A new mutant arises in New York that reveals a secret about Jean Grey and her family that will change her life forever. And it all centers around a familiar looking girl named Madelyn Pryor.
Chapter 10: Twin Reckoning
As the X-jet passed over the battlefield below, they saw hundreds of mutants advancing through the poorly kempt roads, drawing closer to the capital city. They were still in Magneto's special ships, which had been converted to levitating hover crafts. And with much of Hodge's forces wiped out by the tsunami, little stood in their way.
"Easy as a walk in the park on Sunday!" exclaimed Blob as he maneuvered the aircraft over minefields and traps.
"Yeah, some war, yo!" said Todd, standing with Wanda, Pietro, and Lance at the helm.
Around them, fires engulfed the surrounding bush, fleshing out anybody foolish enough to keep up the fight. Pyro and a team of other mutants made sure nobody dared resist. Many ran away, but plenty stayed behind and fought only to be met with a fiery fate.
"Ahahahahahaha! Now this is my kind of battlefield!" roared Pyro, following in the craft behind that Sabretooth was piloting.
Up above the flames, the X-men could only watch as Magneto's forces rolled over any resistance, destroying everything in their wake. The already impoverished nation was crumpling and there was a vast exodus towards the northern port of poor peasants fleeing the destruction.
"This is madness," mused Hank as they neared the capital city.
"It's Magneto. What did you expect?" muttered Piotr, still a vocal critic of the man who once kidnapped his sister.
"I don't know. Dis don't feel like his style," said Remy.
"War, terror, violence...looks like Magneto to me," remarked Kitty.
"True, but since when does ol' Mags focus so much attention on some tiny little country most people can't find on a map?" questioned Remy, "Since when did de big bad mutant go for the small stuff?"
"Now yer talkin' crazy, Gumbo," shot Logan.
"No wait! He's got a point," said Scott, taking it more seriously, "This doesn't seem like the Magneto we know. There could be other forces at work here."
"I agree," said Ororo, "Something about this doesn't feel right."
"Don't have to tell me twice," said Jean, her thoughts never leaving her sister.
Then, as the X-jet approached the capital center, the extent of the devastation became clear. Smoke billowed up into the clouds, mangled vehicles were strewn everywhere, and virtually no buildings remained standing. It was no so much war as it was annihilation.
The X-men held back their gasps as Scott took them in, bringing the X-jet into hover as they prepared to disembark.
"Hank, you stay with the jet and see if you can do anything to help the refugees!" he ordered, taking on his leadership roles, "Storm, see if you can do something about those fires! At the rate they're going, they'll incinerate the whole island! The rest of you, we're going after Magneto and Hodge!"
"What about zhe army of mutants coming our vay?" asked Kurt.
"If we can stop this before they get here, then it won't matter!" said Scott, letting Hank take control and standing near the doors.
"Great, just what we need," muttered Rogue, "A time limit."
"Aw, don't get all discouraged on us, cherÃ¨," said Gambit with a playful grin, "Remy does his best work under pressure."
"For all our sake, Cajun, you better be right!" growled Logan.
With the pop of the hatch, the X-men disembarked, ready to seek out Magneto and stop this madness. Yet as they entered the war zone, choked with the noxious fumes of burning debris, it was uncertain whether or not they were too late.
Back at the mansion, Professor Xavier was keeping a close eye on the activity of his students. So far, it wasn't looking good, but he remained confident in his students' abilities. They had gotten out of dire situations before and they could do it again.
Others, however, weren't so confident.
"I'm telling you Xavier, I can't hold off the hawks forever. If your team doesn't do something quick, I won't be able to stop a full scale invasion from the UN."
The urgent voice was that of Colonel Nick Fury, leader of SHIELD. Having been involved with the X-men in the past, he knew how skilled they were in dealing with threats like Magneto. But in a situation this hot, it was difficult to act with restraint, especially in the volatile political climate.
"I understand, Colonel. My students just need a little more time," said Xavier confidently.
"Time is a luxury we don't have, Professor. The joint chiefs are already talking about the nuclear option. The more Magneto presses, the more inclined we are to press back. And Hodge isn't making things any easier. Guy's got some sympathizers I can't get around and he's keeping SHIELD at bay. He won't even let us evacuate the refugees."
"Just hold them off for a little while longer, Colonel," urged the Professor, "Any further escalation could be catastrophic, especially if nuclear weapons are used."
