldn't clearly identify, he didn't want the boy to find out about their connection just yet, he currently felt ill equipped to deal with the inevitable emotional fallout. Eric glanced at Pietro, the boy was listening attentively, waiting for the story to go on.
“We had a daughter...” Eric smiled, it was a rare smile for him, for a moment his features softened.
“What was her name?” Pietro chirruped.
“We called her Anya.” Eric replied without thinking, then mentally cursed himself.
“That's a pretty name, my grandmother was called Anya...”
“Yes it is.” Eric continued quickly, he didn't want Pietro connecting dots. Magda had of course named their first daughter after her maternal grandmother “I wanted to improve my family's future, so I studied hard and won a University place. We didn't have much money, so I still had to work while I attended classes. I found a job on a building site, the pay was poor and the manager was corrupt, but with a family to support I didn't have the luxury of being fussy. A while after I'd been working diligently for him, the man tried to cheat me out my wages, I lost my temper...and used my powers and to throw a crowbar at him.....It was a mistake and no one was hurt, but the other men saw....” The way they looked at him had instantly changed, their eyes had filled with fear and distrust ”I could feel their tiny superstitious minds turning against me...” Eric spat with venom.
“I took a longer walk home than usual, I wanted my anger to evaporate before I went home to my wife and child. My time with them was precious, I didn't want to mar it by being in a bad mood...it was another mistake....I should have hurried to them..” Eric's face looked haunted “When I arrived back at our home, I discovered that the building was on fire and a crowd of people had gathered around it...not helping..just watching while my home and family burned. Two men in uniforms were among them but I barely registered their presence as I rushed to rescue my wife from the flames....
Once I got her to safety, I tried to return for my daughter but the men in uniform stopped me...” They had been KGB agents sent by the manager of the building site to investigate his strange abilities. “They tried to drag me away...they told me no one wanted me or my family there...Anya was trapped four stories up...I could hear her screaming as the fire burned her...I begged them to let me go...the pain must have been so awful....in the end it overcame her... she jumped out of the window just to get away from the fire. She fell to her death right in front of me. I tried to go her... I wanted to cradle her in my arms...hold her like like I had when she was first born...Tell her I was sorry....But the men-” Eric voice filled with venom again “-they wouldn't let me. They were incapable of granting even this small mercy... ”
The anger Eric had felt in that moment, had been more powerful even than the emotion that Shaw had provoked when psychopath had killed his mother. On some subconscious level, nature prepares you to loose a parent, but there was nothing that prepared Eric for the raw torment of loosing a his child. “...I killed them all...” He'd slain close to fifty people in his rage; impaled them with metal, hung them with wires, crushed them with steel ripped from the buildings surrounding him. The narrow minded biogots had attacked him. Stopped him from rescuing his daughter, and the simpletons with their primitive superstitions had just stood and watched. She'd burnt because of their intolerance and that was unforgivable, they deserved to die. Most of their deaths had been quicker than Anya's. When he'd exhausted himself with the destruction, Eric had collapsed at Magda's feet reaching for her. Instead of coming to him, she'd recoiled.
“...What-What ARE you?!”
“Magda...I “Magda backed further away as Eric tried to stand ”Don't be afraid, PLEASE! In the concentration camp-Schimidt-he did something to me-”
A look of horror had spread across Magda's face “-He made you into a demon!” She whispered. ”...Just like them!”
“What? Magda no! He did something, but I think this power...it's always been mine...I think he..just AWAKENED it, when I get angry, metal around me moves...”
“No.” Magda was strangely calm now. It seemed she'd suddenly come to a resolution. “You sold your soul, and got this in exchange....I saw things in the camp, my mother told me I must have been dreaming but now I know wasn't. I saw Herr Schimidt talking to the devil. Schimidt had powers too...I saw him kill a guard with magic...”
“Magda, what are you talking about-?”
“I never told you what I saw...I feared you'd think me mad. ” Tears began to fall from her eyes “I'm sorry Eric. I have to protect MY soul. I have to protect..” Magda's hand went to her stomach as she trailed off. She looked at him like he was a stranger “Goodbye Eric.” Magda turned and fled. After the overuse of his powers Eric had been too weak to follow her.
Eric had never recounted the full details of his failed marriage to anyone; he had buried the memories surrounding her departure deep within his psyche to preserve his sanity. But now that he re-examined them, Magda's words finally made sense. Magda had become stronger in her faith after they'd escaped, while Eric had drifted towards atheism. He hadn't known about the existence of Azazeal until recently. Nor had he known Shaw was a mutant until last year. To a young girl raised in a highly religious Roman Catholic environment the logical conclusion was to equate the red teleporter with Satan, and Shaw's mutant powers with some kind of witchcraft.
“She was scared. That's why she ran away.” Pietro summarised for Eric as his cellmate had stopped speaking again.
“Sometimes people get scared of things that different...but then they get used to them...” Pietro's said optimistically ” Did she come back?” he asked, hopeful. The boy wanted a happy ending, something to lift his spirits perhaps. Eric could provide no such comfort with this tale and shook his head sadly.
“Oh...” Pietro said quietly
“I searched for years. I thought if I could just talk to her. Explain.” Nearly five years to be precise. Then by chance he had picked up a French magazine. In it there had been article detailing an explorer's trek through the Ukraine. The man had hurt his leg and been cared for by the nuns at a nearby convent. There was a photograph on the page of several nuns standing outside a medieval abbey. Eric had torn across several countries once he'd uncovered it's location, but instead of the serenity the photograph had depicted, he'd uncovered a scene of destruction. The abbey had been torn to the ground and what remained of the walls were riddled with bullets.
“Then I found out she was dead.” Eric learned the Soviet army had pulled down the abbey and confiscated it's land and wealth, under their “elimination of religion” policy. Some of the nuns had refused to leave the building when the demolition took place and been crushed inside. Some local farmers had tried to help; they'd been shot for their trouble. Eric had inspected the ruins and found the graveyard was the only thing that had been left undisturbed, he been holding on to the hope that Madga had wasn't one of the unfortunates...that she was alive. Then he'd spotted the grave. “Magda Lehnsherr. Beloved mother and sister.” There was no way of knowing exactly how she died. Or even if she'd passed on before the destruction of the convent. But Eric had felt all the warmth and hope bleed out of him in that moment. Happiness seemed like a distant alien emotion and something that he'd never feel ever again. At first he went into a kind of shock, the old numbness had returned to him. Then the rage came, with it he regained purpose. How was it right that the Nazis and the soldiers that had presumably killed his wife were alive and his entire family was dead? Those parasites were safe and happy, surrounded by their loved ones; while he and countless others were alone and suffering? It wasn't. The world had robbed him of two families and he would pay it back tenfold.
That night, Eric made a list of all the people who should be dead and set out to readdress the cosmic balance.
