It’s a lovely day with the X-Men enjoying a vacation on Magneto’s island in the Bermuda Triangle, while he greets his long-distance lover, Lee Forester. This island, nestled in the heart of the Bermuda Triangle, is unlisted on any chart, its presence masked from prying eyes both by its own eldritch nature and an array of sophisticated electronic defenses. It is older than human civilization, perhaps even than the human race itself. For uncounted eons, it lay abandoned and desolate, forgotten on the floor of the Atlantic until Magneto, mutant master of magnetism, raised it to the surface to serve as his base of operations for an attempted conquest of Earth.
A lot has changed since then. The arch-villain has become a hero and his bitterest foes, the X-Men, who defeated him that day, are now if not quite his friends, then at least his allies.
Magneto asks Colossus to help carry a crate with equipment and Piotr is happy to comply. As he does so, Magneto’s lover Lee tells him she missed him. He returns the sentiment and she observes that he sounds surprised. He is, he admits. Ashamed to care for a human? she teases him. Unnerved to care at all, in this way for anyone, he admits. It’s been so long. He never thought to be so blessed a second time.
She kisses him lightly on the cheek and assures him she understands. They all have shadows on their soul, losses that at the time seemed too terrible to bear, but those days are past. He has a better life, better, nobler responsibilities as the headmaster of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngster. Let the future for them be full of hope, she hopes. No shadows, only light. A lovely dream, he muses less optimistically. Time will tell whether it becomes reality.
As they kiss, a disgusted Kitty Pryde watches the lovers from the pool. From beneath his straw hat, Wolverine lazily admonishes her that staring ain’t polite. She tells him to give her a break. They wouldn’t notice her if she set off a cannon. She falls back into the water, wondering what Lee sees in Magneto. No accounting for taste!
She dives, then phases through the pool’s wall, appearing under Wolverine’s deckchair in an attempt to sneak up on him. Lazily, he suggests she not do anything she might regret. Inwardly, she swears. He spotted her. His enhanced senses are a real pain, she moans as she sits down on the deckchair next to him. They keep him healthy, he replies curtly and orders her to try harder, next time. Think sneakier. Consider it a challenge. And since she lost, she owes him a case of browns. Beer – yuck! she moans, her attention elsewhere as she stares at the inhuman statues adorning some of the buildings which are giving off a definite Lovecraft vibe.
It’s this island, Kitty complains. She wishes they were through packing Magneto’s gear and on their way home. Place gives her the creeps. Logan surprisingly agrees with her. She thought nothing could faze him, Kitty remarks. Only a fool is never scared, comes the reply. Hanging around this rock is like being on night patrol. You’re always on edge, expecting an attack. You can’t see them, but you know the enemy’s out there… watching, waiting for you to drop your guard. As if to stress his point, Wolverine unsheathes his claws while gulping down his bear.
A shadow falls over Kitty. Startled, she turns around to find it is only Storm, who has left the water. Toweling herself off, Ororo apologizes for startling her and admits that she too dislikes this place and will be glad once they are gone. It is… evil. Horrible creatures inhabited the citadel and committed such unspeakable atrocities that the very stones radiate a primal malevolence, which neither time nor effort can ever exorcise. Magneto should have left well enough alone, and this island to its grave.
Kitty remarks that those ancients may have been weird but they were no dummies. She’s been examining the statues. They’re not stone. It’s some form of crystalline circuitry matrix. They’re devices!
Disgusted, she notices Lee and Magneto hugging again. “Professor Magneto’s school…” Who’d a thunk it. She sure hopes that Professor Xavier knew what he was doing, handing the school over to him. Can they trust him? She reminds Storm that, not too long ago, he nearly killed her and Kitty on this very island.
Storm begins to reply but suddenly an energy flash out of nowhere makes the statues come alive. They waste no time and attack. A hydra-like being snatches Storm with her tentacles. She calls for Wolverine. Too bad she lost her powers, Logan muses. One good shot of lightning would blast those bozos to powder. But that is no longer an option, so he slices off the tentacles, but too late. Storm has turned to stone. The monster killed her, Kitty shouts, horrified. Only looks that way, Logan informs her. She’s petrified. A living stasis… suspended animation.
Magneto wagers those creatures are guardians intended to protect the citadel. An uncharacteristically humane means of doing so, unless the masters of this place had reasons for taking their foes alive.
With consummate ease, Magneto’s powers lift massive generators and he uses them to dispatch his opponents. Wolverine dispatches of them with his claws.
Kitty figures that maybe her phasing power can disrupt the creatures’ circuitry. However, as she phases through one of them, she too is turned to stone and falls into the pool.
Colossus shouts a warning to Wolverine, as one creature closes in on him from behind, changes him to stone and tosses him away out towards the ocean. Piotr hits one of the creatures and is also affected.
Magneto dispatches the last creature, but finds that he is the only one left standing. He figures he must draw the enemy’s fire and protect the X-Men. Sarcastically, he thinks that it’s becoming instinctive to think of others before himself. He tries to draw Lee away, only to find that she too is petrified.