"We're already at defcon 2. Our silos and subs are on high alert. I'll do what I can on my end, but something better happen soon or else it may not matter for either of us. And rest assured Xavier, if I go down you're coming with me."
His words were firm, but dead serious. And Professor Xavier knew that the Colonel never made threats he wasn't prepared to carry out.
"I understand Colonel."
"Good. You'll be hearing from me real soon. Before then, let's pray that something happens."
As the line went dead, the Professor bowed his head in remorse, worried about the state of his students and mutants at large. This was a very sensitive moment for the world of mutants. How it panned out would set the tone for the future.
'Be careful my students,' he sent them via telepathy, 'Time is running out.'
While Magneto and his army drew closer towards the capital and the X-men sought to stop it, Mystique and Madelyn were storming through the vast complex that Hodge had barricaded himself in. Security was tight and every hall was packed with fully armed soldiers loyal to their leader. But with all the chaos and confusion, they were unable to stop the two mutants from making their advance.
"Come on! This way!" urged Mystique, leading Madelyn down another corridor.
As they turned a corner, they were met with a squad of half a dozen guards, who quickly identified them as threats.
"Over there! I see them!" yelled one of the soldiers as he opened fire.
Ducking behind the corner, Mystique returned their assault with some shots of her own, but none of them hit as she and Madelyn were quickly bogged down.
"Don't worry! I've got this!" said Madelyn confidently.
Using her telekinetic powers, she created a shield around herself and stepped out into the hailstorm of bullets. The guards didn't let up, hitting her with everything they had even though none were getting through.
"Keep firing! Keep firing!"
"Get out of my WAY!" she yelled, unleashing a powerful burst of telekinetic force, slamming each guard into the wall.
When the gunfire stopped, Mystique stepped and they renewed their pursuit. Even for a mind wiped minion, she bore some impressive skills.
"Not bad, Madelyn," she said, "But save your strength! You're going to need it!"
"I won't fail you, Mystique!" she said in a determined tone, "I swear on the honor of the Brotherhood we WILL win this!"
Grinning to herself, Mystique led her down another corridor, coming across more guards in the process. However, they didn't slow them down as a few quick take down moves cleared the way, leading them closer towards their ultimate goal.
Upstairs in the primary suite of the palace, Cameron Hodge was gathering his finest attire for what could very well be his final hour. But he didn't seem upset or scared. If anything, he looked excited about his impending confrontation with the world's most powerful mutant.
"Master Hodge, sir!" exclaimed one of his few remaining officers, "We just got word that we have some intruders on the lower levels!"
"Mutants?" he asked casually.
"It appears so, sir! We don't know what they're up to, but..."
However, Hodge didn't let him finish.
"Easy my loyal subordinate," he assured, "It'll all be over soon. Just slow them down long enough for the grand finale. Our enemies will take it from there."
The officer was confused by his master's actions. Surely this occurrence would warrant some kind of retaliation. But he just kept on fixing his attire, making sure he looked his best for whatever it was he was about to face.
"But sir..." began the officer.
"That is all. Go back to your post. It'll all be over soon."
Reluctantly, the officer left, leaving Hodge alone as he gathered the last of his things. Opening a large trunk at the foot of his bed, he took out what looked like a high tech bazooka. He also slipped on a small ring bearing the phrase "Friends of Humanity."
"Time to fulfill my part of the bargain," he grinned, looking at the ring.
And with a confident smile, he made his leave, heading out into the bleeding streets of his dying nation.
"My destiny awaits me," he mused, "I best not keep my maker waiting."
Up in the clouds, high above the battlefield, Ororo Munroe was summoning every storm cloud she could gather. Her eyes were glowing white with fury, tapping into the primal forces of nature to fight this horrific scenario. Thunder and lightning flashed around her, illuminating the sky in an ominous glow as a cold wind swept through and rain began to pour with great intensity.
"Time to extinguish this horror!" she proclaimed.
Down below, the rain fell hard, inundating the X-men as they searched for Magneto. The fires around them were quickly contained, some of them completely snuffed by the downpour. It brought the devastation into perspective, lifting the fog of war. And everywhere they looked, there was nothing but destruction.
"Oh my God," gasped Kitty, taking in the overwhelming scale of the conflict, "What a mess."