For Magda's back story, I've taken some inspiration from the comics (e.g. Magneto:Testament-which I highly recommend ) and some from my own head. I always thought the high evolutionary thing with the cow midwife was just plain dumb in the comics. It didn't add anything to Pietro and Wanda's story so it's gone from mine. Besides the movie kinda of shredded the comic-canon anyway , so I feel entitled to some artistic license here;) The facts remain more or less the same Magda's still dead and Erik still has major intimacy issues because the way she left him. In my story though she dies when the twins are a little bit older. The Sinti Romani gypsies where Roman Catholics and religion played a big part in their daily lives. It makes more sense for Magda to reject Eric based on the grounds that she thinks he's some kind devil worshipper rather than solely on the fact he's a mutant.
*There has been reference in the comic to Magneto being able to manipulate the iron in people's bloodstream. I reckon this might give a him a kind sixth sense when it comes to recognising another presence in a room with him...but only when their iron count is normal...which (due to being underweight) Pietro's is not. But I think having sixth sense scrambled would be a bit disorientating for Mags, so hence why he is unsure of himself in this paragraph
***A guard is coming, would you prefer to deal with them or me?
****A non-Romani or an outsider
Chapter 6: Twins?
Pietro tells Erik about his life in Russia and Erik learns he has a daughter.
Silence had descended on the gloomy dank cell again. Eric felt drained from reliving the memory. Pietro sat quietly a few feet away from him, unsure weather or not to speak. He sensed Eric's melancholic mood and didn't want to disturb him. Instead the boy began to fiddle with a button on Eric's coat.
Eventually the quiet was broken by sounds of movement in the corridor outside. Pietro jumped up fearfully and moved as far away from the door as possible. Eric stood in one fluid movement, like a big cat ready to attack.
More noise came from the corridor, then sounds akin to the undoing of bolts and locks. A bottom hatch in the door opened and two trays of food were slid in.
Pietro let out the breathe he'd been holding, and grinned in relief. Eric however still stood rigid and suspicious, watching the door, his body still poised for a fight. Pietro gently tugged on Eric's sleeve, the small gesture had a bigger effect on Eric than a hundred guards ever could have. Anya used to do the same thing whenever she'd wanted to get her father's attention. The emotion it trigged was so strong that the aggression vanished from him. He immediately looked down at the boy.
“It's ok...” Pietro said hastily, a little nervous under Erik's somewhat intense eye contact with him “it's just meal time....that means they're leaving us alone for a bit...” Pietro let go of the sleeve quickly and resumed his formerly greater distance from Eric. He didn't think the man would hurt him without a reason, but you should never get too close to a tiger....safer to stay just out of reach. The boy bent down and grabbed a tray.
Eric picked up one of the food trays and prodded at the contents; it was a fairly unappetizing combination of stale bread and a meaty block of something Eric couldn't quite identify, but it reminded him of dog food.
“Can I have it if you're not hungry?” Pietro asked with a through a mouth full of bread. He'd already cleared his own tray. The thought of his son eating the atrocious food revolted Eric, but he wasn't naïve to effect that starvation had on people. There had been many times in his own youth that he would have killed for less. Hunger and pain often burned away reason and pride. He resolved to spoil the boy rotten with whatever food he liked when they finally escaped, but for now he could only offer what he was holding.
“If you like.” Eric gave the tray to Pietro, who brightened immediately and started cramming the other piece bread into his mouth.
“Thanff youf ....?...ummfff?WhafISfyounamff?” Pietro asked with a mouth full of food.
Eric bent down to Pietro's level an amused smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “A gentleman should never speak with his mouth full.” Eric admonished.“It's bad manners. In addition, no one can understand a word you're saying.”
“Sorry.” Pietro swallowed the bread “I said: what's your name?”
“It's...” Eric paused as he discovered he wasn't sure how to introduce himself to Pietro. There was something uncomfortable with “Magneto”, it felt too far formal for his son, it was the name for a commander, a revolutionary and a warrior...but not a father. Papa-as Anya had called him- was completely out of the question for now...maybe forever....but he pushed that train of thought away for the moment. He realised Pietro was giving him an odd look.
“What's wrong?” Pietro interrupted with his nose wrinkled in confusion “Don't you know your own name?”
“Of course.” Eric replied, a slightly terse quality to his voice, for seven the boy was a tad too impudent, but he would it slide for now “...the problem is I have several. Two I chose. One my parents gave me. I'm trying to decide the most appropriate one to give you...” Pietro considered the problem, a thoughtful look on his face.
“Well... how about the one you like best? That's what your friends call you right?”
Pietro had again unwittingly formulated another rather complex question for Erik to answer, firstly amongst his many acquaintances, he only counted two people as friends, and perhaps even that was pushing the definition. Raven and Charles both called him Erik. Though he liked Magneto best, it suited a different role, one that he wasn't keen on assuming with Pietro, at least not quite yet. His parents had given him the name Max, but he hadn't used it in so long that it felt alien to him now.
“Not always....but how about you call me Erik for now?”
The boy stuck his hand out to shake “I'm Pietro. Pietro Maximoff” Erik thought the child seemed a little more comfortable with having him in closer proximity since he'd donated his meal.
Erik took Pietro's hand and shook it with a nod.
“Maximoff is an interesting name” Eric said. Although what he actually meant was that he was interested in where his son acquired it. It wasn't Magda's, not in life nor in death – the name he had seen on grave was Magda Lensherr. Lensherr had been Magda's maiden name, he had adopted it in order to fit in better with the Romani community they were travelling with when they where married. His own parents had changed their surname several times whist fleeing from the Nazis, and so he felt no great attachment to “Eisenhardt” his own last name.
“It is? It's not really mine...”
“No? Who's is it then?”
“It's...” Pietro paused as though he was solving a difficult maths problem “...It's kinda complexcated..”
“Complicated.” Eric corrected, he smiled in what he hoped was a reassuring fashion, it was the benign charming smile he had used when introducing himself to the Nazis he'd killed in south America shortly before he met Charles. As sad as it was, that was the best reference his mind could presently source for appearing non threatening. Eric felt woefully out of practice at parenting, but he desperately wanted his son to trust him enough to reveal history. “I like complicated stories..” he said gently ”I'd very much like to hear yours”
“Well...people usually get their last name from their father...but I don't have a father....I mean I do...'cause everyone does...but I never met him...My mamochka[Russian for mom] said she couldn't stay with mine because he was dangerous....” Pietro explained.
“I see.” Eric said, his face unreadable “Did she say why he was dangerous?”
Pietro scratched his head “No...all she said was that he wasn't a bad person, but he turned his back on God and did something really really bad. Something that he could never fix...and she couldn't stay with him any more because God wouldn't be pleased with her.....” Pietro looked at his feet “We used to try not ask too many questions about our father, because it made mamochka sad.. ”
Eric swallowed. It saddened him that Magda thought he was dangerous, but it was a point he found hard to argue with. Maybe she had been right to leave, even if it was for incorrect reasons. It was the unveiling of his powers that led to the death of their daughter after all. The KGB had continued to hound him for another year after the fire, pursuing him across the Soviet Union, eventually he had shaken them off in western Europe, but he was fairly certain they still had an open file on him, especially after all of the Brotherhood's recent shenanigans. At least Magda hadn't portrayed him as a complete monster to his son. Something occurred to Erik then, Pietro had used the pural we , in his sentence not the singular I .
