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Ashes in the Wind
An Elseworld's Style X-men Story
J. A. C. Delaney, 1996
<The Hellfire Club>
Nick Fury scanned the line of burned and blasted corpses. The forensics team would take weeks to identify some of them. The majority of the dead had been killed by plasma blasts from Havok, whose corpse was conspiciously absent from the line-up. The Genoshoan Press Gang had arrived before SHIELD and they were making a big deal of the heroic sacrifice of Commander Summers. Fury have suspected they had him stashed away somewhere to avoid any comments on excessive force. The Genoshoan thugs made him sick. Just when you thought that you wouldn't be hearing from them again, they returned even more annoying than last time. If he had his way he would lock them all up and throw away the key. But his hands were tied by orders from far above.
Fury looked at the small huddled group of survivors and shuddered. He had known the X-men in their prime and this battle had gutted them. He looked at the haunted eyes of Colossus who cradled a babbling Rachel Summers in his arms. Fury didn't even want to speculate about the demons that haunted the young woman's eyes. Forge was talking to some technicians about something or other. He was a survivor, that one and desperately trying to hide how much this slaughter had affected him. Katherine Pryde and Kurt Wagner had both already been evacuated with the other wounded. Storm had vanished and Magneto had been incinerated in his final battle with the Shadow King. Professor Xavier and Rogue had departed some time earlier after explaining the situation to the authorities.
"Colonel Fury!" Fury sighed with exasperation. The last thing he needed now was this particular FBI agent bothering him.
"What is it Agent Mulder?"
"Agent Scully and I have been examining some of the evidence and a few things just don't add up." Fury noted the beautiful redhead with a practiced eye. Okay, maybe this wasn't an entirely bad thing. On the other hand, philandering had gotten him into too much trouble with the Countess lately and maybe he might want to give this one a pass.
"What is bothering you?" He said. The last few days had been a nightmare and the last thing he needed was some hotshot disrupting the nice clean conclusion to this massive SNAFU. The very next thing they would need to do was put proper precautions in against telepaths. That security gap had been left open just a little too long.
"I have examined the scene of the Shadow King's demise and I collected this. It is consistent with Magneto's blood." Agent Scully explained showing him an evidence bag with some dried blood in it.
"So he got cut during the fight with the Shadow King. What of it?" Fury looked annoyed. Was this all that this was about?
"Well, according to witnesses he was so charged with magnetic energy that he was glowing when he entered the hurricane. Blood spilled under those conditions would show separation from magnetic force once it left his personal magnetic field. This doesn't." Agent Scully explained.
"In addition, Magneto's armor is made of several rare metallic elements that would have survived in some form the sort of inferno that incinerated him. Or, if it was intense enough to vaporize metal, how did the blood survive." Mulder added.
"Look, what do a few drop of blood mean. It was a coincidence or a fluke, nothing more." Fury put on a brave show but he began to have a sinking feeling in his gut.
"Hardly a fluke when the blood spatter was consistent with about 2500 cc's of blood." Scully remarked.
"Can you be sure it is Magneto's blood? Maybe it was spilled after the fight." Fury began to worry. This was no minor inconsistency.
"His unusual blood chemistry has been well documented, sir. I need a lab to be 100% sure, but it sure isn't human blood. I don't think there can be any real doubt on this one." Scully replied.
"So Xavier lied. What of it?" Fury tried to deny the headache that was beginning to throb in his temples. If Xavier lied about this, what else did he leave out?
"I believe that Xavier had Magneto murdered after the battle. According to reports from the US Air Force, there were no significant magnetic fluxing after the final large one. He would have been lying there helpless when somebody crushed his skull. If he had fought back or threatened anyone with his powers we would have seen something. The Air Force was very clear on this and after the magnetic pulse they had just registered they focused everything they could on this area. If he wasn't resisting and somebody killed him then that's murder." Mulder replied.
Nick Fury groaned inside. This was a nightmare come true. No, it was worse than that. "So you want me to arrest a respected scientist and scholar on this degree of evidence for the murder of a war criminal? Is that what you're telling me?" He was definitely experiencing a headache. A dull, throbbing migraine and he didn't like it in the least.
"Murder is murder, sir."
"We know he lied to cover this. He had both motive and opportunity. I think he have enough to arrest him." Scully added in support of her partner.
"And exactly where are we going to try him? On Mars? Let me tell you what will happen. Even if we manage to establish guilt and if the evidence somehow manages to convince the jury that a murder occurred, then they will give Xavier a medal for ridding us of an international menace. This is Magneto we are talking about here. To most Americans he is the next best thing to Satan or Hitler. You expect me to take the flak from arresting a man like Charles Xavier for the sake of trash like Magneto?"
"So we are just going to let him go? With great power comes great responsibility. Charles Xavier abused that responsibility when he had Magneto killed. We have to arrest him. Our feelings about Magneto don't matter. The ideal that we are equal in the eyes of the law is the basis of our system of justice. Maybe Magneto deserved to die, but that is for a court to decide. If we let this go, then where does it stop?" Mulder replied.
"Sounds good in theory, son, but it sure doesn't work that way. Look, I want you and Scully to gather all the evidence that you can and file it away where nobody will ever think to look. Like one of those X-files of yours. Be subtle and be quiet about it. Remember that Xavier is a telepath of the highest order." Fury shuddered. This was way outside of standard operating procedure, but a lifetime as a soldier had taught him that there were times when you had to say to hell with regulations.
"And then what?" Mulder asked.