"Definitely Magneto's calling card if ya ask me," grunted Logan with anger.
"This is excessive even for him," made Rogue, equally distraught from the surroundings.
"All the more reason to stop him!" said Piotr, eager for a chance to pound Magneto to a pulp.
"Easy big guy," said Kurt, "Ve have to find him first."
But no sooner had he uttered those words did the metal of the decimated structures start to shutter violently.
"Me and my big mouth..."
In the distance, the angry cries of Hodge's soldiers still echoed with the sound of automatic weapons fire. As they drew closer, more metal came to life, shooting up from the rubble and swirling about in the rain.
"The freaks must die!" yelled the soldiers.
But a quick shot of metal to the engine of their humvee blew them away in a burst of flame. The soldiers would have been incinerated as well had it not been for Jean using her telekinesis to shield them from a fiery fate. It was an act that did not go unnoticed by the master of magnetism as he descended from the stormy skies, watching as the X-men cast a menacing glare.
"MAGNETO!" yelled Colossus in full metal form.
"X-men," he said almost casually, "I had a feeling you'd drop in."
"Enough with the witty evil psycho talk!" yelled Jean angrily, "Where is my sister?!"
"Ah yes, Madelyn," said Magneto, a smile forming on his face, "I can't tell you how surprised I was when I found out that you had a twin sister, Ms Grey."
"He's not the only one," muttered Rogue under her breath.
"I must admit, she is a fine young woman," he went on, "She has proven instrumental the defeat of this horrible tyranny."
Jean was fuming. He had taken her sister and now he was gloating about it. Her blood boiled with anger, wanting nothing more than to wipe this monsters mind and turn him into a vegetable for the rest of his natural life.
But Magneto didn't let her finish.
"Please, X-men. This is not what you think," he said seriously, "I apologize to you for getting your friend involved, but it was necessary to see my plan out."
"What? Just so you could give destroying humanity another shot?!" yelled Scott angrily.
"No, this is not a standard world domination plot," he retorted, "Not by a long shot."
"You got a good way of showin' dat, homme!" said Gambit, charging a few cards in preparation for his attack.
"You're faith in people is touching," he said sarcastically, "A lot has changed X-men...more so than you could imagine. Apocalypse has left a dire mark on my soul and I'm looking to make up for past sins."
"And we should believe you, why?" said Kitty skeptically.
"I don't expect you to believe me now," said the master of magnetism, the rain cascading down his face, "But you'll see in due time."
Forgoing any further reasoning, Magneto summoned a whirlwind of metal and unleashed his fury upon the X-men. They made it clear they weren't going to listen to him, but he couldn't have them stand in his way.
"X-men! Take cover!" yelled Scott leading Jean, Kurt, and Kitty behind a pile of rubble to escape the coming onslaught.
"Oh dis just keeps gettin' better and better," mused Gambit as he ran besides Rogue.
However, Logan refused to let some madman's assault slow him down. And despite having a metal skeleton, he drew his claws and let out a feral roar.
"You think Apocalypse left his mark? Wait till ya see the one I leave!" roared Wolverine, lunging at Magneto in a rage.
"Come now, Wolverine. You should know better," said Magneto, casually stopping the raging mutant by levitating him into the air with his powers.
However, his actions did not go unnoticed by Piotr, who also refused to stand by idly while the man who once threatened his family inflicted his wrath upon his friends.
"Put him down!" yelled Piotr, charging with the force of a raging Collossus.
"Very well," said Magneto, using his powers to fling him afar.
"Rrrrraahhhhhhhhhhh!" yelled Logan, bracing for impact.
"MAGNETO!" yelled the Russian mutant, "I WILL MAKE YOU PAY FOR EVERYTHING YOU'VE DONE!"
"Peter! Wait!" urged Kitty.
But it was too late for the enraged young man to listen. And with hallow emotions, Magneto unleashed a magnetic burst that stopped the oncoming Colossus cold in his tracks, the impact sending a shockwave that momentarily cleared the area of the pouring rain.
However, despite this show of power, Magneto did not go so far as to deliver the final blow.
"We'll have plenty of time to make amends later, Colossus," said the master of magnetism, "But I have far more pressing matters to attend to...like the final defeat of Cameron Hodge and his tyranny against homo superior!"