“You have other brothers and sisters? ” Eric asked unable to keep the surprise out of his voice.
“I have a twin sister. Her name is Wanda.”
“Really?” Eric smiled so widely he almost laughed.
“Yeah...” Pietro looked at him suspiciously “What's so funny?”
“Nothing, forgive my interruption.” Erik said quickly composing himself, and regaining his stoical look “Please continue”
“Where was I? Oh yeah....My mamochka became a nun after she left our father. She used to say that as a bride of God she didn't need a last name, and we didn't need one either...and we should think of God as our true father. ”
Eric tried his best to hide an involuntary scowl. He didn't have anything against religion, but he couldn't help with feeling irked at the terminology Magda had used. She'd obviously confessed her last name to someone in the convent though, because it had been engraved on her tombstone. Or perhaps they'd just found it on her personal papers after she'd died...
“You and your sister, both grew up in a convent?” Eric asked
“Yeah, when I was born Sister Alisa - the mother superior, said that boys weren't normally allowed there, but since I was only little and she really liked our mamochka she made an exception. But when I turned four she told mama that she'd have to find a farmer family close by to foster me.
Django and Marya Maximoff lived three miles away from mamochka's convent and they couldn't have any children, so I went to live with them. Django was a Romani who'd settled in the village when he married Marya, so he was happy when he learned we were Romani as well. I had to work really hard on the farm, but they were nice people and I still got to visit Mamochka and Wanda when we went to church.”
Erik was glad to learn that the earlier part of his children's lives had been happy and relatively peaceful, but from the fragments of knowledge he'd gained about Magda's fate, he already knew that, like his own tale, his son's would have a tragic ending.
“But you don't live with the Maximoffs anymore?”
Pietro's lower lip trembled and he looked at the floor. “No...”
“What happened?” Erik asked gently.
“One day Mamochka came to visit us at the farm. I was at the house doing chores; Djanjo was in the field and Mayra had gone into town. Mamochka had brought Wanda with her, at first I was really excited that they'd come to visit me...but then I saw that Wanda had been crying.
Mamochka said that the government were sending soldiers to destroy God's house and it was her destiny to stop them. She said that Wanda was going to stay at the farm with me for awhile, and no matter happened tomorrow, I had to promise to take care of my sister and be a good son to Djanjo....Then she kissed us both and left... At the time, I didn't really understand why she made me promise that...When she left, Wanda started crying again and wouldn't talk to me. When Djanjo returned home from working in the field, I told him what had Mamochka had said. He said a couple of bad words, then left for Mamochka's church with his gun.
I wanted to go with him, but he said me and Wanda had to stay at home and wait for Mayra. Later, at night we heard heard shots in the distance ....”
Erik could guess what the shots had been.
“Django didn't return home until the next morning...he was limping and blood was dripping down his leg..."
As Eric listened the cold feeling began creeping it's way through his stomach again. It was odd how he could still feel horror even though he already knew his wife's fate. What was it that attracted him to martyrs?
Pietro swallowed hard
"He told us that the soldiers had killed our mother. I didn't believe him....I ran out of the house....even though I could hear everyone yelling after me....I ran all the way to Mamochka's church...
But it when I got there it wasn't a church any more...it was just a pile of rocks...the soldiers were still there, but I didn't care. I rushed around yelling and looking for her..one of the soldiers grabbed me and started yelling"
“You're tresspassing boy, this place is off limits to proletariat-it's now property of the state!” The soldier had barked while giving Pietro a rough shove away from the demolished abbey.
“My mother lives here! You're the ones who are trespassing!” Pietro shot back.
“Nobody lives in there. Not now anyway....piss off brat!” The soldier replied. Something drew Pietro's eyes away from the solider to around fifteen metres beyond them.
“I saw another soldier who had more medals pinned to his chest than anyone else. “
The commander was leaning against a truck holding a small wooden chest. Pietro's temper flared.
“He'd taken Mamochka's jewellery box”
The commander opened the box and rifled through it's contents. Apart from a silver chain, the box held nothing of value. The commander pocketed the piece of jewellery and then noticed some identity documents lying at the bottom. He picked one out and studied it.
“Magda Lensherr...” he read “Lensherr where have I heard that name before....” He mused to himself, rolling the name around his tongue. Then he remembered, there had been reports of a man named Lensherr, who was wanted in connection with several unexplained deaths in Vinnytsia.
“THAT'S MY MOTHER'S!” Pietro yelled, slipping past the first soldier and rushing towards the commander. The boy collided with the other man and beat his fists against him in a rage “YOU STOLE IT! GIVE IT BACK!” The commander gave Pietro a swift hard kick in the stomach with his steel toed boot and the boy's body crumpled to the ground winded. Tears stung at Pietro's eyes.
“Sorry Comrade Rossovich! The brat moved so fast-” The first solider apologised as he came running up to them.
“Quite alright Comrade” Rossovich answered coldly bending down next to Pietro, who was still lying on the floor in agony. “The boy just wants to see his mother...well...” Rossovich reached down and grabbed a fistful of white hair, and using his hold to haul Pietro painfully to his feet. “..it just so happens, I'd like to see her too..”
Rossovich pulled Pietro to the graveyard by his hair. There were several bodies piled on the grass. Pietro didn't want to look, but Rossovich jerked the boy's head upwards.
“So, which one of the stubborn bitches is she? Hmmm boy?”
Pietro recognised her at once. Though the crushed dead broken thing in front of him barely resembled his beautiful mother, his eyes managed to differentiate her from the pile immediately.
“So this is the one...Comrade, put that body in the truck.” Rossovich barked at the other soldier ”We are taking it to Moscow, I believe the Kremlin will be very interested in dissecting her. The boy is coming with us too, the ESP program will be thrilled to have another live test subject...I sense a promotion for us both! ”
“Yes Comrade!” The soldier saluted enthusiastically, then hurried off to get the truck.
Pietro didn't understand all the words that had been used, but didn't like the tone of the commander. Rossovich had talked about him and his mother the way people usually talked about livestock, and besides he couldn't let himself be taken to Moscow-he had to stay here and look after Wanda, he'd promised....
The commander's pistol sat in it's holster.
“I grabbed his gun. Shut my eyes and fired.....The bullet hit him in the foot.”
Rossovich had rolled on the ground clutching his wounded appendage, then turned to Pietro his face a mask of murderous rage. “You little piece of filth! I'm going make you wish you died like your mother!”
Pietro had staggered backwards, the reality and impending consequences of his actions shocking him.
“The other soldiers heard the shot and started rushing towards us. I-I didn't know what to do...so I pointed the gun at them and fired again....I didn't look.........I just fired until the gun was empty....then I threw it away and ran as fast I could.
I ran into the woods behind the abbey and hid there until the sun went down. I heard the soldiers searching, but they didn't know the woods like I did...and after a while they gave up. I thought they'd left our village...so I walked back to the farm hoping Djanjo wouldn't be too angry at me...”