A voice from above tells him that she like the others is unharmed. The stasis effect is transitory and will pass within hours. The being has stepped out of a black doorway. He wears an orblike helmet and flowing robes. He introduces himself as the Chief Examiner and congratulates Magneto on his performance.
Magneto demands to know what the meaning of this is. The Chief Examiner replies that his evaluation of Magneto and his companion is complete. Since Magneto is the survivor and easily the most powerful of the group, he requires him to pass through his scanning plate. And if he refuses? Magneto demands. That is not an option, comes the reply.
Magneto lets him feel his power as he turns his attack on the scanning plate.
At that moment on the horizon, Rogue returns from a shopping expedition to the Bahamas. Seeing the auroral energy display from the island she realizes something is wrong. She sees something flying her way and falling into the water. She dives down to find the petrified Wolverine and drags him aboard her boat. Rogue notices that in that form her power doesn’t work on Wolverine. Flying to the island, she prays he isn’t dead.
She arrives to find Magneto holding the form of the Chief Examiner. Suddenly, she gets a bad feeling as “Magneto” shouts that he is free at last.
Seeing Rogue as a potential threat, he animates the metal around them to capture her. “Magneto” puts on the Chief Examiner’s robe and helmet and remarks that, while he had not anticipated his liberation by such means, he will not let such a golden opportunity go to waste. Once he has mastered this paltry orb – Earth, Rogue realizes – he shall set out to release his fellow beings form their imprisonment. Reunited, no power in the universe can stand against them.
He contracts the cage around Rogue, its spikes sharp. Not the right occasion to test the limits of her invulnerability, she fears. His magnetic power holds the cage too tightly for her to break. But there are other ways. She spins at super-speed, breaking the sound barrier, the sonic boom knocking “Magneto” for a loop. Rogues goes faster still till the atmospheric friction melts the steel. And she is free. Her own moment spins her toward the black doorway the Chief examiner called the scanning plate.
She finds herself stuck and struggles. Suddenly, she screams as mind and body lose cohesion, dissolve and reform in an instantaneous process that strangely reminds Rogue of how she feels when she uses her mutant powers. She breaks loose and for a moment believes her color perception has gone crazy, then she realizes that isn’t the problem. It’s that she’s green!
Fortune favored her, the alien warns as he tries to blast her, but he grows more proficient with this shell’s abilities. Rogue evades the blow, noticing she’s bigger too, reminding her of the time when the X-Men scrapped with the Avengers and she absorbed She-Hulk’s powers.
Weirder and weirder, she notices as she clings to a wall like Spider-Man. The next moment, she feels her head buzzing. Suddenly, she has an itch to move. She follows it and realizes the buzz was a kind of warning.
The next moment, she is on fire like the Human Torch. What’s next – is she going to spout Asgardian like Thor? She tells her self to quit making jokes. She has to figure things out. Things started when she hit the black slab. Stands to reason the powers were stored inside. But by whom? And why? Is it here to grab the X-Men? Did something go wrong when it came to Magneto’s turn? Has he been possessed? What she wouldn’t give for some answers!
They are to be found where Rogue can’t access them, on a world far removed from Earth. There, in a remote highland, stands a tower and in that tower a laboratory and in that laboratory, a computer and two mysterious artifacts, a matter-energy egg and a bio-gem.
Though the citadel is deserted and has been for some time, it teems with life and purpose and passion, both light and dark, noble and malevolent.
Within the computer utter chaos reigns. Logic pathway have been shattered, mnemonic circuitry web disrupted. Energy flows streak wildly across an ominously shadowed landscape, providing too much power to some sectors, none whatsoever to others. The primal network is broken. And, in the core of the cybernetic maelstrom, Magneto’s consciousness wakes. He wonders what he is. He seems to have become an energy pattern. A replication of his corporeal body.
He sees another being laying on the ground, whose lifeglow is very dim. He tries to restore him by sharing a potion of his own self. He introduces himself. The other being weakly replies he knows that and introduces himself as Durgan. Magneto remarks sourly it is customary among civilized society to thank one who has saved your life. Durgan calls him a fool and asks if he knows what he has done!
Meanwhile, Rogue tries a Torch stunt, by flying as fast as she can around the possessed Magneto to create a whirlwind that sucks away the oxygen from him. Instead, he counters the attack with an energy vortex.
Elsewhere, Durgan explains that the Chief Examiner is his construct. Magneto remarks that it attacked him and his companions without provocation. He demands an explanation.
Is the imminent destruction of his world and wholeslaughter of his race sufficient “provocation?” he asks. Even now, the dreaded Black Fleet draws ever nearer, ravaging every civilization in its path. Ages ago, his race’s forebears denounced the use of force to the extent that to even conceive of using it is anathema to them. Their ethical code further proscribes them from employing others to fight for them.
In council, Durgan argued that exceptional times require exceptional measures but his words went unheeded. He was determined to act on his own. His computer was programmed to seek out the most powerful beings such as Spider-Man, whose abilities would be evaluated by the Chief Examiner and replicated by his portal. From those templates, he would create the ideal champion for his people, who would end the Black Fleet’s depredations and restore peace to their galaxy.