"Then we will wait. If he has stepped over the line, then he will do it again. There is no statute of limitations on murder and this will give us an excuse if we ever need one. We'll never convict, but if we have to bring him in it will give us the excuse. It would have been better if we had a body."
"I think we will be able to demonstrate that nobody could have survived that degree of blood loss. Similar cases have been tried on this sort of evidence." Agent Scully pointed out.
"Then get to it." Fury barked and watched the two FBI agents scurry away. Why did you have to cross the line Xavier? It would have bee simple if you had just waited a few more minutes. The Press Gang would have arrived and Magneto would either be dead or a slave by now. But by your actions I have to go after you for doing what I would have myself. It isn't fair that good men should have to suffer for getting rid of evil. Please, Charles, don't do it again and give me the excuse to bury this. Because if you don't then I am going to have to take you down.
<Kenya, POV: Orora Munroe aka Storm>
So I lay you here to rest, old friend. It is ironic that I made the same choices as you did as a leader of the X-men and it is you who lies there and not me. If I had stayed here, Magnus, then this would have been my grave. All of the priestess of my tribe are buried here and I would have taken my place beside them if I had stayed. But I left to serve a world and I have grown beyond this. So rather than leave it empty, I place you here.
In your own way you were as much of the spirit of the earth as I was. I was the ancient power forced to deal with the modern world. You were the rage of a planet raped unleashed. You grew up learning of the human capacity to inflict horrors on each other and you learned that lesson well. You were drive by a nightmare, but you learned to wake up and see the dream. In that you were a rare man, Erik Magnus Lensherr, and I mourn your passing.
So sleep in peace here among those who were of service to the Goddess, to the lifeforce that flows through this planet. I think that the Goddess would want you here among those who served her well. I will miss you and I will not forget.
Good-bye, Magneto. You survived Auschwitz and learned to hope again. I will do the same after the Shadow King.
And, at the end of time, when all the songs have been sung and all of the stories have been told, I will meet you again free of the constraints of flesh and there, at last, we will know peace together.
<A Castle in France>
" . . . and so we must never forget the sacrifice of our precious Lord Magneto who fell that we might live free of the Shadow King. He went in battle with no thought except to save his people and then, while he was weak and helpless, the flatscans murdered him. But he isn't dead. His body vanished and lies in waiting elsewhere. He is just sleeping. Waiting for the day when he can return and rule over us. I have seen it my brethren and I tell you that we must work together to implement his dream. I will lead you to paradise. To a world in which no mutant ever need fear. I am the shepherd and you are my flock. We shall await the second coming of our savior together. We will bring his dream of a world ruled to fruition. Will you follow me?" Fabian Cortez was nearly bowled over by the cheers from the small group assembled before him. His sister, Anne-Marie, smiled at him. He surveyed the small core of his following. Exodus, Neophyte, Voght, Unuscione, Javitz, Katu, the Klienstock brothers, Mellencamp, Milan, Scanner, Senyaka, Skids, Rusty and Spoor. A small group but they were the beginning of a movement that would carry him to glory. How convienant that the old fossil had chosen to get himself killed liked this. Cortez smiled like a predator.
<POV: Charles Xavier>
It is done. The man who fought my dream for half of my lifetime is dead. My friend and companion is dead and it is my hands on which his blood is stained. I am sorry about it, but it is the only way. He wouldn't understand what has to be done now. It is irony indeed that after so long our positions would be reversed and that I would fear that he would prevent me from becoming great.
It was only there, at the end that I realized how weak and foolish I had been. It is clear to anyone that a mutant is far superior to any human and that I am far superior to any mutant. I could not risk Magneto killing me again . . . I mean killing me like he did the Shadow King. I need to have the freedom to rule the world and he would have stood in my way. Now, nobody does.
I have learned lessons and I have made mistakes. I will do it over decades now and not over weeks. I am much more powerful now, the sudden boost in my telepathic abilities is as astounding as it is unexpected. Never have I been this powerful not have I ever been this able to fulfill my plans.
But, curiously enough, I can no longer sleep well. It is a strange feeling I have been experiencing, as if somebody . . . or something was watching me -- from the inside.
But this is just the fancy of an old man. I have triumphed over my enemies and the time has come to create my new world order. But why do I hear a faint echo of laughter resounding in my chest?
<POV: Lee Forrester>
He is dead. I have accepted that now that I have seen his grave and looked at his strangely intact flash. Ororo claims it is a result of the mystical properties of this place that the dead appear as if they are sleeping instead of dead. Here, the terrible head injury he suffered doesn't seem anywhere near as bad as it did when it happened and his face seems at peace.
I have to hide here. Moira found out about the child growing in my belly and she wants to have it aborted. It might grow up to have magnetic powers that it's father did and go insane. If my child is half the person that it's father was then I will be as proud as a mother could ever be.
There is a sort of peace here. Ororo is often around and I do what I can to assist here in her duties. She has said that I will have a daughter with white hair and blue eyes and that born here that is the mark of a priestess. I don't want to argue with her, but she seems to have forgotten who the parents of the child are. Pale hair and blue eyes are to be expected. Yet when I mentioned this, Storm seemed to think that Magneto's hair and eyes were not an accident. His whole family was dark except him, she argues. I will let her believe what she wishes, as I owe her more than I can say.
I think I can be at peace here and that is enough for now.
It is done. All of those who carried the genes for magnetic powers are dead. Magneto's surviving children do not, and the man himself is dead. Xavier is no longer a dreamer but has woken up to the nightmare. Both Havok and Cyclops are dead. The prophecies of my downfall can no longer be fulfilled. Suddenly the future is bright and I see only glory to come.