"We don't like Hodge either, Magneto!" said Jean, emerging from the rubble, ready for battle, "But this is not the way to handle it!"
"We'll see about that," said the old holocaust survivor ominously.
"Oh boy, vhy do I get zhe feeling zhis is going to get vorse?" muttered Kurt.
"With Magneto, it's a pretty safe bet," said Scott.
As they all gathered to make their stand, Magneto kept hovering in mid air. He didn't attack them, nor did he taunt them. It was not his usual style, but that didn't stop the X-men from trying.
"All together now!" ordered Cyclops, grasping his visor.
"Right behind ya, homme!" said Remy, charging a handful of cards.
And with Jean to help them, the three mutants unleashed a wave of optic blasts, charged cards, and telekinesis. But Magneto easily avoided damage by taking the surrounding debris and making a shield. He didn't fight back, making this situation all the more curious. And no matter what they did, Magneto's confidence never waned.
Smiling to himself, Magneto checked his watch and saw that the time had come. Looking down at the determined X-men, he didn't falter for a second. And with victory assured, nothing could stop him now.
"Fight all you want, X-men! But I assure you, your efforts are in vain! Hodge has lost! I have already won!"
Back in Hodge's palace, the emergency evacuation sirens were blaring and every last guard was gathering outside in preparation for the final assault. Hodge was nowhere to be seen, yet it was all going exactly as planned.
The path was now open for Mystique and Madelyn to deliver the final blow. Facing little resistance, they came upon the lightly guarded communications hub. And just as they entered, the remaining security forces tried in vain to delay the inevitable.
"They're here! Stop them!"
"I don't think so!" yelled Madelyn, using her powers to slam them against the wall.
Taking down the remaining guards with her combat skills, Mystique went to work on the controls, inserting an unmarked disk and running a series of programs that made the equipment blare with warnings.
"It's almost ready," said the shape shifter urgently, "These machines weren't designed for this, but they should do."
Clutching the mini-Cerebro helmet she had been carrying with her the whole time, Madelyn Pryor bore this lofty weight with pride and determination. Looking over at Mystique, she refused to let her and Magneto down. And if that meant taking risks like this for the sake of homo superior, then so be it.
"I'm ready!" she said, putting on the helmet.
"Okay, I'm patching you in. You should be able to broadcast your psychic assault all over the island. Good luck."
With one final command, Madelyn turned on the high tech apparatus. The machines around her hummed, their power levels ascending to heights they weren't equipped to handle. And with a few adjustments on the helmet, sparks began to fly as Madelyn felt the rush of a massive psychic burst surging through her mind.
In a whirlwind of telekinetic force, Mystique was knocked back as Madelyn took this power on at full force. All around her, the walls shook and the machines sparked with uncontrolled activity. The young woman who was still so new to this world was facing undue strain on her mind, barely able to hold herself together under the heavy strain.
But through the power, she clenched her fists with fury and took on her role at full force, ready to do her part for her people.
Then in a show of great force, Madelyn shot up through the ceiling in a shell of telekinetic energy, breaking through every floor of the elaborate palace and ascending into the rain-filled sky. And from below, Mystique grinned. It was all coming together.
"Wow...she really is the twin sister of Jean Grey."
Soaring through the sky, Madelyn was poised to unleash her psychic wrath on all those who resisted. And sensing the battle between Magneto and the X-men, she descended through the thundering rain clouds, unleashing shockwaves of force to make her presence known.
"Oh no...Madelyn," gasped Jean, looking up at the oncoming presence.
"It's over, X-men!" she proclaimed, hovering besides the master of magnetism, "You've lost!"
"Maddie?" exclaimed Kitty, "What are you doing?!"
"You almost look shocked," she said with a sinister grinned, "What did you think I was going to do against my greatest enemies?"
The X-men were shocked. This couldn't be the Madelyn they knew and loved. Why would she be a part of the Brotherhood? Something was definitely amiss and Jean Grey could sense it.
"Jean?" said Scott, turning to his girlfriend for an explanation.
"Something's wrong, Scott!" she exclaimed, closing her eyes and sensing a myriad of inconsistent mental flashes, "She doesn't even remember us!"
"Well hurry up and snap her out of it!" said Rogue.
"I'm trying! But I..."
"Oh no you don't!" grunted Madelyn.
