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Ashes in the Wind
An Elseworld's Style X-men Story
J. A. C. Delaney, 1996
<Above a Small Island in the Bermuda Triangle>
" . . . so if you are going to kill me, Magneto, then get it over with. I no longer care what happens to me now." Archangel spoke to the glowering man in armor who held him in a magnetic fist.
"Why? That is what I don't understand. She was an innocent bystander and unable to defend herself against you."
"My wings were a gift from the ancient mutant called Apocalypse -- or perhaps I should say curse. They lust for blood and as time goes on I find it harder and harder to control them." Warren grimaced. "I think perhaps my defection came as no surprise to him. In my more paranoid moments, I sometimes wonder if he planned it. To place a monster in the midst of X-factor. It really doesn't matter. The truth is I can't control my own wings and that means I can't be trusted. So make it a quick ending."
"Do you think that is what I am going to do?"
"Isn't it what you have always done in the past? The others can't interfere. It is only the two of us up here."
"If I kill you I justify all that has been said about me being a madman and I turn my back on all that I have learned. Kill you? No, I am going to help you."
A glowing magnetic field traced out the pathways of the techno-organic intrusions into Warren's body. The progressive change in his composition was remarkable. Left unchecked it would have transformed him into something altogether new. Magneto reached into Warren with a surgeon's precision and began to gently tug at the metallic fibers that ran throughout his body. Warren screamed in absolute agony as his wings were torn off and miles of micro-thin cable were yanked out of his body. The pale blue cast that had marked his skin as a result vanished; to be quickly replaced by a mass of blood as the body began to suffer shock and trauma.
Magneto returned to his hidden base with the torn and battered X-man held gently in arms of magnetic force; as a mother would hold a child.
<Back at the base at the Island in the Bermuda Triangle>
*MAGNUS! What did you do to the boy?* Xavier telepathically asked Magneto as he brought the torn body of Angel into the medical center.
"I told you he couldn't be trusted. I warned you!" Quicksilver shouted as he watched his father approach.
"Enough, Pietro! Let us give him the benefit of a chance to explain himself first." Wanda glared at her brother. His recklessness was not making this any easier.
"Tell that to Warren!" Booby shouted as he stared at the battered form of his friend.
"Calm yourselves. The damage to the boy looks worse than it really is." Magneto placed the damaged mutant into a medical capsule next to Lee Forester.
A sheet of ice formed around the Master of Magnetism as Iceman vented his rage. "I knew we couldn't trust you. What where you thinking, Professor, when you let his madman out!"
"The wings that he bore on his body would have killed him if left unchecked; or at least they would have killed the person you know as a friend. Something else would have remained and I don't think you would have liked it." Magneto opened his mind to Xavier and the results of his magnetic scan were echoed by the telepath to the others in the room.
"Good God! That is monsterous!" Quicksilver retorted. "I mean, it is like something you would do, father."
"I understand your actions, Magnus, although I do not condone such a radical approach." Xavier commented.
Bobby walked over to the badly injured Angel and stared at the critically injured mutant. "He will be alright, won't he? I mean you got the infection in time, right?"
"Yes. Ultimately he would have become like Apocalypse. A pale shadow of his master and a bloodthirsty butcher. I have never met this Apocalypse, but I dislike the man already. Someday there will be a reckoning for this . . ." Magneto swore.
"You are all treating him like he is some kind of hero. Can't you see that he hasn't changed. That he is still the same monster he always was. He may have acted correctly here, but even Professor Xavier admits that he was brutal without having to be. He is just waiting for a chance to betray us." Quicksilver shouted.
"The infection detected my scan after Warren complained about his lack of control over his wings. It began an active takeover and had to be removed immediately." Magneto replied to his son.
"We have only your word for that! I, for one, don't believe you."
"I no longer care what you believe, Pietro. You may be of my blood, but you have long grown free of my shadow. Go, if you wish. I will not hold you here against your will."
"And what about Wanda? How do I trust you won't hurt her as well?" Quicksilver snapped.
"I am old enough to take care of myself, Pietro. I came here to put some ghosts to rest and I'm not leaving until I have done that. We can like it or hate it that he is our father. But that doesn't change the fact that he sired us, or that he loved mother once." Wanda interjected.
"Once? Loved her once? No, every day that passes I miss Magda. If fate had been kind I would be an old grandfather in the Ukraine now and at peace. Instead I face the prospect of eternal war and all that I remember of peace is with her. She is the hope that sustained me in the last days of Auschwitz and her betrayal left a wound that will never heal." As the Lensherr family talked, Professor Xavier turned to the injured and double checked their condition while Bobby wandered over to hold Warren's hand.
"Betrayal? You had just finished murdering several dozen people!" Pietro sniped.
"Who had watched your sister burn and listened to her screams while they beat me for daring to refuse to be cheated. These were not people, they were animals!"
"Of course, anyone who isn't part of your master race doesn't deserve to be called human. Is that it?"
"That isn't fair, Pietro. Father isn't perfect, but he is hardly the bigot you make him out to be. Although he has come close at times. The Avengers forgave us when we became members. Is it so much to ask to try and give him the same chance?"
"I don't know. I have seen his dark side to closely to ever trust him. What if he hurts us again?"
"My dear sweet brother, what is life except filled with pain. I have lost my husband and my children and I think I understand the pain that fills father with such rage. That doesn't make it right, but it doesn't mean we should turn our backs on him."
Quicksilver looked away from her sharp glance.
"Well, Father, I have done what I came here to do. I sought to let you know that you have a family that you can turn to and that _I_ will never turn you away. Healing can only begin when you open your heart to those that you love; no matter what the risk."
"I will . . . think on your words, daughter. But now is not a time for this. I have a battle facing me with a menace that threatens the Earth if he isn't stopped." As she turned away. "Wait, I do want to get to know you, as an equal the way I never tried to in the Brotherhood. If you will let me."
"You are always welcome, Father. I think I will go now and leave you to your battle."
"Your help would be . . ."
"No, I am done with fighting and killing. Why is that all we can think of doing in a world filled with death and pain? What about healing?"
"Then will you watch over lee for me while I am gone."
"I would be proud to." "I will stay with Wanda." Quicksilver interjected.
"I think we all knew that, Pietro." Magneto replied. He turned to his oldest friend. "So I guess it is just three of us vs. the Shadow King. Do you think we have a chance?"
"There is always hope, Magnus. Hope of a better life, of a better world and of victory over hopeless odds. If there is a lesson my life has taught me it is to seize that hope and never let it go. Yes, we have hope against the Shadow King and it may be out most potent weapon."
For all our sakes, I can only hope that you are right, Charles." Magneto replied.