By the time Pietro had reached the farm house the sky was inky black and the night was filled with the sounds of nocturnal creatures. Physically and emotionally exhausted, the boy quietly pushed open the wooden door on the small rustic dwelling. Hopefully the rest of his family would be asleep and that would give him until morning to think of an explanation that would pacify Djanjo and Mayra.
“It was dark in the main room...but I didn't really need any light to make it to my bed. I took off my boots and crossed the floor...then I trod in something wet and sticky...and I heard him....” Pietro paled and looked like he was going to vomit.
“H-He'd killed Djanjo....he wanted to kill us all!”
“Hello Pietro, it's very late for a little boy to be out all by himself.” Rossovich's voice came out of the darkness, as an oil lamp flared to life illuminating a grisly scene before him. Djanjo was lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood, his eyes gazing lifelessly up at the celling. In far corner of the room, Rossovich sat in his foster father's rocking chair holding a pistol to the back of Mayra's head, who was kneeling in front of him along with Wanda.
“But I think I won our little game of hide and seek, no? ” Rossovich smiled. It was chilling. “I have another game I like to play. Shall I tell you the rules?”
Pietro didn't answer. He'd been too scared to say anything. Too scared to move. Wanda sobbed quietly.
“It's called Roulette.” Rossovich continued “The French invented it, but we Russians like to add some excitement to our games. So while the French like to play with dice and wheel, over here we play with a gun.” He flicked open the chamber of his gun and let several bullets fall to the floor. Then he rapidly shut it again, spun the cylinder, pointed the gun at Wanda and fired.
“No!” Pietro screamed. But the gun clicked harmlessly, the chamber empty. Rossovich laughed.
“You see how the game works? Your sister has won the first round.” He spun the cylinder again, and this time pointed it at a terrified Mayra. It clicked harmlessly once more. Pietro was shaking and Wanda was sobbing loudly now. “You really should have just been a good little boy and come quietly with me to Moscow. A live subject is worth more than a dead one, but probably not by much.”
“He pointed his gun at my head. I shut my eyes tight....I heard a loud bang and felt a flash of light... I was sure I was dead....but....”
Pietro had heard Rossovich screaming.
“When I opened my eyes, Rossovich was on fire...I think the oil lamp must have exploded....”
Rossovich was flailing erratically in a desperate attempt to put the fire out, which ironically only gave the flames more oxygen, soon they'd engulfed the furniture around him. Wanda stared at the burning man, seemingly locked in a trance.
“Wanda!” Pietro shouted running over and shaking his sister. She looked at him and blinked a couple of times as though she'd been disturbed from a deep sleep.
“Children! We must go!” Mayra shouted.
“Mayra grabbed both of us by the arm and pulled us out the house...”
The trio had fled into the night leaving Rossovich screaming on the floor, trapped in the burning building behind them.
"We didn't stop moving until sunset the next day.... Mayra said couldn't we return to the village or Djanjo's farm. If the army ever found what had happened to Rossovich, they'd put us on trial and it wouldn't be a fair one...” Pietro said sadly. “She said our best hope was to start again somewhere new. Her uncle worked on a dock on the coast. He managed to smuggle us on board a freighter headed for America...
The night before we were due to dock in New York something happened on board the ship....I still don't know what...but it was bad and the ship started filling with water, we started to sink. Everyone was running around shouting and screaming...and I was really scared because I can't swim...nor could Wanda...I don't really remember too much of what happened after that...only being up to my neck in cold water....then waking up in hospital a week later...
I kept asking about my sister and Mayra, but all the grown ups just kept looking at me and nodding with these stupid smiles on their faces...like I was some kind of idiot..."Pietro scowled at the memory "I knew more languages than they did..." the boy sniffed then and blinked rapidly a few times "just...just not the one I needed to make them understand.. " he began to tear up in frustration.
"You couldn't speak any English and they made no attempt find someone who knew Russian.." Erik concluded sympathetically.
Eric fished a handkerchief from his pocket an moved to give it to Pietro, but the boy moved away, quickly wiping his face with his sleeve to remove any evidence of tears.
"I'm NOT crying." He sniffed defensively as though Erik had accused him. "I never cry......Something just got in my eye..."
"Of course." Erik agreed, taking pity on the boy's pride. Part of him wanted to comfort Pietro, but his intellect told him the boy would not react at all well to his touch. If his son wasn't comfortable accepting a handkerchief, Erik knew Pietro would not allow him put arm around his shoulders. The boy turned his back to Erik and continued to wipe his eyes.
"Did you eventually find out? What happened to Wanda and Mayra...you speak English well enough now...I take it you asked again?"
"Of course!" Pietro spun spun around and snapped angrily. Erik had not meant it as an accusation. He thought, his tone had been curious, with no hint of blame. But Pietro exploded "They never tell you anything! They all act like you're stupid and they think they know everything! They say they're doing it for your own good but they're not! They don't care! " Pietro kicked the bucket clear across the cell in anger. "Nobody cares! 'Sit down Pietro, shut up Pietro, don't ask stupid questions Pietro'!” Angry tears spilled over his cheeks, he stood staring a the floor, shaking with his hands in fists, tension making his small body rigid.
Erik knew Pietro's sudden rage for what it was : raw pain. The same urge had crawled his skin often enough. Pietro didn't have to explain his tirade any further for Erik to understand the frustrations that he must encountered when dealing with foster parents or social services. The authorities obviously would not believe reuniting a child with an illegal immigrant to be a good idea, and separating siblings probably made them easier to place. He moved closer to Pietro and risked putting a hand on his shoulder.
“The people who said those things to you -they're insects. They are nothing.” Erik whispered fiercely. “You should not let their words affect you .”
Pietro looked at him in and blinked, water still filling his eyes. “..I never stopped looking for Wanda or Mayra....” he sniffed “I'd never break my promise..I just...I just have to get out of here..then I can start looking again...” Pietro wiped away more tears his shoulders slumping. “...but I don't know how...”
Erik placed his other hand on Pietro's opposite shoulder and turned the boy to him gently.
“I'm going to get us both out of this place, don't worry. Then I'm going to help you find your sister.”
Pietro blinked at him in surprise. No one had ever offered to help him track down Wanda before.
“You know a way out of here?” Pietro asked hopefully.
“In a sense. If we can stay out of trouble for a few more hours, we'll be dining on steak and caviar for supper.”
Pietro had been about to ask what caviar was, but the door to the cell suddenly opened. Light rushed in, blinding it's two occupants. When his eye's adjusted, Erik saw Dr Goldberg and two guards armed with cattle prods standing in the doorway. Erik mentally cursed, he had been too preoccupied with Pietro to sense their approach. Pulling the boy behind him protectively, he drew himself to his full height and faced them.
“Mr Magneto...I would very much appreciate it if you would accompany us.” Goldberg said.