With her supped up mind, she easily fought off her assault. Yet as she did, she got some strange flashes in her mind. Suddenly, she saw images of her standing with the enemy psychic, laughing and smiling. Others soon followed, including images of everybody she believed to be her enemies. She felt joy, laughter, and peace with them.
She also saw the image of the Pryors flash before her mind's eye. Part of her said they were complete strangers. The other said they were far more than that. She groaned in a world of hurt, trying to make sense of all this.
They felt like memories, but they weren't any she was familiar with. Yet still, her loyalty didn't wane.
"Jean!" yelled Scott, catching her in his arms as she collapsed.
"Ugh..." groaned Madelyn, feeling more strain than she expected with that, "What the hell was that?"
Catching her at his side, Magneto held the young psychic up. She still had a job to do and victory could not be complete until it was done.
"Are you okay, Madelyn?" said the master of magnetism.
"I...I don't know," she said, grasping her head in confusion.
"You can do it, child!" he urged her, "Deliver the final blow! End this battle and bring victory to the Brotherhood!"
Despite her shaken resolve, Madelyn grit her teeth in determination, ready to fulfill her role. Having sensed the turmoil she caused, Jean tried to stop her. But it was too late.
"Time to end this once and for all!" she exclaimed, raising up into the air, "Now all those who resist shall fall!"
And in a wave of psychic onslaught, Madelyn unleashed her power on all those who stood in the Brotherhood's way. Every last soldier in Hodges army was put into an instant seizure, leaving them helpless and unable to continue the fight. For all other human citizens, they were put into a hypnotic trance and like zombies they fled their homes and made their way to the coast, leaving their island to Magneto.
The X-men didn't escape their wraith either, feeling a great surge of psychic energy through their minds, putting them into a world of pain.
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" they all yelled, grasping their heads in agony.
"Victory...is...ours!" panted Madelyn, the strain becoming too great.
"That's it, Maddie!" said Magneto with a look of triumph, "You're doing it!"
But through the overwhelming strain, Jean Grey rose to her feet, her head pounding like a volcano ready to explode. Looking up at her sister, she knew she didn't have a chance in a mind to mind battle. But she wasn't going to let it end like this. She had just found her after 19 years of separation. They still had so much to catch up on. And victory or not, nobody messed with her sister while she still had a breath in her body.
"Jeannie...don't do it!" said Logan, roaring through the strain.
"I...have to!" she grunted with determination, "She's my sister! I have...to save her!"
Summoning what strength she had left, Jean probed into the chaotic, supercharged mind of her twin. Her thoughts were a mess as a result of the strain, but she was still there. And with her focus spread in all direction, she could attack the heart of the problem. She had just scratched the surface the first time. Now it was up to her to reveal the truth.
'No more deception!' she struggled through her mind, 'Madelyn...listen to me! We...are...family!'
As Jean broke through the powerful mental barriers, the helmet began to spark and short out. And as the blocks placed by Mastermind collapsed under the strain, the young redhead let out a pained scream as the bonds between twins broke through and a wave of lies came crashing down.
Shielding his eyes from the sparks, Magneto flew back, watching as Madelyn fell towards the ground. But thanks to his healing, Logan jumped back onto his feet and ran forward to catch her. She was still conscious, but clearly in a world of hurt. And as the effects of her assault wore off, the victory Magneto had so desperately craved seemed all but gone.
"Oh my aching head," groaned Remy.
"I'm going to need, like, so much aspirin when we get back," muttered Kitty.
"Forget aspirin," groaned Rogue, "I'm gonna need some morphine after all this!"
With a mind so wrought with strain, Jean couldn't even pick herself up. But Scott was besides her, helping her up with his strong arms. She was still conscious, but very tired. And as she looked over at Maddie, she smiled to herself.
"I...I did it," she said in a weak tone.
"Yes," said Scott softly, "Maddie's lucky to have a sister like you."
That helped with the strain as Jean fought to regain her balance. But over with Madelyn, it was a different story.
"No! What have you done?!" exclaimed Magneto.
Looking over at the man who warped her mind, a look of rage fell over the face of the young redhead. It was all a big lie. She had never been filled with more hate before in her life. He used her for his own gain without remorse. She couldn't let it stand. This bastard had to pay.
"You!" bellowed Madelyn, fighting off her fatigue, "You used me! You crazy, sadistic, piece of..."
"Madelyn wait!" urged the master of magnetism.
