Yeah, he saw him, a young man in a coffee shop with a large broken window states. Might’ve missed him at first… he was like a ghost… trying to blend in… hiding in plain sight…But you work at this job long enough, you’re starting to pay attention. Making a non-fat double shot becomes second nature… like autopilot. So you watch the world around you to distract yourself.
So he saw this guy walk in and sit down with Doctor Hatcher. Doc Hatcher comes in every day at the same time, sits at the same table. And this guy knew it.
Couldn’t hear everything they said. Something about crimes against evolution and genetic genocide. And then the stranger pulled all the fillings out of the doc’s mouth. With a snap of his fingers. The screams… nobody should ever hear screams like that. That wasn’t the worst of it though, because after he threw the doc into the street… he replaced the fillings. Meaning he impaled Hatcher with several metal street signs.
He’d leave this guy alone, the young barista tells the dark-suited agents. Because he could see it in his eyes. He said making coffee was second nature for him. That’s what killing is for this guy. Like autopilot.
A motel, in Beloit, Kansas:
To live among the stars, to rule jungle kingdoms, to guide entire nations, only to find oneself here, Magneto muses. A self-loathing man might see this as punishment. A vain man might consider this like the Christian devil’s fall from heaven. He thinks the coffee’s not terrible.
He pours himself a cup and turns to his computer. He has been known by many names. Max Eisenhardt. Erik Lehnsherr. Magnus. Magneto. Each name marks its own sin. And one day he’ll answer for those offenses. But not today. Only his actions, what he does in the name of all mutants, hold any real meaning.
He recalls the meeting with Hatcher.
In the morning, he joined the confused Hatcher at his table in the coffee shop. Does he know him? Hatcher asked, nonplussed. He does not, came the reply, although it is surprising they haven’t met yet. Doctor Eli Hatcher aka Derrick Unger aka John Hendrix. They orbit circles that should have brought them together before now. After all, Hatcher’s contributions to anti-mutant organizations such as the Purifiers, the Right and the Friends of Humanity have been significant. Is that who he’s with, Hatcher asked. He thought—
He thought, Magneto interrupted, that he’d never need to answer for his crimes against evolution, for his support of genetic genocide. But that’s only because no one was asking the right questions. Until now…
End of flashback
The past often plots the course of one’s future, Magneto muses. In the past, Dr. Hatcher played games with mutant lives. And Magneto’s taken his future from him. He won’t be answering for his own wrongdoings any time soon. But he’ll make sure others pay for theirs. He wonders if the devil feels the same.
There’s a knocking at the door. It’s Deena, the maid. She greets him as “Mr. Sullivan” and asks if he needs anything. He gently tells her the room can keep another day. But did she bring what he asked for? She hands over a stack of newspapers.
Magneto intuits she knows he’s using an alias and it makes her nervous but she’s trying to convince herself he is no threat. He doubts she realizes who he is though. Without his helmet, he is rarely recognized.
He looks outside after Deena and sees her taking her cell phone from her pocket. Calmly, he calls her and asks if she forgot something. He hands her a wad of money. She thanks him and tells him to have a nice day.
Back in his room, Magneto chides himself that he is getting paranoid. The phone call was innocent. She might have been calling anybody. Unless Deena is a better actress than he suspects. But in any case he won’t be here much longer.
He looks at the map on the wall with the different destinations he has marked, as well as the newspapers clippings he has hung there, among them murders of mutants or mutant sympathizers, the latest that of “reptile girl” found dead.
His resources are limited these days. Where he once built some of the most sophisticated communication systems in the world, he now toils with refurbished laptops and newspaper clippings. Still, he has managed to stay several steps ahead of those… interested in his activities. Such as SHIELD. They’ve gone so far as to plant false information in the media – reports of crimes against mutantkind meant to draw him out. They forget who they are dealing with. They forget he’s seen so much tragedy and terror that he’d never mistake a ruse for the real thing.
At the moment, they are spread too thin to cover all cases. He looks at one clipping about a vagrant who murdered three mutants and then surrendered in Mountain Air.
Mountain Air, California:
Magneto realizes getting here took a little longer than he’s accustomed to. But he’s traveling under the radar, so to speak. He gets out of his car. The last time he flew long distances, he overshot the mark by 300 miles and was exhausted for a week.
The newspapers with their litany of murder form a trail of breadcrumbs for someone who knows what he’s looking for. Three murders… three crimes against mutants as easy to follow as a child’s dot-to-dot puzzle.
He stands opposite the police station. The killer arriving here and turning himself in was unexpected. This complicates things. The murderer, a vagrant named Colton Hendry, is jailed, but for how long? It’s a simple matter of time before he’s whisked away… lost in the system. And how long then before he is free? He might have turned himself in, but how much longer before his feeling of guilt turns thin? A monster can only masquerade as a man for so long. And cages seldom hold once the true beast is revealed.
Magneto walks into the building, again considering his many names and roles. Strolling into a room full of police officers, he figures. It’s like riding a bicycle. You never forget.
Revealing his costume, he at the same time commands all small metal objects to attack everyone else. He flies towards the cells. The warden is strangulated by his keys. The prisoner draws back as the bars melt apart. Let’s talk, Magneto announces.
The frightened Colton Hendry tells him he’s dangerous. Just leave him alone! He can’t do that, Magneto explains. He eliminated that option when he murdered those mutants. Colton is shocked at the word murdered and stammers he didn’t want to.
He turns away and Magneto senses a dangerous undercurrent, something his old self would have picked up in right away. The Colton turns around again, displaying electronic eyes: Mutant designate Magneto, he announces with a different voice. Directive terminate. Weapons form from his flesh and Magneto realizes he is an Omega Sentinel, albeit more rudimentary. Cobbled together.
Magneto rips the metal from his flesh and the man turns normal again. As he lies dying, Magneto asks who did this to him. Down Acres, he groans. That’s where they found him. He is not a killer. He couldn’t stop himself.
And Magneto realizes there are others who must pay for these deaths and he will find them.