A bit of dramatic license is being taken with the Soviets here. There's actually no record of them doing anything like this in the post Stalin era. But *shrug* it makes for good drama no ;) and it's only a couple decades out, and Rossovich is supposed to be a psychopath, and they often act independently of any orders from the government.
Pietro's mutant powers have not fully emerged yet at the time of the flashback. But has the stamina and reflexes of a gifted athlete of a similar age.
Chapter 8: Jailbreak
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Erik gave Goldberg an icy stare.
"I didn't think you'd be in such a hurry to see me again." He stated lacing each word with obvious displeasure "This is quite the SURPRISE..." he finished slowly barely disguising his double meaning.
" I apologize for the intrusion Mr Magneto. But I'm afraid it was unavoidable.." Goldberg replied. One of the guards snorted.
"Oh yeah, we're terribly sorry for detaining you Mr mutie, Sir" the other guard laughed at his
colleague’s joke. "Want me to stick a prod this one's uppity ass Doc?"
"I don't believe that will be necessary Stephan." Goldberg said giving the guard a sharp look.
"Mr Magneto?" She stepped aside and motioned at the open door, inviting him to walk through of his own accord.
Erik scowled at the guards. He was dying to release some of his pent up frustration, but Erik knew there was little point in starting a fight that he could not win. He felt Pietro shift nervously behind him, when Erik glanced down, the child looked back him with big blue-green eyes filled with fear.
"I'll be back soon." Erik whispered to him in Romani. Then walked out of the cell glowering at Goldberg.
The guards escorted Erik and the doctor down a series of corridors and down a flight of stairs. Eventually they reached a pair of double steel doors which opened into a large laboratory.
"Over there." One of the guards said gruffly, prodding Erik in the back and gesturing in the direction of what appeared to be a dentist chair with some less than wholesome modifications. The most sinister being the iron chains and leather straps, Erik had no intention of letting anyone restrain him with them. Something of the thought must have shown in his face, because Goldberg stepped forward.
"Thank you Stephan, Graham. You both may go now." she nodded to each of the guards in turn.
"Are you sure you want to leave this mutie unstrapped Doc? He looks like trouble...."
"I will be fine. I need him cognitive for the tests and I have my own protection. If you wouldn't mind taking a seat Mr Magneto..."
The guards casts doubtful glances at one another but obeyed the doctor and left the laboratory. Erik still stared coolly at Goldberg, but without the same homicidal intensity he had telegraphed in the the cell. He sat down. Goldberg turned on a computer terminal next to the chair and began fiddling with the dials.
"You said I'd have twenty-four hours-" Erik hissed, Goldberg cut him off.
"-Which was what I believed at the time. It appears though, that your reputation has preceded you and you have attracted some special attention..."
“Meaning...I would keep my voice down Mr Magneto. We are being watched.” Goldberg whispered.
Erik looked at the far wall, which was entirely composed of a large mirror. He suspected that it was of the two-way variety.
“Let me guess...the audience wants the monkey to perform? ”
"In a manner of speaking..."
"That's going to be somewhat difficult without my powers isn't it?"
"I have been ordered to remedy that..."
Goldberg gestured towards a syringe lying on the table next to the monitor. "Ordinarily this antidote is used to briefly restore a subject's mutant abilities for observation purposes....But you have already ingested a significantly high amount of the antidote contained in the pills you swallowed earlier. Another dose might have unpredictable side effects- " Goldberg explained.
"-Ignorance is bliss doctor. I'd rather not know all the gruesome possibilities of your drug."
"I believe in informed consent Mr Magneto"
Erik nearly burst out laughing.
"But of course you do. That's why you work here(!)" Erik whispered sarcastically.
"No..." Goldberg replied looking very tired " That's why I want destroy this place. The things I do here, the things WE do here, they're a corruption of my medical training and my hippocratic oath..." She looked down " They are disgusting and I am deeply ashamed of them"
"Then why did you start working for Omega?" Erik asked his eyes narrowing in suspicion and no small amount of confusion.
"My only child, a daughter, was a mutant. When she was twelve she started growing green scales all over her body. I was born and raised in Germany, and in the early days of the Riech the Nazi's took away my husband simply for having different opinions on politics and 'wrong' religion. If they believed people from a different continent were subhuman, the conclusions they would draw about my daughter terrified me.... We left Germany as soon we were able to, and settled Estonia and I found work at a local hospital. But by the time my daughter was eighteen the scales covered her entirely...she hated herself. She was a prisoner in her own home, unable to go out in public through fear of what others might do to her. I wanted so badly to help her. I used my medical and biological training to develop a compound that would suppress the physical manifestations caused by the x-gene. Somehow the Soviets learned of my research and offered to fund me, on the condition that I moved my research to their Omega laboratories. Omega had access to some very advanced bioengineering technology, the speed of my research increased exponentially and I soon had a breakthrough.
Several months later I thought I had discovered a cure..."
"Your daughter wasn't sick" Erik hissed harshly "Not in body at any rate. " to him it was yet another case of Sapien Society poisoning a mutant's mind by planting and nurturing the seeds of self loathing.
"I know that now." Goldberg replied, her voice heavy with regret and guilt. "She was perfect and as she was. I only wish I had put my energy into convincing her of that, instead of consuming myself with finding a cure...but I just wanted to her to have happy normal life"
Erik's distaste showed on his face.
"Normal is a relative term. It's your poison that's pumped through the air ducts, isn't it? The compound that robs mutants of their abilities, you developed it-that's your 'cure'?" Erik accused.
Goldberg nodded solemnly. "Yes"
"And your daughter?"
Erik looked at Goldberg shock flashing across his usually stoic features.
"In the early days, the compound was quite unstable. Her body became rapidly immune to the drug and the scales grew back. She kept asking for stronger more frequent doses...There seemed to be no side effects at first so I agreed.....But then almost over night her body reacted badly to it. " Goldberg turned her head from him her jaw tense "I will not go into detail Mr Magneto, but her death was ...not painless or peaceful...She was in agony for weeks before she begged me to end her life....You need not look at me like that... The state that she was in could not be called living. Overexposure to the dampening compound causes loss of motor neutron function, haemorrhaging and rapid malignant cell growth "
"Tumours..." Erik muttered, more to himself than Goldberg "the drug gives you cancer and paralysis....then internal bleeding"
"Only at extremely high doses.....or extended exposure....we are talking years Mr Magneto, you need not be too alarmed"
Erik studied Goldberg for a moment. Then an obvious truth occurred to him. "You're dying. You've been exposed to the drug too long yourself." He said. "That's why you're helping Xavier; save a few, you'll be forgiven the damage you've done to many?"
Goldberg smiled bitterly "You sound cynical Mr Magneto. Does that seem cliché to you? That I am sinner seeking redemption... "
Erik's looked back at her, his expression stony "Forgiveness difficult for the dead to grant..."
"I said I was seeking redemption Mr Magneto, not forgiveness. Forgiveness is not something I feel have a right to ask for...." Goldberg said quietly "Or perhaps I seek to convince myself I am not a complete monster. " she said bitterly. “Also you would now understand, I think, the desire to save a child?”