And despite her exhaustion, Madelyn hit the master of magnetism with a hard telekinetic burst. It caught him off guard, sending him falling to the ground. And in this momentary state of vulnerability, the young psychic had him trapped.
"You used me! Lied to me! All for your stupid war!" she cried, tears streaming down her face, "I don't care what you say! You're still a monster! YOU DON'T TO LIVE!"
Grunting under the strain, Madelyn was so desperate to make him pay. But after everything that had happened, she was too weak and collapsed into the waiting arms of Scott and Jean.
"It's okay, Madelyn. We're here," said Jean, "It's over now."
"No! He warped my mind! He made me..."
"Easy gal," said Rogue, stepping in and placing a comforting hand on her shoulder, "Ah know how ya feel. But ya can't let it consume you. Otherwise ya may do somethin' you'll regret."
As much as Madelyn wanted to make Magneto pay, the support of her sister and understanding tone of Rogue struck a chord and the young psychic stood down, collapsing in a fit of sobs. She had never felt so used before in her life. Her mind had been stripped bear and rewritten to serve the whim of another. It hurt her on a level she had never experienced.
"I'm so sorry," she said, holding her head low.
"Don't beat yourself up about it kid," said Logan with a wolfish grin, "You'd be surprised how many of us go through the same deal. It's what makes us X-men."
Such words brought a weak smile to the young woman's face. But just as Madelyn let Magneto out of her hold, a new presence emerged from the rubble, ready to make a final stand.
"I don't think so, freaks!" came the voice of Cameron Hodge, armed with his high tech bazooka, aiming it right at Madelyn.
"Aw hell!" yelled Rogue, lunging forth and shoving them out of the way as a powerful burst of energy ripped through the air.
The blast missed them just by a hair, but Hodge was ready for another shot. However, before he could get one off, a booming voice put an end to his assault.
"HODGE!" yelled Magneto, using his magnetic powers to rip his weapon to pieces.
"Oh boy," muttered Kurt, "Here ve go again!"
With unyielding fury, Magneto unleashed a barrage of metal around the tyrannical dictator. Fueled by his hatred for men like Hodge, the master of magnetism prepared to dish out his own brand of justice for mutants everywhere. And despite this act of rage, Hodge seemed remarkably calm.
"You oppress the weak! You torment the helpless! You maim those you deem unworthy!" bellowed Magneto.
"Funny," grinned Hodge as the metal closed in, "I thought you of all people would understand, Lensherr!"
"I would have in another life! Now you will pay and the land you ruled will be a new beacon of freedom!"
"Then what are you waiting for?" he taunted, "Go ahead and do it."
Standing calm and with poise, Cameron Hodge awaited his fate. The look in his eyes was wrought with a mixture of madness and glee. At last, his destiny was at hand. All the pieces of his elaborate plan was coming together. And the fate of mutant kind would finally be sealed.
"Meet death with honor, human," said Magneto, preparing to deliver the final blow.
"Magneto wait!" yelled Scott.
"Don't try and stop me, X-men!" bellowed Magneto, creating a shield of metal to separate him from his adversaries.
The others tried to fight through, but to no avail. Magneto was going to kill this monster and nothing was going to stop him.
"This man represents everything I loath about humanity! He's no different then the monsters who murdered my family!" he exclaimed.
'Yes. That's it Magneto. Let the rage consume you. Walk right into my trap. Make me a martyr and turn all of humanity against you!' thought the trapped dictator.
However, his inner musings did not go unnoticed by Jean and Madelyn. They could sense a lot of hatred in this man, but his intentions were far more diabolical than Magneto would allow himself to realize. There was too much comprehend, but they could tell Hodge was planning something. And despite her burning hatred for what Magneto did to her, Madelyn knew she had to do whatever she could for the greater good of mutant kind.
'We have to stop him!' mused Jean.
'Easy sis,' sent Maddie, 'I got this."
'It's okay. Leave it to me.'
Fearlessly approaching the master of magnetism, Madelyn prepared to make her stand, much to the surprise of the others.
"What de hell is she doin'?" said Remy.
"Saving mutant kind, what else?" said Jean proudly.
With the whirlwind of metal nearing Hodge, Madelyn shot a look of bitter anger. She was still angry over what this man did to her, but she set that aside and prepared to stop this madness before it went any further.