So this Examiner is an artificial construct, a computer facsimile? Magneto asks. Durgan agrees and admits he doesn’t understand why it’s malfunctioning. Magneto explains that he is the master of magnetism. All electronics are vulnerable to his powers. Obviously, he disrupted its circuitry and created a scramble feedback loop that trapped both their consciousnesses in its mnemonic system. But what happened to his body? Silently, he recalls that he sensed another consciousness replacing his. But who? Is someone else involved?
In fact the answer is “yes.” For the Bio-gem is sentient and more malevolent than the Black Fleet aboard, whose ships its fellow beings lie captive and dormant, their powers inhibited by the physical proximity of the energy egg.
As it chases Rogue (in Magnetos body) it gloats that it has gradually increased its influence over the computer, programming it to seek out Magneto’s evil power. Evil? Rogue thinks. His computer needs updating.
Elsewhere, Magneto shows Durgan the primal disruption. They must bridge this chasm. He believes that link will enable the computer’s self-repair programs to heal the breach. But to do so, will require all his strength, including the portion that currently sustains Durgan. Moreover, he suspects Durgan’s innate awareness of his creation will prove integral to the restoration of its proper function. Separate, they have no chance. To succeed, they must combine their energies.
What becomes of his mission if he fails? Durgan asks, desperate. It is because of his blind dedication to his mission that the X-Men are in danger, Magneto replies strictly.
Elsewhere, Rogue uses her Hulk-enhanced strength to hit her foe, who feels physical pain for the first time. Rogue strikes the ground, causing the nearby ruin to collapse on her foe.
Meanwhile, Magneto decides he will go alone, if he must. The X-Men are his… friends. He will not betray that newly won trust by abandoning them.
Durgan is ashamed, realizing he only thought of his own needs. He promises to help.
Magneto explains they must first revert to that pure energy states that are their natural form within this cybernetic cosmos, then project their merged essences across the void.
They sense some malevolent force resisting them. Magneto urges Durgan they must fight, but Durgan doesn’t know how. Magneto orders him to reach with all his heart and soul, to prove that he and his world are worth saving!
In reality, the malevolent being announces he lives. Rogue knocks of his bubble helmet and warns him that it’s a real transitory condition unless he tells her right quick how to put Magneto back where he belongs.
At the same moment, Magneto and Durgan have succeeded. Proper order is restored through Durgan’s network. He feels himself regaining control of the Chief Examiner. Whatever force opposed them is now gone. Magneto warns him to be certain. Durgan announces he will, but first he will send Magneto back to his body.
He finds himself lying on the ground and Rogue asks if he is himself or does she have to bop him again? Magneto assures Rogue he is himself and advises her not to try.
Soon after a great many explanations, Rogue (sticking to the wall like Spider-Man) asks that all she has to do is pass through that mini-monolith to be restored to her normal self? She flames on and proceeds to do so, passing out on the other side as her ordinary self. Magneto catches her.
Durgan tells Magneto that his abilities are still needed. The analyzer has been re-calibrated to prevent any malfunction. He asks him but he understands if he refuses. Magneto announces that he gives freely of himself. As he jumps through the monolith portal, he adds that, in return, he charges him to truly think of what he is doing here. The heroes he previously copied gave their extraordinary power. He now adds his own. They have learned the limits of what they are and their responsibilities. Durgan’s device replicates the power but not the knowledge. Be careful not to misuse it!
What happened today was an accident. His system may not be as foolproof as he thinks. Finally, all this could have been avoided, had he but approached them peacefully and asked for help.
Durgan admits he was afraid Magneto would refuse. Magneto challenges him that if he takes things by force, how is he different from the Black Fleet? Durgan admits he has given him a lot to think about.
Elsewhere, the gem thinks that it chose Magneto because it thought he would have a natural affinity for its plan. It misjudged. In the future, it must be more circumspect until Durgan grows complacent, believing the danger past. Then it will strike.
The X-Men return to normal. Colossus immediately cries out that Kitty fell into the pool. Kitty appears, assuring him she’s ok. Luckily, rocks don’t need to breathe.
In the meantime, aboard the X-Men’s motorlaunch, Wolverine wakes, ready for a fight. However, he finds he rushed back for nothing. Everyone’s okay. Who’s the dude with the fishbowl on his head? he asks. A misguided soul, Durgan replies, who learned an important lesson here, this day. Thanks to Magneto and his X-Men.
He owes him a great deal. He takes his farewell and disappears. Rogue asks Magneto why he didn’t offer Durgan the X-Men’s help. He did, comes the reply. Durgan refused.
Bozo’s crazy, Rogue mutters. By the standards of his people certainly, Magneto agrees. A dangerous sociopath. Consider though, has the capacity for violence really done humanity that much good? Mahatma Gandhi thought of a better way, resistance to evil, to oppression, without resorting to violence. The courage to take blows, but never return them. Christ’s message, too. Durgan’s race embodies that noble ideal. Yet Durgan, in his zeal to save them, may in the process cost them what they hold most dear. He wishes Durgan luck, but wonders if his people will thank him for what he’s done on their behalf and may yet do. Will his victory be worth the price?