“...and what it is to loose one.” Erik said. Goldberg looked surprised at this, Charles has never scanned my mind deeply enough to touch on Anya then, Erik thought, Or perhaps he has simply not shared this information with Goldberg. Neither possibility would really surprise him, he'd somewhat suppressed those memories and Shaw had dominated his thoughts when he and Xavier had first met. “It's no accident I ended up in the same cell as Pietro is it? Charles told you.”
“Yes. But please do not be angry at him, for revealing your relationship to the boy. He -and I- sought only to aide you”
Erik frowned, he guarded his secrets fiercely, but...
“I'm not angry.” He said after a moment. “I would not have been able to locate Pietro by myself. Nor even have known of his existence had it not been for Charles, I'm grateful for that.” His son might have died in this awful floating prison if not for Goldberg and Xavier. Whatever else he thought of Goldberg's work, he couldn't deny that she had helped him. “So you will not give me the antidote against my will...But what will you do if I do not consent to this injection Doctor? ”
“I will face the consequences from my superiors ”
“Noble gesture Doctor, but ultimately a useless one.” Erik said rolling his eyes, was he the only person in this game thinking more than two moves ahead? “They will kill you and then inject me with the solution anyway, though I suppose your conscience would be clean.” ...no wonder she got along so well with Charles...
“You have another suggestion Mr Magneto?”
“What are the likely side effects of overdosing on the antidote?”
“I thought you didn't want to know?”
“I've changed my mind.”
“Diarrhoea, migraines, brain haemorrhaging and death are the most serious” Goldberg answered “Although some subjects only exhibit one or two minor side effects and others do not show any ill effects at all.”
“Well....They say fortune favours the brave. ” Erik said after a moment's consideration. He sighed, rolled up his sleeve and let Goldberg slide the needle into his vein. At first he felt a burning heat move through his arm as the clear substance flowed into his body. Then suddenly his senses sharpened. Erik instinctively knew his powers were back, but there was more, they felt amplified...he could sense things in ways he couldn't previously...he could feel whole body of the ship, not just the outer shell, nor just as a mass of metal...but the moving cogs in the machinery...the energy given off by the engines...the clicks of the guards' boots. And also a buzz behind all of that...a magnetic field... flowing around the ship. Was that what was causing Charles' psychic block? Einstein would have us all believe that everything composed of energy after all...Erik thought. Thoughts were just another instance of electromagnetic energy....He'd thought his powers were limited to the macro manipulation of metal....but the fact that he could sense this field at all opened up a whole realm of possibilities...perhaps he didn't even need a helmet to block telepaths*... An almost drunken grin formed on Erik's face as the feeling of power washed over him.
“Are you feeling alright Mr Magneto?” Goldberg asked with concern. Erik's pupils were dilated and he looked intoxicated.
“How long does this last?” Erik asked, more loudly than he'd intended to, slightly slurring his words as he dragged his focus back to Goldberg.
“It takes five minutes for your abilities to fully return and you will only have use of them for sixty seconds” but it wasn't Goldberg's voice that answered him, it was male voice with a heavy Russian accent which crackled over a loudspeaker “So I strongly advise you don't do anything you may later regret...Mr Lensherr” The mirror-wall began to side upwards, revealing a tall well built man in uniform. As he stepped out of the shadowy hidden room and into the light, Erik found himself staring at the pallor of the man's skin. Despite having the physique of a body builder he was a sickly shade of off-white. In addition Erik was sensing an unnatural amount of metal in him. He looked the uniformed man up and down.
“You have me at a disadvantage...you know my name but I do not know yours Mr....?” Erik enquired. The man smirked at Erik's boldness, and inclined his head in a slight bow.
“Rossovich. Commander Arkady Rossovich. Though much like yourself, I now prefer to got by my alias: Omega Red...I must say it makes a nice change for me to introduce myself like an officer and a gentleman should, Mr Lensherr- or should I say Magneto? Most of our...guests...behave quite uncouthly upon meeting me.”
Erik's mind was cast back to the name in Pietro's story. Surely it was too much of a coincidence that someone of the same name could be in front of him now?
“Predators are always courteous to one another when they first meet.” Erik replied smiling his cat like tight lipped smile that wasn't really a smile at all, but the expression an emotion much more sinister and primal. If he had licked his lips, Erik would have resembled a tiger ready to go hunting.
“I think I like you Magneto” Rossovich said laughing. “We might have gotten along, if it wasn't for that unfortunate mistake in your genetic code.”
Erik was going to enjoy killing this man. “You seem to know a lot about me, I'm flattered.”
“Your exploits eight years ago in Vinnytsia were of great interest to the Kremlin and the invisible grapevines of Europe are abuzz with news of a new mercenary faction – 'The Brotherhood' supposedly led by a mutant with similar abilities to those previously exhibited by Erik Lensherr....well it wasn't hard for us to put two and two together....” Rossovich paused for effect, looking for some reaction from Erik who still watched with the same strange smile on his face, he was beginning to feel sightly unsettled. “All the reports on you state you are a highly dangerous man” Rossovich continued dropping his charming façade “Well so am I.” Erik still sat unmoving, smiling, his eyes like a cat watching a goldfish in a bowl. Rossovich suddenly felt irritated, he wasn't used to people being so non-pulsed by his presence, let alone amused. He stepped forward, hoping to make Erik nervous, or at least wipe that annoying smile from his face. Rossovich was much bulkier than Erik, though only a little taller, he stared down scornfully. “Do you find something funny Mr Lensherr? ”
“Just you.” was Erik's clipped reply. Rossovich's upper lip curled into a snarl. He leaned in so close that Erik could smell his breath.
“I know things about your life that you don't even know Mr Lensherr. ”
“Really?” Erik asked in a dangerous whisper “and just what is it you think you know?”
“I know that you had a wife ...you were searching for her...I know where she is...if you're cooperative I might tell you-urk!”
Rossovich's sentence ended abruptly as Erik mentally tugged on the metal he had sensed in the other man's body. The Russian's frame levitated, the magnetic pull forcing his arms away from his body like he'd been crucified on an invisible cross.
“My wife is dead. You killed her. Or men following your orders did.” Erik said coldly slowly circling the paralysed Rossovich. “Then you tried to kill my son and daughter. Is that what you were going to share with me in exchange for my cooperation?”
“You're a fool Magneto! You and I could have done a deal! But now I will have to kill you. The antidote does not usually work this fast..but make no mistake, it's effects will wear of in few seconds then you will be begging me for mercy!” Rossovich spat with fury.
“No....” Goldberg said. The eyes of both men turned to her, they had forgotten her presence in the room “I believe Mr Magneto will find himself fully in command of his powers for sometime time....in fact, I'm theorizing he is even finding them somewhat enhanced?”
Eric grinned now. It was the feral wolfish grin, and it made Rossovich's eyes widen in panic, he didn't keep his eyes on Erik for long however, because they, like the rest of him went hurtling across the room with the slightest of gestures from the master of magnetism.