"Don't do it, Magneto," she said, her tone remarkably calm for her situation.
"You dare stop me!" bellowed Magneto in a rage.
"Think beyond yourself for once," she said bitterly, "Think about what your actions will do in the long run. Yeah, he's a jerk, but killing him will make us no better."
"No! He must die!" he yelled, directing some of his power towards Maddie.
"Then do it," she dared, "Kill him and doom mutants everywhere. You won't do the people he hurt justice. You'll just make him a hero who fought against the big bad mutants and died for his cause."
Hodge grew embittered by this young woman's words. She was denying him his place as a hero. She was standing in the way of a meticulously crafted plan. He had waited too long and nothing was going to stop him, especially not a mutant.
"Don't listen to her! Do it you freak! Do it like the barbarous animal you are!"
It was at that moment that Magneto remembered back to Apocalypse. Like Maddie, he had been twisted at the whim of a madman. He became a heartless monster, devoid of body and soul. Now here he was going the same route, this time on his own will. Hodge wanted him to become a monster again. It would vindicate every heinous thing his enemies had said about him. And despite his hatred, Erik Lensherr couldn't let it happen.
Looking back at Madelyn and then at Hodge, Magneto hung his head low and stopped his assault. The metal went limp and he removed his helmet, hoping to show that there was still some humanity left in the empty shell Apocalypse and Hodge had used so easily.
"She's right," said Magneto, swallowing his pride for the first time in a long while, "I am not a monster. And I'll make sure you go down in history as a monster, not a martyr...even if it means denying me vengeance."
"It's a sacrifice we all have to make, Magneto," said Scott as the rest of the team approached him, "It's part of what makes us human."
Despite not getting what he wanted most, Magneto managed a smile. But Hodge, on the other hand, wouldn't go quietly.
"NO! I WON'T BE DENIED!" he yelled, taking out a gun and putting it to his head.
"I don't think so," said Madelyn, knocking it out of his hand with a little telekinesis, "You're going on trial, Hodge. You're going to pay for your crimes. And we're going to make sure you endure every last humiliating moment."
"No...NO!" he yelled, "I am not a monster! I'm a champion...a soldier for humanity. It's exactly how we planned...you were supposed to kill me! The nations of the world were supposed to turn against you!"
"Vhat do you mean ve?" said Kurt suspiciously.
Hodge, defeated and at a loss, fell to his knees.
"The Friends of Humanity..." he said in a musing tone, "They helped me plan this down to the last detail. That law I passed was their idea. They promised me a place in history as a martyr and not a ruthless dictator. I wanted to be a hero...not a bloodstain on humanity."
Magneto was in shock and so were the X-men. This whole affair was a part of someone else's plan. From the very beginning, they were being used. Magneto's face contorted in anger, his hatred for this man simmering. It was ironic. For all his power, his own temper was used against him.
"I can't believe it..." mused Magneto, "You used us all!"
"Now you know how I feel," muttered Maddie.
"And you miserable freaks couldn't do as you were supposed to!" spat Hodge with burning hatred, "Some monsters! You couldn't adhere to a simple plan! I hate your freaks! I HATE YOU!"
"Would somebody please shut him up?" groaned Kitty.
"Thought you'd never ask," grinned Logan as he and Colossus took Hodge into custody.
It was a strange feeling, finding victory with the X-men. But for Magneto, it was nothing short of therapeutic. And as he saw the twin redheads stand together, strong and true, he cast them an approving glance. Enemies or not, he was forever in their debt.
"Thank you, Jean. Thank you, Madelyn. I almost made another terrible mistake."
"Yeah, we all make them," muttered Madelyn, "But it's just a matter of how you make up for them."
That brought a smile to Jean's face as she took her sister's hand and gave it a firm squeeze, symbolizing the bond that they now shared. This had been a major challenge, no doubt about it. But as sisters, they pulled through. It had taken them 19 years to come together, but it had been worth the toil. They had a lot to make up for, but with this first great test it was clear they had what it took to face the future together.
Just then, the Brotherhood and the rest of the army arrived. And when Pietro and the others saw Magneto and the X-men standing together, confusion quickly set in. And as Magneto saw the look in Pietro's eyes, he knew he had plenty of explaining to do.
"Okay...what'd we miss?"
ONLY ONE MORE LEFT! DON'T FORGET TO REVIEW!