“You bitch!” Rossovich screamed at Goldberg “You gave him something else! You'll pay for your betrayal” The Russian pulled a pistol from his jacket and fired a round at Goldberg and Erik. The air around the pair rippled like water and the bullets stopped in mid air, Erik hadn't even moved, he hadn't even thought, he hadn't need to. Usually he had to think about the bullets as separate entities, and make a gesture to deflect each one individually, but Goldberg's drug had released something in his subconscious, somehow blurring the boundaries between himself and rest of the universe, he was generating a shield that felt stronger than anything he had manifested before and he had done it purely as a reflex. Somewhat mesmerized by this new development in his abilities, Erik reached forward and flicked flicked the edges of the new spherical force field that encased both him and the doctor with his finger tips, blue sparks of energy flickered from his hand and he inhaled sharply in surprise staring at his own hand. If he could generate an energy field to shield himself, could he also generate an offensive electromagnetic pulse? And if he could, would it be strong enough to stop a person?
“Guards, shoot them!” Rossovich shouted. Erik's head swivelled to the opening double doors as more bullets embedded themselves in his shield. Rossovich had pushed an alarm while Erik had been analysing his new natural arsenal. Several guards rushed through and started shooting.
“No you fools! He can stop the bullets!” Rossovich bellowed “Use the grenades!”
Erik decided that this was an opportune moment to conduct an experiment. He made a fist and concentrated on gathering a pool of energy at it's centre. When he felt a burning heat in his palm he threw the energy in the direction of the guards, a beam of white-blue light shot from his body temporarily blinding everyone before it collided with the men running towards him. The light quickly dissipated leaving a behind the scent of smouldering flesh, and two fallen guards. The remaining men had halted in shock. Erik grinned.
Pietro pressed his ear up against the cell door. Something was definitely happening. Earlier he'd heard what sounded like an explosion. Now he could hear the heavy boots of the guards running in the corridor outside. He had caught some muffled words through the door: “Backup” “Escaped” “Medical attention” “Bring the tranquillizer guns”. While the boy was trying figure out what this all meant, the bolt on his cell door suddenly slid open with a loud clunk. Pietro jumped back startled by the sound, and a second later the heavy door swung open. Pietro retreated to the back of the cell out of habit, expecting to see a guard come in. However the doorway was empty, like the door had simply swung open of it's own accord...
After he recovered from his surprise, Pietro moved forward cautiously stuck his head through the open door peeping down the corridor, a group of guards were staring about themselves in bewilderment, and Pietro soon realised why. It wasn't just his cell door that had opened - it was all of them. The captive mutants were emerging from their cells and flowing out into the corridor, some giving the outnumbered guards menacing looks.
"What the f***?! Who opened these doors? Get back in your cells freaks!" One of the guards snarled, turning his tazer on the nearest mutant. It was an ill conceived idea. A ripple of tension went through the crowd of former captives and one of the larger mutants grabbed the the guard that had shocked his cell mate, throwing him against a wall and knocking him unconscious. The other mutants immediately followed suit, and a riot soon broke out in the corridor. Pietro was trying to decide between hiding in his cell until the fighting had calmed down and making a dash for the top deck, when over the sound of smashed skulls, gun fire and broken bones he heard a familiar voice over the intercom that chilled him to the bone.
"Code Red! Code Red! All guards to laboratory one!” A thick Russian accent shouted ”Subject 03553 , Erik Lensherr has repowered! All-" Rossovich's panicked voice stopped abruptly as all the speakers in the corridor exploded in unison.
Pietro stared up at the remains of a speaker, his body frozen in place. Could it really be the same man that killed Django? He didn't think anyone could have survived that fire...But he could never mistake that voice...and what was that had he said about Erik?
*In the comics Magneto doesn't need his helmet to block telepathic attacks. Want to know more? Go here: http://www.magnetowasright.com/pages/misc/faq.php
Chapter 9: No Quater Given
"In a warrior's soul there's no surrender. His body cries stop, but his spirit cries never." -Burning Heart by Survivor*
Pietro was slowly picking his way through the chaos in the corridor to the nearest stair well, dodging the fighting guards and mutants. He had been taken to Laboratory One several times before and was fairly sure he could find his way there again. It had occurred to Pietro that perhaps he should be heading AWAY from Erik who by all accounts was at the epicentre of the chaos, and instead be putting his efforts into trying to get above deck towards freedom. But Pietro saw several flaws in that plan, the reinforcements for the guards seemed to be coming from the floor above, maybe even from the deck itself. Pietro reasoned his chances of being recaptured were depressingly high if he went that way, especially alone. And what would he do once he was on deck? He still couldn't swim...On the other hand if Erik had somehow managed to get his powers back, open all the cell doors and hold off several waves of guards, tagging along beside the man didn't seem like a bad plan at all.
Pietro knew it was stupid put so much faith into someone he'd only just met, but there was something strangely honest Erik's demeanour, he didn't sugar coat things. Many adults had promised him things in the past, all of them using that patronising tone one used with lesser beings: that he'd be safe, that he'd be happy, that they were looking out for him...that everything would be alright if he just did this or that...They weren't promises really, but bargains, if he cooperated with them and didn't cause too much trouble they'd deliver on some fuzzy ill defined idea. However Erik struck Pietro as a man that had no need for false promises and very seldom bothered to lie. If he really wanted something, he'd likely just take it. There would be no need for niceties and he certainly didn't trouble himself with conforming to other people's expectations.
Erik emitted a dark aura of power, and even had a slight touch of madness about him. In short in Pietro's mind Erik was a badass mofo, and for a streetwise seven year old that elevated the man to role model status. But if all that wasn't enough, there was the fact that despite Erik's fierceness he had not seemed cruel to Pietro. He had given up his jacket and his food, as well as offered to help Pietro find Wanda without asking for anything in return; he had not physically hurt Pietro even though he had drawn Erik's blood twice, and Pietro knew from bitter experience it took a lot less than that to push some adults to violence. With all this mind, Pietro had decided that where ever Erik was, well, that was the place to be.
Pietro arrived at the corridor which lead to Laboratory One fairly quickly and without incident. From the end of the hallway he could see that the double doors were jammed open with debris and the fallen bodies of several guards. Beyond them Pietro could see flashes of light and hear the sounds of a battle. The corridor was dark, and seconds ago a calm computerised voice had announced that:
"The main generator is offline. Engine failure has occurred. Switching to backup power reserve"
Now the dim backup lighting was flickering on and off unconvincingly. Pietro felt his way along the wall to the double doors then gasped as he peeped into the laboratory. Inside Erik was levitating a couple inches of the ground, cocooned in spherical forcefield which appeared to be composed of blue sparks of lightening. He was smiling. Doctor Goldberg was off to the side taking cover behind an over turned workbench. Around Erik several guns and other metallic ammunition also floated, their barrels pointing menacingly at his enemies, who were at the opposite end of the room. Rossovich and half a dozen or so guards had arranged the remaining lab furniture into a makeshift fort.
Rossovich had ordered his men to throw grenades at Erik, an order which they had reluctantly followed despite their fear that they would sink the ship. Erik's shield had absorbed most of the impact, saving his body and the laboratory from too much damage, the heat had caused some minor burns to his forearms but nothing too serious. Erik had sent several more electric blasts in Rossovich's direction as retaliation and summoned the remaining grenades and munitions to him. Not for the first time he had also considered calling out to the strange metal that he had sensed in Omega Red's body. But then decided against it, that would draw the battle to a close far too quickly. Despite the burns, Erik was actually enjoying himself, he was pleasantly power drunk on his new abilities, and he wanted to experiment more on his trapped quarry. Erik already knew he would win, but he wanted Rossich's defeat to be slow, he wanted the man to thoroughly taste despair, and when Erik had broken his spirit he would slowly kill his body.
Erik! Erik this is madness! Charles' voice rumbled inside Erik's head, the German scowled. Erik reasoned by taking out the ship's power he must have also turned off whatever magnetic field had previously been blocking the telepath's reach. End this now. Then come up and help us with the evacuation on deck. Let Rossovich surrender.
I'm busy. Erik sent back, irritated by the interruption. As far as he was concerned he'd done his part for the evacuation process by opening the cell doors. Xavier really needed to stop badgering him. Go away Charles. Erik sent, as he concentrated on generating a frequency akin to the one that he'd sensed was blocking the telepath earlier. He felt a wall come up inside him thrusting Charles out of his head with force a force that violently severed the connection. He thought he heard a cry of pain and felt a twinge of guilt. He hoped he hadn't hurt the telepath...but Charles should really know better than to enter his thoughts uninvited in the first place, Erik had made his feelings on that subject crystal clear. He shook his head to clear it and returned his full attention Rossovich's hiding place, a wolfish grin plastered on his face.
"Come out, come out where ever you are..." Erik laughed tauntingly at the guards, he was playing with them, and loving every moment of it.
Rossovich scowled at Erik's words, he had been in the military for a long time, and whatever else could be said about the commander he had always been a good tactician. But his tactics in this particular fight were obviously not working; it was time for new ones. Rossovich had noticed that Erik could not simultaneously send energy blasts and keep his defensive force field in place. The mutant could only direct the energy in one direction at a time, either around his body for protection, or at his enemies in the form of electric bolts. This was not currently a disadvantage to Magneto because he was only fighting a war on one front...Rossivich concluded that he needed to make Erik fight on two, and to do that he needed a distraction, he turned to the man on his right looking him up and down.
"Do you want to die a hero comrade?"
Rossovich grabbed the confused soldier by the lapels and threw him out into the open. The man immediately made an attempt to run back to cover, the look on Rossovich's face stopped him.
“Face the enemy comrade, or I will kill you myself!” Rossovich said coldly.
“Face him?! With what?!”
“Use your imagination.” Rossovich replied narrowing his eyes.
The guard panicked, Rossovich didn't make idle threats. His commander would kill him if he disobeyed, he ran at Magneto yelling a something that sounded like a cross between a battle cry and a scream of terror. Erik recognised the guard that now ran at him as 'Graham' the one who had insulted him earlier.
“Your men aren't very smart Rossovich!” Erik berated as he released an energy bolt at the guard. Rossovich stepped out from the behind the furniture barricade as Erik's shield disappeared, aiming a plastic tranquillizer gun at Erik.
“No.” Rossovich said smiling “But I am.” Too late Erik realized his error, he could not recall the energy he had sent to dispatch Graham, nor could he replace his forcefield in time. Erik tried to dodge but he was too slow, the dart sunk deep into his left leg. Immediately he felt the strength drain from his body, lacking the energy or focus to levitate he collapsed on the floor. He looked up weakly to see Rossovich walking towards him, a victorious smirk on his face.
“I told you'd be begging for mercy Magneto...” as he spoke the Russian spread his hands outwards revealing slits in his skin just below his wrists. Erik watched queasily, fighting his body's desire to for unconsciousness as two long tentril-like coils, resembling metallic tentacles wormed their way slowly out of each one of Omega Red's arms.
“You're a mutant..?” Erik muttered weakly trying to force his body to his feet and collapsing again. His world was spinning, and for the second time in twenty-four hours his powers were not answering his call. When he looked up, he saw that Rossovich's face had twisted in to a mask of rage, apparently triggered by Erik's speculation.
“You dare insult me! I am the creation of the finest Soviet scientists! Superior to man or mutant! I AM NOT SOME FREAK!” Rossovich roared bringing down one of the metallic tendrils down like a powerful whip, Erik barely reacted in time. He rolled to the side just quickly enough to avoid the full force of the blow, which left a large dent in the metal floor. Glancing at it, Erik realised it could have smashed his skull in two, if he didn't find a way to equalise the fight soon, he was a dead man. Rossovich drew back to deliver another blow Erik dived behind the workbench that Goldberg was sheltering behind, at his back Erik heard another crash as Rossivich's blow collided with a table and it splintered in two.
“You have to give me some more of the antidote!” Erik panted at Goldberg, the edges of his vision were beginning go dark, and he had started to sweat.
“But it could kill you! The cocktail of drugs you've already had is dangerous enough-!”
“Could is kill is better than will kill!” Erik hissed. Goldberg blinked looking panicked for the first time since he'd met her, then she nodded once looking determined. She searched her pockets rapidly for the vial.
“Ack! It was left on the table over there!” She to pointed the now destroyed medical cabinet where several syringes, test tubes and vials lay smashed on the floor “...wait I might have something else-” She rummaged in her pockets again and pulled out an epi-pen** from her lab coat “Perhaps if I gave you a dose of adrenaline, it would counter balance the effects of the tranquillizer...but I am not at all certain this will work...”
“Anything is better than nothing. Hurry” Erik replied. Goldberg fumbled to prepare the shot. It was a battle to keep his eyes open now, could feel himself fading, his body slowing down. He collapsed on the floor. The blackness began to spread over him. He couldn't pass out here, he'd be defenceless, he'd die and he couldn't die here. He needed to make sure Pietro had got out safely. More than that, he needed to insure that the world was safe for his child and children like him. He needed to destroy Omega. He really should have listened to Charles when he had the chance. Why was Xavier always right damn him!?
Somewhere on the edge of his consciousness Erik heard the sounds of more lab equipment smashing, then Goldberg's short scream of terror. He knew Rossovich was upon them now, his first blow had destroyed the workbench his second would crush Erik's skull. He was going to die here, as a lab rat, perhaps there was such a thing as fate after all. Then a gun shot sounded. Rossovich growled in pain and Erik heard a most unexpected voice.
“Y-you leave him alone!” It was Pietro, the fear was plain in the boy's voice, but there is steel there too, Erik thought to himself as the drug pulled him into unconsciousness.
* From the Rocky 5 soundtrack. Seemed awfully appropriate since this fic is set in the cold war just like the film.
**Alright I'll come clean, I have no idea if they had these back in the 60s. If anyone knows the facts do let me know :)